Kleos Sibilance

Hello Folks,

I posted this in a Delos thread but I thought I'd better start it's own thread.

I have a new Kleos in a JMW 9 Signature on a Scoutmaster. I am getting sibilance on vocals beyond what I have heard with either a Shelter 501 II or a VPI Ortofon on the same table. My dealer put the Kleos on the wand I had the VPI cart on. I have gone to 1.8g and did not solve it and I have checked the alignment. I brought the rear of the arm down as well. It may be less pronounced but it is still there. Otherwise the Kleos is quite nice. It has 3 or 4 hours on it now. I do not hear misstracking on high level passages, just sibilance and sometimes some grunge on male vocals. It is not on all vocals but it is fairly common.
128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xrobob
I've had my Kleos for three months and like other cartridges, I would give it 50hrs to settle in before making any judgments. I track at 1.77 with the arm (Graham Phantom 2) perfectly level and have no sibilance issues. I find it to be a very accurate, quiet, and musical cartridge and hope yours eventually pleases your ears.
I have had my Kleos on an LP12/Ekos for about 3 months as well. I do notice some sibilance from time to time so I write it off to the recording. One thing I have noticed with this cartridge that I have never really noticed in the past is warm up time. It seems that after one side of an LP it really opens back up. On the intial album side it sound great but somewhat confined by the end it is sounding better and the second side is just where it should be. Have either of you noticed that?
Consider a tonearm upgrade. Even with factory tweaks, the JMW-9 is an extraordinarily average product and incapable of optimizing most high level cartridges.

Your Kleos deserves far better.


Dealer disclaimer
I too have a JMW arm. I am using a Benz Ebony LP with absolutely no sibilant issue. Your problem is not a JMW arm issue.
Stringreen, the two cartridges are at the opposite sides of anyone's favor. The LP is flat & boring & used as a calming medicine (like the Cardas speaker cables) while the Kleos is balanced at the extreme razor's point. So, the reflected energy of both is not comparable.

Happy New Year
The arm is certainly an issue.

I speak to dozens of folks with very high level systems on a weekly basis and very few if any use vpi arms. Look at some of the more highly regarded poster's systems here on Audiogon. You won't see many vpi arms in use. And those folks who do eventually wise up and move up.

They are, at best, very average.

Nothing more.

Get yourself a better performing tonearm and that Kleos will sing like a bird.
If you really don't hear any mistracking on high pitched tracks, (it seems that your alignment is OK & so in terms of phonostage overload) but you do hear sibilance & grunge, I suggest you, after you get your new arm, to examinate your cable loom : (clean highs, refined mids, but full of body with strong foundation & soundstage completeness).
Overall the problem seems to be a synergy thing : TONALITY
IMHO you need a more capable arm & more sophisticated cables to find calmness & effortless flow & do some experiments with platter MAT.
Thanks for all the replies.

I realize the arm is not state of the art. Remember though, the Signature is quite different from the normal 9".

Not sure it was anything I did but I am hearing less of it. On the other hand, sibilance bothers me so I would like to solve this. I do really like the Kleos otherwise. I have heard high-end carts plenty over the years and many are thin which the Kleos is not.

My dealer had SME but gave it up and his only other turntable brand is Rega which I do not want. I can go to the VPI 10.5i as an upgrade for a grand. You folks think it would work better with the Kleos?

I appreciate the help,
PS: I have experienced cartridge warmup. My Shelter is that way even more than the Kleos.
See my previous comment about serious analog systems and vpi arms.

If you're going to make a change, ensure it is a legitimate upgrade not just a longer iteration of the same design.

"If you're going to make a change, ensure it is a legitimate upgrade not just a longer iteration of the same design."

Which is why I asked.

Aren't you a dealer of other brands?
Yes, I made a dealer disclaimer in the third post of this thread dated 1/1/11.

I'll discuss "other brands" in PM or phone call if you wish.

