Feedback on Monster Alpha 2 Cartridge


For those of you deep into the analog realm, anyone have any experience with Monster Alpha 2 cartridge. Believe it was designed by the current founder/president/chief designer of Zyx cartridges - Hisayoshi Nakatsuka - and it came out in 1988 I believe. Supposedly was a very good cartridge at the time and is quite sought after today. Apparently it's strong suits were speed, articulation and resolution but also set a new standard for sound staging at it's time. That's all I know.

Anyone here owned or heard one? For those who have, I would appreciate any sonic impressions/description of the cart. They normally go for $500-550 in used market nowadays (not bad for a 27 year old design) in good condition. Have the opportunity to get one for $400. Any help would be appreciated.

Just to add to the question, if I don't get this, I will likely just get a Dynavector 20X2 instead, so any comments as to how it would compare to the Dyna cart would also be appreciated.

In case it's helpful, I have the Nagra BPS phonostage. The cartridge will be mounted on a Graham 2.2 tonearm running on a Basis 2001 table. Rest of system is ARC Ref 3/110 (pre/power) amps and Thiel 2.4 speakers.

Thanks
cmalak
I don't see the sense in buying a 27 year old cartridge unless it does something unique that you can't get elsewhere. I have the DV20 low output version, and would definitely recommend it. Just make sure your phono pre has enough gain to drive it.
An AT OC9/II will smoke it for well-under $400 (on current sale).
Bpoletti...have you heard the Alpha 2 or is your recommendation for the AT OC9/II simply based on it's own merits and your view that it's the cart to beat in the $400 price range or under? Just trying to understand the context to your response. Thanks.
06-28-15: Bpoletti
An AT OC9/II will smoke it for well-under $400 (on current sale).

Probably referring to this listing.

The "ML" designation means it has a MicroLine stylus, which is known to last about four times as long as other stylus profiles. I can attest that I got 5-1/2 years out of my AT150MLX before replacing the stylus. For an MC cart, that's a lot longer between retips.
Cmalak - yes.
Other than they are extremely well regarded and sought after, I've never heard one.

However, just because it is 27 years old doesn't mean that it doesn't compare today. I'm sure it does and it might well smoke many cartridges today However, that is speculation based only on myth until get my hands on one, too.
"06-28-15: Raymonda
Other than they are extremely well regarded and sought after, I've never heard one.

However, just because it is 27 years old doesn't mean that it doesn't compare today. I'm sure it does and it might well smoke many cartridges today However, that is speculation based only on myth until get my hands on one, too."

I have no doubt that you can be right on that. My only concern is that it seems risky buying a cartridge that old. Especially if its used.
Your assessment of how old a cartridge is vs. How
it stacks up to current models is right on the
mark. I bought a 1989 NOS SUMIKO TALISMAN
VIRTUOSO TITANIUM that simply throws a huge
Soundstage with pacing and bass. Anyone that
knows of this cartridge will tell you it is
better than anything SUMIKO sells today.
In re:to The monster cartridge in question the
one you want to be looking for is The Alpha
genesis 2000 which along with my cartridge were
but a handful of Mc cartridges that Harry Pearson
gushed about back in the day,he felt the
manufacturer got them right. I have owned and
used the 2000 and it is a fantastic cartridge
mates well with the ET arm too. I still have
them,one needs to be retired and the other lost
its stylus during the Northridge earthguake.I
sent that one off and had the body cryoed and
will eventually have it rebuilt.
As one poster stated make sure your phone stage
can handle the low .2 gain and make sure it HAS
NOT BEEN RE TIPPED.
Thx for the feedback Qdrone.
I agree with Qdrone's comments. The 2000 is the one to find; fantastic cartridge. Mine needs to be retipped after years of service on a ET2. But, you asked about the Alpha 2 which I owned years ago before owning the 2000 along with, among many others, the AT OC9. I have to respectfully disagree with Bpoletti. In my system and for my tastes, the Alpha 2 was an infinitely better cartridge than the OC9. In fairness, my OC9 was not the /II. My Alpha 2, which definitely sounds in character like a relative of the 2000, was more detailed, had better bass extension and had much more stable imaging than the OC9 which always sounded more hi-fi'ish to me in spite of the Alpha's top end that could sound, as Qdrone points out, a little zippy if not set up properly. The OC9 was arguably "smoother" sounding but had an overall bright glaze to the sound that I found annoying. My OC9 had larger images than the Alpha 2 which could make it sound "fuller", but did not reach as deep in the bass. IMO, the AT was a good solid mid-level cartridge; the Alpha 2 was a true high-end cartridge with a couple of flaws that could be improved on with careful set up and that were obvious in part because it did other things so well. Not a 2000 'though.
Frogman...thank you very much for your extended feedback. Very helpful. The only reason I am contemplating the Alpha 2 is because it's being offered to me from the personal stash of the vinyl expert at Goodwins whom I implicitly trust who says it's in excellent condition and still has 2-3 years of continuous playing time on it and that it was a SOTA design when it came out. Otherwise, I would never consider buying a used cart sight unseen, especially a 20_ year old cart, so unfortunately I don't have the opportunity to buy an Alpha Genesis 2000 nor would I buy one unless it's coming from a trusted source like the Alpha 2 is.

Let me ask you this: do you think a current "mid-price" cartridge like a Dynavector 20X2 would be able to better the Alpha 2 overall, or would I still be better off trying the Alpha 2? I know it may be a hard question since you may not have heard the 20X2 but I guess what I'm really asking is given the advancements in cartridge designs and materials, wouldn't something like the 20X2 or a similar cartridge be more likely to deliver better overall SQ than a cartridge from 20+ years ago? I am assuming there have been advancements in things like magnets, styli designs and materials, etc...but it may be that innovations have been far and few in the past 20 years and that may not be the case (I have no idea what the answer is which is why I am throwing it out there)?

Thanks
Cmalak, the only Dynavector I have ever owned was a Karat Ruby many years ago, so I can't help you with that comparison. I am not very familiar with mid level cartridges of the recent past. After the AG2000 my cartridge purchases included a couple of Vandenhuls and Shelters and over the last few years I have been revisiting vintage MM's which can be quite excellent. I can tell you that in the price range we are talking about I would consider a used Shelter 501, while very different, to be in the same general class as the Alpha 2. At $400 an Alpha 2 from a trusted dealer seems like a solid deal to me. Good luck.
Frogman...thanks very much.