Cartridge help: Ortofon Cadenza vs. Soundsmith Paua


I recently ordered a VPI Avenger with a 12" 3d arm and need help choosing between the Ortofon Cadenza (bronze or black, though I'd lean toward the bronze because it is the warmer of the two) vs the Soundsmith Paua.  My preferences are for a sound that is not overly detailed, but smooth through entire range, warmer side of neutral, wonderful midrange, and not overly dynamic, lively, detailed where listening fatigue can set in.  

I've previously had a VPI Prime turntable and Ortofon Quintet Black.  It certainly wasn't bad but have been hearing wonderful things about Soundsmith.  My phono stage is the Zesto Andros 1.2, so loading and gain should not be an issue with either.  
djfst
The Avenger seems to be a "bargain" in the realm of super tables. 
I have a Classic with  an Audio Technica ART 9 that I'm quite satisfied with. If my system were a notch up the food chain, I would get the Avenger.

While I have no direct experience with either, a "bad" choice is unlikely. Having heard several SS(Voice, Sussurro,SG)carts & the Orto Bronze, my ears side with the SS carts. IMO, the SS carts offered a little more realistic/natural performance. Very believeable
presentation on both ends of the sonic spectrum. Of course, this is subjective and "YMMV" prevails.

The Paua doesn't seem like much of a "downgrade" from the Sussurro. With that in mind, I would consider the Paua.

Off topic, I find the SS  Strain Gauge in yet another league. If I had a system $$$ on that level, I wouldn't hesitate to get a Strain Gauge setup. Happy Listening
I have a Prime. When I purchased I put on my existing Orto Bronze MM. A couple months later I decided it was time to try a MC so I purchased a Orto Cadenza Bronze and a Lyra Delos.   All the reviews on the Cadenza Bronze are pretty spot on. I decided to keep the Delos only because also having the 2M Bronze I wanted a little variety. I am leaving on a road trip today for two weeks but will be listing the Cadenza Bronze when I return....less than 30 hours and inspected by my dealer and given a "pristine" rating.  Saw and listened to a couple Avengers this weekend at the SHOW in Irvine....beautiful table. Enjoy it!!!!
I've heard great things on the Strain Gauge as well, but also out of my budget.  I do favor warmer cartridges, so not sure if realism of Soundsmith (which I've heard others talk about too) tends to mean dead neutral.  

EKIMG, what do you plan on listing your Cadenza Bronze for?  I can get a decent discount from my dealer on the Cadenza since I bought my Avenger from him (as well as the Paua), so may or may not be interested.  
djfst email me - melling@san.rr.com
Why in the world would you put a "price point" cartridge on an Avenger with the 3D arm.  You're wasting the performance level. If you haven't the funds now...start saving and do it right.
"Price point" cartridge?  I don't think a $3800 cartridge or a $2300 cartridge is "price point"cartridge  nor would the majority in high end audio IMHO.  The Soundsmith is a Class A cartridge.  So unless I put a $8,000 cartridge, I'm wasting the Avenger?   
I have a Paua on my heavily modified Scoutmaster with custom "Classic 3" 9" arm from Harry. I also have a Transfiguration Proteus and a Soundsmith Zephyr on separate arms. The Paua is a stellar cartridge. In my system, it is supremely musical, very low noise floor, great resolution, and beautiful. I can listen for hours on end without any fatigue whatsoever. Unfortunately, I have not heard a Cadenza in my system, so cannot compare. 
Stringreen might have a point. Thats a big upgrade in table and tonearm, right? I would be worried about not putting a good enough cartridge for the table as well. After all, at these levels its all relative. But that also leads to other questions about your system, what speakers, what amp/pre amp, are you using? So that we can make a better observation. But, djfst I would highly consider trying out a Clearaudio cartridge at whatever price point, based on what you said you were after, they fit the bill!

Matt M
That's right.....  The top cartridges are clearly steps up....  You should be thinking Lyra Atlas, Etna, Ortofon Anna, et al.  (I would suppose the rest of your stuff is up to it as well)
My system is:

VPI Avenger
Zesto Andros 1.2 Phono Stage
Primaluna HP Integrated Amp
Sonus Faber Olympica 3 Speakers
Wywires Platinum Cables

