ZYX cartridges

Can someone explain to me the heirarchy of ZYX cartridges? I guess I know that the Universe is top of the line (though the Atmos may be even more expensive). But beyond that there seems to be umpteen different variations of the Airy model, called "2", "3", etc, with silver vs copper windings, etc. Since these are said to work well with my Triplanar tonearm, I am thinking of making a purchase, but I am completely confused regarding their product line. Thanks.
I'm sure you'll get some better responses here but I encourage you to call Mehran and talk with him. He is not out to sell you something if he doesn't think it will work for you. My understanding is that the Atmos is just below the Universe. It does not use the same stylus profile. That's about all I know except the Universe is really an exceptional cartridge.
Doug Deacon also has much experience with ZYX carts. I hope he chimes in. He and Mehran both helped me when I bought my R100H.
In the Industry Directory on this group's home page, go to Sorasound, this is Mehran's business in Chicago, and he is the USA Main Distributor, and who you would purchase from if you are in USA. When getting to his site, click on ZYX, and there you will find info, and reviews. Mark
Stay away from the zxy line.Their soft top to bottom.
I suggest a shure v 15 III with a new stylus.
My brother switched from a zxy cart to a shure and was blown away.He said his pioneer never sounded better.
He knows his stuff:)
Redtop, you either need some new comic material or you need to put the bong back on the shelf. ;-)
I had three models in the last four years; FX-100 Fuji, Airy 2 and Airy3 which I still own. Superb in every way with great detail and soundstaging; they have the same imprint sound, just a little bit thin audible on all models.
I used them with low to medium mass tonearms since they are very leightweight (5 grams).
My system does not revealed a great difference about quality between low and high output versions, be sure to have a phonostage with enough gain for low versions.
Redtop's comment was so dumb that I had to see if all his comments were like this, and right near the top I saw:
"05-04-08: Redtop
Stay as far away from a shure v 15 as you can."
Redtop (Answers)

Pretty sad.
Maybe he is drinking the bong water? Either that or his brother who "knows his stuff" didn't know enough to play the ZYX through an MC stage.
I don't think you guys appreciate Redtop's great sense of humor. Very funny, RT.

I was hoping for some descriptions of the many different variants of the Airy 2 and Airy 3, why they are different, how the structural differences effect sonics, etc, how the Atmos compares sonically to the Universe, etc. But many thanks for the input that I did get on the meaning of the "X" and "SB" acronyms and the related alternatives. I will try to find more on Sorasound, but if anyone else has a cogent comment, please fire away.
What?Sense of humor?I was serious.I know this guy other than my brother who thinks its a superior cart.As good as his zxy.He runs a sota too.He's so smart.
He even runs it on a dennon table too.He loves it.
Shure v 15 III forever!!!!!Baby!!!!!
Do you have read the very long description made in Mr. Arthur Salvatore website about sonic differences of Fuji-Airy2/Airy3/Universe from Zyx?
In my opinion it's a fantastic rewiev in deep about sonic strenghts, matching with tonearms and related problems like VTF or tonearm mass. I'm only not completely agree with him about the supposed great superiority of low output versions, please take a look! It will necessary a long night to read all pages but it's quite interesting.
ciao from Italy!
Ok, Redtop just earned the nickname "Bong Boy". :-)
Despite his colorful English, if you listen to Rock music, I will have to agree with Redtop. It is difficult to beat a Shure V15 III for Rock music at any price, especially on a SME 3009 series 2 arm. But I don't know where you can find a new stylus for it so it is a moot point now.
well I have had two versions of the ZYX Yatra 100 just below the Fuji100. I have used both with the Jolida JD-9. the lower output was more subtle and the treble was lighter airier, is that even a word? I did like the higher output version for the extra punch, loved the clean bass response. I know Raul would say I was poking smot, but I beleive the Zyx to be a great line.My Ondekoza records were stunning. In comparison to a Shelter 901 which I have heard in my system, I liked the Yatra better. For one thing especially, the true stereo sound. It was noticeably different, better imaging. the Zyx seem to minimize surface noise too, what a plus. I have bought two carts from Mehran and concur with everything that's been said about him, excellent customer service.
Redtop might be referring to me, I run a VPI, and have a Denon Table as well.

