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Cartridge advice for newly ordered VPI Avenger: Soundsmith vs Transfiguration

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  • Cartridge advice for newly ordered VPI Avenger: Soundsmith vs Transfiguration

    I've recently ordered a VPI Avenger table, so far with only one arm, which will be the 12" 3d arm. I think I've narrowed by cartridges down to 2, the Soundsmith Paua vs. the Transfiguration Axia. I can probably demo the Transfiguration but not the Soundsmith Paua. Does anyone have an insight on either of these cartridges, or have some experience with others who have?

  • #2
    First congratulation on your new baby! Great table! Which version did you spring for?

    As far as the cartridge goes, my first thought is what phono section are you currently using? Both are on the lowish output side (Paua 0.3 mV and Axia 0.38 mV) so want something that can give you the amplification without noise.

    Did you give any consideration also to Steve Leung's new VAS cartridge? Harry and Mat have been using it at shows and it's sounded great. It's somewhere in price between the two you are considering.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

    Comment


    • #3
      A close friend has the SS Sussurro used with a VPI SSM reference table and (I believe) 10,5i arm. Its one of the wood bodied with the swiveling plate models. It sounds wonderful every time I've been over there to listen to music. When you consider the retip prices combined with the sound quality the SS cartridges look very nice. Good Luck!
      SOURCE: VINYL - EAT C-Sharp with, EAT LPS power supply, My Sonic Lab Signature Gold
      DIGITAL - Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC. Roon Nucleus w/EAT Lps power supply. Auralic Aires G1
      PHONOSTAGE: AudioNet PAM G2 with AudioNet EPX power supply.
      PREAMP: Audionet PRE G2.
      AMPLIFIER: Audionet MAX monoblocks.
      SPEAKERS: YG Acoustics Anat III Signatures (upgraded to Sonja 1.2) JL Audio F112 V2 (x2)
      CABLES: Kubala-Sosna, Kubala Sosna Xpander.....Audio Desk Systeme RCM, Adona Rack, GIK & Acoustimac room treatment, Isoacoustics

      Comment


      • #4
        Excellent choice.
        Hugh Nguyen
        ACA

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
          First congratulation on your new baby! Great table! Which version did you spring for?

          As far as the cartridge goes, my first thought is what phono section are you currently using? Both are on the lowish output side (Paua 0.3 mV and Axia 0.38 mV) so want something that can give you the amplification without noise.

          Did you give any consideration also to Steve Leung's new VAS cartridge? Harry and Mat have been using it at shows and it's sounded great. It's somewhere in price between the two you are considering.
          Thanks Myles! I have the Zesto Andros 1.2 which has 67 db gain for the MC section. I've read different specs on the Paua. Some say .4 and some say .3 for the output. The recommended gain from Soundsmith for the Paua is greater than 60 db, so I was thinking I'd be fine. I did look in the VAS Nova, but there seems to be more input on the other 2 carts (maybe because the Nova is relatively new???), which felt more comfortable with the Transfiguration vs. Soundsmith. The retipping/rebuilding of Soundsmith makes it a better long term value which I'm liking.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
            First congratulation on your new baby! Great table! Which version did you spring for?

            As far as the cartridge goes, my first thought is what phono section are you currently using? Both are on the lowish output side (Paua 0.3 mV and Axia 0.38 mV) so want something that can give you the amplification without noise.

            Did you give any consideration also to Steve Leung's new VAS cartridge? Harry and Mat have been using it at shows and it's sounded great. It's somewhere in price between the two you are considering.
            I sprung for an upgraded standard. Basically everything in the Avenger reference except for the Mag Drive. So it is the Avenger with the upgraded feet, upgrade Avenger motor, upgraded from 10" 3d to the 12" 3d tonearm.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Analog21 View Post

              I sprung for an upgraded standard. Basically everything in the Avenger reference except for the Mag Drive. So it is the Avenger with the upgraded feet, upgrade Avenger motor, upgraded from 10" 3d to the 12" 3d tonearm.
              Very Nice! Congrats
              SOURCE: VINYL - EAT C-Sharp with, EAT LPS power supply, My Sonic Lab Signature Gold
              DIGITAL - Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC. Roon Nucleus w/EAT Lps power supply. Auralic Aires G1
              PHONOSTAGE: AudioNet PAM G2 with AudioNet EPX power supply.
              PREAMP: Audionet PRE G2.
              AMPLIFIER: Audionet MAX monoblocks.
              SPEAKERS: YG Acoustics Anat III Signatures (upgraded to Sonja 1.2) JL Audio F112 V2 (x2)
              CABLES: Kubala-Sosna, Kubala Sosna Xpander.....Audio Desk Systeme RCM, Adona Rack, GIK & Acoustimac room treatment, Isoacoustics

              Comment


              • #8
                I contacted Soundsmith to see if I can demo the Paua prior to committing to purchase it. They are checking with Peter Lederman and will get back to me. My dealer has an Axia I can demo on the Avenger, so if I can score a Paua demo, I can A/B them. That would make life a lot easier in making a decision!

                Comment


                • #9
                  @Analog21: Very interested in your decision re: cartridge for the Avenger, so I'm following this thread with interest. I'm also in the market for a cart replacement (for my trusty but aging Dynavector XX-2MKII). I'm curious, though: why did you not opt for Mag drive with your new VPI Avenger? I thought that was the main point of the design, although I reckon the multiple tonearm angle is pretty great too. Otherwise, the basic design *appears* to be older VPI tech: SDS, motor sort of the same, perimeter ring that works (but that appears to be a pain to some, like me). Your thoughts? thanks!
                  Lyra Kleos SL, Dynavector XX-2MKII, VPI JMW 10.5i, VPI Aries, VPI SDS, ModWright PH-150 Reference Phono, Sony HAP-Z1ES server, McIntosh MR80, McIntosh C2300, McIntosh MC352, Vandersteen 5A, PS Audio P10, Bright Star Audio Rack of Gibraltar. Cables: Shunyata Cobra Ztron IC, PS Audio Statement AC, Synergistic Research AC, Harmonic Tech Silver Phono, Cable Research Labs Silver IC, Audioquest Gibraltar bi-wire.

