Golden Ear Award: van den Hul The GRASSHOPPER IV GLA

The magazine’s comments:

First, reflecting its position in the audio chain, is the van den Hul Grasshopper IV GLA phono cartridge (review, Issue 115 ). The most impressive thing about A.J. van den Hul’s top-of-the-line cartridge is that it is so splendidly balanced. It provides a broader and deeper overall performance envelope than any cartridge (and almost any other component of any kind) in my acquaintance. Nothing downstream will ever have an excuse for less-than-optimal performance if a properly set-up Grasshopper IV GLA is interpreting the source material. Tonal balance is as neutral as the best tube electronics and the cartridge is utterly devoid of grain. The one aspect of its performance that calls itself to your attention is a stunning portrayal of dynamics, both micro and macro. No overworked audio clich√© does not apply. The Grasshopper never becomes confused, regardless of the force of the crescendo, and remains able to sketch the most minute of details in a strikingly lifelike way.

The Grasshopper is also able, when paired with sufficiently excellent amplification and speakers, to suggest not only that the physical space of the recording environment is present, but to delineate the size and the shape of that space. If, as HP has noted, space is the next audio frontier, the vdH goes where no others (that I have heard) have gone before. Paul Bolin