Titan, Transfiguration Orpheus or Air Tight PC1??

There is no way I will get to demo all or any of these carts. My choices are limited to these carts as I can get a decent trade in for my Lyra Skala. The cart will be mounted on a Triplanar, the TT is a Michell Orbe and phono stage is a Nagra VPS. There is no earthly reason to contemplate an upgrade except.....??
Am extremely happy with the Lyra Skala. Listen to all musical genres from rock, blues, classical,jazz and Indian though the latter is not critical for the choice of cart given IMHO the somewhat limited dynamic range of most Indian music.
Would appreciate views/advice of A'goners who have experience of some or all of these carts.
Many thanks in advance.
5730ac72 b4ae 4369 9106 b94235ab9855sunnyboy1956
Sunnyboy1956, I've used the Lyra, Transfiguration and the Air Tight, all in the Triplanar. All are great cartridges; I found myself preferring the Orpheus. It seems that it has a little more body...
Dear Sunnyboy1956: IMHO your Skala is almost there, for the price of those cartridges IMHO too I don't think you can't justified a real improvement.

If I was you the " road " I take is to change the Triplanar for a SME IV/V that IMHO is better match for the Skala in this way you can have an improvement for less money.

Now, if you really want to change your cartridge my opinion is that you could go with the XV-1s alternative.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Why the SME? Is this because it may have some under-damped, flubby bass which may have some "synergy" with a leaner sounding Skala? I'm starting to wonder how much arm/cartridge matching is really just compensating one wekaness with another...ie.e, sonic synergy.

I suggest picking a neutral cartridge with a neutral arm.

Are you able to use the tube only gain in your Nagra VPS with your Skala? or in your system, do you need the extra gain the Nagra can offer with the solid state section?

Reason being, is the tube only sound is a little sweeter/more life like. So the Air Tight has a slightly higher output.
Well, since Raul brought up the (Dynavector) XV-1S, I will state that an acquintance has two nearly identical Basis 2500 turntables (with Vector tone arms), and we installed a Dynavector XV-1S on one turntable, and a Transfiguration Orpheus on the other turntable. We both much preferred the XV-1S.

My two cents worth.
Good Luck in your search.
Raul's advise is right on, although the Skala sounds wonderful in the Triplanar. Yes it is a balance between compromises, but it is also about controlling the energy from the Cartridge. The Skala is special. I prefer the Titan I but not in every way. If the SME V is used w. the Skala it honestly might outperform the Titan I in the Triplanar.

Let me say it like this, (I am ready for the criticism) the Skala is very close to the ZYX Universe in the many areas it excels and has some similar weaknesses. So while a great match in the Triplanar (as the ZYX Universe is known - highs are different between the 2), it just might be an even better match w. the SME V. A lot of people in the industry use the Skala knowing you don't need to spend more to necessarily get better, just different.
Dear Aoliviero: I owned the Helikon/Titan and heard in my system the Skala ( I heard all these cartridges in other systems and with audio dealers too. ). I try all them in different tonearms and it perform better on the SME IV. I heard it on Triplanar, Phantom and the like but for some reason I prefer SME.

+++++ "
I suggest picking a neutral cartridge with a neutral arm. " +++++

I think that maybe is more easy to find an almost neutral tonearm ( as a fact I have one that I'm trying/testing ) than a neutral cartridge but this depend on the tonearm/cartridge matching ( not sonic synergy but real synergy ).

Jfrech:+++++ " So the Air Tight has a slightly higher output. " +++++

so: do you prefer the PC1 over the Skala?, I know this is a subjective subject but IMHO the PC1 is not up to the " task " as a " top " cartridge, IMHO it is a second class one. Of course there are people that love it like there are people that do not, like me.

