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

Last Sunday i finally took the time to compare three cartridges; my Dynavector XV-1s (.24mv output), a friends ZYX Universe (.24mv output) and my vdH Colibri (.85mv output) with the darTZeel preamp and phono stage in battery power.

Some background. in a post from my system thread i describe the path that brought me to be experimenting with various cartridges. that post also raves about listening to battery power with the darTZeel phono stage. i promised to compare the Dynavector and ZYX to the Colibri on battery power.

so that is what i did.

the darTZeel preamp has plenty of gain (62db in the phono stage and 20 db in the gain stage of the pre itself) so even with the relatively low output of the Dynavector and ZYX there are no gain issues at all, i only needed to go to about 2 o'clock on the volume attenuator for very high volume with the 95db efficient VR9 speakers. in battery mode the darTZeel phono stage is extremely quiet; so the normal advantage the Colibri has over other cartridges with lower gain is considerably reduced.

the darTZeel phono stage is set with 100ohm loading that seemed to work well with all the cartridges but is not ideal. i know that the Colibri likes about 400-500 ohms ideally; and from what i understand the Dynavector and ZYX both are ok (if not ideal) around 100 ohms.

the Dynavector is pretty new and only has maybe 30 hours on it; so it has not yet openned up completely. i am told the ZYX is fully broken in......and my Colibri is most definitly broken in.

i am very familiar with the setup parameters of the Colibri. i run it with the arm slightly down at the back, and track it at 1.45 grams as measured by my ALM-01 Winds Electronic Stylus Pressure Gauge. with the Rockport there is no anti-skate issues.

i ran the Dynavector XV-1s at 2.70 grams and slightly down in the rear of the arm.......and the ZYX Universe at 1.95 grams and the arm level.

i had played around previously with the Dynavector for my 30 hours and had had the Universe in the system for about a week prior to get it dialed in. so i had a reasonably good idea of setup on each cartridge.

the Rockport does make it easy to switch cartridges very quickly as all you need to do is change the counterweight to the proper one for the weight of that particular cartridge. then adjust the arm length for exact stylus position (there is a groove in the platter that you sight the stylus exactly inside for perfect position), rotate the arm for visual azimuth (i can get it very very close to perfect), and set your VTF. in practice about a 20 minute job if you already know the VTF you want.

so i was able to first listen to the Colibri, switch quickly to the Universe, listen again, then switch quickly to the XV-1s, and listen again.

before i get into what i heard on Sunday i want to describe my perceptions of how the Dynavector and ZYX compared when i the Universe first arrived from my friend. for reasons described in the previous post i had purchased the Dynavector as an alternative to my Colibri and it had been in my system for about 6 weeks. i had been using my Lamm LP2 Delux phono stage with the Placette passive RVC and Tenor 300 watt Hybrid monoblocks. i liked the Dynavector; compared to the Colibri it was less exciting, less on the edge, less vivid and immediate and less explosive......OTOH although it had a little color it was fairly neutral, always natural, very involving and had very good detail if not quite like the Colibri. more of my favorite music was enjoyable compared to the Colibri.

when i installed the ZYX Universe my first impression was of slightly less smoothness and naturalness compared to the Dynavector but more of the excitement of the Colibri. i played some of the Lps that had been on the edge with the Colibri and the ZYX was more natural and under control yet considerably more exciting than the Dynavector.

on the Lamm/Placette/Tenor my initial impressions were that these were simply two good cartridges that had different perspectives. as i listened more to the ZYX i could never really get fully involved into the music as i had felt with the Dynavector or especially the Colibri. why? i'm not exactly sure. it was like i wasn't hearing as far into the music as i liked. nothing was missing from the 'checklist' but i wasn't fulfilled.

the Lamm has 57.5 db of gain, has 400 ohm loading, and is extremely quiet. it has a very slight warmth, just to the dark side of neutral; but has a textural richness and refinement that i have not heard from any other phono stage (until dart battery power). it should be an ideal match for the ZYX.

so that was how it was before i tried battery power (as described in my previous post). i hope this makes sense up to this point.

now to the three cartridge comparison.

first the Colibri. the Colibri can be a 'train wreck'. it breaks all the rules. the barrel and canteliver are out of algnment with the cartridge 'body'......so setting asthimuth you ignore the body and just align the cateliver and stylus. i have owned 3 Colibris and they are all different yet all inconsistent. they can have any length canteliver a customer wants, gold windings, copper windings, wood bodies, polycarbonite bodies.......they have such little play in their suspensions that they can 'buzz' on certain edgy types of music. they are the Formula 1 cars of cartridges. the Colibri is so immediate, so explosive, yet so natural and so incisive that if all elsewhere is not about perfect.....you will know it and there will be a problem.

OTOH when all is right the Colibri is magnificent.

long story made short; with the battery powered dart phono stage in my system; the Dynavector and especially the ZYX are not nearly in the class of the Colibri. as the system improves, the lead of the Colibri gets larger.

i used tracks on 7 Lps for this comparison.

1.Muddy Waters 'Folk Singer', 'Good Morning School Girl', Classic reissue.

the Colibri here made the guitar plucks real and there. the whole musical sense was vivid and immediate. there was not a sense of the recording chain.....just some guys doing their thing. totally involving. each note dripped with reality. brilliant colors in the vocals and guitar overtones. ALIVE.

with the Universe it sounded great, nothing missing, satisfying. but; the guitar pluck was not as vivid, the colors were less vivid, there was overall a bit of haze that only compared to the Colibri was evidant. maybe no other cartridge would expose that issue. the decay of notes was reduced which reduced the overall involvement. sounded like a different pressing. NOT ALIVE.

on the Dynavector this was more different. less energy, less edge. transients were softened. smoother and warmer. very nice. a great sense of ease but too buttoned down for me. this track should boggie. excellent bloom and note decay.

2. The Royal Ballet, side one, Classic 33rpm reissue.

Colibri; spooky good. i don't want to stop. an 'oh my god' about every 30 seconds. i try to critically listen but it's hard.....i just want to close my eyes and forget about everything. about the best reproduced strings i have ever heard. such a sense of venue, the 'subway' and 'buses' outside seem real. where am i?

ZYX Universe; a different realm......reproduced music. very good.....but less of everything. very, very good. specifically, less separation of instruments, less delicacy
and less clarity. the effortlessness of the Colibri in sorting out the complex textures is missing.

