Lyra Etna SL vs. Transfiguration Proteus + Koetsu Urushi

I had an unfortunate incident and accidentally broke off the cantilever of my "My Sonic Lab Ultra Eminent Bc" which had barely 50 hours on it (long story). It was a terrific all a a-rounder and my back up Benz LPS is already getting long in the tooth so I guess it's time for  a new cart or carts.

I have read many reviews on the Lyra Etna SL and searched most forums and  almost all of them had rave reviews. Though I have not heard this cart personally nor any Lyra cart for that matter. What is holding me back is the price. It is difficult to purchase a cart ( or any piece of audio for that matter ) without a home demo. In this case, it will be a blind buy. As an example, the Ortofon A90, it had rave reviews and a lot of people love it. I didn't hate it but it wasn't my cup of tea. Now,  If I love the Etna SL  than great ( at this price range "like" is not enough ), if not I'm dead to rights with a very expensive cart. 

On the other hand, I have heard the Proteus and was absolutely impressed and I also have heard most Koetsu's which is definitely pure magic in the midrange. Though the different colors in the Urushi line still bewilders me. I was initially intrigued by the Coralstone but I didn't feel it would be a good all a-arounder for that price.

So, would you get the better more expensive cart ( I am assuming based on price alone ) or the musical flexibility of two carts with polar opposite characteristics? The price of the Lyra SL is almost similar to the Proteus plus Urushi added together. Your thoughts appreciated.

P.S. I have an extra armwand for my Graham so no need to get an extra tonearm.
P.P.S My system is in the virtual systems ( sorry, don't know how to attach it/link it here)
Dear @attymbb: Why try to make a change for a different cartridge that means a different kind of performance?. My Sonic Lab cartridges has great design and quality excecution design and are second to none.

I like Transfiguration and Lyra too but your Sonic Lab needs only to be fixed by My Sonic Lab and if you want a second cartridge instead the LPS then you can think in the Transfiguration or the Etna where both are better than the Urishi.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Hard to believe you don't want to stay with the LPS.  Check with Soundsmith, be sure you don't just get different but not better sound in your quest.
Is the Lyra a somewhat forward sounding cartridge?

the thing I like about Benz cartridges is the way the music is presented, especially classical.
I can only speak to proteus and was just thinking the other day as it was digging out a head melting solo by Jeff Beck on the song I glad I have this cartridge.

               The rebuild by my sonic lab would almost cost the almost same as a new one, save a few hundred bucks. I could just get it re-tipped by Soundsmith, but I have heard friends who have gone this route and say the carts don't sound the same as the original. 
                At almost half the price would you go for the Transfiguration over the Lyra? I have read many great reviews on both carts. 


               I'm not dumping the Benz though I read somewhere in this forum of someone who did after purchasing the Proteus. I love the LPS. I just feel that it may need to be rebuilt soon. 
               I agree about the "better" but not sure which one is better than the other (Lyra vs Proteus). Different, the Koetsu is definitely different.

By the way, if I go the Proteus route I'm not simultaneously getting a Koetsu. I'm just doing the math. 

@attymmbb. 'I'am just doing the math'' (01-11-18). I think

simple algebra will do. However there are  'unclear variables''.

What does ''refurbishing'' or '' rebuild'' mean?

While the stylus ''state'' causes the most wary the stylus exchange

is the least problematic ''rebuild kind'' among the possible kinds.

I.e. cantilever or suspension (ex)change are more problematic

according to J. Carr. In the sense of preserving the original

sound that is. The usual ''retip'' consist in gluing the cantilever/

stylus combo in he so called ''joint pipe''. Boron+ whatever exotic

stylus cost about 500 euro. Stylus only in the original cantilever

cost about 180 GBP by Expert stylus (UK). ''Refurbishing'' or

''rebuild'' by the manufacturer cost about 3/4 of the retail price.

But one need to remember the ''distribution of income'' among

the ''social classes''. The importer get about 30%, the seller get

also 30% so , according to simple algebra, the producer get also

about 30%. My Koetsu Rosewood Signature was refurbished

by Koetsu for 2200 euro. Those who recommend ''refurbishing''

by the manufacturer have no idea what they are talking about.

Assuming boron cantilever + Shibata or micro ridge one can

assume that retippers as well the cart producers get those from

the same supplier. So the chance to get the same boron cantilever

is pretty probable while the choice of the retipper become very

important. Depending from his experience and skills the result

will be as such. BTW ''refurbishing'' by the manufacturer means

an new generator. Those are produced as separat parts and

installed in different bodies . Koetsu's  Urushi's are the best

illustration. Because the manufacturer don't produce their own

cantilevers and styli they don't do retips. Besides they would

need to hire an specialist for this kind of job while producing

and selling  carts is not a ''big business''.

