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Dynavector XV-1s Phono Cartridge

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Stereophile Recommended Component

The original XV-1 cartridge was designed to take the reproduction of analogue recording to new heights. The XV-1 achieved a standard of performance that was clearly in a league of its own. Dynavector have always remained indifferent to the endless digital formats that proport to be the next breakthrough in music reproduction, safe in the knowledge that the vast heritage of music recorded on vinyl can easily equal, if not clearly out perform these new formats. Dynavector are seriously committed to ensure the vinyl enthusiast is well catered for and the XV-1s is further proof of this on going commitment; yet another ground breaking product, uniquely Dynavector and flagship of the brilliant Dynavector cartridge range.

At a glance, the XV-1 was always different from all cartridges that have gone before. Its magnetic circuit comprises 8 small ALNICO magnets. The magnetic path is divided into two - In the magnetic gap, a specially designed magnetic flux equalizing piece is placed. On the front yokes, magnetic stabilizing coils are wound. By this special combination, the magnetic field becomes widely homogeneous and more linear than the conventional magnetic design that is common in existing MC cartridges.

Dynavector continue to research and have pushed the boundary further with the NEW XV-1s. Although the specifications remain the same a significant up upgrade in both magnetic and body parts achieve a startling improvement in imaging, along with a smooth as silk extension over the entire frequency range.

Principal Improvements

The XV-1s is the latest evolution of Dynavector design and features the advanced multi magnet design that stabilizes the magnetic flux density between the front yoke and the equalizer component, around the air gap.

The XV-1s also features a revolutionary square shaped front aperture with a matching square shaped armature this enables the moving coil wound armature to move in an equalized and stable magnetic flux.

Although slightly smaller in dimension the front yoke aperture is also square shape to match the armature along with a square shaped counterbore to the equalizer component part.

The material used to stabilize the magnets is African ebony wood. It contributes to the best balance to the sound character.

TNT Review Update

I'd hesitate to call this a review, more a 'second look' and a lot of self-justification. But the result will at least please Dynavector for now their new flagship has a healthy lead over the XX-2. I suspect it's more because of a maturing of the original concept of the DRT rather than any fundamental change, whatever, it was worth the effort.

Now the bottom line... The DRT-1s is even more expensive than the DRT-1, but the difference in sound is significant enough for me to say that the DRT-1 should be ignored, hell - if you are going to sell the car to finance a cartridge you may as well go the whole hog, the difference isn't huge after all. As for the justification of spending as much as the price of a decent turntable AND arm on a cartridge only you can decide. Add the fact that you don't buy a cartridge, merely 'rent' it's ability until it needs the next rebuild, and you've really got to NEED that sound before you can justify the outlay on this or any other exotic. But on the other hand, if someone was to say "OK you've got to downgrade one part of your system" I'd honestly say that removing the DRT-1s and replacing it with say the XX-2 would be a bigger hit than say going from an Orbe to a Gyro, or the SME 4 to a Rega.

If only the bloody things lasted forever...

TNT Dynavector XV-1S Phono Cartridge And Head Amp Review

Before I start here's a quote from the email the president of Dynavector, Dr Tominari, sent me as he put the XV-1 in the post...

"This combination is so good out of my expectation that I spent my winter holiday listening only to old LPs by great artists of 1950 to 1970. The sound by this combination is absolutely another sound from all other phono cartridges including our products in the past. When you test, I would like to ask you for using old monaural LPs as well as normal stereo recording, and comparing the sound played-back from LP and CD using the same sources."

How refreshing that after making cartridges for 20 years a man can get genuinely excited about his latest "baby", I know hi-fi designers who don't actually listen to music, Mr Tominari is obviously of the "can't wait to get it home" variety:-)

In due deference to Mr Tominari The first slab of vinyl on the my Orb was Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares for Me" from 1958. This is a mono recording, but I, and a friend who dropped in couldn't believe it.

The image was huge and solid, it even had a hint of depth (no I can't explain). There was no "left-right" spread of different instruments, just a coherent whole, spread six foot wide in the centre.

It made me see what the "flat earth" mono lovers are talking about, if mono is this good who needs stereo? OK so I'm pushing a point here, but I could live happily with the result... Nina Simone was just 25 when this recording was made and she had no right to a voice with such depth and emotion. "Smokey" comes to mind but there was more to it than that, a sense of effortlessness and power under the surface. The piano sounded suitable "big", during the solo the keys hitting the stops could easily be heard.

There followed a long session, concentrating on female vocal. The XV-1 was so warm and natural it flattered and seduced, it even made Nancy Griffiths listenable. Ricky Lee Jones coo'd and simpered, laughed and snarled, her first (wonderful) album showing the XV-1's prowess in imaging, detail retrieval and of course Jones's love affair with snappy bass.

During this an astonishing thing happened. Just for a fleeting instant a head was singing. I'm not talking th usual "holographic" imaging beloved of hi-fi writers, but an actual human head, solid and decapitated, two feet in front of the speakers... Then it was gone. A couple of tracks later there it was again - then gone... It was eery and left me quite shaken, nothing like this has happened before.

My system, and perhaps more importantly, room isn't really set up for image freaks but there was something magical here. Try as I might I couldn't repeat the exercise, it was transient.

Here was a capability that my system just hinted at. I've heard several cartridges, and systems for that matter, throw etherial images on a big sound-stage. This sort of imaging, beloved of many, leaves me cold, I've never heard such whispy, hazy images in real life. The XV-1 places solid realistic images in a big bold soundstage.

Later I put on the blazing, raw grunge of Nirvana. I was greated with the bass power of the Shure V15 but with a frightening realism elsewhere. Dire Straits' "MTV" provided further proof of the DV-1's dynamic abilities the drum/keyboard crescendo at the end of the intro was massive with the soundstage staying absolutely rock solid as the transients crashed out rather than collapsing to the centre as so often happens.

Here the single biggest difference between the XV-1and lesser cartridges was that the more complex, more 'wall or sound' or more massive the sound the bigger the lead. Whereas things become a bit compressed and blurred with the Dynavector 20/V15/Ortofon Supreme etc, it seems as if the XV-1 just shifts up a gear and takes everything that's thrown at it with something bordering on contempt.

It has a rock like solidity and made every other cartridge I had to hand sound forced and artificial in comparison. Perhaps it was this composure with every kind of music and every disc, no matter what, that I will remember from the test cartridge.

This performance worked right across the disc, end of side distortion being heard on only very worn records, and here other cartridges faired worse. Surface noise, already low on my system, became insignificant on all but the most abused discs. This ability to make the most of second hand recordings does offset the price somewhat as the "car boot sale" purchases produce real fidelity.
  • Type Low output moving coil cartridge with Multi alnico magnets and Flux damper
  • Output Voltage 0.3mV (at 1KHz, 5cm/sec.)
  • Channel Separation 30 dB (at 1KHz)
  • Channel balance 1.0 dB (at 1KHz)
  • Frequency response 20 - 20,000Hz (± 1dB)
  • Compliance 10 x 10-6 cm/dyn
  • Tracking force 1.8 - 2.2 grams
  • Impedance R=6 ohms, L=18 micro Henry
  • Recommended load resistance > 30 ohms Stylus 0.14 x 0.08 mm Line contact PF
  • Weight 12.6 grams
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