Nowhere man chords chord guitar


Yes, a lot is happening in digital technology. That I have neglected the subject of pickups so much is still frightening. Things look even darker when it comes to Ortofon. I described a system from this manufacturer more than a decade ago. That is changing now. Here comes “the best SPU of all time”.

At least that is how Leif Johannsen, who has been developing the pickups of the traditional Danish manufacturer for over ten years, describes his latest SPU creation. This version of the stereo pick-up, first presented in 1958, is already his third variant of the classic: for the company's 90th anniversary, he presented the 90th Anniversary model, which is limited to 400 copies worldwide and for the first time features the metal structure in which the generator is mounted and the this connects to the housing made of wood particles held together with synthetic resin, was produced using the selective laser melting process. Metal micro-particles - in this case steel - are melted together using a laser to form a larger structure. By varying the temperature generated by the laser inside the workpiece, amorphous structures are created, so that it has a high strength and density and, due to its inhomogeneity, nevertheless has an extremely high internal damping. That was of course not the only reason that the 90s perfectly combined the well-known SPU virtues such as joy of playing, a lot of thrust in the bass and this directness that is so difficult to describe with fine drawing and a wide spatial representation previously unknown from a SPU. That made the anniversary model my preferred version of the classic back then, which unfortunately had to leave my Ortofon RMG 309i shortly after the test.

How much fun Ortofon's classic can be - no matter in which variant - I realized not long ago when I tested the excellent Melto 2 phono stage from Lab 12, when I wanted to sound out its MM capabilities and, in the absence of a corresponding pickup, my SPU Royal connected with the SPU-T100 transformer. Perhaps this experience was subconsciously the reason for ordering the Century, which was presented for the company's 100th anniversary, from the criminally neglected Ortofon portfolio. But before I get to that, a quick look back at the special model for the 95th birthday, the SPU A95. Here the body, which contains the magnets and all moving parts and connects them to the housing, consisted of a titanium structure built up using the selective laser melting process. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to listen to an A95 in detail.

But whether it's the 90th Anniversary, A95 or Century: It is certainly less problematic to design a completely new pickup than to make modifications to a classic that has been popular around the world for decades, and whose die-hard fans could see any change in the cult object as sacrilege. It goes without saying that Leif Johannsen would like to add improvements in other disciplines to the sonic advantages of the classic with each “new” SPU. But even a more vivid spatial representation or more attention to detail do not necessarily have to convince lovers of classic SPUs, as I heard from an ex-colleague. Decades ago he was able to professionally appreciate the advantages of the then current SPU Synergy, but considered the additional details and the better definition to be detrimental to the enjoyment of music. If you develop the SPU further, you will be walking on thin ice, at least for hardcore fans of this classic.

Of course, Leif Johannsen is also aware of this and that's why he tries to do justice to their point of view with the Century: He practically took over the generator of the master model and uses Alnico magnets, an aluminum needle carrier and damping rubbers like the original. It also dispenses with the Field Stabilizing Element (FSE) that has proven itself in the 90s and 95s - a cylinder made of electrically conductive material strategically placed in the generator, which ensures that the field strength remains constant regardless of the movement of the needle carrier and the coils . The bobbins made of high-purity, silver-plated copper wire are traditionally wound on a square bobbin in the Century and not on a cross, as is usually the case with Ortofon. Looking at the data sheet, however, I was a little surprised that a tracking force of four grams or 40 millinewtons is recommended for the Century. As far as I know, from the Royal onwards, all predecessors made do with 30 millinewtons. Leif Johannsen's explanation for the now higher tracking force is as simple as it is plausible: The cushioning of the master model was designed for four grams and, if you choose the same cushioning for the Century, it also requires the same tracking force as the original. The generator of the Century corresponds to that of the SPU introduced in 1958 with all the consequences.

And that brings us to the innovations: A Shibata-cut diamond sits on the aluminum tube, the larger contact zones of which with the groove also put the higher contact force into perspective: It acts on larger surfaces, which distributes the pressure on the groove flanks. In the fight against unwanted resonances, Leif Johannsen relies more than ever on Selective Laser Melting at Century: Here, the body, in which magnets, dampers, needle carriers and tensioning wire are mounted, forms a unit with the housing. For this purpose, aluminum particles are fused with a laser in three-dimensional printing. As already mentioned, variations in the intensity of the heating by the laser in selected regions of the workpiece mean that this does not have a crystal structure entirely, but also zones with an amorphous structure. As a result, the entire structure has a higher internal damping than a comparable one that is carved out of a solid piece of metal - if it can be realized in one piece at all using a CNC machine.

