Calling all ZYX aficionados


Greetings
I am considering purchasing a ZYX Airy 3X. I do not know if my Atma-Sphere MP-3 will work with the low output Airy.
I am using a Koetsu Rosewood Sign., which is .6mV. I have used a Denon DL-103R which has .43mV with no problem. I have a pair of S&B TX-103 step up transformers installed in the MP-3, which gives me 26 db more again.
I am using a Teres 245, with a Teflon platter, and a Morch DP-6 arm.
Thank you for your comments
Bryan
bryanp
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Bryanp,
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If it is anywhere in your budget, get the UNIverse over the Airy3. The Airy3 is outstanding, but the UNIverse is phenomenally better and well worth the difference in price.
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I had the Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum before trying the Airy2, Airy3 and UNIverese in my system on the same weekend listening to the same music with 3 friends and all were in complete agreement. The Airy2 was clearly better than the Koetsu RSP (which I loved), the Airy3 was faster, had more detail and better dynamics than the Airy2 but was a bit too bright in my system and the UNIverse was just head and shoulders better than the Airy3. It had more speed, better dynamics and better detail than the Airy3 but was incredibly more musical and magical without any of the brightness.
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The UNIverse is just one of the best cartridges available by a clear margin.
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I am guessing that you will have enough gain, but perhaps someone else would be more qualified to answer the gain question.
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Rgds,
Larry
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Bryanp,
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P.S. I have a Teres 340 paired with my ZYX UNIverse.
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Rgds,
Larry
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I'll second Cello's suggestion on the UNIverse. My cartridge progression has been:

Shelter 501
Shelter 90X (audition)
Airy 3
UNIverse

The Airy 3 bested the Shelter 90X and finalized my decision to jump on the ZYX bandwagon. I had an opportunity to audition a UNIverse in my system, and there was no turning back after the first few seconds.

As good as the Airy3 is, the UNIverse is in an entirely different league. It perfectly balances all of the usual audiophile traits: transparency without glare, soundstaging without etching, PRAT and ease, detail without fatique. I could go on and on.

I have never been more satisfied with my system since owning this cartridge. I've matched it with a TriPlanar arm and an Amazon Model 1 turntable.

As far as gain is concerned, my Thor TA-2000 preamp has 20db of gain on the MC input, which is more than enough. I find that I set the volume knob about 2db louder than my CD input to get equivalent volume levels.

BTW, Mehran of SORASound is one of the nicest, service-oriented people in this hobby of ours. When you speak with him feel free to mention my name (Wayne).
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I will second the positive experience of dealing with Mehran of Sora sound. He is as honest and fair as they come in Audio and he will bend over backwards to help you.
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Rgds,
Larry
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Airy 3 is the best cartridge that I've ever owned...I'm now very curious about the UNIverse.

The Airy 3 comes in low output and high output. The 0.48 mV (high output) will do just fine with your current setup. Depending on the effective mass of your Morch, you may or may not require the optional 4g silver plate for the Airy 3, it supposedly sounds better with the added weight. I believe the compliance for the Airy 3 is 15 for the horizontal and 12 for the vertical. You could always change the armwand for a perfect arm/cartridge match.
Dear Bryan: I think that you can do better with a Dynavector XV-1 than with the ZYX cartridges.
There will be no problem for your MP-3 to handle the XV-1. I think that this Dynavector design it is at the top 3-4 best cartidges ever made, the ZYX do not belongs to that small cartridges top world ( at least, not yet. ).

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul dislikes the ZYX cartridges by quite some margin as you can see from his other threads. He is right about the Dynavector being a great cartridge as per his opinion & that of several others. I do know some people who prefer other cartridges over the Dynavector. It is currently the cartridge of choice in some very high end audio systems. So is the ZYX, Koetsu Platinums and more. His assesment of the ZYX should be titled IN MY PERSONAL OPINION. There are people who love ZYX & some who don't. Lets not blow up this thread to another Raul bashing thread & just ignore his absolute style of posting.
Dear Dgad: +++++ " Raul dislikes the ZYX cartridges by quite some margin.. " +++++

I dislike not only for " I dislike ". Till to now the ZYX are faulty at the low bass spectrum of the music/sound reproduction, these cartridges are not up to compete with other top cartridges like: Dynavector XV-1, Allaerts MC2 Finish, Van denHul Colibri, etc.

