some professional reviews
2018 Positive Feedback Brutus Award just received. "What amazing clarity! What tonal balance and impressive neutrality! What well-integrated harmonics, with a transparent presentation that made every album that I listened to for six weeks simply stand revealed for what it was! Frankly, I fell in love with what the ZYX UOX was doing, with nary a quibble or objection in hearing. This cartridge floated neutrality in all of its glory, without making it obnoxious…not a hint of the analytical, no glare, no midrange hump, no gush or lush…just analogical greatness.....It’s definitely in the front rank of my top-o’-the-heap phono cartridges. If you can afford the scratch, this is one that you should snatch!." -- David W. Robinson
a few excerpts from from Richard Mak's Part Time Audiophile review
he is using a lower output special version..
The UNIverse line of cartridge has certainly come a long way since the early days of the UNIverse I, which I find somewhat lacking in midrange body and warmth, but each UNIverse model has successively improved over the previous, with the Premium having the best qualities in the entire Universe lineup. But when the Optimum is combined with the CH P1 current input, the mid-range magic has definitely reached a new peak. As I play record after record from Johnny Cash’s song “Hurt” (American IV: The Man Comes Around), to Joan Baez’s rendering of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” (Farwell Angelina, Cisco VSD-79200), to Emmylou Harris and Don Williams’ rendering of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” (Cimarron, Warner Bros Records BSK-3603), to Of Monster & Men’s “Organ” (Beneath The Skin, Republic Records472742-5), to Giuseppe di Stefano’s rendering of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma in Turnadot” (Operatic Recital, DECCA SXL2111), the midrange richness of the Optimum is capable of delivering wave after wave of human emotions rivaling that of the Kondo IOM. The Kondo IOM has long been my cartridge of choice when it comes to conveying human emotions, very few can rival the IOM save perhaps a couple of the stone body Koetsus, but the Koetsus has their own limitations with frequency extensions. Never have I ever imagined that the day will come where I could compare a UNIverse with a Kondo IOM, yet this is exactly what the ZYX UNIverse Optimum is capable of doing. The Kondo and the Optimum differ only in shades and colors, with the Kondo being more voluptuous and laid back, and the Optimum more forward but with greater sense of realism. ..
I wish to close this review with two warnings for potential buyers of the ZYX UNIverse Optimum 1Ω Special Edition. First, you must have a phono stage with a high enough gain to handle super low output cartridge (such as the CH current input Phono stage), otherwise stick with the higher output regular 4Ω version of the Optimum. Secondly, be prepared to spend $17,000 dollars, otherwise it would be best not to listen to the ZYX UNIverse Optimum unless if you want to suffer from “Audiophile Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”. The Optimum has definitely rocked the boat of my arsenal of top cartridges.
Has it demoted any of the aforementioned top cartridges in my possession, prompting me to sell off any of them? No it has not, because like fine wine, each of them has earned their rightful place with the proper food pairings and atmospheres, depending on the music I am playing, I’d know exactly which cartridge to choose. Has the ZYX UNIverse Optimum 1Ω Special Limited Edition established itself as the new reference low output cartridge at the Mak’s residence? The answer to this question is an affirmative Yes. It is now the new reference standard for me, by which all future cartridges will be judged against.