Well, doing a comparo, my mint 35 year old Shure V-15 III with Jico SAS kicked the pants off of my Benz Ruby 3, and Airy 3, and will give Doug Deacon's ZYX UNIverse a "real run for the money"!

It will outrack any Cartridge on the planet, and since I'm such a nice guy, I "might" let this oustanding Shure go, as a special today, just for you A'goners for the steal price of $4,000. You don't want to pass this "once in a lifetime opportunity" up! I'll even throw in another 35 year warrantee to boot! Mark
Redtop, I now see your problem. You have been listening to "ZXY" cartridges and comparing them to the Shure V15. Everyone knows that those ZXY products are not so good. Here we are talking about the ZYX product line, any of which should blow away a V15 on any kind of music, as long as the associated electronics are capable of dealing with the lower voltage signal from a ZYX. I'm joshing with you, of course, but herein may lie the reason why "this guy" and/or your brother have gotten the impression that the Shure is better. The ZYX low output moving coil cartridges deserve high quality phono electronics and excelent speakers in order to realize their potential. If we knew the preamp, amp and speakers that were used in that comparison, it might tell the tale.

The hierarchy of ZYX models (by price) is:

Airy 3
Airy 2
R100 Fuji
A zillion lower priced models you didn't ask about ;-)

All of the above use the same microridge stylus (contrary to Dan_Ed's statement), as do all ZYX models above the entry level Bloom, which uses a less costly elliptical.

All five of the above can be ordered in either Low Output (.24mv/4 ohms) or High Output (.48mv/8 ohms). There's no price difference. As I reported here (and tipped off Arthur Salvatore after I saw his unenthusiastic writeup of the HO UNIverse), the LO models substantially outperform their HO brethren. The superiority of the LO is so great that, on my advice, Mehran does not even stock HO UNIverse or Atmos (not sure about the others). Footnote: ZYX uses a non-standard test record that produces cartridge output specs much lower than what other cartridge brands would report. To get a comparative spec or for phono gain calculaton purposes, you have to multiply a ZYX output spec by 1.42, so .24mv becomes .34mv and .48mv becomes .68.

All five of the above can be ordered with gold (G), silver (S) or copper (X) coils. There's no price difference. Mehran stocks the copper and some silver, gold is special order. For all models, copper is fastest, least bloated, most natural, most revealing. Silver is slower, somewhat smoothed, a bit Koetsu-ish. Gold is slowest, quite smoothed, quite Koetsu-ish.

All five of the above can be ordered with no extra weight (cartridge weighs ~5 oz.), silver weight (SB, cartridge weighs ~9 oz.) or gold weight (GB, cartridge weighs, um, MORE than 9 oz.!). The SB costs extra, the GB costs even more. Mehran stocks the SB, GB and weight-less are both special order. Which is best depends on the tonearm. For a ZYX, the ideal setup is tonearm eff. mass + weight of cartridge + extra weight (if any) = 22-25 grams. A popular and very successful combo is TriPlanar + ZYX with SB, which works out to 11 + 9 = 20g. A bit light in theory but excellent in practice.

BTW, Oscilloscopium's theory that a ZYX likes a lighter arm because it's light itself is incorrect. Not correct in theory and not the best combo in practice. An unweighted (5g) ZYX will perform best on an arm with an eff. mass of 18-20g or so, which is nobody's idea of light.

For sonic comparisons of Airy 2, Airy 3, Atmos and UNIverse, read the reviews beneath my signature.


P.S. For interpretations of Redtop and his comments, see Dan_Ed!
I stand corrected! Thanks Doug. I sure thought that only the UNI had the micro-ridge. That is very good information to have if one ever considers a retip other than from ZYX.
Thanks, Doug, for your usual thorough and knowledgeable comment. It was your praise of the Triplanar cum UNIverse that got me started thinking about ZYX, since I use a Triplanar, too. From what I've read at the Sorasound site and above, it would appear that I would be happiest with an Atmos or UNIverse. I'm also attracted to the Airtight PC1, Dynavector DV1s (or Tae Kaitora or 17D3), Transig Orpheus, Lyra Titan. In the end, it's a bit of a crapshoot once you get into the high end of cartridges. (I have other tonearms that might accomodate some of these other cartridges.)
Doug,excellent post......I find the info quite interesting,even though not owning any of the ZYX line.Typically extensive tid-bits of useful info.

I originally thought you'd post sooner,but you must be getting ready for RMAF!!My "main" point,actually....so....

