Changing from an XV1-S

Hi All

I'm considering (read hankering) for a new cartridge. I have been using a Dynavector XV1-S for a while now and although it really is good I feel that other manufacturers have overtaken this recently with units that cost a 'tad' less.

It's going on my VPI Classis/ 10.5 and the new Whest PS.30RDT Special Edition/ Conrad Johnson ART MK1/ Levinson 331 Poweramp/ JM Lab Scala Utopia. The general sound from the system is excellent to bloody brilliant BUT having just heard an Ortofon Cadenza Black in the system I am led to believe that the XV1-S technology is 'getting on'.

A friend has recommended the Ortofon A90 or Lyra Titan.
Is there anything else I should look at?

My musical tastes are wide BUT do not include Opera, Classical or choir. I like vocals but love instumentals.

Thanks for your help - if I get any :)

i'll first echo your friend on the A90 as i own 2 of them; and it is different enough from the XV-1s that it's something new. it's more vivid, transparent and articulate in the bass than the XV-1s.

i like the Titan i but have never lived with one. some consider it a bit lean. it's great at space. i own a Lyra Olympos SL which is a bit more 'fleshed out' and sweet compared with the Titan but it's also twice the price and scarce.

i've owned an XV-1s and have always considered it about the perfect all around cartridge.....of which maybe the A90 has now one-uped it by a small margin as it's more neutral and detailed.....and still relatively affordable.

maybe consider which direction from the XV-1s you want to travel. more detail? more body? more space?

good luck and even if you stay with the XV-1s you will still have one of the world's best.
Thanks Mike.

I think I'll go the A90 route as someone else just told me it's the ONLY way to go. I'm just looking for more realism. The Cadenza Black sounded more 'real' than the XV1-S which maybe down to the newer technology. The XV1-S was better in some areas but not all.

I'll see how long it'll take my dealer to get hold of one.
Did you ever think of a Sussuro by Soundsmith? When I heard it, I thought it was wonderful...maybe perfect. Tracking, quickness, musicality...really great.
I am in the same boat...just started a thread for help deciding among Lyra Titan, A90, and XV-1s to go on a VPI 10.5i.

Hi, I have had the A90 on a Classic table for several months now and love it. I prefer it to my previous Sota Cosmo IV table/SME iv.iv tonearm and XV1s setup. I have the Dartzeel preamp with built in phono pre. I am also using a TTweights copper peripheral ring which sounds great, and I would recommend getting.

do you get any hum with the Dynavector? I am using a Grado Statement The Reference 1 with my Classic, and I get some annoying hum when the arm is over the platter.

VPI told me that just happens with that combination since the Grado is completely unshielded. I love the sound, but the hum really bothers me. I know with other VPI's there is no hum with the seperation of the motor and platter, but this bothers me.

I was thinking a new cartridge as well and the Dyna XV-1s was on my list. I was wondering if it was well shielded?

But now that you are doing the research, maybe I should try one of the cartridges that you are suggesting?/

I can 2nd Mike's view on the A90. I have both XV-1 and the A90. The A90 has better transparency coupled with more refined upper frquencies. The bass is tighter than the XV-1.
If you prefer the upper frequency sparkle or lift that a lot of MC's have, the A90 does not have that as it is very balanced.
the A90 tells you more about your system.

the XV-1 is still a very nice cartridge.
Hi DCarol,

Warning - dealer disclaimer.

When I read a post like yours, the questions that immediately that come to mind are - what is the poster after, and what is the weak link in his signal chain?

With all due respect to the posters above, I beg to differ. They have given you excellent advice about cartridges - what you WANT, but not what you NEED ... methinks.

If the cartridge is not worn out, I would keep it and look to your turntable and tonearm. The XV-1s is not the weak link in your signal chain.

While it's true that you might be getting tired of the XV1s, this has more to do with your turntable and tonearm than with your cartridge.

None of this is to say that there aren't other wonderful cartridges out there, and the A-90 certainly is one of them.

Notice the comments about the others being better "by a small margin". In my experience, I've found setup inconsistencies to easily cover these small margins.

You have bigger gains to make, and especially for your budget allocation.