The threads are not designed for sales promotion IMO.
Robob, you make the statement "Not sure if was anything I did but I am hearing less of it". I assume you are referring to the sibilance? That is a good indicator that the Kleos is breaking in. I am listing to mine now and I swear it sounds better each time. Give the cartridge time to break in (at least 100 hours) before you drop any money on a new arm.
Post removed 
"Dealer Disclaimer"

Personally I think, Bill does it the right way. In a way he is "one of us" with a personal opinion/knowledge about something, sometimes he acts as a dealer. So what?
The other side are those "secret supporters" from dealers, supporters, manufacturers, because they get a good price ...

Unfortunately -based on the awful magazine reviews and everything which is connected to that - the dealers knowledge is often ignored. I don't share this, when someone survived until today, with analog gear, that is everything but easy in our time, I read his posts (there are others I don't read for example).
"Bill identified himself as a dealer in his first post in this thread. At the bottom of his post it says "Dealer Disclaimer". That seems pretty transparent to me, but English can be a funny language. "

Yes but many folks come into these things in the middle or later via searches. And he seems to have a strong anti VPI sentiment. I may be particularly cautious having sold Audio/Video in the past and know how some can be.

On the other hand, I plan to call him Monday.

Moving on, it may be breaking in but a few minutes ago on the first side (cart warmed up already) of Featuring Norah Jones the sibilance was quite pronounced on some cuts. I will probably try the dreaded anti-skate contraption and maybe a drop of dampening fluid if the sibilance does not abate soon.

What would you folks think of the 309 on Gyro SE? I really cannot afford to spend any more money but I cannot live with the sibilance. Sibilance is the reason some digital drives me batty. Not that anyone could tell.

Appreciate you folks helping:-)
Agree with above comments that you should break it in longer before judgment. It is also worth checking to see if a change in effective mass affects the sibilance. Try weighting the headshell with a 5gm nickel & rebalancing the counterweight.
As the Kleos is a more revealing cart & w/ the Lyra carts being on the detailed side of things, few things i can comment that possibly contributes to sibilance in no particular order:

1. improper alignment & overhang
2. tonearm itself
3. phono stage
4. break in issues
5. Lp software itself

With this in mind, has anyone here had the Delos before upgrading to the Kleos ?
"Try weighting the headshell with a 5gm nickel & rebalancing the counterweight."

Yeah, thought about something like that. I have some Blu tack or similar. I might stick some of that on the headshell and rebalance. The Kleos is 8.8g which is heavier than the Helikon. Elusivedisc is selling a package with a Scoutmaster, 9 sig, and Helikon. Theoretically since the Helikon is lighter, if it works in a 9 sig, the Kleos should.

The cart has the ability to bring instruments and voices into the room like no other I have heard. Gotta make it work. It may bankrupt me, but gotta make it work.

PS: The Gyro has the funky motor and slow pacing so that is out.
>>01-02-11: Robob
Theoretically since the Helikon is lighter, if it works in a 9 sig, the Kleos should.<<


A 0.05 gram difference in effective mass is insignificant.

More importantly, IMO, is the difference in design between Helikon and Kleos regarding coil alignment.

I maintain this cartridge is too much for the arm to handle properly. It won't track a Zyx Universe, vdh Colibri, or Dynavector XV-1t with any precision as well.
Hello Bill (Audiofeil)
I know this sounds like a discussion that appears to be going back and forth, "yes it will-no it won't", but in the hopes of learning something, and hoping you folks will share some of your seasoned knowledge, why do you think this is?

Is it maybe not so much the JMW Arm can be accused of being poorly built, or would you say it is more a cause of the type-design of Arm it is, that it is a Unipivot?

I'm reminiscing back, to hear Doug D's words, when he once gave comment about how he noted that some Unipivots he teamed with some of the ZYX Cartridges, just didn;t seem to cut it. If I remember, his term was "wooly", and I know wooly can be a vague term to describe, but do you think that this what what Doug was getting at, that in some cases with these highly revealing MC Cartridges, that the Unipivot design may be a wrong choice, and falls short?

