I've been contemplating the Soundsmith Zephyr. There's subjective talk, relating to the Zephyr here in the forums; also check out the Soundsmith site. You may have to spend less than you think, for a sizable improvement?
Sorry, no experience with the XX2 or XV1-S.
somewhat close, but you do get what you pay for.
I heard the best line about cartridges the other day...buy the best cartridge you can stretch for. so many people buy lesser cartridges and then try to resell or whatev, and lose big money. so if you're going for it, do it big!
Consider a Level 3 Soundsmith Re-Build [ $350.00 ] of your Dyna . You will be suprised at the outcome . It will compete with most $1500-2000 Cartridges .
You can buy a Used Cart. on AgoN to get you thru the 2 to 3 month wait for the Re-Build . Then you will have a backup just in case .
Just make sure the cart/arm "synergy" is such that it tracks well, and/or the cart is not only musical, but a good "high-velocity" tracker. I owned both the Dyna 20xl and xx 2 and neither tracked very well with the JMW arm. Admittedly, I was enamored of the xx2 because it offered marginally better "fleshing-out" of the final 1/3 of rec's, but it often times there was either gross mistracking which caused "buzz" or high-velocity mistracking which caused vocals and choral music to "whiten."
If you can bring these records to a dealer, I wouldn't part with any money until you can hear for yourself: For gross mis-tracking, try the last mov't of Beethoven's "Spring Sonata" (Ashkenazy/Perlman/London Records). The piano should remain full and stable. For high-velocity mistracking try the Karajan/Freni/Pavoratti "La Boheme" end of side 1, at the climax of Freni's "big" aria. The sound should not thin. These are two easily acquired Lp's. Other "real world" torture tracks would include the "Missa Brevis" from Britten/Willcock's/Argo "Rejoice in the Lamb," the final ascending "whistle" from Varese' "Poem Electronique"/Columbia. I could go on....
My dealer tried a couple of different alignments and I tried different pressings but no luck until I moved to a "cheap" Audio Technica 130E. Even if you still spring for the $$$ carts, I can tell you from experience, it will be eye-opening.
I'm not too concerned about the arm interface; I have a Dynavector 507 MKII and it's beefey enough to handle any cartridge, especially one like the Xv-1s that is pretty heavy.
My main issue is that ever present issue of diminshing return as you move up the line. The Xv-1s is a good bit more than double the cost of an XX2 but is it 'twice' as good....
If you still use that VPI I suggest you not spend much on cartridge; better save on table upgrade. Turntable is the most important part of the analog front end no matter what some foreign audiophiles here say.
Inna: really? I'm thinking a forgiving, mega-tracking cheap cart transcends turntable quality, with some minimum standards of course.
I use the Aries 3 and I agree it's a good table but not necessarily a great one. However it's still fairly new whereas my cartrigde is up there in hours. My next TT will be a TW-Acoustic Raven AC!!!
My Dynavector 507 MKII arm is a 'keeper' and I won't be parting with it anytime soon; it will be a great match for the AC.
Stickman, stick to your guns....there's a bit of bad advice up above...those cartridges will not mistrack if set up correctly...megatracking cheap cartridge? I don't even know what that means...
Your arm is a keeper, and those cartridges will really show it to you like you've never heard it before.
Full steam ahead....and watch out for a few wet logs..
Chahas1: I'm sorry, but I slaved for two years trying to get the Dyna xx 2 to track with VPI arm. If 70% success is good enough for you, fine. My dealer (of 30 years' experience ) tried multiple alignments, none of which worked. I gave you specific tracks and lps ...why not try them before spouting? Does the audio technical 130e track better? Yes. And it's "musical" as one could ever want.
I would still wait to buy a very expensive cartridge. Just get a new 20XL for now or have your old one retipped.
And never say never; what if your new TW will sound better to your ears with another arm? There are no kepers in absolute terms.
hi jd..I actually have the tracks you mention, though I don't have the arm, so sorry, can't do your specific experiment. I've seen and heard the cartridges you mention never mistrack as you speak of, that's why I was "spouting", doesn't matter to me who your dealer is.
But I will take huge exception to you saying the AT is all one could ever want. You need to get those ears out more. Good luck to you.
Bottom line is...without good tracking ability, how can one even think about musicality when one knows there's a train wreck coming. Moreover, the AT is indeed "musical," and though not as dynamic or "sparkling" as the xx2, to say it's a great tracker above all else is damning with feint praise. BTW, as I enjoy my 20th year playing in the local orchestra, I'll "get my ears out there more." : )
BTW, that would be...*faint* praise. D'oh!
First off, no spouting. I've just never experienced what you have with stated cartridges.
Second, I think you're giving the initial OP some very biased and not well founded advice.
If you could hear his arm together with the cartridges he's asking about, you might be posting differently.
I have no aversion to the AT, I've had them starting out, just like grado's etc. They're definitely a good place to start.
However, the OP is way past that at this point.
My suggesting attention to "cart/arm synergy " is very biased? How so? Then reporting my experience based only upon equipment about which I'm intimately familiar? Big red flag there! : )
"Way past this point...." I thought I was too, $$-wise, but bottom line: the Dyna 20xl and JMW arm have high velocity tracking issues which cause thinning of sound as needle progresses. Upgrading to Xx2 relieved thinning but introduced gross, buzzing. mistracking on more than a few choral, piano Lps. If we were talking the subjectivity of "PRAT" I could understand your raised eyebrow but nothing could be more objectively reported than mistracking
The performance of the AT was nothing short of shocking after 3 years of tracking misery. But not the end-all.
