Dear Fjn04: This one is a good VDH opportunity:
IMHO for you can even the Colibri quality performance cartridge level you will need a cartridge in the 4K+ price range.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Much appreciated Raul. I prefer buying new, unless it's a unique situation. I think staying in this price range, can allow someone to get a nice taste of a cart line. For instance, my EMT TSD-15. I love the sound, and it's less than 2K. Chances are, I will also like their upper end cartridges. On the tails side, if you don't like a 2K cartridge, chances are you won't like the same lines 4K cart. So basically, I want to expand my horizons! I just bought a second TT, so it's time to play.
I agree with Raul's recommendation. Having said that, I can tell you that I have owned a VDH MC1S for many years and still occasionally use it. Also, while I cannot say with authority that this is true, I have seen it mentioned several times that the ZYX R100 is the same (OEM) as the Monster Cable Alpha 2 that I also owned several years ago. Perhaps my comments will be helpful.
First thing to consider is that the VDH has considerably higher output than the ZYX; more than twice the output of the ZYX (.65 mv+ vs .25mv; although the different tolerances used bring the output levels a little closer to each other). Compliance is higher with the VDH. The VDH is a bold sounding cartridge with excellent dynamics and speed. Tonality is very neutral with the VDH; perhaps too much to the grey/white side of things. Soundstage presentation is very different. The VDH is more up-front with considerably larger images. The Monster presented smaller individual images further back in the soundstage, but with excellent specificity and stability. This created a sense of the soundstage being larger than that of the VDH, but that is only a result of the VDH's images being larger and seeming to "crowd" the same volume of space. Overall, while the Monster could seem to be a little more refined, to me the VDH sounds more like what live music sounds like; sometimes very aggressive and even ugly. Of course those results were with the two arms that I used at the time; Syrinx PU3 and ET2 linear arm. In spite of the two arms being very different (pivot/linear) the differences were consistent. Good luck.
Frogman - Thanks for taking the time. I heard the ZYX output ratings are conservative, but I would still go for a the med .48 version.
Sorry to go off topic slightly but I came across VDH Grasshopper, still unused that is offered to me at around the same ballpark figure as these 2 cartridges being discussed. I remembered a number of reviewers used to talk about Grasshoppers as one of the best out there but wonder how it would stand up against the current crop of cartridges (assuming that it is still in perfect working condition).
ZYX sounds more like music. It does not sound like the old Monster even though it is made by the same company. Natural, fun, balanced. VDH more etched (and that's not intended to be a positive), more unit to unit variation, fragile. I sell neither, have no affiliation with either.
I would not draw conclusions about ZYX based on experience with Monster carts.
And if the compliances are quite different, then you need to think about Cart-tonearm matching. What tonearm are you using?
Hey Frogman, I would have thought that you would have gone for a VDH Frog and not the MC1S :-)
The ZYX output figures are based on a different velocity (I think that's the parameter). Not sure about the technical details, but it results in a real world output that is quite a bit higher than the spec would suggest. You may want to talk to Mehran @ Sorasound who will give you the "skinny" on that. In the $2K range, you might be surprised at how far up the ZYX line he can get you. Disclaimer- Never heard a VDH cart.
Agree that Mehran at Sorasound is great to work with. He also often has ZYX carts from folks who have traded up. And he has these inspected by ZYX before reselling them, so you can buy with confidence.
I had a VDH Condor XGM for sometime. As someone has suggested, it has a very etched sound with a typical thin rising high frequency. Not at all to my taste. I had a ZYX and it was much more musical.
Thanks guys- Keep it coming, but it seems the ZYX is further to my taste. Roscoeiii- thanks again as always. It would be on my std Amadeus or Amadeus GTA. Either way, same 10.5 arm. I would guess the effective mass to be quite low on the Amadeus tonearm...? Cheers-Don
Gosh- Meant to say the ZYX is CLOSER to my taste.
I had the frog at one time and also thought it was not the most musical. I have ZYX now.
