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  • Airtight Supreme v. Monster Genesis 1000 (WuT?) Or A Path To Older Cartridges....

    I know, stupid comparison, but bear with me. My Airtight Supreme is aging and I'm looking to replace. The price of the top tier cartridges, like the Opus, is just prohibitive (I know, it's better, one can get some accommodation or a discount or trade-in but still). So, I decided to let Peter L. do his magic on my Supreme (cheap to do, assuming he can do it with no problem). In the meantime, I obviously need to play something- I still have my old Airtight PC-1, which was playing fine when I upgraded to the Supreme, but I get suspicious of these cartridges once miles have been put on them; I have no real way to examine the stylus beyond the common jeweler's loupe or digital microscope and I'm not sure I'd be able to assess stylus wear meaningfully in any case.
    Steve Leung sold me a rebuilt (cantilever, stylus) Monster Genesis 1000 for cheap. I remembered the cartridge from back in the day, but never owned one- I gather that it is an early ancestor of the ZYX family. It wasn't the easiest thing to install on my arm, but once I got it set up and playing, I could appreciate what this cartridge is about (and from reading, it seems like the DNA carries forward into the more modern, and presumably better ZYX cartridges)- this thing tracks like a Mofo, very linear sounding, loads of detail, not edgy but a little lean for my taste- it lacks the texture and tone of the Airtight in the midrange and some of the stage depth- perhaps that will change as the Monster breaks in- it has had only a full day of playing so far.
    Why even bother with such an absurd comparison between a recent, near top of the heap (Airtight)? and old rebuilt cartridge (Monster- even the name makes you think 'box shop' though Noel Lee is a whole other story that is interesting in its own right), yet the Monster was a top tier cartridge in its day too:
    • Alternatives to the high priced new top tier cartridges- I know some like vintage cartridges and there may be good hunting in this field- I've always been suspicious of used cartridges for good reason- it may be one thing to buy something that has a few hundred hours on it if the seller is to be believed but some ancient cartridge, without a retip/go-over? Kind of scary to me even if a bargain; The differences wrought by a retip? Sure, but see below.
    • Sound and behavior- curious to hear differences where you can compare in your system without spending an arm and both legs. Right now, without further break-in, the Monster sounds very 'hi-fi' to me, and perhaps it won't change its fundamental character after it has some miles on it, but it is immediately apparent what is going on sonically. (Arm matching is a whole other thing- this cartridge, unadorned weighs a measly 4 g, and came with a top plate to add mass which I had to adapt to mount it on the Airline). Is it even a good fit with the Airline given the lateral compliance and nature of the arm? Maybe not. But the medium compliance suspension is something I like. Less fragile. I'm careful, i keep the stylus clean without any liquids but i like the robustness of the less compliant cartridge.
    • Selection- there's a ton of older interesting cartridges out there that can be had with a fresh rebuild (retip, cantilever, I don't know how much any suspension can really be refreshed or adjusted) at fairly low to reasonable prices.
    This makes me entertain the idea of buying a range of other older, cast-off cartridges and getting them rebuilt (per the the above) at a fraction of the cost of a new cartridge. Given the nature of the Airline, which I still like, I'm tempted to try a stone Koetsu and a few others.
    No class warfare intended here on cartridge pricing- I've never been a penurious person but as a retired pensioner living on my investments, the notion of 15k dollar (even if you get a break on price) cartridges as a consumable just rubs me wrong-- no arguments about mark up or greed here either. I get that there are only a few people that can build these things from scratch, and given the market, you gots to pay to play. Or maybe not. That is the question.
    Have I found a new door to open and explore in the Wheel of Hi-Fi Fortune?
    Be interested in the experience of those of you who are buying and using older cartridges, getting them 'refreshed' (yes, I know they will never be exactly the same, but age takes its toll on cartridges anyway, and I wonder if a cartridge that came with a boron cantilever and line contact stylus new and is refurbished with same isn't pretty close anyway).
    Thank you for reading. If the sonic character of this Monster changes significantly after break in, I'll report back.
    bill

  • #2
    Good is good. There were many good carts across the past decades (some legendary).

