What cartridge?? Lyra, Dyno etc...

I need/want a new cartridge to go into my SME Model 20A record player. I currently have a four year old next month Lyra Helikon. Not a bad cart but fancy a change. What are the views of fellow audiophiles??
Which carts work well with my record player, I've heard that Lyra and Dyno's work well, any others???

Front end: SME Model 20A/Lyra Helikon/Ayre phono cable XLR/Symposium Ultra Platform
Sony SCD-555es with VSE level 5 mods Balanced
Preamp: Ayre Acoustics K1-xe with phono boards
Speakers: ATC active 20 towers
Cables by Clearer audio
Rack Finite elemente pagodeĀ° Signature

If you liked the Helikon (as far as it goes, and it is a great cartridge), then the next logical step up IMO would be either a Titan, Transfiguration W (or lower output V), or maaaybee a vdH Condor.

From a value standpoint, the Tranny (which I own) beats all the others because they're available at a 50% discount! The Tranny also got a slight edge compared with the Titan in a Stereophile review FWIW. I can put you in touch with someone who went from a Helikon to a Transfiguration W if you like.

You have a nice system, though you didn't mention any listening preferences. As always with moving coil cartridges, loading is critical! Also, you could definitely (again IMO) benefit from a tonearm cable change to: Silver Breeze, Hovland Music Groove, or if you can afford the very best (IMO) the Purist Venustas or (yikes $$$!!) Dominus.
Dear Mooner: +++++ " Lyra Helikon. Not a bad cart but fancy a change. " +++++

If you want a change ( for the better ) on your quality sound reproduction my advise is that you can go for either: Dynavector XV-1, Colibri Van denHul, Transfiguration W/V or Allaerts MC2 Finish. This one is something special and I think that you and your very nice audio system deserve it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks for your reply. Yes I would be very interested in reading what your friend has to say on the Lyra/Tranny comparison.

Mainly listen to rock and jazz.

Just bought the Ayre phono cable XLR so will stick for a while. But in the past have lived with Cardas Cross, Audionote ANV and Nordost Quattro-fil tonearm cables. Haven't tried your recommendations but my friend will soon be taking delivery of his Hovland cable to replace his IC-30 on a Graham 2.2.
Hi Raul,

I am interested to hear how you compare the Colibri to the Allaerts MC2 Finish. I am geting the Colibri (copper coil for now), and would like to know how you compare the two.


While waiting for a detailed response fm Raul (& others no doubt), I can give you a quick comparison b/ween Colibri & Allaerts on someone else's S Yorke TT (Burmester electronics, large orchestral music).
The Allaerts was better by comparison (listening order, Colibri then MC2). Much better (listening order reversed). Interestingly, "better" meant smooth & dynamic presentation. BTW, while the MC seemed to pick a max of info -- as did the Colibri -- the perception of surface noise was insignificant (maybe because of the rendition of music).

Please note that the above are no more than quick impressions on two outstanding cartridges.
This seems to be a fascinating product line!With all the attention given to the more popular cartridges,it would really be great(at least to me)if some of the lucky few can shed some more light on these designs.

What seems to seperate these from some others is the seemingly fanatical attention to manufacture that the top models go through.I love their claim to look at cartridge design "at the molecular level"!As well as the fine plating of the body,which I assume reduces unwanted resonance.WOW,I just love this level of commitment,and it would seem that these guys are obsessed with the REAL SOTA in cartridge design.On paper,these designs seem to validate the apparent high costs,which are probably asked.Some other top tier designs,probably cost the designer very little to manufactur(plastic bodies,in products costing thousands?),yet they sell so few that a high price is set,at retail.Mine included!I understand the reasoning for this,but these little Allaerts beauties really look (inside and out) like they are made to a "Collectible Swiss Watch" standard!Take a look at the web-site,but wipe my drool of of it first,before you start reading!BTW-this is simply my being emotional over something that seems superb.I'm NOT throwing stones at any particular product.Obviously,Raul did a great sales job on me!!

Best regards!
So, is there dealer in the US for Allaerts? Also for Transfiguration? I may want to get one of these for comparison in the near future.


Dear Dan: Here you can get any information about:


Regards and enjoy the music.
Dea Michael: Both have different music presentation. Please read this and do your own comparation:


Regards and enjoy the music.
Hey Dan,I hope I can save you some money,to put towards your cartridge choice(I have a Tranny Temper-v,btw),as you had originally mentioned you were considering a Winds guage.Well,my pal,and myself are going "the cheap route",and buying the new digital guage,now being advertised on Audiogon(the one with the four numeric readout).Truthfully,for the asking price,it's looks too good to pass up.I'll let you know if it was money well spent as soon as my COSMOS comes back,from the newest 2006 updates!

