Oh no, MF is not a fan of 12" arms!

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
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La Jolla, Calif USA
#1
On his web page Analog Planet, I read that MF is NOT a fan of 12" arms....posting as follows: "The cons include a higher moment of inertia and thus a slower response warps, as well as the magnification of tracking error should you not do a spot-on set up. Also rigidity may be compromised depending on the construction of the longer tube.

My opinion is that all things being equal, 9" arms hit the 'sweet spot' and if you set one up correctly the amount of tracking error distortion will be lower than that of the rest of your system and thus become essentially irrelevant. That's just an opinion!"

OTOH, it would certainly seem that most high end arm manufacturers are going the 12" route and most analog devotees are buying into the 12" arm. Since I'm contemplating a new analog front end and a 12" arm was high on my must listen to priorities, i thought I would ask what's your opinion....is MF onto something or is he just plain wrong?:confused:
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
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La Jolla, Calif USA
#3
Mark, agreed. But I don't think MF is taking just that into consideration. Instead he is generalizing as to 12" vs 9" arms, seemingly preferring the 9" arm. As you see, he states that the 9" arm hits "the sweet spot". That's his opinion, not sure if that is anyone else's.
 

jazdoc

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Aug 7, 2010
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Bellevue
#4
Well, what I know about tonearm mechanics and design could fill a thimble. I do know that my 12" Telos is a better arm than my 9' Talea but of course, there are important design differences between the two.
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#5
I have no plans to ever return to a 9" arm. After having experienced the magic that the SME 312s brings to the table with the lowest distortion I have ever heard from a pivoted arm (it reminds me of the purity of the ET-2 minus all of the hassles), I'm a believer in 12" arms. I could care less whether or not MF likes 12" arms. You need to listen to some 12" arms and form your own opinions about what they bring to the table.
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
7,103
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Northern NY
#6
When I bought my Graham, I asked about the 12" but the consensus was that the 10" was the sweet spot especially in lieu of the higher inertia of the 12" arm. I am all for going 12" with the elite if that is what is recommended.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
5,439
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Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#7
I never did understand the fascination for 12-inch tonearms among audiophiles. I was sold one many years ago before my Genesis days based on the fact that there would be lower tracing distortion at the end of side where the finale and crescendo of classical music would happen.

However, the additional arm tube resonance, effective mass, stresses on the bearing due to the cartridge being hung so far out, larger counterweight, etc. all seemed to me to contribute to slightly increased distortion throughout the whole side.

IMHO, during CES if we had compared the 10-inch Graham Phantom II Supreme to the Vertere Reference Tonearm, the result would have been closer. Having experienced the 9-inch Graham and now the 12-inch Graham on the Air Force One, I would venture to say that the 9-inch is the better arm.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
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www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#8
When I bought my Graham, I asked about the 12" but the consensus was that the 10" was the sweet spot especially in lieu of the higher inertia of the 12" arm. I am all for going 12" with the elite if that is what is recommended.
Bob used a 10" Elite on the Air Force One during CES. If 9" or 12" had been better, I'm sure that would have been what he would have used.
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
7,103
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Northern NY
#9
Bob used a 10" Elite on the Air Force One during CES. If 9" or 12" had been better, I'm sure that would have been what he would have used.
Thanks Gary. That is good to know about the 10".. I also have a spare 10" arm wand that should be compatible with the elite, I would imagine. The wiring will be better on the elite arm wand though.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
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Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#10
Thanks Gary. That is good to know about the 10".. I also have a spare 10" arm wand that should be compatible with the elite, I would imagine. The wiring will be better on the elite arm wand though.
Yes, he is upgrading the internal wiring on the Elite arm. Bob and Touraj spent almost an hour together in my room discussing tonearm design, and one of the issues that Touraj commented on was that the stiffness of the wires that Bob used on the arm might impede the free movement of the unipivot. I believe that Bob's looking at alternatives, including Nordost Odin inside the arm.....

Problem with tonearm engineering (or from what I've understood in all the overheard discussions in the room) is that what's good for the delicate work the tonearm needs to do seems counter to the physical work that the tonearm needs to do.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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New York City
www.audionirvana.org
#11
Of course, an arm's performance isn't just dependent upon one but a multitude of design considerations. It's the balance among them that determines the final result.

