vpi classic

First hello everyone ,I've been away awhile .

      I'm interested in upgrading my cartridge a Benz micro mc, my system is a moderate system by gon standard.
VPI classic jmw memorial arm ,Acoustic Zen adagios, Sunfire subs ,Nu Vista integrated, Musical Fidelity phono amp mc or mc with multiple mc settings . Acoustic Zen cables and speaker cables in a  acoustically treated dedicated room (16'x24' x10') .with more digital gear, but  this is my analog section.

      I am willing to spend up to say $1,500 ,but much to many here's discomfort I would spend up to say grand on a used cartridge from a solid gon member . I know so many here swap them like tic tacs . I know the routine of fears with buying used , that said I have made some great scores here. I'm looking for weight compatabilty ,sound and overall performance for the money.

Thank you all

I really like the kiseki blue NS on my VPI classic 3. I purchased it from seller Kron here for less than your budget.
jjss49I would like more across the board in my analog sound ,my Benz is getting old . my digital setup out performs it ,obviously its punchy and digital but I never felt it was were i wanted it in general
I see the add from kron for 1300.00 I am not familiar with this cartridge ? impressions ? are you in usa and what was your shipping time and experience ?
you saying nothing about tonality or shifts in the character of the sound you seek

obvious answer is move up the benz micro line, gliders rubies and gull wing are just superb

but you just want to randomly try something different, here are two very highly regarded units that will work fine with the jmw metal arm



Thank you for your links ,I did see the Van den hull. my Benz is a med output ace . its 10 yrs old and I have the funds to upgrade a little so I was asking opinions. As for impressions or tonal improvements I would enjoy ? again across the board really, a more crisp low end with more soundstage in general. Highs I battle already in this room and have treated it quite a bit. That said the ace was what a 800 dollar cartridge?. My thoughts on a slightly used piece is, I just honestly get time anymore to sit and listen to  no more then maybe 5-10 albums max a week so burn in of a 100 hrs on some cartridges will take me forever and I can also get a great value here due to peoples constant changes and upgrades. I'm a middle of the road guy here so scoring a couple thousand dollar cartridge used that will function on my jmw arm( nice to me but I know is limited) is a good day . 
Thank you for your time and advice 
I have the same VPI Classic. Been using the Audio Technica ART9 for many years. For $300 dollars less, you can still buy the original version.

$300 more, you get a threaded body and hair splitting differences. I suppose it depends on your own ears/system.

The ART9 was a flavor of the month for good reason.

As mentioned the Kiseki Blue is also a great cart(I have one)if you can get it for the around the same cost, I’d chose it over the ART 9, but not at regular retail(over $2K) To my ears in my system, it offers a little more refinement over the ART9.

@oleschool If you search, you can find some background on the Kiseki.  There are quite a few reviews. 

For point of comparison, I also have these cartridges (and a few others) - Van Den Hul MC Two Special, Hana SL, Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood, and Nagaoka MP-500.

The Kiseki sounds better than all of them by a fair measure - very neutral and detailed, tight deep bass, well controlled treble without any sibilance or added "sweetness", big soundstage and good separation of instruments.  Kron is a great seller and easy to deal with.  I don't remember how long it took to receive my shipment, but I think it was around a week.

Thank you for your feedback. I am also shopping for a cart under $1K budget. I was ready to purchase the Hana S MC ($750) but then seller asked if I can stretch my budget to $1150, the Hana M would offer considerable uptick in performance.

I wonder how Hana M stacks up against Kiseki Blue?

@tablejockey - Thank you for providing the link. That’s a great savings over US retail.

I would seriously consider the older ART 7 over all of them if the phonostage has 65db's of gain. More refined than the ART 9. ART9 being more of a value proposition over the Kiseki.
I own the Kiseki because of a once in a blue moon acquisition. Otherwise, too much $ for my wallet.

The Hana based on reviews, appears to be on the level subjectively as any other $1K cart.
@lalitk I have the Hana SL and it's a fine performer, especially given it's price.  The Kiseki digs out more detail and has better bass, but they are not worlds apart. 

I would expect the ML to be better than the SL, but have not heard it.  There are some threads here about it and a review on Analog Planet.  It sounds like a winner.
Thank you for your recommendation @tablejockey. I will look into ART7. 

