The Garrott Optim is the fruition of the "dynamic coil" principal pioneered by Garrott Brothers. This design allows sonic agility, focus and trackability previously only found in the best moving coil designs.
Diamond Stylus: Garrott Fritz Geiger Signature
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz ±2dB
Channel Separation: 26dB (typical) @ 1kHz
Compliance Vert./Lat.: 18/18 um/mN
Output Voltage: High output type 3.8mV @ 3.54cm/sec
Tracking Force: 1.7 - 1.8 Grams
Input Impedance: 47k
Cartridge Weight: 5.8 Grams
The Optim FGS features a premium Fritz Geiger Signature stylus. Although well aware what a premium stylus profile like the Fritz Geiger can deliver and having reached the point where common elliptical styli no longer pass muster, I was still not completely prepared for the amount of improvement that the Optim FGS gave over the Optim S. I was quite taken aback: everything improved -- resolution, bass pitch, speed, and dynamics, focus, timbre, and, mirabile dictu, an equal improvement in music-making. Improved bass pitch clarity on classical recordings allowed deeper insight into the composer's and performer's intentions and also greatly aided recreating the feeling and demarcation of the sonic space of the recording venue. The meaning and impact of bass playing on rock and jazz recordings was far clearer, more dynamic and propulsive. The overall gain in resolution also helped eliminate the dreaded "drummer with the 8-foot arms" syndrome on jazz and pop recordings, focusing the drum kit into a believable space. I could clearly hear hands hitting the drums on hand drums and the wooden sound of drumsticks initiating the sound of cymbals.
Significant also was a reduction in LP artifacts: groove noise and damage were greatly reduced, though the Optim S was no slouch here either. This is a common effect of sophisticated line contact stylus profiles. And while the enhanced detail of the FGS allowed more non-musical side effects within the recording to be heard, they were always integrated into the musical context. The physical noise of jazz horn playing, for example, was not spotlighted, but subordinated into the musical and emotional value of the note. I find this a very welcome achievement
Listening to music with the Garrott Optim FGS was deeply moving and emotionally intense, among the best that I have ever experienced. The building of tension in classical music had me unconsciously holding my breath the way I respond at live performances. The feeling of exaltation when the tension was released was equally stirring. I found it impossible to listen to music casually and had to choose music of lighter emotional demands when doing the more mechanical reviewing listening chores. The Optim FGS is NOT a muzak-type, sonic wallpaper performer. Listening to a great piece of music stirred me emotionally and aesthetically, and left me sated the way live performances do. The Optim FGS is a true upgrade over the Optim S - an across the board sonic improvement with a concomitant increase in musical communication. Bravo!
As excellent and enjoyable as the Optim S is, I simply found the Optim FGS exceptional in its ability to communicate the heart and meaning of music. For me, it joins the ranks of the great cartridges that are so deeply involving and musically communicative that they make it nearly impossible to focus merely on sonics. The music and the sound were so tightly interwoven that any sonic limitations were irrelevent. The music was there!
So, two high recommendations for the Optims, with a particularly high one for the Optim FGS, which becomes a new reference for musical communication for me and one of the most deeply satisfying cartridges I've yet to hear.
Stereo Times (.com)
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