ZYX Airy 3x/SB vs. Dynavector XV-1 or 1s


Has anyone tried both cartridges and offer an opinion? I currently have the ZYX mounted on a Graham 2.2, on a Clearaudio Maximum Solution. Phono stage is the latest Klyne 7PX5.

I like the ZYX in terms of dynamics and detail, but can get a bit too bright (for my taste) at times. This could be a system specific characteristic for all I know but the cartridge I had before the ZYX wasn't quite as dynamic and detailed, but was neither as bright. I've heard the XV-1 (original version) on a Basis Debut/Graham 2.2 combo and was quite impressed. Also heard numerous positive comments re: the XV-1 but I'm not sure how this would sound on my system.

Any thoughts? TIA
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128ca2284
Three suggestions, with apologies in advance if you've already tried them:

1) VTF and SRA adjustment (both are very critical with a ZYX)

2) Graham damping fluid adjustment (also critical, read SirSpeedy's thread on this topic if you haven't)

3) Try a lower impedance load

The one time I tried an Airy 3-X-SB on a Graham 2.2 it was also a touch bright. All attempts to tame it failed unless we went so far that HF musical content was lost. There was no happy medium.

It's possible these two components are not the best match, as I hypothesized in my Airy 2/3 review last year. The Airy 2 and UNIverse have no problems on the Graham IME.

Sorry, I haven't heard an XV-1S, though I'd certainly like to.
Doug,

Thanks for your recommendations. I've played around with VTF and SRA settings quite a bit but not much on the damping fluid. Load is set at the recommended 100ohms. VTF is set at 1.9 and SRA is set with the butt end slightly lower for heavy pressings (visually even for run-of-the-mill pressings).

I will try adding a drop more fluid (does this have a similar effect as adding mass at the pivot point of the arm?), then a drop less. I can also try a lower impedance setting if the fluid trick doesn't do the magic. However, if you've experienced the same symptoms using the same cartridge/arm combo on a different table, phono stage and downstream components, that pretty much validates my thoughts.

Guess I could also look into adding a second arm (which I planned on doing anyway -- but not until next year) or upgrade my 2.2 in lieu of a cartridge swap.

The saga continues...
Ca2284,Firstly--A xv-1s is quite a heavy cartridge,and would probably be a better match for an arm like the Phantom,Schroeder,Dynavector's own(excellent)507 mk 2,and some other contenders.The 2.2 may work with it,but it is really not ideal with cartridges like this,or the more massive Koetsus,IMO.

As to your NOW experimenting with adding an additional drop of fluid,I'd like to emphasize (strongly)that you work in tiny,as in pinheads at a time,of the damping fluid.This is SO critical,you won't believe it.You want to shoot for a very detailed sound,yet not a damped sound.There should NOT be any brightness with a high performance cartridge like the ZYX,that you have.Adding drops at a time is WAY too much to properly voice the arm/cart. interface.

Best of luck!
Sirspeedy,

Thanks for the heads up on the cartridge weight compatibility with the 2.2, and tips on the damping fluid tweak.

This sounds like a long term endeavor worth the time of any true audio afficianado.
How many hours do you have on the ZYX?

Break-in is crucial with this cart.
I have about 150 hours on the ZYX. It has pretty much stabilized at about the 100 - 120 hour point.
Typically the Zyx Airy 3x SB takes nearly 300 hours to break in. I noticed a real improvement between 200 and 300 hours.

Brightness was never an issue in my setup though, so I'm not sure if the additional time will alleviate this issue.
That's encouraging news, Nrchy. Looks like there is hope with my current setup. Thanks.
In the system where the Airy 3 was too bright we found an impedance of 75 ohms better than 100. Try something like that if you can.

Listen to SirSpeedy re: the Graham damping fluid. We were adjusting and hearing changes with amounts far smaller than a drop. Dip a toothpick in and scrape some of that onto the pivot. Be very careful not to drip any of it against the sides of the well. It will take forever to settle back down.

Unless you're in a very warm climate, 1.90g may be insufficient downforce. My UNIverse is currently happy at about 2.05g. Very small changes will be audible here too.