I know you see the Hadcock, I believe another Unipivot design. So is the Shroder, right?

Is it a mismatch of compliance, or something else then?
"A 0.05 gram difference in effective mass is insignificant."

A Helikon is 8 g and the Kleos is 8.8 g.

Just for clarity, I am not saying Bill is wrong about the arm being the issue. I just don't understand. My dealer had a Helikon on a 9 sig for probably years without an issue. In the past I would increase the tracking force but Mr. Carr is so adament about not going beyond 1.8.

How about a Sota Sapphire or Star with the 309? Still have my pace and transient speed?

It's going to take 100 hours for the cartridge to break in. Intially with the Lyras, they'll sound thin, detailed but the extremes aren't going to be happening; then you're going to have a period say between 15-25 hours where the cartridge actually sounds like it's mistracking. Get through that period and then the extremes start to come in and then the cartridge suspension begins to relax. Then your dynamics will start to open up.

You're also going to have to play with SRA since like most modern cartridges, Lyras are particularly sensitive to set up.

OTOH, one does need to ask also if what you're hearing is actually on the LP and you're hearing the album as it was recorded. No one will ever accuse, even the newer Lyras of being romantic.
I've had 3 Kleos here in the past year and none of them took anywhere near 100 hours to settle in. Perhaps 30 at the most. Your ears are acclimating to the cartridge more than the cartridge is changing.

The VTA/SRA is really quite simple and not nearly as complex as other moving coils. Delos and Kleos are designed so that the top surface of the cartridge is parallel with the record. Very little adjustment beyond that is necessary.

The key parameter, as Robob indicated, is VTF. This is where the user needs to focus. There are noticeable differences in the 1.68 to 1.75 range.

Well as they say, YMMV.

I haven't found a cartridge that isn't sensitive to VTF,esp. near its optimal value. That is brought out even more by the Soundsmith Counter Intuitive where one can very easily adjust VTF in 1/100th of a gram in no time at all.
Myles, I will keep breaking it in. Need to add up the time on it. What do you folks do, say 40 min/lp times # of lps played? And yes, it really is actuating the sibilance. As an example the Featuring Norah Jones on a Dorian/JMW 9T did not have the sibilance. I am very familiar with most of the other stuff I have played on the Kleos. Some of it is stuff I have been playing for 35 years or so. Oh, I believe I am getting the extremes.

Tonight I have been playing with the VTA, it is sensitive to that, you can easily loose the magic. I will check it via Bill's method.

Nolitan: In some thread, someone said the Kleos has more goodness than the Delos. More detail, etc.

Enjoying the conversation.
I agree with Audiofeil, I had all Lyras, and none of them needed 100h to settle in.
Hey Folks,

"Try weighting the headshell with a 5gm nickel & rebalancing the counterweight."

Did the Blu-Tack to the headshell trick. It did help. Still too much sibilance but it is better. Also, it has dampened things a bit which was needed. This makes since as we have a VPI headshell weight on the wand with the Shelter.

Do I have it right, the Gryo is the one you have to start by hand or is that the Nottingham?

Y'all got no opinion on the Sota?

Hope your Moday is going well,
Let the cartridge break in before doing the audiophile dance and spending money on something that will fix itself.
The cartridge needs at least 30 hours to settle in and become stable, make sure your table room temp is at 70 degrees because if it is lower it will never meet Lyra's specs. When setting the VTF remember, the arm must be parallel to the platter when sitting on the gauge and then made parallel to the record when playing, otherwise what you set is not what you get. If you need it use a little damping and if you need it a bit of mechanical anti-skate.

Serious business, never believe what a dealer tells you, they are a profit driven item and need the money to live, therefore what they sell or have in the back room is the best!! Another important point, they want to sell what you cannot get from another dealer at a discount price so that you will need them!!!!!!!