I like Kurt lay for the XV-1s, either with the Triplanar or SME.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Many thanks for all the inputs/advice.
I have spent nearly 6 months getting my Triplanar fixed and am really happy with the arm despite all the initial travails. Arm switching, even if it leads to superior sonic results, is not on the radar.My audio choices/upgrade decisions are not always optimal given limited availability/trade in opportunities. I am ,however, intrigued by your statement, which off course you qualify , that the PC-1 is not in the same league as the other carts that are mentioned. Are there any specific sonic attributes/charateristics that lead you to this conclusion. Given your vast experience I am really interested in your assessment.
Do you reckon that the slightly higher output of the PC-1,ie 0.6mV will allow me to use the tube only output of the Nagra VPS? At present the gain is way too low and I use the SS output. The pre is a Conrad Johnson CT5.The output of the Skala/Titan i is identical at 0.5mV,the Orpheus is 0.48 mV. As the tube section of the VPS is "superior", I guess the PC-1 should get the nudge!!
Actually I am more confused now than I was before posting. I guess at this level there is no definitive better only personal and subjective choices.
The dealer has offered to demo at least one of the carts. I could ask for a A/B demo with the Skala . Not sure if this is the way to go coz the dealer is not going to use the MintLP to set up the cart...
Thanks once again to all who responded. Shall report on the switch/upgrade as and when it happens.
FWIW the trade in price for the Lyra Titan i and the Orpheus is almost identical while the PC - 1 is almost USD 1200 more.
The Skala is the best match in this Set Up. The PC-1 is the right cartridge when someone is looking for a lifeless, dry and analytical sound which is comparable to a CD Player. The Titan (I) is top, but it should have a heavy Arm with high quality bearings to show its superiority. Raul got it. The Orpheus is a good, neutral cartridge, but it will "tell" you nothing new compared to the Skala. It is smoother, more laid back, an alternative, when you don't like the Skala (for whatever reasons...)
Many thanks. That's a really impressive system you have. Are you running a Miyabi 47 on the Triplanar ?
At the Munich High-End 2008 show I had the rare opportunity to compare the Titan I vs. Skala in current Triplanars at the Spiral Groove booth on their record players, using the same phono stage. There was no other visistor, so I could listen with my own records for about an hour. I definitely preferred the Titan I, which had better timing and impact, to the Skala, which sounded a bit artificial in comparison. But be aware, that the Titan I is a bit less warm than the Skala. The Titan I was also more fun to listen to.

best regards, Hartmut
Hi Raul,

My comment on the PC1 is only related to matching with his phono stage. I have heard the PC1 sound alsolutely killer, but in friends system. (He was coming from a Koetsu Jade Platinum). I'd hardly call the PC 1 dry and analytical compared to his Koetsu. I have NOT heard the PC 1 in my system, so everyone needs to take this into account please. And others have direct experience, so that likely counts for more than my comments.

Sunnyboy, I think the phono stage matching should be a consideration-not a deciding factor (at least on this particular point). .5 to .6 isn't that big. Re: our Nagra VPS: I wouldn't say the tube only is superior-just falls along the solid state/tube typicial things. Tube only more beauty in the mids and a lil sweeter on top. The SS more bass control/slight more detail/lower noise.

My BAT pre and amp allow me to use both settings on my Nagra VPS. I do switch back on forth depending on the recording and my mood. If I HAD to pick only one, then I would pick tube only gain.

FYI, with digital my BAT preamp is at about 65 on it's volume scale, on the Nagra VPS SS, it's about 75-80, with the Nagra Tube section it's about 105-115. Max being about 125 and unity gain at 105. I'd any lower that Skala output (.5) forces me into SS only. .6mv easily let's me choose tube all the time.

Also, if you have not tried a Nagra VFS under your Nagra VPS, this might be the change you're looking for. Surprising increase in clarity, noise floor drops, and focus. Nothing goes backwards.

I have thought about wondering away from my Skala several times, my dealer always says NO. I am thinking about a Triplanar or a Graham Phantom II as my next upgrade/change.

I know this is confusing. And hard to make a decision...I will say the VFS is a no brainer...it's that good under your VPS.

thanks for your comments. I've always wondered about the Titan i vs skala difference.

Did you get a chance to compare the spiral groove to other tables? keep hearing great things about that table also!
Dear Sunnyboy: I heard at least three problems with the PC1: both extremes and midbass. In all these frequeny ranges the PC1 is " cold " with a bad handle on the harmonics and too " sharp " , there is no music body and " air " on the overall presentation.

As I posted there are people that love it like Jfrech or MF/JV reviewers but like Syntax and Dgad there are people that think different because our priorities are different too.

Regards and enjoy the music.
One should be mindful in all these exchanges about cartridge loading- whether that was done in the case of each system and experience where cartridges are compared. For example, if you were to listen to the PC1 you might think that it is cold and analytical, but this cartridge is very sensitive to loading and if the loading value is 47K, the above result will be your conclusion. Yet, loaded, the PC1 is quite involving and musical.

In fact the loading issue IMO/IME is so important that I would regard it as more important than the choice of cartridges in this thread! Is there any way to know in the previous posts how many cartridges were loaded at critical damping, how many were approximated, and how many were at the 'stock' 47K?? It would make this discussion more useful...
Dear Atmasphere: No, I don't run any of those cartridges at 47K and yes I agree one important factor is how we load a cartridge.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Hello Sunnyboy, it is a Miyabi Standard (Metal Body, not plastic like the 47Lab version), a good match with the Triplanar, but different Sound compared to the Skala (and the other ones)
PC-1 was loaded at 500 ohms ultimately. For me the Titan I was better. Not night & day but still clearly better. I have owned both the Skala & Titan I. The description above is accurate but fails to address where the Skala's performance excels beyond the Titan I. It has excellent low resolution detail and a superior sense of space. This is at the expense of bass impact| dynamic contrast & body. Hard to pick a cartridge that does it all. That is until you try a Colibri that is optimized for your system. Yet the Titan I is preferred from time to time. It is more forgiving on many recordings & conveys a nice alternative balance of body & detail. Still for me a Colibri is an 80% of the time cartridge.