    If you put a new stylus on it and it sounds delicious that's awesome! No need to wonder if it's 'the same as it used to be' in my book. You've salvaged a cart from the bin and employed a skilled and rare technician...

    [And yes cost of new, and indeed collectible vintage, is another topic entirely ...]
    Regards,

    Erik
    http://solypsa.com
    North American distributor for:
    Sensitive Sound MC Cartridges
    STST Turntables + Tonearms


    Available for in home setup and calibration of fine turntable systems

    Comment


    • #3
      The Monster Genesis 1000 cartridge sounded good from what I can remember from back in the day when I friend of mine owned one. I'm personally not a fan of having cartridges "rebuilt" by parties other than the manufacturer because they simply won't sound the same. Doesn't mean it can't possibly sound better if rebuilt by someone else, but it won't sound the same.

      DDK should chime in here because he has a collection of vintage cartridges and he should know the ins and outs of buying used cartridges as well as anyone here.
      SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

      Comment


      • #4
        This approach makes a lot of sense to me Bill.

        I cant stretch to top tier cartridges, as much as I would love to hear them. So a rebuild of an interesting cartridge sounds like a good approach. Clearly a soundsmith rebuilt koetsu is not the same as the original, however i wont be able to compare and contrast with a new one, so as long as the rebuilder is skilled, should be a good approach.

        you could have soundsmith rebuild your PC1 first to see what results you get?

        On this topic, apart from Soundsmith, who are the best rebuilders available today?

        cheers

        Andy

        Comment


        • Garth
          Garth commented
          Editing a comment
          That will be a short list other than factory rebuilds of their own product

        • jonathanb
          jonathanb commented
          Editing a comment
          Steve Leung of VAS repairs and rebuilds cartridges.

      • #5
        Bill Hart I could of told you those Monster ZYX cartridges were something special! I have the Alpha Genesis 1000 and the Sigma Genesis 2000 ( much better IMO some of that texture and richness is there in spades.) Perhaps have had them for close to 30yrs or so. I bought each of them new.

        While I think the modern cartridges offer more.. I am a big fan of my Lyra Atlas,Etna SL and my GFS, rebuilding a classic makes sense I also have a Dynavector Karat Ruby somewhere that will come out for a spin sometime.

        You do have to find a stone body Koetsu in your travels--- I have having fun with mine. Good look on your search for the classics.

        Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_1847.jpg Views:	0 Size:	71.5 KB ID:	106569

        Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_1848.jpg Views:	0 Size:	64.2 KB ID:	106570
        Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
        Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
        Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
        Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
        Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
        Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

        Comment


        • Rob
          Rob commented
          Editing a comment
          nice collection. I never made it to the 2000, what was the dif between the 1000 and 2000 carts?

        • kcin
          kcin commented
          Editing a comment
          Hey Rob, those were heady times I was a young lad and my memory is a little faded between school, trying to chase girls and stereos I don't remember much... as I recall the micro ridge stylus was even finer and in the personal note from Nakatksuka he states it provides greater dynamics, depth and naturalness....I bought the Alpha Genesis from a dealer in Beverly Hills on trip I took to SoCal at the time ... they were on the main drag and I just can't remember their name right now... Christopher....something..ok edit... Christopher Hansen..

