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Thread: Review: Durand Telos Tonearm

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    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! jazdoc's Avatar
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    Review: Durand Telos Tonearm

    SPECIFICATIONS:

    Bearing Type: Uni-pivot
    Effective Length - 305mm (12")
    Pivot To Spindle - 291.63 mm
    Overhang - 13.73mm
    Offset Angle - 17.84 degrees
    Price - Direct Sales only
    Website - http://durand-tonearms.com/

    DISCLAIMER: I am a personal friend of the owner/designer Joel Durand.

    BACKGROUND:

    The goal was to design and build his best tonearm without cost consideration. Similar to the Talea, the development of the Telos was a collaborative effort. From the website: "The development of the project started with a thorough re-examination of the fundamentals of tonearm design, in order to determine what were the most essential elements of its construction. Research was guided by the use of computer simulation tools, FEA, physical experiments, and highly trained listening. Found Music’s Scott Sheaffer was actively involved in several crucial aspects of the development, to complement our work with his vast knowledge of metal properties, electrical transmission, as well as with his fearless imagination and uncanny ears."

    I participated in many listening sessions during the Telos development and can attest that multiple materials were tested for each component.

    LISTENING ROOM:

    14' (W) x 17' (L) x 8' (H). Front wall has convex curvature treated with fabric. Back wall treated with same fabric with additional acoustic treatment. Right wall with built in cabinets for CD storage and multiple shelves filled with records. Reinforced flooring but definitely acoustically suboptimal. The left wall is treated with diffusers.

    MUSIC USED FOR AUDITIONING AND CRITICAL LISTENING:

    Many LPs in my 2,500+ collection, notably:

    Duke Ellington & Ray Brown "This One's For Blanton" (Pablo, 1972)
    Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington "At Cote d'Azur" (Mosaic Reissue)
    Great Jazz Trio "Direct From LA" (EastWind/Nautlis, 1978)
    Greg Kihn Band "Kihnspiracy" (Beserkley, 1983)
    Head & The Heart (SubPop, 2011)
    Shelby Lynne "Just A Little Lovin' (Lost Highway 2008)
    Gerry Mulligan/Ben Webster "Mulligan Meets Ben Webster" (ORG 45 rpm/180 reissue)
    Nirvana "Nevermind" (180 gm reissue)
    Opeth "Damnation" (Koch Records, 1983)
    Art Pepper "Gettin' Together" (Contemporary S7573, 1960)
    Oscar Peterson & Freddie Hubbard "Face To Face" (Pablo, 1982)
    Cat Power "The Greatest" (Matador, 2006)

    ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT:

    Turntable - Galibier Stelvio
    Tonearms - Triplanar VIIu, Durand Talea
    Cartridges - Benz LPS, Dynavector XV1-s/Miyajima Premium BE Mono
    Phono Preamps: Experience Music Kahn
    Line Stage - BAT VK50SE
    Amplifier - Einstein Light In Dark with Amperex Bugle Boy 6922 tubes
    Speaker - Daedalus Ulysses with upgraded crossover
    Equipment Rack - SRA Scuttle
    Record Cleaning Machine - Loricraft PRC-4 using Audio Intelligent Fluids

    Additionally, I have auditioned the arm with the Wave Kinetics NVS and Nantais modified Lenco 75 turntables utilizing the Ortofon A90 cartridge.

    PACKAGING/EASE OF USE:

    The Telo box raises the packaging bar a notch higher than the Talea. The bespoke wooden is box is buttery smooth. All necessary tools and a detailed instruction manual are included. The Telos is a visually stunning component. Needless to say, fit and finish are exemplary.

    Befitting the unique design, set-up is not typical, but relatively easy. The majority of the assembly is done with the arm laying next to the base. Take care to avoid stretching the thin wires of the tonearm cable. Once the metal base is installed on an arm board, a wooden, semi-lunar cable junction box is attached to the rear of the base, fixing the tonearm cable. A pivot to spindle tool is provided for exact adjustment. Next, (with the stylus guard on!) you attach the cartridge to the mounting plate and then you attach the plate/cartridge to the arm. Then arm wand is ready to install. Again, be mindful of the delicatetonearm wires!