I agree with you: MY PERSONAL OPINION.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
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Bryanp,
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As a side note, I have not found the ZYX UNIverse to be the least bit shy in the bass. It is fast, dyanmic and great on attacks while still being incredibly musical/emotional without any sense of brightness. The strong bass response is corroborated by 2 other good friends friends that also have a UNIverse in their system.
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Dogpile (interesting moniker),
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If you have an interest in the UNIverse, contact Mehran at Sora Sound. He is very helpful and would probably find a way to help you move up from the Airy3 to the UNIverse. Do try to get a low output version if at all possible.
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Rgds,
Larry
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I just received my UNIverse today - and since I didn't have my new phono preamp yet, I installed it on a friends Avid Acutus table for a quick listen. We did this during our lunch hour.

Before installing the UNIverse we listened to his Dynavector XV1s. My initial impression was that the Dynavector sounded great. In the first few minutes of listening, I mentioned to my friend that this was similar to the sound I was looking for. Upon continued listening, I'd say the Dynavector XV1s was somewhat slow, very precise and very refined. To some extent, the Dynavector XV1s and its highly refined character made me wonder if the cartridge would become somewhat boring to listen to over the long term. Instruments were scaled accurately but seemed somewhat recessed as if they were off in the distance - under developed harmonically & far less audible compared to vocals.

While we removed the Dynavector and mounted the ZYX UNIverse, we both commented about the "hi-fi" nature of the Shelter 901. The 901 being less refined somehow made listening more enjoyable - but the paradox is that the Shelter's splashy character always seemed to leave me craving more refinement.

Upon completing the installation of the UNIverse we listened.

What I can say to summarize my quick (15 minutes) with the UNIverse is that it clearly is a great cartridge - new right out of the box. It has similar refinement to the Dynavector but seems to have better developed harmonics which make it more interesting to listen to. Instruments and vocals seemed more balanced and equal. The pace of the UNIverse was to some extent on par with the Dynavector (somewhat slow). I wasn't expecting this because everything I've read about the ZYX cartridges proclaim it to be very fast - which was not my impression at all. Cartridges like the Shelter 901 or Benz LP seem to be much faster than either the XV1s or the UNI.

The UNIverse has a great precision again much like the Dynavector but couples that with an open transparency & sweeter more inviting highs that the Dynavector seems to lack altogether (in comparison).

My friend thought the UNIverse was "tubey" sounding - full bodied and somewhat rich in the mids. Again, this was different than what I expected - particularly having read much about the ZYX cartridges in general.

We both felt the UNIverse (not broken in) may to some extent exaggerate the size of instruments by a small fraction vs. the XV1s.

Well.. that's the best I can do in 15 minutes of listening to the new cartridge. I'll keep y'all posted as this thing breaks in.

So far I am very impressed.
Bwhite, Thanks for the nice summary.

I have the XV1s and i had owned Airy 2S (low Output) for few months. XV1s can be a bit too slow depending on loading and phono pre. but with Xono at 250 ohm it's really fast. It's a heavy monster cartridge and it's required really stable arm.

However,the XV1s brother, Te kaitora Rua is more suitable for my system and taste. The high seems to be more extended and has ribbon like sparkles compare with the XV1s. The mids is also sweeter without being too warm like my previous Benz 2. (Airy 2S is drier in comparison)

One more thing, Te Kaitora Rua costs $2,550 compare with $4000 for XV1s and $3000 for Airy 2S.

I'm looking forward for UNIverse someday.
Although the intention was well meant,and appreciated(by analog's "pushing the envelope" fans),a lunchtime installation is laughably incomplete,in ANY kind of comparison.Especially in something like a cartridge,where so many factors,some taking MULTIPLE listening sessions to become obvious,are at play!!