A nose-up orientation is not optimal for any ZYX I've heard. They like to be level (referring to the cartridge body, not the arm tube). OTOH I wouldn't expect this to cause brightness. Nose-down does that.

Keep on tweakin'!
Doug, Speedy and others have covered the salient points.

Let me add, that you will not side step your problem by switching to the XV-1s.

I love the Dynavectors, with the XV-1s (along with my trusty Denon 103R) being the only other cartridge I'd consider other than a ZYX at this point (I'm not saying there aren't others ... just that I haven't heard them).

If anything, the Dyna will be harder to tame on your 2.2. I lived with this combo for about 7 weeks last year.

Keep with the ZYX and work through your loading and damping issues.

One other point that has reared its ugly face in bold relief over the last 6 months ... how many highly regarded phono stages are fatally flawed. Names witheld to protect the guilty, many of these products receive continual great reviews and have wide acceptance and high price tags.

You'd be amazed to discover that what you had previously considered to be either a flawed setup, tracing distortion, or a bad cartridge is in fact a phono stage with excessive slewing distortion. I kid you not ... Get together with your local audio buddies and swap phono stages.

Cheers,
Thom @ Galibier
Nrchy,I'va asked before,but no response,so I'll ask again.How did everything go,with your Cosmos,and analog rig?Also,did you go for the additional umbilical?

Be REAL WORDY,as I'm currently bored,and need some audio stimulation!!See some of my previous posts,for examples of overt wordiness!!
To add to Thom's fine point,while on the Phonostage subject,if we are speaking of tubed stages,there is alot to be gained in trying some really good NOS tube types.This,too,can affect bright/dark voicing which is SO easy to blame on other components.

I have a pal who spent really big bucks on 3 big name phono tubes.After repeated listenings to his set-up,my audio pals kept stating that it seemed as though listening to this SOTA set-up was like going to the dentist,and getting the drill.GNAWING!!

It would have been SO easy to blame the cartridge,speaker/amp interface,or cable choices,as this owner has a hard time admitting anything he spends big dollars on is NOT great.Yet,one night we decided to do some tube swapping,as he has a nice inventory of good tubes.Well the megabuckers were the culprit,and were sold fast!On Audiogon,btw.Hope non of you bought them!Now we no longer feel the need to have our molars checked,when listening.

BTW--We have just experimented in this exact set-up(which has very "high -line" equip.,btw)with the Walker SST contact enhancer(which has gotten great press),and have found that it adds a brightness to this set-up.This could be specific to this system,yet if my friend was NOT willing to do EVERY connection(tube pins too),and then wipe everything off(total job,12 hours),we could have easily blamed some other component,like a cartridge mismatch,for example.This is simply a good example of how many parameters can affect performance,with it being SO difficult to determine the culprit,unless one is privy to a really good/experienced audio group.My friend SID calls this symptom,correctly,"BOON-DOCK-ITIS"!!Or the inability to diagnose a problem due to living in the boon-docks(not close to other "philes!).Like me!

Moral of story--Go back to mid-fi,or take up a nice hobby,like tropical fish,unless you want to drive yourself crazy!!BTW-I have a nice 55 gallon tank for sale!

Best regards!
Weeeellll Siiiiiiiirrrrrssssspeeeeeedyyyyyyyy. Things are still going with the Cosmos and analog rig. I can't really say anything right now, but once everything is in place I will have exciting news to relay. I have not persued the umbilical cord at this point but it is not out of the question.
Nrchy,though I understand your response,please make note----It did not satisfy my appetite for a "good,overlong,boring to many,provoking,and agitating" read!!I guess I'll have to go back and revisit some of my own posts!!Best of luck.BTW--The umbilical will better performance,as will an update to the clamp(clamp update costs about 5 bucks).Best regards!
Doug/Sirspeedy/Nrchy/Thom,

I truly appreciate your recommendations which will commence tonight. This will certainly be a drawn out process and just hope that I don't reach the analysis paralysis stage before achieving improved performance.

Don't get me wrong -- my analog setup certainly outperforms my digital rig -- by a big margin. And the ZYX is clearly an upgrade from my previous $1700 cartridge. I just think that there is much more room for improvement. This is my first analog gear and must admit that I am no expert in fine tuning these delicate pieces of equipment. I am able to hear the subtle changes in sound when various settings are changed -- but need to nail down a methodology for determining the best combination of settings -- just too many moving parts, literally and figuratively!