    As with the Talea, if you are used to adjusting offset angle and overhang with two mounting screws, it will take a little practice to get the hang of using a single site of attachment. A MintLP arc protractor and high quality loupe are provided and invaluable in obtaining a spot on set-up. Multiple counterweights are provided for VTF. The VTA tower is adjusted via a clamping mechanism which requires two hands to use. Therefore, the arm wand must be removed prior to adjusting VTA. There is an ingenious azimuth adjustment. A thin metal rod is attached to the medial surface of the arm wand. You attach weights to the rod so the rod gently rests on a supporting rod. The sound can be tailored by adjusting the weight on the azimuth rod. An anti-skating device is attached to the rod.

    LISTENING:

    Noise Floor:
    The Telos is extremely quiet in the groove. However, small ticks & pops are subjectively more noticeable. The Telos doesn't hide anything in the groove! So you better clean those records!

    Dynamics:
    From my previous Talea review:
    "IMO, this is one of the places that reproduced music falls well short of the real thing...The Talea stands out in the ability to recreate the physical presence of live music as demonstrated on the live track "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" with Duke Ellington backing Ella Fitzgerald on the "Live At Cote d'Azur" LP. Tony Williams' kick drum becomes visceral on the Great Jazz Trio recording; you can feel the pressure wave."

    After introducing the Telos into my system, I can close my eyes and honestly suspend disbelief. The intensity of "It Don't Mean A Thing" builds until the dynamic release at the conclusion. On "A Night In Tunisia", Tony Williams' drum kit goes beyond a visceral presence to become a living, breathing instrument with all of the auditory clues live percussion.

    Soundstaging:
    The Telos' ability to realistically localize musicians and instruments in their space is unsurpassed in my experience. Nothing sounds artificial unless it was recorded that way (i.e. my pet peeve of piano players or drummers with 14' wingspans.) Superb layering of instrumental depth is only limited by the quality and size of your listening space.

    Upper Frequency Response:
    As good as my previous reference was; the Telos leaves it in the dust. Cymbals and brushes are realistically rendered whether it is Ed Thigpen on the 45 rpm Verve reissue of Oscar Peterson's "We Get Requests" or Dave Grohl wailing away on "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

    Midrange:
    The Telos is the king of mid-range neutrality. Cat Power slithers around the microphone; making it even easier for this listener to pretend (fantasize?) she's in the room. The realism of the acoustic instruments on "The Head &The Heart" is at times startling. The sense of multiple singers sharing the listener's space is without peer. The illusion of listening to Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster duet on Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" literally gave me goose bumps.

    Low Frequency Response:
    Outstanding! Bass is full, rich and natural sounding. As good as the Talea is, it takes only a few seconds to recognize the superiority of the Telos. Bass is never bloated and in fact, the low frequency articulation is improved even compared to the Talea. One of my favorite records is "Face To Face" with Oscar Peterson and Freddie Hubbard. It is a rare, sub-optimally recorded Pablo LP. The first track is a stellar interpretation of Miles Davis' "All Blues". Previously NHOP's bass was poorly defined and lost in the mix. The Telos rescues the bass track from the mix and transforms the track. If you want to test your home's foundation, try spinning Ray Brown's "Soular Energy"!

    SUMMARY:

    Quite frankly, words are inadequate; the Telos must be heard to be believed. To paraphrase Bobby Jones' famous assessment of the young Jack Nicklaus, 'The Telos plays a game with which I am unfamiliar'. Forget your preconceptions of what a tonearm can or should do.

    The Telos is expensive, but so is a Formula 1 race car. Like an F1 car, the Telos is stripped of everything extraneous in the pursuit of maximal performance. If you are assembling a state of the art vinyl system, add the Telos to your very short audition list.
    Last edited by jazdoc; 12-01-2011 at 09:22 AM.

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    What you mean "words are inadequate?" You couldn't write those words better .