Hmm, I would be a little worried about a ZYX on a low mass arm, but I am not sure how the silicon damping would affect these calculations.
I use it with the highest effective mass armwand available for my Moerch tonearm.
Worth checking with Mehran at Sorasound about.
And I will say that I love my ZYX 4D. What a stellar cart.
Though I did find mention of a ZYX working well with the WTA over on Audio Circle.
Mike Pranka at Dynavector USA (importer of WT tables) might be worth consulting with if your local WTA dealer isnt of help.
REGARDING TONEARM MATCHING
If using a ZYX on a lower mass arm like those you mentioned:
a) make sure you get a cartridge with the optional "SB" weight (fitted by ZYX, not a user add-on); and
b) consider adding a 3-6gm headshell weight (VPI offers them for their tonearms).
It will sound okay without these measures, but somewhat lightweight in bass and dynamics. Getting the eff. mass up around 15cu or above will restore heft and jump to the music without detracting from the naturalness that ZYX cartridges are famed for.
REGARDING CARTRIDGE OUTPUT
Swampwalker is correct. ZYX uses a different test LP for level testing and their output specs are therefore conservative (low) compared with most other brands. Multiply a ZYX output spec by 1.34 to obtain a roughly comparable figure.
I would advise AGAINST getting a high output ZYX (.48mv, which really generates around .64mv) unless your phono stage absolutely lacks enough gain for the low output version (.24mv, which really generates around .32mv). I believe Monbrison claims your preamp can handle down to .2mv so I wouldn't expect a problem.
If your phono stage lacks enough gain for a .32mv cartridge then I'd advise against getting any LOMC, ZYX or otherwise.
I've had most ZYX models in my system and have A/B'd several high output vs. low output versions of the same cartridge. In every case the high output model lacked dynamics, heft, speed and spark compared with its low output sibling. This has also been true of the few other HO vs. LO comparisons I've heard. If you don't have the gain for a true LOMC, stick with MM. There are many good MM's that will sound just as good as a HOMC, for thousands of dollars less.
That said, the ZYX lineup in its LO versions offers great music for the money (incredibly great if you can swing a 4D, UNIverse or UNIverse II).
friend of and occasional technical consultant to Mehran
avid ZYX lover for 10 years (read my reviews)
haven't heard a VdH
Thanks- Perhaps I will e-mail Mike P, to see if he has any insight. I almost hate to ask him about a competing brand, to the Dynavector.... Hi Dougdeacon, thanks for the suggestions. The SB does seem to be a worth while option. I checked w/ mehran, and he thinks the SB would be a good option only for a Fuji. In other words, instead of adding the SB to Yatra, just buy Fuji w/ no SB for same $. I can see the SB being a benefit, as it almost doubles the weight. I read in a review the Atmos jumps from 4g to 7.9 w/ the SB. It seems hearing one will be a tall order, unless I go to Chicago. I bet it would be worth the trip. May even get away with no wind.
Yeah, good luck on that no wind thing...
Not entirely clear what the rec from Mehran is here. Can you clarify. So he suggests Fuji with SB, but you are thinking Fuji with no SB?
No worries Roscoe. I asked Mehran about Yatra w/ SB. He said it's not a good move. Reason being, for the same money, he would suggest Fuji without SB. In a nutshell, he says the Fuji and above would be recommended if one wants to do SB.
So based on Doug's suggestion to do SB, that lead to Mehran suggesting the Fuji. Somehow when everything does work out in this hobby, it seems to cost more!
i can not comment about the particular cartridges you are discussing, but i own the VDH frog, ZYX airy3 and UNIverse. In addition, i own a Sumiko pearl and have owned many Shure MM cartridges early in my audio life. Comparing VDH Frog vs Airy3 (similar price ranges), i prefer the ZYX airy3. Both are very good cartridges. The sound stage and separation of the instruments is so much cleaner with the airy3. Bass response is a little better with the frog. Both are very fast and true to the music. playing classical or complex jazz albums really show the difference particularly when horns, strings and percussion are all present.