$800 Cartridge Shootout and Upgrade Path

I am putting together an analog system, starting with the cartridge. I like a well-balanced sound with a slightly lush midrange and excellent extension at the frequency extremes. The cartridge should be a reasonably good tracker. Here are my choices:

1. Dynavector Karat 17D MkII
2. Shelter 501
3. Sumiko Black Bird
4. Grado Statement Master
5. Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood

Which one comes closest to my wish list? Which one would you choose?

Here are the upgrade cartridges to the above list, one of which would be purchased later:

1. Shelter 901
2. Benz Micro L2
3. Grado Statement Reference
4. Koetsu Black

Which one comes closest to my wish list? Which one would you choose?

Now, which turntable/tonearm combination (for new equipment up to $4,500) would you choose to handle a cartridge from the first group and the upgrade cartridge from the second group?

Any help you can provide is greatly welcomed. Thanks!
Of the cartridges mentioned I've heard the Dynavector, Grado and Clearaudio. My preference was the Dynavector and I feel it's strengths are frequency extension, especially the upper frequency range, and a natural sounding midrange. I was considering the Shelter but never had a chance to hear it, maybe others can offer advice on it.
I think if you start with a Denon 103r, you might not upgrade for a long time. What you save on a cartridge can go to much better use elsewhere.

But, we basically have no information other than what you are looking at. What do you listen to? Associated electronics & equipment? Room? Why start with a cartridge in the first place?

Without any more info, itÂ’s virtually impossible to offer any informed opinion.
My preferences are in this order:
Don't know about Sumiko Blackbird.

For TT/arm combo in your price range, I like the Teres 245 and Origin Live Encounter.

How does a Denon 103 or better still 103R compare to the Shelter?
Have not heard the other carts, but I have the Blackbird and am happy.
the dynavector line is amazing. i love my (XX-2) cart. i got it new for 1300, but i know you can get it from hong kong for like 800. check the archives for this. i talked to someone in HK on here, i forget his name, but he can get you a deal.
I'd go with a Denon DL103R and put 500 more toward a tonearm or turntable!
I've had both the Denon and the Shelter, and I can only say I am much happier with the Shelter. I found it to be more lush and overall enticing than the Denon, which I found to be more analytical and not as smooth textured. Yet I don't miss any of the frequency extremes with the Shelter - I think it's very nicely balanced across the spectrum. I'd like to hear from others who have had both these cartridges. The direct comparison was on a Graham Robin tonearm with homemade silver cable, though I now have an Origin Live Silver Taper.
Mike the head tech at VPI is Ga Ga about the Sumiko Black Bird.I have a good discount on Grados and he also thinks Grado Master is better than Sonnata and worth the Price.At Red Hat they said that the Shelter 901 kicks ass at the $1500 price point.It's tough for me in my thinking if it's worth the $300 over the $1200 Grado.I might use the $1500 Shelter MC for Stereo and the $800 Grado mono in my set up.I think the Clearaudio and Denon are better for those who want to stay in the $300 range.Need to hear the Dynavector or get more people wiuth ears I trust to tell me what they sound like head to head before I say anything about them.So Sumiko over Grado by a hair at $800 at $1200 Geado Shelter at $1500.
Upgrade your phono cable to an Empress. After that improvement you may be able to judge better about the cartridge.
First off I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to respond to my analog questions. It's really tough these days to get good help. As you know many audio salons either have no analog setups, or if they do, they may have one or two turntables that are usually what I don't want.


It may be a little strange that I have decided to start with the cartridge, but I believe it's the cartridge that has the biggest impact upon the sound of an analog front end. That is not to say the turntable, tonearm, and phono preamp have no influence because they certainly do. But I feel the cartridge and its requirements need to be considered first, like speakers, before the rest of the analog system can be chosen. For example, the choice of cartridge influences the choice of tonearm. The tonearm needs to have the proper mass to be compatible with the compliance requirements of the cartridge. Moreover, the arm has to match the turntable and work well with it too. So all these components have to be chosen carefully and balanced in order to get the best sound possible.

