May 022018

Today I decided I should give the new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge that is in for review at Positive Feedback a listen, so I mounted it on my Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 turntable.

I have my Thorens TD124 doing musical duty in my audio-video system with my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, Leben CS600 integrated amplifier, and Leben RS-30EQ phono stage.

Vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, Leben CS600 integrated amplifier, and Leben RS-30EQ phono preamplifier.

I mounted the Zephyr Mk III into my Yamamoto HS-1A African blackwood headshell, and in a departure from my favorite DIY Art of Tone headshell leads, I used generic headshell leads, as I didn’t have an appropriate set of Art of Tone leads made up to use at the moment.

The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge.

First up for a listen was Chester & Lester, the Chet Atkins and Les Paul masterpiece that’s a must have for guitarists.

Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 turntable with Thomas Schick tonearm.

As soon as the stylus touched down on Chester & Lester LP I was absolutely blown away by the gorgeous tone of the Zephyr Mk III, which happens to be a match made in heaven for this system and album.

The Chet’s and Les’ music takes on a naturally warm, rich, and dimensional quality that is ravishingly beautiful and extremely musical.

I’ve never heard my Thorens TD124 sound as good as it does with the Zephyr Mk III on it, with timbral realism and overall musicality that was just off the charts on Chester & Lester.

The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III playing Chet Baker’s “Chet”.

Next I put on my 1993 Analogue Productions test pressing of Chet Baker’s Chet, which is a fantastic album, and is easily the best version of Chet I own.

Again I heard beautiful tone, a lot of musically relevant and naturally portrayed detail, along with very realistic timbral textures from the music.

The Zephyr Mk III has a “real sound” that allows you to listen into musicians touch upon their instruments, portraying their phrasing and melodic flow just beautifully.

The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phono cartridge playing “Fairytales”.

For the third album I wanted to hear some female vocals, so I got out the Fairytales LP by Radka Toneff and Steve Dobrogosz.

The Zephyr Mk III provided an intimate and ethereal portrayal of Fairytales, with Radka’s voice sounding beautiful and delicate, and Steve’s piano playing tonally beautiful as well as providing all the nuance of vivid tone color.

Normally I try not to gush on first listen, as I normally like to take a circumspect approach as I listen to a new component so I don’t embarrass myself, but sometimes you’ve just got to gush – the Zephyr Mk III is brilliant in this system!

To be fair, I need to listen to a lot more albums with the Zephyr Mk III to be able to really articulate its performance, as well as try it in my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE, vintage McIntosh, and Garrard 301 based system, to get an idea of its performance in a different context.

The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge.

Let me also say that one of the things I really like about the Zephyr Mk III is that it’s 2.4 mV output means that I don’t have to use a step-up transformer with my Leben RS-30EQ phono stage, and the Leben RS-30EQ has enough gain with the Zephyr Mk III to pop the windows out of the room with the volume control set at 12 o’clock.

Ok, that’s it for now, it’s time to go cook dinner.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 4:01 pm

  4 Responses to “First Impressions of the Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge!”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Sounds great. And to be honest. A good blow minding first impressions is regularly a good sign for an in depth structural impression! As always I look on your site almost every day and enjoy your experiences and reviews very much. Next week I will go to the highend show in Munich (München as we say). I am looking forward to it. Have you planned to go?

    With friendly & musical greetings,


    • Hi Siedy,

      Nice to hear from you!

      The Zephyr Mk III is a beautiful sounding cartridge, and I like what I’m hearing from it a lot in my Altec A5 system with the Leben electronics.

      Unfortunately, I’m not attending the München show, but who knows, maybe one of these years?

      Have a great time at the München show!

      Kind regards,


  2. Dear Siedy; Soundsmith will be in Munich in Halle3, L06 with a live cabin and will be playing music continuously for the entire show……..come rest you feet and ears in our audio oasis………(peter ledermann

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