Meze Audio Empyrean, for moving the performance pole outwards while bringing the price inwards
Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0/Parabolica, for improving an already great table while still not caring for “audiophile” expectations
The Acoustical Systems Fidelis cartridge is “Oh, my God” good. (The Arche head shell is too damned big.)
A tie for runner up…
The final Oppo 205 is a timelessly great piece of gear, it can do anything and sounds perfect. “Oppo, come back!”
The SMSL FBA_SA-98Eamplifier at Amazon for 115 bucks! I use on to drive some Infinity Intermezzo 2.6 speaks and it is jaw droppingly good…at any price. Simply amazing. It is a product that so thoroughly undermines “high end” pretensions that it would be required listening in High End 101 at Audiophile College.
you have any comparisons/ experience with other cartridges in the same system as the AS? would really be interested in pointers (as it is quite hard to listen to these)
On the same turntable, I also currently play with a Clearaudio Maestro V2 Ebony, a Shure V-15V-xMR with NOS stylus, and an Ortofon Concorde Century. (I use a different turntable for MC cartridges, so I don’t have to keep changing interconnects, talk about lazy.)
I like the lot of them, but the Fidelis has a more lively top end, more air or sensation of space….not tipped up. I think the Fidelis beats the Clearaudio in bass, as well. I do not know channel separation specs, but the Fidelis seems to ‘image’ the best, as well.
As reviewers say, I could happily live with any of them as my only cartridge, but I like changing things. The Shure is no longer made, and the Ortofon is a one-off (but very similar to the 2M black “premount,” actually, I’d call it a wash between them.)
The Fidelis and Clearaudio have that “refined” kind of Hi Fi sound…relaxing to listen to and doesn’t make you sit there wishing for more. The Shure may be the “punchiest.”
Sorry for the crap quality of my reply. I have a positive bias for each!
I am re-plinthing that turntable and will be hosting a shoot out for my April Audiophile Club meeting and will owe you some results from the group! Plus, if you ever happen to be near Chico, CA, you are invited!
thank you for getting back with the detailed impressions. Need to put these on the must try list. I had a listen to the AS system at this years high end which was really something else (though the price is unfortunately also) incl. the music they were running!
Thank you really for the invite, that will however be some 7k KM….
If you fiddle with plinth, old idler?
Kind of hard to nominate products when most of us don’t get to hear much gear. So I’ll nominate a winner and a runner-up based on features, value, and what will most likely sound good based on a manufacturer’s reputation.
Winner – KEF LSX
Runner-up – NAD 3020 v2
I understand the Naim Atom is awesome. I just wish they offered a streamer only, minus amplification.
Winner: PS Audio “Snowmass” update for Directstream senior
Runner-Up: PMC Fact Fenestria Speakers
It’s the first time a PMC speaker has really impressed me!