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Van Den Hul DDT-ll
Measured Performance
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VAN DEN HUL DDT -II  MOVING COIL CARTRIDGE

van-den-hul-ddt-ii-special

 

This is a cartridge with a long history. The original DDT (which stands for Depth, Detail and Timbre) was A. J. Van Den Hul’s second cartridge design, and the first to be released under his own name in 1983. Over the years various upgrades have been introduced, including a better shaped front pole and better dampers. The suspension wire diameter has been reduced and an extra support magnet introduced at the front pole. The Special designation means that it comes equipped with an 85 x 1.5 micron stylus which is shared with the high-end Colibri model; it is mounted on a boron cantilever. The stylus comes from the centre of an octahedral diamond which produces predictable and regular shapes after processing, unlike synthetic diamonds which can vary in shape somewhat. The coils are made of crystal silver wire.
    After a few minutes spent setting the DDT-ll Special up, I played the ‘Appalachian Spring’ and was immediately hit by the increased levels of definition and shape that spending a lot more on a cartridge could bring to the proceedings. Good though I felt the Benz to be, the  Van Den Hul provided a more holographic shape to the instruments, and a real feeling of effortlessness and flow to the sound. The differing tonal colours of the instruments was far better displayed than with any other cartridge in this group, and I felt more immersed in, and drawn into the sound.van-den-hul-ddt-ii_rear
Moving over to the Pearl Bailey record proved equally impressive, and the performance belied the age of the vinyl. I was barely aware of any wear points on the disc and was thoroughly immersed in listening to Pearl strut her stuff. The orchestral backing surrounded her, without infringing upon her space, and the differing inflections in her voice caused me to almost believe that she was giving me a knowing wink and she delivered a rollicking version of Cole Porter’s ‘Always true To You Darling In My Fashion’.
    Janis Joplin’s vocals range from agonised power house to almost incoherent throwaway mumbles, but the Van Den Hul treated them all with aplomb, seeming to reach into her heart to extract that little extra bit of emotion. Despite it’s ease with well mannered classical sounds it seemed unfazed by the potentially abrasive mixture of guitar, organ, tenor and baritone sax, and trumpet. Each seemed planted in front of me, ready for my perusal.
    After that, the gentler sounds of ‘Moon Safari’ were a doddle to reproduce, creating a sonic space that was full of floaty, wispy noises and effects accompanying the vocals. ‘Sexy Boy’ was driven along by the opening bass sounds, time being kept exactly by the high hats ticking away, and the vocals weaving in and out of the mix of Moog, Syrinx and Korg synthesizers. I just sat back a floated away with it.


VERDICT
Long established cartridge from Holland with  open and dynamic sound.


FOR
- rich and full bodied tonality.
- controlled bass.
- excellent imaging.

AGAINST
- nothing apart from price.


Van Den Hul DDT-ll
Special           £995.00
Definitive Audio
+44 (0)115 973 3666
www.definitiveaudio.co.uk


 MEASURED PERFORMANCE
At a low tracking force of 1.4gms tracking was fair. A high lateral cut of 63µm was cleared at 300Hz, but only an unimpressive 16cms/sec at 1kHz. The Van den Hul DDT-II Special may well mistrack on strong vocals and a maximum recommended tracking force of 1.5gms gives little leeway to cure this. It is not the best tracker.
    Frequency response was almost bizarrely flat out to 20kHz, with little variation at high frequencies but a peculiar plateau lift of lower frequencies. The DDT-II may well have quite a distinctive sound balance and very smooth, natural treble. On inner grooves tracing loss introduced a small amount of treble fall above 10kHz, hardly enough to soften the sound. This is another accurate cartridge with a neutral sound balance.
Output from the DDT-II Special was reasonable, measuring just 0.88mV at 5cms/sec rms and this will suit most moving coil phono stages.
Vertical tracking angle was very high, over 30degrees. As a result distortion was high at 6.5% on vertical modulation. Lateral distortion was low, measuring 1.1%.
    The DDT-II Special is another MC with an unusually flat frequency response and will likely sound very good. Only VTA is too high. NK


Tracking force    1.4gms
Weight    gms
Vertical tracking angle    25degrees
Frequency response    20Hz - 20kHz
Channel separation    30dB
Tracking ability (300Hz)
lateral    63µm
vertical    45µm
lateral (1kHz)    16cms/sec.
Distortion (45µm)
lateral    1.1%
vertical    6.5%
Output (5cms/sec rms)    0.58mV

 

FREQUENCY RESPONSE

van-den-hul-ddt-ii_fr1

Red - inner grooves

 

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