Respectfully seek some arm+cartridge advice


First off, thanks to all the wonderful advice flowing thru this forum.I have finally upgraded from my Phase Linear/GAS amp system and joined the audiophiles of the millenium - including back into vinyl.

I purchased a vintage GyroDec with an SME 3010-R and also an upgraded Scout with the JMW-9. Both will need cartridges. I've read what I can (my wife thinks I'm ignoring her) on cartridge selection but don't have a strong sense of what works - which I suspect means most all combos "work", the question is "how well".

So as a neophyte, how do I select a cartridge I will love? I now know MC has a lower voltage output but I think I'm ok there. I know to select a cartridge compatable with the arm's weight - but how?

I figure the simplest thing is to(unnecessarily) spend a lot of money or just ask what everyone's using - which I welcome if they're on similar equipment.

I don't want to spend thousands and I am frugal - so "used" is fine. I need 2 different cartridges and I'd like to keep it under $1,000 yet be happy.

My equipment is decent including a Lexi MC-12 pre, Theta/Dreadnaught amp plus a couple of tube amps and a Mcintosh amp. I purchased a Musical Fidelity phono pre-. Speakers will be Hyperions for HT and I have B&Ws and Definitive Tech's. I have rarely "loved" digital music and I tend to Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons and Rock 'n Roll of the 70s but also classical and jazz.

What I'd love is a primer on what to do if one exists. Failing that, any recommendations welcome - I don't mind trying a number of options and reselling what's not right.

Cheers all,
Kevin
arbrnrngr
Boy do you cover some ground! My first audiophile amp was a Phase Linear. I bought it because it had more recommendations than any other from all the rags in 1978. It stayed in service for seven years and is now a bouy anchor with an impressive mussell colony. So, now, you want to outfit two rigs. Mayhap you could slow down aways. Howse about buying one, without the certainty of love, and trying it in each rig? Sounds like fun to me, and instructional. I am sure the boys will have much input, always worth wading through. First, determine your budget. And do not bust it by more than 20% AT WORST. Consider the Grado line. One will fit your budget. Use it on both rigs. As to your matching question, you want to find the effective mass of each arm, and then go for the compatible compliance of your cartridge. Imagine a light arm with a springy cartridge. It will fly off like, well, I won't go there. Or, conversely, a weighty arm bearing down on a flacid cartridge that is dredging a sludgy canal. You have punishingly revealing speakers, which will be great when your ducks are in a row. This should be great fun, not hurried.
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Grab a new ! Denon 103 or 103R Cartridge and play around with that a bit and then contemplate your next move. I would suggest staying away from buying a used cartridge - it can be quite treacherous.
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Rear TWL's review here on Audiogon (I listed the link below) on the 103r and it should give you some information with which to make a decision. Tom is quite astute and you can put some good stock in his review.
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http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ranlg&1034089946&openusid&zzTwl&4&5#Twl
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I continually hear about what a terrific cartridge the 103r is for the money (around $ 250.00). You can pick up a 103r (I just ordered one) from Audio Cubes (http://www.audiocubes.com/ ).
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Good luck and let us know how you make out.
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Rgds,
Larry
Hi from Australia...
Since the Shelter 501 Mk1 appeared on the market ,I have been using that one with great success...than Shelter 501 Mk2 and the Shelter 901...they would go well in your arms...very neutral,yet musical...I than tried the ZYX Airy 2 and prefered it over the Shelter marginally...I agree that the Denon 103 is a bargain and the used market is very dodgy...by the same token ...I just upgraded my rig with a Air Tangent arm which had a Shelter 501 Mk2 in it,very low hours...I replaced it with the ZYX Airy 3...Good deals to be had in the ZYX's range...if you are interested...
Regards
Helmut
For your SME 3010-R I agree with Cello, pick up a Denon DL-103R. It should be an acceptable mass and compliance match and it's a wonderful cartridge for the money (<$300). You'll have to hurry, the 103 line is being discontinued.

I also agree with his advice to avoid used cartridges, at least until you have a little experience. It's easier to get burned with a used cartridge than any other component. If you know the seller that's different of course.

