Air Tight Opus 1 arrived

PeterA

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It’s a great cartridge. Congratulations.
 
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audioquest4life

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The Opus 1 is installed. It is very delightful in sound. Only 6 records in so far and all are from my frequent rotation shelf. It is a mix of Sade (Smooth Operator), Supertramp (Child of Vision), Doors (Riders on the Storm, 45 RPM master), Tedeschi Trucks Band (Midnight in Harlem), Gipsy Kings (Allegria), Anette Askvik (Liberty)...and still going through more. All of these albums give me an opportunity to hear voices, guitars, percussion, saxophone, and cymbals as I am used to playing on my Hyperion Soundsmith. So, first off, right out of the box and onto the tonearm, the OPUS-1 exhibits an even more realistic sense of the human characteristic of voices. That is to say, that voices sound more fresh, vibrant and have more of a sense of reality. The Hyperion does this as well, but on certain songs, it really shines above the Hyperion. The Gypsy Kings Allegria album is full of life, beautiful spanish and flamenco style music with the male singers all heard on stage, live. Well, this album does appear to be live in the studio with the singers talking to each often. The voices jump out and connect you more to the music. Sade's voice is incredible and always mesmerized me and my wife. The wife said that Sade's voice sounds more alive like she is actually singing alive in front of us.

No bloated bass, mids, or highs. Just the same evenhanded play as the Hyperion but with a more liveliness to the voices and slight edge in upper freq details. Piano, well, I have to say that Piano's sound more robust and articulate. When I played Supertramp Child of Vision, one of go to recorrs to test dynamic piano, the Opus 1 bested the Hyperion by far. The piano is so powerful and has more clarity as to the direction the keys are stroked. I loved this with the Hyperion, but I notice this more with the Opus 1. The bass is not yet there, but it is not lacking. The Hyperion has excellent bass and it will be interesting to see how much more the Opus 1 will change with more hours on it. So far, the Opus 1 has provided my wife and I with a few good hours of music. It is time to listen more instead of hanging out here, LOL. BTW, the Hyperion is by no means a slouch, it just does not have that extra vibrancy that the Opus 1 offers.

I am able to provide that sentiment because I have 2 SME V Arms), the Hyperion on 1 and the Opus 1 on the other, same cables, and same phono stage. Icing on the cake, same gain (60db) / same loading = 47K (No loading at all into the Aesthetix Io partial Eclispe). Tracking force is set at 2.1, antskate a tick under 2. I used the Wally WallyTractor Universal tool and the mirrored side marked newer records. I did do a quick channel balance test with the Analogue Productions test record and the Fozgometer. All looked good to me. When my Transrotor TRA9 gold arm arrives, i will have to perform this surgery again and post updates. BTW, the TRA9 is Transrotors modern day clone equivalent of the SME V., go figure, except the TRA9 offers azimuth adjustment and VTA on the fly so to speak, and magnetic antiskate.

It starts.JPG Benz Ruby Z removed.JPG Opus 1 ready for install.JPG Opus 1 Installed taping down platter.JPG Wally tool adjustment.JPG Left channel DB test.JPG Right channel DB test.JPG Tracking force check.JPG Tracking force check.JPG
 

bazelio

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You'll want to load the Opus 1 differently than the Hyperion. 470 ohms is a min load value for the Hyperion. And a higher numerical value should theoretically be better. But with the Opus 1, try bringing that to around 200 ohms. The bass will come.
 
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audioquest4life

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You'll want to load the Opus 1 differently than the Hyperion. 470 ohms is a min load value for the Hyperion. And a higher numerical value should theoretically be better. But with the Opus 1, try bringing that to around 200 ohms. The bass will come.
I want to clarify my bass comment. It is not that the Opus 1 is lacking any bass, it is that it is more refined and has more definition and pitch. The Hyperion has good bass, but it is less defined when compared to the Opus 1, maybe a general term to describe Hyperion bass is looser sounding. When listening to more music, the Opus 1 gave us the feeling of all the bass that was in the grooves. Being new, we are very happy as is with all of the audio attributes. The voices are what seem to be way way better and more magical according to my wife.

