Len Gregory: 1944-2020

A personal tribute to 'The Cartridge Man'

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Len Gregory: 1944-2020

The passing of Len Gregory at the end of October came as very sad news. He was a most remarkable and uniquely talented individual. Aka ‘The Cartridge Man’ he was in fact a man of many parts – an epithet more typically attributed to actors than a specialist in hi-fi. In fact he was an accomplished professional actor with a career that embraced stage, film and television. His portrayal of Detective Sergeant West in EastEnders brought him celebrity status but he was an inherently private man and did not seek the limelight. It was at drama school where he met his lifelong partner, Jean Ure, a celebrity herself as an immensely popular and prolific writer of children’s books. Apart from music and the stage they also shared a passion for animal welfare. They set up home in one of the oldest abodes in Croydon, a Queen Anne townhouse, where rescued cats and dogs were a familiar presence.

While it may seem extraordinary to make the transition from actor to hi-fi innovator so successfully, for Len these seemingly disparate occupations had a natural synergy. Acting after all is focused on the accurate and proportional production of sound. The training enhanced Len’s natural abilities to very accurately perceive the quality and emotion in sound – whether generated in live speech or reproduced through a hi-fi system. He possessed an amazing aural perception and memory, able to detect the subtlest changes in performance. His initiatives in hi-fi ranged from a  parallel tracking air bearing tonearm (the Conductor), a pliable polymer turntable mat (the Music Mat), a digital stylus balance and level gauge and of course to his wonderful moving iron cartridges - the Music Maker and Music Master. These leading edge achievements have made a considerable contribution to the exacting and demanding world of analogue reproduction. It is perhaps his innovations in cartridge design that will be most cherished. It was here that his unique combination of a very finely tuned ear and a special understanding of the technical interaction between damping, conductor winding, cantilever stiffness and stylus design delivered truly amazing performance in capturing the most delicate of detail from a vinyl surface. To all those who knew him, Len was always helpful and engaging and ready to share his expertise. He will be greatly missed.

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