I have owned the Orpheus L, a brilliant cart and I preferred it to the Proteus that I had in my system for a brief while. In the context of my system and my musical priorities, the Etna SL is not only the best cart that I have owned but has few, if any peers, at any price point. It’s an amazing cart that takes musical enjoyment to a different level. I have the Etna SL and MC Anna mounted on the same table with similar arms, a Durand Kairos and Talea2. I usually start playing an lp with the Anna and visitors gush over the SQ. I  switch to the Etna SL and there is a palpable sense of disbelief. The Etna SL takes the sonic picture several notches higher.
Just my 2 cents worth

                This was exactly the answer I was looking for. Thank you. Despite my initial concern regarding the musical flexibility of the Koetsu Coralstone, I have decided to either get the Etna SL, now knowing how superior it is to the Proteus, or the Coralstone. Ofcourse at this price point I can only afford one. Now to do more research and if possible to hear both cartridges before purchasing. 
I moved from the Benz LPS (4 years) to an Air Tight PC-1 Supreme. Also owned/used the Koetsu RSP for a while. I listened to a lot of cartridges and couldn't find one I liked more than the Benz, until the Air Tight Supreme. I would try and listen to it and even more the Air Tight Opus 1.
How would you compare the air tight to the benz?
Dear @tom_hankins : Air Tigth cartridges are builded by My Sonic Labs.

@attymbb, very good choice the Lyra Etna.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


The Air Tight Supreme is faster, more transparent, higher resolution of detail, still equally fleshed out and musical. The Opus 1 takes it up even a few more notches.  I still have a new LPS for back up.  

Certainly not a fair comparison price wise between the PC-1 Supreme, and the Benz LP-S. I liked the Ruby 3, but in my system, it didn't compare to Koetsu RSP.  Here again (at the time) the RSP was $2,000 more than the Ruby. I hate to cloud matters, but I've heard the EMT Jsd-75A easily beats it's lower priced stable mate, Tsd-15. If that's true, I bet it's one heck of a cartridge. I feel the Tsd-15 is a real overachiever at less than $2K. 

I had and really liked my Koetsu RSP, until I brought in both the Benz Gullwing and LPS. I preferred both of the Benz cartridges at a lower cost over the Koetsu.

Between the two Benz's they were in my system for over 5 years total.  IMO to get a cartridge with a similar but better , not just different sound, It's going to cost $$$.   It's hard not to compare the LPS to costly cartridges if your wanting to improve on what it does.

Nice choice with the Lyra Etna SL - you will be hard pressed not to really like or love it - make sure you do give it at least 50 hours of play.

Depending on the cost, I would look at getting a rebuild of your MSL to have as alternative. You can then retire the Benz :-)

Atlas SL goes up a notch or two from the Etna SL imo as long as your phono stage can handle the lower output..

I had and really liked my Koetsu RSP, until I brought in both the Benz Gullwing and LPS. I preferred both of the Benz cartridges at a lower cost over the Koetsu.

Sorry to go OT, but Tom I'd like to hear how the Gullwing and LP-S were similar / different / how you felt about each.

My other cartridge, the MSL Ultra Eminent Bc is at Soundsmith as I accidentally bent the canitilever and the Transfiguration Proteus I recently purchased is back at the dealer's pending replacement due to a factory defect.   In the meantime, I have a Koetsu Blue Lace and MSL Signature Gold on home demo.

I just noticed from another thread that you mentioned demoing the MSL Signature Gold. I am curious on how it compares to the MSL Ultra Eminent BC - there are not many comparisons available. Also how do you feel the MSL compares to the Proteus and Koetsu?

            Sorry for the late reply as I did not see the notification for this thread. I wish I could give an accurate assessment of the MSL Gold vs the Ultra Eminent, however, I did not have both carts at the same time. As you might have read, my Ultra Eminent has been at Soundsmith for the last 2 months so I my aural memory can't remember the different nuances between the 2 carts. All I can say is that the general sense of space between voices/instruments are the same which is what MSL is known for. As to the Proteus, I had all of 5 minutes of listening time before I noticed the bottom part of the cartridge falling off so I immediately unmounted it and returned it to the dealer.  Now, MSL Gold vs the Koetsu Blue Lace. Two totally different animals, MSL Gold, huge soundstage, excellent layering, sharp and distinct instruments,dynamic attacks and good bass control. The Koetsu Blue Lace on the other hand has a totally different presentation, typical Koetsu ( in my opinion ), huge vocal presence, excellent midrange, a bit rounded everywhere else but lovely never the less.There's some real magic in there when it comes to vocals. YMMV. Hopefully, that was of some help.

attymbb - thanks for the response!

I have just had an opportunity to hear the MSL Gold at a local dealer. It is very impressive and certainly in the top cartridges I have heard. As you described it, it has excellent layering and separation between instruments with excellent dynamics and flow. Tonality is also spot on with nice rich textures. 

I also heard the Proteus some time ago, albeit in a very different system. I loved the scale and dynamics of the Proteus from that time.

I'll be curious on your opinion once you get the Ultra Eminent back from Soundsmith...