Well, this probably won't help much because I never owned a JA cartridge -- and though the Eco is his "entry level" product, I find it hard to believe it isn't as good or better than the Phoenix or the Axia. The Temper V, W, and Orpheus are another matter. (I have a Temper W) Here's why: The Temper/Orpheus use the a single ring magnet with a push-pull suspension and no tension wire. While the Phoenix/Axia use a double ring magnet and tension wire which is closer to the conventional yoke style MC cartridge. Go to this page to see the difference: http://www.profundo.us/transfiguration/ringmag/ringmag.htm
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd take my Temper W (or an Orpheus) over all but the most expensive JA's, but I don't think you'll find the Phoenix or Axia better than the Eco. The unique mechanical Design of the Temper/Orpheus cartridges makes them utterly quiet; no background noise, hiss or pops, yet full of detail and midrange presence. Like a Koetsu but with a top and a bottom ;-)
If I had the money, I'd definitely want to try one of the top Allaerts though - as long as Jan Allaerts could assure me that my Levinson phono preamp wouldn't fry the delicate coils! ;-)
I did some research beforу buying Phoenix over the posts on forums, reviews, etc.. Phoenix seems to be closer to old Temper than to previous Phoenix, Axia as reviewer mentioned a bit "simple" in reproduction, thus I concluded that Phoenix is much better value for money cart.
Won't go back down the JA trail... As for new MCs,the Phoenix is on the upper end of a proposed limit.Don't
think that I am comfortable buying used (Temper V/W).
Nsgarch:Do you feel that the Phoenix' sound is completely different than the Orpheus-no family resemblance?
Tp - responding in reverse, "Do you feel that the Phoenix' sound is completely different than the Orpheus-no family resemblance?" I'd say an 'educated' yes they would be different sounding. Why? They'd have to sound different having such radically different mechanical design and layout of the component parts. The Temper W and V (and the Orpheus which represents a further refinement of the W and V) were a leap forward in MC cartrdge design -- which isn't to say 'different is always better' but in this case it was.
I've bought used cartridges before without problems. Just do your due diligence which includes: make sure it was purchased from an authorized dealer (seller has receipt). Find out what TT/TA it was mounted in (always a givaway to how meticulous the seller is). Does the seller use a digital stylus gauge? Does the seller use a record cleaning machine? (All deal makers) Ask for some good, in focus!, macro pictures - especially looking straight down on the bottom of the cartridge to see if the cantilever is straight - it matters! and it's definitely a deal-breaker if it's not! Or you can get one new for a little over half price on the gray market ;-) Why are you unhappy with the JA? Just curious.
Neil: The first Transfigurations had the single ring-magnet configuration, which to me appears generally unchanged with the present Orpheus and Temper designs. I used a Transfiguration in the early 1990s, and it was of this type.
Transfiguration appears to have incorporated the two-magnet design later, although I don't know when.
Among yokeless cartridges (not only Transfiguration), historically the single-magnet design debuted first, with two-magnet configurations appearing later. The Philips GP-922 which was introduced in the late 1970s, was the first yokeless MC that I am aware of, and it also used a single circular magnet (although the magnet didn't surround the coil).
In 1981, Luxman introduces its LMC-1, which was a 2-magnet yokeless design which had a ring magnet around the coil. Luxman referred to their system as the LMC (Linear Magnetic-field Cross) generator.
BTW, where is it mentioned (on the page that you linked to, or elsewhere) that the Temper and Orpheus use no tension wire?
FWIW, it is perfectly valid to classify the majority of MC cartridges that rely on tension wire suspensions as having push-pull dampers.
The first Transfigurations had the single ring-magnet configuration, which to me appears generally unchanged with the present Orpheus and Temper designs. I used a Transfiguration in the early 1990s, and it was of this type.
My understanding is that the Temper line (Supreme,V, W) and Orpheus all employ the ring magnet, while the others, Esprit, Spirit 2, Axia, and Phoenix, use the double-ring magnet (which is a confusing terminology since they are quite different in design and concept.) The "double ring" design remids me of a Colibri just befor vdH removed the front magnet ;-) while the "single-ring" magnet is really more of a tube or cylinder, into which the whole coil is fitted -- but you know that ;-) I do think the two-magnet design precedes the single-ring (not absolutely sure) and is the one still used in their less expensive units. As for the tension string, all I know is I never saw one in any of the Temper series diagrams.
