There is a very good review on the SoraSound web site and if you have doubts about the provenance of a ZYX cart, check w Mehran @ SoraSound. He is a straight shooter and will give you an honest answer.
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Thanks to all of you for your comments.
Yes, Mehran has ZYX back and I will buy Airy 3 from him.
The last few big question to clear up are the TNT selection.
Would it be really needed to have "VTA on the fly" adjusting capabilities on VPI turntable with 10.5?
I read that some audiophiles adjust VTA for each LP.
Would Acrylic platter be OK on VPI tables or an Aluminum would be desirable option?
I just want to spend my funds (dedicated to plunge in to vinyl world) wisely.
Yes, if memory serves me correctly, the ZYX Airy 3 comes strapped in, as well as being screwed to the Base of the Case's Cartridge Bottom Mounting Plate.
The added little Blue Tape "Seatbelt" is no doubt there to safely retain the clip on Clear Acrylic Stylus Guard.
If it is Mehran you are buying the Cartridge from, rest assured that you are dealing with a first rate seller, and the main USA Distributor of the line.
The Cartridge will be brand new, and be assured that Mehran will stand behind you during, and after the sale, if in the event there are any problems. Be comfortable knowing that you are dealing with the best.
As a safeguard, be sure to leave that Stylus Guard on through the entire Mounting process. Once you have it mounted, are certain that all Cartridge Clip Leads are correctly in their right places, and the Cartridge is fairly snugged, and positioned-centrated on the Headshell, then at that point you can remove the Stylus Guard for Cartridge Alignment with a good Protractor.
How to be sure that ZYX was never removed from the box.
Is the blue tape with ZYX logo wrapping/holding the cart should be also all around the way on the back of the carrier plate, covering mounting screws without the gap (like a tape loop) indicating that the blue tape was never removed? Or it has two ends (on the back side), where one is longer forming loose piece for easy removal?
I can't imagine having an arm that wouldn't allow for VTA adjustment on the fly. Record thickness does matter. It's nice to adjust VTA for every record played and it is not a pain to do once you get the ear/feel for small changes in VTA.
Rockitman, thanks for your advice, I will be looking for VPI with 10.5 VTA on the fly adjustments, it will be either Classic or Airy.
Before buying a ZYX cart I want to understand how it is originaly from the factory packed/sealed in the box.
Is the blue tape/ribbon wrapping arround the cart and metal carrrier plate can bE broken and has an open ends on the back (never sen pictures showing the back side view) or it should be a contiunes tape/ribbon indicationg that the cart was never removed from the holder.
I know I am chiming in a little late on the topic, but I have had a ZYX airy 3x-sb low output cart for years now. For the first 2 years I had it on a vpi scout with jmw9 arm and it worked pretty well. I then changed to an origin live resolution/ encounter tt/tonearm set up and I realized that I had never heard what the ZYX was truly capable of while it was on the scout combo.
I would urge you to look at the origin live arms and tables if you truly
have your heart set on a ZYX cart. These are very very finicky demanding cartridges that must be set up just so and I would argue that they can't be fine tuned properly on a unipivot arm. Don't get me wrong, it will still sound good. Maybe very good. But you won't hear the detail and micro dynamics that this cart is capable of. Nothing against the vpi products. I think they're unbelievably good, but you should stick with a dynavector or sumiko or sound smith cart if you're going the vpi route and save your money.
Firstly, to make you aware, I'm a ZYX Airy 3X SB Zn owner.
Yep, I bought mine from Mehran about 3 years ago.
I know VTA on the fly is a very nice feature to have on an Arm. Is it absolutely paramount that the arm has this feature, that the Airy 3 will not produce suitable-accecptable sound. IMO, no.
It is true with any good cartridge though, the better the Arm, the better the cartridge can perform. I think you will find that compatible mass between arm-cartridge, and proper VTF will be more critical with this cartridge, to attain its best sound.
Do not sweat wondering, or worrying about somehow getting some used, or demo gear from Mehran, it just isn't going to happen. You can trust this cartridge will be a factory fresh, untouched example from the factory's hands, to yours.
Typically from Mehran, the ZYX will come in a Silk Drawstring Bag. Inside this Bag will be the ZYX Box, and within this Box is a Wooden Box-Tomb, with a Clear Lexan Lid that is taped shut-secured on two sides by ZYX Factory Blue Tape. This tape must be peeled away before the entire Cartridge retaining assembly can be lifted out of the Wooden Box. The owner's manual-paperwork will be packed seperately, as it's too large to place in the Box.
The Retaining Assembly that lifts out has four support beams, and the Cartridge is affixed-secured to the Bottom Plate of this Assembly. It is there you will note the little blue Seatbelt that helps retain the Cartridge, and it's Clip On Stylus Guard. You must first go to the underside of this Bottom Plate to peel the little "Seatbelt" away from the Stylus Guard (which is facing up inside the box)
Leave the Stylus Guard on during the entire removal from case process. Then you can remove the two retaining Screws that hold the Cartridge to the Bottom Retaining Plate while you hold the Cartridge Body between your fingers.