As to my associated equipment, I am currently using a pair of Martin Logan Ascent loudspeakers with a pair of Cambridge Soundworks Newton P-1000 subwoofers. My amp is the Proceed AMP5 and my preamp is the Klyne Model 7LX3.5. I will have the phono module added sometime soon. The phono module has a fixed capacitance of 150 pF, variable loading from 100 ohms to 47K ohms, and selectable gain of 36, 50, 64, and 66 dB. Also in the near future, the Proceed will be relieved of its two-channel duties and replaced by a bi-amping arrangement, which will include an Adcom GFA 5500 for the woofers and a tubed amp for the ESL panels (e.g., Conrad-Johnson Premier 140, McIntosh MC275 monoblocks, Quicksiliver V4 monos, or Music Reference RM200).

My room measures 28 feet long and 14 feet wide. The listening portion is a 14-foot square. I sit about 10 feet from my speakers, and it seems that a 100 watt per channel amp into 4 ohms is all I need.

As for the type of music I listen to on vinyl, 85% is orchestral classical music and the rest is instrumental jazz.

I hope this information helps.

I have looked at the Teres 245 very closely. I like the way that turntable looks; I am a real sucker for aesthetics. But there is no way for me to know in advance whether I will like how it sounds, and I will not have a frame of reference in which to judge it. However, by the testimonials I have seen and by the various posts on this bulletin board, my impression is that it must be a very good sounding turntable indeed, one that I could be very happy with.

I do have one question. It appears that I will have to finish the turntable myself. I am not opposed to that idea, but having to apply the finish to a $2,400 turntable in which there is no dealer markup seems a little too much to pay.

Now I am not trying to cause trouble here; I am just making an observation.

Also, how much sanding is involved and how is the final finish applied?

As for tonearms, I seem to like the SME 309 or Morch better than the Origin Live. What is your take on these alternatives?
To get started with analog, I will choose one of the cartridges from the first group, and maybe upgrade in a couple of years once I have a better understanding what my current cartridge can do and what analog is capable of delivering. So let me look at the choices presented.

I feel the point of diminishing returns sets in very steeply at the $800 price point. I am sure that $300-to-$500 cartridges come very close, but the $800 cartridge delivers that something extra I am willing to pay for. So $800 is the floor, but $1,500 is the ceiling. Above that level, I feel a little uncomfortable spending more.

I put the Dynavector on the list because of a review done by Paul Seydor of TAS. I have never heard the cartridge, but I get the feeling that I would like something with a little more midrange lushness and a little more output, perhaps 0.5 mV.

The Shelter 501 has been well reviewed and is the hot cartridge right now. It tops my list and should work well with the equipment I now have.

The Sumiko is also very good, but I think the Shelter might be slightly better, and certainly not worse. I can only choose one cartridge so the Shelter leads the group.

I was really excited about the Grado. But with its tracking and hum issues I am a little less excited about it now. I have heard the Grado Reference Sonata in the recent past. It did a fantastic job on vocals, but when it can to symphonies, there seemed to be a loss of air and bloom in the upper frequencies and the overall presentation was a little less exciting.

The Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood got such a strong recommendation by Bob Reina of Stereophile, but in the Audio Asylum and on Audiogon the reception has not been that strong. While I am sure it's a good cartridge, I don't see too many people singing its praises. I think the reason might be that anyone willing to spend $800 or more for a cartridge may want a moving coil design and not a moving magnet.

For my upgrade cartridge choice, it will most likely be either the Shelter 901 or the Benz Micro L2.
IMO the cartridge is very important, but you can't maximize performance of a cartridge without a solid foundation (table & arm) as a starting point.
You might want to look into the Music Maker Mk3. It is a great cartridge. You can find reviews of it on TNT-Audio, 6Moons, Stereo Times, and all the Bristish mags have reviewed it over the past year as well - most of the reviews are of the Mk2 version but still.

If you like what you find on the Music Maker, then you should also look into its natural partner, the Hadcock 242SE Incognito tonearm.

Together you should be able to get them for a hair over $2000, which would leave you plenty of room for quite a few turntables to chose from.

Nott Hyper, Nott Space, Michell Orbe, Michell Gyro, Platine Verdier, Simon Yorke S7, and the Eurolab Premier have all been reported as great matches.
Hi Artar1,
From your cartridge lists I've only heard the Shelter 901, which I own, so I'll spare you any guesses.

