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New Cartridge Suggestions - Acoustical Systems, Lyra, Koetsu, etc


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I've had my Acoustical Systems Archon for about 5 yrs, and I'm having  thoughts about  a new toy.

 

I was wondering if any of the Vinyl gurus here have had any experience with comparing some of the top end/esoteric models from various manufacturers?

 

I was contemplating moving higher up in the Acoustical systems range, and thus would also consider some of the better models from Lyra, Koetsu, Myajima, Benz, Shelter, etc. 

 

The better Acoustical systems cartridges range from 12-16K, so the budget would be anything in that range ( or less if possible!)

 

What I'd be really interested in is whether anyone has been able to compare models in that range ( i.e. : the Lyra Etna vs Atlas, Acoustical systems Aiwon vs Palladium ) 

 

Cheers

 

 

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16 hours ago, pine weasel said:

What I'd be really interested in is whether anyone has been able to compare models in that range ( i.e. : the Lyra Etna vs Atlas, Acoustical systems Aiwon vs Palladium ) 

 

PW,

 

If you do not get any advice here, I  would suggest speaking to Youngskywalker a member here and also Warwick Freemantle (Pure Music Group) in Melbourne. Both of them are familiar with the Lyra and Acustical Systems gear as they have been involved in personal ownership of  some such cartridges and even distributing some of these brands in Oz. I believe that member AlistairM may also have some personal usage experience.

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PW,  I am a fully fledged Lyra fanboi having owned the Helikon, Kleos, Atlas, Atlas SL and currently Atlas SL Lambda, Etna SL and Delos.

 

 IMO, you cannot go wrong with either the Etna or Atlas.   Acoustical systems cartridges are somewhat weighted in the lower frequencies, so the more neutral Lyra might seem a little too lively at first.  Given that, I would probably go the Etna SL Lambda as its a little more forgiving than the Atlas. The Lambda range are a little fuller sounding vs the previous iterations.

 

  One good thing about Lyra is when you need a rebuild - the cost is around 50% of retail as they send the unit back to Lyra.

 

    Etsuro Urushi Gold Cartridge  is the current cost no object cartridge fav.

  

 

cheers

Edited by metal beat
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1 hour ago, Tax said:

 

PW,

 

If you do not get any advice here, I  would suggest speaking to Youngskywalker a member here and also Warwick Freemantle (Pure Music Group) in Melbourne. Both of them are familiar with the Lyra and Acustical Systems gear as they have been involved in personal ownership of  some such cartridges and even distributing some of these brands in Oz. I believe that member AlistairM may also have some personal usage experience.

 

they also sell ZYX cartridges which sound slight less ‘hot’ than the Lyra, with a sweeter mid range.

 

I am currently using a Lyra Delos and ZYX 4D on different turntables.

 

 

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On 20/02/2021 at 7:28 PM, pine weasel said:

I've had my Acoustical Systems Archon for about 5 yrs, and I'm having  thoughts about  a new toy.

 

I was wondering if any of the Vinyl gurus here have had any experience with comparing some of the top end/esoteric models from various manufacturers?

 

I was contemplating moving higher up in the Acoustical systems range, and thus would also consider some of the better models from Lyra, Koetsu, Myajima, Benz, Shelter, etc. 

 

The better Acoustical systems cartridges range from 12-16K, so the budget would be anything in that range ( or less if possible!)

 

What I'd be really interested in is whether anyone has been able to compare models in that range ( i.e. : the Lyra Etna vs Atlas, Acoustical systems Aiwon vs Palladium ) 

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

Hi mate,  I will drop you a PM.  I've heard the Palladian at Harry's on the Balance TT, againt my Archon on my Bardo with the SDP upgrade and Acoustical Systems Aquilar Anniversary tonearm.

 

Might be tmrw or so.  Just about to start a listening session.

 

Palladian was indeed a notable step up from the Archon.  Even considering the tonearm on my Bardo vs the standard on the Balance. 

