Aug 172018
 

I finished up the review of the new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph a little bit ahead of schedule, and it is now live at Positive Feedback. 

The new $1500 USD Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III is one heck of an impressive phonograph cartridge, and it dethroned my Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII stereo phono cartridge in combination with my bespoke Intact Audio nickel-core monaural step-up transformers as my favorite analog source, and it did it at one-third of their combined price!

You can read all about it HERE.

 Posted by at 5:39 pm

  15 Responses to “The Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge review is live at Positive Feedback!”

  1. Hi Jeff.
    That’s quite the glowing review! Acquiring an example of Peter’s work has been on my bucket list for some time. I’m currently running an early very pristine example of the Ortofon SPU-GT, (to be eventually serviced by Mr. Ledermann’s team) and totally get your newfound love of simplicity for the liberating simplicity you mention from a high output cartridge.

    Out of curiosity, will you be adding the Zephyr MkIII as your new reference, or will you stick with the SPU Classic GM MKII and Intact Audio SUT?
    -Grant

    • Hi Grant,

      Thanks for the comment! The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III and Carmen Mk II phono cartridges by Peter Ledermann are really something special, that’s for sure. Musical, natural, and really good sounding!

      I will not be commenting on my own system at this time, but will have more news to share in the future – please wait for it!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  2. Jeff,

    I’ve enjoyed your review of the cart so much I’ve taken delivery of a Zephyr Mk III recently and started the break-in process this past week! One question I have concerns your choice of headshell and headshell wires shown in the pictures — did you find those to be the best sounding of the options available to you?

    I’ve also ordered a Soundsmith headshell (wood-maple? with azimuth adjustment), which I’m anxious to try with the Zephyr along with a set of Dueland 26 gauge headshell leads I made this past weekend.

    In closing, Jeff you’ve become my mentor and I want to thank you for all the wonderful information you selflessly share on this site. My Tannoy HPD 315’s in my cabinets have never sounded better!

    Denny

    • Hi Denny,

      Thanks for the kind words, appreciated!

      The Zephyr Mk III is a great cartridge. For headshells I like the Schick carbon headshell and the Yamamoto Soundcraft Blackwood headshell I have. They sound much better than a generic headshell. I would imagine Peter’s wood headshells are really good too, but I haven’t tried them.

      My favorite headshell leads these days are my DIY 22GA Art of Tone headshell wires made with Audiosilente clips. The Art of Tone are a little richer & mellower sounding than the Duelund DCA26GA leads, which are more transparent and vivid. Which one you will prefer will depend on your system balance and personal tastes.

      Let me know how you like the Soundsmith headshell!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Jeff,

        I appreciate the rapid response and I’ll have to try that Art of Tone wire as well and see which sounds better in my system. My Dueland 26 gauge Headshell leads were made using the Audiosilente clips but I have a set left over to use of these.

        The Soundcraft headshell arrived yesterday so I’ll let you know what I think as my cart continues to “warm up”.

        Have you tried either wire yet as tonearm cable? Do you expect to use the same wire for both headshells and tonearms?

        Denny

        • Hi Denny,

          I haven’t tried the DCA as tonearm cable yet, but I bet it would work nicely.

          Let me know how it goes!

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

      • I must say I’m very pleased with the Soundsmith wood headshell. Immediately the harshness and edgy qualities I heard with the Jelco magnesium disappeared as I’d hoped. The Soundsmith is very smooth and natural — nicely musical!

        I’ve ordered the Art of Tone wires you like and plan to use a Cardas DIN connector with Switchcraft RCA’s and will compare to the Graham IC-70 I’m using now with a Jelco 850 arm.

        • Hi Denny,

          Your description of the Soundsmith headshell sounds exactly like what I like in a headshell – smooth, natural, and musical!

          I really like the AoT wire as headshell leads, so I’ll be very interested to hear what you think of them as tonearm leads. I also made a USB interconnect from the AoT that was remarkably good, besting even the most expensive USB cables I’ve heard.

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

  3. Nice review Jeff. Funnily I have been contemplating buying an Ortofon SPU Synergy or Classic the last few weeks !

    My challenge has been that I never found the right level of gain with an MM ie I connected my Decca V/EE (5mv) directly to the leben Phono and I find the gain to be very low. ie not getting a high enough volume at even 12:00 clock..although surprisingly the DL103R with .25 and 1:20 SUT works very well and lound at 10 o clock !

    My current system built over the last 9 years which has been very influenced by your own experiences
    -PTP5/Birch ply modded lenco with a Thomas Shick/Yamomoto Ebony headshell
    -Aluminium body Dl103R – Intact audio SUT (1:20),
    -Leben RS 30EQ + Leben CS600
    -Tannoy Kensington speakers
    -12 x18x10 room

    The primary worry I have with the Ortofon via the SUT or the Zephyr directly would be the gain being too low ! Not sure if you have faced the same issue and hence any comment

    • Something doesn’t seem quite right with the Decca, Arjun, as 5mV is a high-output going into the RS 30EQ, and the same as the Denon + SUT combination, so if you have enough gain with the Denon + SUT you should have plenty of gain with the Decca. The Denon + SUT combination gives me plenty of gain with my Leben RS 30EQ in my A5 VOTT system, for example.

      With the Zephyr Mk III (or Carmen Mk II) straight into my Leben RS 30EQ I also have plenty of gain. In my Westminster based system the Zephyr Mk III (or Carmen Mk II) straight into my MX110Z have plenty of gain as well, and I get similar volumes as I do with the Ortofon + SUT combination.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  4. Jeff,

    I haven’t gotten to the headshell wires or tonearm interconnect projects quite yet, but I do have a follow up question about the Zephyr III. What are your thoughts about which tonearm might be the best match — Pete’s Woodie or the Thomas Schick?

    I should also mention you’ve inspired me to try vintage Mcintosh tube gear as I’ve recently purchased both an MX110z and a pair of MC30’s! Both are going to Terry for restoration but my first impression of the 110 was, in a word, stunning.

    Thanks

    • Hi Dennis,

      I haven’t tried the Zephyr III with the Woody SPU tonearm yet, just the Schick tonearms, so I can’t help on that one. The Zephyr Mk III sounds amazing on the Schick tonearms, and I suspect it would on the Woody SPU too.

      Oh yeah, the McIntosh MX110Z tuner-pre and MC30 monaural amps are fantastic – congrats on a great choice!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Jeff,

        I’ve been searching you site for the list of Arizona caps and prices for the mods you made to your MC30’s but to no avail. Any chance you might help me find it or perhaps compile the list? I’m very interested in making the same changes to my “new” amps!!

        My apologies if I’m getting pesty
        Denny

        • Hi Dennis,

          You can see a list of the components used in the MC30 mods HERE in the Positive Feedback article I wrote about it.

          The article doesn’t include the prices for the components, but you can look up the individual prices of the components based on the list in the article.

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

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