Field Coil cartridges

Thinking about where next cartridge wise. I’ve read good things about carts like the IO Ltd and Dava but not heard one myself.

I know a few folks have heard or own IO Ltd themelves and wondered what their long term experience is with them. I have this nagging doubt that after the initial wow that this might wear off and people might drift back towards a traditional mc cart?

Would owners recommend one over and above an IO Gold with a nice SUT?

I was lucky enough to hear the Ltd back-to-back with my Gold in Ilford a few years back. (Both going thru my Coco built silver Slagle SUT)
They are both fantastic sounding carts, but different beasts. The Ltd is slightly smoother/rounder and the Gold more jewel like.
Bottom line - I didn’t prefer the Ltd, so couldn’t justify the price at double the cost of the Gold.

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I would say no, the faff and bullshit doesn’t justify it.

Haven’t owned one but have heard the Io Ltd a few times and preferred my Gold / S8 combo.

The Soundsmith Strain Guage has always intrigued me though.

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I’ve owned both - at the same time - (still have the Ltd) and the Ltd gets my vote all day long. The Gold is a lovely cartridge but the Ltd is next level IMO


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My concerns with the Da-va are the number of turns on the coil which I would expect to get a tad warm which may effect the damper etc. I spoke with the guy who makes them and he says this is a non issue so perhaps yes perhaps no.
The IO Ltd biggest faff is the additional lead which if external will pay up the bias. Internal wiring would be the way to go but I’ve never been assed. It sounds better than any other cart I have in a ‘get out of the way’ way.
I did A/B the IO vs Gold not so long ago and the Ltd just flows, it’s hard to describe but as a tape head you’ll get what I mean.

Hard things to value really, I’ve been asked a few times to sell and I possibly would have but there’s a lot a variables in valuing. Personally I found the JPN preferable to the UK (Somehow?) I’ve no idea why this might be other than simple sample variations.

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Thanks for helpful replies.

@pmac and @Ruprecht - do you use your Ltd as your ‘daily driver’?

As to the hard to value question - what’s a good price for a Gold or a Ltd these days?

For me it’s not simply because I swap from Mono to Stereo frequently so faffing with wires is additional doo-doo. I should really just get another arm and use it as a dedicated thing. Prices on golds will vary with use / condition and neck of seller. I’ve had a couple at £2-3K but many push past this. N.B: If you go the IO route (Gold or Ltd) spend all you can on an SUT these things don’t really put on a show on a budget, regardless of wishful thinking. Slagle silver might be a thing to look at?

Yeah I had in mind a Slagle silver SUT if I went this route

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I’d offer to lend you the Ltd but without a specifically matched (Not approximate) SUT it’s a non starter.

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That’s very kind of you, but no worries.

I’ll maybe keep an eye out for an IO Gold and take things from there.

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No, I swap things around quite often with other options.

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If you want to audition Matt’s Gold, could lend/send you my Slagle to go with it.

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Is it not also the case that the PSU is of secondary but very considerable importance in obtaining the best results from the Ltd?

I have the kondo original (Wired version) and a battery version conjured by @murrayjohnson with wheelchair batteries. Of the two I vote Wheel Chair.

Makes sense, a PSU can never be too quiet in this sort of application.

NEVER, EVER skimp on the PS for a Ltd.

This is mine, in all its magnificence

Io Ltd ps


Nice casework is vastly overrated, IMHO!

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I always liked this pic of the Io Ltd internals showing the electromagnet.



These are the ones I took of Simon’s “naked” one with cut down body.


Looks good. Was that a Rob Dowse (Natasha) build?