I'll start with the simple changes, e.g., Doug's recommendation on impedance and VTF, then I'll move on to the more complex ones.

Thanks again to all who offered advice. I'll post the results of my efforts.

BTW, Sirspeedy, have to been to that used record place along Rt 18 (northbound) in East Brunswick? Haven't been there lately but seem to have noticed a sign that they're closing so everything's on sale. Let me know if you need the exact location.
Ca2284,---been to that place.Not much stuff of interest,anymore.Same goes for Princeton Record exchange,which is sad,as I loved to take my wife & daughter there for Saturday brunch(in wonderful Princeton township),and then bribe the two of them,with a few dollars,for shopping,as I browsed the record bins.GOD I LOVED to do that,but ownership of that shop insists that the good discs have been snatched up,by foreign collectors.

Fortuneately for me,I have more than a lifetime's worth of good listening discs,as I've been a serious collector for about 25 years!

Best regards.
This is my first analog gear and must admit that I am no expert in fine tuning these delicate pieces of equipment. I am able to hear the subtle changes in sound when various settings are changed -- but need to nail down a methodology for determining the best combination of settings -- just too many moving parts, literally and figuratively!
Very true, and many of these adjustments are interactive. Change A and you affect B, which will in turn alter A when you try to correct. It's a great deal of fun. ;-)

Check out this article for a great how-to on VTF/VTA:

http://www.walkeraudio.com/fine_tuning_your_turntable.htm
BTW-Doug,I admit to being up,last night(Thursday),until 3 am,doing(STILL)JUST THAT.I think? I have found a way to pull a smidgen better timbral performance,by increasing the height,on the phono tubes,of the "Herbies" tube dampers.This has allowed me to "voice" a bit more,to my taste.I'm going in,for the final round,tonight,but admit I'm REALLY tired of fotzing around!!Though I'm happy my system has the ability to tell me of such minute changes.

BTW--I hope you REALLY forgave the "little" devil(on my left shoulder) vs "little angel (on the right one).I killed off the left sided terror.He should not rear his head for a long time.I hope!!!
Just an update on the progress I've made based on Doug's and Speedy's recommendations...

Although the 'brightness' issue on my ZYX/2.2 setup has not completely gone away, I believe I've made some progress. Since Friday, 11/11, I've been fine tuning SRA and VTF settings and have logged a total of 18 critical (alcohol-free) listening hours and damaged about 6 decent 180 gram LPs due to repeated playback of certain 'test' tracks. A small price to pay for the improvements gained in my opinion. I also played around a bit with the impedance setting (lowering) but was not happy with the outcome so it's still at the ZYX recommended 100 ohms.

A VTF setting of 2.05 works best in relation to my current 'almost parallel' SRA setting. Previous VTF was 1.9 and SRA was slightly 'butt lower'. All tests were done using 180 and 200 gram vinyl (both 33 and 45) but I have marked the scale to compensate for 140 gram pressings. I was able to tame down a bit of the brightness -- say about 30% (without any noticeable HF rolloff) with the new settings.

I'm now ready to move on to the next stage -- damping fluid, which appears to be the more tedious task. I don't intend to play around with the SRA and VTF settings in relation to damping fluid adjustments (sounds like a true test of patience). Should be able to report back sometime next week.

Thanks again for your recommendations.
Ca2284,sounds like you are on the right track,to good set-up,AND more importantly,learning about critical set-up,which makes a huge difference,in a high res system.

I don't want to spoil the party,BUT----You will definitely NOT get the most out of your fluid(TINY amounts at a time)efforts if you do not go back and recheck/revoice tracking force,and VTA,after each addition,or subtraction of fluid.These work in conjunction with one-another(sort of like a rubick's cube).It is a very tedious series of adjustments,which I'm fairly certain most will not be happy about doing,to this level,and I don't blame them!!I know it sucks,but that's the way it is!!I don't want to come off as arrogant about this.Let's call it "militant",instead!Just kidding!!

