My DV XX-2 has just hit 850 hours so a replacement is just over the horizon.
After replacing the HiCap DR on my Superline with a SCDR last year my vinyl replay is the best it’s ever been (Xerxes 20+ / Artemiz 2 / DV XX-2 / Superline / SCDR / NAC 252DR / NAP 300DR / Totem Mani-2 Signatures).
So, given that I’m very happy with what I’m hearing do I get another XX-2 or up the ante and step up to a TKR? Or do I move away from Dynavector and go for the Hana Umami Red that has glowing reviews?
I’d welcome input from anyone, but particularly those who’ve had or heard both. I will of course be visiting my dealer in the next couple of weeks to discuss options. Thanks in advance.
My DV XX-2 has just hit 850 hours so a replacement is just over the horizon.
We used to have an XX-2 on a Xerxes 20+ with Artemis 2, then on the current Vertere MG-1 with Vertere tonearm. Phono stage was the DV P75 mk 2, followed by the Sim Audio Moon 310LP/320S.
When the XX-2 wore out, we faced the same decision and choices as you. Given how close the XX-2 is to the TKR (not as capable but very close), the prime choice was the brilliant DV XV-1S. Lyra, Van Den Hul and Kiseki cartridges were also on the shortlist.
Speaking to our dealer, who uses a Vertere MG-1 as his own turntable and is a long term admirer of the XV-1S, he warned that the DV cartridge was heavier than ideal for our tonearm. He recommended the Umami Red over the XV-1S for our turntable. He also uses one on his own MG-1…
We went with the Umami Red and are very, very happy with it.
We even kept the same cartridge loadings in the Moon phono stage, though the Superline is super sensitive to cartridge loadings.
Hope this helps, BF
Hana is coming out with an Umami Blue as well which is quite a bit less… I loved my ML so I am leaning that way
Wow, really? Are you not cleaning your records and stylus on a regular basis. You should get a lot more of it than that.
I just retired a XV-1s in favor of a Lyra Atlas. While it was a bit long in the tooth, it still sounded quite good after nearly 4 years of use and likely 2000 hrs. I dropped it off today at my dealer, so he can leave it with the U.S. distributor (who is local) for an assessment.
FWIW: my dealer also sells Hana cartridges, but not the Umami. They don’t think it’s as good as the Dynavector. If you have a XX-2 have a look at the DV Karat 17DX. My dealer has been loving that one lately.
I wet clean my records as soon as they arrive and then again when they need it. I clean each side with a carbon brush before play and use the DS Audio ST-50 on my stylus after each listening session.
My dealer advises around 1000 hours as the life expectancy of a cartridge and I recall a thread on here (though I can’t find it) where 1000 was a figure regularly quoted.
The trouble with cartridge wear is it is gradual so you get used to the changes and damaged could be caused without knowing.
I put 10 hours a week on a cartridge so even if I go over by a couple of hundred hours I’ll need one this year so I’m starting my research now.
I use a daily driver which is MM with replacement stylus.
Sumiko and Audio Technica are the main drivers as its quite easy to change headshell on my SL1200.
I use MC rarely, not every week, even I have a few to choose and extra deck too, but nice to have.
I have a “spare” cart, an Audio Technica AC-09 MLII with around 200 hours on it and just change the loading plug on the Superline when I use that. But my system is set up for MC and I’ve never been one to collect cartridges.
Me neither but admittedly have more than five cartridges and now looking for a vintage Shure to try out.
Two or three are daily drivers and a few MC are for the occasion.
When I got a bargain offer from my dealer on a retipped EMT, I couldn’t resist to own that as well.
If you keep the stylus and records clean the stylus will last a lot longer than 1000 hrs. It’s the suspension that starts to go first. You aren’t going to damage records as long as you stay within the recommended tracking force range.
The XV-1s I just took off had at least 2000 hrs on it. I left it with my dealer. The US distributor is local and will assess its condition.
Joe Harley (a.k.a. the Tone Poet) uses a Lyra Atlas like the one I just got. He says he gets about 6000 hrs on them, and he uses it professionally. He was a VP at AudioQuest, the U.S. distributor for Lyra until last fall, so he would know.
Wow. That’s really interesting. 6k hours is, a very long time! Has he written that somewhere alongside his cleaning regime? Or said verbally?
I must say, 6000 hrs is a figure I have never heard before, and while I won’t dismiss it out of hand it does stretch my powers of belief.
I’ve always heard, or believed I’ve heard, a small reduction in sound quality north of 1000 hrs. With my last DV XX-2 when it had 1200 hours on it, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as it was at say 600 hours. In fairness it was 7 years old so the suspension was probably compromised and holding back the performance. I was still working at that time so had less time to listen.
