9in vs 10.5in vs 12in arms. Which would you choose?

Nov 19, 2015
915
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Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
#1
Fremers position is that 9in is best and certain manufacturers only make one length so you don't have a choice. However, if you did have a choice would you choose:

9in

10.5in

12in

Lets assume that there is no difference at all in the tonearm and they will all be built with the same material, specs. Only difference would just be the length.

Any supporting reasons to why you chose your particular length would be much appreciated...

-Joshua
 
Last edited:

cjfrbw

Active Member
Apr 20, 2010
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Pleasanton, CA
#2
I think it depends on tastes and goals. If you like a filmy, evanescent and ethereal presentation, than 9 inch with a high compliance, low output cartridge and a belt or DD tt.

If you like a fuller, meatier, dynamic and more tape like presentation, a 12 inch arm with low compliance cartridge and a high quality idler arm tt. Those would tend to be the playback "poles". For inbetween, use inbetween variants. Turntable "mass effects" also matter.
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
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Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#3
I think it depends on tastes and goals. If you like a filmy, evanescent and ethereal presentation, than 9 inch with a high compliance, low output cartridge and a belt or DD tt.

If you like a fuller, meatier, dynamic and more tape like presentation, a 12 inch arm with low compliance cartridge and a high quality idler arm tt. Those would tend to be the playback "poles". For inbetween, use inbetween variants. Turntable "mass effects" also matter.

Really????????
 

ddk

INDUSTRY EXPERT
May 19, 2013
3,431
2
38
Utah
#4
Fremers position is that 9in is best and certain manufacturers only make one length so you don't have a choice. However, if you did have a choice would you choose:

9in

10.5in

12in

Lets assume that there is no difference at all in the tonearm and they will all be built with the same material, specs. Only difference would just be the length.

Any supporting reasons to why you chose your particular length would be much appreciated...

-Joshua
Hi Josh, before jumping on Fremer can you link where he said that so we know the context, because it sounds like the type of hype I read in respect to SAT and the designer's claims?

david
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
10,986
1
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Manila, Philippines
#5
When I had a VPI HRX I needed a 10.5" wand for the Phantom to clear the periphery ring. I got more wands after that. I've been 10.5 inch ever since. Nothing to do with sonics, just necessity that turned to habit.
 
Dec 20, 2014
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#6
we can be going in circles

Hi Josh, before jumping on Fremer can you link where he said that so we know the context, because it sounds like the type of hype I read in respect to SAT and the designer's claims?

david
I had a good chat with Max Townshend. whom I think is one of the great TT Engineers out there. In short he advocates the use of 9 inch arms for tortional stiffness. He said this outweighs the tracking error problems of a 9 inch arm versus a 12 inch arm.

Do bear in mind that the Townshend benefits from a trough - this in many ways locks a cartridge in the groove - not only this but the trough prevents a cartridge from sudden mistracks. To this end the tracking errors are minimised by the shorter arm. I say this all because conventional 12 vs 9 inch arms don't get the benefit of the trough - therefore Max's view may be 'less' correct in the conventional arm debate.

As an aside I think the Schroeder parallel tracker is the way forward - ask yourself this question guys - would you want the Schroeder with a 12 or 9 inch arm?

Remember that in essence it is application. Increasing length is not a cure all. There are a load (if you don't mind the pun) of other factors to consider. Affect to suspension, compliance are all important factors.
 

ddk

INDUSTRY EXPERT
May 19, 2013
3,431
2
38
Utah
#7
I had a good chat with Max Townshend. whom I think is one of the great TT Engineers out there. In short he advocates the use of 9 inch arms for tortional stiffness. He said this outweighs the tracking error problems of a 9 inch arm versus a 12 inch arm.

Do bear in mind that the Townshend benefits from a trough - this in many ways locks a cartridge in the groove - not only this but the trough prevents a cartridge from sudden mistracks. To this end the tracking errors are minimised by the shorter arm. I say this all because conventional 12 vs 9 inch arms don't get the benefit of the trough - therefore Max's view may be 'less' correct in the conventional arm debate.

As an aside I think the Schroeder parallel tracker is the way forward - ask yourself this question guys - would you want the Schroeder with a 12 or 9 inch arm?

Remember that in essence it is application. Increasing length is not a cure all. There are a load (if you don't mind the pun) of other factors to consider. Affect to suspension, compliance are all important factors.
I have 9", 10", 12" models of several tonearms and can easily compare apples to apples which I've done. With these arms I can equivocally claim that the 12" sounds best, not only with better tracking ability but better, deeper and more natural bass, airier highs and quite a bit of solidity. Of course none of this will show up if your table and system isn't up to the challenge.

david
 
Oct 12, 2011
262
1
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55
Brooklyn
#8
Trite, but whichever one sounds better. Not locked into any orthodoxy that would require choosing based on one parameter. I have one table where a 9" or shorter arm is the longest I can install. I have another table where a 12" is the shortest arm I can install.

Also as far as I am concerned the table/arm/cartridge work as a team. Choosing pieces in isolation may not be the wisest move.

Fremers position is that 9in is best and certain manufacturers only make one length so you don't have a choice. However, if you did have a choice would you choose:

9in

10.5in

12in

Lets assume that there is no difference at all in the tonearm and they will all be built with the same material, specs. Only difference would just be the length.