 

Palladian is a consideration as my next cart, or the Aiwon (next down).  Maybe a year off though.

 

Archon is better than the Shelter Harmony,  I have both.

 

John 

 

Edited by scuzzii
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Try Phasemation PP1000 or PP2000.  Superb. Very balanced and natural sounding cartridge.  I had the PP1000 and now PP2000.

 

At ur budget, may want to consider MY Sonic Lab cartridges.  They are also maker of Air Tight, and may other cartridges.  Extremely low impedance but with reasonable output.  Very refined, transparent and detail.  Expensive in Australia.

 

Koetsu is stunning tonally but IMHO need to pair with exceptional sut, valve phono and pre to realise their potential.

 

With ur budget u may even be able to have 2 good carts, with different tonality and characteristics to suit different music

 

 

 

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I recently heard a My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum and was impressed.  I can only compare to my Kiseki Purple Heart which is in a different price range altogether, but I was blown away by the sound stage and great levels of detail.  

 

However If you're looking for warmth in your sound signature, then I wouldn't recommend.

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On 21/02/2021 at 11:17 AM, Tax said:

 

PW,

 

If you do not get any advice here, I  would suggest speaking to Youngskywalker a member here and also Warwick Freemantle (Pure Music Group) in Melbourne. Both of them are familiar with the Lyra and Acustical Systems gear as they have been involved in personal ownership of  some such cartridges and even distributing some of these brands in Oz. I believe that member AlistairM may also have some personal usage experience.

Thanks

 

I've been in touch with Stuart from Audiofidelty and Keith from Wydnham Audio who distribute Acoustical systems, and I've previously listened to some Lyra's at Warwick's. They'll obviously be where I go to purchase, but unfortunately neither stock both.

 

Cheers

 

Suresh

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On 21/02/2021 at 12:04 PM, metal beat said:

PW,  I am a fully fledged Lyra fanboi having owned the Helikon, Kleos, Atlas, Atlas SL and currently Atlas SL Lambda, Etna SL and Delos.

 

 IMO, you cannot go wrong with either the Etna or Atlas.   Acoustical systems cartridges are somewhat weighted in the lower frequencies, so the more neutral Lyra might seem a little too lively at first.  Given that, I would probably go the Etna SL Lambda as its a little more forgiving than the Atlas. The Lambda range are a little fuller sounding vs the previous iterations.

 

  One good thing about Lyra is when you need a rebuild - the cost is around 50% of retail as they send the unit back to Lyra.

 

    Etsuro Urushi Gold Cartridge  is the current cost no object cartridge fav.

  

 

 

cheers

Hi Shane

 

Thanks for your thoughts on the Lyra's.

 

I've owned a Kleos ( but with different TT), and listened to the Delos, Etna and Atlas ( the older models), but not in my system. A number of the TT guys I know here in Adelaide have gone with Lyra.

 

I suspect the sound may be different to what I've become used to with the Archon.

 

The rebuild program is certainly appealing.

 

The difficulty is auditioning one in my system on my TT.

 

Cheers

 

Suresh

 

On 21/02/2021 at 12:48 PM, Demondes said:

 

they also sell ZYX cartridges which sound slight less ‘hot’ than the Lyra, with a sweeter mid range.

 

I am currently using a Lyra Delos and ZYX 4D on different turntables.

 

 

I've never heard the ZYXs, but if I get the chance to catch up with Warwick again, it would certainly be interesting to listen to them against the Lyra's.

 

Thanks

 

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On 21/02/2021 at 12:53 PM, scuzzii said:

 

 

Hi mate,  I will drop you a PM.  I've heard the Palladian at Harry's on the Balance TT, againt my Archon on my Bardo with the SDP upgrade and Acoustical Systems Aquilar Anniversary tonearm.

 

Might be tmrw or so.  Just about to start a listening session.

