I recently reviewed Clearaudio’s Goldfinger Statement flagship cartridge, a device constructed from just the kind of exotic materials you’d expect and with a price tag to match. Flashy, bordering on the gaudy, it is Clearaudio’s finest cartridge to date and by some distance, making it a serious contender, albeit in a competition that doesn’t actually signify. Analogue transducers are amongst the most distinctive and personal of equipment choices, be they cartridges or loudspeakers, making the notion of the “world’s best” somewhat ridiculous; one man’s meat and all that… But therein lies the rub. The Goldfinger Statement might not be the “world’s best” – just as no other cartridge is – but it might easily be your own, personal world’s best – and that’s when the price-tag hits home. Few of us can afford to flirt with five-figures when it comes to choosing a needle.
So it’s a good thing that Clearaudio manufacture a complete range of cartridges, with 11 models spread in price below the Goldfinger Statement. The question is, how far up that range do you need to go to get enough of the flagship’s performance to satisfy the craving, while not having to part with flagship scale funds? Enter the Da Vinci V2, a relative steal at less than half the price of the Goldfinger. Housed in a bright red, aluminium body with the same sea anemone shaped, 12-fingered top-plate as its big brother, it sits two models below the flagship, but shares many of the same features. That means it employs the same boron cantilever and Micro HD stylus profile, the same balanced generator topology with its ring of magnets and gold coil wire, the same healthy output and moderate compliance. What it gives away to the flagship is the solid gold body, the use of eight magnets instead of 12, together with slightly heavier coil wire. It also gives away 10g of deadweight, making it a whole lot more manageable at 7.0g – which combined with its 15cu compliance make it broadly compatible with most modern tonearms.