A cartridge with more bite, please and thank you

My Hana SL is a little soft sounding for the Linn LP12/Cirkus/Mober supchassis/Alphason Xenon MCS and I'm looking for some direction and insight. My phono preamp is a Supratek Syrah.

Thinking about Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, ZYX Ultima 100 and Soundsmith Paua. Anybody out there compare these? Heard any of them on a similar set up? Or, have other recommendation that would mate well?


I see a lot Ortofon recommendations for Alphason, the ZYX reviews well and Soundsmith is right down the river - I've enjoyed their lower models and like the rebuild concept and pricing. That said, best sound is best sound!

Oh, I'm also open to having the Alphason rewired - I'm not sure that's the biggest priority right now, but it's tempting...

Muchas gracias and happy holidays!


I unfortunately have not heard those cartridges, though I've heard a number of Soundsmith cartridges up to the Voice, and I like the higher-end ZYX. Maybe the ZYX has more bite, but I don't think I'd characterize the others to have much.

For a dynamic sounding cartridge that maintains musicality in similar price points, I would probably recommend looking at a Dynavector XX2 MKII. That said, my favorite cartridge under $5K is the $1500 Audio Technica ART9 or ART9XI. It's the most well-rounded, but still on the warm side of neutral with great bloom. The XX2 definitely is more punchy and has more bite in comparison.

I now use a My Sonic Lab Signature Gold and am very happy with it. Maybe I'll step up to the platinum at some point.

I had the SL and felt the same way. As mentioned above I now have an AUDIO TECHNICA - AT-ART9XA which is very revealing in all frequencies. I wound up buying the Umami Red but haven't felt any urge to swap it out. Using an Acoustic Signature Triple X and Modwright 9.0X and the AT cart is definitely a keeper!

Actually you might want to consider changing the arm. I have had several Alphasons ( HR100S )  - they are very smooth by nature. Outstanding arm, but if you want more punch you might be better off with a Linn arm.

With regards to the Soundsmith Paua - I know this cartridge well - its very smooth - probably not going to give added punch.

The Dynavector XX2mk2 mentioned above is quite punchy in the bottom end.


I forgot about the ART9's! Thanks, @blisshifi  /  @audiosaurusrex. That seems like my wheelhouse. Looks like ther are some ART9's still to be found. I'll have to look into the difference between the XA and XI. 

Consider Lyra cartridges. Dynamic, lively, extended frequency range, nice midrange, tone, and soundstage. Takes a little time to break in then wow!

@dover, that's an interesting suggestion...I'm curious which arms might use the same armboard? Would you happen to know? The Mober subchassis and armboard are one piece, so there's that....

Thanks for the Paua insight - It's not surprising those are the catriidges I'd be drawn to as smooth and warm are pretty much  two of my middle names. I have a diagnosable audio sweet tooth and may have travelled out t the brink. With the Hana it's just too much of a good thing - even for me...I have some confidence that I could find the right cartridge, though.. I appreciate your guidance.

And maybe a Lyra.will do it - I'll read up. Thanks for tthat.

@jasonbourne52 that's an easy enough experiement - escellente. I appreciate the suggestion. Maybe running it a little tail up will harden it up a bit. 

With such a high compliances at 10HZ...like 30+cu's for the ART9 and  20ish for Lyra Delos cartridges, they don't seem like a good match except with very light weight arms? I've relied on matching arm weight to cartridge weight and compliance to thin the field of cartridges...I imagine that may not tell the whole story, especially w/the ART9 as it seems impossible to match that way except with an impossibly light arm! At first blush, they both look to be outside the bounds of poor resonance control - maybe Vinyl Engine's chart is out of date with more modern materials and construction...maybe that still applies to the vintage Alphason...maybe I could use some tutelage....

I've ran several Lyra and now an Audio Technica ART9 XI on my Triplanar (a decidedly medium mass arm) with no compliance or resonance issues whatsoever. 


The pivot to spindle of the Alphason is 211mm

The Linn Ittok/Ekos are both 211mm pivot to spindle as well. The Ekos would be the best option if possible, the Ittok would be a sideways move vs the Alphason.

Not sure on the newer Linn arms.

Not sure on whether the cut-out hole is the same size - you would need to check.

Both the Ittok & Ekos work with a wide range of cartridges in my experience.

@palasr Richard?! Thanks for that. Didn't you check a bunch of Sylvania 6sn7w's for me back in the day? 

Lyra Delos.  

Had soundsmith mimc star es, AT ART9 and ART9XA (very good); Ortofon Cadenza Blue (better), Lyra Delos, best by quite a bit.  nothing soft about it but still refined and musical.  