FWIW, it is perfectly valid to classify the majority of MC cartridges that rely on tension wire suspensions as having push-pull dampers.
I don't think I can agree with that, because when you 'pre-compress' the suspension material by applying tension to the string/wire, the suspension material will always be in compression (just more or less of it.) Without such 'pre-compression', the suspension material will be in either tension OR compression depending on the position of the coil as the stylus tracks the groove. What's important here is that this strategy moves the 'virtual pivot point' closer to the axis of the coil, instead of the traditional position behind the coil. Miyajima and (I think) ZYX are two other makers who have incorporated this idea as well, although using different methods to achieve it.
Hi again Neil:
>I do think the two-magnet design precedes the single-ring (not absolutely sure)
In general it doesn't (as I mentioned about the Philip GP-922 of the late 1970s), and I believe that the AF (IIRC) which I occasionally used in the early 1990s was Transfiguration's first product. This was definitely of the single-magnet type. This is not to say that Transfiguration's present single-magnet design has been revised and improved substantially - it most probably has.
>As for the tension string, all I know is I never saw one in any of the Temper series diagrams.
I also sometimes make drawings for the purpose of explaining technical matters to the general public, and when doing so, I normally leave out details that are not relevant to the issue being discussed. Including too many irrelevant details that the reader has never heard of is a hindrance to comprehension. I wouldn't be surprised if Transfiguration is doing the same thing.
There are companies who have used non-tension wire suspension systems, like Ikeda, Satin, and Glanz, but in these cases the use of a non-tension wire suspension system almost always required an accompanying revision in overall mechanical structure, which is quite obvious if you open up the cartridge and peek inside. Sometimes things are so obvious that you don't even need to open up the cartridge.
>I don't think I can agree with that (remaining content deleted for brevity)
That's not how a cartridge suspension and damping system works. First keep in mind that a cantilever only moves up (pull) and down (push) - there is no "pull" or "push" in the strict sense of the words. If a cartridge suspension is in a state that it really allows pull and push to happen, it is broken.
>because when you 'pre-compress' the suspension material by applying tension to the string/wire, the suspension material will always be in compression (just more or less of it.)
Next, you are confusing the dampers with the suspension wire. The suspension is a piece of flexible and usually springy wire (sometimes of metal, sometimes not), which is stiffened over most of its length so that only a very short section can actually move. This moving part is the pivot point. The length and placement of the pivot point is defined by how the cartridge designer draws up the cantilever assembly design. It doesn't have anything to do with the dampers. The dampers are normally elastomer donuts or disks that fit over the stopper pipe that secures and stiffens the suspension, and they will be pulled up snugly against the core (armature) and coils.
The suspension wire is deliberately designed to be too soft to support the tracking force, and it needs extra support from the dampers. To supply this support, the cartridge builder pushes the core and coils rearward so that the dampers are compressed between the core & coils and the magnet (or yoke, or cartridge structure). There's your "pre-compression". This is done as a matter of course by every cartridge builder that I know of - it isn't unique to anyone.
>What's important here is that this strategy moves the 'virtual pivot point' closer to the axis of the coil, instead of the traditional position behind the coil.
As I stated earlier, the position of the pivot point is determined when the designer makes the drawing for the cantilever assembly. Stiffening most of the suspension wire and leaving only a very short, precisely made length for movement is a far better strategy for defining the pivot point than relying on damper compression (which changes according to the individual damper - dampers are neither precise nor consistent parts).
However, the free length of the suspension wire is a somewhat ambivalent choice for the designer. Kept short, it offers more accurate transduction, but puts a greater strain on the tonearm regarding tracking. Kept a little longer, the transduction is less accurate, but the tonearm has an easier time. I personally keep the suspension wire as short as I can, in the full awareness that some tonearms may have difficulties with my cartridge designs as a result. Other designers that I have talked to prefer to keep the free length of the suspension wire a little longer, for better compatibility with a wider range of tonearms.
>Miyajima and (I think) ZYX are two other makers who have incorporated this idea as well, although using different methods to achieve it.
Miyajima appears to be using a suspension concept similar to the old Glanz designs (check out US patent 27437). ZYX seems quite orthodox to me, and there is nothing wrong with that.
hth, jonathan carr
Still looking at cartridges in the $2-3K range.Any comments on the Benz copper/SLR or Ortofon Jubilee?Or other recommendations??
