Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC STAR
Zephyr MIMC Star is Soundsmith’s entry point into its high end, low output lineup. Before you consider that not “affordable” consider that if you mess up and snap the cantilever during installation, Soundsmith will rebuild it at this time for $350. Even after you’ve worn out the stylus, the cartridge can be rebuilt for the same amount “at this time”. Most MC cartridge “re-tips” cost approximately half of list price, so do the math: you get “two” Zephyr Stars for around $2100.
Right now Soundsmith is offering another buying incentive: buyers of the first 1500 Zephyr Star cartridges will receive a small golden envelope corresponding to a free gift from Soundsmith ranging from a set of EZ Mount Screws (1420) to an SG-210 Strain Gauge cartridge (4). In between are Hyperion cartridges (6), Sussurros (10) and four other cartridge models (15 each). So you are guaranteed to get something if you buy one of the first 1500 Zephyr Stars.
The Zephyr Star, which weighs 10.27 grams, features a Sapphire cantilever .....laser drilled to accept the Selected Contact Line low mass nude stylus, and borrows much of its internal technology from the $4800 Sussurro cartridge that I reviewed some time ago in Stereophile. The Zephyr Star’s compliance is suitably low at 10µm/mN, its rated channel separation at 1K is rated at greater than 28dB and 25dB between 50Hz and 15kHz.
The name is an acronym for “Moving Iron for Moving Coil preamps). In other words, with its .4mV output, the MIMC should be used with a moving coil phono preamp capable of producing between 58-64dBs of gain.
Rebuild Cost $499.00
Type:• Fixed Coil / Moving IronMount:• Standard ½”Stylus:• Selected Contact Line low mass Nude Stylus
Radius of Curvature:• 6 x 17 µmCantilever:• Laser Drilled SapphireRecommended
Tracking Force:• 1.8 - 2.2 g
Effective Tip Mass:• 0.32 mgCompliance:• 10 µm/mNFrequence Response:• 15 - 45,000 Hz ± 2.0 dBChannel Separation @ 1000 Hz:• > 28 dB
• N/A (Mono version)Channel Separation @ 50 - 15,000 Hz:• > 25 dB
• N/A (Mono version)Channel Difference:• < 1.0 dB
• < 0.5 dB (Dual Mono w/optimal VTF setting)Output Voltage @ 5cm/sec:• > 0.40 mV (LOW)DC Resistance (DCR):• 10ΩCoil Inductance per channel:• 2.75 mHSuggested Preamp Gain:• 58 - 64 dBCartridge Weight:• 12.2 g (ES series)Recommended Load Resistance:• ≥ 470ΩRecommended Load Capacitance:• n/a