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  • Airtight Opus 1 vs Lyra

    Hello everyone,

    I'm in the market for a new cartridge. I'm currently breaking in an Etna SL that a friend lent me. I've only got 17 hours on it so far but I'm fairly impressed.

    I was worried that it might be too generous in the midrange but it's nowhere close to my Zyx Universe Premium (which is colored by comparison). I am also interested in the Atlas SL and the Airtight Opus 1.

    Does anyone have experience with the Opus 1? I'm after as much information retrieval as possible without any false emphasis in any area of the frequency range. I primarily play classical music (with some jazz and rock). I'm wondering if the Opus 1 is as detailed as the Lyras and if it's colored in any way.

    Oh, and Myles, I read your recent cartridge review where you mentioned Hovhaness's Symphony No. 4 (MLP SR90366) and picked up a copy. I love the music and it sounds spectacular with the Etna SL.

    Thanks,
    Ian
    Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/SME 3012R/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

  • #2
    Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I'm in the market for a new cartridge. I'm currently breaking in an Etna SL that a friend lent me. I've only got 17 hours on it so far but I'm fairly impressed.

    I was worried that it might be too generous in the midrange but it's nowhere close to my Zyx Universe Premium (which is colored by comparison). I am also interested in the Atlas SL and the Airtight Opus 1.

    Does anyone have experience with the Opus 1? I'm after as much information retrieval as possible without any false emphasis in any area of the frequency range. I primarily play classical music (with some jazz and rock). I'm wondering if the Opus 1 is as detailed as the Lyras and if it's colored in any way.

    Oh, and Myles, I read your recent cartridge review where you mentioned Hovhaness's Symphony No. 4 (MLP SR90366) and picked up a copy. I love the music and it sounds spectacular with the Etna SL.

    Thanks,
    Ian
    hello Ian,

    since you are considering tip top priced carts.......in my particular system, the Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement certainly does provide as much information retrieval as possible without any false emphasis in any area of the frequency range. I primarily play classical music (with some jazz and rock).

    i'm also most interested in classical, and play plenty of large scale classical. and I've used the GFS in my system with all three of my current resident amplifers, and it seemed synergistic with the presentation of each which to me points to no false emphasis. it played to each amplifier's strengths. and the GFS's generous output of .6mv really increases dynamics and lowers noise from your phono stage.

    Tang I believe has both the Opus 1 and the GFS on hand, but not seen him comment about his GFS yet. you could ask him directly about his perspective.

    I've compared the GFS directly to the MC Anna and vdH Colibri Stradivarious Statement .7mv output cartridges and overall prefer it to both. the Strad Statement was a tiny bit more explosive, detailed and spacious, but the GFS was more elegant and refined sounding......and in the same neighborhood in those other areas. the GFS is the best overall cart I have heard in my system.

    just one to consider. good luck on your quest.

    best regards,

    Mike

    https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615

    Comment


    • Tango
      Tango commented
      Editing a comment
      I had a GFS once and returned it because my phono’s fixed gain was too high and couldn’t play the cart properly. If I remember correctly the GFS is 0.9 mV. Now I have another phono that is suitable for GFS so I ordered one again and will arrive sometime this month.

  • #3
    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the mention of the GFS. I had completely forgotten about that cart. I will research it.
    Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/SME 3012R/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

    Comment


    • #4
      Albert Porter did several comparisons between the Atlas and Opus- he chose the Opus, but it may be system dependent.

      Comment


      • MylesBAstor
        MylesBAstor commented
        Editing a comment
        I'd even go so far to say arm dependent.

      • Bill Hart
        Bill Hart commented
        Editing a comment
        Well, you know my arm- the Supreme sounds fab in it; but part of it I think is the 'filled out' midrange. When I jumped from the Titan i (which short of the Olympus, was Lyra's top cartridge as I remember) to the original PC-1, the difference was pretty profound. The Lyra was far more dramatic, but -- and this may be a function of having horns-- there seemed to be more in the midrange with the Airtight- it just sounded more complete. So, when I needed to refresh, I bought the Supreme.
        I'd love to be able to get out of this 10k+ dollar thing.
        At some point, I'm going to get my SP-10 armed with a 3012r thru David and experiment with vintage and cheaper cartridges just for the hell of it.
        Perhaps Dre is right, and it really comes down to listener preference at the end of the day.
        I always wanted to try a Decca, but I'm not enough of a masochist.

