I would take a Lyra Delos over the Dynavectors and Benz by a large margin. The Delos has a much higher resolution, more detail, more dynamics and energy, and presents instruments and voices with much more realism. The XX2 is veiled and laid back by comparison, lacking nuance. I cannot say much about the Zephir, but I have compared the Delos and Kleos to a Soundsmith the Voice and again would choose the Delos. In fact the person owning the Soundsmith The Voice did end up upgrading to a Kleos.
The better the cartridge, the better the sound. If you can squeeze out for the top of the line Benz or Dyna cartridges, you won't regret it.
I have a Benz ebony L and it is very musical and detailed,that said it matches my pre amp(shindo) and prior to that I had a ace and moved up the line with great value and service.
I heard one of the early versions (still with the aluminum arm) with a Zyx Yatra at the '09 RMAF, and it was pretty nice.
@Restock - The Delos is interesting but would cost me double the price of the Benz and 40% more than the XX2. I'm not sure I want to spend that much but as ever in this hobby I may end up stretching :-)
Before i did anything i would replace the Nordost cables.
I'm considering replacing them, what would you suggest as a replacement?
I just sold a Classic with a Denon 103 which I thought sounded quite good. Buy one of these an stick it in and listen for a while, cost is chump change compared to the others mentioned and you may like it; if not you have a back up or can resell it at little loss. I also use Musical Fidelity equipment and have found Denon [ for whom I am NOT a dealer] to be a good match. I use VDH TFU cables [dealer disclaimer] which I find to be a hell of a bargain; VERY close to the best available and relatively cheap. VDH is a serious company that does extensive research and manufactures its own wire, not some guy in a basement.
I started with a Benz Glider on a JMW 10.5 and, while I did enjoy this cartridge in that context, sometimes found it not to track well on highly modulated tracks. Since then I have become a fan of Lyra cartridges and the Helikon currently installed is sweet and a fantastic tracker on this unipivot arm.
The Denon 103 may not be an appropriate cart for the JMW 10.5i arm. Call VPI for further information.
Currently using Grado Statement1 on my 10.5i arm. Sounds wonderful after some tweaks that Mike at VPI recommended to me.
I used a 103r on a JMW 12.5. A few Audiogoners recommended the DL-S1 over the Shelter 901 and the VDH Frog, that I had been considering, at the time. The improvement was overwhelming. The cartridge is smooth across the whole frequency range. I cannot find any weakness in the sonics. It does not color the sound.
The DL-S1 is a higher compliance cartridge than the 103R and is better suited for the unipivot-design of the JMW tonearms.
I listen primarily to classical and big band and harmony vocals like the Mills Brothers. This music is much more demanding than rock music. Though I have listened to some of the classic rock bands and it is stunning the detail and separation of the instruments and vocals.
I use a modified Jasmine phono stage (upgraded the output caps with Jantzen Superior Caps). Note: the stylus of the DL-S1 is smaller than the 103r. This is why it can dig out all music in the microscopic grooves.
You can get a great value on a new DL-S1 from Galen Carol.
With regard to interconnects: I purchased some 26 gauge, shielded, silver-coated copper teflon wire from John's Silver shop on Ebay (it was $15?) and some inexpensive solid copper RCA plugs (don't over pay for a big name. PartsconneXion is a good source.
If you have some patience and dexterity with stripping and soldering thin wire, this is a real bargain. They look ridiculously thin. However, they sound great. On the down side, if they don't meet your expectations, you are only out a few bucks. On the up side, they may fit the bill, and you have left over cash for something else.
@Jazzgene - Is this the regular Grado Statement or one of the 1.5mv versions VPI had made for them? I wish a Grado for my Scoutmaster but am a little conflicted as to whether I should get one of their regular low output models or one of those custom made for VPI (which are somewhere in between their high & low output cartridges).
It's the 0.5mv Statement1. Works fine with 60db gain.
But you do dial in gain, I guess the "VPI Grado's" are designed for less adjustable phonostages.
I purchased a Dynavector XX2 MKII for my VPI Classic several months ago, upgrading from a BenzMicro Glider .8 Mv cartridge. I haven't heard the Lyra Delos, but I would never say the Dynavector is veiled. It is VERY detailed and dynamic in my system, with voices and instruments sounding real and in the room. It's a very good match for the VPI 10.5 arm.
In the end I ordered a Benz Wood SL, hope to hear it in around one week's time!
Thanks for all your help.
Hope you are enjoying your new cartridge. I have a classic table and just upgraded to a wood sl from a denon 103r after having snapped off the cantilever on the denon. The Benz is a very nice cartridge and is much quieter in the groove and much more neutral sounding.
Thanks, the cart has arrived but the turntable hasn't yet :-)