Moving on after van den hul

I've had van den hul cartridges (grasshopper & colibri) for almost 20 years. I love the sound, but I'm at the point of moving on after dealing with several rounds of questionable customer service.

My question is directed SOLELY at those of you who also love the van den hul sound: What other cartridges have you found that either (i) exceed the van den huls, or (ii) come close in important ways and provide an acceptable substitute?

(For those of you who do not share my enthusiasm for van den hul cartridges, PLEASE DON"T BOTHER RESPONDING TO THIS THREAD. It's not that you're not entitled to your opinion (of course you are), but rather that our ears and taste are sufficiently different as to make conversation on this issue irrelevant.)

Just curious. If you don't describe your table/arm phono pre it would be difficult to comment.

Though I wonder whether it makes a difference to this discussion.

I suspect that the basic character of a cartridge comes through regardless of what it's connected to. And it's that basic character that I'm talking about.

I'm looking for comments from people who "get' the van den hul sound the way I do, and for whatever reason have moved on.
Until a couple of months ago, my reference for the past few years had been the Colibri XPP, and the XCW HO before that. I have since switched to the Ortofon A90. While my A90 may still not be completely run-in yet, my feeling is that it is certainly a step up from the Colibri overall, particularly in the mid-range and bass, which the A90 has more body and drive. However, the Colibri still has the advantage on the treble, which has more "air".
I love van den Hul cartridges and was a dealer for a few months in 2009 but dropped the line as the current distributor in North America should be selling used cars not high end audio components.

Customer service for them is the consummate oxymoron.

In any case, I find that Lyra products share many vdH sonic traits with a higher degree of reliability. The build quality/fit and finish are unsurpassed among high end cartridges.

And the importer, Immedia, is a super class act offering terrific representation and outstanding service.


Dealer disclaimer
I had a Frog for some time. Very musical with to die for mids / highs. I went to Lyra Skala and have been happy with it's performance over the past 2 years.
Dear Jimjoyce25: Well I still love the Colibri and the XV-1s and the Allaerts and the LP and the A90 and and and......

IMHO the Colibri is competitive with any other top LOMC out there and name it here.

Things are IMHO that no two top LOMC cartridges performs exactly the same, all are different ( not necessary better than the other. ) and are these small differences the ones that can/could match in better way each one priorities. Overall the Colibri is hard to beat. Btw, in my Colibri set up the bass performance is really fine and has nothing to ask to the A-90, of course the Thekong cartridges set up were/are different from mine.

If you want something a little different but still top quality performance my vote goes to XV-1s or A-90 and remember that always is there the MM/MI analog source alternative.

Regards and enjoy the music,
I own both the Colibri XGP and Dynavector XV1S. Paired w/ Graham Phantom 11 and Basis debut Sig Vaccuum table. I prefer the sound of my XGP, it seem to be more life like and open. I would stick to the van den hul.....
Unfortunatelly your Triplanar does not match with the Goldfinger.
I live with VDH's over 16 years from Grasshopper III M SILVER to Symphonic Line RG6 GOLD to Insider & back to GLA IV to Black Beauty to first generation 3.5gr Colibri COPPER to XGP & finally to XPP.
I don't know for an alternative !

George, do you think Triplanar match with Colibry?
Thank you.
Homosapien :
Matches with less than 8gr & high compliance cartridges.
If you plan to buy a new one & allready have your Triplanar, I suggest you to prefer a customised "Condor" otherwise a second hand Colibri is a superb value but the risk of getting a bad or abused sample is not less.
If you can find one from someone you know, then go ahead! but be very carefull to set-up as I can confirm that every time I receive my repaired VDHs, I had to deal with a new and completely uknown cartridge. I suspect that at the last 4 years in the factory, they don't fix the particular problem, but they glue a new cartridge to your old cartridge shell. (Although they are honestly charge you only for the single damage repair).
Yes there are some things to concern about VDHs, but certainly it is worth the effort. (especially for you that you value the midrange openess-clarity & airy highs of the PROACs).

Geoch; how about a linear arm? good fit for goldfinger V2? have been considering a move for a while now. something else instead? anybody?
Hi Koegz
Your turntable has receive it's most legendary reviews with some Clearaudios. I cannot think of a safer recommendation.
It seems that your own personal taste does not favour to the (neutral) side of Lyra (once you've got the PC-1, the Goldfinger has also a slight touch of familiar dryness) & given the fact that you choose only one cartridge to live with, I'm heartily advise for the Goldfinger. An amazing cartridge, very easy going, to align & to enjoy for many many years as it's strengths are not going to let you down (robust build & sonic quality) or to be surpassed any soon.
I suspect it is a natural match for your table.
My Symphonic Line RG6 has spend 2 years of greatness with Goldfinger (even poorly matched with the Pluto 9A) and then I become addicted.
Still is my favourite & has a great distance from the rest Clearaudios. The reason that I choose the (special order for my arm) XPP, was a personal advice from Eddie Driessen. I don't have any regrets (etheral-delicate-dynamic-exciting-speed-finesse-precision-resolution-calmness) but I want to be honest to my shelf : Goldfinger is care-free, fuse-free & a long term world reference (transient speed-power-relentless pace-unimpeded liveness-illumination-clarity-detail panacea) that somehow closes the gap between analogue & the imaginable ideal digital. Where the XPP is let you to explore and detect the mystic of the music's ceremony, the Goldfinger's nerve can shock you with the unexpected directness that throw these as facts.
It's character goes beyond the smooth transaction of the familiar analogue signature to the point that it's vividly & alertly persona can manage to lower the perceived laziness of belt drive signature. Your turntable & your amps will be in heaven.
In my set-up I've found great dissapointment with some carts: Onyx(fat & mellow) LP(flat & boring) PC-1(cold & sterile) to give you an idea for my taste or perhaps the overal synergy. There are so many issues to mind & you can not ignore. You can never be shure. All I can suggest is to arrange a listening session IN YOUR HOME.

thanks Geoch, I think I will take your advise. My only concern was the cantilever. I use to have the dynavector, I broke that one twice. I am told this is a different animal all together, much better built. Hearing on my system without buying is not going to happen. So it is another leap of faith.
I have a koetsu and a vd hul , i have changed appartments while i purchased the urushi and before that broke probably a coilwire of the condor it will be repaired soon , i have listened 2,5 years to the condor
A direct comparison is difficult but will come in the future.
Going to koetsu is a step forward i would say, you may lose a little bit of detail but the overal sound is one of more class, more coherence and emotional involvement its more a special product although also the condor just trashes the wadia player.
both strong advocates for analogue ,i have not heard the colibri in my system
I have both the Calibri and a EMT JSD 6. Both with different character and I could live with both. I play solo, and light music with Calibri, but when it comes to symphony, I must put the EMT on the vinyl. With both, I could enjoy a whole spectrum of music.
I used a VDH frog for several years and my daughter currently uses this one on her michell gyro system. I do like the sound but moved on to utilize the ZYX line of cartridges. I have the airy 3 and UNIverse and utilize both of them on my Maplenoll tables. As far as differences, I find the UNIverse is a more neutral cartridge than the Airy 3 or Frog. I think these two are closer together and other than the frog having a broader sweet spot on vta than the airy 3, both are very similar
Did you change the cart already? I would suggest trying a Condor, if you have the possibility. I prefer it to the Colibri.