I will offer this however: add a ZYX cartridge to your second list. An R100 Fuji ($2k list) will thoroughly outclass a Shelter 901, particularly for the kind of music you and I listen to. It is in quite another league for accurate groove tracing and transparency to the music and musicians. The 901 is a fine cartridge and very exciting. But it doesn't play tough inner grooves cleanly and eventually it becomes fatiguing. It's a bit full of itself and lacks the subtlety to bring classical and small group jazz musicians to life. The ZYX is self-effacing and ravishingly subtle, if that makes any sense. It's shockingly dynamic when the musicians are dynamic, but never otherwise. Sorry for suggesting a slight budget buster, but if you saved a few extra months to get one I believe you'd thank me. :-)

Regarding the Teres 245, you can buy it fully finished in cocobolo for $2775 if you like. If you go for the $2425 in unfinished rosewood then only final sanding for a smooth finish would be required. It's not like they ship you a hand-hewn hunk o' wood. To my mind, an hour of sanding and a few coats of stain/finish, steps which you'd only have to perform once, would be well repaid by the years of pleasure. YMMV of course.

Rather than look at what you don't get with a 245 look what you do: a TT that few if any competitors can match for under $4000. Few if any $3-4K tables from mainstream manufacturers will match a 245 for solidity, dynamics, quietness and speed accuracy. The question is not, "Why does an unfinished Teres cost so much?". The question is, "Why do other tables that perform at its level cost 2-3x more?". You won't find a TT motor, controller, bearing, plinth or platter to match the 245's for anywhere near the price.

Just my $.02, enjoy the hunt!
Artar1, I agree with Doug's assessments on the Teres 245. You only have to finish it yourself if you want to save the money. I bought my 245 finished, but there is quite a bit of assembly work to put it together when you take it out of the boxes.

I can tell you from alot of experience, that a Teres 245 with an OL Encounter tonearm, and a Shelter 501, is an exceedingly enjoyable analog system, with very little fuss or bother, once it is initally set up correctly. They are all excellent matches with each other, and will produce well beyond your expectations.

You'll need a good phono section with at least 62db gain(added to 15db-20db in the linestage) for best results with low-output MC cartridges like the 501.

I'm a very "bang for the buck" oriented guy, and I use a Teres 245, OL Silver(HiFi modded), and a Shelter 501. That is my choice for best sound for the money. For an arm with no mods, the OL Encounter would be an excellent choice because it slightly outperforms the modded OL Silver, and is just a "drop-in" tonearm into any(slightly reamed out) Rega armhole. You'd really have to work hard to outperform that combo for the same money, and I'm not sure that it can be outperformed at it's price point.
Three other ideas:

If a 245 is too much, take a look at the 160. The plinth isn't quite at the 200 series level, but the lead-weighted platter *might* make up a lot of the difference. I haven't heard a 150/160 so that's just an idea, not a recommendation. You do get the exact same bearing, platter, motor and controller however, first class components all.

Keep an eye on the Teres "Scratch 'n' Dent" page. Chris gets trade-ins from time to time and you might find a deal.

If you want better VTA/SRA adjustment than the fiddly OL ring, the Teres VTA adjuster works much better. That's something you can add down the road if you're not sure about it up front.

Nice to see you remember the sale page!


I have to agree with Tom, but I think there are other cartridges you would like better. But, if you go with the Moerch, with it's interchangable tubes, the you open yourself to almost any cartridge on the planet. Doug is the classical music afficianado, and I would take any advice he gives you with great weight. I don't know what Tom listens to regularly, but his advice (and Doug's and a few others here) have helped countless people here, myself included.

Where are you located? I have an open door policy if someone wants to hear my Teres. And I'm not the only one. If it will help you in your quest, come on down & take a listen.
Alright already! I remembered, I remembered. Whad'ja expect from a classical-loving dinosaur?

Classical is a particularly tough challenge for a system. Even jazz is easy by comparison, and pop/rock are a cake walk. Natural instrumental and voice timbres are hard to get right, and painful when they're wrong. Throw in a dynamic range that can go from complete silence in one breath to house-shaking crescendoes in the next. Then expect your system to differentiate an oboe from a viola from an alto solist when Bach has all three doubling on the same line in the middle of it all.