I have been distributing Transfiguration in the US for about six years now and several years prior to that worked for Musical Surroundings when they were the importer, so I am very familiar with the sounds and quirks of every model, post AF-1, which I also heard a number of times, but never in my system.
Jonathan is correct in assuming that the Temper and Orpheus series cartridges do indeed have a tensioning wire. The single-magnet construction, where the coil sits inside the magnet requires quite a bit more (talented) labor in its construction, as the tolerances are extremely tight.
The Spirit, Phoenix, Aria, Axia series cartridges still maintain the advantages of the ring magnet construction, in that the coil still lies within the center of the magnetic field.
Sonically, there is a strong family resemblance between the Orpheus and Phoenix (and Axia for that matter, though with slightly less harmonic texture and complexity). I would say that in all areas of performance, with the exception of microdynamic finesse, which was always the greatest strength of the Temper series, the current Phoenix is equal to or better than the Tempers at just a little more than half of what they used to cost. It is more transparent, less resonant, more macro-dynamic than the W or V (and I LOVED those cartridges...time marches on...). It is thus, probably a greater performance value, at $2750 than the Orpheus L at $6000, even though the L brings things to the table that the Phoenix cannot possibly bring (or, why would there be an Orpheus...).
I will keep my comments just to comparisons within the Transfiguration line, in order to avoid "plugging" my cartridges over another line.
Give a choice, I would definitely take the latest generation Phoenix over any of the Temper series and can say that it sounds very much like the Orpheus in terms of timbral balance, musical presentation and temporal coherence/integrity. Unless you listen almost exclusively to classical music, where the microdynamic finesse of the Temper V might make for a slightly better connection to complex passages, I think you will find the Phoenix the more transparent, musically accurate and natural-sounding choice.
Thanks to Jonathan for his (once again) very accurate and articulate comments.
Without being technical.Just using my ears and heart.I must agree with Neil.I listened to the Phoenix but fell in love with the Temper V.
If I could afford a J A cartridge I would jump at the chance to own one. TP,why are you looking to change.
The one sold to me was a 5 year old cart.It failed about a year later (cantilever & coil-left).The rest is a long and painful story.Alas,I didn't want to spend 3K+ for an Eco.
Are the bodies worth anything?
I have heard the Transfiguration W, Phoenix and both the higher and lower output Orpheus, though none were directly compared in side-by-side trial. While I like all of the cartridges, I found the W to be on the "dark" side and less lively sounding than the others. The Phoenix was a quite a delight -- very lively and engaging. It may be less refined, poised and coherent than the Orpheus, but it is a really "fun" cartridge that does not get its nimble and lively sound by being thin in the upper bass/lower midrange (which also makes cartridges sound analytical and harmonically threadbare).
I am currently auditioning a low output Orpheus. It is taking quite a while to break in, but, it already sounds VERY good. There is quite a difference between the sound of the Orpheus and my now quite old Lyra Titan, the Titan sounding more explosively dynamic on very hard transients, but, I am not sure the harder impact is "natural." I like the slightly more elevated midrange and upper bass of the Orpheus (sound has more weight), but the upper extension of the Lyra is also quite appealing. In short, I like them both even though they are quite different. I think I'll keept both.
I have also heard the higher end Allaerte cartridges (not the Eco). These are very nice, warm, well composed sounding cartridges. In terms of basic tonal balance they are not far off from the Transfiguration line, so your consideration of the Transfiguration line makes sense.
After speaking with two different dealers,the impression is that the bass could use a little "goose-ing".
I had a very informative discussion with Steve Dobbins/Xact Audio.Our perception of cartridges seemed to coincide.After our discussion several cartridges met the demands:Myabi,Dyna XV-1,Ortofon (590??) and the Allnic Verito Z.I took the plunge on the Allnic.Should have it in-house in about two weeks.Will report back.I will compare this cartridge to my working Eco.
There is mention of a "new" importer for JA's products-One could only hope.
I think a lot of us will be interested in hearing about this cartridge. The company is new to the cartridge game, so not many have heard it (I haven't).
With only 4 dealers,I can see why.Hammertone Audio (importer) has an interesting site.Xact also.