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Reson Reca Cartridge

How much Music do you want?

[Italian version]

Product: The Reson Reca Moving Magnet Cartridge
Supplier: Virtual Reality Audio Systems
(tel: +44 1277 227355, fax: +44 1277 224103)
Price: 250.00 UK Pound / appx. 410 US Dollar
180.00 UK Pound / approx. 300 US Dollar with the trade in of any Cartridge

So here we are. Another Cartridge Review in my ongoing Quest for the perfect Cartridge under 500 UK Pound. Of course, there is no perfect Cartridge. Sometimes these reviews can be tedious to conduct and to write about. Well, not this one. I really did enjoy writing this review.


Maybe because I can go into rave mode and foam from mouth about how great the Reson Reca Cartridge is? Don't be ridiculous. Such vulgar behavior may be common to US Journalists; however with me as (almost) British Gentleman, such is not going to happen. I shall instead keep the my Nose high and nit-pick. We British (even if we are really German) love to criticise.... Let's start criticising.

Is she a looker?

Here it was. A small padded Envelope with an even smaller Box inside and a compliment slip from Virtual Reality Audio's Martin Morecroft (thanX Martin for supporting TNT-Audio btw, major cool Dude).

Inside the quaint and diminutive box is a Phono-Cartridge. Not any old Cartridge. A Cartridge for 250 UK Pound.

Well, DNM/Reson is a British/Swiss Company (Design in the UK with most Manufacturing in Switzerland) as idiosyncratic as it gets. Whatever the current accepted norm for something may be, DNM/Reson often has a different View. It's one of the Companies that make HiFi fun.

Used to the lavish almost jewel-like presentation of cartridges at this price-point, the blunt and purely practical packaging of the Reson Reca comes a small shock. Sure, if you look at it, fancy packaging costs Money. And I for once like money I spend on HiFi to end up where I can hear it.

Unpack and you find a small four page instruction leaflet, a Cartridge, a small hex-socket wrench and two Screws. Functional, convenient but not in any way exuberant. Okay methinks, let's see what this baby can do. If the presentation is so quaint for that kind of money, it should be a cracking Cartridge.

Taking the Cartridge out of the Packaging I found it to be a dead ringer for any Goldring G1000 Series Cartridge, hardly surprising, as it is made by Goldring for DNM/Reson to their specific spec's. Various unspecified tweaks have been applied to turn a good 120 UK Pound Cartridge (the G1042) into something worth twice that money. Or is it all just Voodoo?

The Reson Reca has a Fritz Gyger S Line Contact Stylus and a claimed Frequency Response from 20Hz to 30kHz. The Output is a healthy 6.5mV for 5cm/S Modulation.

Upon mounting the Cartridge I noticed the first really neat thing about the Reca. Threaded Inserts. No fiddling around with tiny Nuts and so on, this must have be en the quickest mounting of a Cartridge I ever managed.

Dial in the recommended 1.7 g Vertical Tracking Force (VTF), out with my "Oracle Calibrator" to set overhang and Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA - Armheight for those not into fancy words) and whooo, weee, done. Again, not having to fiddle with the tiny spanner, to tighten the even tinier nuts on the Cartridge right in the perfect spot and then find all that wrangling has thrown the setting off again, helps tremendously.

Really all 250 Pound Cartridges should be required by law to have threaded inserts. Gotta love them.

The HiFi-News Test Records Protractor to confirm the overhang setting and then I set the Bias (Antiskating) with the HiFi-News Testrecord. Here the Reca cold out of the Box sailed with bravado through the worst torture-tracks, had sensible Resonance Frequencies. So far a very businesslike easy installation and excellent technical results.

Can you hear the Marimba?

Of course how often does a good technical performance mean great sonics? Also, any brand-new Cartridge must run in at least 20-30 Hours. So I did not expect much when I dropped the stylus in the first groove.

AND was pretty much blown away. Okay, the previously mounted Cartridge had been the Elite before I could finally managed to "tame" this Cartridge. Still, the Contrast was so vivid, so extreme. Where before cold soul-less "accounting of what was on the record" ruled, now there was MUSIC. Yipppeeeeee.

Well, I left the system to burn for a while, just to see how much would change. Changes came while the Cartridge nudged up more time. Eventually I began the fine-tuning Process, twiddling VTA and VTF chatting with Martin Morecroft via e-mail about the Arm/Armboard Interface and did everything possible to tickle the best out of the Reson Reca.

Eventually I ended up running the Cartridge EXACTLY according to the Manufacturers recommendations. That is 1.7g VTF, 26Degrees VTA (that means the Arm is slightly up in the back for my Turntable) and a load Capacitance of 250pF (including the Tonearm lead).

The Reson Reca sounds absolutely astounding for a Moving Magnet Cartridge. It retrieves levels of Ambiance and Detail previously unheard from any MM Cartridge I ever had in my system. Put on Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic" LP and play track one....

Michael Fermer goes through great length about that Marimba in there. Now I know why. Most Systems just do not crack it. Not enough resolution to still hear the marimba below all the other stuff that goes on.... With a good Phono-Stage and the Reca it's there.