Dynavector; not the detail or energy of the Colibri but very natural. slightly veiled but warm and inviting. not
wholey real but still much beauty. good flow and pulse of the music.

it's getting late; i will continue tomorrow morning or evening as time permits.

the Dynavector and ZYX are excellent cartridges that by themselves are rightly considered SOTA. just because i hear what i hear doesn't invalidate anyone else's perspectives.

so as not to attract too many flames i want to clearly state that i limit my comments to my specific system and setup choices. there are many varibles i have not or cannot address; arms, cartridge loading, breakin, taste, settleing in. i did not do the tiny tweaking of these cartridges that one does over time to dial them in just right. OTOH the differences that i heard are considerable and not subtle.

it just one guys opinion on one particular system on one particular day.

with that said; flame away.
Very interesting, Mike. Can you comment on the sonic variations (if any) of your 3 Colibris? I've wondered about inconsistency because of Frank Peraino's negative experience with his Colibri.
Nice review.

How does the vdH Colibri compare to your Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum (RSP)? Also, have you tried some of the upper end Koetsu's. In my experience there is a surprising improvement to be gained even above the excellent RSP.

Thanks for the thorough comparison. One question: do you know which UNIverse your friend has that you were listening to?

- coils: copper, silver or gold?
- optional headhsell weight: silver, gold or none?

Mike,having now re-read your compelling observations,I'd like to make a point or two,not that this is any surprise,if you've come to know me.

Firstly,thank GOD you were honest,and didn't write a "Suck-UP" thread.As an example,check out the most recent Cartridge comparison,on Pos Feedback!!I guess the reviewer wants to keep the doors open.

Secondly,you did mention this,so I know you are aware of it,yet the cartridge loading issue can completely turn around your observations regarding your "SO-SO" comments regarding the ZYX Universe.I have not heard one,though I should hear one soon,like in a week.Actually you did mention you thought it was superb,yet after such "over the top" accolades the Univ. has gotten in web forums,I expected a better result from you.Thanks for your honesty,at least.

Thirdly,and this is sort of a question.I love the extra customer service offered by Van den Hul,and have always been fascinated by his designs,and experience,yet have heard that they are(makes no sense to me,actually)unreliable.Can you speak to this,at some future point?

Lastly(as my wife is nagging at me to get off the computer),in reality,as we all know,there is really no best of anything.I,personally,love a ton of audio components,in different categories.I could probably put together a dozen differing systems(solid state,or tubed)that I could love.Cartridges clearly fit into this category,yet since they are so small(NO hernia,here),and DO impact the character of a system,it is really fun to play around,before settling in to just one,or six(as so many of you do).

Best regards!
I must be one of the unlucky ones as my colibri is the worst cartidge i have, you would think an enfant had made it, it is such a DIY. I have tried everything even running in past 500hrs, it was mounted on the kuzma airline so no issues there. Even the 901 beats it hands down!!
Interesting cartridges to compare. Wish the experiment had been more apples-to-apples across the board in terms of output, appropriate loading, and proper setup.
Mike, hats off too you! Actually with a review soo difficult, my hat, toupee, and shirt are off to you! It's not pretty!

There cannot be a more difficult review to perform than a series of cartridges

Very interesting results. I would have enjoyed to hear it, but would have hated to do the work. I have wondered how the Dynavector compared to the UNIverse, and the Cloibri was a good reference.

I guess based on some of the responses, you cannot do enough for other people, but thanks for getting the ball rolling.

Which one will be your current reference?

That Positive Feedback comparison was made using a silver-coiled ZYX. (He didn't specify so I inquired.) Unfortunately this reduces the value of his effort.

Vetterone, Cello and I all reported here - weeks ago - that the silver coiled UNIverse rolls off leading edge transients and slurs microdynamics, exactly what the PF reviewer heard. If he wanted a fast, fully dynamic and neutral sounding ZYX he should reviewed the copper coiled UNIverse. That would have been a more interesting and useful comparison.

I'm actually hoping MikeLavigne also heard a silver coiled UNIverse. Otherwise I may have to go buy a Colibri! That's why I asked. My bank account awaits his answer with some interest.

hi Guys, thanks for your kind words. before i continue with my 'ramble' i'll try to answer/comment on your posts.


the UNIverse was copper coiled and had the silver headshell weight.


yes, i have compared the Colibri to my much-loved Koetsu RSP. the RSP is pure 'butta'......and surprisingly dynamic and alive. the Colibri leaves the RSP in the dust in most areas.

i have not listened to my RSP for about three years. i should listen again. i still think the RSP is a magical cartridge with the proper low noise/high gain phono stage. i'll bet the darTZeel preamp will prove a great match with the RSP.

the cartridge that needs to be compared to the RSP is the Dynavector XV-1s. the question would be......does the Koetsu have more magic in the mids and more bloom than the XV-1s? i guess i could answer that question when i'm again in the mood for another round.


what loading seems to be ideal for the UNIverse? and how does 100ohms compare sonically to that ideal load?

your point is well taken. unfortunately; the timing of the opportunity to compare these cartridges left me with no other choice regarding loading.

BTW, i didn't really hear much character difference from the UNIverse between the 400ohm loaded Lamm LP2 and the 100ohm loaded dart.

i do think set-up was pretty close to ideal; but nothing substitutes for extended tweaking. the Rockport allows for dynamic VTA adjustments so it was quite easy to find the sweet spot. in addition; it is likely that the Rockport allows for optimal circumstances for most cartridges considering vaccuum hold-down and extremely low noise floor. OTOH one might have different results with less ideal conditions.


thanks. i was looking forward to your comments and glad you weighed in.

my feelings were same as yours. i'd read the raves on the UNIerse and was quite curious. really; what i heard was impressive and not disappointing. of course, i've not completed my story yet or detailed my conclusion.

i do tell it like it is......and sometimes regret it. i try to explain the limitations of any listening i do and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. to me that has more value than watered down comments.

in any case; there is only context......not absolutes.
further comments regarding Colibri questions;

Tafka Steve;

yes, Frank Peraino had some frustrations with his Colibri.

to explain, you need to understand that some Colibri's have very short cantelivers and then the canteliver is attached to very low hanging windings. not all arms can deal with the height required to raise the back enough to have proper clearance.

my Rockport has plenty of height adjustment as well as vaccuum hold down; so warped records don't cause any problem for me with that lack of clearance. the Colibri also tracks very lightly, 1.35--1.50 grams. so you have light tracking and very little clearance.

add to that issue the fact that the Colibri is soo on the edge that if one's taste runs to slightly warm; or the Lp's that you mainly listen to are already edgy.....the whole picture becomes marginal.