Of all the products or subjects you've spoken about in the past,I've really never been envious of "any"....

----Until NOW!!!----

BOY,do I wish I could find a way to get to Denver,this time around!!Especially after "this past year".

A close friend is lucky enough to be going,but my home needs a new paint job,amongst other things(like a not too distant wedding for my daughter)....Priorities,priorities.

Anyway,this is as good a time as any to say have a ton of fun!Take it all in,because before you know it,you'll be shoveling snow in Connecticut -:)

I agree with what Doug says about comparing ZYX Cartridge output of ZYX, versus other common brands.

This was at least my personal finding, comparing a Benz Ruby 3, at .34mv, to the Airy 3X, at .24mv output, in that they were very, very close, with the Benz appearing to have ever so slightly more gain, to be almost indistiguishable.

Of course, my previous post was a comical tongue in cheek, which I'm sure everybody took as such.

In this hobby on these various forums, there will always be those who will be proponents, detractors, axe grinders, who have agendas in which no matter how good a product may be, they will of course have a differing view. And they are entitled to such, if I feel thier findings are truthful experiences.

But, of course, without substantial evidence-proof to support such claims, this then is an easier matter to sift through which is fact, and what is fiction, and that is what most of us "try" to do in these forum's posts.

Although I haven't sampled other ZYX Cartridges to be a personal judge of thier worth-value, I've basically concluded from reading what many countless others have posted about thier various ZYX Models they've owned, that the ZYX Brand is one that deserves-commands respect, as truly outstanding Cartridges very worthy of consideration of any serious Vinylphile.

I conclude that ZYX will have an offering that will at least at minimum "compare equally", but more than likely will "favorably best" any other brand within a like price range. Although ZYX are not "cheap" Cartridges by any means, I see them as an extremely good value for the monies spent. My Airy 3X will NOT be coming out of my system anytime soon.

And I'll vouch again for Mehran, as being the very best man in the business to deal with. They don't come any better than him. Mark
I must admit that my post is evidently uncomplete and subsequently incorrect. Doug is absolutely right since I wanted to speak about light cartridge and not light mass of tonearm.
In fact I started to use Zyx with Souther SLA-3 and was nothing special, later I replace it with heavier Syrinx PU-3 (11 grams mass) and it was much much much better. Recently a friend of mine took me a Triplanar just for trying and it was another slight but audible improvement, so I'm going to this one or towards a Graham 2.2.
in the future I'll take more English lessons and edit my post before sending them.
all my best

If you go for an Atmos or UNI:

- choose LO (if you don't have enough gain or can't get impedance between 100 and 200 ohms, don't waste your money on a HO Atmos or UNI - buy a better phono stage)

- go for the SB (or GB if you're feeling flush), the unweighted will sound lightweight and bass-shy on a TriPlanar (maybe part of Redtop's problem - poor equipment matching?)

- go for copper or silver coils depending on your sonic preference (but if you choose silver I won't come over for a listen!)

The Atmos is about as demanding of setup as most other high end carts. The UNI is an order of magnitude more particular, paying big benefits from extremely fine adjustments. It's a pain or a joy, depending on your attitude. Of course as Stltrains found when he tried an Atmos after breaking his UNIverse, it isn't easy to go backwards. The extra effort is worth it.

Don't forget the magic eraser. The ZYX stylus may be #1 in the world for resolution, but it's also #1 in the world for going sonically downhill when even slightly crudded up.


Wish you could make it. Why not make the future son-in-law paint the house? He owes you, right?!

I'm hoping for lots of snow. I'm working again, so I can afford to go skiing! Think snow!!!


Don't go away. We need new voices around here. :-)


anyone considering an Orpheus should know that there is a brand new lower output model for a bit more money that is significantly more refined, on the top particularly, and still not vanishing low in the output. I've got about 25 hrs on mine and lovin' it. I haven't compared it to the upper end ZYXs.

Dealer disclosure.
Dear Lewm: If I remember you own the MP-1 from Atmasphere that if I remember too it handle both: MC and MM cartridges, right?

