The Acoustical Systems Fideles phono cartridge is in my opinion, the best bang for buck MM/MI sensitivity phono cartridge on the market. Designer, Dietrich Brakemeier, has definitely raised the bar in that AUD $2500 - $4500 price range, which it is aimed at and high end cartridge manufacturers in that price range are on notice.
I recently sold a new Fideles phono cartridge to customer Dan in Melbourne and he has kindly sent me a brief review, along with some photos of the cartridge set up on his turntable and with his permission, I would like to share this with you below.
I just wanted to thank you for your recommendation on my recent cart upgrade.
As you know, I wanted to get a new cart for my Music Hall 9.1 which has the one piece low mass Pro-Ject 9cc carbon fibre tonearm. After speaking with you I realised the options I was considering were more a sideways step as opposed to a step forward. You suggested the Acoustical Systems Fideles would be the upgrade I was wanting and give me the sound I was aiming for.
Whilst this was a little more than my initial budget I am so happy I went with it. In the first few hours bass was out of the box fantastic as were mids. I felt highs were on the extended side - but after about 7-10hrs things settled down and now bass is even further improved, mids are full and the highs best described as sweet with no hint of being brittle - lots of air and with pinpoint instrumentation. The Fideles has given me fantastic detail but never analytical, its just full of soul with a hint a warmth that does not veil. You find yourself foot tapping constantly and no listening fatigue. The manufacturer claims a very short burn in and I can 100% vouch this to be true. Amazing.
On a side note, the Fideles cart I feel has also matched perfectly to my Graham Slee Accession. The Accession I think does a brilliant job of blackening the background and giving you back what the record and cartridge are feeding without adding its own colouration. For anyone sitting on the fence of a phono stage the Graham Slee Accession is a gem, its price is not near its performance level.
The Acoustical Systems Fideles sound quality, craftsmanship and performance for its price I cannot recommend highly enough It was little more than I'd initially set out to spend but the return on investment has made it feel like a bargain.