Great question Bigdish, cannot offer insight but interested like you. Hopefully we get some feedback.
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Since you seem to like SPUs, have you considered the new Ortofon 95th Anniversary? It is really good, and shares some of the technology of the Anna and A90. I have an SPU Royal GMII, which I've liked a lot for years; the A95 is a definite step up. I have an A90 on another arm on the same turntable, a Nantais Reference Lenco; while I wouldn't say the A95 is better, I would say it's pretty close. This SPU provides excellent resolution and coherence with a big, open soundstage and plenty of that special SPU weight and tonal density. A relative bargain, too, IMHO, considering the cost of top MCs these days. Just a thought.
I should add, though, that the A95 is a little tricky with an SUT because it has a really low DCR at 2 ohms and an output of 0.3mV. I've been using a 20x SUT (through my Allnic) but it's a touch bright in my system into 47K, with the reflected impedance at 117 ohms, according to the calcs Bob did for me. Fortunately, I can switch the input down to 30K on my Allnic, which is better. A 26x SUT into 47K should work well, lowering the reflected impedance while raising the output voltage a bit. Into a resistor-loaded phonostage it sounds best to me at 40 or 50 ohms. Ortofon recommends 10 to 50.
Thank you all for your inputs. Much appreciated!
EBM, may I know which arm and phono stage you are using with the Proteus cart?
WRM57 thanks for your suggestion on the new SPU95. I have a few SPU already, so I would like to try something different thia time.
Hi sunnyboy1956, may I know if you have any problem with the Atlas matching your SUT? Is Atlas output at 0.6mV, much higher than Proteus and my SPU Gold?
The Lyra Atlas and the Ortofon 309D is a superb match. The Atlas has a 0.55 mV output which works with the Ortofon SUT. I tried the Proteus with the 309D but the results were disappointing after trying a range of loading options from 33ohm upto 47kohm. Maybe it's the 0.2mV output of the Proteus or the high mass of the 309D.
You can roll the dice between your selection. A "good" Cartridge should have the following abilities:
*Integrated sound top to bottom.
*Superior ambient detail retrieval.
*The music "breathes". It has an exceptional ability to capture the increase and decrease of the sound pressure of the human voice.
*Excellent transient response.
*All the above produces a very realistic and open presentation.
Neither Anna or Proteus have those abilities, not even one from the lines above. They may have other abilities, but right now, I do not know which ones
I have heard both the Ortofon Anna and Transfiguration Proteus. Both are excellent cartridges. Here is my take on them and the Lyra Atlas (which I have also heard extensively - my friend owns the cart):
Ortofon Anna - very smooth cartridge - solid bass, very detailed yet smooth highs, and by my ear, somewhat sterile midrange. Dynamics also lacking a bit for carts in this price range.
Transfiguration Proteus - different than the old transfigs which were on the 'romantic' side of voicing, this new transfig is super fast, great PRAT, solid bass, and very good highs although not quite as good as the Anna. Midrange can also be a bit thin.
Lyra Atlas - great detail, great bass, dynamic as a cart can be, but also more sterile sounding than the other two above by my ears. transparency great, speakers disappear, but not a very 'musical' cart, but very accurate. Somewhat unforgiving.
If I had to pick between the Anna and the Proteus, I would probably pick the Anna, but remember the Anna is $1,000 less expensive than the Atlas, but $2,000 more expensive than the Proteus.
A cart you haven't mentioned in this price range is a Dynavector XV-1s. It retails for less than the Proteus, yet by my listening tastes and ears, outperforms both the Anna, Proteus and in several ways, the Atlas too.
The XV-1s is very musical and is 'solid' in all areas - imaging, detail, bass, smooth highs and a liquid midrange. If the above carts have some categories where they rate 10/10 in some and 5-6/10 in others, the XV-1s rates 9/10 in just about everything. It is definitely a cart you should consider in your cartridge quest.