If you happen to make it to the Audiofest this October, we'll be highlighting the XV1s and the A-90 on our turntables. You'll really hear both of these fine cartridges strut their stuff.

Thom @ Galibier
Agree with Mackris.

The VPI arm will not allow either the Dynavector or Ortofon to perform optimally.

Makes no sense to pair an average tonearm with a world class cartridge.

Dealer disclaimer
Thom / Audiofell

What you say is very valid and worthwhile advise. But I don't think the poser is saying the XV-1s is a weak link.

Us users tend to answer on what he asks for and not what he may necessarily needs.

Upgrading his turntable will cost considerbly more than the price of a new cartridge, and considering it is a VPI classic, no doubt it is quite new.

like a lot of us audiophiles, after a while we hanker for a change or something different - hopefully better at the same time.

as they say, a change is as good as a holiday :-)

I have VPI Classic/XV-1s combo for almost a year now. I think the combination improved significantly with addition of peripheral ring clamp, upgrade Valhalla wire. Currently my Classic is at my dealler as I decided to add SDS. I tried plugging my Classic into a true-online double conversion computer UPS unit and it improved the performance quite significantly but the unit is too noisy so I am getting SDS instead. I think that would be cheaper and easy way to improve the system if you have not already done so.
If you have to change cartridge, I would also consider My Sonic. I heard it in the same system as XV-1s and tonally it sounded similar to XV-1s but better in just about everyway. I also got a hold of Air Tight recently but have not had much time to to experiment with it yet.
Hi Downunder / DCarrol / All ...

As a manufacturer/dealer, it's inappropriate to lend advice on arm/turntable selection in this forum. Anyone who is interersted knows they can contact me and/or Audiofeil for private consultations.

Let's just say that for the combined price of an A-90 and the resale value of the DCarrrol's turntable and tonearm, a fairly significant upgrade is possible.

I understand the thirst for a change in flavors, but my point is, that DCarrol has never really heard his Dynavector.

Over the years, I've shifted my approach to answering questions like this by attempting to focus on what the customer is really after. In the early days, I would have leaped to answer the question the way many have done in this thread. I meant well (as does everyone in this thread), but I forgot to step back and look at the big picture.

When someone asks me about a new cartridge, the first question I ask is "what's wrong with what you're currently hearing?". From there, we have a basis for understanding the system interactions and how best to achieve the customer goals - both in the short term as well as the long terrm.

Audiogon is a great forum, but one of the traps many individuals fall into is buying component after component, in a shotgun approach. I find more individuals who are already thinking of their exit strategy for a component they have yet to purchase.

I'm not encouraging financial irresponsiblilty. Quite the opposite. Buying the right component the first time (even at full retail) saves you money and time over the alternative - buying at a discount, over and over, and over again.

It's the only way we dealers can justify our existence.

Thom @ Galibier
Hi all

well so many differing view points.

No hum at all but that could be to do with siting the turntable correctly. I make sure that the arm/cartridge sees no power supply or magnetic field. I used a Benz Glider for about 4 months again with no problems.
What phono stage are you using and what gain setting?
I use 65dB/ 100ohms on a Whest PS.30RDT SE. No hum or hiss or anything that shouldn't be there.

Not interested in the Soundsmith Moving Iron stuff. I just can't get into it...

The XV1-S is very good but I heard with my own ears improvements with the Ortofon Cadenza Black. I doubt very much the A90 will not work in the Classic - of course it will work BUT I also know I don't need to spend a trillion $ or £ to get the best out of the A90. I have had about 10 guys all say - get the A90. One user is a Linn LP12/Ekos user.... now what do you say about that?

The XV1-S is very good but is old technology now. There are definitley cartridges out there that are cheaper and better. The A90 is about $1000 cheaper than the XV1-S... nuff said.

I will eventually change the Classic but for now I love the BIG sound.
Despite having never heard either cart, I am still inclined to agree with Thom Mackris and Audiofeil. I'd be shocked if you are getting enough out of your arm to make the difference profound. If it IS profound, the difference can probably attributed to setup.

