Opus1 vs. MSL Platinum

Tango

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Opus1 vs. MSL Platinum

83761B33-FE62-4C9D-8E75-8FA35CABED81.jpg

- Variables are Opus1 on Kronos and MSL on AF1. Other things are the same except Opus1 is fully burned in. MSL has 22-24 hrs on it.
- They are like twins. If you don’t have in the same system, you unlikely hear the differences. Even I have them in the same system but different tts, I have to sort out what characters come from cart and what come from tt.
- My comments are only initial impressions to let those who want to know get their first glimpse. Any conclusion will be stupid.
- Almost the same tonal balance. Opus1 has a bit more treble in tone. Both have good density, body and texture in mids.
- Same kind of presentation. Both have open sound. So transparent. Hear everything See everything type sound. Those who think highest resolution is first priority should all buy Opus1 or possibly MSL. The Opus1 is a bit more upfront possibly because of Kronos.
- MSL image size and scale of instruments are a tad smaller and a scant further back than Opus1. The stage width of both is the same. But the MSL goes a bit deeper with better layer. This is probably helped by AF1.
- Both have size and scale a bit bigger than the Atlas which I think is most life size for jazz music.
- This is for Ron. The ssssssssibilance. Opus has more. Might bother Ron but doesn’t bother me. I only said one has more than the other. Don’t imply that it is at an annoying level.
- They are just as quick with fast transient response.
- Opus1 has better inner detail and spatial resolution. Basically king of resolution and clarity. Give MSL more time, it likely follow suit imo. Opus1 was like this when new.
- MSL sounds smoother more refine. This also could be help ed by the AF1.
- Both has tight bass but not as low and solid as Atlas.
- Opus sounds more energetic, fresh, open than MSL..for now.
- Opus1’s piano is easily distinguish from the MSL. More resonating sound from piano housing. You can just hear more vibrating sound.
- MSL less bite, rounding off edges
- Same level of quietness. Very very quiet riding groove indeed.
- Jazz at Pawnshop’s Snare drum. I could hear the drum sticks hit surface more with Opus1. More awareness of Cymbals and drummer cross-ticking two drum sticks too.
- Clarity and resolution with meat on the bone without being even close to cold or analytical go to Opus1 on SAT.

What I wrote makes MSL seems inferior. Don’t draw any conclusion. I will write again in a few months. I am sure MSL will get better and don’t go thinking that MSL Platinum is not top cart. Out of the box it sounded better than Ortofon Anna fully burned in...just outclassed.

Tang
 

bonzo75

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Wow that's your most detailed write up. So after it burns in, will you write on similar variables, then swap them on TTs and again write?
 

byrdparis

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Oh! wow. thank you Tang!
that was a great write up!

i have a few up echelon carts on order myself.
cant wait to hear them!

the MSL plat and the opus1 are on my list... heard some pc1 supreme and MSL gold in the past but not those.
 

dan31

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Very nice evaluation. It looks like the MSL will be more of what Ron is looking for in a cartridge. Maybe MSL vs ZYX. Now we just need an update around 100 hrs. Both are nice cartridges.
 

PeterA

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Thank you Tango for making the effort and taking the time to share your initial thoughts about these two cartridges. I really like the comment about the "twins". I feel the same way about my Supreme and Signature Gold. Perhaps the Supreme is a girl and the Gold is a boy, but they have very similar DNA. I appreciate the acknowledgment that these are only initial impressions, that the MSL is not fully broken in yet, and that the cartridges are in identical arms but on different tables. The only things not indicated in your report are whether or not the tonearm cables are the same and if the signals are going through the same phono stage. Perhaps the SAT arm has a captive cable anyway. My MSL took about 100 hours to fully brake in, but it sounded really good at about 50 hours, continued to evolve until about 75 hours and then only subtly up to 100 hours.