 

Palladian was indeed a notable step up from the Archon.  Even considering the tonearm on my Bardo vs the standard on the Balance. 

 

Palladian is a consideration as my next cart, or the Aiwon (next down).  Maybe a year off though.

 

Archon is better than the Shelter Harmony,  I have both.

 

John 

 

Thanks John, and also for your detailed  PM today.

 

I've had the pleasure of a listening session at Harrys, and when travel becomes easier again, I hope to head over and have a listen to the Palladium, ideally up against the Archon.

 

Cheers

 

Suresh

 

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13 hours ago, denimhunter said:

Try Phasemation PP1000 or PP2000.  Superb. Very balanced and natural sounding cartridge.  I had the PP1000 and now PP2000.

 

At ur budget, may want to consider MY Sonic Lab cartridges.  They are also maker of Air Tight, and may other cartridges.  Extremely low impedance but with reasonable output.  Very refined, transparent and detail.  Expensive in Australia.

 

Koetsu is stunning tonally but IMHO need to pair with exceptional sut, valve phono and pre to realise their potential.

 

With ur budget u may even be able to have 2 good carts, with different tonality and characteristics to suit different music

 

 

 

Thanks

 

I've never heard the Phasemations or the MY Sonic Labs or Air Tights.

Obviously I've read good things about them.

 

There are a lot of cartridges at that end of the market, but limited opportunities to listen to them, especially here in Adelaide, and I'd be loathe to buy something that costly without hearing it first.

 

I'm already running a 2nd arm with a Myajima mono cartridge , so I'm not sure I want 2 good stereo cartridges. It would be too tempting to want to change cartridges during a listening session, and after a few reds, that could prove dangerous!

 

Even with a clear head and steady hands, changing a cartridge over is nerve wracking, and my main arm doesn't have a removable head shell.

 

Cheers

 

Suresh

 

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1 hour ago, qik_shift said:

I recently heard a My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum and was impressed.  I can only compare to my Kiseki Purple Heart which is in a different price range altogether, but I was blown away by the sound stage and great levels of detail.  

 

However If you're looking for warmth in your sound signature, then I wouldn't recommend.

Thanks.

 

I'd probably err more towards warmth than overly detailed or clinical.

 

Were you able to listen to the 2 different cartridges in the same system?

 

Cheers

 

Suresh

 

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Thanks to everyone who replied to this thread, and who've shared their experiences.

 

The difficulty is obviously being able to demo cartridges in your own system, or even comparing different cartridges in the same system.

 

When it's easier to travel again, I'd hope to visit Harry in Melbourne, and if he still has the 2 arm Balance, compare the Palladium and Archon on the same TT/system. I'll also get in touch with Warwick at Sonic Purity if I'm thinking of a Lyra

 

Here in Adelaide, I may be able to convince a friend to bring over a Lyra to listen to on my TT.

 

Simon, at VAF in Adelaide, offered to bring over and set up one of the top end Soundsmiths in my system a couple of years ago after I listened to them at the VAF showroom and also the Melbourne show. It was  a very kind offer which I didn't take up at the time as I wasn't looking seriously enough and didn't want to trouble him. However , thats the type of service I'd be hoping for when making a purchase of this type.  

 

Before I bought my Brinkmann rig, Keith @cheekyboy  brought a Bardo/Archon over from Melbourne, set it up,  and left it with me for a weekend to listen to. Exceptional service once again.

 

Cheers

 

Suresh

 

Edited by pine weasel
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I was seriously tempted by the stone body LPAUDIO Soar II cartridges, before I decided the cost of improving my analog chain further was just too much and bowed out.

 

The LPAUDIO RUBY30 seems incredible value. It's essentially the wood bodied version of the Jasmine Turtle but with ruby cantilever. Far as I can tell LPAUDIO is the OEM for Jasmine cartridges.

 

Here's a larger number of their carts listed here.