@big_greg,  Hana ML reviews are positive all around. Too many great choices to pick from....wish there was a cart club to try out all these wonderful carts :) 
art 7 is lovely but you need serious gain in phono stage to run it

i enjoy my art 9 alot
Thanks for the input ,quite awhile back a well known gon guy I believe oregonpapa raved over a audio technica I believe not available in usa , but was ordered by many . I will have to search in my archive 
yes, oregon papa!!

that is why i have three art9's bought from hong kong from 3 years ago - LOLOLOLOL
Earlier Slaw12 posted;

I think you'd be happy with a SoundSmith

I have had a Soundsmith Zephyr Star on my Classic for about two years now and love it.  To describe the Zephyr's performance on my deck in one word I would have to choose effortless.  It disappears very nicely.
I own a VPI Classic 3 and was running my Koetsu Black Gold Line for years until I snapped of the cantilever— boy did that suck! While waiting for it to come back from being repaired I purchased a old model ART9 from music direct. And I can 
Tell you this truly is a great cartridge! I used my Cardas burn-in record and after it
was fully burned in it sounded sooo good that I didn’t even miss my Koetsu. I don’t know about the new model, but if you can still find the original—- grab it! One word of caution, if you buy new don’t judge it until it is fully burned in. This can take up to 200 hours or you can just buy the Cardas burn-in record and get it
 done in less than half the time!
 "I didn’t even miss my Koetsu"

Interesting testimony from a Koetsu owner. I'm actually on my second ART 9. The cantilever magically "disappeared" after 3 years with the first one.

The ART 9 certainly isn't a "downgrade" comparing to the $2K+ Kiseki Blue, which does have a touch more of refinement. 

oleschool- If you're looking for audio excitement, also consider upping your game in the phonostage department to put any cart in its best light.

Hey Oleschool, you mention your Benz is about 10 years old.  Have you looked into re tipping or even a rebuild/upgrade?  Sometimes people decide they need a new cart but what they want most is the sound they remember from when the unit was young.
I am gonna grab the art 9 I think ,I remember so many comments on it performance.I want to be clear on purchasing the correct one .I see it on music direct and the above link . is there a new version that is different ? I want to be sure to get the correct one .
thank you everyone

I understand on the phono section( musical fidelity mxvynl),I purchased it because it had a variable mm/mc gain which I liked .I think it was like 1200bks for whatever thats worth  lol. I do like to adjust the gain to hear difference and find the cartridge I was going to settle in with then swap it . what are you thinking as a reasonable upgrade if I get the art 9

Your phonostage appears to be up to the task. When you get the itch to hear "what's next", a phono stage higher up the food chain can make a dramatic difference.

I'm in the tube camp. The popular models start somewhere in the $2-3K range. There usually are listings for used pieces, which are good value too.
I purchased a Dynavector 20x2L from Upscale Audio for a little less than $1K.  It was recommended by several Classic owners on a Facebook VPI webpage.  I haven't been disappointed.  Also just saw a Cadenza Bronze on Audiomart for $1600. Another highly rated MC. 
I'm interested in your thoughts on the phono stage recommendation?
I am a fan of used here so lets say 1200-1500 used ? I have heard great things about the bel canto ? I know its not tube ,I used a canto d/a and love it . oneday  I will go VAC , I almost have twice ,but I have a car and motorcycle fetish too oh and guitars lol

The EAT E-Glo retails for $6995 with a external full chassis power supply. This phonostage is their flagship model. They also make two other phonostage, starting at $1495 and $2995 with a external power supply option.


The flagship is out of my wheelhouse honestly. The cheaper models are more doable . Have you seen the bel canto phono 3 with the 12 v external supply ? thats around $2500.00. Honestly I would like to buy a used section from a gon member who rotates often . I think I could get a 4k section for $1500-2000 pretty easy .
I understand the canto is not tube.Have you had the chance to audition or have any experience with the EAT  Jo number 5 cartridge ? it seems like quite the cartridge .
"I will go VAC , I almost have twice ,but I have a car and motorcycle fetish too oh and guitars"

oleschool- I get it.I noodle a LP- 65 Deluxe Reverb and pedal a $6K plastic(Carbon) bike . I haven’t visited the gear page lately, but it’s presently filled with nice deals on used phonostages, both SS/tube.

This listing caught my attention. https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lisa577e-eastern-electric-minimax-phono-phono
For the price, anyone tube curious would be getting a great deal.
I remember when it was introduced.

Most of the current popular brands are listed if you’re willing to go to the next level$2k+

To my ears, somewhere in the $3-5K MSRP is a model you can say..."I’m done" I’ve demoed with my table the Manley,Herron, Allnic, Zesto. All good, but not one had a particular "better" trait for me to give up a my tubed Fosgate. Naturally, just subjective. I’ve read other Foz owners think the opposite. The 2.0 version is the one to get if you run across a listing. I’ve seen them pretty cheap, but only the 1st generation.
I would be all over this if I were in shopping mode. Easily a last purchase. If you ever get the urge, it can be upgraded to play with  "the best"

I completely understand if you wanna pursue a used bargain like vk-p6se or even a Herron VTPH-2A would be a great buy. Personally, I am biased towards hybrid phonostage. To my ears, they are much more musical than solid state.