Frank finally sold his Colibri and bought my Clearaudio Insider Gold. just prior to this time Frank had 6 months of grief with a 'screwed up' Rockport Sirius II tt......so he just wanted to listen and not deal with any more hassel.

the 3 Colibri's i have owned were 2 different XCP's with .85mv output (one i still have which was the subject of my post) and my XGW .65mv output (which i also still have). an XCP means Polycarbonite body, copper windings and XGW means gold windings and mytlewood body. the 'X' means that it has an expanded mounting body......the first Colibri's were real featherweights and were difficult to get to work with most medium compliance arms. the 'x' series will work with most arms.

my two XCP's sounded identical......my post describes it. the XGW is similar except there is less explosiveness and more a sense of ease. there is a little more bloom and organic color.....but only slightly more.

i only used my XGW for two weeks three years ago......i was addicted to the excitment of the XCP and could not live without it. it is a great sounding cartridge and is likely more synergistic with more systems than the XCP.

the more i think about the XGW.....i need to revisit it.

what i need is 34 hour days so i can answer posts and listen to vinyl. i wish i typed faster.


serious comparisons are a bit of work and not particularly looked forward to. what makes them fun is not knowing how they will turn out. i usually learn something whenever i seriously focus on comparing gear.

my current system can reveal differences that i may have never heard in the past.

a good thing? depends on your perspective.

there is no doubt; the vdH Colibri XCP is my reference cartridge. i look forward to future comparisons.
Tangram and Sirspeedy; addressing quality control and customer service issues regarding the Colibri's.

IMHO Mr. vdH likely knows more than most cartridge designers about what is important to performance. of course; that is just my opinion.

his products are less 'slick' in their construction typically from other SOTA cartridges i have seen. specifically, the Colibri's are so simple and direct. when you look at a picture (click here ) of the Colibri you see that it is all business, with nothing added.

i copied the following details from the vdH website to avoid my screwing up of the whats and whys. this describes some differences between the Colibri and Grasshopper 'Beauty'.


"By minimizing and adapting the cartridge’s total magnetic circuit the related distortion and noise have undergone a considerable decrease. This opens up many subtle sound details that never have been heard before; Especially the decay of instrument sounds now stands out much more clearly in the music’s totality.
Due to the minimization of the cartridge’s total magnetic circuit the cartridge’s mass has been reduced. Together with the possibility to tune the cartridge’s static compliance on special customer demand it is now possible to use very light tonearms whilst maintaining a very good tracking ability.
By removing the frontpole is has been possible to apply an even shorter cantilever; This further improves the groove-modulation-transduction’s directness and accuracy.
Due to the minimal magnetic design the output voltage has slightly reduced."


just as in a race car where everything has been eliminated that was not essential the Colibri is reduced to bare essentials. it puts more demands on everything in a system to measure up to it's cutting edge.

the cartridge is quite fragile and the canteliver is out there for any bad thing that comes along to bump it or snag it. there is no 'stylus guard' as there is no body to attach it to. looking at the cartridge it looks intimidating to mount since there is not 'protection'.

the Colibri's i have seen do not have perfect alignment between the body and the canteliver. no matter that it only matters that the canteliver and windings are properly aligned some users are put off by that as other SOTA cartridges are typically quite close to perfectly aligned (although so far none do what the Colibri can do to my ears).

as far as customer service; other than the typical shipping hassels to Europe i have not had any issues. i would say that each Colibri is unique as the length of the cantelivers seem to vary from one to another. is that a positive or a negative?

i was suppose to return my XCP to vdH for a tune-up at 300 hours but never have. maybe i should do that and it will sound even better.
here is a picture of;

my 2 Colibri's, XGW on the left, XCP on the right

note the out of alignment barrel compared to the mounting housing; the XCP appears more out of alignment due to the angle of the picture.
Dear Mike: First than all: it is very grateful to read the findings of a top cartridges evaluation that was made in a full high resolution audio system ( great, great audio system you have. Congratulations !!!!): nothing can hide.

The Colibri is a stellar cartridge but a pain in the ass till we can understand it. We need a lot of patience and know-how.

Mine is in a policarbonite bodie an is the very low output 0.18mv type. The other Colibri that I own ( in the past ) was a 0.65mv that I sold it because I prefer the very low output version: this one is the cartridge type that is not telling you " I'm here ".
Before any one can make a serious evaluation of the Colibri cartridges, we have to wait at least 200 hours of play on it and then send back to VDH for a him-self last " touch ", when the Colibri return to you and only then: you will know why I say that this cartridge is a " stellar one ". This " last touch " is for free, you only do the shipping payment to VDH.

Mike it is unfortunatelly that the XV-1 had only 30 hours of use and, in my opinion, that was set up at 2.7grs on VTF. Why?: this is an e-mail that I run directly to Dynavector and the answer from the Dynavector Technical Director:

At 01:09 05/08/31, you wrote:
>Dear friends: I own the awesome XV-1 and a DV-505 too. I read somewhere that this cartridge have a better performance if we use a VTF of 2.7 gr.
>Before I change to this VTF I would like to know if this high VTF don't compromise: a centered coils, tracking, suspension degradation on the long run, etc, etc.
>What do you think about? I really appreciate your advise. It is very important to me.
>Best regards.

Dear Raul,

Thank you for your using DV products.

DV cartridges can secure sufficient performance when using recommended tracking force motioned on the manual. It is true that Higher tracking force can improve the tracking performance at the high amplitude track of the record but too higher tracking force might cause the problem with frequency response as upper side of the damper rubber is compressed by the coil bobbin and downside of the damper rubber is detach from the coil bobbin.

We advise 2.5g would be reasonable maximum tracking force for the XV-1s.

Tracking ability of the XV-1s is slightly changed by room temperature. It means that when you use the cartridge in cold room, you should increase tracking force a little than the XV-1s recommended tracking force of 2.0g, when you use cartridge in hot room you should decrease tracking force.

