Soundsmith Carmen Phono Cartridge


Free Lifetime Technical Assistance


  • $799.95

The "Carmen" cartridge by The Soundsmith (formerly SMMC3) has received numerous kudo's and accolades.....we love to produce this cartridge and receive Email responses about how much "real" music we have brought into the homes of Carmen owners. We built it with care, and ship it to you mounted in a hand finished Ebony mount.

Here is the "micro-manufacturing" reality:

All top end cartridges from all manufacturers are hand made. The real issue is that when you are manufacturing something so tiny, that has to perform so well, that all of them are NOT the same. If you don’t see this statement from other manufacturers, then this is a "secret" they don’t want to share, and quite understandably so.

So.....what does Soundsmith do??

We carefully hand build each and every cartridge, test them, and keep accurate records by serial number of their performance. Those that meet or exceed specifications are sold. But, there are always a few that don't measure well. What do we do with them? We don't sell them. We break them down and re-use some parts that can be used again. Does this cost real money ? You bet. But what it does do is this.....the ones that DO pass our stringent testing out-perform many cartridges selling for two, three, four, or even five times the price. Are we unabashedly proud of our hand-made cartridges??


Some ask:

"Moving Iron Cartridges better?? I thought that moving COIL types are the best??"

Our cartridges overturn the myth that moving coil cartridges are the only path towards perfection. After all, what is the accepted “advantage” of moving coil cartridges? Low effective moving mass, right? Well, we've got less. Much less. And if you understand EFFECTIVE moving mass, Less IS more. Why is that good? Because when you lower the moving system mass, it’s easier to control. If it’s easier to control, the stylus can stay in better contact with the groove walls. That’s good, because if you can’t stay in contact with the groove walls, you can’t hear what’s on the record.

Is a high gain moving coil preamp required? No. "Aida” is designed to be used with a Moving Magnet preamp. No "step-up" transformers. No finicky multi-stage ultra high gain preamp required. Less is more here, too.

Once you’ve heard your new Carmen cartridge, you’ll never go back.


Nude Elliptical, 0.120mm SQ

Radius of curvature

6 x 17 µm


Aluminum Alloy

Recommended Tracking force:

12mN / 1.2 gm (high)
14mN / 1.4 gm (medium)

Effective tip mass

0.35 mg


28 µm/mN (high)
22 µm/mN (medium)

Frequency response

20-20,000 Hz ± 2.5 dB

Channel Separation
(stereo only)

1000 Hz >26 dB
50-15,000 >20 dB

Channel difference

<1.6 dB (Stereo)
<1.0 dB (Mono)

Output voltage

>0.6 mV/cm/sec.

5 cm/sec. Lat. RMS

>2.12 mV

Cartridge weight

6.8 grams


Resistance >/= 47 kohms

Capacitance: 100 - 200 pF