Speed and dynamics
It’s not the yesterday news, that turntables and for that sake the whole paraphernalia of analog are not dead. Somehow in the middle of the digital revolution analog reproduction still finds a strong spot in the high-end audio market. There is no doubt, that digital is making it’s strong pace towards the future, but vinyl replay holds a lot of attention and hearth of many audiophiles all over the world.
Enter the world of Zyx
There are quite few famous and well-known cartridge manufacturers coming from the land of the rising sun. There is a strong reputation for these Japanese jewels of miniature art of designing and manufacturing the small, yet most important tools that captures secrets of what is below the vinyl surface. Zyx Corporation is one of them. President Mr. Hisayoshi Nakatsuka holds a unique and personal view about analog and digital reproduction. For him analog universe is the place where music simply follows the right path with the dedicated knowledge and understanding of audio reproduction at highest plane.
Zyx Omega X
Even from the first encounter with Omega X cartridge and package I felt, that there is something different about it. Radiant blue enclosure, precise engineering and few of special and unique design principle makes Omega more then interesting cartridge in the quest of analog synergy. X nomenclature stand for X = 6N crystal copper, 0.035mm dia., cryogenically treated wiring. We’ve seen cryogenically treated products making their entrance in high-end audio world in past few years. It’s hard to argue about benefits, but at the end there are always sound, which matters and should be the final frontier of any high-end audio quest.
My reference turntable was ready with Pole Star PS-UNV2 universal tone arm. Zyx Omega X was easy to install with Pole Star. I tried to combine Zyx Omega X with few different head-shells (ebony etc.), but stock PS-UNV2 performed best with this cartridge. I found best results with 2.0 g pressure of the stylus. With the 0.24 mV my Tom Evan phono stage matched loading perfectly. Tom especially matched loading to my specific desire. With MC cartridges I cannot urge enough the importance of right loading with phono preamplifier. It will make your cartridge bloom with music or simply damp the real possibilities. Any analog fan knows well how all the little things make all the difference in replay.
Installing Zyx Omega X was a breeze. Recommended tracking of 2.0 g was right on track although I experimented with 1.9 and up to 2.2 g. From the start Omega X tracked without a problem. I just changed VTA few times when trying to set for the optimal height and balance of the tone arm and cartridge.
Zyx Omega X is a contemporary cartridge. I would go even that far and called it non-typical or traditional sounding. It’s very neutral and dynamic in the right circumstances. Omega X needs a proper phono stage combined with the very fast and open preamplier to get the best out of its performance. This is a true high-end cartridge, that needs a careful setting to achieve the top performance. Without proper loading, correct tracking, right VTA and a ultra dynamic system you’ll might miss all that X is capable of.
Mactone MH-300B amplifier in combination with Lamm LL 2 preamplier perform ultra fast. MH-300B is a true stand out and it gives hard time to most of solid state amplifiers. High gain output of Lamm LL2 in combination with Mactone offers a tremendous power, detail and speed. The synergy of whole system with Omega X cartridge was remarkable. In the time of test I had few of well known DAC on my hand. While their performance showed an enormous step forward for digital, there was a clear distinction with all analog setup and with Omega X connected. It seems, that times of warm-pleasing character and some sort of colorations of cartridges are the thing of the past. Many of modern top of the range cartridges are state of the art products with such precision build and design technology, that not only rivals most of the digital players, DAC’s, but quickly transcend them. While there is a constant grow and improvement in the digital filed analog is still a medium that behold many of the best attributes and emotions of music. You’ll still have to spend quite a sum of the money to get close to analog.
It’s true, that with turntables and cartridges there is a lot of involvement and settings. Let me look on to the other side of digital spectrum. These day, you’ll have to invest quite some knowledge and time to set up a well balanced digital system. From carefully selected players, buffers, digital cables, solid state drives, etc. Times of simple CD plug and play are going in vain.
There is no magic needed in setting up the cartridge, tone arm and everything associated with turntable. There are still basic option with come contemporary turntables, that makes very easy setting all things needed for the balanced vinyl replay. If you want to go more in depth, then you’ll have all the possibilities open. Even with entry-level cartridges you’ll hear the little changes in cartridge VTF, VTA etc. When you’re climbing ladder higher in the upper analog cartridge echelon things get even more intimate and down to the micro levels. So every little thing is more then important.
