Posted on 4th July, 2017


When it came time to revise the Crimson moving coil cartridge, designer A.J. Van Den Hul, turned to Italy for his inspiration.

Not just Italy per se, but musical instrument genius, Stradivarius provided the way forward to a new edition of the Crimson.

A.J’s latest version uses several layers of lacquer mixed to the formula Stradivarius employed on his unsurpassed wooden bodies, wind instruments that are now legendary for their sublime sound.

Three layers are applied to the new Crimson and these according to a conversation we recently had with A.J. eliminates any standing waves inside the cartridge’s softer body.

A.J. told us:

The difference with the standard version is the application of a copy of the lacquer used by Mr Stradivarius,

This lacquer dries very slowly and I apply even three layers. This takes about half year before I can use the body to build a system like I did recently for the U.K.

Each of the layers takes two months to dry.

van den hul Crimson Stradivarius

Elsewhere inside the new Crimson are significant changes.

Also I apply a thinner suspension wire to have a better control of the armature movement. With the standard wire, the armature, despite good damping, acts still a bit as a mechanical resonator,

Not really much but each little bit is still too much. The inner damper is also changed to get even, smooth sound.

A.J. points out the new Crimson has three dampers that respond quickly to a change in position in relation to the damper. This avoids spurious resonances in the armature platform direction.

According to A.J, the armature should just rotate around a fixed point in the centre. Otherwise there is rotation combined with shifting.

This shifting is mostly ignored by designers because an armature creates an electrical signal that makes anyone at first listening already happy.

The real quality comes from pure rotating around the centre of the armature. A shorter suspension wire (not stiff and therefore thinner) is the solution. The quality of the inner damper does the rest.

After pointing out that his Co libri series of cartridges are now designed this way, A.J. ended our conversation with this advice:

I think that you are now already half on your way to start your own cartridge production. Needs only a kitchen table and a good microscope. And, very steady hands to work with the flimsy thin coil wires. So NO daily Grappa anymore!!!

Each new Crimson is made to order by A.J.and it can be tailored to suit the buyer’s taste and system. A.J. also offers a free 200-hour service check up with each cartridge.

You can own one of these masterpieces for $7999.

StereoNET interviewed A.J. van den Hul recently and you can read that insightful interview here.

For more information visit the van den Hul brand page.


  • Output Voltage: 0.95mV
  • Stylus Shape: VDH-1
  • Frequency Range: 5Hz–55kHz
  • Tracking Force: 1.35–1.5g
  • Static Compliance: 35 Micron/mN
  • Channel Separation: >30dB
  • Rec. Load: 25–500Ω
  • Weight: 8.75g
  • Warranty: One year parts and labour (200-hour refresh available to original owner)


Peter Familari's avatar

Peter Familari

One of the veterans of the HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun national newspaper in Australia for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in the industry, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: van den hul