cartridge, speakers, recording, amp? conjested

I recently bought a ZYX Universe and Salk HT3 speakers
both are very neutral, revealing and tonally accurate
and can be incredible - otherwordly on most music
boths strong points are acoustic music

both are fully broken in - so that's not a factor

jazz is a real treat, folk, windham hill, acoustic rock,(traffic, tull, etc), classical just stunning

the only area I notice an issue is in rock music where things get congested (very dynamic and loud)
then the tonal balance and overall power is deminished
as if things can't keep up
and the bass impact also seems slightly lacking from what I'm familiar with on the recordings (cd version)

(I notice some slight diminishment with cd's I'm familar with (audio aero prima) as well - so the source material (recording and possibly the speakers lack of overemphasis on the midrange may be contributing as well).

I have 4 possible issues

1) one hint it could be the source recording

I've found a few recordings where congested rock sounds stellar
Yes - Close to the Edge and Going for the One (Jap pressings), Tull - SOngs from the Woods, Floyd - Animals
Eno - Before and After Science

so maybe these are recorded right or maybe these are too hot in the mix and hence sound good as congested

Fagen's Morph sounds too bass heavy as if overemphasized

2) table setup - my current Universe on spacearm till new table and arm are setup - I couldn't get the overhang all the way out at max (using Feickert protractor (I'm off a 1/32 short and could be ever so slightly off on zenith angle)
perhaps this is in the range of vta which I haven't figured out totally on a NOTT?

one album - a jap Traffic Barleycorn sounded stellar tracks 1-3 but the inner track sounded muddy in comparison

soon to arrive galibier table and triplanar arm should solve this factor

3) perhaps the higher resolution of the analog and speakers is showing a limitation in my power amp
ARC D200 - 105 watts solid state - although it used to sound dynamic on my old VonScweikerts - but a tad grainy speaker and maybe was overemphasized)

ARC LS% pre and ZYX Artisan phono do not appear to be limiting factors

I was contemplating a MOSCODE 401HR amp as the next upgrade
perhaps the 30 day trial would shed some light

perhaps the speaker / cartridge combo is so revealing it's showing me limitations elsewhere in my system

4) cartridge - is this a limitation of the ZYX?
I know they have incredible channel seperation
do they not overemphasize or hang on to false energy in the mids or is it a limitation of the cartridge design in congested passages
I know I've read a few detractors saying zyx are not strongest on heavier rock material

I'm very satisfied with the sound 95% of the time
but because things are so good over most material I'm perplexed at this apparent short coming

interesed to hear your insights

this was posted by Halcroman (I started the same thread) over at vinyl asylum

Let me just eliminate the ZYX Universe from the equation.
I've just mounted one in my system (Rega 3, Hadcock Unipivot, Halcro DM10, Halcro DM58 monoblocks, Custom 3 way moving coil speakers) and can verify that the ZYX is the best tracker with the least distortion of any cartridge I've experienced (Koetsu Urishi, Koetsu 52nd Anniversary, Clearaudio Signature, Clearaudio Insider Gold, Lyra Helikon, Lyra Titan i)!
If your VTA is correct (and you say it isn't)...tracking weight correct?....the problem should be either the arm, the phono stage. preamp, amp or speakers.
Your Calibier and Triplanar will rule out the source if that is the problem.
I am not familiar with your amp or speakers but suspect that the amp may be clipping on hard complex rock at volume (especially with the added information of the ZYX).
Additionally the speakers may be distorting if they are limited in handling capacity (this is quite rare these days as even bookshelf speakers can be driven cleanly to high SPLs if the amp is not would suspect the amp?
Tom, I have to agree that it does sound like compression. But with 200 w/ch that doesn't seem like it would be the amp.

Could it perhaps be that you're overplaying the room?
I doubt its the amp if the CD's don't have the same issue. I believe you will have problems if the cartridge is not set up well and fine tuned. I am still (one week) tuning my new Ortofon Jubilee for tracking force and VTA. Of course it could be in the vinyl also.
cds do have some of the same issue but to a lesser extent

so the speakers may play a part

then again maybe I have too much hooked up to my equiteh balanced power conditioner
the amp is plug straight into the wall
I was first taught about compression with the phrase "it's like putting a tight belt on the soprano". The notes are there but they are coming at you all at once. No separation of musicians, just a blast of sound. Once you experience it, and identify it in your own mind, you never forget what it is.

I've own, and listen to, most of the titles you mention and I can say that it is not the software. I've not had good luck in the past with power conditioners. The easy experiment would be to plug everything into the wall. It might not be as quiet but it will probably be more dynamic and nuanced.
Audiotomb, don't make any judgements until you get your cart aligned right - 1/32 is significant - diminishing quality at end of sides supports this. And have you tried changing the VTA by dropping the pivot height slightly?

It's possible that the Zyx is showing up the limitation of the Nott Analogue table - I've always found them to be relatively dark and congested. Likewise, better source equipment shows up limitations in recording and mastering techniques (which should be equally evident of cds of the same album).

You are being somewhat unrealistic in expecting magic to happen after dropping one "star" component into your system - if only it were that easy! ;)

The fact that your cds sound good eliminates the amp and speakers as suspects.

It could also be the case that all the extra "air" the Universe is giving you is presenting the impression of a relative lack of bass.

I have always found Zyx carts bass shy - my hunch is that Zyx are most favored by those using SET amps or who don't listen to rock music, who trade bass extension and tightness for openness and clarity in the midrange.

Fagen's Morph is bass heavy IME.
dan the titles I mentioned don't compress

it's lesser rock recordings

I'll try upplugging from the power conditioner
never had a problem with it before

thanks tom
flyingred -

cd's also show compression on loud passages on certain material but the bass is there -

I think both the speakers and cartridge 'in the current setup' have some limitations of very dynamic rock music
it's probably an additive effect

Morph is overemphazied on lp and the cartridge gives too much bass (so I'm definitely hearing bass when it's overemphasized althought that material isn't ultra dynamic)

things are marvelous on less demanding dynamics

again the overhang is maxed out and I'm a little short
using a fiekert protractor - so can't wait to dial things in on the triplanar

on a side note - I wanted to thank you flyingred asreading your agon input on galibier helped lead me to my next table - the gavia gavia