I like Kedar's suggestion of doing the comparison again in time and then either switching the arms to the other table or swapping the cartridges in the arms and reporting again to give the complete picture of the differences. Or, perhaps the easiest would be to put both SAT arms on the same table. I understand that you are now listening mostly to the EMT, but could you briefly describe the differences between the sounds of the Kronos and AF1? That might add some perspective to the differences in your initial impressions.

Thanks again for doing this comparison and sharing it with the rest of us. It is much appreciated.
 

bonzo75

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Yes, if both are on SAT, can we have reports of both on both tables please? :)
 

gian60

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Good Tang,
seems to read a report from Stereophile or The absolute sound,also better.
 

Tango

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Wow that's your most detailed write up. So after it burns in, will you write on similar variables, then swap them on TTs and again write?

Dear Bonzo and Peter,

Sorry for the quality of writing. I am just bad at writing whether Thai or English. I wrote this during lunch before business meetings. My listening room is at office.

All variables are the same except what I wrote earlier meaning they are both on SAT. SAT1 is on Kronos. SAT2 is on AF1P. Both SAT has silver wire run straight to Ayon Spheris Phono input1 and input2. The only variable is tt. I can’t put 2 SATs on the same AF1 because SAT don’t make armbase for the AF1 second arm (back arm). However, the comparison was easy and quick. Just switch the record from left to right song for song with minimum hearing memory lost. I am quite familiar with both tts. Tbh I have many things coming this month and next, I unlikely interchange carts for quite a while. Maybe wait for the AS2000 and I can put them on the same ground. After 100 hrs on MSL I will write updates.

Regarding the sound signature of Kronos and AF1, pls see my comment #91 in ddk’s thread Reference Turntable, The Step Beyond. I don’t want to write too much about AF1 and Kronos and get in trouble with advocates of both tts. I am best to be Switzerland .

Kind regards,
Tang
 

Mike Lavigne

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Dear Bonzo and Peter,

Sorry for the quality of writing. I am just bad at writing whether Thai or English. I wrote this during lunch before business meetings. My listening room is at office.

All variables are the same except what I wrote earlier meaning they are both on SAT. SAT1 is on Kronos. SAT2 is on AF1P. Both SAT has silver wire run straight to Ayon Spheris Phono input1 and input2. The only variable is tt. I can’t put 2 SATs on the same AF1 because SAT don’t make armbase for the AF1 second arm (back arm). However, the comparison was easy and quick. Just switch the record from left to right song for song with minimum hearing memory lost. I am quite familiar with both tts. Tbh I have many things coming this month and next, I unlikely interchange carts for quite a while. Maybe wait for the AS2000 and I can put them on the same ground. After 100 hrs on MSL I will write updates.

Regarding the sound signature of Kronos and AF1, pls see my comment #91 in ddk’s thread Reference Turntable, The Step Beyond. I don’t want to write too much about AF1 and Kronos and get in trouble with advocates of both tts. I am best to be Switzerland .

Kind regards,
Tang

Tang,

don't know about your writing in Thai, but I love your writing in English. I wish I, and many others, could do as well. you say with few words, what myself and many others (English as first language) cannot quite say with many.

I really enjoyed this cartridge comparison. thank you.

best regards,

Mike
 
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Tango

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Tang,

don't know about your writing in Thai, but I love your writing in English. I wish I, and many others, could do as well. you say with few words, what myself and many others (English as first language) cannot quite say with many.

I really enjoyed this cartridge comparison. thank you.

best regards,

Mike

Thank you Mike. I have been studying how you put sound into words and the aspects of sound you have interest on. I will try to touch on those aspects more in the future. I know I leave out many boxes unchecked. You like the aspect of flow, the energy, coherency, things that make sound musical to the ears. These are most difficult to write or describe imo. But I will try.

You keep on writing too so I can learn.

Tang:)
 

bonzo75

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Dear Bonzo and Peter,

Sorry for the quality of writing. I am just bad at writing whether Thai or English. I wrote this during lunch before business meetings. My listening room is at office.