Funny thing is, vinyl does it so much better than the best digital I've heard that it's not even close. Unfortunately, it's not even cheap either. ;-) Damn TWL and his advice. I should have retired with my Bose 901's and zip cord. Now I'll have to work two jobs until I'm about 90.

There's no question about it: the phono cartridge is very important, and with the help of everyone here, I am sure the turntable and tonearm I will choose will be more than good enough to support the cartridge.

Thanks for the great recommendations, especially the Hadcock arm which I think is now called the Hadcock 242SE Integra. It costs about $1,250 or so. It is one beautiful arm and I believe there are several arm wands and head shells available.

The Music Maker is a possibility, but it is now at $995. I think the Shelter 501 heads my list at $800, thanks to Twl's review of the Music Maker. I know the Music Maker received three great reviews in the press that I have seen, but I think the Shelter may be more of what I am looking for. I like the MC sound; there's more air and atmosphere when everything is set up correctly.

I am also familiar with the Michell Gyro and the Eurolab from the reports I have read about them. The Michell is on my list; the Eurolab is now only available directly from Europe. But nevertheless, your recommendations have helped me a lot.

Wow, you have a lot of knowledge about analog; perhaps, that is why you have "deacon" attached to your name? You're the man!

Well, the ZYX recommendation is great, but $2,000? That's a little over my budget by $500, if and when I upgrade. I will have to take your word that the ZYX is better than the Shelter 901; I have no basis for comparison. But at that price, what about the Lyra Helikon that everyone seems to rave about in the press? If I go with the Shelter 501, my next step up would be either the Benz Micro L2 or the Shelter 901. That's about as much as I can afford, I think.

The Teres 245 Cocobolo is too much. But I am interested in the Teres 160 at $2,250. With nearly the same (or the same) motor, platter, and bearing assembly, the major difference between the two is the base. Both weigh about 60 pounds, which is a lot. I don't think that I will be able to tell the difference between the two. Maybe others can, but I doubt that I would be able to.

In regards to the finishing, the Teres web site says that it takes only a couple of hours to finish the turntable. Well, I think it would be longer than that. All of the acrylic parts need to be sanded and polished. Then the base needs to be sanded as well, and then a stain or final wood preservative applied. The drying time alone will take at least 12 hours, or more. Then there is the assembly of the table and arm, not to mention the mounting of the phono cartridge, all of which will take some real work. Knowing myself, I would be looking at about 16 hours of labor, or something like that. But in the end, I would have one beautiful turntable.

Thanks for your help, and thanks for your review of the Music Maker.

If I buy the Teres, I will be doing the finishing work. I will most likely spray the stain onto the base using a Sata air gun and air compressor. I would use M.L. Campbell stains, which are really great. And for the polishing of the acrylic parts, I wound need to get one of those handheld buffers.

You and I seem to have a similar view about price performance. I like to get the most from my audio dollar. I think the Teres 160 will do that for me, even though it will take some work to finish the turntable and to assemble it. But the experience might be worth it.

When I get the phono section added to my preamp, it will have a maximum gain of 66 dB. When the line stage gain is added, I will have a total of 80 dB. Will that be enough? I think so, but then what do I know?

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the OL Silver, but I like my tonearm to be jewel-like. I know that may seem a little shallow, but then I am a shallow kind of guy! The tonearms that have really caught my fancy are the Hadcock 242SE Integra and the Moerch DP-6, which is not very cheap! The Hadcock sells for about $1,240 currently and the Moerch around $1,890. I know that's a lot of bread, but I don't think I would be happy with anything else. After all, I would be spending a lot of time looking at the arm and lowering and raising it onto countless records. If the thing were too ugly, I might not like what I hear. I now that sounds a bit irrational, but then I am an irrational kind of guy!

Thanks for the offer! I live in Tracy, California; that's the Central Valley, but it's close to the Bay Area.