Even if the shape of the Century's case looks very familiar, unlike its predecessors, it is no longer a body that is closed on five sides and closed with a plastic cover at the bottom. At first glance, it might seem as if the side parts of the housing have wooden applications. But this is not the case. Because the aluminum body no longer covers the entire long sides, but only about half of these surfaces. This is followed by a U-shaped part made of stabilized beech wood that forms the other part of the side surfaces and the bottom. The transition from aluminum to wood is not a straight line, but a curved one that is reminiscent of the body of string instruments or guitars. For this part of the housing, old, dead wood is collected from nature. The blocks obtained from this would then continue to dry for a long time, explains Leif Johannsen. Finally, fill the open pores with plastic under high pressure. This material is then brought into the desired shape at Ortofon using CNC machines. Of course, this was also chosen under the aspect of minimizing resonance.

I wanted to test the Century, this classic generator with Shibata needle and high-tech housing, in the equally classic Ortofon RMG 309i tonearm. However, it is a minor problem that the new scanner is two grams heavier than the other SPUs. I briefly loosen the spring for adjusting the tracking force from the bearing block in order to balance the arm plus Century independently of it, slide the counterweight a little bit away from the bearing point and lock it in this position. In order to fix the spring in the bearing block again, I have to pull it apart a little so that it bridges the now slightly larger distance between the bearing and the counterweight. Although the adjusting disk at the end of the counterweight still suggests a contact force of zero, the spring already generates a certain contact pressure. You therefore absolutely need a tonearm scale to set the four grams exactly. A little tip for all previous and future Century owners: In the mechanism inside the counterweight, the position of the spring can be changed by using grub screws of different lengths to fix it so that the scale for the bearing force is correct again. Analog Tube Audio offers more information or a modification of the counterweight.

In the above-mentioned test of the LAB 12 phono stage I have Milt Buckner's fantastic trio album, which I only get as number 13 of the cheap Italian series I Giganti Del Jazz can identify, discovered as an audiophile delicacy. Some highly acclaimed remasterings can only dream of these rich, warm timbres, the drive of the cymbals and the pressure of the bass drum - not to mention the unrestrained joy of playing of the musicians, who are cheered on by Buckner's heckling. With the Century in the Ortofon arm, the disc is a real treat again. If my memory doesn't deceive me, the bass drum now comes across with a little more definition without losing any of its pressure. The instruments are surrounded by more air, the cymbals sound a little more delicate, and the musicians seem a bit more motivated. The short change to the SPU Royal is no reason to revise the previous impressions: The Century is just a little more fun, as it was able to make gains in some hi-fi disciplines. An improved spatial representation and a little more detailed information do not harm the rousing musical experience in any way - no, they intensify it for my taste!

Even if Günter Antoniazzi, ATR's governor in the south of the republic, has already brought in the SPU a little, I'll allow him a few more hours, for example with the Tales From Vienna, the LSC-2928 with the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler: light fare from the pen of Johann Strauss. And the Century fits in perfectly with this. It puts the orchestra on a broad and - especially for SPU standards - deep stage. The positions of the instruments remain stable and the sounds of the individual groups of instruments are easy to follow, even in the happiest hustle and bustle, such as in the “Pleasure Train Polka”. The musicians get down to business with verve. A special joy is how lively, finely drawn and yet very powerful the percussive brass sounds. Because it's so much fun at the moment, I take a look around the classic shelf and find Tchaikovskies there Nutcracker Ballet with the Orchester De La Suisse Romande under Ernest Ansermet: indulgence in timbres, dynamics and space! But I didn't want to rave about the joy of rediscovering records that have seldom been heard, I wanted to tell you a few more impressions of working with Ortofon's anniversary model.

So far I have heard the Century with its internal resistance of two ohms on my Einstein phono stage with the lowest standard terminating resistance of 40 ohms - and, as you should have noticed, I am simply thrilled. But you should always hear an SPU in connection with a transformer. This is especially true if you have an SPU-T100 in your own pool. But I can't combine the silver transformer with the values ​​optimized for SPUs with Einstein's The Turntable's Choice, since the fully symmetrical phono stage is designed exclusively for moving coil pickups. Günter Antoniazzi therefore sent me the Blue Amp Surzur MK III, which copes perfectly with MC and MM signals. Incidentally, Blue Amp has been sold by ATR - Audio Trade since last year. But before I connect the Century with the SPU-T100 including Surzur, I hear it again with the Einstein, with a familiar disc: Bang, Baaroom and Harp, but not as a reissue, but an English original: SF-5031 (LSP-1866). The plate comes from a lending library in a suburb of London, and the surface looks accordingly. Fortunately, even the most modern SPU is forgiving of something like that. The reissues have a little more pressure in the bass and are more spectacular. But when it comes to naturalness and musical flow, the original has the edge.