Believe me,I've spent hours upon hours with this,and trust me----"I friggin HATE fotzing around" to this level,but I know what I'm talking about,here.Sorry!!

The good news is #1-Nobody is really forcing you to actually do all this.#2-In reality it will be you,not any of us,who benefit.

The first two were really just a bit of humor.#3-(this is really the good news)-The fine tuning needed "after fluid addition/subtraction"(pinheads at a time) is in very small increments,and is easily repeatable due to accurate markings on your arm.Also,it is of paramount importance that you have a very good DIGITAL guage.Accurate to 1/10 gms will NOT be enough to get the very high level of performance,this arm/cartridge can deliver,if the rest of your system is up to it!Possibly you can borrow a "WINDS" guage,or consider the excellent Digi-One stylus guage,which is not too pricey,and superb.

Remember to carefully take out the bearing,and place it with the "tip" facing up.Now with a toothpick,or actual pin,(I like to use a pin,because with a toothpick there is a bit of absobtion,into the wood.Am I obsessed,or what?)add tiny amounts to the bearing tip.Hope this helps,and doesn't drive you out of the hobby!

Believe it or not,I'm actually done with ALL my tweakings!!Thank GOD!!!!

Best of luck!!
Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Ca2284,

Glad to see you're making progress. Keep at it!

SirSpeedy,

Alls well that ends well.

Interesting results you're getting moving the Herbies, and it makes sense. A tube in its socket should vibrate more at the top than at the base. Moving the dampers upward should dampen that movement better.

I have two Herbies on each tube in my preamp/phono. Two sounds better than one and I'd use three if I had the space. Herbie's website warns about "overdamping", but I have a hard time imagining how ANY vibration would improve the performance of a tube. If damping a tube makes the system sound lean or dry, there's a problem elsewhere in the system.
Doug,As from what "The word on the street",about you(and Paul)IS--You really have picked up on the finer points,in this hobby,fast!!Sort of reminds me of these two little thirteen year old girls,whom I was watching play tennis,last week,in my local club.As their proud fathers watched,I was SHOCKED as to the INCREDIBLEY high level,these little "Shrimps" could play!!SO high a caliber,I doubted if I was wasting my time,playing the game.I would have had a problem even returning their serves,and I consider myself a fairly advanced player,and have taught the game,yet there is always that next level.Scary!!

While I won't give up on audio,I have to say that the Herbies are by far the best dampers I've tried.I've played around with about a half dozen types.Too low,on my tubes tends to overdamp.I like them towards the top,for more life.Funny thing--When I first added them,I was able to take out a bit of the "maddening" damping fluid,from my 2.2,which opened up the sound,even more than I'd previously thought possible.I was now able to hear differences in tracking forces as small as 1/100 gm,and easily.This was fun,but a two sided sword as well.From this(and this is only conjecture),I came to the conclusion that the tubes/phonostage/cartridge/arm/table/suspension/support/shelf/arm cabling was one BIG circuit(sort of),with each layer compounding the influence of the other.I SWEAR I'd rather just listen to my music,but after hearing so many performance variables(that I liked),in some of my pals' superb set-ups,I said "let's GO for it",and see how far I can go with my own system!I,fortunately,have been pleasantly surprised,yet it has made me a "Madman",but an informed one,at least!!

Best regards,and keep up the good work.!

Oh,yeah--Forgot to mention that where you are,as of now,in your discoveries of music/lp collecting etc.,is/was the most enjoyable part of the hobby,to me.I envy you for this.Not that I don't still get a real bang out of it all!!
Sir S,

Perhaps we need to meet. If Paul or I remind you of thirteen year old girls your visual problems must dwarf your audio ones.