Very fair response. I would only say, although that ship has obviously sailed for you, is that you were not getting proper setup. I know that will set off more red flags for you, but that's the truth.
I'm glad you found something that works for you.
And it sounds like the OP will as well.
End of story for me.
Just one last word about proper set up. My dealer came to house twice. We tried 3 of standard alignment preferences with no luck. He's been in the business for 30 years, (owns top Basis TT FWIW)
The moral I humbly offer is that perhaps one should start at the (quality ) bottom in order to witness the presence of good all around *fundamental* performance (what some people call "forgiving"sound), and thus demand said fundamentals in mega $$ cart/arm/TT when finally pining for more rarified "sparkle, " "sweet mids" etc. It also allows for more time to get familiar with a wider variety of records before auditioning the more expense stuff.
Not to offend anyone involved, but, not all dealers are experts at setup, whether they've been doing it for 1 or 30.
Your last sentence is fine for you- but not for a lot of us.
Like saying you should start off with a yugo till you've driven for years.
I wish I had had better gear when I had first started, and like I keep repeating, the Original Poster is way beyond that.
Life is too short to drink cheap beer--same goes for hifi!
Now I'm done....
Hmmm..a Yugo? A preferable metaphor: one may also start off buying a beautiful expensive house...built upon sand.
ah, I see...the ol "build your house upon a rock, and you will be a beacon of light to many"....I'd say ask for a better architect/engineer!
also, it seems, like in much of life, ignorance is bliss...
Both of you are right -
- I had the jmw9sig and experienced poor tracking from a variety of cartridges. After countless setups (various dealers, myself w/ Mint tractor and VPI themselves) I finally learned that if after a couple of setup attempts mistracking does not go away, then there is a problem with the arm, cartridge or their relationship. In my case (and many others if you search the forums) I found out that the JMW9 is prone to mistracking, and my personal opinion is that it's to be avoided. After trying various high $$$ cartridges, I too ended up with an Audio Technica (AT33PTG) which finally minimized (but did not eliminate) the distortion.
- With that said, yes, there are better sounding cartridges that AT.
The OP does not have the JMW arm, he has the Dynavector arm which I haven't heard but looks to be a very good arm.
So - yes, he will need to make sure whatever cartridge he chooses does not have distortion, but with this arm, I doubt he will have that problem.
To the original question - sorry I can't help as I haven't heard them, but I'd say go for the XV1S if you can afford it. Otherwise, you'll just be wishing that you had!
For a bit less money, the Lyra Kleos and Delos are supposed to be really good for the price. Haven't heard those yet either, but I would like to!
Thanks, Goatwuss....truth always wins out.
and agreed, for the original question, if he can afford it, the XV-1S is one of the great cartridges, and more importantly, as you have found out in your situation, it is a very synergistic combination!
I guess question to you, GW, is, why didn't you just change arms? I had a VPI at one time, but not their arm.
You are right, Chashas1: ignorance is bliss and I'm more blissful listening to music right now than in a long time. Let me enjoy it until an issue arises and the upgrade bug appears again.
Oh! I thought of a better cautionary metaphor: Those who are "way past" Yugos...sometimes buy Range Rovers. ; )
glad to hear that...now you're starting to make sense! lol
and after all, remember, i did like your music choices...
not sure about the last part, though...never been a fan of the range rover...too pretentious...at least in my neck of the woods, where people who drive them don't need them, only as a fashion accessory...i usually mix my metaphors anyway, so best to avoid.
if you ever get upgrade itis let me know...it's not so bad if done right! :)
The JMW-9 is a not a particularly good tonearm.
This is old news; search the archives for similiar threads.
Well, that is a big part of why I went with the DV507 MKII in the first place. My first table was a Scout and it was good but I never cared for the arm that much; too jumpy and skidish...the 507 arm is a beauty, solid as a ROCK, performs fantastically, and sounds GREAT; a definite keeper.
You are right, I should just stop whining about the $$$ and go the extra distance for the XV-1; I have never heard or seen a bad comment about that cartridge from anyone or anywhere.
My Dealer has the XV-1 (on his top o' line Basis), Vandersteen 5a sigs (I have the 3a sigs), and I can report it handled many of my "problem" records--which I trotted over--with ease...as it better for $5K.
Chashas1: thanks, I may be interested in a "prettier" TT and more "sophisticated" cart one day and obviously I need all the kindly help I can get. I could easily throw a $10K combo on a CC today; but I just don't feel the need at the moment. I love my Yugo and I implore anyone to at least try one in order to keep Ranger Rover builders (and street pavers) on their toes. Yes, I admit, the triangle decay in Stravinsky's Petrushka is only 12 seconds, as opposed to the 13.5 seconds reproduced by $3K carts... : )
Audiofeil: I've read so much about VPI arm problems; I admit I've been hiding behind the word, "synergy."
The arm will track a handful of cartridges with mediocrity but is not capable of optimizing most cartridges. It's a very finicky animal.
I had a couple Scouts here on trade. The table itself is decent but the arm drove me crazy with its' idiosynchratic behavior.
"I guess question to you, GW, is, why didn't you just change arms? I had a VPI at one time, but not their arm."
I did, actually. I switched from a Scoutmaster JMW9sig to a Michell Orbe w/ Tecnoarm, though I still run the AT33PTG which is a hell of a cart for the $400 something I paid for it.
I just had the Tecnoarm internally rewired with Cardas cable as the original cable was fraying at the cartridge leads.
Next stop is a SME 309 with a Lyra Delos once I can scrounge up the dough.