All variables are the same except what I wrote earlier meaning they are both on SAT. SAT1 is on Kronos. SAT2 is on AF1P. Both SAT has silver wire run straight to Ayon Spheris Phono input1 and input2. The only variable is tt. I can’t put 2 SATs on the same AF1 because SAT don’t make armbase for the AF1 second arm (back arm). However, the comparison was easy and quick. Just switch the record from left to right song for song with minimum hearing memory lost. I am quite familiar with both tts. Tbh I have many things coming this month and next, I unlikely interchange carts for quite a while. Maybe wait for the AS2000 and I can put them on the same ground. After 100 hrs on MSL I will write updates.

Regarding the sound signature of Kronos and AF1, pls see my comment #91 in ddk’s thread Reference Turntable, The Step Beyond. I don’t want to write too much about AF1 and Kronos and get in trouble with advocates of both tts. I am best to be Switzerland .

Kind regards,
Tang

Tang - you are great at writing. And very honest.
 

Ron Resnick

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Dear Tang,

Thank you very, very much for this initial comparison! This was very interesting to me and, I am sure, too many of us!

If the MSL is a bit smoother then that is the one I, personally, would choose, assuming these small differences between the cartridges endure as the MSL breaks in.
 

DaveyF

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Tango, thank you for reporting on these two very interesting cartridges.
Couple of questions...what are you loading the cartridges at...and are you using the same tracking forces, angles etc.,for both...or different for both. Are you using the same gain for both cartridges and presumably the same piece of music.

Thanks
 

Tango

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Tango, thank you for reporting on these two very interesting cartridges.
Couple of questions...what are you loading the cartridges at...and are you using the same tracking forces, angles etc.,for both...or different for both. Are you using the same gain for both cartridges and presumably the same piece of music.

Thanks

Hello DaveyF,

I found 2g. tracking force work best for me on both carts. Angle by ears :D. My Ayon Spheris phono has fixed gain on both inputs, about 70db.

I know you like to play with loadings. The designer of my phono told me not to play with loading, "let it loose" he said, although in the back of my phono has slots to put restrictors for each input. Every time I tried putting restrictors on, I could feel it less open and less alive. I think I read in another thread about the phono loading and another designer said no need to play with loading on his phono also.

I used Jazz at Pawnshop German pressing. I like this pressing better. I also used another record of Jazz written by our former Thai King Rama 9.

Tang
 

PeterA

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Hello DaveyF,

I found 2g. tracking force work best for me on both carts. Angle by ears :D. My Ayon Spheris phono has fixed gain on both inputs, about 70db.

I know you like to play with loadings. The designer of my phono told me not to play with loading, "let it loose" he said, although in the back of my phono has slots to put restrictors for each input. Every time I tried putting restrictors on, I could feel it less open and less alive. I think I read in another thread about the phono loading and another designer said no need to play with loading on his phono also.

I used Jazz at Pawnshop German pressing. I like this pressing better. I also used another record of Jazz written by our former Thai King Rama 9.

Tang

Tang, I have similar experience with my AirTight Supreme and MSL Sig. Gold. I just installed my Supreme back in my system after 18 months. Tracking force for both cartridges is 2.0g, the center value according to the manuals. I have moved it around and listened, but in each case, 2.0g sounds best. I set the loading on my SS Pass phono stage at wide open: 47Kohms. It sounds the best here. Very open transparent sound with best dynamics and resolution, and ease. Interestingly, my cartridges are so consistent in specs, that the VTA setting is also the same for each record with each cartridge. I played around with this too and settled on identical settings for each.

Having not heard the Supreme in my system for so long and then listening to some favorite LPs last night, I felt the same sensation I did when I first auditioned it in my system: I thought to myself then that I "had" to have this cartridge. It just made everything sound so beautiful. I heard this again last night. Vocals and strings have incredible beauty. It is not as honest and linear as the MSL, but it is gorgeous. I don't know if the higher two models that you have exhibit these same differences, but in my system, the MSL emphasizes transients more while the AirTight emphasizes decays more. Perhaps your flagship models combine both to a better degree and add some dynamics to the Opus and some beauty to the Platinum.