Sorry no experience with Jo No 5 cartridge, maybe someday.
Or a Manley Chinook SE MK2 from Upscale Audio.  Very hard to beat in the less than $2500 price point. 
I saw that ,now ya got me thinking lol. if i'm buying a new cartridge there always around but this is not . decisions decisions lol.Its definitely shooting outside my range though but doable. This hobby is for the big dogs,im like a ADD puppy 
Hey @big_greg, I never heard of the van de Hul MC Two Special, I don't see it listed anywhere. I have an MC One Special, and I like it a lot, although I haven't done any side by side comparisons. It has a very long lasting stylus and they just made VPI their US distributor, so I would expect to see them promoted much more now and packaged with VPI tables.You can get them maintained for a very reasonable fee and even replaced completely for a nice discount. My stylus lasted almost 9 years and I play records a lot more than @oleschool. 

Also, you may want to check out Sutherland phono stages - that's all they do. Solid state and great sounding with minimal noise, especially with their linear power supply options. Only thing you might not like is you have to take off the cover to change load or gain, but they are exchanged by moving gold plated shunts, not flimsy dip switches.

Hey @tablejockey - I don't think most people on Audiogon are ever "done". Prices for any component go up to astronomical levels, and I've heard of systems that exceed a million dollars. People who want "the best" playing with monopoly money will spend whatever it takes to impress their friends. The law of diminishing returns should keep the sane among us to get to points of satisfaction with our systems (whatever that dollar value is - from $2K to $1M) until the upgrade bug can't be controlled.
"I don’t think most people on Audiogon are ever "done".
sokogear-you may be right. But "done" could mean "for awhile"

oleschool-are you gonna throw down on the BAT/ART9 combo?
That’s a "done" combo until you’re ready to replace everything else!
@big_greg According to my new MC One special factory signed box, the output is .75. The MC Two must be a really old model-I don’t remember it ever being mentioned or offered in the past 9 years. I am sure it’s excellent. In the US, they are trying to keep the number of models offered lower than in the Netherlands. If you check VDH’s web site you’ll see all kinds of models not shown on US web sites. With the replacement or maintenance costs being so low, I don’t see switching From the MC One Special (unless they give me an insane deal on the Frog) which I doubt. That offer this time only took the $$ discount from my cart off the $3500 Frog price tag-so it was well north of $2K. Frog is the next step up from my cart.

since I am not a multi table/arm/cart guy. I beleive in KISS. When I was younger in college,I changed gear constantly and was never happy. Fuses blew, amps clipped, stereo salesmen lied, (they are gone). When I found components that were excellent, I stuck with them. Every move had to be a noticeable improvement to my ears, not a spec on a web site.

since I’m listening more, my stylus may only last 4-5 years, another reason not to go crazy with cartridges-they’re disposable.
@sokogear I bought the MC Two for $500, used. When it arrived, there was no diamond on the cantilever. The seller gave me a full refund and said they didn't want it back.  I sent it off to have it rebuilt. The rebuild was $500. It ended up being one of my better bargains. I do have a small stable of cartridges but they are all mounted on head shells and I use them on my Technics SL 1200 Mark II. The only cartridge I've used on my VPI classic so far is my kiseki blue NS.
Nice deal @big_greg. Sounds like you are a tweaker. Who did the maintenance? The reason I got a replacement was the cost/shipping delays to the Netherlands from the US, the deal I got, and the fact that AJ wouldn’t do the maintenance himself.
Supposedly AJ himself did it. I only say supposedly because it was a different US distributor at the time I had it done and he was a little sketchy.
That’s why they switched distributors I am sure. VPI (even though I have a Rega table) was a pleasure to deal with. They’re the new one and have a close relationship with AJ. I guess all VPI dealers are now Van den Hul Dealers. I’m lucky to live an hour from them and they set up the new cartridge on my P8. One of their guys thought my table was cool.they gave me a tour of the place and their unbelievable demo house. If I ever get the itch to consider one of their tables, they offered to compare it side by side with mine using the same cartridge. 
I’m just not a fan of their arms. Their tables are fine as they actually started out as a company making bases for Denon tables, so their tables are very solid.
I was super fortunate and scored a van den Hul Colibri XGM
with 100 hrs from a great member here .I am quite stoked and will install shortly