I was always led to believe a cartridge had a bell jar performance curve with potential of damage if you went too far along the down curve. With some records in my collection worth several hundred pounds I think it better to be over cautious and change the cart a little early.
Worth a look on Pear Audio’s website. They are the distributor for DV carts. John Burns reckons if kept clean and well, the limit to lifespan is the deterioration of the rubber dampers in the suspension which he says is not necessarily proportional to hours played as much as pure age. He says 6 years is a sensible figure to expect. Even after that he wouldn’t suggest that the cart would damage your records, just that the cart won’t sound as it should anymore.
I have made exactly the change that you refer to, Steve - from a Dynavector XX2MkII to a Te Kaitora Rua. Because of intervening illness, there was a year-long gap from listening to the old, then the new. But the TKR is fabulous and I recommend it very strongly indeed.
Also moving from one Dynavector cartridge to another avoids faffing around fitting new input boards on the control amp.
Is the TKR differently voiced or just an all round improvement on the sound of the XX-2?
Staying in the DV family is perhaps the easiest upgrade and my plan had always been to upgrade to TKR when the time came. However, the emergence of the Umami Red and the glowing reviews of its qualities has muddied the waters somewhat.
I’ve read positive and negative reviews of both the XX-2 and the TKR yet only gushing reviews of the Umami Red. My dealer rates the Hana ML highly but as yet I having asked his opinion of the Red.
Steve, it’s difficult for me to give guidance, precisely because of the year-long gap, as described.
Doing my best, I’d say that the sound of the two cartridges is pretty similar, but the TKR is fuller, it has a lot more ‘oomph’, if you will. It is by any stretch of the imagination a fantastic performer and loves the ARO! And the skeletal body lets you see what you’ve spent your money on. (I can’t think of a cartridge maker other than Dynavector who would do this.)
You really aren’t risking damage to your records. Just offense to your ears.
Joe Harley and I have talked at length about the cartridge. We once met on Zoom just to discuss it for a while, since he knew I ordered it (on his recommendation), and we talk via email all the time (at least weekly).
I was also a bit in disbelief that it could be used for 6000 hrs, but I trust his experience, knowledge and expertise. It’s because of him I got the Lyra Altas Lambda SL. He uses the Atlas Lambda (non SL) and the Atlas Lambda Mono for personal use, as well as to evaluate test pressings, not just for the Tone Poet series but many other projects too.
My cleaning routine is this. newly acquired records – both new and used – are cleaned in my Audio Desk ultrasonic machine, and again if/when I feel like they need another cleaning. When I play a record side I wipe it with a Roksan two-stage brush I have to pickup any accumulated dust, etc.
My stylus cleaning regimen is:
- At the beginning of a session I use the dense cleaning pad to wipe the stylus. Then I clean just the stylus tip with the Lyra SPT fluid and the soft brush provided for it.
- After every record side or two, I use a soft bristle brush to wipe the stylus and cantilever
- Every 50 hrs, I clean the stylus with my Flux Hifi ultrasonic cleaner, for 10-15 secs.
I asked Joe about this cleaning regimen, and he says that’s pretty much what he does too.
I agree 6000 hrs seems a lot, but if Joe tells me that’s what he gets out of his then I take his word on it. The official stance of Lyra may be different. I suppose Jonathon Carr would be the best person to ask. Since getting the Atlas rebuilt is over $6000 and time consuming – with a trip back to Japan – I will be happy to get as much time out of it as I can.
I think what I might start doing is add $2 to a pot for every hour I play (I am using a stylus timer). That way, after 3000 hrs I can assess if I need a rebuild and if I do my pot has the money for it.
TKR here too. I like it very much, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that I should have gone with another Linn ( TKR replaced a broken Krystal) either Kendo or Kandid. TKR is a lovely cart and it’s entertaining me royally, but to cater to my personal mores I possibly need more bite and in yer faceness. That’s just me though.
Having spoken with Peter at Cymbiosis I’m thinking a heavy counterweight for my Aro might help, so I’m on the slightly Sisyphean task of trying to find one…
I currently use a Moth RCM to wet clean my records but have ordered a Degritter which should land soon. I use a Decca carbon fibre brush before playing each side
For stylus cleaning I use a DS Audio ST-50 gel pad after each listening session, and midway through a longer listening session as well.
I used to use the green Linn paper that was provided by Dynavector with a new cart. However, the last XX-2 I bought came without the green paper. I contacted Pear Audio who are Dynavector’s UK Distributor and they told me they no longer recommended its use. I asked about the Audio Technica AT637 that I sometimes used and they told me they didn’t recommend that either. Neither did they recommend the use of any stylus cleaning fluids.
The problem is different people have different ideas. But for my Dynavector cartridge I’ll follow the advice of their distributor I think.
The money pot for a new cartridge is something I already employ.