Dynavector DV10x5 MC phono cartridge Page 3

And most of all, it made Guided by Voices' Bee Thousand (Scat 35) sound messy and fun, which it is. What else is there?

The only other thing that comes to mind is the issue of vinyl noise, be it steady-state (groove grunge) or not (tics and pops), said performance being a function of stylus profile, stylus condition (the extent to which it's been properly polished), and the cantilever's ability to shrug off rather than store resonant energy. Here the DV10x5 gets a solid "Good" rating: It was better than all the MM cartridges I know and even some of the MCs, pricier ones included, although severe record damage could still trip it up. (Lyra's cartridges remain the best I know in this regard, for whatever combination of reasons.)

It's finished
Here's a list of things I liked about the Dynavector DV10x5:

• Top of the list, I liked the way it played music, which it did with pitch and timing accuracy and a fine, organic sense of flow.
• I liked the way the Dyna did textures. As I said above, the first Dyna I heard did textures like that when I didn't even know my LPs contained such a thing. Feel free to think me merely nostalgic, but it's not only that: This cartridge had the same kind of magic.
• I liked the way the Dyna imaged. It had depth, but not so much that my attention went there instead of to the notes and beats. Ditto image placement and solidity.
• I liked the fact that the Dyna had color without being colored.
• I liked that it didn't sound tiny. It wasn't as big as could be, but it wasn't puny, either.
• God help me, but I love the way it looks. I'm glad the DV10x5 looks pretty much the same as the old DV10, which itself was somewhat anachronistic, being so big and all. The big, translucent red housing is beyond cool, I think, and while Dynavector makes better cartridges, none is prettier than the DV10x5.
• I liked the fact that the DV10x5 is a high-output MC cartridge that didn't sound hard. Sorry to paint with so broad a brush, but the sounds of most such products—even expensive examples of the breed—have struck me as having an edgy or hard quality. It has never been explained to my satisfaction why most high-output cartridges sound worse in this regard than their low-output brethren, all other things being equal; and while it's not difficult to imagine how a more massive coil former or even more massive coils can present certain performance shortfalls, I have a hard time accepting that as the culprit. Whatever: The important thing is that Dynavector's cheap, high-output cartridges have never sounded harsh to my ears, and the DV10x5 carried on that fine tradition.
• I love the price. While Dynavector makes better cartridges, none is a better value than the DV10x5.

Here's a list of things I didn't like:

• When Dynavector designed their new mounting plate, they could have threaded the holes. They didn't.

Finishing it
What does a megabuck cartridge give you that the Dynavector DV10x5 doesn't? Those Lyras and most van den Huls are quieter in the groove, and while the DV10x5 was no slouch in that respect, it can be bettered. Some more expensive phono cartridges can also sound more open and transparent than this one, and they and others will deliver a little more imaging precision and depth, if that's your bag, and a more realistic sense of scale.

But if you want something that does everything better—sound and music—you have to buy something like a Linn Akiva or a Tubaphon TU-2 ($2950 and $2150, respectively). And from there up, improvements cost crazy money—like the $3950 Miyabi 47. Go ahead: It's your kids' education, so what do I care?

The first entry-level Dyna I ever heard was the first DV10x cartridge—which I bought, sound unheard, on a dealer's recommendation back in 1979. It was the first MC cartridge I'd ever owned, and I was knocked out. I remember especially listening to Leonard Cohen's New Skin for the Old Ceremony and being astounded at how much rich detail and texture that Dynavector pulled out of the grooves: Voices and stringed instruments sounded like themselves, the latter sounding especially...well, stringy—just as they do in real life. I remember playing "Who By Fire" and "The Bells" over and over, so mesmerized was I by the beauty of both the sound and the music-making.

The Dynavector DV10x5 more than lives up to my memory of its predecessor. This colorful, well-balanced, chunky-sounding cartridge played music extremely well, with a bonus of very fine stereo imaging. In other words, it's a great all-arounder. More money can buy more drama, impact, scale, and transparency, just as more money can buy a slightly faster car or torquier tractor. But the Dynavector DV10x5 should give you most of what I think you need at a bargain price. Wildly, highly recommended.

US distributor: Toffco
4600 McPherson Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63108
(314) 454-9966