Hearing the Supreme again last night helps me to better understand what you, Folsom, Ron, and David were talking about with the resolution versus details in Ron's thread about his cartridge choice. I now better understand where you guys are coming from. Hearing the Supreme again in my system and comparing it to my Gold has really given me something to think about regarding sound in systems versus sound of live music. It is so interesting.

Do you have any plans to try either of these cartridges in your Ortofon arm and EMT 927 turntable? I think we should hesitate to ascribe these specific sonic traits to cartridges without considering the full context of arm and table. You have done an excellent job of describing how the Atlas sound has changed depending on the arm. I find it fascinating that your strong preference, or at least what you enjoy most right now is what is usually described as an extremely revealing cartridge in your vintage arm and table and that arguably the best of modern, the SAT arm and AF1/Kronos, don't provide quite the magic of the older design. Of course this is no surprise to David.

Keep up sharing your thoughts. You are a very strong voice on this forum and we are all learning a lot from your writings.
 

DaveyF

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Hello DaveyF,

I found 2g. tracking force work best for me on both carts. Angle by ears :D. My Ayon Spheris phono has fixed gain on both inputs, about 70db.

I know you like to play with loadings. The designer of my phono told me not to play with loading, "let it loose" he said, although in the back of my phono has slots to put restrictors for each input. Every time I tried putting restrictors on, I could feel it less open and less alive. I think I read in another thread about the phono loading and another designer said no need to play with loading on his phono also.

I used Jazz at Pawnshop German pressing. I like this pressing better. I also used another record of Jazz written by our former Thai King Rama 9.

Tang

Tang, you are correct, I do like to experiment with loading. IME, many MC's actually benefit from a loading that is not at the standard 47K ohms. However, defaulting to 47K ohm's usually results in an acceptable presentation, just not the best that the cartridge can give. OTOH, i have no experience with your set up and cartridges, so if you think that the sound is a good as it can get without loading, so be it.
 

Tango

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Having not heard the Supreme in my system for so long and then listening to some favorite LPs last night, I felt the same sensation I did when I first auditioned it in my system: I thought to myself then that I "had" to have this cartridge. It just made everything sound so beautiful. I heard this again last night. Vocals and strings have incredible beauty. It is not as honest and linear as the MSL, but it is gorgeous. I don't know if the higher two models that you have exhibit these same differences, but in my system, the MSL emphasizes transients more while the AirTight emphasizes decays more. Perhaps your flagship models combine both to a better degree and add some dynamics to the Opus and some beauty to the Platinum.

Hearing the Supreme again last night helps me to better understand what you, Folsom, Ron, and David were talking about with the resolution versus details in Ron's thread about his cartridge choice. I now better understand where you guys are coming from. Hearing the Supreme again in my system and comparing it to my Gold has really given me something to think about regarding sound in systems versus sound of live music. It is so interesting.

Do you have any plans to try either of these cartridges in your Ortofon arm and EMT 927 turntable? I think we should hesitate to ascribe these specific sonic traits to cartridges without considering the full context of arm and table. You have done an excellent job of describing how the Atlas sound has changed depending on the arm. I find it fascinating that your strong preference, or at least what you enjoy most right now is what is usually described as an extremely revealing cartridge in your vintage arm and table and that arguably the best of modern, the SAT arm and AF1/Kronos, don't provide quite the magic of the older design. Of course this is no surprise to David.

Dear Peter,

You just summed up everything about Opus1 and possibly theMSL Platinum too. The Opus1 is the combined Supreme and Signature Gold multiply by X factor. It is funny you haven’t even listened to the Opus1 and MSL Platinum but you manage to use all the right words describing their nature. These two cart just throw at you incredible picture of sound..hear everything, see everything. But it is a different picture from Ansel Adam’s Hasselblad.

