Thoughts on Moving Coil Cartridges

After a number of years’ excellent service and a mid-life facelift by Van Den Hul, the time has come to replace our Dynavector XX-2 cartridge.

Thoughts on a suitable successor would be gratefully received.

We are keeping the Vertere MG-1 turntable, SG-1 tonearm and Sim Audio Moon 310LP/320S phono stage.

Here’s the current cartridge:

Initial thoughts on successors include the following three
Vertere Mystic:

Kiseki Purpleheart:

The new Hana Umami Red:

I have heard a Dynavector TKR which offered more than its smaller brother but not by enough to warrant the price difference.

As cartridge auditions are extremely difficult at the best of times, any insights into the sound signature of these and/or equivalent alternatives would be welcome.

Best regards, BF

On what turntable/arm etc?
Crossed posts!

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Aside from the above I would have suggested a Lyra Kleos as an potential, nice detailed warm sound really good with strings

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Thanks Colin, I’ll take a look.

I’d be tempted to hear what full Vertere combo since they go to the trouble.

Hi BF,
my dealer likes the Sumiko pearwood as an alternative to the Te Kaitora (which he likes, too).
The Vertere cartridge seems like the obvious choice, if you like the table and arm, which I think you do.

Well I upgraded from the XX to the TKR and I thought a very considerable improvement.



Thank you Mulberry, I wasn’t aware of the Sumiko pearwood.

As you say, the Vertere Mystic would be the obvious choice, as Touraj does seem to know what he is doing (!)

However, my friendly turntable guru rates the new Hana Umami Red very highly indeed, even against a Dynavector XV1-S, which is saying something…

Best regards, BF

Hi Lindsay,
Indeed, I remember when you did and how much pleasure the change has brought for you.
The TKR is a more capable cartridge than the XX-2, itself no slouch.

Best regards, BF

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I’m reading a lot of good things about the Sumiko Starling

Thank you for this suggestion. I was completely unaware of the Starling’s existence.
As you say, it has received several stellar reviews. I’ll look out for it.

Best regards, BF

Love both my Transfiguration Proteus and Phoenix. I doubt you’d find any NOS but maybe lightly used.

Proteus by Cautious Lip, on Flickr


That’s a lovely photo!

Is Transfiguration still in business? I thought they stopped trading a year or so ago.

Best regards, BF

No - owner / craftsman died a few years ago.

Probs impossible to find new stock anywhere but worth keeping an eye out for a used one although I’d doubt anyone would want rid of theirs.

Both of mine are 2nd hand or ex demo. Had a drama with the Proteus recently (won’t go there) but fixed now.

I love my Temper V and even had a Proteus for a few weeks. Ir was lovely, but my phono stage hasn’t enough gain for the very low output. The ultra fragile wires inside are another thing…
If you are into Transfiguration, a used Orpheus or Temper and rebuild by Expert Stylus is another worthwhile approach.

You beat me to it. I went from an XX2 to a Transfiguration Temper, then to a Phoenix on a Well-Tempered Amadeua GTA (different arms altogether, so have no idea without looking up the specs for the OP’s arm if they’d synergize) and the upgrade was pretty profound. They do, though, have a very similar character, but the Transfiguration carts are simply more refined. A beautiful music-making cartridge—either one; and yes, you’d have to find them either used or NOS, unfortunately, but they’re out there.

Yep - the wires in the Phoenix are VERY delicate. Mine had issues but found an incredible craftsman in NYC who was able to repair without a rewind.

I have the same deck / phonoMG1 310 320s Moon with an AT Art9. Do you find the XX2 matches the speed and timing of the MG1? Had an RP10 Apheta before the Vertere