    • #5
      Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post
      Hello everyone,

      I'm in the market for a new cartridge. I'm currently breaking in an Etna SL that a friend lent me. I've only got 17 hours on it so far but I'm fairly impressed.

      I was worried that it might be too generous in the midrange but it's nowhere close to my Zyx Universe Premium (which is colored by comparison). I am also interested in the Atlas SL and the Airtight Opus 1.

      Does anyone have experience with the Opus 1? I'm after as much information retrieval as possible without any false emphasis in any area of the frequency range. I primarily play classical music (with some jazz and rock). I'm wondering if the Opus 1 is as detailed as the Lyras and if it's colored in any way.

      Oh, and Myles, I read your recent cartridge review where you mentioned Hovhaness's Symphony No. 4 (MLP SR90366) and picked up a copy. I love the music and it sounds spectacular with the Etna SL.

      Thanks,
      Ian
      What are you liking about the Etna SL and what do you want more or less of?

      Dre
      **************************************************
      Every day is a good day to play analog.
      - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
      - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
      **************************************************
      Every day is a good day for live music.
      **************************************************

      Comment


      • #6


        Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
        Albert Porter did several comparisons between the Atlas and Opus- he chose the Opus, but it may be system dependent.
        I've been a part of decisions that have gone the other way as well. Cartridges choices are personal, IMO. Both are good but the choice is best made with ones own ears.

        Being myself, I can't go without saying pay attention to setup.

        Dre
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day to play analog.
        - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
        - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day for live music.
        **************************************************

        Comment


        • Bill Hart
          Bill Hart commented
          Editing a comment
          Fair enough.

      • #7
        Originally posted by Mike Lavigne View Post

        hello Ian,

        since you are considering tip top priced carts.......in my particular system, the Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement certainly does provide as much information retrieval as possible without any false emphasis in any area of the frequency range. I primarily play classical music (with some jazz and rock).

        i'm also most interested in classical, and play plenty of large scale classical. and I've used the GFS in my system with all three of my current resident amplifers, and it seemed synergistic with the presentation of each which to me points to no false emphasis. it played to each amplifier's strengths. and the GFS's generous output of .6mv really increases dynamics and lowers noise from your phono stage.

        Tang I believe has both the Opus 1 and the GFS on hand, but not seen him comment about his GFS yet. you could ask him directly about his perspective.

        I've compared the GFS directly to the MC Anna and vdH Colibri Stradivarious Statement .7mv output cartridges and overall prefer it to both. the Strad Statement was a tiny bit more explosive, detailed and spacious, but the GFS was more elegant and refined sounding......and in the same neighborhood in those other areas. the GFS is the best overall cart I have heard in my system.

        just one to consider. good luck on your quest.

        best regards,

        Mike
        I've had them all. Perspective is in the ears of each listener, IMO.

        BTW: there are different models of the Colibri. Mike: Is that the actual name on the cartridge box? Colibri Stradivarius Statement? If so it is different from the Koa wood bodied, Colibri Signature Stradivarius I've had.
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day to play analog.
        - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
        - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day for live music.
        **************************************************

        Comment


        • #8
          I own an Air Tight Opus - 1 and replaced a Dynavector XV-1T with it. I also have a close friend who owns an Lyra Atlas that I have heard many times. My general impressions are these about the three carts: Opus -1: very detailed and retrieves ambient info better than any cart I have ever owned, not colored, but does not emphasize brightness in treble making it a rare cart that gives great detail without sounding bright or analytical. Bass response is phenomenal and better than any cart I have owned. Dyna XV-1T - great midrange and presence, bass very good, high's can sometimes get sibilant and break up a bit but great all around cart; Lyra Atlas - great detail but to my ears, analytical and a bit bright. Very quite noise floor and clearly a world class cart in its own right. I definitely prefer the Air Tight Opus - 1. But at this level, you are approaching rarified air. World class carts are all great. I just like the Air-Tight Opus - 1 the best and think it would be more system independent than the others.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by Dre_J View Post

            What are you liking about the Etna SL and what do you want more or less of?