The other issue with putting a more expensive cartridge on the table is what led me to the Avenger in the first place: the ease of adding 2 arms.  By the time I add a second arm with tower and another excellent mono cartridge, it becomes difficult to put all the money into one cartridge.  I need to spread it out.  Really, the only other option in the VPI line from the Prime is the HRX or Avenger.  There will soon be a Prime Signature out, but it will be a while probably. I'm also trying to keep some sense on this for me personally.  Some may have no issues with spending that much on a catridge, and we all have to draw the budget line somewhere on certain things.  Music is very important to me in life, but it is not the only thing.  An extra $3000 is a lot.  The main reason I sprung for the Avenger is a got a pretty good price on it.   I can live without getting every ounce out of my gear.  I won't let that diminish my enjoyment of the Avenger.  But if others want to go with the a premium price point on cartridge, more power to you!  To each his own.  But price is no indication of performance - one thing I've learned in this hobby.  Cartridges are some of the most subjective things in systems.  I personally don't like lyra cartridges at all - just no my cup of tea.  So I'd rather have a cheaper Ortofon more suited to my musical tastes/preferences than a Lyra that costs 5x the amount.  Just an example.   
Just in case there is no confusion, I did NOT order the Avenger Reference (the $21,000 Avenger with Mag Drive).  I ordered the Standard Avenger which retails for under half the price.  
djfst,

You should also listen, if possible, to an EMT cartridge. Given your other comments I think it might be to your taste. Maybe a TSD 15 SFL. Enjoy your new turntable.
"Just in case there is no confusion, I did NOT order the Avenger Reference (the $21,000 Avenger with Mag Drive). I ordered the Standard Avenger which retails for under half the price"

djfst-The  nice thing is the mag drive can always be on the upgrade list. 

I believe I mentioned this in another thread you started..Have you read the thread on the Audio Technica ART 9? It may be the "sleeper" cart of the year. Owners of 3k+ carts are declaring the ART 9 competes with the best.  I won't be replacing mine anytime soon. Also, since your Zesto will support it, the even lower output ART 7 may have more of the neutrality(although I don't hear the 9 as bright or warm) you require. 

Off topic once more..The rest of your system certainly is impressive.
 I have the PL HP, and it won't underserve just about ANY source you plug into it. You are aware the overall sonics  can be changed with different power tubes and the 2 inner preamp tubes? Do you have EL 34's or KT 88-120? 
Post removed 
"djfst-The  nice thing is the mag drive can always be on the upgrade list."

As it can be for many VPI TTs.

Uniquely, though, the two motor flywheel is applicable to the Avenger.
Thanks jPerry and tablejockey.  I will look into your recommendations.   I actually preferred the stock EL34s the best in my Primaluna.  I sacrificed some expansiveness of the soundstage and detail, but the midrange was too good to pass up for me.    when it comes time to replace, I may look to try some others out there.  
another cartridge option is the Ortofon Winfield....a lot of cartridge for about 3000 dollars.   Talk to Harry about it.... 
thanks, stingreen.  I think that was mentioned on the VPI forum quite a bit.
My preferences are for a sound that is not overly detailed, but smooth through entire range, warmer side of neutral, wonderful midrange, and not overly dynamic, lively, detailed where listening fatigue can set in.

From your description, I think you would be quite happy with the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze. I have one on my VPI Prime, and it is real easy on the ears, good tracker too.
Nothing personal jmc but the Cadenza series are all overpriced for what they are.
For your needs I would consider Lyra or contact http://www.northwestanalogue.com/ & discuss your requirements. 

Thanks for the recommendation infection, but I owned a Lyra Helikon years ago. That was enough for me to know that the bright, edgy Lyra sound is not for me.
I know that many folks like the Lyra sound, so that’s why they make so many different flavors.

BTW, currently the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze is on the sidelines while I'm spinning a Transfiguration Phoenix S.
Yes, my dealer also recommended the Transfiguration, which he is a dealer for as well.  He has an Axia that I may demo on my table.  I'm with you jmcgrogan2, the lyra carts are not my cup of tea at all.  
Which Lyra carts have you heard?
infection,

I've heard the Delos and Kleos.  
Check out the Skala upwards...

Rynard 
I just purchased a Bronze. It is one of the best cartridges I have owned. I like it better than my Clearaudio Stradivari which know sounds bright in comparison.
cjaronica....you have brightness elsewhere..
300 b tube amp don't think so.
I am using an Ortofon Cadenza Blue w/ a Sutherland MC Phono Stage.
Very musical.
For a helpful hand I would recommend a quick consultation with one of the vinyl gods...George Merrill at Analog Emporium. His shop is in a Memphis suburb. (901) 751-3337
Best of luck, Steve 
Dear @djfst :  I'm not trying to "" questioning/blame "" you but to understand what you posted in your thread if you have an explanation for:


""""   a sound that is not overly detailed, but smooth through entire range, warmer side of neutral, wonderful midrange, and not overly dynamic, lively, detailed where listening fatigue can set in.  """"

those are your needs/targets.

