Cartridge Buying Advice - $1,000 to $1,500

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by slazechko, Dec 4, 2019 at 1:55 PM.

  1. slazechko

    slazechko Active Member Thread Starter

    Hi all, Looking to buy a new cartridge in the $1,000-$1500 range. It’ll be going onto my Michell Orbe w/ SME V. Preamp is a Spectral DMC 10 Delta (which has a loading switch allowing me to play with 10, 30, 100, and 800 ohms).

    Currently the front runners are Hana ML, Dynavector 20x2L (both are $1200) and the “stretch the budget” option would maybe be a Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star (which I can get 20% off on through my dealer, so $1600). They’re low service/retipping costs makes stretching the budget a little easier...
    I was also looking at the Audio Technica ART 9, but I think it’s a little too compliant for the SME V.

    Any thoughts? I’m curious if Soundsmith is all that their literature has them cracked up to be? Are their low mass designs really that much better and worth stretching for? Or stick with the Hana or Dyna?

    TIA!
     
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  2. Jeff57

    Jeff57 Forum Resident

    I'll bump this for you. I'm interested in the replies.
     
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  3. mreeter

    mreeter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
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  4. Steve4578

    Steve4578 Member

    Location:
    Michigan
    I used to own the Soundsmith MIMC Star. Great sounding cartridge. I only sold it because its low compliance was not a good match with my tonearm.
     
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  5. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    Look at 2Juki on e-bay for some real Dynavector deals. Fast shipping, honest & very easy to deal with.
     
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  6. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    I highly can recommend you to get a Benz Micro Wood- this cart sounds fabulous when combined with a Michell deck and SME tonearm. As I’ve mentioned before on this forum there’s a reason why the Michell people use the Benz Micro carts while demonstrating their turntables.
     
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  7. slazechko

    slazechko Active Member Thread Starter


    ok so about these. There’ s also a guy named Kron on audiogon who has Benz cartridges for like 1/2 price. He has a micro wood for $900, which brings it well into budget. So between him, 2juki, and others there’s some kind of “grey market”.

    but what’s the catch? Risk of counterfeit cartridges? Do I lose the manufacturer’s warranty? In which case even if it’s a legit cart but I get unlucky with a defective cart, am I just out of luck?

    Is there a consensus on the risk with going with 2juki or kron for this? I’m very tempted by the Benz wood at $900, but if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, right?
     
  8. Twinsfan007

    Twinsfan007 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I know it sounds like you are set on buying a brand new cart but have you ever given it a thought about buying a used cart and getting it retipped/rebuilt? This is what I did and saved half and got prettt much a brand new cart (according to Peter at SS anyway)
     
  9. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    No warranty on grey market items. I guess you can say 'I've been lucky so far with 1/2 doz or so purchases. 2Juki has excellent feedback.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019 at 7:29 AM
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  10. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Location:
    Frenchtown NJ USA
    My Ortofon Quintet Black works well for me. Good luck. :)
     
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  11. mreeter

    mreeter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    Yes, I've had nothing but great service from this seller as well.
     
  12. 500Homeruns

    500Homeruns Peaceful Punk

    Location:
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    I have a VAS Nova on the way. I heard good things.
     
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  13. mreeter

    mreeter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    I also have the VAS Nova Signature, a VERY good sounding Jewel:righton:
     
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  14. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Am I looking at the specs on your Spectral preamp correctly? - Gain: 45dB (MC), 30dB (MM), 10dB (line)

    If this is the case you're likely going to have trouble with a LOMC cart due to low gain. With the carts you're considering I think you'll want something north of 61dB or so.
     
  15. 500Homeruns

    500Homeruns Peaceful Punk

    Location:
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    He might be able to use the .8mV VAS Nova, but 45db might be a little low.
    The owner of VAS can make any mV cartridge you want though.
     
  16. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I assume along with the 10dB from the linestage he will be at 55dB. An 0.8mV cart may work ok.
     
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  17. slazechko

    slazechko Active Member Thread Starter

    So I think I should be ok on gain. I used KAB’s calculator and computed:
    • 56 dB for .5 mV
    • 58 dB for .4 mV
    • 61 dB for .3 mV
    so .3 mV is probably pushing it, but I think I’ve observed a general consensus of trying to be within 2-3 dB of gain for the preamp/cartridge pair. 55 dB puts me right in that neighborhood for the Zephyr and Benz Wood low outputs, which are both 0.4 mV.

    So I guess now I’m between either the “grey market” Benz Wood SL for $900, or the Soundsmith Zephyr through my dealer for $1600. Probably leaning towards the wood...
    will also have to check out VAS, I’ve not heard of them before

    going to call spectral this week to make sure what I’ve said about the gain above is accurate.
    I’ll post back what they say as well as when I make a decision.
     
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  18. Gardo

    Gardo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    I love my Dynavector 20x2L. It tracks well, images well, and has a neutral sound with just a hint of warmth. Beautiful. I run it into a Dynavector preamp and the synergy is lovely. You can see the rest of my equipment in my profile.
     
  19. slazechko

    slazechko Active Member Thread Starter

    yeah I am a little hesitant to go used. Carts seem a little too... fragile for that. Though it sounds like a good idea to reach out to SS about that. Did you specifically get a rebuilt Soundsmith that they’d rebuilt? Seems like a trustworthy source for that
     
  20. Davey

    Davey this is the way, step inside

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    The Benz Micro Wood SL is closer to .6mV since they spec it at 3.54 cm/sec, and that is about what has been measured in tests ... Benz Micro Wood SL Review
     
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  21. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    Good decision to go for the Benz Micro Wood- you won’t be disappointed. :righton:
     
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  22. Twinsfan007

    Twinsfan007 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I got a used Dyna 20x2L that had been used (the guy i bought it from said it had 1000 hours on it). I got it for about 1/4 or 1/5 of what a new cart cost. Sent it to Soundsmith to look it over and gp from there. They said that it was definetly worn but could rebuild it and be good as new (or better depending on the stylus one choses). I ended up going for the more expensive stylus so after everything (buying the cart and rebuild) it cost be about half of what a new cart cost. Im extremely happy with it. Its a great bang for your buck option imo
     
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  23. daytona600

    daytona600 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    AT Art9 , Ortofon cadenza Blue , London super gold , wood Grado
     
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  24. Andy Saunders

    Andy Saunders Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Years ago l had an Orbe/SME V/Lyra Helikon and that sounded very good ( Delos would be the equivalent now l suppose)… however the Cadenzas are nice and the Benz Micro as GyroSE suggested is a good one- good luck and do tell us how you get on.:edthumbs:
     
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  25. 500Homeruns

    500Homeruns Peaceful Punk

    Location:
    Lehigh Valley, PA

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