Notice that the million dollar system in Stereophile this month has a Classic feeding it, notice that HP says the Classic challenges the $150K table in house, notice the Classic was product of the year in Germany, England, France, and 2 Golden ears in the US. Notice the Rim Drive was product of the year in Stereophile. Notice - we do no advertising!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our distributor in Japan is Esoteric and was Scan-Tech for 10 years, but they can't hear either!

But what do they know, believe a dealer that makes money on the sale instead!!
Vpihw, I will continue to break it in. Will count the hours after dinner. Was going to call you folks today but did not get to it. So, you do not think the 10.5i will work better with the Kleos?

Turned up the heat.

If this is Mr. W. I am replying to, it is a joy to hear from you. HP's recommendations(Fremer liked it too of course) and my dealer's(SoundWorld here in Houston) low key approach are two reasons I bought the Scoutmaster/JMW 9sig/TNT mini feet a couple of years ago.

Thanks for your thoughts,
The big things will be the break in and the temperature. VPI gets many calls a week from customers in colder climates that have the same problems. I use a lamp over my table in the winter to maintain a solid 70-72 degrees and have never had a problem.

I live in western New York near Buffalo and the cold weather has never been a factor in breaking in a cartridge.

Funny in 50+ years and hundreds of cartridges this has never been a problem.

You have a tonearm issue but some contributors choose to ignore it.

Especially those with a financial interest.

The LP is flat & boring & used as a calming medicine - Geoch -

I guess you never heard a Benz LP mounted on a good arm and on a good turntable.
Yes Curio....there are a number of posters who don't know what they are writing about, yet take the position of experts. You have to take the good with the bad and understand that the internet allows everyone to display their stupidity, and intellect.
Concerning the Benz LP argument, let's don't forget that cables really can make a big difference due to changes in capacitance, etc.

So at least 3 people have mentioned the phono stage, both here, on the telephone, and my dealer via email. (did talk to Bill BTW, he is trying to help) I will sub in my Dynavector phone stage but can someone point me to an explanation of how a phono stage can cause sibilance and/or mistracking?

So I have about 38 hours on it using 40min/LP as a multiplier.

Put the Dynavector P75 MkII in place of the GCPH. Surprisingly it sounds pretty good with the Kleos. Has a peak someplace around 1-2k which makes it sometimes sound a bit lowfi but this could be the cable. Had Hero balanced from the GCPH to the NAD M3 integrated. The P75 has bass more like the GCPH when used with the Kleos.

Anyway, let the P75 warmup and the sibilance is still there. Playing an original pressing of Court & Spark. Man the Kleos can separate the voices.

Heater's on 70.

BTW, using 100ohms as I was on the GCPH.
Hi Robob,

I unfortunately don't have the solution to your problem, but I've struggled with sibilance distortion quite a bit as well, and I have a long thread about it. Maybe some food for thought in it somewhere?


(Sorry, the sound clips and photos aren't up on the server anymore)
Had to read it, thanks.

So, based on my testing/experience and yours I can conclude that it is the arm/cart interaction. As I have stated to some I had some issues, including sibilance, with the Shelter and just went up on the VTF. Can't do that with the Kleos, JC might send Ninjas . And I kept remembering that my V15IV MXR will track anything, even on the Project 2.1. Including sibilants and the Telarc cannons. Of course I haven't seen anyone mention the V15 cheats. It has a brush on the front that doubles as a dampener. Of course it also cannot reveal the two different reverbs on Sir Paul's voice during the same word. The Kleos can. I also keep thinking of the VPI tech telling me they prefer heavy carts. On the VPI website they do not offer and apparently do not believe in low output moving coil cartridges.

So let me state it more directly, it is a tracking issue. It is not the phono preamp or the setup or the alignment or a lack of breakin. Goatwuss tried alignments with the VPI jig and with a Mint. I have been setting up turntables since the early 70's and have never had sibilance not be a tracking issue. Maybe in rare cases it could be something else, but never in my experience. I, like Goatwuss, was open to other ideas.

Leaning towards a refurbed Sota Star with a SME 309.

I am still open to new ideas.