Also,as to the ZYX UNIVERSE,which I'm sure is a fine performer,it simply MUST be compared to ALL of the top performers(and there are,now,MANY)to become as HOLY in perception as some of the AUDIOGONERS have allowed this design to appear to be.In each case,when the previious cartridges,of the new UNIVERSE owners,are mentioned,you MUST take into account that other(previous)equipment may have been refined as well.All systems,usually,are in a state of constant refinement(not necessarily upgrades of major components)so enough with this"The Universe is GOD's gift" attitude.Let's see what happens when the ultimate test of time allows comparison to many of the BIG HITTERS,in the cartridge domain.

At that point I will be more than happy to peel the egg off my face,and make an omlette.Until then I think a few well meaning,but over the top Philes are giving this particular model "long legs".

I'm also a bit suspicious of the price paid,for the Universe,by the few 'Goners that can't wait for the subject of this design to come up in a thread!!Although the ones I refer to I DO personally like,from previous correspondence!However I'm moving much more,these days,to the Arthur Salvatore way of looking at things,and I rather like it!!
Thank you all for your input.
I have found Mehran at SoraSound to be very helpful in my decision process. Four phone calls and six emails!!! Although the Universe is a better cartridge, my system will work best with the .43 mV output. The Airy 3S-SB is the one I have ordered. This is the first time I have spend so much money on a cartridge, and not even heard it in my system This could of only happened because of the great help from this board and reviews I have read. I am quit confident in my decision.
Thank you all again
BryanP
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Sirspeedy, would you prefer your eggs sunny side up or scambled ?
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Rgds,
Larry
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Sirspeedy - nice post. As I am sure you well know, most audiophiles are intelligent enough to realize that a lunch-time audition is not enough to produce a definitive result.

I presume your reference to Arthur (and how your adopting his way of looking at things) is in reference to his "Reviewing the Reviewers" stance, however you might also note that Arthur lists a ZYX cartridge at the top of his recommended components list.
Dear Sirspeedy: +++++ " .Especially in something like a cartridge,where so many factors,some taking MULTIPLE listening sessions to become obvious,are at play!! " +++++

I always agree with this statement.

+++++ " ,it simply MUST be compared to ALL of the top performers(and there are,now,MANY)to become as HOLY in perception as some of the AUDIOGONERS have allowed this design to appear to be. " +++++

This is exactness what I already post in some threads about.

+++++ " .Let's see what happens when the ultimate test of time allows comparison to many of the BIG HITTERS,in the cartridge domain. " +++++

I agree, too: the time always put all things in place.

+++++ " by the few 'Goners that can't wait for the subject of this design to come up in a thread . " +++++

What's going on with you: experience 'Goners ?

Sirspeedy: good post.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
I read all the post above and there is one fact which makes me really wondering: all the Hype about this or that cartridge, installed in 1 hour between eating a sandwich and drinking a coke ... etc. etc. , is someone out there ( except Raul, because he is one of the critical ones ) who really works with Cartridges ?
Not buying because you have the cash, I mean trying to look what it really can do ??
Work means : Set up ( when I remember some threads from Dougdeacon and some others where they described the H U G E sonic differences when changing the VTA a hair more ore less ) or azimuth ( More importnat than VTA, IMO ) and what I miss is the name of the used Phono Stage. I think, that's important, because from my own experience I can say, with an average one, in most cases it is simply impossible to rate a cartridge. You can write a little bit about a sonic change, but what the cart. is able to do, specially the expensive ones, is only possible with a first rate phono stage. It may sound a bit cruel, sorry for that, but without that any discussion about top performers is wasted time.
And what table is used for that ( with a coloured LP12 the result is different than with a Simon Yorke )
Dear Thomas: +++++ " , is only possible with a first rate phono stage. It may sound a bit cruel, sorry for that, but without that any discussion about top performers is wasted time. " +++++

This statement is something that I support for many years, I agree with you. This is my last reference about that I post on " my system ":

+++++ " Btw, in my opinion this analog audio stage is the must extremly critical for the quality/accuracy of the music/sound reproduction in any audio system. " +++++

You really can't do a serious/liable tests/reviews of cartridges with out a top performance phono stage, that has to be: low noise, low distortion, impedance versatile, extreme accurate, etc...