                  Comment


                  • Analog21
                    Analog21 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I'll be able to tell you difference between the Prime and the Avenger once I hear it, but that's about it!

                  • MylesBAstor
                    MylesBAstor commented
                    Editing a comment
                    ADS = analog drive system. I think I mention something about here: https://www.audionirvana.org/forum/t...and-audioquest. Especially see #19 where Mike Bettinger discussed the unit.

                    AFAIK, the SDS is now officially discontinued and is replaced by the ADS. IIRC, the new ADS is actually $400 less than the SDS coming in at around $1000. Now sometimes the ADS is standard with the table and other times it's an option. Not sure here.

                  • Analog21
                    Analog21 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Eventually, VPI will come out with 3 speed controller devices (that's the rumblings at least). This ADS around the $1000 is the middle. I hear VPI will be coming out with a cheaper model to better compete with the Phoenix Engineering and a more expensive ADS that will be for the Avenger reference. Not sure what will change, but I'm sure the Avenger ADS will have a nicer casing to match the Avenger. 3 different speed controllers at three different price points will be nice and eliminate the need for a step-up pulley. I think I'll wait for the ADS until VPIs full line is introduced.

                • #10
                  Originally posted by Analog21 View Post

                  Thanks Myles! I have the Zesto Andros 1.2 which has 67 db gain for the MC section. I've read different specs on the Paua. Some say .4 and some say .3 for the output. The recommended gain from Soundsmith for the Paua is greater than 60 db, so I was thinking I'd be fine. I did look in the VAS Nova, but there seems to be more input on the other 2 carts (maybe because the Nova is relatively new???), which felt more comfortable with the Transfiguration vs. Soundsmith. The retipping/rebuilding of Soundsmith makes it a better long term value which I'm liking.
                  I think they are both good but if I can extrapolate from the bigger cartridges. The Soundsmith will give you a little more midrange density and dynamics while the Axia will be a little quieter and resolving.
                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                  -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                  -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                  -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                  -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                  -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                  -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                  -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                  -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                  -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by Analog21 View Post

                    I sprung for an upgraded standard. Basically everything in the Avenger reference except for the Mag Drive. So it is the Avenger with the upgraded feet, upgrade Avenger motor, upgraded from 10" 3d to the 12" 3d tonearm.
                    I think the Avenger is one of the most underrated tables out there. Doesn't get the press of the other tables but just goes about it job quietly.
                    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                    ________________________________________

                    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Congrats on the Avenger! Please post pics when you can!
                      Kronos Sparta -> Trinity Phono -> Trinity Pre -> CH Precision A1 -> Magico S7s

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        First, congrats on getting a new 'table. I hope it brings much pleasure to your listening room. You're smart going for a choice that handles multiple 'arms. I'd love to have a mono set-up.

                        Wrt cartridges, I'm a fan of Transfiguration. I had an Orpheus which I played 'til it gave up the ghost after quite a few years. Wish I had another. Now I have one of their new Phoenix carts and it is excellent. To my ears the hallmark of Transfiguration sound from those two cartridges is realistic tonality across the frequency spectrum that is both easeful and natural. Overall they are well balanced without glaring flaws in any area, with increasing resolution as you go up the product chain. 67db should do fine. If your dealer has a Phoenix for demo, you might want to check that out along with the Axia. I don't know about re-tips, but Bob Clarke is good about taking trade-ins.

                        Comment


                        • Analog21
                          Analog21 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I will look into the Phoenix. Thanks for the advice and description of the Transfiguration carts.

                      • #14
                        Originally posted by tima View Post
                        First, congrats on getting a new 'table. I hope it brings much pleasure to your listening room. You're smart going for a choice that handles multiple 'arms. I'd love to have a mono set-up.

                        Wrt cartridges, I'm a fan of Transfiguration. I had an Orpheus which I played 'til it gave up the ghost after quite a few years. Wish I had another. Now I have one of their new Phoenix carts and it is excellent. To my ears the hallmark of Transfiguration sound from those two cartridges is realistic tonality across the frequency spectrum that is both easeful and natural. Overall they are well balanced without glaring flaws in any area, with increasing resolution as you go up the product chain. 67db should do fine. If your dealer has a Phoenix for demo, you might want to check that out along with the Axia. I don't know about re-tips, but Bob Clarke is good about taking trade-ins.
                        My next table will have multiple arm capability.
                        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                        ________________________________________

                        -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                        -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                        -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                        -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                          My next table will have multiple arm capability.
                          Amen Brother!
                          SOURCE: VINYL - EAT C-Sharp with, EAT LPS power supply, My Sonic Lab Signature Gold
                          DIGITAL - Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC. Roon Nucleus w/EAT Lps power supply. Auralic Aires G1
                          PHONOSTAGE: AudioNet PAM G2 with AudioNet EPX power supply.
                          PREAMP: Audionet PRE G2.
                          AMPLIFIER: Audionet MAX monoblocks.
                          SPEAKERS: YG Acoustics Anat III Signatures (upgraded to Sonja 1.2) JL Audio F112 V2 (x2)
                          CABLES: Kubala-Sosna, Kubala Sosna Xpander.....Audio Desk Systeme RCM, Adona Rack, GIK & Acoustimac room treatment, Isoacoustics

                          Comment

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