“The MCS version of the Xenon tonearm came wired with mono crystal silver wiring from cartridge tags to phono connectors.”

Not sure a rewrite would gain much ground…


"...a cart with more Bite..."

Remove subject cart from tonearm.  Drag needle upon instide forearm.....

The deeper the wound, the longer it takes to heal....

Oops, wrong test.... 


No one has taken you up on the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, I see. I believe it it described by Ortofon as the successor to the Kontrapunkt C, which I know and love. The Black is supposed to be equivalent to the old Jubilee. If that is true, the Bronze is worth a listen.

I have not heard the Paua, but have a Sussurro MkII. It's a workmanlike cartridge, plays music and doesn't inspire me to switch on my amps. The Grado Statement 3 is rather similar, polite and accurate. We pay all sorts of lip service to components that 'have no sound of their own' - that do not colour the sound (though that quality does sound less attractive if we describe it as 'colourless'!) But when I play a disk with either the London Reference or the Kontrapunkt C, I know I won't stop at one record. I'll be excitedly pulling them off the shelves and finding it hard to stop even though bedtime has long gone. Is that because they are 'colourful' - that they add something attractive and addictive to the sound, or is it that they just get something right that fools me into feeling it is like live music? I don't know, but they reliably do it for me.

+1 on the AT ART9XI mentions. 

when I was shopping for my last upgrade, I missed the close-out deals on the ART9. Excellent and balanced sound. 

As there is a Price $1400 - $4000 being considered for a Cart'.

It would be wise to get out and receive a few demonstrations, 'more bite' is a very personal description of a presentation. The use of the Term conjures up 'in my thoughts' that a Cart' is required with a discernable trait, and as it is 'bite' and not 'kick', I am leaning towards the Upper Most Frequencies being prominent during a replay.

To get an extremely prominent Upper Frequency, this can be achieved at a fairer outlay than budgeted for.

The Ortofon Quintet Black will comfortably fit the role. Used Naked it will offer even more toward the perception the upper frequencies being prominent.

If the Cart', 'hits a home run for you' there is many hours of pleasure to be had before the next performance level is to be achieved.

One For The Future                                                                                               The Cart' is with Aucurum Coils ( The Wire of their TOTR Models ) this is a very good place for a Ortofon Cart' to take on the role as a Donor Cart'.                        The Cart' can have Boron or even better Beryllium Armature added and a Styli of Choice. An Ogura Vital would work exceptionally well if attempting to maintain the original presentation, but in a much more refined way. If a little richness is desired, (increased bass presence) the FGS Styli would be an interesting option.

Keep in mind the Naked Usage as a Option, as it will allow for a perception of increased Upper Frequency.

'How much Fat one wants trimmed of their Cut' is another case where 'each to their own' is the best practice.    


Raising the VTA help a surprising amount! Thanks @jasonbourne52 ...So, I'm less desperately drive, but very interested in the AT ART9 and Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, but now have some curiosity around the Lyra Delos, too. I appreciate the input. More than one would is a lot to look forward to - maybe Christmas will bring a couple along to try. Please, baby, please, baby, please!

I have a cork mat that I'm happy with.

The MCS wiring is a little enigmatic and often changed out. Rewiring with the new OCC Alphason wire used in the HR200 isn't too crazy expensive and includes an arm tune up. It can be wired to a DIN or straight through. I'm leaning towards doing it and straight through to avoid extra connections in the signal path, etc....

@palasr doing very well. and i wish the same for you and yours. Happy holidays up there.

A friend of mine runs a Shelter 7000 on his VPI (Aries 3?) and it sounds really great. Totally different table/arm/system, I know. There doesn't seem to be a lot of Shelter love on the forums, but I thought I'd toss it in the ring. At this point, I think Lyra is out for me - too much 'bite'. What I meant by bite was quicker and sharper leading edge. While Lyra looks to offer that, the emphasis on the treble end and detail turns my attention elsewhere. That leaves

AT ART9xx, Ortofon Cadenza Bronze and....Shelter 901 series

A Shelter 7000 does not have 'Bite' in any arm or supporting ancillary.

It will deliver a Rich Believable Tone, played through the Brightest SS Phon, with Silver Wire throughout the Signal Path. 

The Cadenza Bronze is Cart' to present with a Richer Tone as an alternative to the Siblings in the Range.

Are you sure you do not want a Cart' with a bottom end that is the noticeable trait. 'Mud on the Wellies', the amount of Trudge to bare, will be another case where 'each to their own' is the best practice.