Best regards!
Thanks Raul,
Based on that email address I assume that Allaerts are not sold through distributors here in the US.

Thanks for the update, SirSpeedy. I assume you guys will get the chance to compare that new guage against the Winds. The Temper V is on my short list.

Thanks to Nsgarch for the Tranny info! I'm licking my chops!

The Allaerts USA distributor is Audio Advancements:


The Allaerts website (including links) is:

Actually,Dan,Bob gave such a compelling argument about downforce changing from day to day,that I don't even know if I'll bother comparing to my friend's Winds guage.I simply want a baseline for my being able to fotz around,a bit, to get the sound I think my rig is capable of.Then I'll check downforce,maybe once in a while,unless I hear some disparity in sound.SEE, I can learn from others,when a compelling argument is made!!

BTW--Though I LOVE my Tranny(what's not to love),there are so many really nice designs around,these days,that I'm not intimating you go for my own prefferences.I wish I had a two arm table.HMM,maybe I ought to get another arm wand.NAH,that would really drive me nuts!!

BTW, there's something out on the horizon, leaps tall Trannies, Kondor-killer, Uber-UNIverse, Dyna-wrecker, Red-Allaerts. Myabi-maybe? No, no! Wish I'd been thinking styli instead of watching silettos when the price and manufacturer was mentiond ;~))
Neil, that's the second time you've posted that verse. Whatever do you mean! I'm most curious! :)

SirSpeedy, I do understand what you're saying regarding the guages. I agree that this new one doesn't necessarily need to be accurate but it does need to be consistant to be of good use. I also still trying to decide what cartridges I'll be picking up. I'd like to have 2, perhaps 3, to try. I've got Lyra, Transfiguration, ZYX, and now Allaerts on the short list so I'll have to pare it down some more.
. . . also Dynavector.
Dan, first time I posted it, it was with an incorrect web address for the Allaerts website -- don't know how that happened -- anyway, so I had to repost 'em both.

What do I mean? Well, don't buy too many cartridges. Maybe just one for now, and something you could sell or trade up from if the opportunity arose. e.g. you could always move a Condor, Transfiguration, or a Titan, if you found two or three more you wanted to audition. And the reason I say two or THREE more is because I think there might be some new models (not necessarily new makers) by year's end.

BTW, although there's only one person I know of here on AgoN who has one (Rushton) I definitely think you should put the Magic Diamond on your short list (available discounted from Lloyd Walker.
Sorry Dan,I jumped the gun!My pals warn me to shut up,as they are NOW reloading and considering a mass WINDS guage purchase,for all of us.Well the little one we both see on Audiogon still looks like a good buy!

Ngarsh,you are clearly moving towards the HP school of cliffhangers!!You have my attention,but don't keep me guessing for too long!!I hope you're not alluding to the Clearaudio stuff.

Ah! Point taken. I am considering puchasing only 1 cartridge at first because there are options/models of 'tables that I am also considering. Some of the options I can always do at a latter time. Since the two arms I have are differenct, gimbal vs unipivot, I do suspect that at least 2 cartridges may be required, but not necessarily. It could also be that two of the same cartridge could do the trick. I am attempting to set up a 'table with both arms/carts so that I can get the most from both arms/carts. I may not end up with the absolute best combinations (if there are such creatures) but I don't want either arm to be held back.

Sorry, Jrmanders. I feel like we're steering your thread off into other directions.
Speedy, nope, the Clearaudio fortifications have not been penetrated by my spies. However, based on other intelligence, I was simply advising those in the market to purchase, or especially those thinking about an upgrade, to perhaps hold off a bit.

Try the following site for a credit card size digital scale with 1/100 gm measurement accuracy (only $30)

Rightonscales is out of the Jennings but savon has 'em:


They're quite good. I have the audiophile-modified version by Audioparts, but it cost 5x more.
Neil, is that the Audio One? Now up over 2 bills. That one is interesting with the modification to allow measurements close to record level and it does have enough precision.
I have the Audio One,too,as does my pal.However when we compared it to the Winds guage,two weeks ago,it was off by over .13gms.That's alot,and I'm beginning to lose confidence in it.

Using the Audio One,we never were able to flesh out his cartridge's ultimate performance envelope,to our satisfaction(four of us)!With the Winds,it took one good,long,listening session.Anyone wanting my Winds guage,can have it(in perfect shape,btw)for 1/2 price!!
Dan + Speedy, yes I do have the Audio One, but frankly would have bought the $30 version had I known about it at the time. The little "stylus shelf" shouldn't really be necessary if you just position the scale next to the edge of the platter and support it on something rigid so the measuring surface is even with the top of the platter.