        • Rob
          Rob commented
          Editing a comment
          you received a personal note from Nakatsuka-san too?! so did I!! And here I thought *I* was special (jus kiddn )

      • #6
        Bill, its sounds like a good synergy with the Airline and your initial concerns were for naught. I really liked the Genesis 1000 when I had one back in the day and I wouldn't hesitate adding a rebuild to my quiver like you did. I have a Linn Troika at ESR in the UK being rebuilt at this moment as a back up to the ESR rebuilt Troika currently in my system. I presently have a half dozen 3rd party rebuilt/re-tipped carts (Lyra, Koetsu, Benz) and I enjoy them all!
        Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D | Jadis | Denafrips | Innuos | Klipsch Cornwall IV | Falcon LS3/5a | McCollum ESL 57

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by Andy from Harvard View Post
          This approach makes a lot of sense to me Bill.

          I cant stretch to top tier cartridges, as much as I would love to hear them. So a rebuild of an interesting cartridge sounds like a good approach. Clearly a soundsmith rebuilt koetsu is not the same as the original, however i wont be able to compare and contrast with a new one, so as long as the rebuilder is skilled, should be a good approach.

          you could have soundsmith rebuild your PC1 first to see what results you get?

          On this topic, apart from Soundsmith, who are the best rebuilders available today?

          cheers

          Andy
          Actually there are more cartridge re-tippers/re builders out there than most people think, maybe deserving of a separate thread.

          I'll pull together my list of re-builders and contacts for others recommended to me.
          Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D | Jadis | Denafrips | Innuos | Klipsch Cornwall IV | Falcon LS3/5a | McCollum ESL 57

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by kcin View Post
            Bill Hart I could of told you those Monster ZYX cartridges were something special! I have the Alpha Genesis 1000 and the Sigma Genesis 2000 ( much better IMO some of that texture and richness is there in spades.) Perhaps have had them for close to 30yrs or so. I bought each of them new.

            While I think the modern cartridges offer more.. I am a big fan of my Lyra Atlas,Etna SL and my GFS, rebuilding a classic makes sense I also have a Dynavector Karat Ruby somewhere that will come out for a spin sometime.

            You do have to find a stone body Koetsu in your travels--- I have having fun with mine. Good look on your search for the classics.

            Click image for larger version Name:	IMG_1847.jpg Views:	0 Size:	71.5 KB ID:	106569

            Click image for larger version Name:	IMG_1848.jpg Views:	0 Size:	64.2 KB ID:	106570
            I should have known!. kcin- can you take a pic of the cartridge body of the sigma- looks like an alpha symbol on the body of this one, but the invoice says Sigma, maybe there was a Sigma 1000 also. I've already started playing with loading and even though this is day two, the cartridge seems better sounding- then again, there's no accounting for mood, mindset and the full moon.
            Thanks for chiming in!

            Comment


            • kcin
              kcin commented
              Editing a comment
              OK Bill I will take a pic....definitely alpha on my "Alpha Genesis 1000" and definitely Sigma on the "Sigma Genesis 2000" Maybe Rob can recall there was another 1000 cartridge it could of been a Sigma.

            • Rob
              Rob commented
              Editing a comment
              Mine came in a masu, like the one pictured on the right with a silver-gray outer box. A bit of trivia: the 'masu' is actually a Japanese unit of measure used in feudal times to distribute rice. You often see them in sushi-yas as a Gaijin gimmick to over-charge them for their Jumai Daiginjo Okay, im being facetious but you get my drift.

          • #9
            Here you go,

            I also got a sweet note from the Head Monster Noel Lee encouraging me to buy some of his cable ... I did buy some of the expensive stuff a the time forget its name... I also attach the notes that came with the cartridges.

            Alpha

            Click image for larger version

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            Sigma

            Click image for larger version

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ID:	106591


            Inserts

            Click image for larger version

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            Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
            Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
            Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
            Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
            Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
            Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

            Comment


            • Rob
              Rob commented
              Editing a comment
              cool. I think the hand-signed 'onionskin' leaflet came with each and every cart, I had one.

          • #10
            Originally posted by kcin View Post
            Here you go,

            I also got a sweet note from the Head Monster Noel Lee encouraging me to buy some of his cable ... I did buy some of the expensive stuff a the time forget its name... I also attach the notes that came with the cartridges.

