Quite a while ago a friend came by carrying a fully serviced Thorens TD-121 that I had bought from him. To show its working he had mounted a Supex SD-909 which did not really look like a genuine SD-909. The Thorens played magnificent with the Supex. Just to be sure what I was exactly listening to, I mounted the Supex to my Wilking turntable for playback. I seemed that actually this little gem was making the magic in the sound. So exactly what is it and why doesn't it look like a genuine SD-909?
This turned out to be a product from a one-man-shop who repairs cartridges. Looking for a website? Good luck. Looking for him on social media? Good luck. That is not his style. My friend however had his contact details and so it went. This was actually a few years ago and now we are good friends (at least, I think so). So what does Rik Jans do for a living? Well he repairs cartridges, (re)builds tonearms and now and then sells a turntable. All vintage stuff. He still has to build me a tonearm, by the way.
His primary workshop consists of a bureau with a big microscope and non magnetic tools to be able to work in the microcosmos of cartridges. Quite fascinating how tiny these things are and what craftsmanship it takes to work on these. Not to forget a steady hand..
This is the original (courtesy of hifido.co.jp):
Original Supex SD-909.
So the Supex 909 is said to be designed by mr. Yosiaki Sugano, founder of Koetsu. The shape has some resemblance to the early "long bodies" by Koetsu, so who knows this is actually true. Specifications are: Output - 0.2 mV, Frequency response - 5Hz-65KHz, Load impedance - >2 ohms, L/R separation - 1KHz = >27db, VTF - 1.0-2.1g, Stylus Tip - 0.3x0.8 mil Elliptical. Not too shabby, yes?
Below a picture of the one that I got from Phonocraft a few years ago:
Supex SD-909 modified by Phonocraft.
As you can see the aluminum sides are replaced by wood. Could be ebony or blackwood. So on its route to Koetsu? But the best part is within the SD-909: A cactus cantilever and Gyger tip.
A few months ago I was asked to sent the Supex back as he said he needed to check on a few things. I have no clue what had to be checked, but when it came back it sure looked well done. My ears confirm quality work as now it plays on par with my Dava Reference (really!). Of course there are differences but musicality oozes out of both, and that is what counts, isn't it?. The revised Supex has a tremendous flow where the Dava is more precise. Both are imho superior in playback.
So how does it look like?
As it turned out not every cactus is master supplier in cantilevers. Not only which cactus but also there can be a difference in needle stiffness what effects playback. Phonocraft selects these by auditioning as the difference can not be seen, not even under a microscope. "The yellow ones" are special, he says. And that is the one on which the Supex rides his rounds now.
The tip is said to be from Fritz Gyger, a big name as it comes down to tips. The cantilever is armed with a Gyger 2, a line contact diamond tip. According to Rik from Phonocraft a perfect match to the yellow cactus cantilever.
Of course there is no telling by me how other cactus cantilevers would perform under the Supex, nor other tips, but the result is convincingly enough for me. Hearing is believing..
The cantilever supplier: the Opuntia Vulgaris, if I am correct. Not all needles will perform alike!
The wooden sides replace the aluminum originals.
A closer look at the inside. Construction is alike the older Koetsu's. Cantilever installed.
As an example a re-tip of another project: Gyger S for MC Anna (see below). Photos show the process of glueing the tip to the cactus cantilever. In here the tip is aligned.
Still MC Anna project but from an other angle.
Also MC Anna project, the aligned tip now bonded to the cantilever.
This is actually the Supex with Gyger 2. Bit different shape of the tip.
Test riding judging quality (still missing one sidepanel).
And now riding my system..
So that is the hot-rodded Supex SD-909 by Phonocraft. A more than excellent performer!
If you want to get into contact with Rik Jan from Phonocraft you can send him an email using this address: rikjans -at- home -dot- nl or drop me a line..
Ortofon MC Anna
Below a photo collection of a MC Anna being hot-rodded as well by Phonocraft. Enjoy!