Thanks yet again,
Dear Curio,
I remind you that my set-up has a fairily good quality : I have the Pluto 9A / Symphonic Line RG6 and the Reed 3Q / Thorens TD 124 II as you can recall if you visit your last thread : "Anyone here knows the Reed 3Q tonearm?"
The most interesting thing in that thread was that -inspite that I dislike the LP while you admire it, both you & me we have the same conclusions about it's character. The difference was that I blame the Benz LP, but you came to blame the Reed 3Q.
Anyway I'm not in a mood to argue about this and I hope to enjoy your Benz LP with your Technoarm.

Dear Stringreen,
You doesn't have to be rude.
It is just a matter of taste & priorities in audio.
But I suppose next time you would be more wise & just say :

Dear Robob,
I thought you were clear that you did not hear mistracking on high pitched tracks, just sibilants & grunge on male vocals. This was the only reason concerning a better matched wiring loom in your system.
But at this present situation, I strongly recommend for changing your arm ... or to trade your Delos for a Benz LP.
(just kidding)
As you ask for a new idea, I would like to point something better : Denon DP80/SME 312S
Kind Regards
The Benz LP is not necessarily everybody's cup of tea but it's a fine cartridge nonetheless.

Your remarks are a bit exggerated.

Geoch....I find it interesting that you should think I was talking about you....and which camp are you in..the intellectual, or the stupid.... oh, I got it...before I read anything more from you, I think you should realize that your first sentence to me should have read "You don't have to be rude".
Thanks for your kind words anyway & for the grammar lesson.
It would be nice if you can manage to spread a few words helping the topic with your expertise.
Dear Bill,
But the point here and on every post is giving a helping hand to the OP. And by high praising a component (just because we have it in our system at this present time) that does not deserve it, we do not offer but confusion, let alone that we acuse great components instead for the inferior that we have.
I apologise to everyone for being so straight as I'm only trying to help.

For the record, it's not a cartridge I would own personally. For my taste, there are far better products at that price point. The Zyx Airy 3 is a fine example. To my ears it murders the Benz.

I have no financial interest in Benz or Zyx.
Unfortunately the most revealing product is also and the most demanding one.
"I thought you were clear that you did not hear mistracking on high pitched tracks, just sibilants & grunge on male vocals. This was the only reason concerning a better matched wiring loom in your system."

There are many types of tracking/tracing problems. The inability to reproduce clean sibilants is one of them.

As a further stop gap I am going to add more weight to the headshell. And returning the Kleos is unacceptable. Not sure he would take it back and I think the Kleos is quite wonderful. The last U2 is playing now and it is in another league with the Kleos, still not great but much better.

"As you ask for a new idea, I would like to point something better : Denon DP80/SME 312S"

Thanks for that. I will look at the Denon. I used to sell their stuff, even the high end stuff. My dealer does have Denon HT products.

Glad y'all are keeping it going. It makes the annoyance a bit easier to take.
FWIW, Fremer reviews the Kleos in the January S'phile - he used it with an Avid Diva II/ SME 309. He certainly didn't experience any sibilance issues - quite the opposite in fact.
Some comments from that review:
"It's performance fresh out the box is better than a fully broken-in Helikon..."
"...cleanly rendered sibilants and shimmering high frequency transients with no hint of edge..."
"..an airy, extended top end that was decidedly not bright or etchy."

To test whether it is a cartridge/arm mismatch, perhaps you could find a friend - or friendly dealer - with an SME or similar and listen before making any decision.
"...cleanly rendered sibilants and shimmering high frequency transients with no hint of edge..."

Yep, glad you brought that up, read it twice. Should have that passage memorized!

Dgarretson had said add weight to the headshell which I did. He then said more. So now I have 3g on it. Even more dampened than with just the .9g . Highs are crisper, particularly noticeable on symbols. The vocals on Captain and Me appear to have mostly cleared up. That LP was showing the most gravel in the some of the vocals. Still getting sibilance on RAM. Bass definition seems to have improved even further. Will try Norah next.