It seems like a lot of people like the Denon DL 103R and the AT-OC9 ML/II. One fellow on the AudioAsylum Vinyl bulletin board has gone so far as to say that the AT-OC9 is better than a $4,000 Dynavector XV-1! While I am not going to spend four big ones on a cartridge, I have to wonder about the validity of that statement. So what I would like to know is the Denon better than the Shelter 501? Now I don't want to start a cyberwar or anything but that's a legitimate question, I think?

Okay everyone,

This is where I'm at on the turntable decision. It looks like I will be going for the Teres 160 ($2,250) using the Shelter 501 cartridge. It's now a question of tonearms. Which should it be, the Hadcock 242SE Integra or the Moerch DP-6? I would love to go with the Hadcock because it's cheaper and real nice according to the 6 Moons review. But the Moerch is also very nice. Help! Also, is there anyone who thinks the Teres 160/Shelter 501 combination can be outdone by something else in that price range? Any further help would be appreciated! Thanks guys!
For your arm choice, just get the Schroeder Model 2, it will be a lot better than any of the other choices.

Between the Denon and the Shelter, its a matter of personal taste. For the Denon, a little more care is required with the arm setup and the phono gain as its a low compliance design. Frank Schroeder has a brass plate mount for the 103R and you'll be fine. For the Denon, you will need >60db of phono gain due to the low output.

I've not heard the Shelter, so let others comment.

Just as TWL pointed out in his followup on his Music Maker review the cartridge is a bit picky about what tonearms it mates well with. I feel that the Hadcock tonearm is very similar in that regard. I initially purchased a Benz ACE H2 cart to go with mine, but after 8 months of never getting things to perfectly come together I decided I needed to just splurge and get the cart that is designed for use on the Hadcock tonearm - the Music Maker. It was a huge leap forward in sound. So I am saying I would be hesitant in recommending the Hadcock to anyone who isn't going to go with the Music Maker as well, as with just any other cart you may run into mismatch problems. For example you would be the first that I have heard of mating a Shelter to a Hadcock? Maybe? Hopefully???
Artar, if you intend to use the Shelter cartridges, I don't think that the Hadcock will be a suitable platform for them. The Shelter cartridges have shown themselves to be quite difficult for unstabilized unipivot tonearms. I concur that for the Hadcock arm, the Music Maker would be better suited.

For the Shelter cartridges(and Koetsu, Denon DL103R, and other MC with <10cu compliance)you truly "need" a quality gimbal bearing arm of at least 11.5g effective mass, or a very capable stabilized unipivot of similar mass or more.

The Morch DP-6 with it's "dual pivot" design, may be stable enough for it, but I never used that combination myself. I do know that you can get a suitable armwand for effective mass matching. I suspect it would be a much better match for the Shelters than the Hadcock.

If you want a Jewel-like tonearm, I may suggest a Triplanar.

Regarding your gain levels, the 80db gain you have in the system should be fine for the Shelters and other 0.4mv output level cartridges.

When you start bringing "looks" into the equation, and thinking that performance may not be affected, you are venturing into very dangerous territory.
Thanks for the kind words. Just to keep things in perspective, TWL's dog knows more about analog than I do. I just try to help where I can.

Re: tonearms
As he said, if you're using a Denon 103x or Shelter, a Moerch DP-6 seems more viable than a Hadcock. I've heard Shelters on a unipivot that's better stabilized than a Hadcock. Compared with good dual-bearing arms the unipivot didn't cope as well. These cartridges feed a ton of energy back into an arm.

Given your uncertainty about cartridges, the DP-6's interchangeable armwands give it an attractive flexibility. There's a downside to that however. Breaks and connectors in the armwire degrade the sound of this very delicate signal. While I haven't heard a Moerch, all the best arms I have heard use a single run of wire from cartridge clips to phono stage. The arm TWL suggested has that, and pretty good wire too. Personally I wouldn't want an interrupted arm wire for higher end MC use. Speaking generally, the higher up the MC ladder you climb the lower the output levels get. This makes the armwire ever more critical.

Re: cartridges
I doubt you'd find a Helikon satisfying. No one has ever suggested it has warmish mids, or warmish anything. The opposite has been said too many times to count.

The ZYX R100 Fuji has a *list* price of $2K. You shouldn't pay that. The ZYX dealer right here on Audiogon sells it for $1500. For your sonic preferences and music types it's an easy winner vs. a Shelter 901 IMO.