Edited by MattyW
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@pine weasel

 

Cartridge collections can be a big black hole :)

 

I seem to have ended up with quite a few.

 

The  pair of brains and ears that created Acoustical Systems have been audio acquaintances of mine for more than an decade as the pair of them were instrumental in my going down the big Micro Seiki TT and FR arms pathway, so I am familiar with their thinking and the sound they pursue.  If you already like what your AS cart does then it may be a natural step to go up the AS ladder.

 

At the level of cartridges you are contemplating there are not going to be night and day differences and if you are adept at tuning your VTA, VTF, SRA etc and the rest of your system there are gains to be discovered even with your current cartridge.

 

Drop me a PM with your phone number if you would like to talk this through.

 

 

 

 

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Suresh, there's a local crowd called hifi guru that would have to have the largest collection of high end carts in Adelaide and the ability to demonstrate them as well on comparable equipment.

PM me and I can give you some details, i was there recently.

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3 hours ago, Tax said:

@pine weasel

 

Cartridge collections can be a big black hole :)

 

I seem to have ended up with quite a few.

 

The  pair of brains and ears that created Acoustical Systems have been audio acquaintances of mine for more than an decade as the pair of them were instrumental in my going down the big Micro Seiki TT and FR arms pathway, so I am familiar with their thinking and the sound they pursue.  If you already like what your AS cart does then it may be a natural step to go up the AS ladder.

 

At the level of cartridges you are contemplating there are not going to be night and day differences and if you are adept at tuning your VTA, VTF, SRA etc and the rest of your system there are gains to be discovered even with your current cartridge.

 

Drop me a PM with your phone number if you would like to talk this through.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Tax,

 

The Rev and I back in early 2016 took a Brinkmann Bardo over to Suresh which was fitted with a Jelco arm and Acoustical Systems Archon cartridge and all aligned using Dietrich's SmarTractor to a UNI-DIN alignment and the set up for SRA, VTF, azimuth and bias etc. which was checked and double checked to be precise. Suresh auditioned that rig in his own system and although he was very happy with what he heard, he ended up deciding on the Brinkmann Spyder, which gave him the option for a second tonearm. That new rig was also set up precisely with the Brinkmann 10.5 arm fitted with the Archon cartridge and with a Jelco arm fitted with a Miyajima Lab mono cartridge. 

 

I agree that Suresh would probably be better to stick with the Acoustical Systems sound, which he has enjoyed for the last 5 years, I am curious though as to what changes to the set up and the rest of the system you would be suggesting/recommending to discover these gains with the current Archon cartridge?

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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19 hours ago, cheekyboy said:

 

Hello Tax,

 

I agree that Suresh would probably be better to stick with the Acoustical Systems sound, which he has enjoyed for the last 5 years, I am curious though as to what changes to the set up and the rest of the system you would be suggesting/recommending to discover these gains with the current Archon cartridge?

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

Hi Keith,

 

Hope you are well. Yes, if PW likes the AS sound (which I too  like by the way) he should be considering the top of the AS tree.

 

If he thinks there may be something else out there but he is unsure about what to get given the $$ at this level of the hobby,  then it may be beneficial to first reflect on what he may be wanting more or less of in his system and that could be helpful for others to make recommendations based on his preferences.

 

All of my 5 tonearms are the removable headshell type so I am not captive to an integrated headshell.

 

In my experience and in my 3 (now 2) systems I have been able to discern differences in sound by using various headshell types and different weights, cartridge bolts, and cartridge connection wires and different types of phono cables, cartridge loading, tube rolling etc. Hey I am a tweaker. Sometimes I wish I was a set and forget type as I would not have poured as much $$ as I have into this hobby. For those who have followed my audio journey through my showcase thread here on sna, one will note that I am not averse to good equipment and big ticket items. Having been down this route and still in it I do however prefer to push the envelope with what I have before forking out on a new piece of kit.

 

Dare I say PW may even notice a difference in system sound by speaker placement or a toe in or toe out.