Hopefully it could be helpful to you.

Best regards,

Masaaki Sasa
Sales and Technical director
Dynavector Systems Ltd.

Mike I respect you experience, dedication and love for the music and for the audio hobby, but I differ on my own findings with yours: the XV-1 is a lot better that your findings, it does not have the inmediacy and explosiveness of the Colibri but; for me in my system for my music priorities, it has all the >Colibri characteristics in a more natural way.
It is a very hard choice, here it is only which one fit better with our music priotities: that's all. There is no winner, both are winners.

Maybe I differ in my findings because my XV-1 is fully broke-in, I use between 2.4 and 2.5 grs and is mated with the best match/tonearm that I can find for it till today ( and of course a different audio room/system )

About the ZYX, everybody know my opinion about ( that you confirm ): no more comments on it.

Tks for share your valuable evaluation with these top performers cartridges.
For me, your thread is a confirmation of my experiences and give me a new light for further analog findings. Tks again.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Doug,if the silver coiled UNIV is not a top performer,and significantly bettered by the copper coiled one,I wonder why it is sold,especially at these prices.Though,in this hobby,nothing really surprises me anymore.

Mike,I don't understand why you would have expected any vehement responses to your post.Unless the responder was totally self absorbed,and cannot realize the effort you have made to educate some of us.I reiterate "SOME" of us,as it's human nature to rationalise observations not to our likings.

The loading issue is STILL a "Big Deal" though,yet your post's "Read" was,to me,more enjoyable than ANY recent cartridge survey,in any audio journal.That being said,I think you will be able to handle any "Flame" comments.Like I've stated,in the past,if you've taken a look around at "US" audiophiles,at hi fi shows,we don't seem to be too intimidating.More nerdly,but nice!

Now for the real WEAK LINK in your comments----A weakness SO overwhelming that even you, Mike,will not be able to defend this.This,of course,will keep all of "US" from obtaining audio nirvana.It is--------------------The indisputable fact that none of the cartridges mentioned,and compared had body materials,or parts,made of "Something Petrified"!"Something From another Galaxy"!"Something that NO other cartridge maker can obtain,which adds that MUST HAVE cache to a product"!They were all too plebian!Simply great performers,which isn't enough,to SO many of the "Clueless" horde!

BTW-I know of a new SOTA design coming,which will feature "Fossilized Cracker Jacks" as a body material!You will also get a prize,in every box.Can't wait to hear about that one!!
BTW--I forgot to mention that the picture of the two "Spartan Looking" Colibris was a thing of beauty,to me!!
How do you rough in the VTA on the Colibri? Just start with the arm parallel to the platter+record?

Thanks for the thorough followups. The photo of your Colibris makes your analogy to a race car seem very apt. All business, no nonessential parts, a purist's machine indeed. Assuming good components and execution, and given proper setup and playing conditions, it truly ought to offer unmatched dynamics and transparency.

Continuing the car analogy, the ZYX and Miyabi seem more like world class sports cars. A top Ferrari or Porsche will outperform almost anything on the street, but on a racetrack they'd have no chance against a F1 race car.

Of course the reverse is also true, as you wisely pointed out. A F1 race car would be literally undriveable on some real-world roads. A short-cantilevered cartridge with nude, low-slung coils could indeed have a problem navigating warps. Center clamps and weights do nothing for pinch warps, nor can they flatten the LP rim when playing the concave side of many dish warps. Vacuum or (perhaps) a periphery clamp might be required to make certain records playable with such a cartridge.

I'm looking forward to your detailed performance notes. Many thanks again for taking the time.
Dear Mike: Btw, the only 30 hours on your XV-1 is a good notice because that means that you should wait for further improvements in the quality sound reproduction of this great Dynavector cartridge.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Mike. U need the clearaudio goldfinger. the importer of Wilson in Australia has one on his rockport and he says it is amazing. at 18gms it is very heavy.
Smokester; to set VTA on the Colibri i first set VTF at 1.45 grams on my Winns guage with the arm as level as possible. i then drop it a full turn on my Rockport arm height dial. this is my starting point.

from here i go by sound. the Colibri XCP is dynamic as hell and stages like a demon pretty much whatever you do. the issue is always top end openness and air balanced by keeping on the natural side of any edge. i have a few Lps i can throw on with passages that can get edgy. i play those and move the height dial slowly down a little until it either gets worse or better; listening for that 'G' spot. i then repeat going the other way to find the spot. i then adjust for pressing thickness by a quarter turn either way depending on whether i'm in the 'mood' or not.

the reason i purchased the Dynavector XV-1s was that with my system changes over the last year i had reached a point where i could not 'find' that point on some of my Lps where the Colibri sounded natural. i went thru about 60 days of trying various set-up approaches, cleaning regimins, and speaker adjustments. at that point i bought the Dynavector and it was very good; involving and well balanced even brand new.

the solution came when i finally inserted the darTZeel preamp. i had done a few other changes that had likely moved me closer to where i needed to be for the Colibri to work; but during that time the Dynavector and then the ZYX was in the system.

the Colibri had been telling me the truth about where my system was then......and where it is now.
Doug, i'm glad you enjoyed my analogy......and i liked your way of continuing it.

i took those pictures of my 2 Colibri's 3 years ago when i was complaining to vdH about the mis-alignment of the barrel with the body of my Colibri's. vdH simply said align off the canteliver; the body alignment is of no consequence.

after listening it was hard to argue as the Colibri's smoked anything i had heard. it is interesting that we audiophiles sometimes get hung up on appearances. it takes a good amount of convincing to get us to just listen (it did for me back then).

