Monster Cable Alpha Genesis 500 phono cartridge Associated Equipment

Sidebar 1: Associated Equipment

This included the Well-Tempered Arm, VPI HW-19 turntable (this time sans the mat I have used in previous tests), Klyne SK-5a preamp, PS Audio 200cx power amp, and B&W 801F Matrix loudspeakers on 11" Sound Anchor stands. (The production version of these stands is about 4" shorter.) Interconnects were Monster M-1000, speaker wire Monster M-1 (mono-wired).

The Well-Tempered Arm was chosen for these reviews because it is known to be well suited to a wide variety of pickups. All of the moving-coil pickups here are moderately low in compliance. Such pickups are generally happiest with a medium- to high-mass arm. The WTA is considerably lower in mass than would be optimum, but its heavily damped design more than compensates, providing control of the low-frequency arm/cartridge resonance inevitable with any arm. There is no such thing as a universal arm, but the WTA appears to come as close as any. It proved a rewarding choice, but the sound quality you will obtain with any cartridge will depend to some extent on the arm. This is especially true at the low end, where arm/cartridge matching determines, to a large degree, the quantity and quality of bass obtained.

My thanks to Arnie Balgalvis, who loaned me his WTA—shipped across country via pony express. Used along with my sample, it made cartridge comparisons a breeze. Two cartridges could be set up beforehand, complete with all adjustments, then interchanged by merely removing one arm assembly from the pillar and substituting the other. A change of leads, readjustment of VTA, and (careful) resetting of the volume level, and voila—near-instant (well, a minute or so) changeover (footnote 1). The wiring of the two arms did appear, visibly, to differ slightly (AB's arm is about a year older than my sample—both are, I believe, newer than J. Gordon Holt's). This did not seem to make any significant sonic difference, but if pressed I have to admit to a slight suspicion that the newer arm was a bit more open. Where there was any doubt, a given pickup was auditioned in both arms.

VTA was adjusted as required—the final setting generally ranged from parallel to the record to just slightly rear-end down. Within this narrow range it was not extremely critical for any of the pickups. The small clearances between the cartridge body and the record on the Genesis 500 made more than slight rear-down settings impossible.—Thomas J. Norton

Footnote 1: Velcro fasteners from Radio Shack mounted on the terminal block of each arm and the rear of the turntable base made for an easy swap there, also.
Monster Inc.
601 Gateway Blvd. Suite 900
South San Francisco, CA 94080
(415) 840-2000

Glotz's picture

Smokin' cartridge!