I've been listening to LP's since 1959. I figure if my learning curve were any slower I'd be going backwards. ;-)
Dear Ca2284: +++++ " Has anyone tried both cartridges and offer an opinion? " +++++

About your original question please read these links:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1132299685&read&3&4&

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1132299685&openflup&16&4#16

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1132299685&openflup&16&4#16

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul,what is your point,other than to make a scrambled egg sandwich,from the "Eggs dripping down" the faces of those Audiogoners who have "pitched" the INIV big time,for the last year,or so.All kidding aside,this all means NOTHING!!We have a comparison,from one,or two hobbyists.Hobbyist #1 did not load all cartridges to the exact requirements,and admitted to it.The ONLY way to find out how good a prescribed design is,is to audition one,fully broken in,at home.Not in a pal's system.Everything relates to our own perception,in our own system.To me,the Univ may still be something special.I won't know unless I hear one,in my set-up.That won't happen,any time soon,as I'm afflicted with a good disease,called "Happy For Now-Itis"!I suspect most hobbyists will succomb to this at some point.They'll be happy they did.Are you?
Thanks, Raul.
I posted this tid bit in another thread and thought it might be appropriate here as well. Here goes:

IMO the only response to Raul's posts is no response. He is entitled to his opinions, as misguided as most of them are, like everybody else here. The record is replete with his omniscient and combative ideas so why not let him go? I for one take no stock in anything he says and read them for the entertainment content. Roll with them and grab a few laughs.
Mustang,I see absolutely NO reason to ascribe to what you suggest.What's your point.If you really think that Raul,and all else' opinions are misguided,than why bother to correspond,yourself?

I find Raul's input to be quite simply,"alot of fun to read"!I don't agree with everything stated in all posts,and don't expect anyone to agree with everything I state.The object,which I'm sure Raul IS aware of,is to have some input,on subjects we are ALL trying to learn,a bit more,about!So sometimes we go a bit overboard.Big deal!Any laws broken?This is all supposed to be "FUN"!That's my take!You're entitled to see things differently.

Best regards,though!
Dear Sirspeedy: You know very well my point on ZYX cartridges and you know very well that: +++++ " other than to make a scrambled egg sandwich,from the "Eggs dripping down" the faces .... " +++++ this is never ever my attitude about: in this thread or any one.

The issue is that I like other persons have a different opinion about that cartridges: that's all.

I know that many times are not welcomed because what I say is not what the people " want to hear ".

I always try to help ( many people don't like to be helped ) and that's why I always post what is my experience about any subject not what the people " want to hear ". If I coming to post " what the people want to hear " ( for every body can be happy ) this attitude will be lewd/deshonest and very far from be a help for my " Audiogon friends ". Many people think that I'm their enemy and this is not true: I could be their enemy if I post what they want to hear.

My audio experiences tell me that all of us: music lovers, time to time have to make a stop on our audio development: several of my post can tell you that it is time to make that stop and think about for we can have a better quality sound reproduction on the near future. Many peoples in this forum choose not to do that stop ( fine with me ) and go on, other ones choose to do it and learn about. I learn every day reading the different post/threads, sometimes I " stop " and sometimes I run away.

Sirspeedy, tks for your support and understanding. Like always be happy like I'm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Sirspeedy: You know very well my point on ZYX cartridges and you know very well that: +++++ " other than to make a scrambled egg sandwich,from the "Eggs dripping down" the faces .... " +++++ this is never ever my attitude about: in this thread or any one.

The issue is that I like other persons have a different opinion about that cartridges: that's all.

I know that many times are not welcomed because what I say is not what the people " want to hear ".

I always try to help ( many people don't like to be helped ) and that's why I always post what is my experience about any subject not what the people " want to hear ". If I coming to post " what the people want to hear " ( for every body can be happy ) this attitude will be lewd/deshonest and very far from be a help for my " Audiogon friends ". Many people think that I'm their enemy and this is not true: I could be their enemy if I post what they want to hear.

My audio experiences tell me that all of us: music lovers, time to time have to make a stop on our audio development: several of my post can tell you that it is time to make that stop and think about for we can have a better quality sound reproduction on the near future. Many peoples in this forum choose not to do that stop ( fine with me ) and go on, other ones choose to do it and learn about. I learn every day reading the different post/threads, sometimes I " stop " and sometimes I run away.

Sirspeedy, tks for your support and understanding. Like always be happy like I'm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Speedy,
I enjoy his posts too once you get past the arrogance and snobbery. They are quite entertaining perhaps even funny on occasion
BTW, you're taking yourself much too seriously.
Hello Wc65mustang,

I think you need to re-read your comments and realize the impact of the written word as far as human feelings and general civility are concerned. It's a simple matter to insult someone and then call him overly sensitive when either he responds or someone else does so in their defense.