As to 'old', I hate to say it but most of the 'technology' in your vinyl playback system is 'old technology', including your tonearm (and when you set up your tonearm using B/L alignment, that's even older).

It is not so much the 'technology' as the 'implementation and execution'. Ask Downunder... His table/arm is 30yrs old. One of the other carts he very much likes is an MM cart which is 25yrs old, but that version of the cart is the result of 9yrs of revisions of a 34-year old design. But it is all implemented extremely well.
>>08-02-10: Dcarol
The XV1-S is very good but is old technology now.<<

How so?
Thanks in advance.
XV-1s is old technology. Well, ok. 99% of the population think this whole vinyl thing is old technology. ;-)

I can sympathize a bit with Dcarol. It can be near impossible to have the opportunity to hear several of the great cartridges listed on this thread, and even harder to hear them in one's own system. So people resort to taking opinion polls and spending their money based on the results of which component garners the most votes.

Dcarol, you must pay hell trying to keep up with the constant improvements in solid state gear and speakers. And, if you do the same with digital I don't know how you have time to listen to LPs. IMO, others here have only scratched the surface of what I would suggest you need to do to better hear music.

Well, you are asking for opinions. :-)

wondering if you can comment on the relative differences, benefits, and performance, of the VX-1s and the Grado The Statement1? I have read several reviews that swear that the Grado is extremely good and it costs $2,200 less than the XV-1s... I'm using a Dyna 20-xl now on my 507 MKII arm but it is getting near the end of its life expectancy... It's so difficult to make that decision on the right cartridge direction...
Dcarol, forgive my bluntness, but I just don't understand the goal of your original post. You ask for suggestions for a cartridge change that will give you more "realism", but you seem to dismiss every opportunity given in the responses to your original question, to explain what "realism" means to you. How exactly does the Dyna fall short to your ears? Have you actually heard the Soundsmith carts? You may not like them, but what about them did not do it for you? What about their sound made them sound "unrealistic" to you? Too lean? Too fat? Too slow? Not enough instrumental inner texture? Etc... Give us an idea of what about sound makes you say: "Aha! That sounds real". You heard "improvements" with the Ortofon Black. What were they?! Only then can others steer you in a worhwhile direction, if change the cartridge you must. Or, you can can follow Thom's or Adiofeil's very thoughtful advice, and look at the bigger picture.

Frogman. What I liked about the Ortofon was the speed and 'etched' realism that the XV1-S seamed to lack in comparison.

The XV1-S was better than the Black in a lot of areas such as overall detail and 'togetherness' - the performance sounded like a whole and not just separate instruments playing a tune, if that makes any sense.

Don't get me wrong, I really like the XV1-S but I know I can get more my going over to something else, even if it is cheaper.

The technology that goes into the A90 is pretty new and I don't actually know of any other company using it, that's why I say the XV1-S is getting on.

As to the is just bias I suppose but I can't pull myself to listen to a moving iron. I cannot see myself buying a moving iron - simple as that. I'm sure we are all biased in some way or another?
>>08-02-10: Dcarol
The technology that goes into the A90 is pretty new and I don't actually know of any other company using it, that's why I say the XV1-S is getting on.<<

Please explain for us, in detail, the differences in technology and why you believe the A90 will offer a marked improvement used in an average table/tonearm like the VPI.

Thanks in advance
This thread prompts a rant which I just posted on my forum entitled “What’s Wrong With Old Technology?” ( I’ll paste it here for your convenience.

The thread title is somewhat provocative, as I'm in no way against continual process improvement resulting from new materials and design refinement. My premise below, is that all great designs are products of stable, mature architectures which are improved over time.

It got me to thinking about the mind of the audiophile, and how they are continually attracted to the latest and greatest, shiny new distraction, with the most significant change being the draining of their checking account and their continuing sonic disappointment. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I've always tried to pick mature, stable designs for both my listening as well as for the products I offer for sale. Companies like Atma-sphere, Quicksilver, and Dynavector produce stable, mature designs that were conceived of correctly the first time around. I like to think my approach with Galibier turntables mirrors their philosophy.

All too frequently, the product that “gets it right” the first time, is penalized in the public eye, because it is “old technology”. What is it about the mind of the typical audiophile that reaches such a conclusion?