A $1500-ish cartridge is in the future anyway, right? Keep your eyes on this forum. In a few weeks I expect to be offering the opportunity to demo my Shelter 901 in your own system at a very nominal cost. Once your rig is up and running you might want to give it a listen.

IMPORTANT: check out this review of the R100 Fuji's little brother, the R100H.


List is $995 and our Audiogon dealer sells it for $800. The reviewer describes several cartridges you're interested in. His descriptions of cartridges I've heard tally with my impressions. He makes the R100H sound like a clone of my $3000 Airy2, with which it shares the best tracking and tracing stylus I've ever heard. If his review is even close to accurate, this cartridge should go to the top of your first shortlist.

Okay everyone,

I have just read all the new responses, and I have a boat-load of questions. But more about that later.

It really seems I don't know what I am doing.

At this point, would it be reasonable for me to assume that the Teres 160 would be a good investment? (Please say yes; it's okay to humor me!?) If that turntable is okay, then I can take the next step -- selecting the tonearm and cartridge.

I do have a weakness for good looking stuff, but if that means poor sound quality or compatibility issues, then I will relinquish my beauty requirements accordingly.

Let's assume I would like to end up with the ZYX R-100 Fuji FS/FC and maybe start with something like a Shelter 501 or even the ZYX R100 H (I read the review. Wow!), what tonearm is going to mate well these cartridges? And let's forget about looks and concentrate on the sound. However, the arm really can't exceed $2,000, and hopefully less. Any suggestions? What about the SME 309? Would it work?

I've got to get back to work; I have a mountain of things to get done today besides worrying about my analog front end.

More to follow...and a very big thanks!
If you like the Hadcock tonearm, I still wouldn't mark it off your list. The Hadcock with the Music Maker cartridge is a very, very good pairing. Heck, TWL gave the cart a good review and it wasn't even properly matched to the tonearm.

I am firmly of the belief that for the $2200 dollars spent on this tonearm and cartridge together, you would have to spend a bunch more to greatly exceed their performance.

Heard another great analog system last night as well. It was a Spacedeck with a Boston Audio Mat 1, Wave Mechanic power supply, Rega RB-1000 toneram, and a VDH Frog cart. Beautiful sounding vinyl rig.

My Spacedeck has the Hadcock and Music Maker Mk3 and a Living Voice Mystic Mat and it is extremely nice as well, wish I had the Wave Mechanic though.

But what I am getting at is that the other high class Spacedeck set-up I have heard which I had in my rig for two weeks was the Spacedeck with a Spacearm, Heavy Kit platter upgrade, and a Shelter 901 cart.

I would take either of the above two over the last combo in a second.

My thoughts and experiences so take it for what you will.
I guess I am just saying don't write off the Hadcock and Music Maker just because it is a moving iron cartridge.
Dear Artar1: Shelter 501 and 901. For the turntable: Acoustic Signature, please go to their website.
BTW, like you everyone thinks that Doug is really an expert in analog, but he told in this forum that he has only 13 months of experience in analog, the fact is that he likes to be in all threads ( water of all glasses ) with not a single own contribution, he is a inexpert man in analog, yet. Please read the Shroesder tonearm thread where you can confirm it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
You and Doug have disagreed a number of times; that is no reason to make this personal attack. I find your efforts both unwarranted and offensive. There is no call for this behavior in this forum.

I would like to jump in here, if I may. I would like to keep this discussion friendly and helpful; I don't want this thread to deteriorate into an argument or to have it become personal. Please.

Maybe Dougdeacon is a quick study. He has a great system, he seems to know a lot, and he has helped me. Now, I am no genius nor am I an expert on anything, but Dougdeacon knows more about analog than I do, and I have 12 years of experience between 1974 to 1986. In those years, I did not advance my knowledge very much. I just played records. Now I would like to do a better job of setting up a turntable. I will only have one shot at this for a number of reasons. I don't want to make a bunch of dumb mistakes and lose a lot of money.

I am reading though what has been written here and I am reading other analog threads as well to learn even more.