 

Ironically it was only last night that I finally got to enjoy the full potential of my Takeda Miyabi MCA. A cartridge which I have had for nearly a decade (and not played for the last 5 or 6 years due to having too many cartridges)...why one may ask? I transferred it to my FR64S and using the Uni Pro and P2S realised that I could not get it to be in the dimple on the template using D's suggested 231.5 P2S so after scratching my head for nearly half an hour including wondering whether I should pony up for an Arche HS I decided to try the FR's original p2s of 230 and it was a revelation. Also a moment that I realised that the vinyl bible did not originate in Bavaria and not everything can be taken as gospel without experimentation as our system component are different  🙂

 

You have provided PW with exemplary service as a dealer and he would be hard pressed to get this kind of try before you buy service in the highend cartridge world. Even I would be loath to lend one of my cartridges to a mate.

 

Best

t

 

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1 hour ago, Tax said:

 

Hi Keith,

 

Hope you are well. Yes, if PW likes the AS sound (which I too  like by the way) he should be considering the top of the AS tree.

 

If he thinks there may be something else out there but he is unsure about what to get given the $$ at this level of the hobby,  then it may be beneficial to first reflect on what he may be wanting more or less of in his system and that could be helpful for others to make recommendations based on his preferences.

 

All of my 5 tonearms are the removable headshell type so I am not captive to an integrated headshell.

 

In my experience and in my 3 (now 2) systems I have been able to discern differences in sound by using various headshell types and different weights, cartridge bolts, and cartridge connection wires and different types of phono cables, cartridge loading, tube rolling etc. Hey I am a tweaker. Sometimes I wish I was a set and forget type as I would not have poured as much $$ as I have into this hobby. For those who have followed my audio journey through my showcase thread here on sna, one will note that I am not averse to good equipment and big ticket items. Having been down this route and still in it I do however prefer to push the envelope with what I have before forking out on a new piece of kit.

 

Dare I say PW may even notice a difference in system sound by speaker placement or a toe in or toe out.

 

Ironically it was only last night that I finally got to enjoy the full potential of my Takeda Miyabi MCA. A cartridge which I have had for nearly a decade (and not played for the last 5 or 6 years due to having too many cartridges)...why one may ask? I transferred it to my FR64S and using the Uni Pro and P2S realised that I could not get it to be in the dimple on the template using D's suggested 231.5 P2S so after scratching my head for nearly half an hour including wondering whether I should pony up for an Arche HS I decided to try the FR's original p2s of 230 and it was a revelation. Also a moment that I realised that the vinyl bible did not originate in Bavaria and not everything can be taken as gospel without experimentation as our system component are different  🙂

 

You have provided PW with exemplary service as a dealer and he would be hard pressed to get this kind of try before you buy service in the highend cartridge world. Even I would be loath to lend one of my cartridges to a mate.

 

Best

t

 

 

Hello Tax,

 

I also tend to be a tinkerer/tweaker, or at least I was up until more recently and talking about journeys, my first good education in audio and vinyl in particular came back in 1970 when I was introduced to two gorgeous Garrard turntables, a 301 and a 401, that at the time belonged to my future FIL. I was 17 at the time and even though I'd been buying and playing vinyl for several years at that point, up till then, I had never been taught how to care for vinyl properly or how to get the very best from an audio system..........................I've been hooked on this audio addiction ever since and in particular vinyl, which is something I never went away from, even when those wonderful CeeDees appeared in the early '80s.xD

 

Suresh @pine weasel has one of the best sounding systems I've had the pleasure to listen to and that has not come about overnight and he has been very astute with his component purchases and he certainly does his research well. Whether Suresh is prepared to tinker himself I guess that is up to him, but even if he is not inclined, there are plenty of resources available to him to have that work done for him, or even I'd be happy to make the trip over to Adelaide if he thought I could help out again. They're a great bunch of audio enthusiasts over there in Adelaide and it has been way too long since I've been over there for a visit.