What enlightened me Peter is the EMT/Ortofon/AtlasSL. This setup made me realize my attention during listening was indeed sidetracked from the musical performance itself to the fascinating sound reproduction. I started to ask myself am I overwhelmed by the incredible transparency and resolution of sound produced by these uber audio gears? or am I overwhelmed by the musical performance I am hearing? Should I be enjoying more in music or do I want to enjoy hearing incredible sound more? It is my truth that both Kronos and AF1 setups have more HiFi features that draw my attention away from musical performance than the EMT setup. I was WOWing things I hear from my system that I would not have WOWed in live performance. For example, I was impressed during listening of piano strings resonating in the piano housing that the Kronos/SAT/Opus1 generated, But I was never impressed hearing “that” in live sound because I know it is real. What I am saying is these kind of incredible reproduced sound distracted or pull some of my attention away from enjoying just music and keep reminding me that it sounds almost real. I want less distraction and less reminding at the same time sounding almost real. Continuous suspension of disbelief is too much. The EMT setup somehow does that better than both of my modern tts. It doesnt has all the pixels of latest Nikon. It is an old Hesselblad. Just Different versions of truth. I like both for different occasions.

I will not be trying to put the modern Opus1 or the MSL Platinum cart on the vintage Ortofon/EMT, these two have many similar traits to the AtlasSL and therefore tend to be a redundant test. Instead, I will put an fully burned in Opus1 on a modern Axiom arm on the EMT. Then I will know if I get this “out of the way” effect like the vintage arm. Looking at arms both ddk and Airbearing who have so much experience with the 927 like to use, I have a feeling that it might not work as well as the vintage arm. But I just need to know for myself.

Kind regards,
Tang
 

PeterA

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Dear Peter,

You just summed up everything about Opus1 and possibly theMSL Platinum too. The Opus1 is the combined Supreme and Signature Gold multiply by X factor. It is funny you haven’t even listened to the Opus1 and MSL Platinum but you manage to use all the right words describing their nature. These two cart just throw at you incredible picture of sound..hear everything, see everything. But it is a different picture from Ansel Adam’s Hasselblad.

What enlightened me Peter is the EMT/Ortofon/AtlasSL. This setup made me realize my attention during listening was indeed sidetracked from the musical performance itself to the fascinating sound reproduction. I started to ask myself am I overwhelmed by the incredible transparency and resolution of sound produced by these uber audio gears? or am I overwhelmed by the musical performance I am hearing? Should I be enjoying more in music or do I want to enjoy hearing incredible sound more? It is my truth that both Kronos and AF1 setups have more HiFi features that draw my attention away from musical performance than the EMT setup. I was WOWing things I hear from my system that I would not have WOWed in live performance. For example, I was impressed during listening of piano strings resonating in the piano housing that the Kronos/SAT/Opus1 generated, But I was never impressed hearing “that” in live sound because I know it is real. What I am saying is these kind of incredible reproduced sound distracted or pull some of my attention away from enjoying just music and keep reminding me that it sounds almost real. I want less distraction and less reminding at the same time sounding almost real. Continuous suspension of disbelief is too much. The EMT setup somehow does that better than both of my modern tts. It doesnt has all the pixels of latest Nikon. It is an old Hesselblad. Just Different versions of truth. I like both for different occasions.

I will not be trying to put the modern Opus1 or the MSL Platinum cart on the vintage Ortofon/EMT, these two have many similar traits to the AtlasSL and therefore tend to be a redundant test. Instead, I will put an fully burned in Opus1 on a modern Axiom arm on the EMT. Then I will know if I get this “out of the way” effect like the vintage arm. Looking at arms both ddk and Airbearing who have so much experience with the 927 like to use, I have a feeling that it might not work as well as the vintage arm. But I just need to know for myself.

