Soundsmith/VPI Zephyr Moving Iron Cartridge
The VPI Zephyr is the Best-Selling Cartridge Designed Specifically for VPI Tables
When two great minds like Harry Weisfeld of VPI and Peter Ledermann of SoundSmith get together, anything is possible. The result, in this case, is the VPI Zephyr by Soundsmith, the first cartridge to bear the VPI logo and the first cartridge optimized for all the unique parameters of VPI's JMW unipivot tonearms. The Zephyr is specifically designed to reduce "azimuth smear", a distortion artifact created by unipivot tonearms and eccentric records.
The VPI Zephyr is incomparable when mounted to a VPI JMW tonearm. An extremely faithful tracker, the Zephyr suspension allows the tonearm to work its magic, revealing a whole new level of performance from the combination. The Zephyr's warm tonal balance clearly complements any VPI table, its ingenious construction matching VPI's own exceptional design.
“Peter Ledermann is one of the best cartridge designers, making some of the most musical cartridges in the world. I wanted a cartridge that sounded like his [$4,500] Sussuro to mate perfectly with the VPI Classic, both sonically and physically. Basically, I wanted the sound of the Sussuro at a much more reasonable price, built specifically for the Classic. The Zephyr fits the bill. It really sounds wonderful on the Classic. I set one up and it sounded incredible right away. It's a low compliance low output cartridge, with the smoothness of a reel to reel tape.”
– Harry Weisfeld, Owner and Lead Designer of VPI
A brilliant melding of technologies, the Zephyr is a hybrid design, with using the true elliptical stylus and lightweight aluminum cantilever from SSM's own Carmen and a trickle-down of the suspension and motor assembly from the Sussurro. This unique internal damping system provides proper transmission of energy through the entire moving system, creating a proper mechanical impedance match between cartridge and tonearm. This gives the Zephyr unparalleled speed, resolution and dynamic range with a gorgeous tonal balance to complement a wide variety of music.
The VPI Zephyr is a heavy weight cartridge at 10.27Gms and has low compliance making it best suitable for use with JMW tonearms. Output is bumped up to 2.4mV output, so Zephyr works well with most MM phono preamps. Works with arms from 8Gms to 30Gms effective weight. All Soundsmith cartridges are Made in the USA.
Moving Iron Design
A Moving Iron cartridge design has both the magnets and the coils fixed in place. A very low-mass and extremely precisely wound iron cross is affixed to the cantilever/stylus assembly and placed between the magnets and coils; as the iron cross moves in the magnetic field it generates signal voltage. Since only the iron cross moves, more coil windings (higher output) and heavier magnets (more powerful) may be used without penalty. Other advantages to the MI design are very low moving mass (greater resolution) and superior channel separation (better imaging).
Moving Iron History
Also called Moving Micro Cross, the Moving Iron concept was first introduced by Bang & Olufsen in 1978 and granted a patent shortly thereafter. The ultra-high compliance of MI designs made them a great match with B&O’s lightweight tonearms and, unfortunately, virtually unusable with modern (and heavier) tonearm designs. Thus, MI cartridges have never really entered the consciousness of audiophiles in the way that Moving Coil and Moving Magnet cartridges have, until now.
Made in The USA!
Soundsmith is a specialty audio manufacturer located about an hour north of New York City. Founded in 1972, Soundsmith has achieved an enviable reputation in the audiophile world for outstanding sonic quality and extremely high-value products. Perhaps best known now for their work restoring cartridges and for their own line of Moving Iron cartridges, every Soundsmith product is hand-crafted in Soundsmith’s Peekskill, NY factory by a carefully selected team of artisans and engineers.