ZYX R 1000 Sigma X - thoughts, comments, reviews

Have an opportunity to purchase a ZYX R 1000 Sigma X cartridge and have not been able to find much information on the cartridge. Most forum threads and reviews are about the UNIverse. Have searched the Sorasound sight with no luck. Finally went to the Japanese distributor sight, Sibatech and was able to find out a little bit more info. On their sight they list the Airy 3, Cosmos 4 series, and the Sigma. My question is the UNIverse the same as the Sigma? Or is the UNIverse the same as the 4 series? Anyone familiar with the sound of the Sigma, or know of any reviews? My analog system consists of Clearaudio Maximum with Graham 2.3. Cables are Siltech Avalon and Compass Lake with Brinkman phono amp. Preamp and Amps are JRDG Coherence 1 and heavily modified Model 7's. Speakers are SF Guanari Mememto's with Siltech Emperor. This cartridge would supplement a Benz Micro M2. Thanks for your thoughts/comments.
The Sigma was a diamond cantilevered model that predated the development of the UNIverse. It's rarely made or sold any more because the UNIverse outplays it (according to Nakatsuka-San) while being less expensive.

The 4D (I'm unaware of any other "4" model) is the same cartridge as the Atmos. Atmos is sold in the USA by SoraSound, 4D is sold in other markets by dealers who purchase from other distributors. There's no technical difference, just the name for marketing purposes.

The 4D/Atmos not the same as the UNIverse. Read the reviews of both cartridges beneath my signature.
Thanks for the response Dougdeacon. Read your review of the UNIverse and it sounds wonderful. Question for you is depending upon price, would you go for a UNI or a Sigma. Audiogon classifieds have the UNI listed at $7,500 with selling for $5,000. If you could get a Sigma for around the same price of $5,000 would you? Again, do you know of any reviews of the Sigma cartridge and what would you think are the major differences in sound? Thanks for your thoughts.

I've never heard the Sigma myself and don't know anyone who has. Never even saw a review. It disappeared before I reached this level of insanity.

It had a list price of $10K when it was discontinued 4-5 years ago. That could be driving that $5K asking price. What's it "really" worth? Only you and the seller can decide. ;-)

FWIW, you'll have to pry my UNIverse from my cold dead pinkies (and you'd still have to fight off my partner). Here are some considerations I'd be thinking about:

- Nakatsuka-san believes the UNIverse is better (though his sonic priorities do differ from mine, and maybe from yours)

- there's no price difference, and the UNIverse would come with a full warranty and Mehran's unparalleled customer service

-there's a pretty active community of UNIverse owners here and elsewhere who'll share tips (it's the most responsive/sensitive cartridge I know, with very narrow sweet zones for VTF, VTA, antiskating and azimuth and very high rewards for getting everything right)

Here's one unwelcome tip: the UNIverse deserves a better arm than any Graham short of the new Phantom. Not that it won't play and play well on a 2.x, as your Benz undoubtedly does now, but you won't get anywhere near its full capabilites. More upgrades to look forward to!
Thanks again Dougdeacon,

You pretty much answered the way I thought. Is there ever an end to upgrading one's system? Somehow this audio sickness we all have seems to be a self fullfilling prophecy. We upgrade one component only to have to upgrade another to get the best out of each one. ARGGHHH!!

Budget and common sense needs to play a role. I have spent the last 4 years upgrading my system, which was 20 plus years old when I started the upgrade process. Have reached a point were I am very satisfied with everything and only wanted to upgrade the cartridge. Have been fortunate to usually upgrade with demo's which really helps with the cost.

Its nice to hear something can be improved upon and come out at a lower price.

I forgot to add that I also have a REL Studio III to complement the Guarneri's.

Will take your thoughts, and any others, under advisement and make my decision.

Any thoughts on an arm upgrade now that you brought it up?

For a top level ZYX it's hard to beat a TriPlanar VII. Several have reported good results with the Graham Phantom also, but I haven't heard myself.

Thom Mackris of Galibier turntables likes to say, whichever arm you're most comfortable setting up and adjusting may be best, especially at this level, since exacting setup can make the difference between good sound and HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP! good sound. :-)

For something other than a ZYX, it depends on the cartridge. Matching arm to cartridge is vital in helping to delay that NEXT upgrade.

Like you, we're in year 4-5 of an unexpected adventure. "The road goes ever, on and on. Watch your step going out of that door Frodo. There's no telling where you may be swept off to." At least our tonearm and cartridge (and preamp) adventures are settled. We've heard nothing better that we can afford - and many things we can't afford and would never want to! ;-)

As my preamp/amp designer says, tolerate equipment, enjoy music!

Couldn't agree with you more on Gandalf's wisdom. Yes, it is all about enjoying the music! And I have been at that. Never really appreciated how good audio equipment could sound and by that the music produced from said equipment could sound until I went down the upgrade path. Have been startled and pleasently surprised. For me the biggest improvement in sound has been the upgrade in cables. I know many think Siltech are overpriced but boy once you have heard the difference it is hard to accept anything else.