In that case before you put " big money " on a new MC cartridge ( any including the new Transi. ) and due the very good quality performance of your Phonolinepreamp I think that you can try a MM type cartridge, there are several options that IMHO at least even or surpass many of the MC named here.
Well are so inexpensive that you could buy almost 10 of them for the price of one MC. IMHO I think you can't loose about and you can/could enjoy something not only different but better overall.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Piedpiper,are you referring to a "newly" designed Orpheus,with lower output,and better sound?This would be nice,but I can't find any info on the Profundo web-site.

thanks, Raul. But I have searched the internet on several occasions for the MMs that you have found to be so excellent, and I have yet to find any of them for sale anywhere. If you can help me find one, I'd give it a listen. I do indeed have an MP1, but mine is heavily modified (by me), so I don't know how it compares to a current production model. As I mentioned to you privately, the phono input stage consists of a cascode built with an MAT02 NPN transistor on the bottom and now an ECC99 on top. Thus I have more gain than a standard MP1 phono stage, almost too much for an MM cartridge, but there are ways to reduce the gain if necessary.

yes this is a new design, or more accurately a new version,by special request, just shipping as of two weeks ago. Profundo's website is not typically very up to date.

I've only gotten 12 hours on my Orpheus,because I'd not been able to play it for quite some time.I had some problems,which are about to come to an end,and was looking forward to SOTA sound in a matter of days.....

Now a new Orpheus!!!

I'm gonna have to do some serious rationalizing!!

Have to admit,I'm almost sorry you posted this info. -:)

Dear Lewm: Here there are some great MM type top quality performers:






Regards and enjoy the music.

Just be glad you're not this passionate about computers.

There's also a new Airtight PC-1 Supreme for a significant premium. Haven't heard it. ...and a new Magic Diamond, which I have heard.


I love your perseverance with this angle. The desire for there to be one best way to walk down this road needs all the refreshing perspective it can get. I look forward to a time when I can explore some of the possibilities you present.
Dear Sirspeedy, Why not just enjoy the fabulous cartridge you already own? Just because there is a "newer" version does not necessarily mean it's a better version. Did Piedpiper say it was lower in output? That makes it all the more problematic for your preamp. These little tweaks on existing products are generally marketed in an effort to increase sales. But I'm sure you know all that. I am subject to the same temptations. Resist!
Dear Piedpiper: I hope you can do it sometime, IMHO it is worth the whole effort about and Piedpiper I'm not saying stop to hear/buy MC cartridge NO far from there what I'm saying is that there/here with the MM type cartridges is a positive very very interesting alternative with less and maybe better trade-offs.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Lewm,I doubt you've followed many of my posts for the last few months.

I say this with respect,and not to be defensive at all.There's a reason I say this....

My set-up has been down(in the analog domain)for almost a year.The Orpheus(which I got last Fall,and is still new) would be just fine,if I can get the damn system up again.That's why I only have 12 hrs on it,from "last" September.
I'm not the type to "have" to obtain the absolute latest figamajig,but I've not been able to do anything but "swoon" over new/fun stuff lately....There's nothing else for me to do,in "this" hobby,for now.
You misunderstood my original enthusiasm.It was enthusiastic curiosity....That's all!

I thought redtops post funny and of course theres no way the shure outperforms the zyx until I read rauls post recommending the b&o's. Ive owned the shures iii,1v and v and the b&o 1,2,and 3 I found the shure's superior to the b&o's in every way (with a variety of pres and tonearms) so by extrapolation mabey the shure would best the zyx. I also tried a zyx in my system and could have lived with it very happily (edged out by a stradivari) Your cartridge preference will have as much to do with your speakers as well as myriad other things and in fact the shure may work better in some systems.
Piedpiper,I am aware of the new Air Tight design,and have a friend who may get one.He's hinted about replacing his fabulous Titan i.

The Magic Diamond "newbie" is interesting,in that "they" never seemed to have alot of exposure in the USA.I know Loyd Walker likes these alot,and I've heard the Magic Diamond a few times,using my own Decca Classical LP's.Very nice!!

I "think" that the new Magic Diamond designs could easily be the cartridges "they" have made before,but did not sell here.Like the Virus,and another one.I believe there is also a mono design around.Could be wrong though.

This is totally conjecture on my part!!I'm only a BIG fan of "serious" analog toys.NOT an expert,by any stretch.

You can call me a "Yenta",and that would probably be a better fit -:)

IMHO, the new Orpheus Low is much better than the normal version for not much more money. I've compared the two directly. If I had the chance to do a low loss trade I'd jump on it. And the low output version is still not that low, as I said before. Most any preamp that can handle the other version with ease can do the same this one. Having said all that, I wouldn't sweat it, just bear it in mind. Of course my original mention of it was to Lewm who was considering the Orpheus.