If an audiophile looked at a Stradivarius, they’d dismiss it as old technology.

Surely, we live in an ad-driven, marketing intensive world, and we’ve become habituated to our Ipad becoming obsolete before our credit card transaction has been processed.

I look at honest, high-end audio as a respite from this frantic activity, and not an extension of it. I liken our hobby to the “slow food” movement. We have forgotten how to relax – even with the toys created for the purpose of transporting us into another world. When people ask me about vinyl playback, I bring up this contemplative approach as much as I do the sonics. Vinyl is as much an attitude as it is a technology.

Now, the products I embrace (both as an audiophile as well as a manufacturer/dealer) are not perfect (nothing is), but they are mature and stable designs, and they most certainly undergo continual process improvement over time. First and foremost, they honor the music. It is these points I want to drive home.

A great product has a stable, mature architecture, and improvements build on this architecture. I like to bring the example of both the Porsche 911, as well as the bicycle to these conversations. Would you mistake a 2010 911 for a 356 from the 1950’s? Of course not, but the lineage is readily apparent. The same applies with the bicycle, and I would argue for audio components as well (if you know what to look for).

In the case of the bicycle, one could argue that the only improvements since the invention of the derailleur (over a century ago) have been in material science. Surely, integrated brake levers / shifters have been an ergonomic improvement, but frame geometry (for example) has been essentially static for some 80 years – with small changes back and forth. I’m leaving the time-trial bike out of this discussion, and thinking mainly about road bike geometry.

One could argue as well that nothing significant has changed in Porsches in 60 years. The architecture was set at that point, and it’s as valid today as it was then. Surely, a 2010 911 is superior in every way to a 356 from the ‘50’s, but these changes were evolutionary in nature – as material science improved, and of course, electronic control became more sophisticated.

In the world of vacuum tube audio, we’re re-discovering the archives of Bell Labs – seminal research from the 30’s through the 50’s that is as valid today as it was back then. We have more materials choices now than we did then (although one could argue the opposite position with success).

So, when someone tells me that a cartridge like the XV1s, or a product from Atma-sphere or Quicksilver is a dated design, it ruffles my feathers just a bit.

Thom @ Galibier
So, after all of that; which is the "better" cartridge, a XV1's or an Ortofon A90, or maybe a Grado The Statement? :)
Good, better, or best is listener dependent.

I can think of a dozen cartridges that would be at the top of a "what's your favorite/best cartridge?" list.
Dcarol, thank you for addressing my concerns directly. You wrote:

>>The XV1-S was better than the Black in a lot of areas such as overall detail and 'togetherness' - the performance sounded like a whole and not just separate instruments playing a tune, if that makes any sense.<<

Good description, actually. Problem is that, for me, that is actually a description of "realism". And you seem to think that the Dyna is lacking in that area. Which is why I asked the question: What does realism mean to you? You also wrote:

>>What I liked about the Ortofon was the speed and 'etched' realism that the XV1-S seamed to lack in comparison.<<

"Etched" is probably one of the last words that I would use to describe a component that, to me, sounds realistic. Nonetheless, we all use different desriptive terminology; and I now have a much better sense of what changes in the sound of your analog playback you are persuing.
Stickman 451:

>>So, after all of that; which is the "better" cartridge, a XV1's or an Ortofon A90, or maybe a Grado The Statement? :)<<

For me:
1.Grado The Statement
3.Ortofon A90

For Dcarol (I would wager my Stax F-81's on this):
1.Ortofon A90
3.Grado The Statement

Interesting, no?
I have not heard as much as many others here , but i like the koetsu s , a stable wonderful performer very nice with voices (presence) , but i recon you wont go wrong with the ones you mentioned either

I had zyx 100 fs and the 2 current ones
Have you looked into the Transfiguration cartridges. Very nice and musical, but not too far off from the Dynavector sound to be totally different. I heard and Orpheus next to an XV1-S and I have to say the Orpheus just sounded so much more real and musical to my ears.

