I spent more time than usually with this cartridge, listening to it often late at night, using headphones. My headphone system fulfills my expectations fully offering absolutely satisfactory performance. Surely I'm ready to accept any surprises that a future might bring, but for the moment I am fully content. Still I realize that lower midrange offered by this system is a little bit lean. I simply got used to it while appreciating phenomenal resolution and coherence of the sound that makes listening to even well know recordings a new, exciting experience. Such a sound characteristics makes it very clear, audible if the source connected to this system leans towards the bright, not clear enough, or emphasized treble. My headphone system is nothing like that but if you connect another element, source most likely, with such problems, system will show them very clearly. When the source is a turntable all cracks and pups are quite audible.
ZYX offers very open sound and it hides nothing. But even when I used headphone system I heard only quite limited number of those cracks&pups, even when I listened some quite fatigued records. The noise of stylus moving along groove was audible but – same as with pops&cracks – it was presented as a layer „under” the music. These two elements when I listened to ZYX via speaker system almost completely disappeared. It's still not the level where everything except for music exists on a totally different plane, but it was good enough to forget about it and focus on music alone.
It's a beautiful cartridge offering dynamic, powerful, open sound. Sound is also very clean, but not “clinical” – it's about lack of distortion and not brightness. There is a slight emphasis on upper bass, but it only adds momentum to the presentation. Presentation of space and reverberations is quite extraordinary and basing on these elements I would say that Mr Hisayoshi's approach to cartridge design does bring certain effects. Is it really a direct effect of this particular design – that's hard to say. You'd need two almost identical ZYX cartridges where one would have “regular” coils and other these special coils from Mr Hisayoshi and that would be the one and only difference between them. But to be honest I do not really care. I accept the sound of this cartridge enthusiastically whether its coils were winded in a special, regular or any other way. No hesitation at all - ZYX gets a RED Fingerprint award!
You have to remember to give ZYX some time to break in – it's simple mechanics – some parts have to work for a while before they start to work in an optimal way which improves the sound significantly. The longer we break it in the more open, dynamic and more clean sound we get. But at the same time sweeter, deeper and more THERE. I think 50 hours should do the trick.