I was without the 17D3 for a couple of months, as I had returned it for a minor warranty issue. With no new stock forthcoming, the distributor got in touch and offered me an upgrade to the XX2 Mk. II. It would be factory rebuilt, and I could either borrow it long-term until the 17D3 came in, or keep it if I liked it; the cart would go into their demo stock for use in trade shows.
Turns out I’ve kept the XX2. Given that I can now actually see the cantilever, it is juuuust a little bit easier to align. From what I can tell, it uses the same basic cartridge body as the 20X2. Yet the motor and everything else is improved.
As with the 17D3, the XX2 outtracks that piece of shit Ortofon 2M Black I formerly owned. I will say that from first impressions, I still think I prefer the sound of the 17D3–it is more neutrally balanced. Granted, the XX2 has not broken in yet, and I have also not been able to further adjust the cartridge loading in the pre-preamp. I find it to have a slightly “peaky” sound, almost as though I can hear the resonance of the aluminum body manifesting itself in the music. Not that it is a glaring problem–it’s subtle. And it very well may go away once it breaks in.
After a few months and a more careful alignment, I will have more impressions on this fine cartridge.