There are few of the vinyl records, which show me very quick what can be expected from component under review. It’s not always everything about the perfection of recording, but about the different moods, that records tend to revive from the original event. I would never miss to exam the correctness of timbre, sense of natural scale, speed etc. Additionally I do prefer, that especially under the high-end labeling and pricing, component under the scope will take inside of certain musical event and evoke some of the emotions connected to the specific happening. Assuming all the engineering and technical details are well versed (as they should be in the upper level price range) we should be only left with the challenge of right impendence, loading and tracking.
John Coltrane’s Love supreme attacks you with the merciless power and crescendos of both sublime and power notes coming not only from maestro himself but drum battery, piano and double bass. Incredible language coming from this musicianship is a floating poetry of emotions impact. Zyx never seems to hold or stop any notes. Speed is one of the most important constants of every high-end audio component. We can argue about it all day long, but correct floating of speed uncover all the musical micro details and reveal the sense of space and time.
Zyx Omega X managed to stayed a fixed constant through my listening notes. Even with classical recordings (Toscanini etc.) both old and new wave (like for example excellent 2L) Omega never showed a specific audio spectrum being overblown. There were no additional artificial warmness associated with many well known and highly priced cartridges. When going ultra high end and trying to stay as neutral as revealing, there is no place for messing with certain frequency range. I can safely report that Zyx Omega X is genre-less cartridge, that extend to all of the flavors of music.
I didn't have a chance to listen to ZYX entry and top of the line cartridges, but Zyx Omega X represent stand out cartridge, that combine all of the demands of contemporary cartridge; namely the speed, the depth, broad dynamic range, the ability to respond to the quality of tone-arm and turntable and never the less to be a via-medium for the music hidden in the grooves of black vinyl. Vinyl reproduction have came a long way and it’s great to see companies like Zyx pursuing the advancement of technology and know how in the favor of analog playback.
Taking into the account prices of some exotic cartridges Zyx Omega X is actually well priced and represent the new wave of analog components. Zyx is taking vinyl reproduction to the 21st century with both technological advancement and consideration of music.
Not many knows about Zyx phono stage and MC preamplifier. Here are few details:
Not many knows about Zyx phono stage and MC preamplifier. Here are few details:
|CPP-1 TIME DOMAIN PERFECT SeriesCryo Processed|
Pre-Pre (Head) Amplifier for MC Cartridge
1. Input Resistors made by ZYX: The input resistor is a very important part of the pre-pre amplifier. It is the first load of the generated signal of MC cartridges. The minute signals should go into the resistor without any influences from resistor noise and inductance. So that we recommend the resistor made of pure copper wire. CPP-1 uses world's first Cryogenically Purified Crystal Copper Wire which is the same one as the coil wire of our R1000 series X type cartridge. The resistor is made by winding the wire to a coil that has no inductance in special process. Then our resisotr can transfer the output signals with no noise and no inductance at all. You can hear its impact in the pure sound of CPP-1.
2. 100% Playback Circuit: In order to play back the sound information of MC cartridge in 100T fidelity, CPP-1 has a special circuit in the simplest amplification circuit. Normally electric part has its own time domain, and it gives unbalanced sound in result. So ZYX had to correct each time domain by applying our own circuit.
3. Noiseless Power Circuit: CPP-1 works with 10 pcs. of Ni-Cad batteries in order to avoid normal power circuit noises. So the minute signal of MC cartridge can be clearly amplified in the circuit.
4. Low Noise Charge Circuit: You can listen to music at any time. Normally you use CPP-1 with battery power supply, but you can use it while chargeing from AC, too.
5. Electrically Skeleton Wooden Box: A metallic shield box makes the sound signals distrubed by some eddy current generated on the shield surfaces. So, CPP-1 has no metallic surface around the circuitry. It will enable you to listen the effect with fast response in the sound presence.
Matej Isak Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine All rights reserved, 2012 www.monoandstereo.com