Superb performance at a fair price, that is the premise that TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH follows in the development of the Excalibur pickup series. This should not only apply to the models Excalibur Green, Excalibur Blue, Excalubur Black and Excalibur Red, but above all to the Excalibur Gold, which is about to be the entrance in the high-end market.
When the German company TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH began to expand its sales range in 2016 to include its own pickup systems, it was not really clear where the journey would lead. In retrospect, it was, if one may say so, a decision that was made solely on the basis of a gap in the distribution program that needed to be closed. Paula and Hannes Knorn of TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH were not really happy that as a distributor and proven analogue specialist, it was hardly possible to offer the specialist trade partners adequate solutions in the essentially lower and middle price segment, especially with regard to modern pick-up systems. So the plan matured to develop own systems here, in cooperation with the well-known industrial designer Helmut Thiele and a renowned Japanese specialist.
The Excalbur MC Cartridge Series was born…
The result of this joint development was presented in the form of the so-called Excalibur Series, which initially comprised three models, namely the solutions Excalibur Green, Excalibur Blue and Excalibur Black. These three solutions were all characterised by impeccable technical features and delivered remarkable results at very attractive prices. It is no surprise, therefore, that this range of products quickly found a great deal of interest among the specialised trade partners and was subsequently purchased by a large number of customers. In short, the products of the Excalibur Series developed into a success for TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH, so that it was decided to expand the series upwards.
Success as an impulse for new deeds…
The Excalibur Series was joined by the Excalibur Red and subsequently the Excalibur Gold, whereby the company has now become much more ambitious and has expanded into regions that are well represented by established manufacturers with their solutions.
While the Excalibur Red is a High Output MC Cartridge, the Excalibur Gold is a Low Output MC Cartridge, which we requested for testing.
A classic example of its kind…
TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH describes the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge as a classic representative of its kind, clearly aimed at price-conscious but very demanding vinyl lovers. As the name suggests, this cartridge system delivers only a very low output voltage, but offers the advantage that the smallest moving masses allow for particularly fine pickup. A good basis to play yourself to new heights…
As from the very beginning, TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH relies on the colour of the casing for the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge, and has now reached the field of precious metals. This solution therefore presents itself in radiant gold.
Apart from the different colours, when the complete family of the Excalibur Series is lined up, there seems to be no real difference between the models. In principle, all models use the same case design – this is what you might think at first. Also the case of the Excalibur Gold looks exactly like the other models. But this impression is wrong.
In fact, the Excalibur Gold uses a particularly elaborately designed body, as it is stiffened several times on the inside, so that vibrations and resonances are suppressed and damped very effectively. This ensures that no negative influences whatsoever are to be feared during mechanical pickup, whereby one must bear in mind that this is taking place here in a figurative sense in a microcosm. The deflection caused by the information in the record’s groove at the needle is in the micrometer range, which in turn induces the output voltage via the stiffest possible cantilever and the generator. These in turn are particularly low in pickups in general, but especially in low output MC systems, so that any negative influence would have enormous negativ effects. So if you want to reproduce even the finest nuances in frequency and dynamics, you need a very stiff, robust housing that guarantees a solid base for the entire internal structure of a pickup.
The Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge uses a needle made of natural diamond with Shibata cut, the needle carrier is made of aluminium. The choice of this material is intended to achieve the required highest possible stiffness with the lowest possible weight. The Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge also breaks new ground in the design of the generator and uses a newly developed coil technology. According to the manufacturer’s description, this should guarantee an even more detailed picture.
A few numbers…
According to the data sheet, the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC provides a frequency response of 15 Hz to 35 kHz and has an impedance of 30 ohms. The load impedance should be greater than 300 ohms and the manufacturer specifies 2 g as the recommended tracking force. The system weighs exactly 5.2 g. That said, it should be mentioned that there is of course room for a little experimentation…
From practical experience
For our test, we mounted the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge on a drive that can be assigned without a doubt to the high-end category, namely a Rega RP 10 turntable, which has been doing its job in our listening room for years to our complete satisfaction, and which is normally used in conjunction with a Rega Apheta-2 MC Cartridge, but which has also accommodated many a fine pickup system. This enables us to assess very accurately how a pick-up system performs and what specific characteristics distinguish it.
As a phono preamplifier, we were assisted first and foremost by our much-loved Rega Aria Phono Stage, which occasionally gave way to the Gold Note PH-10 Phono Stage.
Before we finally turn our attention to the sound of the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge, one thing should be mentioned in advance: the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge needs plenty of time to really get to grips with it. This is true for all pickup systems, but the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge needs a few hours more to reach its peak.
And yes, top form, in this case you can take that literally. To put it simply, the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge plays just fine. We were particularly impressed by the casual way of performing in the essentially middle frequency range. Vocals are clearly accentuated and put into the room with credible volume, be it solo with male or female performers or polyphonic passages distributed on the sound stage. The reproduction in the lowest frequency range is no less impressive, bass runs are accentuated as required, either dust-dry and crisp or massive and voluminous. What is initially impressive in pop, jazz and rock, is of course equally impressive in the orchestral range. But the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge can also play in the upper frequency range in a loose, light and finely resolved manner, so that in total a more than impressive, clear sound spectrum results.
Getting to the point
With the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge the Excalibur Series has clearly reached the high-end segment. Vinyl enthusiasts can use this cartridge system to elicit a remarkable variety of sounds and impressive dynamics from their treasures. Accordingly, it is not only a fine turntable, but also a really fine electronics in the form of a first-class phono preamplifier, because only then the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC Cartridge can really show that you have made the right choice.
|Not all that glitters is gold, as they say, but the Excalibur Gold Low Output MC is a truly outstanding MC pickup system, that’s for sure.|
|Manufacturer:||TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH|
|Distribution:||TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH|
|The Good||– enormously detailed illustration|
– impressive dynamics
– exceedingly precise
– competitive price
|The Bad||– you should allow him several hours of break-in time|