            Dre
            Hi Dre,

            I like the black background, transients, dynamics and what sounds to me like very realistic timbre. I may want a little more high frequency energy (perhaps due to my aging ears?) and on acoustic guitar I think I'm hearing a little too much energy on the low strings (e.g. a little too much bass), but of course this could be setup. I am wondering if it will get more warm over time. Basically I love detail and instrument separation - the sort of thing that lends itself to appreciating complex arrangements and orchestral harmonies.

            What I don't want is to get these attributes at the expense of body. I don't want thinness. Again, I am enjoying the Etna and trying to get an idea of how the Atlas may sound in comparison (based on a number of posts describing the differences) but also having heard the Supreme and reading J Valins' review of the Opus, trying to understand how that would differ.

            Thanks,
            Ian
            Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/SME 3012R/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post

              Hi Dre,

              I like the black background, transients, dynamics and what sounds to me like very realistic timbre. I may want a little more high frequency energy (perhaps due to my aging ears?) and on acoustic guitar I think I'm hearing a little too much energy on the low strings (e.g. a little too much bass), but of course this could be setup. I am wondering if it will get more warm over time. Basically I love detail and instrument separation - the sort of thing that lends itself to appreciating complex arrangements and orchestral harmonies.

              What I don't want is to get these attributes at the expense of body. I don't want thinness. Again, I am enjoying the Etna and trying to get an idea of how the Atlas may sound in comparison (based on a number of posts describing the differences) but also having heard the Supreme and reading J Valins' review of the Opus, trying to understand how that would differ.

              Thanks,
              Ian
              It seems you are mostly where you want to be. Even though I have been using all 5 Lyras (Etna, Etna SL, Atlas, Atlas SL, Titan i) recently and many of the others mentioned above within the year, I'll stick with talking about the Etna SL you have in-house. (May as well maximize your time with this cartridge as best you can.)

              If setup is not off, the Etna SL should NOT go warm on you over time.

              From what you describe, I'd double check tracking force. Knowing the arm you have can be finicky at times (no slight as you know, it's the nature of the design) and Lyra's need for precise down force (whatever the end value you personally choose). The other adjustment to experiment with is VTA/SRA to insure you have the subjective extension ( top-end and lower-register that is available from the cartridge).



              Dre
              **************************************************
              Every day is a good day to play analog.
              - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
              - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
              **************************************************
              Every day is a good day for live music.
              **************************************************

              Comment


              • #11
                Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post
                Hello everyone,

                I'm in the market for a new cartridge. I'm currently breaking in an Etna SL that a friend lent me. I've only got 17 hours on it so far but I'm fairly impressed.

                I was worried that it might be too generous in the midrange but it's nowhere close to my Zyx Universe Premium (which is colored by comparison). I am also interested in the Atlas SL and the Airtight Opus 1.

                Does anyone have experience with the Opus 1? I'm after as much information retrieval as possible without any false emphasis in any area of the frequency range. I primarily play classical music (with some jazz and rock). I'm wondering if the Opus 1 is as detailed as the Lyras and if it's colored in any way.

                Oh, and Myles, I read your recent cartridge review where you mentioned Hovhaness's Symphony No. 4 (MLP SR90366) and picked up a copy. I love the music and it sounds spectacular with the Etna SL.

                Thanks,
                Ian
                Hi Ian,

                Glad you enjoyed the Mercury recording! Certainly a lot cheaper than buying a new piece of audio equipment and plenty of enjoyment The Hovhaness received a good review from Sid in TAS; I would have rated it even higher. So much with old albums depends on condition and my copy was probably never played when I got it decades ago.

                Just to piggyback onto Andre's comments. I think that cartridges can't be viewed on their own; they must always be considered within the context of the arm they will be mounted in. In simple terms, they must handshake.