There are endless Cart's able to present with this trait being detectable, the options for a Shortlist can be tenfold, in comparison to a Lean, Transparent, Projected Mid - Upper Mid Trait.       

I like the Benz Micro stuff for punch that’s balanced.

Not outrageously expensive either.

Within my HiFi Group, there are periodically dedicated demonstrations of a Cart'.

The Ortofon Kontrapunkt B (Kb) is the Cart' used across a broad amount of users within the Group, and is the main spare belonging to the larger proportion of members.

The Kb' is used to compare other Carts' to as it is with attractive traits, but does not push too far with any frequency, Neutral and Transparent would be a reasonable description.

A Cart' recently demonstrated in a OL Illustrious Arm, is the Sumiko Pearwood with the Ultrafine Boron Armature and Ogura Styli.

To myself, these two materials being selected are the obvious choices to counteract the Rich Tones that can manifest from a usage of a Wood Body.

There is the choice of Magnet, that has an impact, as well the additional Aluminium used to create the Body.

This Cart' is seemingly quite capable of delivering the Rich Tone that the Japanese Designs are renowned for. 

It will be a long search to find the Richness of Tone Trait with this Cart',                    Deep Precise Bass, with a Truthful Tone to all frequencies, is the attraction that will be locked onto before any analysis is used to discover where the Rich Tone is manifesting.

It really does present in a manner that is worthy of a mention, my evaluation is that Sumiko have got much of their description on the money, it would have been more accurate if they come away from the use of 'Rich', as this is the known Japanese Trait, which this model in 'Mk II' version has detached from. 


@pindac It's true I lean towards mid range upper to lower and bottom end more than upper, at least in the extreme. And, as above, sweet/warm and smooth, but not in the extreme - which is where I'm on the edge of finding myself. So, ART9 has become a front runner based on other's experience with Ortofon still hanging in there based on so many apparent good matches with the Alphason.

Taking the Supratek Syrah into account, the builder has recommended the Denon DL103 in the past and, I believe, Shelter's 501 was based on that design? So, I imagined Shelter to be in the mix...

And what a mix - all these components and tastes. A big chunky delicious soup. Or maybe stew since it's winter and a stew sounds really good right now.  FWIW, I just finished listening to Muddy Water's Folk Singer and it sounded damn good. I think the VTA is getting close!

The search being so subjective in the end and relying on an intuition for reading between the lines, it's always fun and interesting as the collective experience starts to move in a certain direction away from opinion only as experience and evidence starts to mount. 

The only experience that counts is when you finally buy a cartridge and listen to it. The opinions of strangers have helped you to narrow your choices but in the end it’s in the listening where you’ll learn most.

My Experiences are through visiting 'Gon', is that many items being considered by an OP are not ones I have a familiarity with, hence I don't make a suggestion for an item to be considered. Usually just an account of a usage of a device that has had a positive impression through usage, and a offer of support a OP to inform them there is a avenue worth pursuing.

The OP in this Thread has now described where they are with their unique preference for a presentation produced by a Cart', and the traits described, are as said previously to be found in a Selection of Cart's that are Tenfold on a list in comparison to Lean and Transparent as a description of a trait.

The OP's Phon' is valve based and it is hard to attain which level of Richness this is already able to depart into the presentation, if a SUT were to be used as well at some point, this will definitely add a Richness of Tone.

The OP is starting with a Rich Tone, it can easily be built on to become overbearing and starve other frequencies, that are said to be attractive. 

The Sumiko Suggested is one for the OP's list, if a hint of Richness being presented is to be detected.

If going down the Ortofon Route, as in the above the original PW-Windfeld is offering a presence Bass > Lower/Upper Mid, that is standout noticeable. When compared to other Ortofon's that are Trickle Down Technology Cart's as a follow on to the Windfeld, the  PW can be claimed to have a hint of Richness.

The presence of Bass and its impact on other frequencies is the deciding factor.      The usual outcome of a demonstration will reveal, the more Bass that is presented, is the frequency responsible for masking the upper frequencies.

I don't do A subdued presence of a Upper and Mid's for the sake of prominent Bass Note.

I would not rush in to a Purchase, I would get out and receive a few demonstrations of a few Carts' of interest. A home Demo' is even better, but attaining one can be met with difficulty.

In general forum members are willing to offer an assistance, but they are much more willing to remind one of where there are mistakes made. If a Cart' has really impressed in one System, and has not delivered the same experience in the home system, the learning and its value are already initiated, the path to discovering a further change of a device will be looming.

Buying Blind, on the assumption that the correct choice is being made, will be the most precarious way to part with up to $4000.  


Cadenza Bronze was a good match for an Aro on an LP12, I don’t know about your arm.