BTW, the Miyabi is one cartridge i want to hear at some point as i have heard it is very special.


my 'flame' comment had to do with the fact that my set-up (cartridge loading) was not ideal and i was speaking plainly about very popular products with very loyal owners. in retrospect my concerns were unfounded; as the participants in this thread are seekers like me.

i do have a cartridge coming made of 'un-obtainium'.......which i could tell you all about but then i'd have to kill you.....

thanks. i have always admired your dedication to the pursuit of analog high performance; and many times looked at your system page and came away amazed at the dazzeling arrray of cartridges, turntables and such that you have. your room is like the center of the analog world.

yes; each Colibri needs much feeding and care; it will then grow into a beast. i do need to send mine back to vdH for the tuneup. with my current phono stage i may look around for a low-output Colibri like yours; thanks for the heads up.

i am aware of the VTF issues on the XV-1s. most of the 30 hours so far has been at 2.45 grams but for the comparison i did increase it as it seemed more 'alive' at that VTF (2.70 grams). i have already dropped it back to 2.45 grams and will keep it there until fully broken in when i will revisit the issue.

my problem will be finding time to do all the 'cartridge' things i need to do and still break in the XV-1s. i know, i know; what could possibly be more important than breaking in the XV-1s?

great question.

i will do my best to post the XV-1s comparison with the Colibri when the XV-1s has more than 150 hours on it. maybe i can get the UNIverse back at that time for round 2 and hopefully my new production version of the darTZeel preamp will come loaded at 400 or 500 ohms.

again; thanks for the kind comments. i will be watching for your always entertaining and informative posts.
Doug,if the silver coiled UNIV is not a top performer,and significantly bettered by the copper coiled one,I wonder why it is sold,especially at these prices.Though,in this hobby,nothing really surprises me anymore.
Good question, SirSpeedy, and one which I asked Mehran after we auditioned it.

He keeps it because people who choose it, like it! Some people prefer a "nice" sound to a more lifelike and present one. Analog newbies coming from RBCD are especially prone to this, since they understandably (though wrongly) believe that a system must provide a bit of smoothing to be listenable.

Ohers may be unwilling to adjust SRA for each record to maintain, "top end openness and air balanced by keeping on the natural side of any edge", as Mike so aptly put it. The silver is more tolerant of SRA mis-adjustment, it's quite difficult to make it go edgy.

And of course a few may be using a slightly rounded-off cartridge to mask problems elsewhere in their system.

Maybe those aren't good purist reasons, but they're mostly good business ones. Nobody's forced to buy the silver. I suggested to Mehran that he describe the copper and silver sounds just as we heard them, then let the customer decide.
Wow,an 18 gram cartridge.Now that WOULD cause me to move away from my "Puny" 2.2,and consider an arm more meaty.Possibly the Herculean looking Phantom,or a beefy wooden Schroeder,or maybe something along the lines of the "NEW" Dynavector 507(which looks SO damn cute!!).Raul,you've got to get your hands on a 507!!Actually,after seeing a recent picture of the staggeringly GORGEOUS Koetsu Coral,I wish I had the extra bucks to "play around",like some.I guess the 40 bucks I found today(really!) wont help!!Though,I doubt if my old Infinity Black Widow could have handled that kind of weight.Anyone old enough to remember the Infinity?Looked AMAZING on my old,but not forgotten,Kenwood KD-500!!Ah,the old days!!When a man was a man.And a cartridge was,well,err,maybe three or four hundred bucks,at most.Yet the price of gas was only 23 cents a gallon.Am I a dinosaur,or what?Perhaps my teeth could serve as a good cartridge body material?

I also owned the Kenwood KD-500/AT-605 footers with the Infinity Black widow/Signet cartridge. The claim to fame of this combo was its ability to track the Telarc 1812 cannon shots. I also had the Magnepan MG2 and the ARC D76A.

I have fond memories of those days.
I think, all of us have some listening preferences and from my point of view it is always difficult to rate the "Best" ( or rating in general ). I never listened to a Zyx UNIverse, but to a few other Zyx cartridges and I think, they are all very good for their money and what I like about them- beside their Sound quality -, is their reliability. And here is something for me, why I avoid vdH cartridges. Buy 4 and all 4 can sound different, maybe one of them is really outstanding but at what price ?
Next is phonostage, I have a LP2 here, too and I have a few Preamps but 57.5dB is not enough to rate a .24mV cartridge. Sorry. It works, no doubt, but when you want to know, why "God is in the Detail", higher gain is better.

Even with a Pre Amp which is adjustable, a cartridge with .24mV output IS different to such one with .85mV, phono sections have their own rules and qualities.
Dear Thomas: As an owner of two Coilbri cartridges and a Frog one, I can tell you that them have reliability and Dr. VDH is really good about customer service.
Many customer problems with the Colibri cartridges have more to do with the right set up on it, the breack-in time ( at least 150 hours ), the tonearm which were matched and the kind of audio system we have: the Colibri isa tool: it can tell you several " things " that are wrong or fine in your system. If we have the music-audio experience about cartridges like the Colibri are very well welcomed at home. This is not a cartridge for normal audiophiles or whealthy-amateurs ( I'm not saying that you are. )

Both of my Colibri cartridges and one for a friend of mine were really outstanding.
The Colibri is a cartridge where you or anyone has to understand it an have to have the patience for obtain the best on it: yes, it is not a very user friendly cartridge but like Mike said: " OTOH when all is right the Colibri is magnificent. "

The evaluation that Mike explain in this thread was not with the Lamm preamp but with the darTZeel preamp that does not have any gain problem.
Btw, I respect Lamm products but at that Lamm price is incredible that is using SUT. This internal step-up transformer preclude any serious cartridge evaluation.

Mike nice to see that you are trying a phonopream with out SUT: great!!!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thomas, you need to read the link to my previous post at the beginning of the first post of this thread. it describes exactly what you are saying; that the Lamm LP2 at 57.5db of gain is marginal on a .24 mv. output cartridge. in my particular case it did work with my Tenor amps and Placette, but the Lamm LP2 did NOT work with the darTZeel amps and the Placette passive with these .24 mv. cartridges.

then i switched to the 62db darTZeel phono stage inside the darTZeel pre and there was plenty of gain. so with the darTZeel pre the gain of the phono stage was not a significant factor in the comparison. OTOH the ohm loading very well may have been.