I disagree with Raul on numerous items - specifically the use of step-up transformers.

Having said that, I respect and value his views as well as respecting him as an individual.

Raul brings a lot to the table and his preferences are very clear. Additionally, Raul puts in the hard work before he asserts his opinion. We need more "arrogant" people like Raul on this list and not fewer.

Most of what you read on Internet forums is worth the paper it's written on.

-----

I've been wrestling about how to reply the technical side of it for the few days I've followed it.

Let's just say that there's not much useful information imparted in this thread other than us getting an insight into the personalites of the posters (this does have value).

I entered this thread with no experience of the Colibri, a moderate experience of the Universe, and extensive experience of the XV-1s.

To this point, my understanding has not changed.

I realize that some people have made honest attempts at describing the sound they hear. They are nevertheless irrelevant to me because discipline was not followed during the evaluation.

Consider this parallel:

"He's a great person for the job, but I didn't do a background check on him. He's articulate, organized, and a good dresser so I think I'll hire him to a position where he handles all of the company's investments".

Get my point?

Cheers,
Thom @ Galibier
All ...

My comment about not knowing anything more than before the thread started (about Universe, Collibri, XV-1s) was directed at the thread named:

"ZYX Universe, Dynavector XV-1s, vdH Colibri, ?? "

and not this thread.

Sorry for the confusion.

My comments about respecting Raul, stand ...

Cheers,
Thom @ Galibier
Thom, your advice is appreciated but I don't need to re-read anything. You need to mind your own business.
Since I do agree that sometimes I may "seem" to take myself too seriously,in reality,the "real me" doesn't.I'm simply a "one man's opinion"!That's it!Anyone going beyond that is going a bit overboard,with forum life.In seriousness,this whole posting bonanza is just fun.Yes I learn,mostly from pondering thoughts,picked up.If these equate into what my own perceptions are(about enjoying music "reproduction")than I move on,from that point.Believe me,I LOVE spending money on things audio.I'm embarrassed to admit to,just how much.If I'd have invested ALL of it,I'd be living comfortabley,off the interest.YET,I now have the best sound that I,personally,have owned.Growing as a "LISTENER",to me, is much more valuable than simply being a hobbyist(a hobby I love).

What I DO NOT see myself as,is "mean spirited",which I don't have to name anyone here,who seems to lean in that direction.You know who you are.If that is "YOU",than it's time to re-think whether you are in this for fun,or to intentionally jerk some of us around.Baiting is,to me,accepted.Being nasty,for it's own sake, won't make anyone any friends.I didn't for me.

Let's not get away from the FACT that MIKE L. spent ALOT of time on his very enjoyable comparison,and spent alot more time posting,for our entertainment,and appreciation.I don't think he thought anyone was going out,to buy something off any of his comparative opinions.What I DO think,is that he "GOOD NATUREDLY"(hope that's a word)wanted to share his enthusiasm,and appreciation of "music reproducing" products!The rest is up to us,to ponder!!

Happy holiday,to all!!
BTW-Raul,You have to learn to get a better feel for my humor.I was kidding with you re:What's your point",and the "EGG Sandwich" stuff.
What great reading, I own a ZYX Airy3-S and REALLY enjoy how it makes music. I bought it based on what I have learned on this form. I often listen into the wee hours of the morning even when I need to get up and go to work the next day. I have not listened to any other high end cartright other then what I have owned, which is the falling, Ortofon Jubilee (to forward sound for me) Koetsu Rosewood (very smooth and cuddly), Koetsu Rosewood Sig (much more open and better balanced then the non-sig.), Shelter 501 (great for the money, but grainy top end) the Airy3-S has all other the pluses of the other cartridges, but much more open and dynamic.
Thanks again for ALL of your input, to a hobby I enjoy, which would not have been as enjoyable without all of you.
BryanP
PS: I live in a very rural area of Canada
Dear Sirspeedy: No problem at all ( not today not ever. I know you. ). Some times, because of my english problems, I can't understand exactly what you or other want to say ( with what sense ).

regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.