Any supporting reasons to why you chose your particular length would be much appreciated...

-Joshua
 
May 30, 2010
13,901
3
38
Portugal
#9
(...) Lets assume that there is no difference at all in the tonearm and they will all be built with the same material, specs. Only difference would just be the length. (...)

-Joshua
IMHO you are assuming something impossible - some of the fundamental specs of different length tonearms, such as inertia mass and resonances must be different. You can not keep all of them. As the specs of different length tonearms will be different you can not separate the choice of length from the cartridge selection.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,070
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#10
my experience with 4-5 years of listening to various testing sessions (with multiple lengths) of Durand tone arms in my system, as well as hearing Joel's perspective about many multiples more from his own testing, as well as my prior and subsequent experience results in my preference for 12" tone arms among tone arms I have heard.

however; my intuition tells me that execution is more significant than just length at the top of the food chain. and context is almost as important. and that the last word on the truth of this subject has yet to be written.

I would love to compare the 9" SAT to my 12" Durand Sapphire Telos in my system.
 

dan31

New Member
Jul 22, 2010
348
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SF Bay
#11
I agree, it's all in the execution. That said the 10" Spiral Groove Centroid is the best arm I have heard. Now I own it and it is very satisfying. Any well designed arm can be a great product.
 

jfrech

VIP/Donor
Sep 3, 2012
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Austin
#12
I agree, it's all in the execution. That said the 10" Spiral Groove Centroid is the best arm I have heard. Now I own it and it is very satisfying. Any well designed arm can be a great product.
+1
 

ddk

INDUSTRY EXPERT
May 19, 2013
3,431
2
38
Utah
#13
I agree, it's all in the execution. That said the 10" Spiral Groove Centroid is the best arm I have heard. Now I own it and it is very satisfying. Any well designed arm can be a great product.
Compare the same tonearm in 9", 10" & 12" versions then you'll hear the advantages of the longer tube not random ones, then it's just A vs. B which isn't what we're talking about here.

david
 
Nov 19, 2015
915
0
16
Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
#14
Hi Josh, before jumping on Fremer can you link where he said that so we know the context, because it sounds like the type of hype I read in respect to SAT and the designer's claims?

david
It was in an Analog Planet video I watched in the last 30-60 days. Will try to find it for you
 
Nov 19, 2015
915
0
16
Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
#15
IMHO you are assuming something impossible - some of the fundamental specs of different length tonearms, such as inertia mass and resonances must be different. You can not keep all of them. As the specs of different length tonearms will be different you can not separate the choice of length from the cartridge selection.
The goal is that if you have the choice from a Bespoke vendor that offers the same arm in all lengths and you can choose which length you want. Granted they will all be different as stated in their own ways hence the question as to which one you would go with and why. If there are compromises in your choice which one would you want to go with that has the least in your opinion. This is the direction of the question
 
Nov 19, 2015
915
0
16
Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
#16
Trite, but whichever one sounds better. Not locked into any orthodoxy that would require choosing based on one parameter. I have one table where a 9" or shorter arm is the longest I can install. I have another table where a 12" is the shortest arm I can install.

Also as far as I am concerned the table/arm/cartridge work as a team. Choosing pieces in isolation may not be the wisest move.
Lets say the table has an mounting system separate from the table negating any compatibility issues.
 
Nov 19, 2015
915
0
16
Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
#17
my experience with 4-5 years of listening to various testing sessions (with multiple lengths) of Durand tone arms in my system, as well as hearing Joel's perspective about many multiples more from his own testing, as well as my prior and subsequent experience results in my preference for 12" tone arms among tone arms I have heard.

however; my intuition tells me that execution is more significant than just length at the top of the food chain. and context is almost as important. and that the last word on the truth of this subject has yet to be written.

I would love to compare the 9" SAT to my 12" Durand Sapphire Telos in my system.
Were they tonearms of the same kind or different models of various brands that happened to all sound better with the 12in offerings used?
 
May 30, 2010
13,901
3
38
Portugal
#18
The goal is that if you have the choice from a Bespoke vendor that offers the same arm in all lengths and you can choose which length you want. Granted they will all be different as stated in their own ways hence the question as to which one you would go with and why. If there are compromises in your choice which one would you want to go with that has the least in your opinion. This is the direction of the question
Then IMHO you will have to try all three to know which you prefer, or just rely on dealer/expert/audio forum opinion. :rolleyes: And with another Beespoke vendor you have to do it again from start.

If we consider that the tracking error is the most important compromise in a tonearm we should go with a parallel tracking arm.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,070
1
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#19
Were they tonearms of the same kind or different models of various brands that happened to all sound better with the 12in offerings used?
prior to my Durand experiences I did own various 9" and 10.5" inch arms, a couple of Graham, Triplaner, 3 Reed, and Schroeder. I also owned the liner tracker Rockport Sirius III arm for 8 years.

while involved with Durand testing mostly they were 10.5" and 12" with many different arm wands and various materials. the current arm wands on my 2 Durand Telos 12'' tonearms are both composite.
 
Nov 19, 2015
915
0
16
Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
#20