not sure if best or not but ortofon 2m black speaks for itself.
there are certainly better ones that would not justify your investment beyond its already perfect performance.
The Soundsmith VPI Zephyr is designed specifically for the VPI tonearms, but it's a moving iron cartridge.
Thanks, I was leaning towards a 2m Bronze and upgrade to the black at a later date.
I might eventually move to a moving coil but I have some other equipment I need to purchase. So it's a mm for me presently. But I will keep the Zephyr in mind when I'm ready.
Get yourself a Grado,as a matter of fact VPI use to sell the Sonata VPI version ! You can give them a call and ask them if they still do. BTW HW loves Grado's. MM and MI are very close in design, kind of a horse of a different color!
Sorry, I don't think that you read my response correctly.
The Zephyr is not a moving coil cartridge, it is a moving iron cartridge like a Grado. It has high output and is responsive to both changes in capacitance and resistance, just like a MM cartridge.
The only difference is that in a MM cartridge a small magnet at the end of the cantilever varies a voltage in a fixed coil, where as in a moving iron cartridge both coil and magnet are fixed and a small piece of iron on the end of the cantilever varies the voltage.
I like the Audio Technical 150 MLX.
I had a Sound Smith Zepher on my VPI Classic TT. It was made for VPI unipivot arms. It was even labeled VPI on the cartridge. I thought it sounded great.
FWIW, years ago, at the suggestion of Mike at VPI, I bought a Grado "The Reference" low-output MI cartridge for my JMW12 arm. The cartridge was not a good match, causing constant woofer pumping (a sure sign of a cartridge compliance/tonearm mass mismatch), despite every effort to correct it through changing the viscosity and amount of damping fluid in the JMW's well. Plus, this combo's sound was bland and boring to my ears, lacking dynamics and also extension in the upper frequencies.
I replaced the Grado with a medium-compliance van den Hul MC Two HOMC and was much happier with the vdH cartridge/JMW arm combo. Used the latter setup for years, always enjoying the dynamic and involving sound, and had no issues with woofer pumping or mistracking.
Why not consider a medium-compliance HOMC cartridge, say maybe a Sumiko Blackbird or even the more economical but similar sounding Sumiko BP Special EVO III. A nice, slightly used one is available for sale here on Agon right now. No affiliation whatsoever with seller.
I would also think that the SS/VPI Zephyr would make a great sounding pairing as Viridian suggests.
I also second the Ortofon 2M Black, great cart!
I had a 2M Black, sold it. Bought a Soundsmith Zephyr, love it. This was
on a JMW 10.5i arm.
I have had the Grado Sonata with this tonearm and it sounded nice. I moved up to the Aida from Soundsmith which is a bit more than the Zephyr and the improvement was astounding. My stereo supplier form Wilmington, Delaware recommends the Zephyr for this tonearm. If you can save for the Aida, it would be a great impromement. Hope this helps. Steve
I like everyones suggestions. Like in this thread I've heard mixed opinions about the Grados in other forums. The Zephyr intrigues me but it's not in my price point at this time. Any other suggestions of a mm or mi in the $400-$450 range?
I believe that what seperates the VPI Zephyr from the other Soundsmith cartridges is that the compliance is tailored for the VPI unipivot arms.
The Soundsmith Othello cartridge lists at $479.00, in your approximate price range. I would call Peter Lederman at Soundsmith and ask him if he can make one for you at the appropriate compliance for your arm. They custom make them anyway.
I took a look at the Soundsmith collection of carts and researched some other forums to see other opinions about them. All were positive and several commented on the attributes of the Aida. It's just out of my price range. I wonder how the Ortofon Bronze and the Soundsmith Otello compare with each other. I do like the fact that I don't have to buy a new cart with the 2m Bronze if I want to move up to the 2m Black.
Plus - Are Moving Irons superior to Moving Magnets?
I like that about the Ortofon 2M series as well, replacable stylus assemblies are just great. Plus they are just fantastic sounding cartridges.
Monetarily though, a Bronze replacement stylus will cost you around $240.00, Soundsmith will retip the Othello for $250.00, so that's pretty much a wash. You don't have to buy a new cartridge.
I also believe that you can also order the ruby cantilever and radical contact stylus when you do the retip, but this will cost extra, somewhere around $350.00, but it does take you up two levels in something or other. Cost certainly. You can contact Soundsmith for the details.
Moving Iron cartridges are pretty much equivilent to MM cartridges from a functional standpoint.
From reading other forums I found that the only drawback to replacing the tip of a Soundsmith is the wait time. The wait time average being somewhere around 2 months. A replacement or upgrade for the 2m Bronze would be anywhere from same day to up to a week* (if ordered via the net*).
If there was a significant edge to using the Otello I would not mind the wait. But if it's a wash then I would go with the @m Bronze.
So is there any difference in the quality of sound each one produces?
No, that is not the only drawback to the Soundsmith, you would have the shipping costs as well as the wait time.
Yes, there is a difference in the sound quality each one produces.
So I picked up an Ortofon 2m Bronze.
Any suggestions on phono cables? I'm temporarily using a pair of monster interconnects that was used for a CDP and a piece of 16g solid copper wire for a ground between the receiver and TT.
I have a hum issue when the record is playing and a light static sound when not playing a record coming through my speakers.
I am using the phono amp in the Onkyo for now. The cables will need to be shielded due to their location, which is on either side of a table standing Sony 46" LCD TV about 5-6 feet apart.
I can't relocate anything for now so that is out of the question.
Not looking to spend a lot of money on them. I know some of you think expensive ones yields good things. While others think it's fools gold to spend a ton on interconnects.
Please be specific with the brand names and model # of the cables you would recommend.
Look at the web site moon-audio.com and ask Drew Baird for advice.
Please at least consider morrow audio phono cables. Inexpensive and I have found them to be close to the performance of cardas tone arm cable.
Why should I not just try these #2680 cables from Monoprice? They are 18awg solid copper wire, 24ct gold plated plugs, and they are shielded.
Why should I spend more?
You need to know the capacitance of the wire, the lower the better. Stay away from standard interconnect for tonearm cables. The capacitance of standard interconnect can be very high and will restrict the high frequency response of your cartridge. Capacitance loading is best done at the preamp if at all. 17pF/ft - 25pF/ft shielded tonearm cables are available from several reputable cable vendors.
If you have to go the ultra-cheap route, use RGB component video interconnects that can be purchased almost anywhere online (including monoprice) for small $. They are usually low capacitance and have double shielding (foil surrounded by braid). There will be three individual wires bonded together by the jacket in a component video cable - just use the ones marked with red and blue for the right and left channel and use the one marked green for the ground (strip the connector off of each end).
Oh yeah, and break in the new cables for at least 72 hours using the repeat
function on your CDP, preferably with a test CD that has a
"burnin" track. The voltage signal from your cartridge is so low
that it will never adequately break in the phono cable otherwise.
So to update
I went with the Ortofon 2m Bronze. I'm about 1/2 way in the breaking in period. It sounds really, really good. I'm running it through an Onkyo TX NR905 AV Receiver that has a phono input for mm carts.
I also picked up a Harman Kardon HK990 Integrated Amp that has superior phono inputs for mm and mc carts. So now I can pick up a mc in the future when I want to experience the difference. Can't wait to hook my VPI TT up to it.
Thanks for everyones input I really appreciate all the help.