VanDenHul has a reputation of poor quality control. You should consider Lyra, Ortofon, ....even if you can find a used Benz LPS in good shape.
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Is the Colibri a match for your tonearm? It does not match all arms because of the shorter cantliver. Van den hul states the gold wiring is the best but admits the gold coils lose musicality faster over time compared to copper and silver. Read as much on line before buying.VDH does make stylus for other brands like sumiko and other manufacturers.
I like A.J. but the quality control could be better.
A genius but maybe a slob too.
IMO, there is nothing at all to be worried about with a VdH cartridge per se. However, the problem in recommending one vs another is that there are SO many variations on any of the basic themes. For example, there are at least a half dozen or more variations of the Colibri alone. And since they are hand made one might expect sample to sample variation, to add to the confusion. I owned a low output copper coil Colibri, and it was very nice, for what that's worth. In general, I have consistently found that high output MCs do not sound as good as the low output version of that same cartridge, if that helps. For example, HO version of ZYX UNI not as good as LO version. Sometimes, you just have to take a shot in the dark and try something for yourself. Reviews in commercial publications are utterly useless, too.
There seems to be a misconception in regards to the VdH stylus. VdH only designed the stylus. Fitz Gyger is the manufacture of that design. That's why it is referred to the FG/1, FG/II, and the 'S'.
BTW: The FG/II and the 'S' are not 'improvements' to the FG/I. The latter designs were only to facilitate scrap reduction for the manufacturing process.
I am pleased with the sound of my Colibri xgp lightweight version .38mv on my VPI 12.7 arm. Harry @ VPI told me that it is one of the few arms that are a good match with the lightweight. Can't say that I've had tons of carts on my table, but it is head & shoulders above the ZYX Airy 3 and Allnic Puritas carts that I've used in the same rig. IME, vdh provides excellent value and very high end performance.
The comment about sibilance is a system matching issue. This one of the most revealing treble carts and some phono stages & cables are not transparent enough to let the beauty of the vdh treble shine. With a well matched system, solo violin etc. will be hard to beat. The Colibri is also dynamically explosive when the music calls for it, with transient speed that makes drums very lifelike.
On the downside, it's not very forgiving of beatup LPs even if well-cleaned.
The comment about "short cantilever" confuses me, because at least with the lightweight version, their is not much of a body per se, and it looks like a long cantilever to me. I'm always careful because it looks like the cantilever is hanging further down than on some other carts. Cheers,
Andy some cartridges and arms together do not have synergy,maybe the people who were wowed by the colibri had the synergy and maybe those who were not wowed did not. There is not one cartridge that I know that has synergy with every arm built.
As far as quality control I have heard of problems and it happens,buy from someone who will exchange it no questions asked or refund your money.
The main problem is not quality control, the problem is to buy a cartridge and be sure that if you've got a problem the manufacturer will really do the best to resolve your problem and it's not the case at all with some manufacturers. It's always easy for them to say that you are not able to adjust your cartridge or your tonearm is not the good one.
I had a problem with a high end cartridge that couldn't read more than 50µm, the manufacturer didn't make anything for me.... and is was not a hand made Van Den Hul
As I said Google on the colibri it is a fantastic
cartridge,it's fast,it's dynamic,it throws a huge
Soundstage but will it have synergy with your
tonearm? I too thought of buying one,lord knows
they still sell in Europe for 5000.00 but here on
Audiogon there are some real steals listed. Your
right there are so many versions of this
cartridge so do your self a favor and gather as
much information on which one is a better fit for
your tonearm. Which one better suits your phono
stage HOMC or LOMC. I settled for a HOMC Sumiko
Talisman Virtuoso that was fitted with a VDH
stylus and titanium cantliver and I'm happy with
my choice. It mated well with my tonearm and my
Whest Titan Pro phono pre amp.
I have 2 Colibris, one copper coil, another platinum coil, both with the plastic bodies. My experience mirrored many of the comments in this thread.
Sound. The Colibri sounds very fast and airy, it has the best treble of all the cartridges that I have tried in my system. However, the bass and mid-bass is on the lean side. If I understand correctly, VDH used the SME V as the reference tonearm when he designed the Colibri. While I have never tried this combo myself, I believe it has the synergy.
Reliability. I have to agree the Colibri is more fragile than most cartridges. I have sent mine back for repair a couple of times. The interesting thing is that it came back with a different length cantilever everytime! I have seen at least 3 different cantilever lengths. The shortest one was so short that the cartridge bottom was no more than 1mm (IIRC) from the LP surface.
Output. My platinum coil Colibri is listed as 0.25mv from the factory, but with the same gain and volume setting, the volume is much lower than a Denon 103R, which lead me to believe its output is probably closer to (or lower than) 0.2mv than 0.25mv.
From what I heard is that the VDH the Crimson is one of the best cartridges that you can buy.
I have heard, not own some expensive carts like VIP gold finger, VDH Colibri, Koestu, Ikeda, Lyra. But the more I hear them the more I think that after a certain price point. Maybe 4000 or lower all carts sound good great and it's more a matter of taste then quality.
I use a Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua.
Thekong....true enough. I went from a Benz LPS to an Ortofon Winfield. There are things that the LPS did that was better than the Winfield and v/v. I don't know how one buys a cartridge...you just can't listen to these things to know if that cartridge has the abilities that one likes for his/her own satisfaction. Mainly I suspect its a crapshoot.
I have a gold coil Colibri on my Aries 3 with the 10.5i arm and I think it is a magic combination. I have never heard a sibilance problem. The mids and highs are magic, and I have no complaints about the bass but do not listen to much really heavy bass music. However my RL mastered LZ II sounds great with very pronounced bass. Also VdH is making these with longer cantilevers these days.
However, obviously different systems will provide different presentations. Also, I have never heard a Zyz cart so cannot comment on how the Colibri will stack up against that.