One of my test-records for Vocals is perhaps surprisingly "The year of the Cat" by Al Steward. Produced by Allen Parson in 1976 this Record has almost hypnotic Vocals. Mixed just on the right side of too bright. With the Goldring Elite run at the manufacturers recommended settings it was grating.... With the Sumiko BPS you can hear the cats from the title "scream". With other lesser Cartridges the hypnotic quality, the presence is lost. The Reca get's it spot on.

Okay, let's put on some Classic. Here it is that the Reca shows itself somewhat less at home than with Pop, Rock and Jazz. Playing my Turnabout recording of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra playing Copland (Fanfare for the common man, Rodeo and Billy the Kid), the Timpani where somewhat loose, the Cymbals crashed somewhat loud and indelicate and the extremely extended Soundstage found on this recording was somewhat restricted.... A behavior very much like the Goldring G1042 on which it is based, but too a much lesser degree....

If I compare the Reca directly to the Goldring Elite that now is my "official" owned and paid for Cartridge, there are a few slight shortcomings in the Reca.

I noticed a slightly accentuated, more prominent Surface Noise with the Reca. The Soundstage is somewhat reduced both in depth and width. There is not as much "air" around the Instruments as with the Elite....

On the Plus-side the Reca is overall more forgiving of bright Records. It has a Bass that has it all, weight, definition, depth and pace, where the Elite still misses some weight. Also there is some quality about the Reca that allows it to communicate the emotions captured in the Music much better.

I think it can be said that the Reson Reca "paints" the Music with much Heart and Soul but a sometimes somewhat deft brush. Don't get me wrong. I quite like this approach. The Music I most often listen to simply is more involving with the Reca than with any other Cartridge I have heard. It is the old "accuracy" vs. "musicality" story.

So, give it to us straight!

Had I not been able finally to get the Goldring Elite to work very well in my system, I would have kept the Reson Reca. In fact, I still have the Reca in my Arm. And I sure hope Martin Morecroft has forgotten where he send the Cartridge to (yeah - fat chance on that one).

If I where only ever to listen to music for my own pleasure, the Reca would be the Ticket. Just like with Quad ESL Speakers or the old Marantz 7/9 Pre-Power Combination one simply forgets about all that hunting for the last bit of Detail, the nit-picking here and there.

Whenever I was in "Critics" listening mode with other Cartridges I could scribble pages over pages of Notes, noting this good, that bad and so on.... With the Reca I do note some things I would like to see improved, but I mostly could not bother writing about it. I did not even found time for praise.... I was just enjoying the music.

So this throughly unprofessional attitude causes me having to close this Review here. I am out of material. And out of time. I got to go home and listen to some more music while I can afford to be just a music lover.

Sure, over 410 US Dollar is a lot of money for just a Phono-Pickup. Even with the part exchange deal the 300 Dollar still are a thick end of a solid wedge. Do I think the Cartridge is worth that much? Sure. Even at full retail it is quite worth the asking price.

Being a Moving Magnet Cartridge, the Stylus is user-replaceable and almost any half-decent Phono-Stage will do. Many Arms that are incompatible with modern MC Cartridges will be happy with the Reca. Even without too elaborate Setup the Performance is superb.

Such a package is rare. So if you have a nice Turntable and decent MM capable Preamp (or Integrated Amp) and you always wanted MC-Quality, but without a Step-up Transformer, here it is. A high Output MM, relatively unfunny about matching Equipment and with quite a decent Price if you trade in your threadbare old Linn Kanine (K9) or whatever cartridge you happen to use.

How do I get a Reca?

One problem I can see however is the limited availability of the Cartridge. Few Dealers in Europe carry DNM/Reson Equipment and Cartridges. Even fewer in the US do. So what can you do?

If you can get a loan of a Goldring 1042, try it. If you like what you hear, get the Reca from Virtual Reality Audio here in the UK. They will export everywhere. Just e-mail them for Details about price and shipping. They take all kinds of plastic. Ask for Martin and tell him Thorsten sends you.

You can also e-mail Martin to ask if there is any DNM/Reson Dealer in your area.

Of course, you might be just another extreme case of Audiophilia Nervosa (like I am). Then the Reca is not for you. You will forget to tweak the VTA for each individual Record, forget to buy another expensive Cartridge and so on.

No, I will not (and neither should any serious Audiophilia Nervosa Case) let "good enough" stop me. There are many more Cartridges out there and I GOTTA TRY THEM ALL. However I shall keep Martin Morecroft's Phone-Number around for the Day I retire as reviewer (yeah sure - like never - but who knows...). Then I'll get a Reca for myself and forget about all this "High-End" stuff.

There it is. Probably the most subjective review I have written so far, and probably also the most subjective for quite a while to come. It is rare that any piece of HiFi can so much bypass my "Gearhead" Circuits and hit something deeper.

So You'll hear from me another time, until then, Enjoy the Music.

The System

The Reson Reca was auditioned in a System consisting of:

© Copyright 1998 Thorsten Loesch/TNT-Audio

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