For now I think I will stay with my Clearaudio and Graham. I have only had them for about a year and a half and am enjoying them immensely. I think I will pull the trigger on the cartridge as I know I need an upgrade there. I am getting a good warranty and price on the Sigma. I may not get the most out it but know the potential and it will be an improvement over what I have.

Next line of improvements will be my CD player and my Reel to Reel. Have been a long time user/fan of R-to-R and enjoy recording tapes and just pressing play. Its also much easier to make tapes and edit than it is to make cd's from vinyl. Additionally am very interested in the Tape Project and will be taking out a subscription shortly. Will need to update my Otari for the tapes but it will be worth it.

Thanks again for your comments. Audiogon is a great sight and has been extremely helpful with my upgrade journey.
First, I'd like saying at least provide us your first name at the end of your posts, don't be bashful, we're basically a very kind, close knit bunch here! :-)

Doug's gonna give you straight-forward, accurate, and basically a non-biased advice. IMO, he's one of the very best contributors here, and he has immensely helped me over the past year. He knows his beeswax, and he's also a kind considerate man.

I'm sure you found out some about this Cartridge, that I assume it posseses a Pure Diamond Rod Cantilever.
Great maybe for bragging rights, but as Doug, (and the master in Japan) says, your money might be better spent with the UNIverse? Or?

Although I of course, living in the "Land of Enchantment", where 95% of people don't even know who McIntosh, Krell, or Mark levinson is, buy thier audio goodies from Wally World, I'd like saying this.....

A system, no matter how good, will only ever give a glimpse at what we hope to hear, or try to remember.

That special concert we once attended, and got goosebumps. To see out favorite Artists perform, blow our minds, and we try to remember back, and we try to get re-involved, and enraptured.

It is our escape, our joy, our relaxation, out little "corner of the world", which we all hold sacred, and dear.

Like an amateur Astronomer, trying to squeeze every last bit from his/her prize, very costly instrument, using the very best, rare Zeiss Orthoscopic Eyepieces, Dew Heaters, precision Mounts, mirrors, and lenses with 1/20 Wave accuracy, we try to step back to those special moments.

I've been very happy with my Airy 3X SB that Doug Suggested I try. Mehran made it happen here in the USA, and he is superb to deal with.

As I close, the important criterion I believe to consider, is, address the weak points in your audio system. Room acoustics, placement, speakers, and other downline components are just as important.

What good is a $10,000 Cartridge, if the rest of your system cannot showcase it? Best of luck! Mark

Thanks Mark for your response. Couldn't agree more. Room acoustics and set up are key. Also agree that I am not concerned with having a $10,000 cartridge. My whole philosophy with the upgrading has been what does it sound like, will I notice the difference, will it improve my system and is it worth the price. My guiding principle in all things I purchase is quality. I will wait and spend the extra dollars for something that is well made, well supported, and backed by the manufacturer/seller.

Thanks for your thoughts on signing my name. Wasn't sure about the etiquette for doing so on this sight. Have really enjoyed reading all the posts on Audiogon and the advice given.

Thanks to everyone,
Heh. I actually advised Mark NOT to upgrade to an Airy 3, since I thought (and still think) that it's overkill for his table and arm.

But he ignored me and he's happy. Cogito, ergo erro!

David/All, Well truthfully, Doug had concerns that an AQ Unipivot Arm would be able to control any possible wooliness that the Airy 3X might display. I had real concerns as well if the compliance of the Arm, and it's design would let the Airy 3 operate like it is supposed to.

I didn't find the Airy 3 to be quite so sensitive to VTA adjustments, as it's played quite well not getting to particular in this rrgard, but I did notice VTF settings were sensitive, particularly when the Cartridge was fresh from the Box (a nice Box BTW)

I found due to the bvery high quality of this Cartridge, that stricter attention needed to be paid to precise VTF, and as wll, critical alignment.

The Turtable Basics Protractor that Doug initially suggested many months ago was good, and better than probably many more expensive Tractors, but the Mintlp Protractor, which many have found to be a godsend from Yip in HK, to be the cat's meow.

As I found out before the hard way in the past, one wishes to be cool, and perhaps dial in a prescribed VTF setting, and think that "Oh, Joe Smith says 1.83g is working killer with his Airy 3", and let me try the same, and see what happens?

That setting might be fine for a broken in ZYX Airy, but it wan't fine for my new one at first. I went through the bit of mechanical sound for a few hours, and then noted what appeared to be distortion-sibilance from mistracking. S's sound raw, raspy, edgy, distorted, lacked purity, and solidity.

I then went to 1.93g, and it was better, and then tried an even 2.0g for the heck of it, and it seemed all rawness vanished, and the meager AQ PT-8 (now a new AQ PT-9 on board) was able to "handle" this cartridge.

I also suspect the money, and time spent (almost 2 hours setup) with the Mintlp Tractor was a very wise one. In time, I will probably be able to start to cautiously-carefully back off on VTF, with even more improvements, when the time is right.

My previous Cartridge, the Benz Ruby 3, was very nice, smooth, clean, pure, but I do enjoy the qualities the Airy 3 has brought. Mark