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Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star Cartridge - Like New

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Pickup currently unavailable at SkyFi 479

Soundsmith Zephyr Mimc Star Cartridge - Like New Phono

Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star Cartridge - Like New

SkyFi 479

Pickup currently unavailable

479 South Broad Street
Glen Rock NJ 07452
United States


Innovative and beautifully engineered Zephyr cartridge from Soundsmith, showing little to no signs of use. Perfectly straight and sounding wonderful.

Comes with the manual and a hardware bag.

Excerpts from a review by the one and only Michael Fremer:

 ........ 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.

The “Fixed Coil” (or “Moving Iron”) Advantage?

Rather than going through Soundsmith’s advocacy here, why not go here and read for yourself the company’s claims for the technology......

Two claims I will corroborate are those for quiet hum-free operation and especially the one for high dB channel separation. I measured 35.5dB of separation in both directions (L-R and R-L) with the head shell parallel to the record surface, no azimuth adjustment necessary. Now you could say this one was “hand picked” for the review, but that’s also possible for other cartridges I’ve been sent for review, and other than a $9995 Lyra Etna SL that measured 36dB (and not the one I was sent, but rather one I recently set up for a friend), I’ve not measured another cartridge that produced such crosstalk results.

Zephyr Star Sonics

As the measurements predicted, the Zephyr Star produced as wide a soundstage as I’ve experienced in my room: wide, deep, stable and three-dimensional. Images on the stage were three-dimensional and satisfyingly solid. More impressive was the presentation’s liquidity and complete freedom from mechanical artifacts.

The Zephyr Star smoothly handled the toughest vocal sibilants and overall produced liquidity not compromised by a soft finish.

One of the first records I played was Analog Sparks’ spectacular reissue of A Fiddler on the Roof(79301836821-6/RCA LSO-1093) finally not hobbled by Dynagroove processing. This 1964 Webster Hall recording features a wide, some might say overly L/R staging but the presentation through the Zephyr Star was ultra-stable and well reproduced the reverberant field that holds together the mix despite the occasional separation extremes.

The front to back three-dimensionality projected Zero Mostel well into the room well forward of a line between the speakers, and the effect was to bring the great actor back to life in the ways only the very best cartridges manage.

However vinyl’s dynamic range gets measured, the reality is far wider dynamics than measured as this record proves. You won’t be disappointed by this cartridge’s spatial presentation, I don’t care what cartridge you use or how much you’ve spent.

Installed in a Kuzma 4 Point, the Zephyr Star proved to be a super tracker and with its low mass Contact Line stylus an equally good tracer, able to get into the smallest groove “nooks and crannies”. I played ORG’s double 45 reissue of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book (Verve MG VS-64022/ORG 055) and found the liquidity, and freedom from mechanical and/or sibilant artifacts made for very smooth and enjoyable listening but with transient details mostly intact. The Zephyr Star is a “smoothie” without being a “softy”.

In term of frequency response, I found the Zephyr to be without “lumps” and obvious “bumps”. With the phono preamp correctly configured, the subjective response is neutral with perhaps a bit of an midband overemphasis that produces a billowy, airy fullness that well complements many speakers. The Zephyr’s bottom end is robust and well-controlled, while the top end is airy, extended and seemingly limitless—all without producing edge, spotlighting on top or bloat on bottom. An impressive tonal performance! 


At the under $2000 price point, the new low output Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star is an overachiever that gives you a glimpse of the best in terms of non-mechanical, artifact-free performance, for a small percentage of the state of the art asking price. With measured 36dB chancel separation the Zephyr Star’s spatial performance is up there with the best at any price, as is its smooth, reasonably fast and non-mechanical overall demeanor.

If you crave more tightly drawn, solid and compacted images, sharper, faster, better focused transients and blacker backgrounds they can be found, but at a far higher price-point. Soundsmith’s new Zephyr Star is a star.

 "At the under $2000 price point, the new low output Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star is an overachiever that gives you a glimpse of the best in terms of non-mechanical, artifact-free performance..." - Michael Fremer /  Click Here for the Full Review

Brand Background:

Soundsmith has designed and manufactured – and repaired – varied types of audio equipment for over 35 years. Dedicated to producing the world’s most accurate vinyl sound reproduction, Soundsmith recently introduced its new top-of-the line moving Iron cartridge, the VOICE, which is touted as Soundsmith’s best sounding MM-preamp cartridge yet

Single Owner

Cosmetic Condition:
9/10 = Excellent. Perfect physical condition, gently used. See our detailed rating description here.

Working Condition:
Working perfectly and tested in our lab.

Exactly as pictured and described above.

Type: Fixed Coil / Moving Iron
Mount: Standard ½”
Stylus: Selected Contact Line low mass Nude Stylus
Radius of Curvature: 6 x 17 µm
Cantilever: Laser Drilled Sapphire
Recommended Tracking Force: 1.8 - 2.2 g
Effective Tip Mass: 0.32 mg
Compliance: 10 µm/mN
Frequence Response: 15 - 45,000 Hz ± 2.0 dB
Channel 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): 10Ω
Coil Inductance per channel: 2.75 mH
Suggested Preamp Gain: 58 - 64 dB
Cartridge Weight: 12.2 g (ES series)
Recommended Load Resistance: ≥ 470Ω
Recommended Load Capacitance: n/a

1 lbs.

Link to Manual:
Click Here

The SkyFi Testing Process for Phono Cartridges
We start by doing a detailed physical inspection under light magnification to asses the cantilever condition, its position in the cartridge body and the condition of the suspension. We also inspect any coil wires and the output connections to make sure it hasn’t been strained. We then perform a light cleaning with specialized agents and blow it dry with compressed air.

We then perform a more detailed inspection with our Wild Heerbrugg professional microscope. From there we can asses the wear and quality of the stylus and determine how much use it has had and if there are any mechanical issues. We can also identify if it needs further cleaning or care.

We then move the cartridge to a digital microscope where we take photo os the cantilever for future reference.

We then move to the test bench where we can check for continuity of each channel and resistance.

On certain cartridges and it the technician feels necessary we install the unit on a turntable and run a few test records to ascertain tacking ability, distortion and compliance.

SKU: 104619