Help matching cartridge to VPI Aries

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Alan Beasley, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    I've just bought a turntable from a forum member and I could use some help picking a cartridge. An Aries is a big step up for me but I really don't know much about different cartridges or matching them to an arm.
    My budget is 1200, less of course is better. I'm using a Musical Surrounding Nova II phono stage but I'm planning on getting a Manley Chinook eventually.
    The owner recommend Dynavector or a Grado wood body. I'm also looking at a Hana, Sumiko Blackbird or a Soundsmith. Can anyone give me an idea of the different sound signatures of these carts?
    I looking for something pairs well with tube amplification so proabably don't want to get too warm.
    Any suggestions are appreciated .
     
  2. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    Please add Benz Micro Wood SM to your list, it's actually made to be combined with tube gear. I've one, for the money it's an amazing cart IMHO. Highly recommended!
     
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  3. Daedalus

    Daedalus I haven't heard it all.....

    When I owned an Aries TT I used a Benz Glider-was a great match for the tonearm.
     
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  4. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    Ortofons are also a nice match with the Aries arm. The Cadenza Red would fit in to your budget.
     
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  5. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Benz cartridges look like a good match. I like my Ortofon Bronze so they are on the list.
    Although I would like to try a MC cart at my budget would it make more sense to look at a MM? At the prices some of the MC’s go for I’m looking at an entry level cartridge.
     
  6. Davey

    Davey I carry the moon inside a silver bag

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I use both the Benz Micro Wood SL and Audio Technica AT-OC9XML carts right now, all into Conrad Johnson tube gear with vintage Partridge 977 SUT.

    As a general recommendation, the new AT-OC9XML is an outstanding cartridge, available direct from the USA AT site at $466 after the 15% discount code is applied (AFAIK it is still valid).

    The Benz Micro Wood SL is my favorite cartridge overall in this $1000 range, just a bit more natural sounding than the AT and some of the others. It's a little higher output too, since it is spec'd at 3.54 instead of 5 cm/sec. It's also a bit lower compliance so works well in higher mass arms, though your VPI arm should work great with the high compliance OC9XML, think it's around 10gm effective mass. With the Benz, you could probably even add a little headshell weight to lower the resonance, generally sounds best if you can get it down around 8Hz, or even a bit lower (my opinion, not a universal truth, some here will disagree :)).

    I think both carts share the same Namiki MicroRidge/MicroLine stylus on a boron cantilever. Most of the newer AT LOMC line are great trackers with compliance values more like MM carts, in the mid 20s or higher, while the Benz is around 15cu. The Benz Micro carts are available very affordably from a Hong Kong dealer on audiogon ($800-$900 for Wood, with the Glider and ACE at about $650 and $550 - I think all share the same motor and specs, the differences are mainly in the body and fine tuning), though not sure what recourse you have if you get a bad one. He may be the main Benz Micro supplier right now to the USA. Also has good price on Hana, but they are widely available here. I've no personal experience with Hana, Sumiko Blackbird, or Soundsmith carts.

    Audio-Technica AT-OC9XML shown here mounted on the MA-505XII tonearm of my Micro Seiki BL-91, in the grooves of the great Jenny Hval The Practice of Love on creamy colored vinyl from last year, love this record ....


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
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  7. edwyun

    edwyun Active Member

    Location:
    USA
    The Dynavector 20x2L has always worked well with the Aries/Scout/Classic VPIs. VPI also partnered with Dynavector to make a 20x2M. But I found the 20x2L to work better. Neutral bandwidth with very good LF authority.

    The Hana also seem to work well but you may need a headshell weight.
     
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  8. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    What makes a cartridge require a weight?
    I assume it’s cartridge weight vs arm mass but is there an easy way to figure this?
     
  9. Davey

    Davey I carry the moon inside a silver bag

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Sometimes it's just simply because the cartridge is too light to balance with the stock counterweight, the Hana SL is for example very light, and other times it is to set up the tonearm effective mass to sound best with the cartridge being used, not quite as straightforward.
     
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  10. edwyun

    edwyun Active Member

    Location:
    USA
    Correct. I believe most use a 3 gram cartridge weight for their Hana on VPIs, but it depends also on the counterweight you have.
     
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  11. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    I’d like to try a Benz but I don’t think I have the patience to wait for a delivery from Asia. I’m anxious to get this turntable running.
    Upscale Audio has a Dynavector 20X2 that’s on the top of my list at the moment.
     