Artar, it is important to match the tonearm and cartridge well. If you want to use a "pretty" unipivot tonearm, then the ZYX will give a better match than the Shelter. In fact, the ZYX will be much more likely to match alot of other tonearms, due to its compliance rating of 15cu. When you get into the lower compliance cartridges like Shelter, Koetsu, Denon DL103, it is much more difficult to get a proper match with the currently available crop of tonearms.
I think the low compliance cartridges give the sound I like, but the ZYX cartridges are excellent, and they are easier to match to most tonearms.

Perhaps you can find a happy matchup with a nice pretty Morch or Schroeder, and a ZYX cartridge.
Artar1: For the tonearm the Morch DP6 will be a very good choice. You don't have to worry about the compliance of the cartridge because the Morch tonearm has different mass arm wands and you can match with any cartridge. BTW, Acoustic Signature hands down Teres.
Regards and enjoy the music.
I believe the Schroeder model 2 is below $2k, plus it shares the same string suspension and magnetic damping of its more expensive brethren.
Is the Schroeder 2 still available? I thought he'd consolidated the line. One person I know with a Schroeder 2 and TriPlanar IV prefers the 2, so I assume it has much of the sonic neutrality of the Reference. That would be a good thing.

Artar 1,
To respond directly to one of your old questions, the SME 309 was designed for higher compliance catridges. It is too light to be a good match for a ZYX and would be even worse for a Shelter. I suppose a 312 would work with a ZYX, as would a IV or V.

FWIW, I've been spinning vinyl on my own TT's since 1967, and on my parents' since about 1959. Again, people like TWL have experience with a much wider array of high end gear. For those keeping track, we're up to 14 months with our current rig. Please adjust your barbs accordingly! ;-)
Nobody knows it all. We're all continually learning. That's part of the fun of this hobby.
Dear Artar1: Do you know that the signal for music reproduction, in the Doug audio system, goes always through a mediocre equalizers? .
Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul: I am going to keep calling you on your rude and inappropriate posts. Your continuing personal attacks are not acceptable.

For those who don't know, Raul considers tube equipment to be "equalizers."
Wow! In that case, I must be listening through "mediocre equalizers" also.
Me too on the "mediocre equalizers"! But how can Raul hear the music with his head so far up his ***
Hey, no question there are better systems than mine. There are better systems than Twl's too. And Jphii's. And Cmk's. So what? How does stating this obvious fact help Artar 1 select a cartridge? Should he ignore the experiences of everyone but the one person in the world who owns your idea of the perfect system? Spare us your arrogance.

The impressions I've posted of our ZYX have been confirmed by every review that's been published in print, online or by private owners. The review I linked to above is just one among many.

The Fuji supplanted the Shelter 901 in Arthur Salvatore's system for the very same musical reasons that the Airy2 supplanted the Shelter 901 in ours.

Rushton recently told us that, "Lloyd Walker was very complimentary of the ZYX "Airy" model that you have. He said he liked many things about it and that it would possibly be his second choice to the Magic Diamond cartridge that he sells and that I use. From Lloyd, that is high praise."

My equalizers are in pretty good company, and that IS useful information for Artar 1. :-)

I own both a Shelter and a ZYX. I know what they sound like. Do you? If so please tell us.
BTW to Artar 1,
Just so you know where I'm coming from with the ZYX recommendation, if you listened to hard rock, techno, punk, electronica or the like, I'd recommend the Shelter 901 over a ZYX any day. Like some forum members, it's a bit of a head-banging character itself. ;-)

"Equalized" or not, the differences between these two cartridges are easy to hear. For the natural reproduction of acoustic instruments and voices, a ZYX is a better choice, assuming appropriate arm, phono stage, etc.

AFAIK, TWL listens to different music than you and I. Not surprising that he likes a different cartridge. Quite reasonable.

So now we're on to tone controls and tubes. Interesting! Well, count me among those who like those little (or big) bottles. I am planning on buying a tubed amp for my Martin Logans. Heaven knows they need some life, richness, vitality, and warmth so they will sound half-human.

I've got a lot more to say, but first I need to get some work done, and my right arm is also hurting so I got to take it a little easy. Nevertheless, I think I'm getting some where thanks to all the posting being done here. I can say without a doubt that if I didn't ask all these dumb questions, I know for sure I would have blown my analog setup. You know it's not that easy; digital has turned my brain into a basket of a bunch of ones and zeros!