    I am a newbie on turntable technology. So please excuse this question. Are there tonearm and cartridge combos that are less sensitive to pops and clicks? Your review makes it sound like there are. What causes that to be the case? Less pressure downward into the groove?

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    Quote Originally Posted by amirm View Post
    What you mean "words are inadequate?" You couldn't write those words better .

    I am a newbie on turntable technology. So please excuse this question. Are there tonearm and cartridge combos that are less sensitive to pops and clicks? Your review makes it sound like there are. What causes that to be the case? Less pressure downward into the groove?
    Lots of things Amir One is better cartridge alignment. For instance, when SRA is right, the record becomes quieter. Two, better quality vinyl as well as Q/C--at least for the better labels nowadays (eg. not reground as happened during the oil crisis). Also since runs are smaller, they can better concentrate on Q/C. There was a piece by Fremer quite recently about Chad/Acoustic Sounds setting up a record pressing facility and the modifications they've made to bring the technology up to date in the 21st century. For instance, they've installed thermocouples in the presses to better control heat and heat distribution when pressing the LP. Another variable is the stylus profile. The cartridge sits better in the groove, so the transducer actually can in a used LP, play a portion of the groove that wasn't damaged say by a conical stylus profile. Yet another is the advent of the record cleaning machine and newer fluids (such as the enzyme based cleaners) that function to remove that dirt that causes damage during the playing of the LP. Yet another is that one can hear how say linear tracking arms are even quieter all things being equal than pivoted arms. In fact, one finds LPs that aren't playable with pivoted arms that are playable with linear trackers.

    Then there's the question of electronics. Years ago, for some reason, always found that tube electronics didn't accentuate the pops and tics like solid-state electronics. Though the gap has closed, there's something different in the way tubes decode noise from solid-state.
    Last edited by MylesBAstor; 12-01-2011 at 06:03 AM.

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    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! rockitman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazdoc View Post
    The VTA tower is adjusted via a clamping mechanism which requires two hands to use. Therefore, the arm wand must be removed prior to adjusting VTA.
    That is unfortunate, imo. I adjust VTA for every record played, so this would be a non starter for me. Great write up Jazdoc.
    Christian

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    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! jazdoc's Avatar
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    Amir-

    Yes, tonearms and cartridges vary in how sensitive they are to groove damage. I think that sometimes the arm/cartridge combo can act as a filter suppressing transients and therefore pops and ticks are less apparent. Of course, other transient information is lost....

    Myles is also correct. Everything in the signal chain contributes, starting with the software.

    Rockitman-

    I've never adjusted VTA for each record. The thought of finding the 'right' VTA for each record gives me a headache. Too many variables including pressing thickness non-uniformity, warping, etc.

    Hypothetically, compare two tonearms:
    Tonearm A has adjustable VTA and can provide a performance of 'X'.
    Tonearm B doesn't allow on the fly VTA adjustment but has performance '2X'

    Which would you choose?

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    Thanks guys. I always assumed that all pops and clicks were a function of dust and such gathering on the LP once I brought it, not in manufacturing. If it is in manufacturing, cleaning still helps?

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    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! jazdoc's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I always assumed that all pops and clicks were a function of dust and such gathering on the LP once I brought it, not in manufacturing. If it is in manufacturing, cleaning still helps?
    Some noise is due to manufacturing defects, which some labels are notorious for.

    Some noise is due to groove damage from mishandling

    Some noise is due to static discharge from dust.

    Some noise is from dirt in the grooves. This is what is improved with record cleaning. However, there is a school of thought that wet cleaning results in blunting of higher frequencies and transients. This has not been my experience and this has been (exhaustively) debated on other forums.