i would think that the Lamm LP2 would work in most cases with low output cartridges if an active preamp with typical gain and fairly high efficiency speakers are used. i used a passive with amps with low gain.
I happen to have this subject particularly dear and close to my heart as I have both the colibri xgw and a universe silver sb. I bought the colibri before the universe and instantly was blown away by the colibri. The sheer power of dynamics is amazing. Mr Lavigne is right that it is a wonderful cartridge. To me, it does somethings better than any other cartridge I have heard, including the xv1s and the universe silver. I have had a lot of experience with a friends xv1s. I actually bought the universe because I got tired of waiting for my colibri to return from the netherlands after another mishap. This is where my complaints on the colibri start. The totally nude design is too vulnerable. I have had the coils go out. I lost the stylus tip and broke off the cantilever twice. I have had 8 cartridges in the last 12 years and the colibri is the only one that I have ever had to send back for repair. The silver is almost as good as the colibri with respect to dynamics and where the the universe kicks the colibri's butt is in the area of space and the recreation of the hall. When I put on the RCA reissue of Witchs Brew. I feel like I'm at the symphony riding along with the violinist. The universe has a fullness to the sound that I never really had with the colibri. Vocals seem to leave the realm of reproduction and scratch at the surface of reality. While I can relay my experience, I feel that the type of arm and phono stage is so critical that all of my results could be reversed with different components. I have a vpi hrx with a jmw 12.6 and a rs labs RS A1 arm. The universe is great with the jmw arm and just gets better with the RS Labs arm. The rs labs arm is not every ones cup of tea and requires balls of brass to negotiate, but it is incredible for those who take the risk and was my only option to put a second arm on the HRX. The dyna xv1s I hear regularly on a friends HRX and to this day I have yet to hear its better for 3-dimensionality. He uses the analysis audio Omega speakers, 500 watt vtl amps, the west phono stage and the new antique sound labs line stage. We compared the colibri xcp for two weeks prior to permanently leaving the xv1s after it fully broke in and soundly obliterated the colibri. On his system the combination of the xv1s was the best. I never brought over my universe. Also note that I have 2 other friends with colibri's that no longer are attached to their cantilevers and are away for repairs. Unfortunately, I feel this should be a consideration when purchasing such an expensive cartridge. I don't mean to be down on the colibri because its sound is almost a revelation but its delicate design is a problem. I must give up the fact that Mr Lavigne's system is far and away in a different class than my own but I hope this could be helpful to a potential shopper.
P.S. If you have children think hard before getting the colibri. It could be heart breaking.
Some very interesting thoughts,here.I'm continually fascinated by the wonderful insight,of so many.To take a differing view,just to add some food for thought,I believe that some of the more well heeled audio buffs would be better served by ascribing to a particular SOUND,they may like.Assuming you have made an effort to hear a wide variety of really good systems,in other people's homes.This may be hard,yet you will definitely learn ALOT about your own set-up.Maybe even change perceptions,as to the performance envelopes,like those expressed in these interesting cartridge "OPINIONS"!!

My point being,that once we have experienced enough truly great stuff,the exercise/gap,of trial and error(you save some good bucks,too)is reduced,and you can actually have a shot at being satisfied with what you already own,WITHOUT rationalization.While still holding on to the feeling that your component ownership is STILL,at least,"nearly SOTA"(which is the most any of us is likely to get,if we are lucky).Which it SHOULD be(and why not?),with some good knowledge.If afflicted with this hobby,this level of satisfaction is "HAD",once a few criteria are obtained.

#1-You know what really good music "reproduction" is(alot of us don't.SORRY!).POTENTIAL EXAMPLE:"A shitload of bass drivers,in a one box speaker set-up has made the designer alot of money,but the hobbyist better be a GREAT set-up man,cause the seller has made his dough!!This doesn't mean I think it's impossible,but it's darn hard!Whew,I got off the hook on that one.

#2-You really want some FINALITY(alot,once again,don't),and the magazines LOVE you,for it.

#3-You have gained enough insight(having a really good ear doesn't hurt)to "KNOW" you have the ability to seperate your LUST,for new stuff,and use your LOGIC(once again,alot of us don't.Really sorry,here!!).Having a very good "AUDIO FRIEND BASE" is INVALUABLE,here!!

#4-You have finally realized that turning over alot of stuff,often,is NOT going to get you great sound.It WILL,in some cases, get you a new wife!

I am in AWE of the TOO FEW,but they do exist,audiophile/music lovers who have demonstrated to me,on a regular basis,the ability to stay fixed on an ascribed "SOUND".These are the most compelling set-ups I've had the pleasure of hearing!BTW-their wise owners CAN afford frequent component turnover.They are as Rare as the "Lord God Bird"!You,also,ALWAYS come home later(from a listening session,on them)than you told your wife you would.

Surely the latest doo-dad is a hot topic,but tomorrow it will be "Ancient History".Maybe it IS good enough to find a fairly longtime place in a great set-up.Maybe not.The "really" well thought out system will be almost,sort of,"heirloomish"!! The component interaction is just SO right,that you no longer care about the "BEST" anymore.We have gained enough experience to finally identify,and obtain "THAT CERTAIN SOUND",we have been chasing.It DOES exist, for some I have come to know.Maybe this sounds silly,but think about it.This is something to really get excited about!!

I hope I made some kind of sense,here!

Best to all!!
Sir Speedy,
I don't thimk I have heard a funnier, wiser , or truer tirade here before. What one might call sonic nirvana may be someone's nightmare. I think at some level there must be an agreement that a system has a good sound, but whether another individual is looking for that "sound" or not is were personal taste enters the picture. Can we all afford to keep turning over components? It is enjoyable if not compulsive.
Oh, about coming home later than I told my wife, I resemble that. I haven't lost her yet but there is always tomorrow.
Jsquattrin,I wasn't aware I was posting something resembling a "tirade".Sorry!!
Dear Sirspeedy: Lovely the DV 507MK2, unfortunately it can't give me a real improvement over my DV 505.

Btw, I think that a very good match for the Coral could be the Ikeda IT 407, over the Phantom, the 507 or any other tonearm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Jsquattrin: +++++ " , I feel that the type of arm and phono stage is so critical that all of my results could be reversed with different components. " +++++

This is tottaly true and I agree with. The advantage with Mike's system is, like I alredy post it, that nothing can hide.

My experience told me that with a lesser systems, like yours and mine, even a lesser cartridge ( like the ZYX ) can perform at the same level or even at higher level that the best ones cartridges. That kind of products hide their faults behind the several veils on a lesser systems. When our systems have improvements over the time ( more resolution and less veils. ) those lesser cartridges can't any more hide behind our new system and the best ones now will shine and show their qualities.

Yes, the Colibri is not an user friendly cartridge but, like Mike told us: " OTOH when all is right the Colibri is magnificent. ".