We have to remember that in this single stage we have to reproduce ( mimic ) exactly ( inverted RIAA equalization ) the signal that comes from the cartridge ( that in theory is what was record in the recording process and that comes with the RIAA equalization standards. ) and any deviation from this RIAA equalization do big changes to everything about.

I know that any single deviation on any link of the audio chain, do severe changes on the quality music/sound reproduction, but in my opinion and when we are talking about analog reproduction: nothing is more important that our PHONO STAGE.

If any one want to build anything, at a high quality level, ( from a cycle to an airplane ), it is not enough the know-how and the skill to do it, we have to have: the right tools to do it.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
Cello,I(with humor,and tongue firmly in cheek)knew I would draw you out of your orange grove,with my little dissertation,though I don't think I'll need my egg sandwitch when all is said and done.

Bwhite-Don't be so sure there are not those "philes who "JUMP" on somethimg in even shorter auditions than a glass of wine and a finger sandwitch.I've known many.

Raul-thanks for not finding any ammunition to "Blast"me with.You are a little too nice to me!!

Thomasheisig-You have touched on a point that ALL analog lovers should know,and some probably are remiss here.As a matter of fact,to take it even further,regarding the ALL IMPORTANT phonostage,the choice of tubes are SUPER CRITICAL(in a tubed stage,and it is here that tubes are most necessary,for tailoring one's sound preferences,even more-so than any other area,IMO).I,and a friend are in the process of doing a "personal" tube rolling survey and each set of tubes (we take 3 in our phonostages)seem to give a DRAMATIC and different presentation to the system.We have tried at least a half dozen sets of the finest NOS types available,and the journey still goes on.So much for the preference of the manufacturers at hand.You simply have to learn to "Think Outside the Box",and be willing to fiddle about!
Sirspeedy: You have to look/find the tubes that have the less noise, less distortion, less colored, more accuracy/linear etc..: not the more " MUSICAL " .

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Thomasheisig - good point but think about it a bit... A quick "set-up during lunch" so to speak, will most likely produce inferior results - obviously. What it does provide is a starting point for the evaluation process and fine tuning to begin. With the fine tuning, everything can only get better (or worse) right?

My initial impressions of the ZYX were very, very positive - but was somewhat different than what's been written online about the ZYX cartridges. Furthermore, if the cartridge wasn't set up to its maximum potential in the brief lunch-hour session, then that to me is truly quite impressive & speaks volumes about the potential for the Universe cartridge when set up correctly. Wouldn't it? The cartridge sounded great and IMHO better than other cartridges which lived there previously & were set up correctly.

I had initially intended to buy an Allaerts MC2 Finish but couldn't stand to wait until August to get it. The Dynavector XV1s was my second choice but had to be special ordered (none in stock). My impatience is really what drove my decision to purchase a ZYX and hence, "test" the reviews regarding the ZYX products. The reviews are so good - I had to find out for myself.

During the first audition of the UNIverse, the system was Avid Acutus w/ SME V, Supratek Syrah, LAMM M1.1 amps, Dynaudio Consequence speakers. When I get the UNIverse home today, I will be using a Manley Steelhead for evaluation.
Raul,once you find the BEST low noise/low distortion tubes,you then HAVE musicality!!
Bwhite,I don't really mean to denigrate you for posting,as you're intentions were all good.You seem to know a thing or two,as well.As for Salvatore having a ZYX,I knew this,so what?I like his general suspicious nature,as you state,as well as his approach to the hobby.As for him recommending the ZYX line,I'm sure the line is really superb,but was just a bit sceptical,as to the ALWAYS over the top raves,over the apparent competition.

Cello-you still haven't mentioned what YOUR price for the cartridge was!!!!!!!!!!

As far as Salvatore (the NEW HP,IMO)goes,he is still not to be taken as the HOLY GRAIL,nobody should.Hobbyists have learned alot over the years,and the gap between the "Thinking and careful listening" hobbyists and the so called experts has really dwindled.

My only gripe with Salvatore,is that he kind of indicates that his set-up is very accurate,and accurate enough to pass judgement on some of the most sought after and highly rated discs out there,which he then rates very poorly.I generally have no problem with this,however,I have both the original and re-issue,or later pressings,of much of what he rates,and he is DEAD WRONG on many titles.EX: I own 2 copies of the Dutch pressing of THE PRINCE OF THE PAGODAS,as well as one copy of the earliest British pressing.Saslvatore claims,wrongly,that the later Dutch pressing is far superior.This is laughably incorrect!Maybe in his set-up,and with the voicing of his system,but in my circle of friends,some of his disc comments are really where his achilles heel is exposed.Believe me,some of the guys I know ARE right in this matter,as it is THEY who literally wrote the original reviews,on these discs,and we have already compared titles.

Basically,all I'm saying is that there is NO one best of anything,except my 2 kids,and a good "Ring Ding Junior"!Especially in the incredibly competitive arena of phono cartridges,where the audio envelope is still being pushed,regularly, even as compared to the best in digital.I do have a nice digital set-up(for new music),but the magic is still in analog,IMO,IMO,IMO!!The next time you hear a supposedly SOTA SACD etc. system with mind blowing equip,and music,as I did at HE 2005,in the ISO-MIKE demo,using TAD-Model 1 speakers EMM/4 channel,just go home and play a good DIRECT DISC(even if the music sucks).That will level the playing field immediately.
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Sirspeedy,
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It’s always a thrill to hear to hear from you.
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I suspect that you might be in for a surprise when you finally get to hear a ZYX UNIverse for yourself. Do be inquisitive and questioning, but try to temper your skepticism just a wee bit.
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I realize that my and a few others positive reactions towards the UNIverse may seem a bit over zealous. The support for this cartridge really comes from the wonderful things this cartridge does for one’s system. I have yet to hear of anyone hearing the cartridge reacting with anything but whole hearted enthusiasm to the improvements it brings to the music.
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I have listened to and compared the UNIverse to several excellent cartridges in my own system and found it to be significantly better than all but one, which I feel it rivaled.
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I am not sure what the value in my sharing what I paid for the cartridge might be other than you think I might be some type of shill for ZYX or the importer. I can assure you that I paid for the cartridge and have no vested interest in the cartridge other than hoping for others to improve the sound of their system and also see a great product do well.
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Bryan White is an extremely decent guy who has spent a lot of time on Audiogon trying to help people improve their systems. I think all he has done is overflowed a bit with some enthusiasm for a new product that he just bought. What possible harm is there in him sharing that a quickly mounted, non-adjusted and non-broken in cartridge fresh out of the box sounded great ? Read some of Bryan's posts when you have time and I think you will find that he is quite experienced / knowledgeable and extremely generous with his time in trying help others improve their systems.
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I am not trying to state or imply that the UNIverse is perfect or the best. What I do think is that it is the best value in a cartridge and possibly the best currently produced cartridge.
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I am open minded and won’t miss an opportunity to hear other cartridges in my system. When and if I find a currently produced cartridge that makes my system sound better, I will be trying to share that with others so they can benefit as well.
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Rgds,
Larry
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Larry,I think I did state,or imply in an obvious manner, that my response was, a good bit tongue in cheek.I,also commented that Bwhite did nothing wrong,and it is clearly obvious that he was being "more or less happy to share a viewpoint,on something he was excited about".We all do this.Also,I really feel bad if you actually think(and I'll bet you don't)that I consider you to be some kind of shill for Sora Sound.

That being said,sometimes,when the opportunity arises,and the subject matter is interesting,it is fun to "stir up the pot" a bit.I'll bet you checked back on this thread with anticipation,hoping something came up that you could respond to and add to,as well.I think we ALL love this about this forum.You know YOU LOVE this,Raul!!There is nothing wrong with that,as I see it.So long as we all stay mature,and without ambivalence.

