Help with Cartridge selection

I am in the process of setting up my first analog system in 20+ years. I bought a Basis 2100 but before it was shipped upgraded to the 2200 Signature w/ Vector 4 tonearm.
I listen to Jazz 75% of the time then everything else.
This is my third thread.... now I need help with a mid/low priced mc cartridge. I have narrowed my list to these:

1. Lyra Delos
2. Lyra Argo i
3 Ortofon Cadenza Blue or Red
4. Dynavector 20X-H
5. Dynavector Karat 17DS
6. Benz Micro Glider S
7. Soundsmith SWWC1 or Aida (MI cart)

I have been told by one seasoned anolog vet. That the Dynavector 10X5 would hold it's own with any of these carts. Any comments or suggestion would be welcomed and appreciated!

My system:
Pass Labs Xono
Aesthetix Calypso
Pass Labs Aleph 3s (2) bi-amp.
Audio Physic Virgo IIs
Rel Storm IIIs (2)
Mixed up bunch of wires.

Thanks for your help again,
Lyra Delos. If you can swing the extra bucks, buy a Lyra Kleos.
Dolos or Benz, the Dynavetor 17D3 is also a good choice.
The Dyn 10x5 is OK, but the others ARE better.
I use a Denon 304 on my VPI Classic and a AT 33 EV on my Basis 2001 with Graham 2.2. Both are available at $400- $500 price range and are considerably better than a 10x5 in my view, although is a good cartridge in its own right.
How do you like your music? Clean, clear with little coloration or do you prefer a little character? This might be hard to answer if you've been away from vinyl for a while. Any chance you can hear any of these in your system, or somewhere else?

If you go with the Glider I'd recommend the low output version.
I would recommend the Low Output version of the Dynavector 20 X the 20 XL
Dan_Ed asked a good question. Anyone who suggests a cartridge without knowing your sonic preferences is largely just offering up their own. You might like what they like, or not.

If you were willing to base your decision on which cartridge is most popular you might ask an online retailer which one they sell the most of. Not how I'd prefer to choose, but that sort of validation is about all threads like this can offer without some discussion of your sonic (not musical) goals. You may not understand those yet yourself, as Dan noted, but this would be a useful time to begin thinking about them.

It would be helpful if people who'd heard several cartridges on your list offered sonic comparisons. That might help you choose or at least begin to find a direction that would serve the way you hear recorded sound.

Dan and Tubeo did invoke a useful rule: the low output version of any particular MC will probably outperform the high output version of the same cartridge. Your phono stage has ample gain and impedance adjustability, so there's no reason to compromise LOMC performance by choosing the HO version.
Dan_Ed I Like my system to sound as natural as possible. I love hearing the attack and decay of notes. I love detail..the sound of a sax players juicy reed, the harmonics caused by really good harmony between vocals and between instraments. I like a wide and deep sound stage, airy highs, liquid mids with tight articulated bass. Or again I like it natural!
Based on your stated preferences, I would eliminate the Soundsmith and Ortofon immediately.

In fact your tonearm, and system for that matter, deserve more than an Ortofon Cadenza.


Dealer disclaimer.

Yep, I'm thinking along the same lines as Bill, but it's not my money we're spending here. :-) (With your system I'd be thinking XV-1s, Orpheus L, Titan II, Benz LP, etc. but I understand needing to draw the line somewhere.) Even the Benz Glider may not be quite neutral enough, but I'm guessing what your tolerance threshold is. From your list I myself would stay with Lyra or Dynavector. ZYX might also be an option but I've lost track of that whole enterprise. Doug would perhaps have some input there.

You certainly came back to vinyl with a vengeance considering the setup you have now!
I have not heard the Delos, but, I am a big fan of Lyra cartridges (I own a Titan). They are invariably built to a high standard and last a very long time. The Delos has a reputation for being a touch warmer and more relaxed sounding than the Titan, which is probably compatible with your choice of speaker and amplfication.

I also have an Orpheus L, which is a terrific cartridge too. It is a little more prominent in the upper midrange than the Titan, and perhaps a little less open and extended at the very top compared with the Titan. I have heard the cheaper Transfiguration cartridge, the Phoenix, in a friend's system. That is a very good sounding cartridge for a lot less money. It is quite lively sounding and I particularly enjoyed it playing both cool and hard bop jazz.
I agree with Audiofeil and Dan_ed your TT/arm and your phono will point out the shortcomings of lessor carts. I would at least go to the Benz Ref S Copper in the Benz-Micro line, I had a Glider SM on another table and would never consider it on the Basis/Vector!!! I'd pick the "fullest bodied" cart I could afford between Dynavector and Lyra lines or the "budget" Ref S and go from there.
Dear Gandme: Very good analog rig " just to begin " with the analog adventure.

There are several alternatives including the ones you and other well regarded Agoner's already name it.

Being your first analog experience maybe is better that you can go to the MM/MI alternative that IMHO it is at least at the same LOMC performance level with some advantages that you will know over the time. Withs that tonearm I can recommend:

Nagaoka MP-50 and B6O MMC2 that you can find in NOS status here:

or the Audio Technica AT-24:

IMHO all of these cartridges can fullfill your quality performance targets.
Even are so " inexpensive " that maybe you prefer/can buy all!.

Regards and enjoy the music,

I was always curious what you thought was the total worth of all your carts, tt's and tonearms?