  12. Davey

    Davey I carry the moon inside a silver bag

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    If that's what you want, go for it, I don't think most of us knew you were in a hurry, and Benz isn't the only path to nirvana :)

    Why Upscale? Music Direct is a lot closer to you, and if you just want a cartridge to get going, you could always grab an inexpensive AT-VM95ML from Parts-Express in Ohio. They usually have discounts, looks like only 7% right now, so around $150, could even pick up at the showroom if in your vicinity. Get it going with an inexpensive moving magnet with microline stylus, then move up to a nice LOMC when ready, and you'll have the VM95 as a backup.

    Anyway, lots of ways to go.
     
  13. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    That’s a good point. Parts Express is close and I could pick up something there. Better yet I could just use my Ortofon Bronze for the time being. That would give me time to get a Benz or whatever.
    The low output Dynavector is out of stock at Music Direct and I’ve been dealing with Upscale on some tubes.
     
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  14. monovinyl

    monovinyl Forum Resident

    I love the Benz Micro's.
     
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  15. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Have you used any other cartridges on your VPI? If you have what do like about the Benz compared to the others?
     
  16. Lenny

    Lenny Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    You have an ALMOST unlimited set of options, and it's probably not something you need to obsess over. Pick a cartridge that seems to satisfy a lot of people. On this board, for example, the A-T cartridges seem to do that . I have an Art-9 which has ridden on two VPI arms and it likes the ride. The only real issue in matching a cartridge to an arm is the resonant frequency of the arm-cartridge combination. This will be dictated mostly by the cartridge compliance. Pick a middle-of the-road compliance and you'll be fine. The VPI arms are so weighted that they generally make it easy to choose a cartridge.

    For a detailed discussion of the issue take a look at: TONEARM/CARTRIDGE COMPATABILITY | Galen Carol Audio | Galen Carol Audio
     
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  17. Ken E.

    Ken E. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Providence NJ
    My Super Scoutmaster loves its Dynavector 20X LOW. I know the price has gone up, I have this one 15 years with a rebuild by Peter Lederman three years ago. VERY SATISFIED customer.
    I thought I read where certain Grados had hum issues on VPIs but that would have been at least 10 years ago.
    Harry Weisfeld uses a Kiseki Purple Heart IIRC, but that runs over $3500 IIRC.
    Happy hunting!
     
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  18. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    My Aries 3 with 2 Tonearm wands
    1. Arm #1 - Daily Driver: AT VM540ML
    2. Arm # 2 - Serious Business: Shure V15V/MR/Jico SAS/ Jico Neo SAS or Vivid line for beater records
    3. Fun: ShureM97XE/Jio SAS/ or Vivid line for eater records
    4. Backup and haven't used in a while Goldring GL2500

    M~
     
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  19. RandyHat

    RandyHat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denton, Texas
    I also recommend the Dynavector. I have the xx2. It replaced a 15 year old Grado which was also very good...but the Dynavector is a noticeable step up in sound quality. The Aries is a pretty nice table. Mine is the original Aries with the JMW 10 tonearm. I am sure many of the other cartridges that have been recommended will also be very good. The Dynavector XX2 is more expensive than the 20x20 but I think it has a similar neutral sound. Be sure your cartridge output matches up well with your phono preamp. When I went to replace my original Grado with one of the newer versions I found that it was not at all a good match with my phono preamp. The output of the cartridge was too high for the low setting on my EAR 834P and too low for the high setting. I love the Aries with the Dynavector. Listening to my records is a whole new experience.
     
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  20. Ken E.

    Ken E. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Providence NJ
    I have an older 834P with variable gain knob, the Dynavector 20X LOW outputs about.2, with big Maggies I need volume for maximum appreciation.
     
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  21. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    Cartridges that I've used on my VPI Classic
    DV 10x5 - great - no problems - sounds good
    Grado Wood Ref Master - awesome - except picks up a little motor noise - didn't bother me though
    Shure V15IV JICO NEO/SAS (this with the 3D arm) - current setup - very nice.

    Hard to really screw up.
     
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  22. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks for the information and the link.
    I probably do obsess too much over things like this but I bet I’m not the only one on the forum that does that :).
     
  23. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    I have a VPI Super Prime Scout, and my next cartridge will be the Benz Micro Glider.
     
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  24. Alan Beasley

    Alan Beasley Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Anyone familiar with a Zephyr MIMC Star? It’s over my budget but it’s on sale right now.
     
  25. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Louis Mo
    I have to put in a plug for the NAG-500. Just a nice sounding cartridge. Should work well with your VPI arm.
     
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