                The days are gone when wow and flutter was a meaningful measurement; most of today's tables fall well below measureable wow and flutter. Same goes for cartridges. Years ago we worried about resonance frequency; some arm designers nowadays believe that resonance only makes a different when at the extreme ends of the spectrum. One thing that's possibly more important nowadays is the arm's mechanical impedance. In other words, how does the arm transfer and deal with the energy produced during the tracing of the groove. More to the point, every cartridge designer deals with this issue in different ways.

                That brings us to the Lyras. Jonathan (I hate to put words in his mouth and hopefully he will correct my mistakes) designs the Lyras to transfer their energy into the arm. Ergo that arm better be able to deal with that energy and not have excitable resonances. Jonathan actually isn't a huge fan of unipivots though I used the Atlas and Atlas SL in the unipivot VPI arm (I believe your arm is a unipivot too). That said, the Atlas SL sounds much better in the dual pivot version of the VPI arm. Additionally, the BB is a medium to heavy mass arm (though Kronos shows a Lyra in the arm on their website) and might not be the best match. But the former energy transfer is more important to consider and those who complain about the Atlas may be hearing as much energy issues as Andre pointed out improper setup.

                Also to follow up on Andre's break-in comment. What happens over the first 100 hours is the frequency extremes open up, the cartridge becomes more balanced and finally the dynamics open up. (there is a period say between 15-30 hrs where the cartridge will make you want to tear your hair out; just ignore and listen through since there are better things on the other side!)

                There is unfortunately no easy answer and worst of all it's hard to hear all these cartridges in your system. Lots of good suggestions too here. The GFS is a great cartridge and though haven't heard it here, did get to hear it in a system very similar to mine where the only difference was the speakers (SF Fenices vs my Magicos). It's a terrific cartridge, plenty of output and sounds very different than the early generations of Clearaudio Goldfinger cartridges. Fabulous resolution and yet mellow at the same time. Speed but not etched like the old Goldies (the same could hold true of the newer vdh Colibris vs. the old Grasshoppers) I was blown away on some direct to disc albums that I heard on my buddies system.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers and Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 and Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi V3.0 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, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, 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 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • Madfloyd
                  Madfloyd commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Myles, I would like to understand a bit better about cartridge and tonearm matching - especially with regard to Lyra carts. Yes, my BB is a unipivot and it's medium/heavy mass. When it comes to matching, would a (strictly) medium mass arm be preferable?

              • #12
                Hello Madfloyd,

                I have the same tt and power supply as you. Used to use the Black Beauty with Opus for a year. Now with SAT instead.
                The Opus is quite different from the AtlasSL. In my system, areas of different are:
                • Tones. Opus is more complete, more meat on the bone, vivid “almost rich” full flavors in one dish with a tad toward treble. Atlas tone is nothing near rich. Some call this kind of sound “neutral.” Some say AtlasSL is on a lean side. I say give it a run for a while and it’s sound will be more balance and not sound lean. Maybe a figure of a runway model not a beauty pageant .
                • Bass of Opus is tight, impactful but not as deep as AtlasSL. Your M3 already have excellent bass so I don’t think you need to emphasize any more deep bass.
                • Both are excellent in laying out every details in music with so good high extension. Bonzo and Gianluigi (who also has both Opus and AtlasSL) say AtlasSL is a tiny bit more in detail and high extension, but I think because of the different in tone I mentioned above made them think so. I personally think Opus might even be better than the Atlas SL on these two counts but the fact that its tone is more delicious making these two attribute not too sticking out like AtlasSL. So with both carts, I get more high frequency energy than other carts I tried.
                • The Opus has much better dimensionality of each instrument than the AtlasSL. When each sound become more like an object it brings about better instrument separation imo. The sound of AtlasSL is flat in comparison. Try with solid stage phono, you can hear difference on this even easier.
                • Staging. The Opus is more up front. In jazz I like the size and scale of AtlasSL more. I think it is life size more realistic. But for Orchestra, I like Opus More. The AtlasSL sounds like you sit in a farther row. This is in comparison to Opus.The Opus also gives more sense of depth.
                • Sense of ambient, recording venue. Opus is better. See everything, hear everything, more holographic. It gives you approximation of the venue boundaries and environment. Try some direct to disc recordings and you will hear what I am talking about.
                • The AtlasSL sounds most like My Studer A820 when play without external head pre. The sound is very transparent, clear, detail, fast, excellent high low extensions with great dynamic. But the Studer portrays sense of ambient and snap better than anything else.
                • Decay. I like acoustic guitar. Opus bests all carts I have on this. The decay of high string that hangs in the air effervescently or resonating within the guitar body are present by Opus more. Piano as well.
                • Both Opus and AtlasSL gives a very open sound. The Opus is a bit more vivid and dense. Both are not dark. You can tune your system dark with other gears instead if you like.
                • Quietness. Opus and it’s cousin MSL are quieter than the AtlasSL.
                • Another thing about Opus. On vocal, I think it has more soul than other carts I have. You can feel the lyric and how a singer hypnotized into the song more. I heard the ZYX Uni Premium does this excellently. I am eager to compare the two in the next few months.
                I hope this give you some ideas. Too bad you weren’t interested in Opus a bit earlier, otherwise I would have asked you to switch your ZYX with my Opus to test. Now I just bought the ZYX from DavidK.