regarding what about the Ortofon A90 that is new technology;

the body of the A90 is built with a process called Selective Laser Melting (SLM) in which micro-particles are laser welded together layer by layer. similar to the reconstruction sequence in the movie '5th Element'. say what you want about the cartridge; certainly no other phono cartridge is built with technology as new and inovative remotely approaching this one.

here is a link to some details.

my favorite cartridge at the moment is the Lyra Olympos SL. there are a number of other great cartridges out there i've not heard or spent enough time with to say what's the best or anything like that. but the A90 is a special cartridge which seems to work in many arms and systems.

i certainly agree with comments regarding improving tt's and arms and even phono stages, as well as set-up precision as sometimes/mostimes making more sense than cartridges. i have 3 tt's and 4 arms and 2 phono stages. context can be everything to cartridge performance. yet no doubt the A90 seems to stand up in pretty much any context as special.
I know what you mean. I have 7 tables, 6 tonearms, 6 phono stages, and 21 cartridges.

I have no doubt the A90 is a wonderful cartridge but 50+ years in the hobby and business has taught me the latest is not always the greatest.

Nice ortofon movie , nice company .

I also owned a levinson power amp , nice amps , may be also an upgrade would be a bigger levinson , improved dynamics /control better bass and soundclarity at higher volumes
Hi Audiofeil

Your last statement makes a lot of sense. I think I will leave this one to my ears and wallet and that is it.
I love these conversations! So, is it safe to say that if a audiophile upgrades from a Dynavector 20-xl (using a Dyna 507 MKII arm) that regardless of the following upgrade option chosen, either a Dyna XV-1s, or a Ortofon A90, or a Grado The Statement1, that they would be thrilled with the overall improvement? If the answer is 'yes', then perhaps they should just go with the 'cheapest' cartridge of the three??? That would be the Grado...
I agree with the other posters that "new" technology does not necessarily mean better. I don't know of anything about the Cadenza Black's design/technology that makes it any "newer" than the Dynavector. If you liked the Cadenza Black more, it could be for a variety of reasons -- personal taste, system matching/synergy, better alignment (could happen just by chance), the Dynavector having become "tired" and worn, etc. So many factors come into play that it is hard to offer anything more than a suggestion on what to try (if you have a dealer that lets you try cartridges) or to gamble on if you cannot do an in-home trial. Just one factor alone -- how a cartridge works with a particular phonostage -- is such a big deal that it becomes almost meaningless to speculate on a winner.

But, if you happen to like the Ortofon house sound, then of course the A90 should be a contender. There still is the possibility that the A90 will not suit your needs.

As a very rough guide into what to consider, if you are looking for a more incisive sound (faster sounding transients and more "jump"), then, the Titan is a contender, as would be the Van Den Hull Colibre, or the Decca London and even the Transfiguration Orpheus L. I haven't heard the A90, but a friend has its close cousin the Per Winfield. The PW is a very good sounding cartridge. Again, as a rough generalization, you probably would not be looking at a Koetsu (unless it is something like the Onyx Platinum), or an Allaerte.

SLS has been around for several decades, but this is the first application in cartridge chassis building. Maybe even in audio, but I don't think Ortophon has discovered Warp Drive. What is interesting is that the shapes of the A90 and XV-1s have some similarities when viewing the side profile. I have heard nothing but good about the sound of the A90 and look forward to hearing one in Thom's room at RMAF.

I recently heard an Orpheus L, thanks to Sunnyboy1956. We didn't have time to do an A/B with my XV-1s but it was obvious to me that I could live with this cartridge. It is an excellent tracker, retrieves the finest details and has a character I like.

I'm not really sure why we were "asked" about this move. :-) Seems like the answer was pre-determined.

I don't think it's that simple Stickman.

Given the other system components, most notably the phono preamp, are capable of resolving the "better" cartridge, I believe it's safe to say that any of the 3 would provide a noticeable level of improvement to my ears. OTOH I can think of other cartridges (all more expensive than the 20X) that wouldn't float MY boat.

Again and I don't want to beat this to death but cartridges, like speakers and cables, are very listener dependent.

One man's ceiling is another man's floor as the song goes.
I understand, it's not that simple. I was being a little facetious...

