broken dreams - new cartridge help please!

I need help on selecting a replacement MC cartridge. Two years ago I put together my first serious vinyl system:

- Transfiguration Axia S MC cartridge
- VPI Scout 2 with upgraded heavy platter and JMW 10 tonearm
- EAR 83P preamp
- Line Magnetic LM-211 IA tube amp
- Legacy Studio HD Monitor speakers

Note I listed the cartridge first - I did a lot of research and perhaps spent an inordinate amount on it, but I got an amazing deal from a EU vendor from Audigon ($1100US - new in box). Loved the set up! Sound was better than I thought possible :-)

Now the sad part - last week my house cleaner snapped the cantilever off while dusting :-(. I had told her to leave the stereo to me to dust, but I guess the desire to clean what I hadn't for some time got the better of her. As the 10 JMW sticks out a bit from the VPI base and the acrylic dust cover no longer fits, it was exposed. Unfortunately, the plastic cantilever guard was such a difficult fit that I was more afraid of snapping the cantilever off trying to put it on and take off that I never used it.

I checked with Needle Doctor about replacing but as I suspected they cannot. I have emailed Immutable/Transfiguration but no response :-(

Sorry for the long preamble, but I had to commiserate with some one who might feel for me (my wife doesn't get it- she is happy listening to an Amazon Echo Plus).

Checking current prices on the Axia reveal $2450 new, $1600 used. Currently cannot afford that. I need to come in under $1000. Need some help from you more experienced audiophiles out there! My listening tastes are a bit eclectic, but center on rock and blues. Want to stick with a low output MC.

Here are some that I have been considering:
- Ortofon Quintet Black S MC
- Audio-Technica AT33Sa
- Dynavector 20X2L
- Sumiko Blackbird Low MC

I know some of these may retail over $1k, but I am not adverse to a low hour used cartridge or scouring the net for good deals.

Any help on the above options or alternatives would be very much appreciated :-)

Thanks, Rick.

Not everyone has the love or trust for vintage carts as you do.

I have a few and pretty happy and comfortable with buying more and learning but it is not for all types.

If you’re getting a $2400 cartridge fixed for under $500 its $2000 cheaper than buying a new one.

If you’re sending your High-End cartridge to a third-party vendor you have no idea what you will get. You digits means nothing. If you can’t send a cartridge for rebuild to the original manufacturer (read a cartridge designer) why you’re buyin such expensive cartridge? Just to send it to third-party vendor ? I just don’t understand the logic, really. You want a US vendor to fix a Japanese cartridge from a well known designer ? If the original designer is available this is the best way to fix a cartridge if you really like the cartridge.

My rebuilts have sounded good or better than new.

I often read such comments on the forums, seems like a third-party service is always better than original cartridges voiced and tuned by legendary cartridge designers?

You’re free to believe in this BS, but you can ask any cartridge designer (if you can) why it’s not true, luckily we have Jonathan Carr on our forum and he explained why it’s not a good idea.

Your cartridge can be better than the original only if you’re upgrading an entry level cartridge with some better and more expensive parts such as cantilever and stylus tip.


Not everyone has the love or trust for vintage carts as you do.

I have a few and pretty happy and comfortable with buying more and learning but it is not for all types.

Of course, but destroying ultra High-End cartridges (voiced by world’s best cartridge designers) with third-party vendors is not for everyone too. It’s like leaving your Porsche at Ford Car Service to replace the most important part in the engine with "something else" to say "ohh, that was cheaper and much better than the original". It could be a project, experiment or whatever, but definitely not the right way to treat ultra high-end cartridges. This is a compromise, nothing else.
I do not disagree with you
But it maybe in this case that the oem cannot do anything for the OP with this cart if the report of death is correct.

Although maybe not ideal it may be the only option left in this case.

I think that you will be extremely happy with your retipped Axia. You're retipping like for like with boron cantilever and as long as the stylus is similar in profile I very strongly doubt that you'll hear any difference, certainly any significant difference, from the way your Axia played before its demise. 

And I also strongly feel that it will perform well above the level of any of your new options listed in your original post. 

You should keep us posted when your cartridge returns from VAS.