The analogue market might be small, but it’s certainly lively. Along with a rush of new adopters, discovering the joys of vinyl replay (and doubtless the frustrations too), the pool of existing users seems to be thinning out yet also becoming more and more dedicated: just witness the rash of seriously expensive turntables, tonearms, and cartridges hitting the market. But amidst all the fuss and fanfare surrounding new names and ‘new’ ideas, there are still a few established brands, sticking to their principles and offering an oasis of stability amidst the millrace of ingénue offerings – and let’s face it, you don’t get much more stable than Kuzma. When it comes to the implementation of existing ideas (or the development of entirely new ones, like the pivot arrangement on the 4POINT tonearm) the company has an enviable reputation for sound thinking and solid engineering. Their products might not be the first to market, but they’re often nudging shoulders with the best available – and doing it at a fraction of the price.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the new Kuzma CAR cartridge range offers a blend of proven thinking with a few off-beat twists and at a time when five-figure price tags for pick-ups seem almost normal, does so at prices that are distinctly real-world. There are four models in the line, stretching from £1,295 to £5,000, differing in choice of cantilever, coil materials and stylus profile. No, Kuzma hasn’t shifted from its ‘heavy engineering’ technological base into the world of artisan micro-construction; the complete generator assemblies having been developed with and supplied by a third party specialist manufacturer. But there’s no mistaking the source of that machined block body. The spirit of Kuzma is alive and well and wrapped right around the new cartridges.
Back in the day, I remember one august reviewer describing the vdH MC10 as “reminiscent of a WW2 German armoured car.” He clearly hadn’t met the Kuzma cartridges, whose ‘milled from billet’ housings look more like precision built blockhouses than anything actually intended to move. But this is no simple exercise in brute force. The electrical assembly nestles in the milled aluminium cradle that then clamps the generator’s spine hard against the headshell. To ensure the integrity of that connection, the cartridge body offers deep threads so that there is no danger of stripping them, no matter how hard you tighten them. The block footprint allows the provision of three pairs of mounting holes, ensuring that the cartridge will be compatible with almost all tonearms, irrespective of geometrical variation, the length of the slots or the size of the headshell. They also help to reduce the mass a little, although at 17g the Kuzma cartridges are still well into the heavyweight bracket, reflected in their sensibly low, 8-10cu compliance range.