Durand Tosca Tonearm...Initial Thoughts

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
2,765
71
48
Bellevue
#1
INTRODUCTION:
Thought I would share a few initial impressions of Joel Durand's latest and greatest effort: The Tosca. First a couple of caveats: Joel and I are personal friends and I served as one of Joel's "sounding boards" during development; so there is an implicit positive bias. That is balanced by my innate thriftiness (OK, I'm cheap) and reluctance to make changes in my system.

DESIGN:
The tonearm wand is made from a composite material, measuring 10.4" in length. The bearing is gimbaled, a first for Durand whose previous models were unipivot (or constrained unipivot) designs. The aesthetic is industrial chic which I personally find quite attractive and blends well with my Galibier turntable. The arm is impeccably engineered; every part tested and optimized. VTA mechanism is adjustable by loosening screws on the vertical pillars allowing the jack mechanism to raise and lower the arm. The VTA column is also etched for precise, reproducible changes. The cuing mechanism is the best I've ever used...absolutely buttery smooth and accurate. The head-shell is constructed from nickel plated magnesium. There are markings on the head-shell to assist with more precise and reproducible overhang and offset adjustments. Azimuth is adjusted by loosening a screw at the head-shell neck (rather than near the pivot as on prior models). The Tosca also features a detachable head-shell, allowing easier use of multiple cartridges. The cable utilizes a DIN connector.

IMG_9352.JPG

PRICE:
$14,950 Retail

HOW DOES IT SOUND
I won't bury the lede...this is the best tonearm I've ever heard. I love the sound of my Durand Telos and still consider it one of the finest arms in the world. (I will be using my Telos for mono.) The Tosca is in another, otherworldly league. Of course words are inadequate to describe sound but here a few highlights:

Noise...or lack thereof:
The noise floor is noticeably lower than the already excellent Telos. This results in improved dynamic range and sense of increased output. There is greater illusion of music projecting into the room, more akin to live music. I am able to listen a couple of clicks lower on the volume control. The subtle micro-dynamics of live music are startlingly conveyed, i.e. the ever changing impact of drumsticks on skins and cymbals.

Focus, Sense of Space and Imaging:
One of the first things I noted was the 'focus', instruments and musicians realistically located in space; distinct and natural sounding. Not only is there lack of 'etching', the arm creates a more fleshed out sonic panorama; revealing an increased density of information. With the Tosca, the front to back and side to side location of instruments in space is much more natural and nuanced. In my system, I've listened hundreds of times to "Wrap Your Head Around That" from Lucinda Williams' LP "West" as one of my go to tests of soundstage and imaging. There are multiple instruments closely spaced with musicians coming in and out of the mix.. The Telos is great at untangling the various instruments; the Tosca is next level. I've literally heard things in this track I've never appreciated before.

Timbre:
The bass is flat out killer. Deeper, richer and more textural than I've ever heard, The finger plucking and overtones of Ron's Carters upright bass on Jobim's classic "Insensatez" on the duet record with Rosa Passos is drop dead gorgeous and Rosa's voice is sexy as hell. If you want balls to the wall bass, the Tosca delivers...check out Janelle Monae's "The Way You Make Me Feel" from 'Dirty Computer' or Princes' 12" single "Let's Work"...it's Maxwell tape time. Cymbals shimmer without hardness or artificial sizzle.


CONCLUSION:
I have yet to hear every great tonearm in a familiar system and agree that no one solution is right for every audiophile. I can unequivocally state that this is certainly a contender for 'best' and if you are in the market, the Tosca deserves an audition.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,675
1,067
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#2
If one has a Telos Sapphire is there any reason (other than money) not to automatically upgrade to the Tosca?

Is there anything the Telos Sapphire does better than the Tosca to your ears?

How easy is the VTA adjustment with Joel's little graduated "elevator" system?
 

dminches

Active Member
Oct 22, 2011
852
91
28
#3
If one has a Telos Sapphire is there any reason (other than money) not to automatically upgrade to the Tosca?
I don't know all the specs of the 2 arms but some cartridges could be a better match for the unipivot arm vs the gimbaled.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,774
926
113
#4
i heard jazdoc's Tosca for a short session last Saturday. i'll echo all his accolades as to how it sounded in his system.

wow!

mine gets installed on Sunday.
 
Likes: bonzo75

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,905
1,599
113
London
#5
i heard jazdoc's Tosca for a short session last Saturday. i'll echo all his accolades as to how it sounded in his system.

wow!

mine gets installed on Sunday.
What cart on the telos and what on Tosca?
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,774
926
113
#6
What cart on the telos and what on Tosca?
the GFS going to the Tosca.
van den Hul Colibri XGW Strad .38 going to the Sapphire for now (only 10 hours on this cart at this point).
when i get another head shell from Joel i'll have my Miyajima Premium Mono Be mounted on that.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,905
1,599
113
London
#7
So you already tried GFS on Tosca, and preferred it?
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,774
926
113
#8
So you already tried GFS on Tosca, and preferred it?
only heard an early generation Tosca prototype in my system last fall very briefly with the GFS mounted. it did seem to go further than the Sapphire but was too brief to really draw any conclusions. that was my personal experience.
 
Likes: jazdoc

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
2,765
71
48
Bellevue
#9
If one has a Telos Sapphire is there any reason (other than money) not to automatically upgrade to the Tosca?

Is there anything the Telos Sapphire does better than the Tosca to your ears?

How easy is the VTA adjustment with Joel's little graduated "elevator" system?
As Mike comments below, we will have an opportunity for limited comparison with the Sapphire Telos on Sunday. I want to re-emphasize, the stock and Sapphire Telos arms are world class.

I find the VTA adjust quite easy but I feel very comfortable interacting with arms/cartridges...
 

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
2,765
71
48
Bellevue
#10
Update: Added the top of the line Found-Music tonearm cable - a nice bump in performance. Adds a little more of everything.
 
Likes: Ron Resnick

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing