The XYZ Universe comes to mind, if you are on a budget maybe a Shelter 901.
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There are two carts immediately come to mind with those sonic characteristics and that match well with VPI tables:
1) Ortofon Cadenza Bronze and 2) Soundsmith Paua.
The Paua will be a bit smoother but has a more realistic presentation with unbelievable detail retail. The midrange and overall richness is anything but lean or lacking depth. It has a richness and warmth that is very musical and inviting without sacrificing detail, soundstage, imaging,etc. I had the Paua in my system for the last week (just received it) and just put it over for sale on numerous sites at a pretty discount. I just want to explore other carts before deciding on one for the long term. Another good candidate is the Cadenza Bronze, which will be warm and rich, have really good detail and dynamic, but I don't think it is up to par with the Paua. There is a good review on the VPI forum of a VPI owner who had the Cadenza Bronze and then upgraded to the Paua, and the difference was not subtle. May want to check the VPI forum anyways since there would be other owners with the TNT table. The Soundsmith would be my vote, but there are some other good performers that I may have not heard. If you want any more details about the Paua, feel free to message me. I ran it with my VPI Avenger and a 12" VPI 3d arm. Best of luck.
Save yourself some money and go with the Audio Technica ART-9. It has 0.5 output and costs $1100. from LP Tunes.
Here's an entire thread on the ART-9:
Here's a link to LP Tunes and the ART-9 with details and pricing:
Hope this helps you out.
Thanks for the suggestions so far! I've looked into each of them and will try to audition the ones I can find locally. Also, I really like the H-3000 and HA-3000 combo in my system.
Has anyone had experience with the Kiseki Purpleheart NS? That is another that has popped up that might be an option, as well.
As previously mentioned, check out the thread on the Audio Technica ART 9.
I have not read a negative review on this cart anywhere.
Even HW has mentioned the ART 9 being a great cart. I'm guessing performance will be similar considering you have the Graham instead of the VPI arm.
If you're investing SERIOUS cash, 5K+, I would consider the ART 1000, both available at LP Gear.
At 1K the ART 9 competes with 3K+ carts. The 1000 should keep company with the 10K uber carts.
Since your phono has plenty of gain, The AT50ANV(another sleeper cart) is very low output, and supposedly offers more refinement that the 9. Another "bargain" cart.
I have a friend who has a VPI HRX table has owned the cadenza bronze, the kiseki purple heart, and now a Transfiguration Proteus (his reference cartridge). Also comments on the Transfiguration Axia below. Here are some of his comments from an email he sent me (he works with the same audio dealer I do, and I can get you in touch with the dealer who has Transfiguration, Ortofon, Soundsmith, and Miyajima cartridges). Here are his thoughts on some of the cartridges mentioned:
"I think the Purple Heart sounded good, but I'd probably put it just belowthe Candenza Black/Bronze......It sounded great, but it never did the 3d thing like I thought it would and it didn't really get out of the way like a 3k plus cartridge should.......I found myself listening to the system,
and not the music, and I'm really trying to get away from that......... I thought the Kiseki did so many things well, and there wasn't anything that I didn't like about the cartridge, but my dealer got two Proteus's and I tried it for a week or so and fell in love with it....... I would characterize the Proteus versus the Kiseki as less veiled, and it gets out of the way of the music more than any other cartridge I've owned, but that's not a surprise for what it costs.
Tonight we had our first audio group at the dealer's house and we listened to several records with the Proteus and the Axia back to back and I was stunned at how close the Axia was.....It is CLEARLY cut from the same cloth......I dismissed the Axia when I got the Proteus because I thought I would end up upgrading in the future, but I should have listened to an Axia for a week because I'm all about value and if it's within a few percentage points of a cartridge triple the price, I would go with it..........
I love the Proteus, but there's no question the Axia is a far better value overall and it still gets out of the way and just lets the music come through, which is what I've been after through all this succession of a dozen or so cartridges over the past 8 or so years....."
The Soundsmith cartridge doesn't sound like its presentation is in your favorable wishes. The Ortofon Winfield is an excellent cartridge, almost their highest level....but it has no sound of its own (which is why I like it). The Benz LPS is more "organic" which is what you seem to prefer on your post. The Winfield I got new was 3k....a steal at the price.
Yes, there are many good options which is good and bad. Apparently I am so overwhelmed that I could not even complete my response above!
Anyway, I wish there were more places where I could audition the carts mentioned above. I'll audition the Benz Gullwing and LPS as well as the Ortofon Cadenza Black and Bronze next week. The Paua is interesting, too, so will see if I can find a place to audition that.
I can't find a place that has the ART 9, but may pick one up since the cost of entry is very reasonable so the risk in trying one is very low.
IMHO, demoing anything, even cables, in an unfamiliar room/setup can be challenging at best. I have purchased speakers that sounded entirely different when I've gotten them setup in my room. Even if the dealer is using the same gear and cables as you, his room may be different.
I'm not saying that you can't get some kind of idea. However, for me, when demoing, I only know whether I like the sound or I don't like the sound. In either event, I don't know that I could pick out which component to praise or blame for the overall sound. Good luck with that though.
I own a VPI Prime and use a Allnic H1201 phono stage, though I'm sure that is where the similarities between our systems ends. I have owned the Dynavector XX-2 mk II, and that is a good cartridge that mates well with VPI tables. I am currently running a Transfiguration Phoenix S cartridge, which while not as dynamic as the Dynavector, sounds a bit more natural to me. I also own a Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, which is a bit warmer than either of the above.
I have not heard either the Soundsmith Paua or ART 9 carts, but I did own a couple of ZYX carts a few years back. The UNIverse II, or a 4D would also make some great music (X version).
There are many great choices, and it can be overwhelming. I don't know that there is one clear cut answer. You may even find that different carts strengths and weakness', may mean that some work better or worse with different types of music. One that has a pure mid-range, and work wonderful on female vocals, may not have the dynamics of another cartridge that may work better for rock or orchestral music.
Sometimes the more research you do, the more difficult/confusing the choice becomes.
Demoing is going to be really hard. This is why I bought the Paua from my dealer, knowing I'd sell it in a week. i wanted to hear the sound in my system, which is all that really matters. My dealer actually put the Paua up for sale on audiogon if you want to take a look.
Transfiguration is a lot more natural, and may get you more of what you want moving from the Dynavector. The dealer I work with sells all the carts above, so may be a good resource (and he is a VPI dealer) for picking his brain on what will be best for your needs. Let me know if you want to get in touch with him down the road. Happy demoing!
A local dealer sells VPI and Graham, so can construct a similar system to mine, but I know that auditioning will not provide a complete impression on how the cart will perform in my room. I just want to get a general feel for the cart's signature sound to see if it's appealing to me.
I want to couple that with opinions from folks here for some direction based on your experiences, too. I'm not chasing the "perfect" sound (whatever that may be), but I'm just hoping that all of this information can get me down to a few options to make it a little less of a crap shoot in finding something that makes me happy (for now).
Hi Guys, I have a Technics SL 1200 mk 5 table with the original arm that had silver wire installed in it by KAB Electro. The table is in excellent condition.
i am running an AT 150MLX cartridge in it at present but have always used MC cartridges in the past on VPI tables. I really like the sound of the MC cartridges and have been thinking about getting one to put on the Technics table. Two that I have been considering are the AT 33PTG 11 or the ART 9.
In your opinions of those who have or have used this table, would you recommend either of these cartridges for my SL 1200 MK 5 ?
I am a fan of the zyx line of cartridges. I have not used on any table but my three maplenolls, but from the Airy series to the UNIverse II, these cartridges are very neutral and are great trackers. Once you hit their sweet spot, they are a pleasure to listen to. ZYX offers a broad line of cartridges and Mehran(Sorasound) is alway willing to work with you on finding the right one to fit your style and budget