Your JMW needs a higher compliance cartridge. Grado's are a possiblity, but they're sensitive to stray EM fields, like leakage from the AC motor on your Scout. Some people have a hum problem with Grado's, some don't. They're also known to have a suspension issue: google on "grado dance" or "grado wiggle" and you'll get a million hits. Personally I can't think of a good reason to risk money with those risks. Dynavector, Audio Technica, ZYX, Benz and quite a few other brands make cartridges that would suit a JMW-9.

The Shelters mentioned by Hiradi would probably blow your budget. Certainly the 901 would, it lists for $1500. The 501MkII ($800) would suit your SME nicely but not the JMW.

Read the vinyl FAQ's on Audio Asylum for a primer on some technical issues. Not everything there is perfect or non-controversial, but it will give you a ton of information to chew on.

http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/d.pl?audio/faq.html#vinyl
Dear Kevin: You already have two good TT's/tonearms combos. Now you have to put your money on the source: phono cartridge, try to invest all the money you can on it: remember that that phono cartridge is the transducer for the music reproduction and the better your cartridge the better the quality sound reproduction.
I agree with Aceto: buy one, a really good one, instead of two bad/regular cartridges.
Try to find new or second hand: Benz Micro Ruby 2, Ortofon Kontrapunkt B, Dynavector XX 2, Shelther 501 II or 90X, Benz Micro L 0.4, Sumiko Celebration, Ortofon Jubilee. Any one of these cartridges goes fine with both tonearms, no problem.

If you are serious about music reproduction stay away of the Denon 103 R, this is a garbage of cartridge nothing more nothing less. Don't waist your money and time with that " thing ", and remember, in your current system, the better the cartridge the better the quality of the music/sound reproduction .

Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.

Ps: " You'll have to hurry, the 103 line is being discontinued ". Dougdeacon: ¡ BRAVO ! Thank's God is being discontinued, in that way it can't do it more harm to anyone.
Hi again from sunny,warm down under...
The "Grado wiggle and dance" sure made me laugh and took me back a lot of years,same with the Denon 103,which I thought was a reasonable honest cartridge...redone by Van den Hul it was very good,which,I suppose,proves in a way what Rauliruegas indicated...it is not up to the current crop of cartridges which have improved a lot...the difference between the ZYX here and the US is simple ,it can be bought here at a reasonable price...the lower range does not give up much to the Airy 3...I sold my Airy 2 for AU$1200-. which was a bargain,same goes for them new,...so Kevin's budget could be achieved and later he can ,if he likes the sound step up to one of the best like the ZYX Airy 3...No,I am not a dealer here,but luckily can get them at a good price...I am after many years yet to find a better cartridge for the price...BTW...my first Shelter lasted 6 years of flogging it with records daily,never had such a good run out of any cartridge and I do hope that the ZYX will do as well...they are both excellent products and neutral...not like a Koetsu...
Regards
Helmut
Ps: " You'll have to hurry, the 103 line is being discontinued ". Dougdeacon: ¡ BRAVO ! Thank's God is being discontinued, in that way it can't do it more harm to anyone.
LOL. Good one Raul. I think the Denons are excellent performers for their price, but it was funny anyway. I'm glad the new year is starting with such good news for you!
:-)

Helmut,
I totally agree about ZYX vs. Shelter vs. Koetsu. Check out my review of the Airy's if you haven't already. Another good thing: ZYX will retip/rebuild when the time comes. Shelter tells you to throw it away.

Doug
Hello Doug...
What a excellent review !!! You covered it all ...from the somewhat confusing line up of ZYX explaining high/low and now nud ,to a very good comparising to the Shelter 901...Thanks...hope to see more reviews from you ...
And... SORRY ...No more killer deals from down under on ZYX...Thanks to your exclusive distributor...not allowed to sell to Audiogon members...Free Trade in the US of A ???
But thats another subject...
Enjoy the music
Helmut
Dear Doug: " I think the Denons are excellent performers for their price...".

Well the Shelther 90X is an exellent performer for it price, too. That statement means really nothing about the quality music sound reproduction.

Many people in this forum think that the 103/103R are the bargain of the century, but I never read why and against who.

You can find ( second hand ) a Sumiko Celebration for 800-900 dls or a Denon DS-1 for 600-700 dls. Try any one of these cartridges against any Shelther or ZYX and you can " see " why those cartridges are truly a " century bargain ".