                Tang
                Last edited by Tango; 04-09-2018, 04:58 AM.

                Comment


                • Dre_J
                  Dre_J commented
                  Editing a comment
                  "@bonzo75 Thanks - I can only comment on the compare to Opus in Gian's system, which was on the Bergmann Sindre linear tracker."

                  Opus-1 is more self-damping.

                  I generally don't say this but the Atlas or Titan is/has been too much cartridge for the tonearm on the Bergmann Sindre. IMO

                • Tango
                  Tango commented
                  Editing a comment
                  @Myles. Yes, I had both AtlasSL and Opus1 on SAT. Opus1 continues to be on SAT/ Kronos. AtlasSL keeps switching from SAT to Axiom to Ortofon 297. Maybe I should switch AtlasSL back to SAT/Kronos again to cross check my hearing memory. If I hear it differently now, I will admit and correct what I wrote.
                  The phrase “definitely had little of its sound,” echos what Marc Gomez likes to put it when describe his arm. You used it to describe AtlasSL. So when put both together we should get Switzerland...hehe

                • MylesBAstor
                  MylesBAstor commented
                  Editing a comment
                  👍

                  The arm is the forgotten stepsister in the equation when in fact it may be more important than the cartridge. Like the general public thinks first of upgrading their speakers rather than addressing the front end.

              • #13
                Ian. Follow Tango's lead and buy both

                then get another table to play the 2nd cartridge and you will truly be in heaven.

                Comment


                • #14
                  Thanks so much for the feedback. I just sold my Zyx to help fund the next cartridge (only got $5k - ouch) and really want to make the right choice so every data point helps.

                  I wish I could buy two...
                  Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/SME 3012R/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    Dear Tang,
                    i am shocked for your report
                    Incredible report,much better than Stereophile or TAS review

                    My English is very poor,so i cannot explain well like Tang,but i am agree with him.
                    I have Atlas sl,Opus 1,Coralstone Diamond and GFS
                    and also in my system i listen same things that Tang listen in his system
                    My Bergmann Sindre is very good but not for all cartridges

                    Next 2 months i will receive Torqueo Limited with Saec 506 and AF3 Premium with Basis Superarm 9,so i can have the best solution to try all these beautiful cartridges

                    Comment


                    • Tango
                      Tango commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I am no better than you in writing. We both suck at it. You sell linen. I sell fertilizer. But we both love vinyls and like to play with carts in our own system. I don’t comment about gears outside my system and I have limited experience listening to gears outside my system. Carts in my system could sound a little different in other system. When people hear something different from me I keep checking and rechecking if I miss something or I made mistake some where. I now have Opus1, AtlasSL, EtnaMono, MSL Platinum, AS Palladian, Anna, Coralstone, Top Wing Red Sparrow, ZYX Univ Premium, GFS. Some I haven’t even listened yet, lol. It takes me longer to understand the sound of each cart. My analytical listening skill isn’t so good.

                    • solypsa
                      solypsa commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I'm with Gian: Tang I really enjoy your writing!

                    • Madfloyd
                      Madfloyd commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I also agree - Tang is one the most articulate writers - so helpful!
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