I love your entire set-up but always wondered...:-)
best regards,

You are getting some good advice here. You have built a nice system and you have an excellent table. I'm not certain why you are aiming a little downscale -please readers don't jump all over me for saying this - for the cartridge. Raul could be correct regarding MM catridges. I respect his opinion, but I don't know since I haven't heard one in my system. I will say that I have a close friend who uses a Clearaudio Maestro MM with excellent results. You might want to contact Acoustic Sounds, Music Direct, and Elusive Disc and speak to their TT set-up people. Those folks sell just about every cart. on the planet and would have a good idea what will mate well with you arm, budget, and taste. All 3 dealers are usually helpful.
I'd have to agree with Bill & Dan ed. Your TT, arm and phono pre deserves much better cart than you have listed. One thought is that if you go with the Benz line, you may be able to pick up a factory rebuilt Ruby, Ebony or LP at a good discount. I believe the distributor is Audio Surroundings.

I had a Benz Glider which developed a problem while under warranty. They didn't have any in stock and made me a deal on the Ebony L that I couldn't turn down.
BTW, i am quite fond of the Ebony L. IMO, it has the qualities you are looking for.

Thanks for clarifying on sonics. Very helpful, and got you many informed responses.

My partner and I listen to classical more than jazz but our sonic goals seem similar. Acoustic instruments and unamplified, unprocessed vocals need a complete harmonic envelope and as much low level detail as possible. These are vital to our ears too, as Dan_Ed knows from hearing our system multiple times.

Agree with posters above that you should aim a bit higher if possible, both because the rest of your system will support it and because it's difficult to get the sonics you're after with inexpensive cartridges. Sad but true IME.

- Agree with Audiofeil: Soundsmith and Ortofon are not particularly adept at harmonics.

- Neither is the Nagaoka MP-50 mentioned by Raul, though it might take more transparent electronics than yours to fully reveal its peculiar treatment of harmonics. I suspect other MI cartridges might behavior similarly in this area.

- Agree with Larryi that the Delos is on the warm side compared to higher end Lyras. A Titan i might be a trace on the cool side but it would blow your sonic socks off in other respects, including all the areas you mentioned. Not cheap however...

- Agree with Larryi's characterization of the Orpheus L. A terrific cartridge that came pretty close to our reference ZYX UNIverse during a one day visit to our system last month. Again, very worthy but not inexpensive...

Dan mentioned ZYX. If your budget allows, an Atmos (now known as 4D) would let you hear everything you described and much, much more. In your system it should outplay the carts on your list by a very large margin.

The ZYX distributorship changed hands last year and things got a bit confused. I and others here are friendly with the old distributor, who's selling off old stock at substantial discounts, which represents an opportunity for you.

Read the Atmos review beneath my name. This is a near reference class cartridge (reasonably close to a Dynavector XV-1S, Titan i or Orpheus L) that can be had for around $2K. At that price it's a steal IMO. At the time we reviewed we thought it was competitive at $3500.

The ZYX UNIverse is superb in precisely the areas you mentioned. No cartridge we've heard matches its extraordinary reproduction of complex, delicate and extended harmonics (real harmonics, not faked or bloomed ones). The nearly unobtainable Lyra Olympos comes close, but those cost a fortune if you can find one at all. The UNIverse is both our reference and our daily use cartridge.

However, IMO that would be overkill for you at the moment. It would mess with your anticipated budget, it needs an practiced and involved hand to play at its best and its capabilities exceed some parts of your system. I fear you wouldn't hear all it can do and wouldn't be comfortable recommending one based on the information you've shared.

Enjoy the hunt, but enjoy the music more!
Ebony L
Dougdeacon- I do not see the review you spoke of for the ZYX Atmos. What is the price of a new ZYX 4D?
Thanks, Greg
Thanks for pointing to your Atmos review and especially your perception/description of overhang. Also it's good to know about the ZYX line and the Atmos as a very good cart.
Click "Reviews" next to my signature. I think 4D is around $4500 list, but you'd have to ask a dealer to be sure. As I mentioned, the previous ZYX distributor is selling NOS Atmos for around $2K. For exact prices you'd have to ask them of course.

Sonic overhang is something we we're very sensitive to, partly because the UNIverse imparts so little of it. The Orpheus L and XV-1S come very close in our system and the Atmos is just a hair behind that. The opposite might be something like your Rosewood or Urushi. Those cartridges slew transients and insert some overhang by design. A very different sound.

Where would you place the PC-1?
Definitly a lot of information and great recommendation. I thank you all! I will be referring to this thread in the future when I upgrade.
I have decided on the Dynavector DL20X-L, at $750 it is a good starting point. I know with my other gear it has been a work in progress for years, I know the same will be true with my cartridge selection. I'm always tempted to go for the best I can afford but I need to establish an ear for my system with the added TT. I need to hear the improvements that are sure to come as I get a feel for the analog sound back in my home.
Dougdeacon- After reading your review (I did find it..duh)
of the ZYX Atmos I was very tempted to forget my budjet limits...lucky for me I could not figure out how to get a price for one or even if they are still available. I did find plenty of the 4D's for way more than I can spend at this point!
I think my TT is about 2 weeks out...plenty of time to get a cartridge.
Correction: Dynavector DV20X-L
Anyone want to chime in on the Benz Micro Ruby (wood body) low output 0.3mv cart.
New Dynavector dv20x or slightly used Benz Micro Ruby?
I have a Dyna XVS, a Benz Ebony LP, and a Benz Ebony H. I listen to all kinds of music and for me, the Benz sound has a bit more more of reality of what I think is live music, than the Dyna. I must add that the H is in some ways even better than the LP, but the LP is the best for these ears.
Buy a new Dynavector DV20X-L or a 40hr used (40hr) original Benz Micro Rudy wood body?
TT will be a Basis 2200 signature W/Vector4 arm.
Buy a new Dynavector DV20X-L or a used (40hr) original Benz Micro Rudy wood body?
TT will be a Basis 2200 signature W/Vector4 arm.
Shit, I ment to start a new thread!