Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Phono Cartridge [AIG Archives]

      Date posted: March 8, 2008

Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Phono Cartridge

Sugg. Retail: $840.00 (CAN)
Distributor: Tri-Cell Enterprises,
20 Monsheen Ave.,
Woodbridge, ON L4L 2E9
(905) 265-7870 Toll-Free (800) 263-8151 FAX (905) 265-7868

A high output moving coil design, this cartridge exhibits just about the flattest frequency response of any in memory. Usually you get a top-end rise with an MC, but here tonal neutrality is assured (see chart below). Output on the test sheet is stated as 2.8 mV, the tracking force also 2.8, but in grams.

I installed the DV-20X H in a SAEC headshell, and with its real weight and tracking weight being very close to that of both the Ortofon MC-3000II and the Kontrapunkt b, I could easily swap it in and out of the arm for comparisons, though its much higher output than the former necessitated substantial level reduction to match. The cartridge comes in a clear plastic box, with a set of colour-coded leads, a nice broad white-bristle stylus brush, and screws and bolts. It was also protected by a soft plastic guard that fitted snugly over the bottom of the cartridge body. Unlike quite a few recent cartridges, the body was not threaded, making installation a little trickier, but the proper overhang level turned out to be when the flat front of the cartridge was flush with the front of the headshell, which made setting both overhang and azimuth a snap.

For the first 20 hours or so, the DV-20X sounded a little sterile, but a good tracker, but after that the sound opened up, revealing more detail and air. It was only then that I subjected it to our standard tracking tests with Shure Era IV and Telarc Omnidisc LPs.

Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Phono Cartridge (chart)

On the brutal tests of the former, the DV20H showed some weakness in high frequency tracking, scoring only 9 1/2 of a possible 20. But its bass tracking was perfect, a result not untypical of moving coil designs: their higher compliance tends to inhibit high frequency tracking ability, even though they tend to sound more revealing in the upper octaves. I’ve never been able to explain this anomaly, and I’ve always been very sensitive to this kind of distortion. It may be that few records are ever cut to the levels of the Shure tests.

It could be that the Telarc test disc confirmed this, since its tests are of more normal music at 4 increasing levels. Here the cartridge managed to track all the excerpts from Telarc recordings, including the infamous 1812 Overture bits. The final score was 29 1/2 out of a possible 40, quite respectable.

The larger anomaly is that, while moving magnet cartridges like the Shure V-15 in its various iterations and the Stanton 681 series offer better tracking, they cannot match the sonic quality of even a less expensive moving coil. It may be dynamics, it may be speed, but the music comes out of the speakers better with any good MC. It could be that the induced magnet principle, with coils surrounding the rear of the stylus cantilever’s magnet is inherently less able to transmit the signal than when the coils are directly attached to the moving mechanism. That does cause compliance to be lower, but it also makes the transmission of stylus vibration more immediate, that is, faster, and more directly transmitted to the preamplification chain.

That said, tracking at about 3 grams, the Dynavector DV-20X is one of the most neutral and transparent cartridges I’ve heard, with lots of dynamics, and that listen-through quality that MC lovers cherish.

Andrew Marshall

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2 Responses to “Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Phono Cartridge [AIG Archives]”

  1. Tim c-unknown Says:

    VTF at 3 grammes ? are you sure? why so high?

  2. Andrew Marshall c-ca Says:

    You have to think of stylus force (or pressure) as a relative measurement, in that the actual stylus contact area is also a factor, an X-factor, I suppose, because it isn’t as easily quantifiable. The more area of stylus you have on the record, the higher the straight balance beam or other STF measurement has to be. In other words, an elliptical stylus contacts the groove much less, and therefore exhibits more force at 1.5 grams than a line-type stylus profile with greater overall contact; conversely, the record applies more inertial force in rotation to the stylus/arm because of the greater contact area.

    As a result, a 3-gram static measurement may well be identical to (and safer than) a lighter one, because more damage is done to records when the stylus starts to ricochet in the groove because of insufficient STF. The other aspect of this teeter-totter equation is that a moving coil design has inherently more mass than an induced or moving iron design, and needs more STF to perform at optimum, but with a larger contact stylus design will also be less likely to damage LPs, because the vinyl deforms and reforms in a more uniform fashion in play.

    Hope that’s not too technical, but that’s the truth!

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