It will also be wise to leave the Stylus Guard on during the entire mounting process. Only when you are ready to do the alignment with this Cartridge with a proteactor, set VTA, VTF, Azimuth, Zenith Angle, should you then remove the Stylus Guard. It is a very nice touch that this acessory comes with, as there are so many MC Cartridges that do not have this feature.
If you are opting for the SB option, which designates the pure "Silver Base", you will note that the Silver Base will look relatively pristine, without tarnish. In time though, once it is exposed to air, the Base, because it is a pure silver plate will begin to tarnish. This is the nature of the material. It cannot be helped.
I strongly doubt that you'll have any small doubts about it not being a factory fresh model. Mehran has a highly regarded reputation as a fist class audio dealer, he's one of the best out there.
You will smile when you see this cartridge, it looks like a little glass jewel. Very beautifully made. And you are really going to smile when you hear the sound that comes forth from such an exceptional, stunning cartridge.
I'm very glad I bought mine, it is truly an awesome piece of equipment! Mark
I use an Airy 3 SB with my VPI Classic. Before purchase I asked VPI if it was compatible with the Classic. They gave me an enthusiastic "yes". It takes an effort to dial in but once it is in the groove it sings very nicely.
I love the ZYX sound. It will take a lot to make me switch carts.
@ Bnrlaw: The Classic even with the standard 10.5 arm is a big step up from the Scout (I have owned both)
When you set up the ZYX, set the arm height (SRA/VTA) as follows:
With a light shining behind the Stylus the diamond should be 92 degrees (2 degree tilt forward) resting on a record with typical thickness. Use a magnifying glass. Compare the angle to an index card (with a vertical line and 2 degree line). Take your time.
Next make very fine adjustments (a few index marks), (each mark is 1/3 of 1/10,000") on the VPI 10.5 arm. Listen for 3D, dynamics, and deep sound stage. Hard bright sound, and over tight bass - lower very slightly. Rolled off highs, and loose bass - raise very slightly.
After 20 or 30 hours of playback, fine tune, in fractions of one index mark.
I use the original VPI JMW 10, with no cable twist, VTF of 1.9 gm, and the ZYX Airy 3 is the best I have heard!
Arm height adjustment to the ninth degree, is a make or break, to get the best from the ZYX Airy 3.
Do not believe those that say the VPI JMW 10 or 12 series is a poor match!
Listen to your system for at least an hour before adjusting the SRA/VTA.
When records are cut, the cutter head is set to 92 degrees with a microscope, and as a result the correct playback SRA will be spot on, with 80% of LPs.
The JMW 9 and 10.5i special does not have a micrometer head height adjustment, and is a poor choice for the ZYX airy 3 IMO.
Don_c55, thank you for your detailed instructions, they will be very helpfull since I never thought about having a cartridre requiring so refined fine tune adjustments, and looking for a tonearm allowing those adjustments.
Finally I got my Airy 3-X-SB. It really looks impressive.
Now I need to focus on getting the right turntable.
At the level that such cartridges like the higher tier ZYX, or any other high quality brands, of course VTA-SRA is going to be important.
And so will proper exacting overhang alignment, azimuth angle, zenith angle. Without any of them properly set, no top notch cartridge is going to give you all it can.
I would say of all the adjustments, SRA might be one you can sort of "wing" and get away with, without driving yourself nuts making micro-adjustments for every single record that gets on the table.
I'm not saying it's not an important adjustment, and yes, by not having the capability of VTA-SRA on the fly, you will lose out to a degree, that certain records just might not be sounding their very best.
I have found with my own Airy 3, that once I had properly set VTA-SRA, it wasn't something that urgently needed addressing per every record that got on my platter. That even though I don't adjust per record, my Airy 3 sounds stellar on virtually all my records. Sure, not every record is going to sound like some Blue Note Re-Issue, but that's usually not the fault of the cartridge, or due to poor-improper set up. The Airy 3 won;t candy coat a miserably mastered recording. It will lay bare what's on the record.
To sum it up, yes, the cartridge will surely benefit from precision set up in all planes, and adjustments. But will the Airy 3 then be a cartridge that will drive you nuts, and sound horrid because you were either too lazy to play with VTA-SRA on a per record basis, or have an arm that does not incorporate VTA on the fly? IMO, no, it is not that hyper sensitive in my experiences.
Now as far as protractor alignments, and in regards to precisely accurate overhang, zenith, and azimuth, yes, these are highly important that they are correct, and as precise as possible IMO.
I would recommend a high quality protractor, and the MintLP Best Tractor comes to mind per any arm-cartridge that's out there if you want to get the very best from it. Mark