 

I can highly recommend the Acoustical Systems Arche headshell to you BTW and you would be hard-pressed to find a better removable headshell at any price point.:thumb:

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

Edited by cheekyboy
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 24/02/2021 at 8:49 AM, Tax said:

 

Hi Keith,

 

Hope you are well. Yes, if PW likes the AS sound (which I too  like by the way) he should be considering the top of the AS tree.

 

If he thinks there may be something else out there but he is unsure about what to get given the $$ at this level of the hobby,  then it may be beneficial to first reflect on what he may be wanting more or less of in his system and that could be helpful for others to make recommendations based on his preferences.

 

All of my 5 tonearms are the removable headshell type so I am not captive to an integrated headshell.

 

In my experience and in my 3 (now 2) systems I have been able to discern differences in sound by using various headshell types and different weights, cartridge bolts, and cartridge connection wires and different types of phono cables, cartridge loading, tube rolling etc. Hey I am a tweaker. Sometimes I wish I was a set and forget type as I would not have poured as much $$ as I have into this hobby. For those who have followed my audio journey through my showcase thread here on sna, one will note that I am not averse to good equipment and big ticket items. Having been down this route and still in it I do however prefer to push the envelope with what I have before forking out on a new piece of kit.

 

Dare I say PW may even notice a difference in system sound by speaker placement or a toe in or toe out.

 

Ironically it was only last night that I finally got to enjoy the full potential of my Takeda Miyabi MCA. A cartridge which I have had for nearly a decade (and not played for the last 5 or 6 years due to having too many cartridges)...why one may ask? I transferred it to my FR64S and using the Uni Pro and P2S realised that I could not get it to be in the dimple on the template using D's suggested 231.5 P2S so after scratching my head for nearly half an hour including wondering whether I should pony up for an Arche HS I decided to try the FR's original p2s of 230 and it was a revelation. Also a moment that I realised that the vinyl bible did not originate in Bavaria and not everything can be taken as gospel without experimentation as our system component are different  🙂

 

You have provided PW with exemplary service as a dealer and he would be hard pressed to get this kind of try before you buy service in the highend cartridge world. Even I would be loath to lend one of my cartridges to a mate.

 

Best

t

 

Sorry for the late reply on this.

 

Thanks Tax, and to everyone who answered, as well as those who PMd me.

 

I'm definitely not a tweaker - between a busy job, increasingly busy kids ( 11 and 13), and other vices/hobbies, I don't get a lot of time to listen, so when I do, I just want to sit back and enjoy ( preferably with a cold beer or a nice red!)

 

I did go through the process of fine tuning the speaker positions about 18 months ago, and that did make a big improvement ( I think it's now pretty close to how the big Kyron System sounded when we were playing with it in my room a few years ago - for the Adelaide guys who remember that)

 

There's still a few hundred hours or more on the Archon, so there's no imminent need to get something new . 

 

To be honest, I don't feel the system is really lacking in anything at the moment. I was just wondering what if?....

When the Archon needs to be replaced, how much better could things get by  moving up the chain with better cartridge ( Acoustical systems or something else ?  Or would the money be better spent on a new tonearm (Acoustical systems) or  the Brinkmann RoNT power supply for the TT. Some of these are easier to try at home than others, and I'll definitely be in touch with Keith @cheekyboy , Stuart and Harry at SGR, as well as Simon and Ben at HifiGuru.

 

If/when I go down that path, I'll  share my experiences  and thoughts on what I try on SNA

 

Cheers

 

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Hi Suresh,

 

Back when Linn was turning system hierarchy on its head, Ivor insisted that the best quality change was always at the source. In his terms the source was the power as it turned the platter and drove the LP into the arm and the cartridge system. This would seem to indicate the power supply upgrade, especially as you like the cartridge you have.

In reality though, it's all about what you like best.:D

 

Have fun.

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