The A90 kills the titan. It is not even in the same room
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I used the Basis Vector IV for the most critical comparisons. I've also preferred the Lyra sound compared to the Ortofon in the 12" DaVinci Arm.
However, you must remember that my selection is based on my preference for total cartridge performance. I have close friends that prefer the A90 and others that prefer something else. As I've stated, it's a fine cartridge.
For your situation, my suggestion is to get the A90 repaired and enjoy it. Wait until after RMAF to select a second cartridge if you can. If not try, to get somewhere to listen to the cartridge you are interested in. Also, make sure, if possible, that the cartridges are setup reasonably well.
I intend on waiting till after RMAF to make a decision.
There are so many interesting carts out there I have not heard yet.
You are right I should stick with the A-90 as I am satisfied with it's performance. It is easy in this hobby to go backwards instead of forwards in performance.
Maybe something at the show will reach out and grab me. Unfortunately it is difficult to know what component is doing what in an unfamiliar system. It will be fun none the less.
I look forward to meeting you at the meet and greet.
A friend of mine also had his A90 retipped by Ortofon earlier this year. Initially Ortofon said that it could not be done as they would have to build the mechanisim from scratch again they way they built it initially and for some reasons they were not willing to do it. After awhile, they changed their mind and retipped my friend's A90. Unfortunately the result was not very satisfactory for my friend for whatever reason. Now that it is pretty much impossible to find a new A90, he had to start looking for a new cartridge. My friend just said that it did not sound the same as it was before he broke it. I have not heard his setup in a while so I am not in a position to really confirm it one way or another.
Are looking for something that sounds different or something very similar to the A90?
Not knowing someone's preference, system, room acoustics, etc., makes it hard to make a specific recommendation. All I can say is that I've heard both (I own a Titan), and both are really fine cartridges that can deliver terrific sound. There are certainly a lot of other cartridges that would be contenders too. I personally like the Transfiguration Orheus L (I own that one too), and I have heard great sounding systems that use Allaerte cartridges. Of my two cartridges, I really cannot say which I prefer. In my system, the slightly more prominent upper midrange of the Orpheus is a plus, but, I like the beautifully open and extended sound of the Titan too. I suppose that, if I had to pick one, it would be the Titan.
I haven't done much direct comparisons of cartridges myself. In a friend's system, we once did direct comparisons involving two arms (Phantom and Vector IV) on a single table. Two of my friends preferred the Orpheus to the Titan with either arm (I marginally preferred the Orpheus).
In Stereophile magazine, Michael Fremer wrote about making digital copies of the A90 and the Orpheus playing the same tracks which he then played on various systems at shows. He reported that the majority of listeners preferred the Orpheus (for what that is worth).
That is troubling to hear. I wonder if others that have had it rebuilt feel the same way?
I do not think that a more prominent upper midrange would be a good thing in my system.
I like the tonal balance of the A90. It seems about right to me.
I enjoy classic rock, jazz, some folk, little classical. I prefer music that has vocals. I think that is why I don't dig classical as much.
Since you are having the A90 fixed, it still probably pays to have an alternative that sounds slightly different--just to keep things interesting. The Titan is a slightly cooler sounding cartridge than the Orpheus. I cannot say how it compares to the A90 because I haven't heard a side-by-side comparison.
Any of a number of Lyra cartridges will probably be good alternatives (slightly different, but not extremely different). I have owned a number of Lyra cartridges and all have proven to be very long-lived, great at tracking, and quiet (low amount of ticks and pops).
Been thinking about these cartridges. How on earth could Ortofon take the position that they cannot or won't rebuild the A90? Do they mean to tell its owners that they spent ca $4000 for a cartridge that has a life span only equal to that of its stylus assembly? Doesn't make sense to me. On the other hand, some audiophiles do like to be abused by manufacturers. Can Expert Stylus in England or Soundsmith in US rebuild the A90?
Bergman has shown Lyra Titan-i the past two years. Last year I felt the table and Arm did the cartridge some justice. It was the Sleipner vacuum hold down table.
Spiral Groove "may" show Lyra. They designed the Centroid arm to work with Lyra carts by adding a special alignment hole to the arm but Immedia Sound recently lost the distribution so I don't know.
Audioquest now distributes Lyra so they may have the cartridge in one of there suites if they are playing vinyl.
The Audio Alternative tends to show Lyra on there tables.
Sounds like I will just have to keep my eyes peeled. I wish more of the exihibitors would list what they will have in their rooms.
I will be there all three days and will just focus on analog so I should be able to hear most of what is there.
I want to check out the Soundsmith strain gage as well.
Your trip to RMAF sounds like it would be fun. As you are well aware, in terms of listening to alternatives, there are so many variables involved, auditioning may not really prove that much. The best I've ever gotten out of a show (I've been to several CES/THE SHOW and CEDIA shows), was some very general observations, such as: setups with this or that cartridge seem to always sound bright.
But, talking with exhibitors can, at least, give you an idea of what manufacturers of tables/arms and retailers think of certain cartridges. For example, at a recent regional show in the DC area, I got to talk with the proprietor of High Water Sound (NYC). We talked mostly about records, but, I am sure someone like that could give you interesting insights. High Water is BIG on analogue, and I am sure they could represent virtually any brand of cartridge of their liking (I believe they were showing with the Ortofon A90 or its cousin the PW).
The closest thing to a reasonable side-by-side comparisons would be the digital recordings some people make of different cartridges playing the same records. If you can get some of those, you can at least hear some semblance of what the cartridge may sound like through your own speakers.
I've been pretty lucky. I have been able to take home cartridges for audition, something that I know is not always possible. I got to do that with both the Titan and the Orpheus. I never took home the top of the line Allaert for audition, but, a local DC dealer actually allowed regular customers to take home that cartridge. I was a bit too chicken to take home a $12,000 cartridge for audition--I might break it, or I might like it -- either result would have been BAD.