Now, normally we build and upgrade ( through the time. ) our audio system to really enjoy MUSIC and your targets goes against MUSIC against how live music performs:

live MUSIC transmit feelings/emotions because its " power " and " dynamics " that almost every audiophile wants even at home but can't do it, well at least we want to be as nearest as we can. " Lively " is the name of the MUSIC.

live MUSIC is everything you want but smooth or warmer if we are listening it at 5-10 m., of course that if we are seated at 30-50 m. from the live source well....

live MUSIC could produce " fatigue " because its SPL. 



Now and talkink on top/decent cartridges and listening audio system at " normal " home SPL: if through the listening time we feel " fatigue " is not because the cartridge but because the audio system overall performance, something wrong with that system not the cartridge.

Btw, the stringreen advise on the Windfels is really good advise.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.


I understand what your saying, and it comes down to semantics and terminology.  I was ok with liveliness and dynamics, which is why I stated "overly dynamic and overly lively" is my original post.  I have to disagree with you about the system causing the listening fatigue without the possibility of it being the cartridge.  We all have preferences and every cartridge brings something to the table.  Some cartridge are overly dynamic but have  a shrillness/brightness on top that can be overbearing to my personal tastes.  This is why I stressed these points in my cartridge search.  

I have decided against the Ortofon Bronze, and am looking at the Transfiguration Axia more and more now as well.  I'll let you know what I decide on.  Thanks for your feedback!
Djfst-I see you're  still on your quest. Another cart worth considering is the Kiseki. 
Recently heard the $3200 Purlpleheart on a VPI Avenger plugged into PL separates @ The Show in SoCal. This was the distributors
room-Upscale Audio. Their room always sounds great. 
I heard a very convincing/realistic presentation with no emphasis 
on either end of the sonic spectrum.

Not mentioned earlier regarding the "value" 1K ART 9.
HW  has acknowledged it a good match for their arms. Other than comparing the 2 on my system with 2 arm wands, I can't imagine hearing even the $1200 difference of the lower end Kiseki Blue vs the ART 9? Keeping in context of the entire system, with your setup that difference possibly more significant.
Mine, not so much.


Great stuff, table jockey.  The Kiseki was on my list too, but talked with a friend who had the Kiseki and he thinks the Transfiguration will be more to my taste (he owns the Transfiguration Proteus on a VPI HRX table).  My dealer has a demo Transfiguration Axia he is going to send with my Avenger next week.  I have a couple weeks to try it and see if it is what I'm after.  If so, I'll order one.  If not, I will look to the Soundsmith Paua or the Kiseki.  Thanks for the help. 
Dear @djfst :  """  I have to disagree with you about the system causing the listening fatigue without the possibility of it being the cartridge  """

I respect your stament. I'm still with my post where you can read:

"""  top/decent cartridges and listening audio system at " normal " home SPL . """

where if the tonearm/cartridge set up and cartridge electrical/mechanical set up was made accurately and the cartridge is already with at least 150 hours of playback then there is no doubt that the " fatigue " ( we are talking about. ) comes from other or other links in the system audio chain.

Please read the 3-4 last posts in this thread with a cartridge that outperforms almost all the cartridges mentioned in your thread:

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/calling-all-vdh-colibri-fanatics-and-experts

this cartridge is a " pain in the ass " way before you really can enjoy it. VDH knows that and that's why they asks to return it after 300 hours for its fine tunning but after this FT it's just marvelous.

Anyway, the cartridge choice is a very personal choice. Good luck.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
One additional thing I would consider is repair/rebuild costs.  Lyra has a pretty tough repair price structure as has been discussed here a while ago.  That policy led me to look at Ortofon and SoundSmith.  Peter has fixed his repair costs at what seems a reasonable percent of the purchase price and Ortofon's price to rebuild their cartridges is far less than what was reported Lyra's was.  As I am not a detail freak, I would think sticking with either Ortofon's offerings or SS's would be the way to go.  While I'm not in the pay grade to afford your choices new, I went with a pristine Ortofon Jubilee and am happy with that choice.  I am hoping to purchase a mid-level SS cart in the future as he deserves to be supported and I've loved the sound of both the Strain Gauge and Hyperion cartridges through his electronics and his smallest speakers.  Impressive to say the least!

Here is SS cartridge warrantee and rebuild/retip statement:
"Our Cartridges are guaranteed for one or two years, with the exception of the Hyperion and Helios, which are covered for a full 10 years, including free retipping (!!) to the original owner. An absolutely unheard of warranty for cartridges. And - we can rebuild any of our cartridges always and repeatedly for only 20% - so they are the best long term values around. Cartridge rebuilds for other manufacturers? Yes, over 40 years of this work - One year warranty."

Ortolan rebuilds the Cadenza Bronze for 930 pounds.  I didn't do the conversion to dollars.
I demoed the Transfiguration Axia from my dealer in my system, but ultimately decided to order the Soundsmith Paua.  I'm currently breaking it in.  Thanks for all the suggestions and help.