Clément cartridges : one way to go MONO

My ex beloved Ortofon SPU-A for shellacs only…
I never understood why my mono records sounded so bad with stereo cartridges until I discovered real mono cartridges. It all started with an Ortofon SPU-A mono but using an adapter to fit it correctly on a FR-64S did not suit me enough. If only I had have a Schick dedicated tonearm I surely wouldn’t have been searching other solutions. I heard and played with modern “mono” cartridges but most of the time they had an unnatural tonal balance and were quite artificial in the treble.
L7B type Clément with adapter on Fidelity Research FR-64S tonearm
First try in full Clément
First time I heard a Clément cartridge sounded to me like a revelation and started a revolution! I thought that nothing would never surprise me anymore in Hi-Fi, such a bold thing to say when you are just a little over 30 years old, but this was something really unusual.

With Clément cartrigdes, mono records were sounding as I would never had dreamt that they could. Voices were so natural and real, bass was powerful, treble delicate, background noises forgotten and this was with just a basic Clément tonearm and a E25B cartridge. I knew instantly that I needed such combination so I jumped on a L7B type Clément cartridge with metal adapter and fitted it on my FR-64S. 

This combination revealed to be unsatisfactory in the long terme : the size of the adapter gave 21 mm more to the FR-64S and I could never find a way to set it up properly even though the front of my L7B had been cut off so that I could adjust the palette (cantilever) in straight position. In fact the best condition in which I heard the L7B play was of course with a 12″ Schick tonearm. In this set-up : no distorsion was observed and the sound, as you can guess : simply amazing.

But (there is always a caveat)… You had to mutilate the body f the Clément cartridge to allow the palette to be straight, put an adapter in the way of the signal, set the tonearm in a VERY HIGH position (with all the instability it included…). I could not be satisfied with this. This is when I started to ask Thomas Schick to think about an arm especially dedicated to the Clément cartridges, either for original Clément mount or later Schlumberger mount.

Bourdereau turntable

In the meantime I had different encounters with Clément materials and adopted this first grey turntable with one of the two best Clément tonearm ever made. This one looks like a canon and is 12″ long. Straight and beasty.

I built a simple phonostage on batteries at first to work with the Clément cartridge output and its beefy 20 mV and more. This phonostage worked out fine but some of my mono records were definitely not layed out in the groove by RIAA standards and I needed something to work on this issue.

Lie Belin turntable

It about this time that  I found an opportunity to buy both a Lie Belin and a Bourdereau ORTF broadcast turntables. I kept the Lie Belin and I enjoyed both a Clément based phono stage with 4 different equalizations and the even bigger and bolder professional Clément tonearm. Adapting the symetrical output from the Lie Belin phonostage to an asymetrical input, matched the gain with my preamp and the 150kg of the turntable provided me with an intense musical bliss. The conclusions of all my Clément tribulations were that to obtain the best out of this cartridge you needed : a dedicated tonearm and at some point a dedicated phonostage to.

Thomas Schick’s stunning Clément tonearm prototype

Finding both of these items is rather scarce and what about the physical integrity of these? This is why I thought that Cala Mighty Sound would propose dedicated products for Clément cartridges. As you already know : Thomas Schick is in the process of building an original tonearm. This time users will not have to make any compromises with there Clément cartridges as these modern tonearms serving will be built for Clément cartridges.

Thomas used the basis of his original tonearm and seems to have mixed it with the Ortofon Concord cartridge look. This is a clever and original way of dealing with the vertical tracking angle issue induced by the particular Clément morphology. So here is the first  photo of the prototype tonearm  Thomas build around the Clément cartridge.

A long straight arm with very low friction bearings and of course the beautiful and neat design proper to his tonearm. I cannot wait to listen to it in my set-up and share with you my impressions!

A small part of Paul’s shellac collection
Standard 12″ Paul prototype tonearm

When I found my Lie Belin turntable, I also discovered an outstanding Clément aficionado as well as a great shellac collectionneur. His castle was full of vintage French radio broadcast equipment (ORTF) and I noticed that some of his Clément tonearms had something special. In fact Paul had been building for his pleasure updated Clément tonearms for over ten years.

He had several different models using modern parts but keeping the mechanical and global look of a Clément tonearm. Listening to these tonearms in his set-up was delightful. Of course he also played with Clément, Lie Belin and Bourdereau turntables but most of his serious listening was made with his own original tonearms.

I came back a few times at his place to enjoy his record collection as well as his friendship. And the idea grow that Paul should share with Clément users is research and work. So here are in avant-première his final Clément tonearm prototypes.

First model is this silver 12″ model. It is very close to an original Clément tonearm but with a teflon bottom bearing and an easily adjustable vertical tracking force. Here the finish is raw and it will be of course polished.

Gold 12″ tonearm prototype

The second model of Paul’s tonearm is a completely updated Clément design with significant technological upgrades. Six of these tonearms are being produced actually by Paul and I will be happy to make you discover these astonishing tonearms.

As well as these tonearms, Cala Mighty Sound will also soon offer a device to convert mono signal into a real two channel mono signal so that you can use your mono cartridge with your stereo phonostage easily and in a correct electrical way. And finally we are in the process of building a phonostage tube inspired by Clément technology. It will of course include multiple equalizations (even for shellacs) and  adapted gain for the Clément cartridge.

Welcome to monomaniacs on Cala Mighty Sound!

P.S. : by the way… did you knew that Cala Mighty Sound was already distributing an adapter for Clément cartridges built by Uwe.