Thing of upgrading the Soundsmith Carmen II


I love the way this cart sounds on VPI Prime, but it really pronounces the sibalence more than my Dynavector 2x20L and Denon 103R. But it trumps the other 2 for big live sound, presence, and sound stage. So what I think I'm looking for is a great tracking MC cart. 

I have a Parasound JC3+, a Decware integrated amp, an do Zu Omen Def Mk II's with the Radian tweeter upgrade. 

The carts im thinking about (but I'm open to others):

Ortofon Quintet Black S
AT ART 7
AT ART 9
another Soundsmith?

id like to keep the price at $1k or less

i really like the Carmen, except for the dang sibalence; as for set up I've been through it at least 10 times using the Mint Protrctor, a digital Tracking Force gauge, and a fozgometer. I'm I'm dead nuts on azimuth according to the Soundsmith website. 

Thought?
last_lemming
Have you tried adjusting VTF and VTA? These adjustments in very small increments can not be discounted when trying to get a cart to it's sweet spot. 
Many times to no avail. With no noticeable changes. 
how many hours on the soundsmith? 
definitely broken in then!  
I have had the ART9 for nearly a year and it is a very nice sounding cartridge- much better than my 2M Black and Dynavector DV20X2L.  
If I were to upgrade it would be to a Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC star or Lyra Delos.  
last_lemming-
Have you consulted  w/SS?

You can contact Peter directly. He will dial you in.

Into 3rd year with my ART9. When I do upgrade,an upper level SS will be in my lineup. Great cart for the price point.


I did contact SS and spoke with Peter, and while he did offer to have me send it it in for inspection I hadn’t gone through all the additional rechecking at that point. Understand that the sibilance isn’t horrible, just more noticeable than my other carts. I believe it’s not necessarily anything wrong with the car itself. Though I would have to send it in to be sure.

just today I rechecked my alignment with my Mint Protractor and it was dead on. Out of curiosity I slipped in the VPI alignment jig to check where the Mint null point would fall relative to the VPI jig. The stylus was about 1mm further out than the VPI jigs null point. This has me a bit confused/concerned. I know there are different null points for different alignments, but i don’t know how much 1mm would or would not affect sibilance.

what are your opinions of the ART 9 relative to sibilance and the carts tracking ability.

i also just purchased the SMARTractor alignment protractor, and while definately not cheap, a have another TT and I'm hoping this protractor will help me zero in both TT's with ease removing some human error along the way. 
"just today I rechecked my alignment with my Mint Protractor and it was dead on. Out of curiosity I slipped in the VPI alignment jig to check where the Mint null point would fall relative to the VPI jig. The stylus was about 1mm further out than the VPI jigs null point. This has me a bit confused/concerned. I know there are different null points for different alignments, but i don’t know how much 1mm would or would not affect sibilance."

I believe the VPI jig alignment is their own "correct" setting.I line my VPI with a Fiekert using Baerwald. It is evenfurther out. Guess it proves no alignment is spot on. I get just a hint if SSS on some recordings, otherwise it isn't a deal breaker.

I've have only heard near perfect "SSSS" on REALLY expensive setups, so I don't bother fussing with trying to optimize to the nth degree on my rig.

Others have reported zero sibalance  issues with the ART9. So, I suppose it confirms my setup isn't perfect.
My dynavector  2x20xL cart never seemed to emphasize the SSS's to such a degree that the pop out to me like the Carmen does. I love the tone and dynamics of the Carmen, so I don't want to give up on it yet, but it may not be a great fit to the 3D tone arm. If this SMARTractor alignment protractor doesn't yield better results I may move the Carmen to my other TT and get the ART9.
 Keep in mind that some of these records have sibilance on them. Some cartridges are much more revealing and show up what's on the record more clearly. I have a van den hul  that is like that.
 I had a lira Deloz for about five years before I really started getting a lot of different cartridges and comparing. It's a great cartridge but it does have a slight bump in the lower mids  which makes it a touch warm sounding. That annoyed me after a while in comparison to other  cartridges. I now run a lira helicon instead as I find it to be more neutral sounding.  Keep in mind I am splitting hairs here.  
"it may not be a great fit to the 3D tone arm. If this SMARTractor alignment protractor doesn't yield better results I may move the Carmen to my other TT and get the ART9."

lastlemming-
Isn't the SS cart available M/H compliance, so one of the 2 should be fine for the 3D arm? There seems to be many threads with users of SS on the VPI's?

I doubt another jig is the answer, but if it solves the excessive SSS, great. The Mint is an old standby with seasoned turntable users,so that's why I question it being suspect.

My confirmation was playing the offending record on a nice dealer rig. Perfect vocals, I'm too lazy to lug a 50lbs+ turntable to a shop. It is your adjustment-cart/table or combination of both that may be the culprit.