Acoustical Systems' tonearm Aquilar, as well as the top-of-the-range model Axiom, are characterized by the UNI-DIN geometry newly developed by Dietrich Brakemeier. The analogue specialists from Bavaria have not yet invented a new generator principle, but with The Palladian Cartridge they thoroughly demonstrate how far one can get sonically with the ingenious combination of already well-known solutions.
During its review run a few months ago, the Aquilar convinced with its geometry and its enormous sonic capabilities, and made me curious about other products from that small manufactory. And, I'm not thinking of the Apolyt turntable – an analogue monument which debuted at the Munich High End show with a price clearly set within the six-digit range. Due to logistical reasons, the occupation with The Palladian therefore appeared much more tempting – and so Acoustical Systems' top-of-the-range cartridge model celebrates its world premiere in Hifistatement.
The Palladian is an advanced development of the Aiwon, in which Dietrich Brakemeier was primarily concerned with getting a good bit closer to the live impression of music – or, in a more prosaic way of speaking, to further improve the cartridge's dynamic capabilities and instantaneous immediacy. For this purpose, the cantilever was shortened a little, which reduced the moving mass, while the bracing wire was also modified. Incidentally, The Palladian's cantilever, as happens with all Acoustical System cartridges, is made of tempered aluminum, which in addition has been treated with C37 lacquer. According to the designer's experience, cantilevers made of harder materials such as boron, ruby, or diamond, are subject to resonances in the presence range, which among other things leads to an overexposure of noise, which appears in a more or less high amount in every recording. Aluminum therefore happens to resonate in a lower, less disturbing frequency range. In addition, in Acoustical System cartridges these intrusions are minimized by the C37 lacquer.
Each of the two coils of The Palladian comprises seven windings of very low oxygen 5N silver – and this is exactly one winding more than the Aiwon has. Although both cartridges feature each a magnet of the same strength, The Palladian comes up with a magnetic field in which the coils move that is said to be minimally stronger, the reason for this being a better focusing within this area. For me this seemed quite a contradiction, to reduce the moving mass on the one hand, and to apply one more winding of wire to the coil carrier on the other. Dietrich Brakemeier responded by saying that the two additional windings corresponded to the weight of about only one hundredth of a millimeter of the needle carrier's length, which is absolutely negligible compared to its shortening.