All great cartridges that match the Classic arm. Cartridge choice will depend on personal taste as each cartridge offers a slightly different presentation. I would also add to your list the Dynavector xx2 mk2.
9 responses Add your response
There are quite a few people that like the Sound Smith VPI Zephyr. It was designed for the VPI unipivot arms.
A sleeper cart that some feel provides very good performance is the AT-33PTG (not available through U.S. importers but available on eBay from Asian dealers). The 33EV is also considered a good performer but many feel its performance falls a little short of its line-contact stylus big brother at around the same cost (though it is available through U.S. dealers).
I had the 20x2 low output on the classic 3. The XX2 Mk II was really worth the extra money when I upgraded. Based on my experience and in my opinion, I suggest if you are considering Dynavector go directly to the xx2 MkII on the Classic 3, it is really that much better. For me, getting the SRA at 91.5 degrees also really paid off in improving the sound.
I will second the voting for the VPI Zephyr cartridge. Great seperation and top to bottom balance, very musical, and matches extremely well with the VPI unipivot arms, all for under $1000. Interesting that it also seems to be a lot less sensitive to surface imperfections ( less pops and ticks) than a lot of other carts that I have used. Good Luck!
Captain what was your setup for the xx2 with your classic arm to get the sra you got? I have my arm base running well below level, tipped down in the back and then run a fairly high vtf of about 2.17 on my classic 1. Alignment ans setup done with a mint lp protractor. I agree it's a great combo especially now that I am running it all into my Pass XP15 phono stage. I load at 100 ohms and run the highest gain of 76 db. Into the lowest gain setting on my pre. Deep tuneful bass, smooth holographic mids and wonderful highs. I think this cart needs a fair amount of gain to get the dynamics it can deliver. It works well with a wide range of material esp rock.
I pretty much used the procedure by Michael Fremer on Analog Planet > Setup tips> How to use a USB Digital Microscope to set 92 degree Stylus Rack Angle (SRA). I used a different digital microscope (it was around $40) and is very high power, 800x. It is a little hard to use at that power, and I also needed to take off the front protective piece so I could get it close enough for the focus. I took the image, transferred it to Powerpoint, then drew my graphic lines on the image. Then I measured the angles with a protractor on the screen. I repeated the procedure, raising the VTA tower, until I achieved the desired angle, 91.5 degrees.
Every stylus is different, so my setup might not work for you. I needed to raise my VTA tower significantly to get to 91.5 degrees. What is nice, is it gets you in the ballpark and then you can fine tune by ear.
Also, make sure to check your MINTLP again, since as you raise the VTA, you will also change the geometry of the arm, and you will need to re-align on the MINTLP.
I am at 2 grams VTF and 100 ohms load right now, but still optimizing.
I tried both the Lyra Delos and then the Kleos with my Classic 3 tone arm / Scoutmaster combo. I found both these cartridges to be smooth but lacking deep bass and general excitment. I've always loved Dynavectors, but did not want to go to a SUT and another set of cables (see my active thread on this one). I just tried a Soundsmith Zephyr and have to say it seems to combine the best aspects of deeper bass and an exciting presentation with the smoother high end of the Lyras. Only have 10 hrs on my Zephyr so far, but it blows away the Kleos at 1/3 the price, IMHO at this point. I can hardly wait to hear how it matures with more break-in.