Shortlist of best cartridges with VPI

I'm trading up to a VPI Super Scoutmaster Signature and need a shortlist of best cartridges to consider with it. I have an Ayre K-1xe preamp, Levinson 20.5 mono blocks, Wilson Sophia 1s with current version Transparent reference cables on an SRA craz rack. My tastes in music are wide: pop, rock, folk, jazz & classical. Collection includes a number of early pressing 50s and early 60s Mercury Living Presence and RCA Living Stereo, as well as some Jazz and Rock albums from same period.
Ag insider logo xs@2xcipherjuris
I had excellent results with a Benz Glider L2 on the Aries 2 with JMW 10.5 until I traded up the the current Keotsu Urushi. This put it out "of the park" in terms of resolution, detail and extension. My listening tastes are similar to yours.
Cipher- there are a lot of really good cartridges that work well with the VPI/JMW arm. I have the same table as you do and I use a Benz Silerv Reference cart, but I have had good success with Shelter 501 and 90X, Koetsu Urushi, and the Helikon from Lyra. You want to steer clear of cartridges that have less than 8gm weight on this arm, otherwise you need to use a seperate weight, which is a pain. You can't beat the Benx Silver Ref for being able to cut thru minor scratches and surface noise with very minimal clicks and pops, but any of the above cartridges would be terrific. Have FUN - John
Depending on your budget........ I have had great results from my ZYX Airy 3S on my VPI Aries/JMW10. Before this, I had been using a Grado Statement Reference........ It was nice, but the ZYX is on another planet in another universe far far above it......

Look for a cart with medium compliance ffor the best match with your JMW. I have heard people recommending Lyra and Benz as well; comming down to personal tastes. If you do however want to go the ZYX route 'Agone member Sorasound should be your source.

shelter 501 mkII. the sig arm is perfect for it. if you can deal with the long break in, you won't look back.

i've also used and loved the sumiko celebration.
I am currently using the DV dr T XV-1S on a Super Scoutmaster. It is the best I have heard from any front end. I can't say any fairer than that!

The detail and low end control puts my previous decks to shame. The Scoutmaster with standard arm is also a way back from the Super.

Phono stage is the Art V1 which suits the DV well too.

Thanks, everyone. Your responses have given me the shortlist I need. Very good to know about the cartridge weight and compliance issues.

I have an Ayre C-5xe CD player, which as most of you probably know is accurate and musical, has great soundstage and awesome base with SACD, DVD Audio and Redbook as well. For this reason, I'll be looking for a cartridge that offers those qualities but is more warm and romantic, to have something different.
The new Clearaudio Maestro Wood works very well with the Scoutmaster. I just switched to a Maestro, having previously used the Virtuoso Wood, and am very pleased.
Interesting question. We seem to share many of the same tastes, both in equipment and music. I have an Aries with the JMW 10.5. The Graham Nightingale has proven to be an outstanding match with the arm. Unfortunately, a person or persons unknown bent the cantilever, so it's off to Japan for repair.

I have also recently ordered a Lyra Skala, which I'll receive in a couple of weeks. Should be a most interesting comparison. An audio buddy had one of the first Skalas imported into the US, and reports that in comparison with his Titan i, the Skala has a slightly warmer sound, while maintaining the best characteristics of the more expensive cartridge (i.e. he actually prefers the Skala). He's also quite familiar with my system, which includes the C-5xe by the way. Based on your stated goals, he strongly suggests that you consider the Skala. If you are interested, contact me by private mail and I can give you the name of an excellent dealer.
I am considering a cartridge upgrade for use in the Hadcock 242, which should be compatible with the same types of cartridges as the JMW 9. I have read favorable reviews of the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood. Can any one tell me the performance differeces between the Virtroso Wood and the Maestro Wood.
Dynavector 20X-H (for high output)
20X-L or Karet for low output

Although the Grado's sound nice too, if not quite as fast as the DV's (Sonata and up)

Thanks all for your addtional posts. The Maestro and the Skala bear consideration.

Curriemt11, the very same thing happened to my vintage Van den Hul cartridge on my Oracle Delphi MkII with ET-2 arm.

Anyone had any experience with the Dynavector XV-1S and VPI tables and arms?
I had a VPI JW19 and got great results with a Denon 103R some years back (RB300 arm by that time).

Hope this helps


I don't like to play games with people's heads, but I did own a Virtuos, and do own A Maestro Wood, and the midrange is just great. What ever is in the grooves will be reproduced. The Maestro Wood corrects the Virtuoso's flaws and adds improvements. The Van den Hul MC 10 Special is very good and exhibits details and tones so good it is unbelieveable.

If you get 25 people to give an opinion you'll get 25 different answers. Many people have mismatched equipment such as cables,preamps,amps and speakers. Also improper break can cause miss judgements. Improper allignment is an issue. Speaker placement and room acoustics are yet another issue. If you have a great table, tonearm,phono stage,preamp,& amp, then I suggest you spend the extra bucks and get a cartride at a level of no less quality. No point in buying a Ferrari and putting bald tires on it.
I have had good results with Benz Micro - currently I am pleased with the M2 with Aries/JMW 12 combo.
i've used a shelter 501, a dynvector 20 xl, and a benz glider on my scout and now scoutmaster signature, but nothing has brought me more enjoyment that the sumiko celebration. incredibly easy to set up and very non fussy, it is by far the most musical cart i've ever heard. it has allowed me to stop listening to my system and start enjoying my music once again. i don't think i've ever read anyone say anything bad about it.
was using the 20xl, now a zyx airy 3 x sb, both worked fine
I'm happy with a ZYX Airy 3S-SB on my 12.6 arm mounted on a TNT6-HR table. For those who listen to rock, the Airy 3 might be the best fit of the ZYX line. You would definitely want the SB weight. As for silver vs. copper, read the archives and talk to Mehran at Sorasound.
Another great choice is the Cardas Heart, which is a modified Benz LP. This is what Bobby from Merlin uses in his table that has been regularly praised at CES. Cheers,
I'm using S/Scoutmaster w/val wiring with Ayre k1ze, v1xe and Vandersteen 5A's. My cartridge of choice is Benz Ebony. Enjoy
i have a vpi hrx that i bought with the dynevector xv-1s. sounded great. 2 months ago i broke the cantilever. boy was i mad at myself. while the dynevector is being rebuilt, two month or so, i bought a shelter 9000. at first it had a slight rumbling sound to it. after a short time of break in the rumble was gone and it sounds great. i listen to mostly classic rock but have expanded my listening to just about everything and it all sounds great. looking forward to comparring it to the dynevector when i get it back. vpi company suggests the dynevector cartridges just go to their web site. i bought mine before the reviews. both are a great choice. best of luck in your search. p.kogan