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    Member Sponsor Addicted to Best! rockitman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazdoc View Post
    Rockitman-

    I've never adjusted VTA for each record. The thought of finding the 'right' VTA for each record gives me a headache. Too many variables including pressing thickness non-uniformity, warping, etc.
    That used to be the case for me until I installed a Graham Supreme. The bubble level on the pivot tower get's me level and I can fine tune from there in short order on the fly. It's makes a big difference, imo to get the VTA right for any record thickness. All 180--gram records are not the same thickness either, I have found. The only other arm I can think of that offers such accurate VTA adjustment is the Reed 3Q with laser sighting. I use an outer ring so edge warps for the most part are a thing of the past. When I play a record, I want it flat and I want to know my VTA is correct for the given record...anal, I know....
    Christian

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazdoc View Post
    Some noise is due to manufacturing defects, which some labels are notorious for.

    Some noise is due to groove damage from mishandling

    Some noise is due to static discharge from dust.

    Some noise is from dirt in the grooves. This is what is improved with record cleaning. However, there is a school of thought that wet cleaning results in blunting of higher frequencies and transients. This has not been my experience and this has been (exhaustively) debated on other forums.
    Don't forget those microorganisms growing in the grooves. That's what Bruce Maier of Discwasher showed and later resurrected by the fellow behind Buggtussel Those enzyme cleaners in many instances, finally realize the potential of wet cleaning and RCMs IMHO

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    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    i've been pretty low key about the NVS and Telos for awhile. adding the Telos to the NVS resulted in an added 38 pounds of (1) larger halos, (2) larger stainless steel arm boards, and (3) much heavier Telos. it's taken some time to get everything to work ideally. the isolation base needed tweaking, and optimizing all that addional weight took some time.

    Oh my God was it worth it!!!!!!!

    no matter what Lp i throw down, the NVS-Telos-A90 effortlessly reveals the deepest musical message and provides maximum involvement. there is just an experience of music. when there is such low noise and lack of distortion all the information in those grooves comes thru without editorial.

    i'll also have to include the Talea 2 with the Miyajima Premium Be mono in my raves. the Talea 2 mounted on the larger halo with the stainless arm board brings a level of performance to mono Lps which is kind of mind-blowing. if the Telos-A90 was not sitting there i'd be saying how much better it sounds than stereo. suffice it to say that mono can rock your world.

    getting back to the Telos, last night i listened to a number of Lps; any of which would be worthy of mention for how they sounded. i'll mention the 'Malletoba Spank' cut off the Classic 45rpm pressing of Ellington's Jazz Party In Stereo. it's been a demo cut for me for 15+ years. over the last few years i've pulled it out many times to have a reference of progress between tt's and arms, specifically the Telos. i'd have to say until last night i've never really heard how it really sounds. there is a dimentionality to each tiny sound which i'll call '3D' which was never before there. you hear each musical part as a fully dimentional event in it's own space and without a reproduction diminishment. there is now an inner energy to each individual aspect of the soundstage which was never there before.

    this cut makes it easy to hear differences between gear because there is so much precise information. but all those improvements i hear in every cut on every Lp, they simply aren't always so prominent. although, the sum of the effect of all that inforation is a flow to the music that sweeps you away.

    i listened to Ben Webster 'Live at the Renaissance' AP 45rpm, 'Georgia on my Mind'; another long time reference cut. now brand new. vivid. live sounding. and Ben's sax explodes with energy like i'm sitting 10 feet away. space. scale. the level of energy is not like reproduced music; more like real music.....or something very close.

    i could go on and on.

    that energy, that '3D' presentation, the totally solid grounded nature of the music, the bass articulation and seemingly unlimited bass slam, and the overall relaxed ease and coherence of the musical message. it's been a bit overwhelming to my senses. i want to have people come and hear it so i don't have to try and describe it.

    how much of this is the Telos? how much is the NVS? the A90? i know i don't really care. this is music presented as an experience, not a thing to listen to. it brings out my emotions and affects me.

    the stylus is so stable and unfettered in the groove. pressings which i had previously listened to and thought had issues (on many great tt's and arms), are now effortlessly sailed thru with ease. passages which i had assumed were simply congested are made clear. unipivot? 12"? just listen.

    the NVS-Telos-A90 looks my Studer A820-King Cello right in the eye on my very best RTR tapes. what more is there to say?

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