There were only the two Spiral Groove decks in that room in 2008. I could only say a word about the whole setup, which I found very detailed and dynamic.
I could detect the sonic signature of Triplanar in the sound, and also the Skala's sonic signature in this high-resolution setup. I also had the Skala in my system at home for some time, but despite its high resolution I dislike it for its sound.
Look here: http://www.tnt-audio.com/shows/munich08b_e.html

But in 2007, I could listen to an early prototype of the Spiral Groove in the same room, where a Raven One was playing the day before, using same Schroeder tonearm and Lyra cartridge. It was with big Magnepan speakers and Rowland amps. I found this early model a bit on the detailed, analytical side compared to the more integrated presentation of the Raven One. Coming to personal preference, I liked the Raven more. I discussed this with others at the show, and some disagreed.
Look here: http://www.tnt-audio.com/shows/munich07a_e.html

Sorry that I cannot really answer your question. You have to go out and listen for yourself. At this gear level all the analogue setup qualities are quite hit-or-miss the synergy and perceptions are very subjective. Then, judging the sound quality of gear at a show is difficult and dangerous, both.

best regards, Hartmut
The Lyra Erodian that raises the gain by 26dB got a great review in Hifi+ together with the Skala and Titan I and a tube phono stage, maybe this can help with the Nagra in tube mode.
Hartmut, thanks for the post above, and maybe I am getting a little to far off topic from sunnyboy's (sorry) original post.

One more question, did you get to compare the 2 Spiral Groove tables? From your pics, looks like they were side by side, curious if you can comment on the sound difference re: the SG 1 and SG 2 tables?

Yes, I am using the VFS plus footers with the VPS and you are absolutely correct that it does make for a more coherent presentation. Did try the tube only output on the VPS and contrary to my initial misgivings it works with the numeric setting on my preamp( CJ CT5) at around 85 to 90. Max reading 99. While the highs and midrange are much cleaner with the tube only out put, there is IMHO a tad less bass and a wee bit higher noise.Overall I guess the tube only out put is superior.
Have lined up a demo later this month at the Adelphi( in Singapore) with 2 dealers;one of the dealers will demo the Titan i mounted on a Continuum Criterion TT and the other a Transfiguration Orpheus mounted on a Triplanar. Not sure if this is a level playing field as the Continuum is a 40k plus TT. Should be fun though. The PC 1 is out of reckoning.
Many thanks for all the tips/advice. Shall report once the deal is done.
Happy Listening
I just dont get it...I could never recommend an SME...Its funny how people get all these different results. I am confused!!!!!!!!!!!!!oidhfiejnfandhfnhfhxcglholfnvbs

I currently own a PC-1 and a Titan i, I have not heard the Orpheaus. If I had to choose between two I would pic the PC-1. Based on your system I would choose a PC-1. The fact that you have a Skala I would choose a PC-1. To throw a wrench in the game I would choose a Universe.
Jfrech, I could detect typical cartridge character differences between the two analogue setups at Spiral Groove, but was not able to detect typical turntable differences. I am quite familiar with Lyra cartridges since the 90ies, have had listened to original Clavis, Clavis DC, Helikon, Skala in my home setup. Without that experience, I would not dare to attribute differences I heard at the Spiral Groove booth to the cartridges. But I could be mistaken, nevertheless.

best regards, Hartmut
Hi Folks,
Spent a couple of days over the weekend in Singapore demoing the Transfiguration Orpheus L at The Audio Note(the dealer Cecil Tan is a great guy).Unfortunately, a demo of the Titan i was not possible. It was basically an assessment of whether the new Orpheus L had anything to offer over the Skala. As many others have pointed out there was a real danger that this could end up as a sideways move and not an upgrade despite a hefty price mark up.
After a couple of demo sessions spread over 2 days with familiar lps the Orpheus was to my ears a clear and unambigous choice. Have spent only 2 hours with the Orpheus L in my system and its clearly premature to arrive at any definitive views but the initial impression is of a pretty dramatic drop in background noise. The bass was probably a bit deeper with the Skala but the highs are a tad smoother with better resolution. I can't see any listener fatigue with this cart. IMHO in the context of my system, my ears and my musical preferences, the Orheus L is a superior cart and a sensible upgrade.
Am currently running it with a load of 100 ohms. Would welcome views/advise regd a different loading.
In respect of cart alignment the Orpheus L is a pain coz so little of the cantilever is visible. Its only now that I understand the advantage of a nude cart. Aligning a Lyra with a Best LP was a breeze. With the Orpheus L I have got the overhang right but yet to achieve the perfect alignment on the 2 null points using the Mint LP. This cart is not doing my cervical spondylitis any good !!
Cheers and Happy listening.