I want to tell you than in three times: three times I have to send one of my Colibri's to VDH because I bend the cantilever. My Colibri weight is only 2.5 grs. hard to handle it. Well I think that now I already learn about.
The XV-1 is an open frame too, fortunately I don't have any problem ( yet ) about.

Regards and enjoy the music.
The Cartridge load is in my opinion a very tricky influence when you want to rate a cartridge. I think, there are different opinions out there, but my Klyne 7 for example can load a MC with 47kohms and to avoid ringing it has it's own High frequeny contour Filter settings. When I used various cartridges ( Miyabi, Zyx, Lyras, Benz and so on ) and I loaded them lower than 47k, I always lost information, it sounded different, based on the load. This is transistor phono amp, no SUT, nothing, quiet, pure and clean and when I go to a different arm or a different phono stage which has fixed loads, it can be good, but it can be also be a bit worse, so I think, with these, the right fixed load is a bit like rolling a dice. And then the output from a cartridge is also a bit critical, lower ones are very sensitive to gain and load from a Phono stage. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to offend somebody, but this is my point of view.
Dear Thomasheisig: +++++ " The Cartridge load is in my opinion a very tricky influence when you want to rate a cartridge. " +++++

Yes, I agree with that and I always support that statement.
My statement about is that the load impedance has to be what the manufacturer recomended, in this way we can almost sure that the frequency response will be flat. I don't agree with your 47K load im`pedance subject: this kind of load do a severe modification on the high frequency cartridge response, of course there are cartridges where the manufacturer recomended the 47K and in these ones it is ok.

The Mike's evaluation at 100 Ohms is almost valid, yes we could be more rigorous about and I'm sure that in the future Mike can do it.

I know very well your Klyne phonopreamp and I like it, Steve is a designer that I respect and his products are well designed and well made.

I agree with you, too, about the gain for a low output cartridge, this is a critical issue because this kind of cartridges needs a high gain with out noise and distortions: these are targets very hard to reach at the same time. Btw, the tube technology can't do it, no question about.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear friends: I love to speak about the XV-1, not only for it great performance but because between the great top quality cartridges is the one that have the best price/performance ratio.

Example: the Colibri, Universe, Titan, Myabi, Koetsu RSP, Clearaudio Insider, Allaerts, Transfiguration, Ikeda, etc, etc.. All these cartridge have a higher retail price than the XV-1, so here we are talking of a " best cartridge bargain " at this special performance level: this is an additional XV-1 advantage over the other cartridges. Don't you think?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear friends: I love to speak about the XV-1, not only for it great performance but because between the great top quality cartridges is the one that have the best price/performance ratio.

Example: the Colibri, Universe, Titan, Myabi, Koetsu RSP, Clearaudio Insider, Allaerts, Transfiguration, Ikeda, etc, etc.. All these cartridge have a higher retail price than the XV-1, so here we are talking of a " best cartridge bargain " at this special performance level: this is an additional XV-1 advantage over the other cartridges. Don't you think?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Very good points,by Thomas and Raul.To me,this shows superb understanding of "things analog".Things I will never stop trying to "squeeze" a bit more understanding of.

The Transfiguration Temper -V lists,in the U.S. for 3800 dollars.So,I think it is a bit less than the Dynavector.That is not really my point,though.My point is that ANY cartridge should be able to be found at a good sized discount,and new.The list prices,from my own experience,are like those on jewelry items.If you are "even somewhere in the price ballpark",there should be a reputable dealer "somewhere",who will let it go,for your price.

Last year I upgraded my Transfig. Temper to the Temper-V,which cost me 1100 dollars(list 3800 dollars,and I know it was considered an upgrade/trade in).I know it was the same manufacturer,but it was a different dealer.If he could sell me the cartridge for so much less than list,obviously the manufacturer has a HUGE markup in the list.They still make money on the 1100 dollars.I've seen this with MANY popular high end cartridges,virtually ALL of the top contenders,that my friends have bought.Even the Koetsu Coral Stone.Actually you could look at it as though there are actually so few designs sold that to make any profit,the mfgrs must inflate the list.I understand this,yet like the price of gasoline,these days,I'll seek out a reasonable price,if it helps me.BTW-I've spent list prices,on some components where I saw no margin of overprofit.Cartridges,like cabling,do not fall into that category!!

While on the subject--I cannot understand why the Temper-V(Yes,the LOW output one)gets so little comparative praise.I know it is well regarded,yet it really is "WORLD CLASS",in virtually any category!!

BTW--I'm 22 hours away from hearing the ZYX UNIVERSE,on a superb system.Stay tuned!!
Speedy, the proselytizing of the ZYX evangelistas here on AgoN notwithstanding, I know none of them have compared their Unies with Trannies, and conversely, no Tranny V or W owners I know of have had the opportunity to compare them with the ZYX Universe.

I know what you and I and some other Tranny V and W owners think of their cartridges (wouldn't part with mine) so I'll be very anxious to hear your comments on the Uni. Hope it's broken in and loaded correctly before you report :~))


Dear Raul, I agree with you, but the main "problem" in our world is:

1. The best bargain
2. The best cartridge

Normally I am not really interested in that, but I remember one Article from TAS, just when I read your message above, from Harry Pearson, you know, THE man with the Golden Ears, April/May 2004, HP's Workshop:
"A Handful of the best, compared and rated

The Rating after all reading:
Clearaudio Insider reference Wood **
Lyra Titan ***and a half
Dynavector XV-1 ***and a half
Miyabi/47 Lab ***** ( First 5 Star cartridge ever )

now, in the latest TAS
from him, he is using the new XV-1s, he wrote, he never had a 5 Star cartridge before ( ! ) and now this XV-1s is one.
Well, interesting this step from 3 and a half stars up to five.

I don't care, but I think, there is so much around, hype, business, dealer mark ups, direct sell ( Zyx ) and the fear to loose profit, that it is always the same story.
It is right, that a few from us are independent but our opinions are ... at least opinions.
Speedy, the proselytizing of the ZYX evangelistas here on AgoN notwithstanding, I know none of them have compared their Unies with Trannies, and conversely, no Tranny V or W owners I know of have had the opportunity to compare them with the ZYX Universe.