            Alpha

            Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_1852 (002).jpg
Views:	361
Size:	203.9 KB
ID:	106590


            Sigma

            Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_1851 (002).jpg
Views:	365
Size:	44.5 KB
ID:	106591


            Inserts

            Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_1849 (002).jpg
Views:	364
Size:	108.2 KB
ID:	106592
            thanks, mine is an alpha body no matter what the invoice says. Will look at the notes. much appreciated.

            Comment


            • #11
              Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
              I know, stupid comparison, but bear with me. My Airtight Supreme is aging and I'm looking to replace. The price of the top tier cartridges, like the Opus, is just prohibitive (I know, it's better, one can get some accommodation or a discount or trade-in but still). So, I decided to let Peter L. do his magic on my Supreme (cheap to do, assuming he can do it with no problem). In the meantime, I obviously need to play something- I still have my old Airtight PC-1, which was playing fine when I upgraded to the Supreme, but I get suspicious of these cartridges once miles have been put on them; I have no real way to examine the stylus beyond the common jeweler's loupe or digital microscope and I'm not sure I'd be able to assess stylus wear meaningfully in any case.
              Steve Leung sold me a rebuilt (cantilever, stylus) Monster Genesis 1000 for cheap. I remembered the cartridge from back in the day, but never owned one- I gather that it is an early ancestor of the ZYX family. It wasn't the easiest thing to install on my arm, but once I got it set up and playing, I could appreciate what this cartridge is about (and from reading, it seems like the DNA carries forward into the more modern, and presumably better ZYX cartridges)- this thing tracks like a Mofo, very linear sounding, loads of detail, not edgy but a little lean for my taste- it lacks the texture and tone of the Airtight in the midrange and some of the stage depth- perhaps that will change as the Monster breaks in- it has had only a full day of playing so far.
              Why even bother with such an absurd comparison between a recent, near top of the heap (Airtight)? and old rebuilt cartridge (Monster- even the name makes you think 'box shop' though Noel Lee is a whole other story that is interesting in its own right), yet the Monster was a top tier cartridge in its day too:
              • Alternatives to the high priced new top tier cartridges- I know some like vintage cartridges and there may be good hunting in this field- I've always been suspicious of used cartridges for good reason- it may be one thing to buy something that has a few hundred hours on it if the seller is to be believed but some ancient cartridge, without a retip/go-over? Kind of scary to me even if a bargain; The differences wrought by a retip? Sure, but see below.
              • Sound and behavior- curious to hear differences where you can compare in your system without spending an arm and both legs. Right now, without further break-in, the Monster sounds very 'hi-fi' to me, and perhaps it won't change its fundamental character after it has some miles on it, but it is immediately apparent what is going on sonically. (Arm matching is a whole other thing- this cartridge, unadorned weighs a measly 4 g, and came with a top plate to add mass which I had to adapt to mount it on the Airline). Is it even a good fit with the Airline given the lateral compliance and nature of the arm? Maybe not. But the medium compliance suspension is something I like. Less fragile. I'm careful, i keep the stylus clean without any liquids but i like the robustness of the less compliant cartridge.
              • Selection- there's a ton of older interesting cartridges out there that can be had with a fresh rebuild (retip, cantilever, I don't know how much any suspension can really be refreshed or adjusted) at fairly low to reasonable prices.
              This makes me entertain the idea of buying a range of other older, cast-off cartridges and getting them rebuilt (per the the above) at a fraction of the cost of a new cartridge. Given the nature of the Airline, which I still like, I'm tempted to try a stone Koetsu and a few others.
              No class warfare intended here on cartridge pricing- I've never been a penurious person but as a retired pensioner living on my investments, the notion of 15k dollar (even if you get a break on price) cartridges as a consumable just rubs me wrong-- no arguments about mark up or greed here either. I get that there are only a few people that can build these things from scratch, and given the market, you gots to pay to play. Or maybe not. That is the question.
              Have I found a new door to open and explore in the Wheel of Hi-Fi Fortune?
              Be interested in the experience of those of you who are buying and using older cartridges, getting them 'refreshed' (yes, I know they will never be exactly the same, but age takes its toll on cartridges anyway, and I wonder if a cartridge that came with a boron cantilever and line contact stylus new and is refurbished with same isn't pretty close anyway).
              Thank you for reading. If the sonic character of this Monster changes significantly after break in, I'll report back.
              bill
              Hi Bill,