This does show I think, how challenging and frustrating it can be to move to a new cartridge. I guess that you have to rely to a great extent on your dealer's expertise and experience.

Of course, my dealer really likes the Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua...ARGGGGGGGGGGGGG
Oh yeah, my phono is the Hovland HP-100...
I think it is an adventure to buy a new cartridge , imagine all the different designthoughts implemented in the different "top" contenders , they all put a different shade on the music and can bring different views as to what is "right " reproduction of music .
I have not heard many heartbreaking anlogue set ups at dealers in holland ,i dont know how that is in the states , I would definetely trust your own ears not a dealer, a lot of them would sell the one with biggest margin on it i reckon.

I heard the hovland has a fine mc/mm stage in it
"... years in the hobby and business has taught me the latest is not always the greatest"
Well said Bill.

Usually I stay out of threads that venture of into personal preferences because it’s mostly a lost cause in that everyone is entitled to their own opinion no matter how I feel about their point of view. However, I do enjoy learning why individuals have specific preferences. It seems like there are a good many valid pints on this topic. However, if the guy doesn't like the sound of his current cart and wants to change (only the cartridge)...

I've heard and set up a few of these "top" cartridges in my system or extremely familiar systems of friends. At this level of performance (not cost) it ultimately boils down to listener preference in addition to the way the arm, table and downstream components integrate. (Un)fortunately there are very few systems that are alike in total presentation of sound, components, and environment. Each becomes unique from that context. However, even though different, systems can be tailored to deliver the music (your favorite kind) the way you, the owner, wants it.

Then there are those of us who want the natural face of an incredibly wide range of music genre and styles without the makeup for better or for worse. Thom, what was the definition of insanity again?

Said Frogman: "Etched" is probably one of the last words that I would use to describe a component that, to me, sounds realistic.

I agree entirely with this statement. In addition, etched has never entered my mind with regard to any live symphony concert I've ever attended. What has come to mind, and quite frequently, have been terms and phrases like rounded, easy on the ears, richly textured and softly contoured. Further, I do not hear live the kind of squeaky clean neutrality that some regard as being synonymous with "realistic" sound. Notwithstanding what I've said, all of us are certainly entitled to enjoy the kind of sound that most pleases our ears.
when the OP, Dcarol, used the word 'etched'....
What I liked about the Ortofon was the speed and 'etched' realism that the XV1-S seamed to lack in comparison.
.....above; my take on his meaning is quite different from the negative connotation that 'etched' typically means when describing an edgy or sterile sounding upper frequencies.

i say this because the A90 is the opposite of 'etched' as that word is typically used. the high frequecies of the A90 are open, natural and smooth. i believe Dcarol was referring to the level of detail and vividness and not to any sort of 'lack of naturalness'. in direct contrast to the Dyna XV-1s the A90 does not obscure detail and articulation in the bass with a slight darkness and warmth; it's open and clear. again; this is just in direct contrast. i would not describe the XV-1s as dark or overly warm but it does sit toward that direction from the strictly neutral (at least to my ears from my year of owning one). the magic of the A90 is how it pulls off the trick of neutrality and detail with naturalness. it's forgiving but not at a cost.

i've owned 7 vdH Colibri's; now there is a cartridge which can sound a bit etched when all is not well. it can drive you out of the room. it is knife edged. too much high frequency energy which can teeter out of control sometimes. the A90 never is like that.

all these audiophile terms can sometimes get us off on tangents.
Now where is Raul to add his MM spice to this conversation!! sorry my bad :-)

I own the XV-1, A90 and a Technics EPCP100Mk4 MM cartridge as well as a number of other MM's amd MC's. The 25 year+ old technics is in no way inferior to either MC cartridge, nor is it better.

None of these are new technology (outside of the A90's very advanced SLM body) but all are refinements of the manufacturers designs.

I believe the poser will be happiest with the A90 within his search criteria. It is more transparent than the XV-1 and has the uncanny knack of being more pure sounding, if your system is indeed up to it. The XV-1 has a consistency of sound that is great as well.

The A90 is in the almost unqique position of being competitive with ANY competitors best cartridge and is cheaper than the majority of them. still a lot of money thou.