Nice system. I really like your speakers. I mean they almost look alive, or something. I'm sure you get that comment a lot from the non-audiophile types that stumble into your listening room.

I have not considered Schroeder in the past because of price. They make one hell of an arm, and wow is it cool looking. (Sorry Twl!) The Model 2 should make a good match with the Teres; it's listed on the Teres web site as an approved arm. Now the question I have for you is how much does it cost? If it's under two big ones, I will give it serious consideration. But any arm I buy will need to give me flexibility for future cartridge swapping. Right now it's a toss up between the ZXY and the Shelter 501. But I may also want to try a Benz Micro or a Dynavector in the future. It would be financially painful indeed to have to buy a different tonearm for each cartridge. Now it makes a lot more sense why I see a few turntables with multiple arms and arm mounts.

By the way, which cartridge do you use on your Schroeder? How did you go about choosing it?


I appreciate the Music Maker/Hadcock recommendation. If the Music Maker were to be my last cartridge, I just might go for it. But I think I have my heart set on a moving coil. I know that may sound a bit irrational, but there it is. What can I say? But wait a minute...

It seems that the Music Maker is a redesigned Grado Reference without the wooden body. It has a high compliance and a relatively high output of 4.0 mV. The descriptions of I have read in the three reviews of the cartridge tell me that it has a sound similar to the Grado Sonata but with more transparency and detail and a better balanced frequency response. To paraphrase TNT Audio, female voices are natural and sensual, as one would expect from a Grado. Sibilants are very natural and not harsh at all. The Music Maker is a good tracker, has excellent bass and bass articulation, something missing in the Sonata, and is smooth and easy to listen to. TNT goes on to say that it sounds like a really good CD player, minus any upper midrange brightness or coarseness in the upper most registers. 6 Moons concurs and adds that soundstaging is very 3-D and instruments have a slight rounding. Not tinny at all. And Stereo Times, using mystic and even impassioned language, describes the Music Maker as having an uncanny ability to convey the genuine gestalt of the music.

"No single aspect of its sonic performance stuck out. It didn't sound bright and lean, nor mellow and muffled. It didn't sound fast or slow...It just sounded like music."

While such languages pulls at the more poetic aspects of my heart, it does lack a little objectivity in enabling me to grasp the true nature of Music Maker. Also, at a thousand big ones, the Music Maker puts itself in a category close to the Grado Statement Reference and Benz Micro L2 just two hundred dollars away. Having said that, the Music Maker doesn't do the Grado tango nor does it have the Grado hum!

If Dougdeacon is the man, then u'd the man of the man! (Well, that really didn't make much sense?)

I do have plans to at least try the Shelter 501 (I hope Dougdeacon ain't readin' this!). So if that's the case, the Hadcock won't work as a one-arm solution. It also appears that the Music Maker, with a compliance of 30 cu, places it in a category apart from cartridges like Shelter, Koetsu, and Denon. Of those three, it would be the Shelter for sure.

"When you start bringing "looks" into the equation, and thinking that performance may not be affected, you are venturing into very dangerous territory."

That's what my friend said about my wife six years ago. Well things seem to be working out between us so maybe there's hope for a tonearm? : > )

As for the Triplanar, its too much on the pricey side so maybe I will have to pass.

By the way, what do you think about the ZYX R100 Fuji? You can e-mail me if your feedback is controversial?

Now, I would like to know how to determine the compliance of a cartridge and the mass of a tonearm? Moreover, how do I match up compliance with mass? Robert Hartley (Now don't make fun of him!) says it's important but doesn't bother to explain how to do the math or where to obtain such information. Nor does he talk at length about matching a tonearm's bearing assembly with the cartridge to be used. Help!

Here's another question: Can the Origin Live Encounter handle both a ZYX and a Shelter? I know you use the Silver version, so that must work well, correct? What about that possibility?

Here's yet another question: You have the Teres 245. Did you consider the Teres 255 with the bird-shot platter? I know the lead adds mass, but is it worth the extra cost and doesn't one need a more powerful motor to spin the added weight?

Thanks for your help.