Loading, well, it is a matter of system compatibility and ears. While the Hyperion does have a “minimum recommended“ loading of 470, Sound smith is not worried about loading above it, way above it. This is due to the total influence of the system, carfridge, phono cable, phono amp, preamp, etc. I have not seen a published minimum loading setting for the Opus 1 which makes me wonder if Air Tight is okay with people experimenting and using a loading factor which is ideal for their system. In my experience, I always take the recommended loading as a starting point, but many times it is not the ideal loading due to system differences. Test low and go high, and all between, over a period of time. This has worked for me for many years. I have read from well versed industry experts that loading should only be used if their is a mismatch between equipment and cartridge, and of course, whatever equipment one is using will effect if and how much loading is necessary. That’s my experience with my equipment. Who knows, I might try 200 in a few weeks after I am done sampling at the current loading which both my wife and i really like.

When we played the song “Liberty” by Annette Askvic, wow, we were both drawn into the song, felt an emotional connection to the singer, the voice was so palpable. The saxophone enchanting as it played before our eyes. There is Nothing more to be said, or done, according to wife, it sounds so good. I agree.
 
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bazelio

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Loading isn't a function of "system compatibility". In fact, that is an extremely vague statement. I'm not saying one shouldn't load a cartridge by ear, though. I was simply pointing out that the Hyperion is a high inductance moving iron cartridge while the Opus 1 is a low inductance moving coil cartridge. The Hyperion loading range has to be and is different simply from the perspective of getting the most out of that cartridge. Frequency extremes will be effected and a non-linear response will result much more easily. As far as the 200 Ohm recommendation for Opus 1, that is just my personal experience. So, I wanted to point out that if you hadn't adjusted the loading after going from Hyperion to Opus 1 in the same system, then you might not yet be experiencing the best result from the Opus 1. Either way, knock yourself out and enjoy the Opus 1.
 

Thomas 911

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dear nick , thx for your first detailed analysis and impression so far , can you give any comment in regard of reproduction from classical music, one of my favour type e.g. violin concert from tschaikovsky..in your play list so far no classic was seen ..:)
best regards

thomas
 
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audioquest4life

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Hallo Thomas,

Wie Gehts? Ich wurde heute versuchen eine stuck klassischen musik an horen. I have to look for a good Kopie. Meistens Sind vom Deutsche flohmarkts, LOL. I think I have a couple master recordings from Decca. I will find something and ,let you know. I have these TACET all Rorhen aufnehmen recordings for klassische musik, hmmm, maybe one of these.
 

audioquest4life

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So, I wanted to point out that if you hadn't adjusted the loading after going from Hyperion to Opus 1 in the same system, then you might not yet be experiencing the best result from the Opus 1. Either way, knock yourself out and enjoy the Opus 1.
Appreciate your experiential feedback regarding the Opus 1. As I mentioned, I do plan on changing loading over time. Doing the loading dance So to speak. That way I will have a sonic impression of various loading values. This to me is the experimentation phase. It has been in my experience that this method, trying different loading values over time which seems best to work for me. I think the natural intoxicating sound of the Opus 1 will aid in making me fall asleep in the listening chair, LOL. No need for me to work harder to achieve sonic bliss.

Are you still using the Opus 1? How do you feel about it now that you have so many hours in it?
 

bazelio

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Appreciate your experiential feedback regarding the Opus 1. As I mentioned, I do plan on changing loading over time. Doing the loading dance So to speak. That way I will have a sonic impression of various loading values. This to me is the experimentation phase. It has been in my experience that this method, trying different loading values over time which seems best to work for me. I think the natural intoxicating sound of the Opus 1 will aid in making me fall asleep in the listening chair, LOL. No need for me to work harder to achieve sonic bliss.

