Gonna have to ditch the Soundsmith Carmen II


I've given this cart the benefit of the doubt and then some, but it's going to have to go. 

the sibilance on s's is just to much. The sound isn't distorted, just way louder than the rest of the vocals. This happens to one degree or the other on all records with vocals. Sometimes it's barely noticeable sometimes it hard to bare. other than the sibilance I love the sound, I love the live nature of the music.  so I hate getting rid of it. 

So so the things I've done and made sure are dead on:

alighnment - that means SRA, VTA, TF, Azimuth, anti skate (per,SS), platter level, checked mounting hardware, checked tunntable . . .etc

my Denon 2x20L doesn't do this.

it may be there is a bad combo with some piece of equipment or loudspeaker and it just doesn't jive with the rest of the rig. 

My system:

VPI prime
Parasound JC3+ Phono pre
PAD phono cables
Decware integrated SET tube amp
Zu Omen Def MKII with Radian tweeter upgrade. 

So the question is what cart, around $1k will give that live dynamic sound, tracks well, but does emphasize the S's?

ones I'im interested in but have no way of hearing:

Ortofon Quintet Black
Audio Technica ART 9
???


last_lemming
So last night I took the dynavector 20x2L off and put the Carmen II back on. The Dynavector doesn’t sound as “real”. Period. That’s what I love about the Carmen, things just sound real. I set up the cart again, and yes, I set it up correctly, and did a sampling of albums: old 70’s up to current releases. There wasn’t  a specific pattern,  but 2 out of 3 albums had emphasized “S’s”. The other 1/3 seemed fine.

i have Zu Omen Def MK ii’s with the tweeter upgrade. I know people have a love’em or hate’um view. I love them. My other speakers are Thiel cs2.4’s. The Zu’s sound more like real music. The Thiels are very accurate, but a accurate doesn’t always sound good. On great recordings Thiels sound great. On anything less than great recordings not so much. The Zu’s have a great midrange and midbass. One thing I remember reading on a review of the Carmen II is that the midrange was noticed to be a bit pronounced. I didn’t think much of it at the time seeing how every system in every room is different. I think what is happening is due to the more pronounced midrange of the Zu’s plus possibly the slight emphasis of the Carmen II may just be pushing the dB in that frequency range to be more noticeable.  It this is just a theory. 

I tried swapping tubes on the Decware integrated amp I use and while I found a set that deemphasized the problem frequency range a bit it also took some of the liveness away as well. 
If you do send your Carmen back to Peter, and I think you should, please do let us know how things turn out. Your considerable commitment to get the best out of the cartridge are a testament to the sound quality on the whole. This makes me want very much to hear a Soundsmith cartridge for myself.
I had the same sibilance problem. I was not the SS Sussurro cart. (Peter's prototype).  Improvements to my electronics solved the problem.
Could it be your speakers?  Especially with the "upgraded" tweeter, this could be part of the problem... in your small room.

Always a possibility I suppose,  but why then only on lp?