I am somewhat wary of generalisations which rank audio components given the infinite variables involved and this is particularly true for a phono cartridge . For example , how many analog aficionados can truly claim that their tone arm wire is optimally burnt in given the small mV that a cart generates. Add to this , cart alignment, loading, TT speed stability, isolation, VTF and how it's measured, VTA and the list is pretty long if you get my drift. I can be pretty confident about some of these issues in the context of my own system but I am not sure about any other system. YMMV.
Sure anyone serious about this hobby can judge good sound but can you with some modesty pinpoint the causes for poor performance and identify the components responsible. IMHO , if someone characterizes a cart as sterile while the majority of ownership experience points the other way, I would not be swayed by the minority experience.
Just my 2 bits.
Disclaimer: Atlas owner
Easy enough to burn in tonearm wire. Just get 2 make RCA jacks. Solder some solid core copper wire to them of a sufficient gauge to fit into yout cartridge clips. Plug those RCA jacks into the back of your CD player, the new solid core wire into the tonearm clips, and the TT tonearm interconnect into an AUX slot on your preamp (not into the phono stage).
Put your CD player on repeat for a week, and you will have burnt in your TT tonearm cable and interconnect far better than you will ever achieve by playing records.
Pradeep - point well taken and absolutely accurate. Much is system dependent, but with analog not only that, but set up dependent too. I have heard the Atlas three times - twice it sounded a little lean and sterile to me. That was on an SME table in an all tube system and another with a Feikert Blackbird table and solid state. I also heard the Atlas on an all ARC system with a Brinkmann table and it sounded very different and more liquid. Overall, I felt it might lean toward the 'more detail - less liquidity' side of the fence in most, but not all systems. I'm confident it was set up properly on the SME table (I set it up!) but who knows on the other two tables.
But again, that was in three different rooms, in three different systems at three different times. The best thing people can obviously do is go out there and make time to listen when contemplating a big purchase. We all hear a bit different and lots a variables are involved.
Disclaimer- I'm a dealer and sell these products!
I have your arm, table and cartridge and am very familiar with with that combination but not your SUT. I'm familiar with your Shindo too but don't currently have one. The Proteus isn't a good match with either your Garrard or the Ortofon arm. It will be too dead. I love the McAnna but I think its somewhat of an overkill for your 301+309 combination and a waste of money. I like the 301 very much but its not the last word in resolution and either the Winfeld, Cadenza Bronze or Black are better suited to your setup. Alternatively you can buy the SPU Classic which is livelier and more musical than the soft sounding Gold, not one of my favorite SPUs and a bad match with the Shindo.
Feel free to check out my systems so you know where I'm coming from.
Thanks. It is certainly not my intention to question or invalidate your listening impressions. I have no quarrel with the statement that cart "X" sounded sterile in a particular system. That is a valid empirical observation. I do have a serious problem with the inference that can follow, namely that cart "X" is a sterile sounding cart.
Completely agree that the Proteus, Garrard 401 and 309D is a very ordinary combination. The 309D is best with cartridges that tend to be fast and agile. I am getting superb results with a Lyra Atlas. The newer SPU should be a great match.
Disclaimer- I'm a dealer and sell these products!
Sunnyboy1956, The ST-80 you mentioned in one of your posts is actually one of the best sounding ones that Ortofon's ever made. It was specifically designed for the Winfeld, Xpression and McAnna and is highly recommended for owners of these cartridges. It works well with some other cartridges too but like all SUTs your mileage will vary depending on the system and cartridge.
Understood Pradeep. I think that was what I was wanting to clarify. Although my impression was that in most systems the Lyra may sound more analytical and detailed than musical, the caveat was that I only heard it in three different systems and there are way too many variables not accounted for. So I agree, it is probably premature of me to make any blanket statement. And you are correct too - I am definitely in the minority camp that thinks the Lyra 'house sound' is a little on the dry side.
By the way, not to hijack the thread but I auditioned the Rockport Avior last month and going for a second audition the end of Dec!