Kind regards,
Tang

Thank you Tang. I had read, and assumed myself, that the next improvement by the designer for his flagship cartridges would be to combine the best attributes of each of the two cartridges that I own in his next effort. I think because the MSL is his own line, it is voiced slightly differently from the AirTight OEM effort. I think it is a matter of balancing various sonic traits for a slightly different overall sound. He plays with cantilever material and windings for different load and output. I hear this as effecting a different part of the signal, either the transient resolution or the decay resolution. One hears the same information but it is just presented slightly differently in relation to the rest of the note. Details like breathing are clearly heard with each. It is all a matter of balancing the presentation.

When I listen to live music, I sometimes close my eyes and try to listen critically to the sound to understand what it actually is for later reference for my audio system fine tuning. The musical message is what it is. I can follow it when listening to live music and it is engaging. The live sound is what it is too. It is clear, clean, and highly resolved. The sheer amount of detail and energy is incredible. The hall information is what it is too, whether it is a good hall or bad hall. I find it depends on how focused one wants to listen to the sound rather than the music. If one relaxes and just experiences the music in an emotional way, not an intellectual way, he can loose himself in the musical message. I happen to think that this is because when listening to live acoustic music, it is simply natural sound, no distortion, no artifacts, nothing unnatural. It is when we get to an artificial sound from our systems that it becomes more difficult. If there is an easy and natural presentation without much distortion or artifacts, it can sound very real. One can relax and lose himself. If one has difficulty focusing on the music and is distracted by details, then I think something is wrong with the system presentation and one should look for the problem.

I was discussing with Al M. the other day how live acoustic music has it all. We use it as our reference. However, we also use various systems with which we are familiar as references. One system presents resolution better than others. One is more open/free/dynamic. One has the best timber, etc. etc. Live music has all of those attributes. My goal is to take the best sound experiences from all of these various systems and components and combine them into my own system in an effort to capture what I hear when listening to live music. Those attributes like resolution, dynamics, details, soundstaging, Presence, palpability, are all part of live sound. When we get them in our systems, and they sound natural, not man made, then the overall sound becomes a part of the musical message. We no longer focus on the sound, but on the music because the rest sounds right, normal, and natural. It is an extremely difficult balance to get right. You seem to be getting closer with your new appreciation of the EMT and Ortofon arm and Atlas. I bet all of these sonic attributes still exist in your sound. They are just now so much more natural, that they no longer distract you from the musical message as they do to some extent with your other components. Relaxation and a wondering brain are at odds until the sound is natural enough to allow the brain to relax so that you can simply enjoy the music.

I don't have the luxury of hearing alternatives like you between modern and vintage components and the variety of presentations. My two cartridges give me a glimpse of the distinction between resolution and detail, music and sound, but you are exposed to a great range and I think can understand these differences better.
 

Gardener

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Sep 23, 2017
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don't know about your writing in Thai, but I love your writing in English. I wish I, and many others, could do as well. you say with few words, what myself and many others (English as first language) cannot quite say with many.

I really enjoyed this cartridge comparison. thank you.

Tang
I would like to 2nd this
Also love the dog with the hat

I also have the SAT arm, love to try different cartridges

best regards,

Mike[/QUOTE]
 
Last edited:

Tango

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don't know about your writing in Thai, but I love your writing in English. I wish I, and many others, could do as well. you say with few words, what myself and many others (English as first language) cannot quite say with many.

I really enjoyed this cartridge comparison. thank you.

Tang
I would like to 2nd this
Also love the dog with the hat

I also have the SAT arm, love to try different cartridges

best regards,

Mike
[/QUOTE]

Hello Gardener,

The dog with a hat is my listening budddy. He’s been listening with me for 13 yrs. when he doesn’t like the sound he keeps walking around and settle down when the sound is right...hahahaha. You have SAT. I don’t know if you agree but to me I think it is an arm that transmits everything that your cart picks up from the groove with very little or no adding or subtracting. So it is an excellent medium to test different carts and hear a true nature of them. Synergy or not with a cart is different story though. You should try the MSL Platinum. Help cross-checking my ears :D. I think the price is attractive comparing to the Opus1.

Tang
 

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