Seeking Legit Cartridge Expert?

Anyone out there have a reputable guy who knows the nuances of carts in the $2000+ range? So many opinions.....

current set up 

VPI Super Prime Scot / 10.5 arm

Hana ML

Harbeth 40.3XD 

What's going to drastically improve my sound / detail....mostly listen to Hard Rock, Zeppelin etc....




@OP As you have an ML in your system, you should listen to a Umami Blue - sounds great on everything but it is a big sounding cartridge with great dynamics so very well suited to rock.


Several things you can do to make a significant improvement in your turntables performance. In order foe a great cartridge like the Ortofon Windfeld Ti to sound it's best you have to change that arm. VPI has it's newer Gimbal arm that is a direct replacement and arms like the Kuzma 4 Point 9 and Schroder CB will fit. Then I would add an isolation platform and finally a cartridge. The best cartridge I have ever heard in the $3000 is the Soundsmith Voice which also is high output which has many advantages and it is handily superior to any moving coil cartridge below its price. Nest up would be the Soundsmith Sussurro and Ortofon Windfeld Ti. Above that would be the Soundsmith Hyperion and the Ortofon Verismo. 

If you insist on keeping the arm you want to go for the highest compliance you can find like any of the Van den Huls or an old Shure V15. Unipivot arms do not hold the cartridge securely. Makers of high end unipivots go to great lengths to stabilize the arm. Basis added a 2nd bearing and Graham uses an opposing magnet system. Tonearms can only have two degrees of freedom, vertical and horizontal. Unipivots as you are aware every time you pick up your arm add a third degree, axial or torsional. They do not hold the cartridge body securely. 

I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I went from a Hana ML to a Umami Red and holy cow! I also bought a Soundsmith Paua at the same time and it’s equally impressive. I thought the ML as fantastic until I listened to the Umami, now I’d hate to go back. I paired them with a Parasound JC3+ phonostage. I’m in vinyl heaven. :)  BTW, I am also using Harbeths, though SHL5plus XD.

And this, my friends, is exactly why I recommend getting an arm with a removable headshell, or changable arm wands, OR, even better a TT with two tonearms.

easily listen to friend’s cartridges, buy/keep alternates;

sapphire cantilever ... new, vintage, rebuilds by VAS/others, true mono cartridge ... One of mine is Shure’s last V15Vxmr body with new Jico SAS stylus on Boron. Not as great as the original beryllium cantilever, but darn close.

One, I bought a AT33ptg/II MONO Body with broken cantilever ($33). and had VAS put an advanced stylus shape on boron. It’s terrific, that combo doesn’t exist unless you build it.

Mono Cartridge all setup on the second arm, I play i.e. Oscan Peterson, Stereo/Mono back to Stereo in seconds.

Arm with easy arm height adjustment makes playing a variety of cartridges much easier/quicker. I have personally installed/used Acos Lustre 801; Micro Seiki 505’s; Technics ...500 base

Steve at VAS prefers his VPI with easily changed Uni-Pivot Arms, not his but arm like this




the Luxman with Acos Lustre is a terrific TT, advanced features concealed in it's simplicity. I helped my friend buy/setup the Two Arm Version PD444, with a long and short Micro-seiki 505's. Just to show it



Brian Walsh

He uses Analog Magic. 

I am not sure where you live but he does travel.