Are you still using the Opus 1? How do you feel about it now that you have so many hours in it?

Yes, I am. The Opus 1 is still the best cartridge I've yet had in my system. In another thread, there was a description that went something like this (and with which I agreed): If you were to break sonic attributes down into several categories, then the Opus 1 would score 8 or 9 out of 10 in every category. Any other cartridge I've tried may exceed the Opus 1 in a specific category and receive a 10, but that cartridge would always then lose to the Opus 1 in other categories. The Red Sparrow, another great cartridge, was a good example of this. The Opus 1 is just the most even-handed, overall balanced and natural sounding cartridge that I've tried - a real jack of all trades.
 

audioquest4life

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The Opus 1 is just the most even-handed, overall balanced and natural sounding cartridge that I've tried - a real jack of all trades.
That is what I am also learning...even with a just few hours on it. It is indeed an incredible sounding cartridge and a beautiful work of art. I did read that description about the performance of the Opus 1 in different categories. That is an incredible feat! I am glad you are still enjoying it. I know that based on yours and others feedback, I was able to make an informed decision to obtain it. I am glad that I did.
 

bazelio

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That is what I am also learning...even with a just few hours on it. It is indeed an incredible sounding cartridge and a beautiful work of art. I did read that description about the performance of the Opus 1 in different categories. That is an incredible feat! I am glad you are still enjoying it. I know that based on yours and others feedback, I was able to make an informed decision to obtain it. I am glad that I did.

I haven't changed anything in my system for at least 9 months. I've been toying with a few ideas, one being a different turntable mainly to allow for a second tonearm. But then when I sit down and listen to music, I ask myself why bother. I'm plenty happy with my sound as it is, and I don't care much about mono - at least not enough to have a dedicated mono arm/cart. So instead, I've mainly just been acquiring new music and/or upgrading to better pressings of favorites and selling off many audiophile pressings.
 

Thomas 911

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That is what I am also learning...even with a just few hours on it. It is indeed an incredible sounding cartridge and a beautiful work of art. I did read that description about the performance of the Opus 1 in different categories. That is an incredible feat! I am glad you are still enjoying it. I know that based on yours and others feedback, I was able to make an informed decision to obtain it. I am glad that I did.
reading all these comments , ....as a jazz and classic enthuisiast i think i have no choice :)
... the opus 1 must be integrated in my system ..
i hope the difference to my actuall pc1 supreme will be so significant, that the amount of tears i will spill, in comparison, will be doubled
Then it will be the best Investment,.. without any regrets.
thomas
 
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audioquest4life

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reading all these comments , ....as a jazz and classic enthuisiast i think i have no choice :)
... the opus 1 must be integrated in my system ..
i hope the difference to my actuall pc1 supreme will be so significant, that the amount of tears i will spill, in comparison, will be doubled
Then it will be the best Investment,.. without any regrets.
thomas
Thomas,

Yes, do it. You deserve to hear what the Opus 1 will do to your system. I think that yes, more tears will be spilled due to the pure emotional connection that the Opus 1 will bring you. I have not heard a PC1 Supreme, so I cannot give a personal remark about the supreme, only from what I have read. My wife was startled when the female voice just appeared from the darkness...she said wow, wow, shaking her head, then closing her eyes and relaxing. She said that the raumlikeit, akusitik aura is viel besser als vorher. I think you and have very similar listening criteria. I was going to obtain a Koetsu jade, but now I don't think so. The Opus 1 brings everything that I wanted in a cartridge to me. It is not hyper tizzy on the top end, and does not have a boomy bottom...Klar fokus, clear man. I know how your system sounded before with the RSP and I am sure that the Supreme brings you farther. I can't say how mmuch farther the Opus 1 will bring you, but I am sure that it will bring you closer to tears for shear enjoyment. It already has doen the same to my wife and I. I guess grown men can get sentimental. It has so much emotional appeal. The wife and I said that this is it; no more, no mas, nichts mehr. The Opus 1 will be a keeper for a very long time. I like the Hyperion a lot, but I love the Opus 1....and it is still only 12 hours.