I switch from the MC preamplifier to the transformer with a downstream Surzur. Well, one or the other impulse comes a bit more violent with the Einstein, but when it comes to space and atmosphere, Blue Amp and transformer simply have more to offer. The Century also feels more comfortable with the windings than with the electronics. It doesn't matter that the Surzur plus SPU-T100 - with the DM price from the last millennium converted into euros - is a bit cheaper than the Einstein. I like to admit that I'm not a fan of transformers and that I almost always prefer an MC preamp. However, none of the variants of the SPU that I have heard so far do not share my preference for fine, highly sensitive electronics. To confirm this assessment, I finally connect the Century directly to the Surzur, which is then configured for MC operation, instead of the intermediate transformer: Here, too, one should not do without the transformer. It ensures an even smoother high frequency range, a slightly lower stage and an overall more physical reproduction. Regardless of whether it's Einstein or Blue Amp: As impressive as the Century may be, with a transformer it simply has even more charm.

The Century convincingly demonstrates that excellent drawing and a very vivid spatial representation with well-known SPU virtues result in a perfect combination - and the sensual aspect of enjoying music continues to be in the foreground. All I can do is quote Leif Johannsen's pithy statement, with a little addition: The Century is the best SPU of all time - that I've heard so far!
Record playerBrinkmann LaGrange with tube power supply
TonearmOrtofon 309, Thales Simplicity
PickupsOrtofon SPU Royal, Gold and Meister Silver, Lyra Olympos SL
Phono levelEinstein The Turntable's Choice (sym), Blue Amp Surzur
TransformerOrtofon SPU-T100
PreamplifierEinstein The Preamp, Audio Exclusive R7
Power amplifierEinstein The Poweramp
speakerGöbel Epoque Aeon Fine
electric wireGoebel High End Lacorde Statement, Audioquest Dragon HC, Tornado (HC) and NRG-Z3, Ortofon TSW and AC 5000 Silver, Zafinio
equipmentAHP sound module IV G, Audioquest Niagara 5000 and 1000, Synergistic Research Active Ground Block SE, HMS wall sockets, Blockaudio C-Lock Lite, Acapella bases, Acoustic System feet and resonators, Artesania Audio Exoteryc, SSC Big Magic Base, Finite Elements Carbofibre ° -HD, Harmonix Real Focus and Room Tuning Disks, Audio Exclusive Silent Plugs
Pickup typeMC (low output moving coil)
Tonearm attachmentSME bayonet
Output voltage0.2mV at 1000Hz, 5cm / sec
Amplifier connectionPhono MC
Channel deviation at 1 kHz<1dB
Crosstalk attenuation at 1kHz> 22dB
Crosstalk attenuation at 15kHz> 15dB
Frequency range20-25,000Hz
Frequency response20-20,000Hz + 3 / -2dB
Sampling capability at 315Hz70 µm with the recommended tracking force
Compliance8 µm / mN
recommended Tonearm typemedium and difficult
Scanning diamondShibata, naked
Roundingr / R 6/50 µm
Tracking force range30-50mN (3.0-5.0g)
recommended Tracking force40mN (4.0g)
Scanning angle20 degrees
DC resistance2 ohms
recommended Terminating resistor> 10 ohms
Housing materialAluminum / stabilized beech wood
particularitiesHousing made using the SLM process (Selective Laser Melting), made of aluminum powder. Winding made of silver-plated, oxygen-free 7N copper (OFC 99.99999%). Indoor cabling Hybrid structure made of oxygen-free, silver-plated pure copper and 4N pure silver (Ortofon LW-800S)
price4,500 euros
addressHi-Fi Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH
Schenkendorfstrasse 29
D-45472 Mülheim an der Ruhr
phone+49 208 882660
e-mail[email protected]

additional Information

  • Image folder tests / 20-05-15_ortofon
  • Social IntrotextYes, a lot is happening in digital technology. That I have neglected the subject of pickups so much is still frightening. Things look even darker when it comes to Ortofon. I described a system from this manufacturer more than a decade ago. That is changing now. Here comes “the best SPU of all time”.