However I DO like to think that some of my comments are,at least from my vantage point,accurate,and you DO LOVE to "RAP UNIV",don't you?There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that!!That's one of the things I like about seeing a ZYX question.I know I will see a,usually interesting comment from you.Where's Doug,BTW!There are other great cartridges out there,as well.I LOVE my Temper-V,and have owned a Temper/Koetsu Onyx Platinum/Urushi/Onyx/and Black before this cartridge.However I suspect my Temper-V is by far the best of the lot,BUT,and this cannot be dismissed easily,I know MUCH MORE about correct anolog setting up now,than I did over the years that I owned and loved all my previous cartridges.So,even though the odds favor my latest transducer,who knows how "really good" my Koetsus could have been,in my current,tweaked out to the N'th degree system!That's why I never go NUTS over it when the potential subject lends itself.My friend who has a GREAT SOUNDING Lyra Titan(his previous problems were not the Titan,as I once mentioned,but tube related,and thank God I have only three tubes in my set-up,where he has 42,ouch!!)loves the crap out of that design,whereas some of my other pals would NEVER "cheat on" their Koetsus,as I did when I left it for my TRANNY (am I SICK,or what?).

What this all boils down to,as long as we all stay civilized,and don't start with the high school name calling,is that this is all a HOOT,and only adds FUN to the hobby.

BTW,Larry,the Symposium Ultra Shelf worked great under my NOW,and FINALLY,correctly set up COSMOS.SOTA did an unbelieveable,over the top modding of my "Twice sent back" table.Truth is that they are SO INCREDIBLY NICE TO DEAL WITH,and felt so guilty about my table having to come back 2 times,that they literally gave me a new table,with the exception of the irreplaceable "Fountainhead" base that they shined and buffed to a "PROOF COIN STANDARD".I did not ask them to do this,but it shows REAL customer service,rather than just a "FIX" and ship attitude.I'm a very happy puppy,again!!
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Sirspeedy,
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For what's it worth I get your sense of humor and am quite dry by nature myself. So, no harm no foul. I do always enjoy your posts.
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I also like the fact that you don't take things at surface value. I try to be quite careful about how I go about doing comparisons so that they are valid (both for my sake and for when I might share my experiences/opinions.
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I don't miss the opportunity to share my happiness with my UNIverse cartridge as well as my Teres table and positive experiences with cryoing equipment.
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I have compared my UNIverse with both my own Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum on my system on the same weekend while listening to the same LP's. The UNIverse was for my ears phenomenally better than the Koetsu. Previous to that I was able to compare my Koetsu RSP with a friends Koetsu Urushi and greatly preferred the RSP over the Urushi (which is a great cartridge on its own).

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I am delighted to hear that you have your SOTA back up and running and going so well. Good news on the Symposium Ultra working out. I would love for you to try a set of Rollerblocks on top of your Symposium Ultra and under the TT. Email me off line and I will be happy to loan a set to you to see if they make an improvement.
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Rgds,
Larry
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Sirspeedy: I think I don't explain me well.

For " musical " I want to say: colored. The " musical " term has lost it's original value and today evryone speaks about " musical " with out to know which that really means.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Larry,your interest and experience with cryo'd interests me.Food for a future conversation.

As for anything under my table.No way.I've tried other stuff and LOVE the way it now sounds.Also,my table cannot have anything under it,due to the suspension type.The shelf sits on 4 spikes,coming out of my custom wall shelf,which is bolted into 2x6 beams.More or less finalized,for me.You are a truly nice person for being so open about lending things out.That is one reason why I'll give you a holler when I come down to FL. this summer,to visit my folks.THANKS!!
Hello audiogoners,
This whole discussion has been making me go crazy. This is because I have been without my Van Den Hul colibri for over a year due to 2 mishaps in quick succession. Both due to the fact that kids and toys are unpredictable. I have been using a standby dyna karat 17 d2. This cartridge surprised me with its dependable and excellent sonic performance. That is not to say that it even comes close to the colibri. I can remember that much. It is just that I have been unable to pry my envious eyes from your guys discussion about all these wonderful new cartridges. I have been thinking that maybe I should just buy one now and sell the colibri when I get it back from Van Den Hul. The only reason that I have not is because of the amazing performance that I remember it having. I have a VPI tnt hrx. I was hoping that there was someone out there that might have experience with one of the colibri's who knows how they stack up against these new zyx's, xv1s, shelters, koetsu's, or benz lp's. I talked to a couple of the guys at VPI and they told me that the xv1s and the colibri and the benz lp were 3 of the best in the world. No mention of the shelter or the ZYX. Maybe because it doesn't mate well with the VPI set up. Anyway, any help would be appreciated.
Jeff