This is from a website review about the Opus 1: "Drop it into a groove and the Opus-1 opens a world of palpable three-dimensional imaging, a wide and deep soundstage and a sense of realism reminiscent of a live event. Such is its sublime sonic picture that the listener is drawn into the music with a deep emotional engagement and sense of believably. For audiophiles who are searching for the ultimate performing cartridge to add to their analogue system, the AirTight Opus-1 must be on their short list. Rare and uncompromisingly brilliant"

Compared to Supreme:
" Ephemeral nuances that may have been dimly present, merely hinted at, were now clear as day. It didn't matter whether the signal was soft or loud; the Opus never compromised the quality of sound. Musicality was always retained. Where the Supreme began the process of pushing down awareness of the mechanical aspects, the Opus completed it. As you go up the line from the PC1s --> Supreme --> Opus, you'll find each piggybacks on the strengths of the prior and enlarges the distance between you and the mechanical process at work. The Supreme began this process; the Opus completes it. But there's a caveat: your gear has to be at a certain level."

"Speaking of dynamics…the Opus-1 has almost tape-like smoothness, speed, and power. Here is a cartridge with the dynamic “continuousness” of the real thing. (Don’t confuse this with a lack of transient punch—the Opus-1 has punch aplenty. But unlike certain other cartridges—and digital all the time—this cartridge doesn’t give you a sense that its reproduction of dynamics is subtly “stepped,” proceeding in a slightly mechanical fashion from one level to another. As in life, the Opus-1 reproduces changes in intensity, large and small, as a continuum, making the presentation that much more realistic and easy to listen to. If you’re used to something as thrilling as the Goldfinger, you may feel you’re losing a little zip, but listen for a while and see if what’s lost hasn’t been offset by the natural ease that has been gained.)"

Later tonight just for you, Mozart, Wagner, Bach, Tchaikovsky (Swan lake, 1812), Holst The Planets Zubin Mehta, Strauss Also Spruch Zarathustra Zubim Mehta, and maybe some more.
 

bazelio

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I've only heard the PC1 in a foreign system, not my own. I can't comment on the relative difference between it and the Opus 1. I have spent time with a loaner MSL Platinum in my system, which people seem to compare to the Opus 1 (or PC1?). In that case, the Opus 1 was a clear winner and the extra expense justifiable. To me.
 

Audire

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I've only heard the PC1 in a foreign system, not my own. I can't comment on the relative difference between it and the Opus 1. I have spent time with a loaner MSL Platinum in my system, which people seem to compare to the Opus 1 (or PC1?). In that case, the Opus 1 was a clear winner and the extra expense justifiable. To me.

I have both the Opus1 and MSL Signature Platinum. While both are excellent we also lean towards the Opus1 as our favorite.
 

Tango

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We have a thread "Best Bet" phono. The Opus1 would be the Best Bet cartridge. It sounds great across different systems.Sound great in different types of music. Not choosy of associated gears. The build quality and consistency is excellent. Once setup optimally I use it as a benchmark when introducing new cart to the system and when set/re-set up my vdh.

@bazelio The scores are not 8-9's. They are 9-10's. But some aspects of some cart just go through the roof, 11. :)

addition: The only thing that sucks is the retip cost. Just don't break it.
 

bazelio

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OK 9's and 10's :D

Fully agree Opus 1 build quality is second to none. I've never seen any other cartridge where the stylus & cantilever were dead nuts straight - confirmed by Zenith measurements in Analog Magic. They must discard a lot of cantilever/stylus assemblages to cherry pick for the Opus 1 or relegate the misaligned pieces to their lower-end products. I was impressed. @Vienna reported the same with his Opus 1. So, as you say, the consistency seems to be there. I've been thinking about getting a spare Opus 1, just in case. Lol
 

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