As for accuracy, I've never had a problem, but because we don't use these things very often (at least I don't) I always check the battery voltage before starting, and calibrate it several times during a measurement session just to make sure that zero stays zero.

Once again, like with SRA and anti-skate, the important thing is to get inside the "design range" better known as the "ballpark" so that you can then fine adjust by ear.

In the case of VTF, it doesn't really matter if your scale is precisely accurate in absolute terms. If your cartridge VTF range is say 1.8 - 2.0 and you have a scale that measures in 100ths gm, then you really need only start with a reading anywhere between 1.85 and 1.95 to be in the "ballpark". So let's say you set your VTF for 1.89gm (so what if it's actually +/- .05 gm?) All you need to do after that is keep track of what you think you hear (write it down!) as you go up or down from the initial setting in .01 gm increments. I think educating one's ears to the sonic subtlties of changes in VTF is a far trickier skill to acquire than most folks think, and takes a lot of practice just to hear the changes, much less know with confidence when the setting is the correct one.

If you're really anal compulsive, and you want the numbers on the tonearm dial to read as close as possible to the actual downforce (while at the same time accounting for slight deviations in your own particular scale) then set the dial to read some known force like 1.5 gm, and then using your scale, patiently adjust the counterweight(s) until the scale reads 1.5 gm. That's as accurate as it's ever likely to get, and plenty accurate for audio, in my ever so humble opinion.

I think it is a good idea to use a scale that is accurate to the next decimal place of what you intend. If you want to measure to the tenths of a gram, the scale should be accurate to the hundredths of a gram. The cheapy I have now is only accurate to the tenth, which is really no better than my Shure balance. On the previous table I had it was necessary to remove the platter each time I wanted to make a VTF measurement. It was the only way to do it without making the arms contort in unnatural ways. I'm not necessarily looking for complete accuracy but I do want more precision and ease of use than what I have now. It is ok with me if it weighs a 1 gram object at .89 grams as long as it does it every time
Nsgarsh,Dan--You are both right.I've done it both ways!Truthfully,my pal,Sid likes to see a confirmation of exact downforce,for his happiness.I don't really care,as I generally know how I want my rig to sound.However it is quite fun to have an authentic reading,that stays fairly consistent,as in the Winds.Bob,was actually correct,yet we are all a bit over the top in our quest.NO?
SirSpeedy, I think "over the top" is a bit of an understatement in my case. I mean, here I am talking about scales and cartridges to use with my two tonearms. I don't even own a table right now! Obsessive, compulsive would be closer to my character flaws. :)
One final thought---Do we really think we deserve a fifteen dollar digital guage(the actual cost of the Jensen/ Digi-One) for measuring cartridges that cost thousands?To me,and I did invest in a cheapo,I need to feel more confident in something of this type's true accuracy!!No I won't check it too frequently,but when I do I'll like to have a "real" reading.

Also,though this may seem overt,my arm needs a subtle revoicing of a combination of vta/damping fluid and downforce,to maximize performance.Even a couple of hundredths of a gm,in downforce requires a touch of fluid and vta,to be right.Maybe just the weakness in the arm,but real!!
Speedy, I think your point is very well made. If money weren't an issue for me, I'd buy a Winds in a minute and not give it a second thought. And if I were lucky (like you are) to be surrounded by enough like-minded audiofolks to do a "group purchase" that would be even better (for an item used infrequently by any one person.) But I live in a desert, both physically, and in a lot of other ways, so I have to make certain decisions based on fiscal prudence.

However, I can achieve the same results (accuracy) as anyone else, with a device that costs less than a tenth of the one I'd like to have, so long as I'm willing to spend an extra few minutes calibrating and checking batteries.

Price isn't always the issue either -- wasn't it you who was so critical of the reliability of the (not inexpensive) Cartridge Man unit?
Nsgarsh,when the Cartridge Man was available to me,I knew nothing about the "guage" thing.I don't even think digital guages existed back then(other than the C.M.).At that time I was using some kind of see-saw gadget.Actually I only made comments questioning the actual ergonomic plausability of the Cartridge Man.The only reason I'm SO sold on the Winds(believe me,I'm not pitching it,to anyone,and Bob's comments are actually dead on)is because we used it over a few listening sessions,at my friend Ed's place.He had just gotten the Venustas,as you know,and my friend Sid brought it over.Since I did all set-ups,over about an 8 hour period each time,it became clear to me that this was a fabulous product.In honesty,all my audio bud's are sort of split over the value of spending so much on a guage.Some have,and love the Technics analog guage.A classic.

In my case,I have not needed to spend much money on my system lately(don't even ask about the past,though),so the Winds seems a good investment.Though NOT mandatory,to an advanced hobbyist,like you and some others!