Some of the Soundsmith line is currently on sale as the line has been redesigned. I have the Carmen mk2 which is a great sounding cartridge. I am using a moon lp3 phono pre and Maggie 3.7i speakers
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Not sure if it’s a good much for your arm but the Soundsmith zephyr Star is very nice. It took the dynamic capabilities of my system up a notch without being in your face. Never seems to work to hard, no etch in the treble. I’m sure there are carts that sound more effortless than this one but effortless is an apt description. It likes to be tail up on my Nottingham ace space 294. Very non fatiguing, I can listen for hours.
I have had the opportunity to hear a Soundsmith Zephyr played through 3.7’s several times. It’s the best vinyl I have heard. Direct listening comparisons with the Zephyr were made to a DL 103 and a Hana EL on one occasion. I very much preferred the Zephyr. Not surprising, as the Zephyr is much more expensive.@joegator81 ‘s description is spot on and precisely and concisely describes my experience of the Zephyr.
@mre28m5 It’s not because the SoundSmith cartridge is more expensive, it’s because the cartridge is MI with Sapphire cantilever and Selected Contact Line stylus.
You’re comparing this MI cartridge to the entry level Denon 103 MC desidned in the late ’60s with the cheapest ever Spherical stylus on alluminum cantilever. The Hanna is nothing special, but the Shibata stylus.
If you like what low output MI can do then you can discover some amazing MI like Grado Signature XTZ, or low impedance (low output) MM designed by Stanton/Pickering in the 70/80’s such as Stanton XLZ 980 or Pickering XLZ 4500s - they are both works only with MC phono stage or with headamp, but both cartridges are MM
I own a Soundsmith Zephyr Mk3. What a great sounding Cartridge. I've been listening to a MC (very popular, $3695 retail), but I always had issues with noise. So I picked up the Zephyr on sale ($899 from Elusive Disc), just to see what a MI, high output (2.4mV) would do. I am so, so pleased. Wonderfully quiet, beautiful tonality, and a very spacious soundstage, and this is with only 12 hours on it. I think, for the money (and perhaps for even more) you won't do any better. My highest recommendation.....Go for the Soundsmith! You will not be disappointed.
I don't think you can go wrong with Soundsmith. I find some other cartridges do somethings exceptionally well but lack something in some other area.The best way I can describe the soundsmiths I use they do nothing wrong, and that's very important to me. Leave it on the table, wear it out, send it off, get a like new one. They always answer the phone willing to help, can't beat it.
Dear @xagwell You can't go wrong with either of this alternatives. I own your 90X and these two better cartridges quality performance than the 90X:
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,