Seek cartridge w/ following description :

Any recommendations for a moving coil that has some speed, excellent top end extension, an EVEN tonal balance, a hall perspective of row five to row fifteen from the front stage and a retail price tag not above $2000 ?
Definitely a Transfiguration Temper W (0.55 mV) or Temper V (0.30 mV)

They retail for $4000 msrp, but can be gotten for around $2000.

Other contenders:

Lyra Titan. (hard to find a deal though)

vdH Condor (very near your budget, but delicate and easy to break)
...a perfect review of the Lyra Helikon
Dear Opus88: Which tonearm do you have?

Regards and enjoy the music.
I would look at the Helikon as well. I have a Lydian B and think it fits the bill but they are no longer made. They did replace it with a new model that I can't name right now but I belive it's 1200.00 look at the Lyra website.
I belive it's
Rauliruegas : My tonearm is the SME IV.Vi
Dear Opus: The Sumiko Celebration is a great match for your musical priorities and the best for your SME tonearm.

The voicing of this cartridge was on a SME Iv/V tonearm.

Please read the Stereophile review of the SME 30 TT. There you can read about this Sumiko Celebration.

Nsgarch and Gregad: I don't like the SME tonearm with the Transfiguration or the Helikon. Both are very good performers, especially the Transfiguration, but in other tonearm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, I'm sorry, but I completely disagree with you. I think both the SME IV.Vi and SME V are a WONDERFUL MATCH with the Transfiguration, the Helikon, or the Titan.

If that is what you hear, then you need to check your system. Something is not right I think. Let me know if I can help you out.
Dear Nsgarch: That's the same what I think till I try ( all them ) on others tonearms that make a better match.

+++++ " If that is what you hear, then you need to check your system. Something is not right I think. Let me know if I can help you out. " +++++

Tks for your offer. I have no problems with my system, the issue is that there are others tonearms that make a better match with those cartridges, that's all.
I'm not saying that those cartridges can't work with a SME tonearm. No, it can but there are better alternatives.

Regards and enjoy the music.

The ZYX Airy 2-X-SB meets your description almost perfectly IME. The Airy 3 and UNIverse do not have that distant a hall perspective, so you can avoid them (and their higher prices.)

Read my review for all the boring details. IIRC we actually discussed the hall perspective differences between the Airy 2 and 3.

I haven't heard one on an SME but they're a good match on mass/compliance specs. Street price is $1950.
I agree with the Helikon and I also like the Dynavector XX-2 (retain 1650) but can be had from hong kong for 900
Dougdeacon: You state "The ZYX Airy 2-X-SB meets your description almost perfectly...The Airy 3 and UNIverse do not have that distant a hall perspective, so you can avoid them." Didn't you mean to say they DO have that distant a hall perspective, but the ZYX Airy 2 does not, and therefore would be more to my liking ?

I think I wrote what I meant. Here it is in different terms...

Of the three top ZYX's, the Airy 2 has the most distant hall perspective. Something like rows 5-10, obviously somewhat subjective and always dependent on the recording.

The Airy 3 puts you closer. Front row to podium is typical. This is due to its more extended top end and to its generally more free and open character.

The UNIverse puts you wherever the microphones were. Its noise floor is far lower than its lesser cousins, so it reproduces very low levels of information. You don't just hear orchestra members turning pages, you hear them breathing. Yet at the same time you hear hall echoes clearly delineated from the direct sound of the instruments. On a good record this simultaneous sense of intimacy with the musicians within a large, clearly depicted soundstage can be almost uncanny.

Hope that helped clarify,
Raul, Ideally I would run the helikon with the well tempered arm. As far as the helikon versus the celebration I say change arms and stay with the helikon.
Dougdeacon...At rows 5 to 10, the Airy 2 is the most distant sounding ? I'm not making fun of your statement, I'm just sort of amazed ! Rows 5 to 10 are pretty close to things. To echo the old cliche, "it's all relative" ; that is, to the other two cartridges. No wonder I thought you may have unintentionally erred in your earlier staement. In any event, all very interesting. I'll have to take a more serious look here. Thank you.
They all have 'speed'--
Don't know anything about seating row positioning, except laid back vs. forward presentation--
And the trade-in price I paid still leaves me woozy since it's the most I've ever paid for a cart, and it only has 60 hrs on it, and it's in "only" a SME 309 w/o damping, but the sumiko celebration is certainly the best I've had. Aural memory disclaimer here. (I waited 50 hrs - after a functional check - before listening).

Dynamics. Soft is soft, and loud is loud.
TB. W/ Alnico magnets, she loves electric instruments, and she really loves guitar amps. Other wise, very realistic timbre on acoustic instruments.
Channel balance/cantilever alignment. First rate.
Musicality. First rate. She'll pull you in, and you'll run through a whole side.
Packing. I thought I hated extravagence, but there's a cool surprise inside the cardboard box. Top flight stainless hex-head cap screws. The 27 pg. owners booklet was written in the US and in american english. No 10 other translations available in this one. It's a reference standard in installation and setup.
Nits. On the occasional record, and on the occasional track, she can be a little "barky" or "shouty" in a narrow frequency range in the upper mids/ presence range on dynamic passages.. Not even worried at this point... tuning, software, even the ginko cloud under the vpi is suspect.

Neutral to downside-
Dust magnet on the bottom side. Gets fuzzy fast.
Odd 1000 ohm loading. 47k is listenable, but doesn't like loud passages. The importer - sumiko - *still* hasn't adjusted the WebSite figure vs. the manual figure vs. the box labeling. Extraordinary sloppiness.
Output- 0.5mV Wish it were 0.75+... Straight into an ARC SP-9, it's between 12:30 and 3:30 on the volume.

That's about it.
if you can pick a deal for a Benz Ruby get of the most balanced carts i know. from bass to treble very even top notch resolution but never clinical or too analytic. with dynamics to die for.