But what do I know, I prefer in most respects my 30 year old DD table to my TW raven AC-3.

Can you give a frequency range where you think the XV-1s obscures bass?

I am a bit familiar with the Lyra. How would you describe the a90 compared to Lyra? Not which is better, but how do they differ in character?

to answer your question;

Can you give a frequency range where you think the XV-1s obscures bass?

i cannot describe my impressions in terms of frequency response. it is more the ability to resolve the music's stoping and starting with levels of precision.

i owned the XV-1s for a year. in direct comparison to my 'then reference' the vdH Colibri the XV-1s rounded and blunted transients. again; this is in direct comparison. i also owned a Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum at the same time and the XV-1s was much more clean and detailed than the RSP like the Colibri was compared to the XV-1s.

the 'character' each of those cartridges imparted a level of transient agility which was unique. OTOH the RSP had this glorious luscious mid-range tone, the XV-1s slightly less so, and the Colibri much less so.

the A90 falls somewhere between the XV-1s and the Colibri....about perfectly between the 2. yet it has sufficient levels of tonal weight to be 'right' and has that ease which was so fleeting with the Colibri.

the word 'obscure' i suppose infers a shortcoming or problem. that is not the feeling i intended to relate. it's more like a scale and a balance. the XV-1s and the A90 are at different points on the scale of various attributes depending on your perspective and priorities.
Thanks, Mike. I appreciate comparing notes and I apologize for giving the feeling of an ambush. Re-reading my last post I realize it could be taken with a tone I hadn't intended.

Still, I could better understand for myself your impressions with respect to Lyra. No biggie!
I think I need that audiophile dictionary. Where do I buy one from?

When I said etched it was more like 'vivid' as mikelavigne says.

I have a chance to compare my XV1-S with an A90, Lyra Skala and ZYX Airy 3. My not so local dealer has these that I can try. I will also be using my VPI Classic.
Not sure what system we will be using BUT as long as all the cartridges are played in the same system...that should tell me something???? shouldn't it?

So what do you guys do when you want to upgrade your cartridge? From some of the comments I have read, it looks like it's not worth upgrading or changing.

>>08-03-10: Dcarol
I think I need that audiophile dictionary<<

So you can get one person's definition of etched, musical, organic, sumptuous, detailed, PRaT, detailed, warm, vivid, blah blah blah?

Just go listen for yourself.

Far too many people, including many posting in these threads, hear what they read not what they hear.

Dcarol, what had many of us vibrating and contorting was not that you want to change cartridges. I don't expect everyone to love the XV-1s. There are several great cartridges I could love. However, you seem to have made up your mind on your own thread after one post from Mike and this "newer technology", and "the XV1-S technology is 'getting on'" reasoning as to why you wanted to change doesn't make sense to some of us. To me it is nonsense. Most of us just change because we want to, or because we want/like a different sound. That kind of reasoning we understand. :-)

In the end it doesn't really matter to anyone but you why you want to change. But if you make statements like some of those you have made on this thread be prepared to take some heat. ;-)
As crazy as it sounds, there are dealers who will loan out cartridges for a home trial. I got to try the Orpheus L before making the purchase. I know of a dealer that lent out $12k Allaerte cartridges. But, one has to have a pretty close relationship with a dealer to get that kind of privilege.

Even a home trial is not entirely definitive because it does take some time to acclimate to the new sound, evaluate the result and then make the myriad adjustments (change loading to the cartridge, change VTF, change VTA, change tubes in the phonostage). The adjustments are particularly tricky because they are interactive. For example, changing VTA affects frequency balance as does changes in loading. So, one should do both at the same time to find the right combination -- one cannot optimize just one parameter then go on to another.

Still, one can determine the basic character of a cartridge fairly easily WITH EXPERIENCE.

Heat... not too good with taking it.

I have made up my mind that I want to change the XV1-S as I am looking for something better. I like the rest of the system... is that so bad?

Yes, the VPI Classic costs £2200 and the XV1-S £3300 and it seems the wrong way to do things BUT I know I can get more from this setup.

Eventually I may ditch the Classic but for now it is staying.