Yeah - sort of a “2+ whatever = whatever” question, as I’ve not heard the Heron or the Hana carts. However:
The Soundsmiths are balanced across the Spectrum. Guessing they will work happily with more other bits than the average cart.
Can’t give my two cents regarding how they sound plugged into that pre… IMS… “in my system”. I use it with a VPI Scout, and an old VTL TL2.5 Pre (which has the optional Phono stage. 7 tubes total).
Not sure if I told this story here before, but I had been a Benz-Micro Guy for many years…Musical and Euphonic for sure, if (at least on the low end of the line) sorta wooly-ish by today’s standards. Coincidentally, Darren and I share that history, as well as a love of Harbeth speakers.
Got the MIMC, and with the pre I was using, being a 0.4mV (very low output) cart - was having to crank it to +72dB gain, which was noisy-ish.
The Functional Issue IMS, was that it was triggering the Auto Input Setting of the DSJ (which I prefer - just let the DAC auto-decide what source to play) whenever any other source stopped. Immediately. Took a while to figure out why the DSJ was switching sample rate, etc.
“Nothing is playing…why is the DAC showing a 24/96 source with nothing playing?”
Because, as it turns out - this source was cranked so much that the open TT input was making the DSJ think it was a live source. But if you do not have a DS DAC set on Auto Input…no worries. But I do - it’s a nice feature of the DS DACs.
So I called Peter at Soundsmith and asked, “Do you have something that is High Output, and is maybe more ‘Romantic’ than this? This cart is sort of indistinguishable from Digital.”
He replied, “That’s not a Problem I’ve run into before”, or words to that effect. ; )
Short Story - duh…he was right. Tried the Zephyr III, and it was not happening. Very High Output (MM) and noisy in its own right. Have to characterize myself as a Low Output Cart Guy before and after this experience, despite the not-necessarily-intuitive fact that MC has to be amp’ed way above and beyond MM. It ends up potentially presenting a quieter signal to the Line Pre however. My VTL uses 2 more AX7’s to jack it from MM to MC.