All things being equal and using the VPI arm (9,10.5 and 12) and table, there's no question in my mind that the 12 inch arm is the best sounding of the group. It came closest to the Air Tangent (my long time Gold standard); the 12 inch arm was superior in the low end and had a bit more solidity whereas the AT had a touch more resolution and sense of space. Bob Graham had pointed out some time ago though that alignment was more critical with the longer arms - and I believe that is what Michael is referring to. It is interesting though that even Bob now has a 12 inch arm.

I'll see if I can get HW to comment upon 12 inch arms.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#12
I never did understand the fascination for 12-inch tonearms among audiophiles. I was sold one many years ago before my Genesis days based on the fact that there would be lower tracing distortion at the end of side where the finale and crescendo of classical music would happen.

However, the additional arm tube resonance, effective mass, stresses on the bearing due to the cartridge being hung so far out, larger counterweight, etc. all seemed to me to contribute to slightly increased distortion throughout the whole side.

IMHO, during CES if we had compared the 10-inch Graham Phantom II Supreme to the Vertere Reference Tonearm, the result would have been closer. Having experienced the 9-inch Graham and now the 12-inch Graham on the Air Force One, I would venture to say that the 9-inch is the better arm.
What bearing stresses in a unipivot? :)

As far as arm resonances, that's the biggest improvement in modern arms nowadays eg. Instead of a single large peak, resonances are broken into smaller amplitude peaks. And the resonance isn't simply a function of the length but how the designer treats the arm eg. many use some sort of damping or other arrangement like in the case of the WB arm.

Also, if you're referring to the LAMM room, neither the 9 or the 12 inch Graham arm - or the system -- sounded right. I was disappointed with the sound of the AF1 until I heard it in your room.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#13
Of course, an arm's performance isn't just dependent upon one but a multitude of design considerations. It's the balance among them that determines the final result.

All things being equal and using the VPI arm (9,10.5 and 12) and table, there's no question in my mind that the 12 inch arm is the best sounding of the group. It came closest to the Air Tangent (my long time Gold standard); the 12 inch arm was superior in the low end and had a bit more solidity whereas the AT had a touch more resolution and sense of space. Bob Graham had pointed out some time ago though that alignment was more critical with the longer arms - and I believe that is what Michael is referring to. It is interesting though that even Bob now has a 12 inch arm.

I'll see if I can get HW to comment upon 12 inch arms.
Myles, it does seem that the trend is towards the 12" arm. If you could get HW to comment on 12" arms that would be great.
BTW, the piece wherein MF was saying what he said was in reference to the new Triplanar 12" arm, presented at CES.
 

Peter Breuninger

[Industry Expert] Member Sponsor
Jul 20, 2010
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#14
I believe that arm length and the resulting performance is dictated by cartridge selection. I'm in the middle of an massive arm project, so far Ikeda IT407, Triplaner and Kuzma 4point, next up; Graham and Moerch.
 

Peter Breuninger

[Industry Expert] Member Sponsor
Jul 20, 2010
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#17
Peter, are you able to hear the 12" versions of the Graham and now the Triplaner and compare to the 9 and 10" versions?
I'll add this to the project.
 
May 30, 2010
15,506
715
113
Portugal
#18
I believe that arm length and the resulting performance is dictated by cartridge selection.
Good point. When you go from 9" to 12" you get an arm with different effective mass and different intrinsic body resonances. This should influence the sound much more than the minimal differences in tracking error at same parts of the LP. IMHO if tracking error was so important we would be all listening only to linear arms since long!
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,402
172
63
Pleasanton, CA
#19
I agree with MF's premise, but I am shocked he holds that premise, I would have thought he was a 12 inch fanboy because of tracing distortion.

I think execution is more important than the inches, and I don't think that the superiority of any particular 12 inch arm has anything to do with tracing distortion, it would be mass effects. As MF points out, there are many factors that go into 12 inch setup besides just theoretical tracing distortion (which nobody seems to agree on, anyway.)

I think that if you want the most tape like presentation, than a top quality 12 inch arm with a top performing low compliance cartridge would get you there better than a 9 inch with a high compliance type cartridge. Doesn't mean that I don't think that overall a very well executed 9 inch with an outstanding cartridge couldn't beat a large field of 12 inchers, theory and tracing distortion be damned.

I have a 10 inch with a medium compliance cartridge and I like it a lot.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
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38
New York City
www.audionirvana.org
#20
Good point. When you go from 9" to 12" you get an arm with different effective mass and different intrinsic body resonances. This should influence the sound much more than the minimal differences in tracking error at same parts of the LP. IMHO if tracking error was so important we would be all listening only to linear arms since long!
We would but linear arms suffer from other issues. :)
 

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