AudioTechnica ART 9 users - break in, VTF/VTA and loading questions

Just received my new AT ART 9 -- sounds damn good right out of the box... but just thought I would check in with others already using this cart for some time...

- what is break in time you experienced for the sound to ’settle in’?
- what VTF worked well for you? I am at 1.95 grams.
- what VTA works best? I’ve started at usual slight tail-down setting
- what loading does it like best? I am at 1000 ohms

Just for context, my table is VPI Classic 2E with JMW 10.5 CF arm in VTF tower, into an Ayre P5XE.

Initial reaction is very very smooth, sophisticated sound, with a little more life and sparkle up top than the Koetsu Black I have been using previously. Midrange very very sweet and lifelike and bass is strong. Maybe just a touch more groove noise with AT...  

Differences are pretty much what I have been hoping for... Koetsu really lovely, just a little somber/romantic.

Will develop opinions of spatiality/imaging etc etc after more hours running.

Thanks in advance.
Hello jjss49,

Although there are a couple of long running threads about the Art9 here on the gon, some info below:

Break in around the 100hr mark, gradual improvements will occur in the meantime, and full performance will be around 250 hrs.

VTF; I run mine at 1.75g, after much experimentation. (1.55 - 2.0g)
This is in SAEC 506/30 (12") arm with the SAEC ULS 3 AL Oxide headshell. A lower mass arm may work better at slightly increased VTF.

VTA; I use a 10x magnifying glass and study the stylus as the record is spinning on the outer grooves, very slight tilt forward is where I have settled over the last year with the Art9. IE, tonearm slightly UP at the rear/pivot.

Load at 100ohms, but do experiment here. My own tonearm/internal wiring gives 72pf of capacitance which is ok, so the 100 ohm setting on the Concert Fidelity SPA-4c is best. Other phono stages may differ here!

One thing; as with all cart's is to keep the stylus truly clean and clear, again with a mag glass. This is imperative as you probably know already..

Have fun and let us know how you find the ART9 over time against the Koetsu Black too..

Best, Paul.


My time with the ART9 is going on 2 years. Mounted on a VPI Classic 1.
Tail slightly up, 1.8 grams. 100 ohm loading as suggested by AT.
I can't even hear any differences changing loading while playing, so I just leave it.

Replaced a Koetsu Black? Wow! I would think cart swapping days are done with one of those. Were you just looking for some audio excitement?

Paul and TJ

thank you for your responses... will try arm tail up... counter to what most MC’s like

TJ - Koetsu is really lovely just a little romantic, soft/dark lens, think VPI Classic table on that side of spectrum as well ... felt I was missing just a little sparkle and drive,

Recently getting back into analog - having lots of fun and enjoyment with it ... maybe 15 years of listening to (pretty good) digital has me wanting a touch more detail ... analog definitely has a more holistic, organic, denser sound that is just wonderful, so right now I am just playing with different well-regarded ’killer-app’ cartridges to try to 'have my cake and eat it too' :)

ps - have a zyx r100 coming in ... will try that too before long...

Congrats JJ!  I've had my ART9 running for 3 months (~ 150 to 170 hrs) and it just finally exceeded my wildest expectations.  It always sounded good if not great but the treble and transparency finally opened up big time and the sound became much more colorful.  I love the sound of this thing! 
I am running right at the standard VTF of 1.8g and the VTA is ruler flat approximating a 92 deg SRA.  
Loading is right at 100 ohms and gain (important) is 56db.  Too much gain makes it sound less refined.  

thanks avanti

i am experimenting with gain also, using my ayre p5xe at various settings and also a rega aria i just acquired ... also trying a cinemag 1131 xformer into MM stage

what a sweet and transparent sounding unit the art 9 is... hard to imagine it still has improvement left in it
VTF - 1.77 grams
VTA - just slightly tail up
loading - 120 ohms to 150 ohms. 100 ohms sounded a bit too thick in my setup
1000 ohms is super high, try a lower setting.

I use jensen SUT with 1:12 step up into a 37db MM phonostage and the gain is great. 
responding to Avanti- : "I’ve had my ART9 running for 3 months (~ 150 to 170 hrs) and it just finally exceeded my wildest expectations. It always sounded good if not great but the treble and transparency finally opened up big time and the sound became much more colorful."

Sounds a lot like when my Grado/MCZ finally "bloomed". It was one tough bugger to get squared away. Looking forward to when my incoming ART-9 blooms.

responding to jjss49 : ;ps - have a zyx r100 coming in ... will try that too before long... ’

Almost went with the ZYX r100 myself, From the posts here lately, it really sounds like the ART-9 is what I was looking for.

p.s. - are you getting the ZYX from juki?



Blossoms at 250 hours. I still have a long way to go...
Thanks for that vital information, according to other threads about you are the very first to discover that.
I have thought if some carts need a very long break-in time... Interesting.

I have this cartridge. It replaced a Dynavector 20XH MC.  

The ART-9 met my super high expectations, which were set lofty based on glowing user reviews. 

The cartridge sounded great out of the box. Surface noise plummeted around 10-15 hours of ny memory is right. I kept check VTF during break in and it never changed a bit so there was no adjustment. 

I've got north of 150 hours on it and it sounds fantastic.  I don't even know where it could improve. 

Pani, Using a 1:12 SUT into a typical MM phono stage, typically bearing a 47K load resistor, would result in the cartridge "seeing" around 325 ohms.  Not that there is anything wrong with that. But how do you achieve the stated resistive load of "120 to 150"?

just getting around to trying the zyx r100h against the art 09... finally felt i had the art 09 sufficiently broken in to understand what it does, under varying VTA, loading and step up conditions.... now mounting the r100h and will run that a while to compare/contrast

have a fresh, upper spec zu modded denon 103r waiting in the wings next
Just curious how  the ART measured up against the zyx. ? My Art9 is so sensitive. Every little variation changes the sound a great deal. I think this is a good thing for those that care. This is my first cartridge in the "super" cart range so it might be par for the course. I am blown away at the differences in recordings. When I throw a bad record on, I think something is wrong with my set up. Nope.
replying to Bryantdrew:

My Zyx isn’t working right... need to tweak the setup more before I render a really informed opinion.

Couple things to say at the outset:

1. ART 9 easier to set up and dial in, though I agree, tweaking it can make it sound even better - Zyx has been problematic (I think due to its very very low mass body)

2. Zyx sounded more hifi and ART 9 more relaxed in comparison (though hardly dull) ... you do get a sense Zyx is somehow accentuating/magnifying the ambient/HF/stage info more... soundstage seems ’on steriods’
Post removed 
I've been running my ART-9 for about two years now. Once broken in (100-200 hours) I stopped thinking about the cartridge all together.  It never calls attention to itself. It just plays music in a very refined and natural way leaving the listener to concentrate on the performance of the artists and become more emotionally involved with the music. Its a real killer on mono records too. 

I have an AT 33Sa MC which AT recommends set TF at 2.0 grams and I have the back of the cartridge slightly raised and loaded at 100 ohms and it sounds terrific. According to your post about the ART-9 and their recommended tracking force with slightly raised rear end , AT must have really done their design and listening home work with these cartridges
Wishing you much continued listening pleasure.

I'm running my ART9 on a Technics SL-1200G. It is mounted to an Audio Technica MG-10 magnesium headshell.  I set the tracking force to 1.8g per AT's recommendation. The cartridge seems to be level at the "0" tonearm height setting.  Is there anyone here running this same setup? If so, could you share your settings for VTF and tonearm height?

How many hrs can be played with ART 9?