What you are describing is a cartridge that is yet to fully break in. Give the Zephyr some time before looking for alternatives.
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>> Don't get me wrong, the Zephyr is a FAR better sounding cart than the 10x5 in nearly every area, but it just lacks that toe-tapping momentum (if that even makes sense)...<<
No, makes no sense to me. Give the cart some more time to break-in, AND for your ears to break-in. If it's FAR better in 'most every way, why would you keep dicking around?
Thanks for the responses guys.
For a while I thought it was a break in issue, but its been a good 50 hours or so. Granted that may be on the low end for a solid break in so ill give it another 20-30 hours to settle.
Im not new to this, but I haven't had a cart take this long to really shine. If you've used a Zephyr, how long did it take to sound its best?
My Zephyr sounded great out of the box and if it broke in further, it was rather subtle. Never heard a 17D3, but the Zephyr is a marked improvement over a 10X5 I had, which went on Ebay within a couple months after I bought it. Sounds like there may be a system mismatch somewhere. I'm using my Zephyr on a JMW 10.5i arm into an Aesthetix Rhea phonostage.
I was wondering too about a possible mismatch. I mounted the cart back on my arm and spent a lot of time trying to get it just right. The sound is already a little better, but its still missing that wow factor. Maybe its just the way they sound on my speakers (the weakest link right now). Im running Dynaudio BM5AmkII monitors.
Anyway, sounds like I just need to experiment some more or just sell it and move onto something else. Thanks again for everyones help.
I have no direct experience with SS, other than a cartridge repair they did for me. They did great work, and were a pleasure to deal with. SS and VPI arms are supposed to be very synergistic, so I doubt a there is a mismatch. I have heard the DV 17D3 and 20X2, Low output cartridges. I heard them on different occasions, and on different setups, so not a fair comparison. I preferred the 20X. It sounded more even handed, had more weight, and never offended.
Dear Telepop: For what I read on the net seems that the 20X2L is a better match.
The Zephyr is a low compliance/high weight cartridge and with the medium mass ( around 10grs. ) VPI tonearm the resonance frequency will be over 10hz.
In the other side in the SS site PL stated that the Zephyr cartridge is better serve by unipivot tonearms when the one in the traveler is a non-unipivot design but a gimbal one.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Afterthought. Right after I got my Zephyr I noticed it was a low-rider -- cartridge body nearly touching the records -- to the point where I called Peter Ledermann (Soundsmith) to discuss this with him. He suggested changing VTF from 2.0g (where I had it and in the region specified by the sheet that came with the cartridge) to 1.4g or even 1.2g. He said that my arm could handle this lighter VTF without a problem. Also he recommended setting VTA with the tail of the arm slightly up. This definitely resolved the low-riding issue. Whether it actually sounded better afterwards I can't say.
Thanks again for everyone's responses.
I've had the Zephyr at 47k ohms the whole time and plan on leaving it there. No other option sounds good.
The second lowest gain sounds the best as it brings out far more excitement in the high end than the lowest option. Unfortunately, this also brings out a light rumble from the motor, only heard during dead silences.
I am still rather new to matching cartridges with the appropriate tonearms. It may be true what Rauliruegas says -- perhaps the Zephyr just isn't a perfect match for my gimbal arm on the Traveler.
Would somebody mind recommending a good resource for learning more about matching carts w/ tonearms -- I just don't know enough about what compliance works best or really anything about resonant frequencies. I also don't fully understand why a unipivot is any better than something like my gimbal arm. When I try to research, I find just way too many opinions out there - is there any more authoritative resource I can use?
To add a little more to my setup:
Im running the Zephyr with a VTF of 2.1g and that seems to sound the best. I also have the tonearm tail slightly down. Ive played with the VTA a lot and it really sounds a lot better when the tonearm just slightly less than even with the table.
I never had the low rider problem -- I did have that with my 10x5. Regardless, it never affected the sound.