Don't argue nothing till you try it ( you don't have nothing to loose, right? ) , BTW anyone.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Doug: You can't loose anyway. If you don't like those cartridges: I buy it. Hands down any Shelther or ZYX cartridges.
Regards and enjoy the music.
raul.
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Doug,
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Send Raul your paypal email address so he can send you some money to buy the cartridges he recommends.
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Kevin do not let Raul's exuberance confuse you with the idea that he knows what he is talking about. He routinely dispenses wrong information on Audiogon.
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Dear Cello: " dispenses wrong information ...".

If this is your opinion ( that I respect ), please explain to this forum specifically all those " wrong information " and why it is a " wrong information ".

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
"Sumiko Celebration against any Shelter or Zyx"
That's funny
Ouch!maybe Raul can buy me a cartridge. I just ripped the cantilever out of a rand new benz glider. At least I only paid half price. It's back to the mini system.
Ouch, sorry to hear this, Gregadd.
I just ripped the cantilever out of a rand new benz glider.
Rushton, thanks. The silver linnig is that I was thinking about more exotic cartridge. It also Rauls the chance to make another cartridge reccomendation.
I'll do it for him:

Shelter are garbage, except 90x. Denon are garbage, except DS 1. Sumiko Celebration better than anything junk ZYX Shelter or Denon garbage except 90x & DS 1. Get rid of stinking tube equalizers.

Relax and enjoy the music.
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Joe,
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You would advise differently if you had heard a ZYX UNIverse cartridge. I am quite sure it is the best cartridge you have ever and possibly will hear at any price.
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Rgds,
Larry
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Hi Larry,

I hope to here it soon, you know where. Still want to see how the Audiopoints sound?

I just could not resist answering for Raul!

Joe
Larry,
I think Joe was poking a little fun at Raul who appears to be posting on behalf of the hearing impaired.
Hi Wc65mustang: " Sumiko Celebration against any Shelter or Zyx"
That's funny. "

Why is funny?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
When your starship visits planet Earth I'll explain it to you.
Dear Wc65mustang: It is clear that you don't have any knowedledge about. Please close your mouth if you really don't have a point. Be serious. ( I rectified: any ZYX but the Universe ).

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
>> It is clear that you don't have any knowedledge about. Please close your mouth if you really don't have a point. Be serious. ( I rectified: any ZYX but the Universe )<<

You have a deal; please learn the language and get your feet out of your mouth.
Raul-what do you think of the Koestu Rosewood Signature(SME IV)?Kevin you don't mind if I hijack your thread for a moment?
Dear Gregadd: It is not the best match. I try my Koetsu RSP with the IV and it works good but this is not the best tonearm for that Koetsu model. I have exellent performance on the Audiocraft AC 4400/3300, in the SAEC WE 8000 ST, Lustre GST 801 and in the Moerch DP6.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Hi Jphii: Finally you understand it. Now you have to try it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Gregadd: I'm not saying that the Koetsu RSP does not works well with the IV. I'm saying that there are other better tonearms choices.
If you don't have other than the IV, you can live with this combo it has good performance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
thanks Raul!
Well gentlemen, thank you for all the good advice but my intent was not to raise the ire of one against the other. There is certainly enough of that going on in the world at the moment. I respect strong opinion but also hope we can agree to disagree - all ears are not the same. I appreciate all of the input from everyone and certainly we all enjoy what we enjoy.

Unfortunately, as much as I would LOVE a side-by-side comparison, it isn't likely to happen. I have bid (and lost) on several options suggested. I will install a new Shure VX15mxR as my base level and go from here. I hope to someday win a Shelter for a reasonable price as well as a ZYX. I haven't tried for a Denon yet but I think I will. Unfortunately I'm not a Denon fan on the electronics end as I find their equipment shrill and digital - if that makes sense. I think I have a system that can distinguish the differences in cartidges. I have my GyroDec finally set up well, although I am awaiting my digital scale for the final setting. My Scout is also ready to go - it's my system that isn't quite there pending finishing a renovation of a family/home theatre room.

Anyway, enjoy everyong and my thanks for your input. If anyone knows where to find the needed cartridges for bargain prices, let me know. I intend to buy some and sell what I don't want to keep.

Kevin