I trust all this will be taken as informative rather than advertising. Just ask me to shush if I'm pushing the rules too much.

dealer disclosure.
Dear Rccc: Nice to see your experiences on MM type cartridges.

Just to be sure I mounted today the MMC2 in the GST-801 with a Nagaoka magnesium headshell and is an awesome performer.
My experiences on those B&O and the V15-V as you know are different from yours but our systems are different too and probably our music sound reproduction priorities too.

As I reported some where even the M97 like me in some way over the V15. The V15 sample that I owned I try it in two different tonearms and with different headshells in my Essential 3160 Phonolinepreamp loaded at 100K ( I try it at 47K too ) and 150pf ( try it with different capacitance values. ), I have no doubt: the B&O ( in my system ) works/performs better by a wide margin.

I don't try more time on the Shure because I own not only the B&O that outperform it but IMHO many other cartridges too and someone told me about the M97 and I buy it and overall performs a little better, maybe my V15 was not a very good sample I can't be sure.

Anyway the subject is to try different alternatives like you are doing it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Of course Raul, for one to try to compare a Cartridge that might be pushing 40 years old, such as a Shure V-15, regardless of how good the Cartidge was way back when, and how new the Stylus is on it currently, it would not be a worthy evaluation comparing such a Cartridge, with a new Cartridge of today.

Same would hold true, with a Dyanvector XV-1, ZYX UNIverse, Lyra Titan, 20-30 years down the road.

So, with that being said, users, such as yourself, Redtop, and countless others may in all actuality be giving truthful, accurate accounts, that would make a person like Redtop say, that "a crap Cartridge like the Shure V-15 was one valid reason analog took a mighty plunge with the advent of CD many years ago.

Of course, this is not true, and as an example, should I "hypothetically" decide to buy a used Dynavector XV-1 from a seller, a Cartridge that has recieved many accolades, just like the Shure V-15 III did many years ago, and get a poor, or damaged sample, it would then not be fair, or accurate to judge such a Cartridge, saying that the XV-1 was not as good as a "hypothetical" brand new $249 AT-150MLX, and that the XV-1 displayed "rolled off lows, and highs" such as Redtop once stated about the Shure V-15 III.

Opinions are of course like you know what, we all have them. And of course, under such circumstances, it then becomes hard to accurate judge-assess any given Cartridge.

And as you wisely point out as well, the different synergy from one system to another will have to be taken into account. Certainly, not one of us have the exact same system, with the exact same sound qualities to produce what would be a rock solid basis. And as wll, do we all possess the exact same ears, or sonic "likes". Mark
I gotta say that "back in the day" I heard many a B&O cartridge and was underwhelmed, tho I'm not certain that I ever have heard the specific model that Raul mentions. The ones I did hear cast a flattering sheen on the sound and made everything sound the same. But I certainly did not have top quality gear in those days. Still, I preferred may other cartridges to the B&Os, including Decca, Grado, ADC, to name a few. I never was crazy about the Shure V15, either.
Dear Lewm: +++++ " flattering sheen on the sound and made everything sound the same. " +++++

yes, I remember something similar.

+++++ " But I certainly did not have top quality gear in those days " +++++

me either, the ones B&O that I'm recommending have " drama " and ( Like me ) I don't think you heard it on those times.
Anyway there are a lot of first rate options.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Lewn back in the day i was a user of B&O sp 8,10 a wealth of Ortofons and of course Deccas. Like your self never a Shure fan.

On the subject though i got into the ZYX line by getting a Airy 3 second hand from Audiogon. This was a very large improvement over what i was using Dynavector 20XL. I enjoyed this fine cartridge until my inquistiveness got the best of me and i went with a UNIverse. I enjoyed its fine musical presentation for over a year and a half when mishap and bone headiness came into play. I now have over 40hrs on my replacement UNIverse. I have to say its fun to hear the break in process but breaking my seasoned UNIverse that was like losing your best friend. I did audition a Atmos and a fine performer it is. But once you have heard UNIverse in your system all bets are off. You know its a winner right out of the box.

And to make all much easier for going with ZYX is Mr Mehran one of the finest in all of audio.