Arthur Salvatore has compared his Transfiguration Temper with the ZYX R100 Fuji and Airy 2. FWIW, he placed the Fuji somewhat above the Temper and the Airy 2 well above that.

Of course I'm also eager to learn what SirSpeedy hears. Of course unless he knows that system well and/or A/B's a Transfiguration at the same time, it may be difficult for him to evaluate the experience. Knowing whether to credit (or blame) the cartridge, the tonearm, the table, the phono stage or something else in an unfamiliar system can be almost impossible.
I'd take Speedy's evaluation over Salvatore's anytime. More importantly, after checking his website, it's clear that Arthur has not yet heard either the ZYX Universe or the Transfiguration Temper V or W. His only experience so far being with an Airy 2 and an earlier Temper Supreme. And as usual, he makes no mention of setup, break-in, loading, etc., and the last time he heard the (old) Temper Supreme was in 2001. He must have the world's best audio memory!

He does quote a lengthy, glowing review of the Universe, from a "reader", which sounds strangely similar to one that I read in these forums, from one of our esteemed posters. I wish I could recall who that was . . . . . . . :~)
Apparently Arthur's been raiding someone's file cabinet. I'm calling the police. We evangelistas are not to be trifled with!

Actually he's the one who first got us to try a ZYX. Our ears confirmed what he reported at the R100 Fuji - Shelter 901 level. Since then we've just moved up the ladder faster. Dodging those weekly hurricanes must be slowing him down.

Our real problem here is that most Tranny V/W AND UNIverse owners are enjoying the music too much to try something else. Clearly this problem must be addressed, so I will generously step aside and allow SirSpeedy to take the cure first.

Dismount that thing and bring it up to me. We're only two hours apart, the withdrawal symptoms won't last long. I'll let you go home with whichever cartridge I think you should keep, 'cause that's just the kind of guy I am!
Doug, how very generous of you! And (possibly) lucky!

If you play your cards right w/ Speedy, you just might wind up with his Tranny, Ha ha!


Fella's,I really could care less about "The World's Best",which never lasts long anyway!I think my best interests(I simply would be amazed if ANYONE took my listening comments as anything other than a "hobbyist" opinion)would be served by simply,and logically seeing if what I hear,on program material I know,is reproduced convincingly!That would tell me all I need to know.

As far as Salvatore goes,though I love the guy,he is dead wrong(to me,and my listening friends)on so many of his LP preferences(EX_The Prince Of The Pagodas,he far prefers the Dutch pressing to the English.I have both,as do my pals.The British pressing obliterates the Dutch,and I trust Sid Marks' opinion,a friend,over Arthur,any time.Sorry!!!)that I can only conclude his system is voiced in a polar opposite to me.

As far as a cartridge shootout goes,with me bringing mine anywhere,though I'm happy to get together with some really decent and wonderful folks,like many here,I'm such a fanatic about anyone else touching my stuff,that I'd be considered "Too nuts to associate with",if that came to be.I'll quit as of now,with some poster's maybe liking me,a little(I think)!!

I have finished having an extensive listening of the UNIVERSE,as of now,over a six hour listening session,with two WONDERFUL fellow hobbyists.It was CLEARLY obvious to me that the system is going to be ABSOLUTELY SOTA,with a bit more "FOTZING" around(I really do feel sorry for the owner's back),though I was left with the initial impression that it will be "Scary Good",at a future point.This owner has a superb "FEEL" for what he is doing,and a really good(and decent friend,as well as a really nice person)helping of a second set of good ears.

Truthfully nothing I heard left me thinking the UNIV was anything less than a FABULOUS design,as inner detailings and extremely subtle detail was SO obvious to hear.Also,with every little tweak/change(EX-comparing clamps,different motors,diff amps,etc)there was a significant diff in perspective,and tonal shift.I would have NO problem owning one,so,to me,the argument IS OVER!!

I did have one BIG problem(reinforcing my previous response to a 2.2 criticism,but not my wrongful "POST's tone).To me,the original set up of the Graham 2.2,used in the system,was apparently viewed,by all listeners,as correctly done,by a highly regarded industry person.That surely IS the case,but again,to ME ONLY,his set-up of the 2.2 left a GLARING error in the anti skate.I heard it both ways,and far preferred to have the ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER'S set up abided by.With a revoicing done to the way that arm was DESIGNED.This is common sense,yet the original set-up man has apparently such an "aura" that the anti skate setting was not voiced to where it REALLY should be.I've tested it,and the orig designer knows his product,and it IS accurate,to a far greater point to where it was set,here!!Sorry!

SO,now that I've got myself in some trouble,for exposing myself,I'll let you in on the REALLY important outcome,to me.Even with a setting I KNOW to be off,the UNIV was simply AMAZING.This in a set-up not yet finished,and in a setting that is NOT correct(sorry),for maximum performance from the 2.2.To me,this tells me two things.Firstly the UNIV is a friggin good design,and secondly,I have a sneaky suspicion the owner will "snap out of his hypnotic aura" of the original set-up person,and begin to realize the true,and apparently hidden potential,of the 2.2.An arm which will be,most likely(MAYBE), bettered in this,two arm,set-up soon,anyway.(????)!!We'll see.I think the owner is far too smart,to NOT go more hands on, and question this parameter.

Best regards to all!!

Were the speakers full range (capable of reproducing the bottom octaves)?
Dear Sirspeedy: +++++ " My point is that ANY cartridge should be able to be found at a good sized discount,and new.The list prices,from my own experience,are like those on jewelry items. " *****

I totally agree with you. The problem with some cartridge manufacturers is that they have to " live " with the low amount of cartridges that they sale, so they have to make big money with any single unit they sold and they have to give big money to their dealers too.
As a fact to build a Coral or any other cartridge it takes no more than 400-500 dollars, maybe less.

Yes, this is the same like the cables. Any of you open ( I already do it in many of my cables )your cables and you will ve heavy surprised how every cable manufacturer is stilling us ( robery ). It is not a manufacturer fault that want to do business it is our fault, our stupid attitude about cables, our stupid attitude about the cables reviews, our no non-sense and no know-how about.

The same is for cartridges: we have nothing bvut what we " deserves " with our comercial no-sense attitude. That's all.

Btw, you can find the XV-1 new for no more than 2.7K.

Regards and enjoy the music.