Haven't heard a Transfiguration. I like the Allaerts a lot though. I have an Allaerts MC1B in my TT.
My Allaerts drives the MC phono stage of my TRON Meteor preamp (v similar to current TRON Syren pre). The MC stage includes a SUT and then an active stage driven by ECC83 tubes. I can't change the impedance on the TRON myself, but I know Graham Tricker builds them to order. I can find out if you wish, but it'll take a few days as I'm just going off on leave with my family for a few days.
I have not heard both side-by-side. One model of Allaert that I head (cost something like $15,000) in a friend's system did not work well at all IN THAT SYSTEM. He uses the Boulder phonostage and Boulder linestage. He simply does not have enough gain, so he has noise issues and the system sounds a bit lacking in dynamics. In a dealer's system, using a custom-designed phonostage with the top-of-the-line Audionote step up transformer, the same Allaert sounded terrific -- very refined and composed, but not dull and lifeless. I've heard a cheaper model with the Audionote M-8 preamp, and that combination worked well too.
The Transfiguration Orpheus is a cartridge I like a lot. I've heard it in the systems of two friends, and I got to borrow one for about two weeks. I really did not try to optimize the loading in my system (big pain to do with my Viva Fono), but still, I got very good sound. Compared to my Lyra Titan, the Orpheus has a slightly elevated midrange that makes the music sound vibrant and exciting, and not as "cool" sounding as the Titan. It may have been slightly more shutdown on top and not as "fast" and detailed as the Titan, but, that too could be a loading issue. Both behaved similarly in terms of tracking ability (very good). If you are familiar with other Transfigurations, such as the Temper V, the difference is that the Orpheus sounds more dynamic and lively (I liked the old Temper Vs neutral tonal balance and composed sound, but thought it was too lifeless for my taste; the Orpheus is a BIG improvement).
I wouldn't overlook the Transfiguration Phoenix. At a much lower cost this is a lively and fun sounding cartridge. If you are looking for something that is very composed, and well balanced, and you are willing to give up a little on ultra detailed sound, the Ortofon PW is another interesting candidate.
Larry, Thanks so much for your insights. My currrent is a Benz Glider II low which I consider to be very neutral, nice balance top to bottom, musical and grainless although more shallow and not as resolving as top shelf carts.
I sit VERY close to my speakers which are highly modded Scientific Fidelity Teslas so have to be careful about "forward" or bright. The Glider has been great. Just looking to "evolve" without doing the classic neurotic audiophile thing by ruining a great synergistic sound by "improving" a component. Would you consider the Phoenix to not "push you back" with midrange but rather allow "listening into the depth".....or not?
To me, the Benz Glider is a little bit on the brighter side of the spectrum, and is a touch "rough" and edgy sounding, though I like the speed and detail. If it is neutral sounding to you, then you have a pretty wide range of cartridges that will sound good in your system (the thing that typically annoys listeners the most is when a cartridge sounds edgy and lean). The Allaerts, Transfigurations and Ortofon PW are more forgiving in this regard than the Benz Glider. All of the cartridges I mention will deliver, particularly with classical music, the full harmonic complexity and "density" of the music while not sounding sluggish and overly warm.
Of course, how a cartridge will perform in your system depends a lot on specific component interactions. That is hard to predict. My general impression, on hearing the Transfiguration Orpheus and Phoenix in several systems is that these are forgiving cartridge that work well in a wide range of systems. The lower output Allaerts could be touchy when it comes to having enough gain. The Allaerts were also very touchy when it comes to loading. The Ortofon PW I only heard in one system (though two different tables). My own experience with Lyra cartridges is that they are not terribly sensitive to loading, but very sensitive when it comes to getting VTA set correctly.
Dear Ebush: It is always " nice " to see that you are looking for a quality improvement in your sound system reproduction.
There is something that worry me about when you say that the Glider is neutral,good balance, grainless and the like. As Larry point out the Glider ( in my own experience ) is a " little " different for what you experienced but like always it is system dependent.
If all that is true then think first on this: a top cartridge like the Titan i, Orpheus, XV-1, the Finish Gold ( Allaerts ) and many others are very demanding on tonearm and phono stage quality/facilities to show its best performance and from what you posted and with all respect IMHO maybe you don't have ( yet ) the audio items to match that kind of cartridge level ( any of those top named cartridges and other ones are several steps atop your Glider ).
Of course that you can go on but I think that if I invest " big " money on a new cartridge then I want to achieve the best from that cartridge.
Regards and enjoy the music.
My electronics are definitely up to the task of handling a "higher end" cartridge.
The preamp is a $5k custom designed all tube unit with "tele's", Mullards and other very old nos. The power amp is a class A triode 300B push pull that is really quite extraordinary. Arm is a Moerch DP6 on a Merrill Heriloom. I believe the Glider works because it is matching the built in Jensen 347 step-up trannie perfectly as well as the arm. I have had a high output Glider sounding like you have experienced but switching to a low is REALLY very good now and my system is very neutral. Sitting as close as I do, brightness would drive me crazy. I have tried an Allaerts MC1B and it was as superb as has been noted except for a degree of thinness in the midbass/lower mids. I think that my step-up at 80 ohms is suspect as others have actually reported that 40 ohms is perfect in a step-up although 100 ohms for active is spec. My armtube is also suspect as a heavier tube has been recommended. Do any of you have recommendations on step-up trannie impedance for the MC1B?
Dear Ebush: As I say system dependent. In my experience the near field sit helps a little but not to much about ( the Glider performance ), other side I prefer the quality cartridge performance with out step-up transformers.
Of course that what you like are the whole " colorations " of your system in the same way that I like mine.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Yes, each of us has our own "filters". I need neutrality, grainless (low distortion) without rolling the top to get it. and great phase and harmonic integrity. My sense it that the Allaerts will deliver the depth and resolution to add to what I already have. I just need to match the cartridge and look for other's experience in best match for step-up load, non-step up active load, and effective arm mass. Any help here will be greatly appreciated. I also wonder about the Benz Ebony L which seems to aim at the same characteristics.
I doubt that anyone can say definitively whether or not you have any sort of compatibility issue as far as the Allaert and the SUT in your phono stage. The following is a "guide" to SUT matching:
I have no idea if this guide is helpful or not. Built-in stepup transformers in a phono stage are kind of a hit or miss deal, because the ideal transformer characteristics depends on the amount of gain you need and on the source impedance of the cartridge.
As far as the proper loading into an active phonostage, the Allaert distributor insists on a very specific loading (at least that is the case with the cartridge my friend owns). This suggests that the cartridge is very sensitive to proper loading.
My own experience with other cartridges is that proper loading is very system specific, so at best, a range can be recommended. To some extent, one juggles a variety of adjustments interactively, rather than as discrete adjustments. For example, if you have tonal issues, such as a cartridge sounds too bright or lean (lacking in midbass), the best setup might involve a combination of increasing the loading (going with a LOWER number for the loading resistor) as well as lowering VTA a little.
I know this advice goes against the school of adjustment that says that there is a very specific loading for each cartridge, based on its electrical characteristics. However, in my experience each cartridge reacts differently to loading, depending on the phonostage.
Dear Ed: I an't speak on that Allaert or the Ebony L because I don't have any experiences with.
The Ruby 2 has very good tonal balance with no " biasing " to one or the other frequency extremes, it is extended but not bright, easy listening type cartridge, not lean not over-warmer and could be matched by your Moerch tonearm specially if you own the wands with the " signature " headshell ".
Regards and enjoy the music.