              There are many fantastic vintage cartridges for under $1k out there that easily meet and kill most of $10k plus carts of today, in this hobby price isn't always representative of quality. Yes there's a risk involved buying used off auction sites but it's not as bad as you think specially if you pickup mm ones. Pickup a Technics or two like the EPC-100 mk2/3 or EPC-205 mk2/3/4 for a few hundred dollars each and get ready to be blown away. Vintage Ortofons are always a good bet unless they were poorly stored and their suspension has rotted or frozen. You have to buy and try but go for ones in original condition rebuilt ones are an unknown commodity, depending on who rebuilt it could be better or could be worse but it certainly won't be the same.

              If you want something new and good value, AT and Denon cartridges are always a safe bet.

              david
              Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
              Distribution: NEODIO

              Special Sales: van den Hul
              Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

              Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
              http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
              http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

              Comment


              • Bill Hart
                Bill Hart commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks David. Never thought of Technics carts. Will investigate. The AT and Denon are at least known to me, and it's been a long time since I used an Ortofon. This is fun. The original condition thing is a bit of an issue- do you have a microscope or some way to assess condition, apart from playing?

              • david k
                david k commented
                Editing a comment
                By original condition I mean that it hasn't been repaired at some point. Sometimes you see a brand new suspension, shiny cantilever or ultra clean stylus you know that it's been messed with otherwise there's no other way to determine condition easily. You need to know what the cartridge looked like when new but it always comes down to listening, the older cartridges are very resilient.

            • #12
              Originally posted by david k View Post

              Hi Bill,

              There are many fantastic vintage cartridges for under $1k out there that easily meet and kill most of $10k plus carts of today, in this hobby price isn't always representative of quality. Yes there's a risk involved buying used off auction sites but it's not as bad as you think specially if you pickup mm ones. Pickup a Technics or two like the EPC-100 mk2/3 or EPC-205 mk2/3/4 for a few hundred dollars each and get ready to be blown away. Vintage Ortofons are always a good bet unless they were poorly stored and their suspension has rotted or frozen. You have to buy and try but go for ones in original condition rebuilt ones are an unknown commodity, depending on who rebuilt it could be better or could be worse but it certainly won't be the same.

              If you want something new and good value, AT and Denon cartridges are always a safe bet.

              david
              H David, What's are ways to store a cartridge to avoid a degraded suspension? TIA.

              Comment


              • #13
                Originally posted by tima View Post

                H David, What's are ways to store a cartridge to avoid a degraded suspension? TIA.
                Hi Tim,

                I use a vacuum sealer like what you use for food products. Some can be used with vacuum sealed tupperware depending on brand good for about 6-12 month before needing another vacuum suck otherwise the sealed plastic bags are good forever. This is how I store my camera lenses too and protect them from fungus between shoots. Buy one of the better vacuum sealers the cheap ones don't work quite as well and will leave air in the bag.

                david
                Last edited by david k; 01-21-2019, 04:16 AM.
                Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
                Distribution: NEODIO

                Special Sales: van den Hul
                Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

                Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
                http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
                http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

                Comment


                • tima
                  tima commented
                  Editing a comment
                  What a great suggestion! I have a decent food vacuum sealer that I use for coffee beans, so I can try it. Mount the cartridge in its original container, put container in sealer bag, etc, write date on bag. Thank you David!
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