Sublime Sound

Tango

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On the fly? You can raise or lower the tonearm while you’re playing a record?

I thought you had to unlock the mount before you twist that VTA dial, and then relock the mount, to play a record.
You unlock then you can adjust the round dial with number on the fly. It would lift the arm up and down. When you finish you relock the screw.

Tang
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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On the fly? You can raise or lower the tonearm while you’re playing a record?

I thought you had to unlock the mount before you twist that VTA dial, and then relock the mount, to play a record.
unlocking a set screw does not prevent something from being "on the fly". People have adjusted my SME V-12 on the fly and it even mentions it in the manual. You can raise my arm while playing a record. I just don't do it that way because the design is not as robust as that on the SAT.

Ron, you need to go and see some of these arms and learn how they are adjusted. It will become much more clear to you. The 3012R is clearly not adjustable on the fly. I do not consider this a requirement of a good arm, but some designers have come up with some pretty good solutions, IMO.
 
Sep 23, 2017
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Ron
Do look at the SAt tonearm
I have the original model
And I am a complete novice with tone arms
One reason I went with the graham

But the SAT is so easy to use for VTA or VTF or Azimuth
The headshell is also detachable for ease

It is expensive but the graham elite is not cheap either now
 

PeterA

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bonzo75

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Wow congrats Peter, I have heard great things about this phono from someone who owns it with the airtight and Soulution phonos
 

PeterA

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Wow congrats Peter, I have heard great things about this phono from someone who owns it with the airtight and Soulution phonos
Thank you very much, Kedar. Wow, that is in some pretty nice company.
 

Al M.

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Yesterday Peter and I listened, among others, to the LP set of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin with Sigiswald Kuijken on Harmonia Mundi. I had heard the music before on Peter's system, and was surprised that this time it sounded comparatively dull and opaque. I suggested to raise the arm, and Peter raised it from 16.5 mm to 17.0 mm (a playing card's thickness). Now it sounded much better -- transparent, brighter and with more color, and with far more pronounced projection of energy into the room. This was not a subtle difference at all.

It now sounded much more like my CD, which is an excellent 1990 digital transfer of this 1983 recording (much better than, for example, the 1990 digital transfer of Gidon Kremer's 1980 Philips recordings of this music, which I really prefer on LP). In fact, in hindsight I realized why I had found the CD sound so good when I heard it -- it sounded very similar to the LP on Peter's system when I heard it there. Peter thought he hadn't changed arm height settings (now marked as 16.5 mm in his notes) from back then, but from hearing the vast (no exaggeration) sonic differences I am not sure.

In any case, this was another instance where a small change in VTA (due to arm height) made all the difference for the better. Again, this was not subtle by any means, certainly not in the tonal balance. Back then he had his older phono stage and another cable to the preamp, but the comparatively slight tonal difference from these components simply cannot explain the need to now adjust the VTA. It probably was different the first time, closer to the 17.0 mm that we ended up with yesterday.

Were I to ever to acquire again a vinyl rig, an arm with easily and reliably adjustable VTA would be an unconditional must.

Thanks for another fun evening of music, Peter.
 

PeterA

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Thanks for the comments Al. This is a new recording for me, first suggested by Kedar about a month ago. My suspicion is that when we heard it last time and fine tuned the arm height, I had forgotten to write down the setting we had finished on. No matter, it is good now. What a wonderful recording of great music. I find it remarkable that as a digital only guy, you have a real appreciate for, and understanding of, the sonic consequences of arm height adjustments, to the point where you feel comfortable suggesting to me, how to change something in the set up. It gives me no small amount of pleasure to know that you are open to learning the vagaries of vinyl playback. You know what to listen for, and you are open to these kinds of changes making a difference in your enjoyment of the performance.

I like your comment about the projection of energy into the room. I think of it as the system's ability to energize the room. It is the sense that the energy created by the musician's effort at playing these instruments busts forth into the space. The listener hears and feels this energy. It is more than just sound. When this happens, it more closely resembles, for me, the experience of hearing live music.

As the recent auditions of my new phono stage are now complete, I also appreciated your interest in simply sitting to listen to Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" through both sides in its entirety. When that happens, it is about the music, not the sound. Another fun evening.
 
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Yesterday Peter and I listened, among others, to the LP set of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin with Sigiswald Kuijken on Harmonia Mundi. I had heard the music before on Peter's system, and was surprised that this time it sounded comparatively dull and opaque. I suggested to raise the arm, and Peter raised it from 16.5 mm to 17.0 mm (a playing card's thickness). Now it sounded much better -- transparent, brighter and with more color, and with far more pronounced projection of energy into the room. This was not a subtle difference at all.
(...)
Did you try 17.5 or 18 mm?
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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Ron
Do look at the SAt tonearm
I have the original model
And I am a complete novice with tone arms
One reason I went with the graham

But the SAT is so easy to use for VTA or VTF or Azimuth
The headshell is also detachable for ease

It is expensive but the graham elite is not cheap either now
Thank you, Gardener. But I am with Al M here.

If I select a second tonearm specifically because I want VTA adjustability, I would like it to have "on-the-fly" adjustability, meaning to me that the record can be playing and I can adjust the tonearm height with everything else being locked. As far as I can tell only the Grahams, the Axiom and the Kuzma 4Point have this true on-the-fly VTA adjustability.

Peter is very good and quick at his VTA adjustment procedure, but I don't want to be pulling up or pushing down the main tonearm support with every adjustment.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Thank you, Gardener. But I am with Al M here.

If I select a second tonearm specifically because I want VTA adjustability, I would like it to have "on-the-fly" adjustability, meaning to me that the record can be playing and I can adjust the tonearm height with everything else being locked. As far as I can tell only the Grahams, the Axiom and the Kuzma 4Point have this true on-the-fly VTA adjustability.

Peter is very good and quick at his VTA adjustment procedure, but I don't want to be pulling up or pushing down the main tonearm support with every adjustment.
the best method of 'on-the-fly' tone arm adjustment is with headphones; otherwise you are chasing your tail unless it involves two people.

I suppose some of us can reach a tone arm with our heads in the sweet spot, but my arms are not that long. :)

and not sitting in the sweet spot searching for optimal nuance of VTA adjustment is a waste of time.
 

Tango

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I suppose some of us can reach a tone arm with our heads in the sweet spot, but my arms are not that long. :)

and not sitting in the sweet spot searching for optimal nuance of VTA adjustment is a waste of time.
+1. Or hire an audio butler. :p

Tang
 
Last edited:

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Did you try 17.5 or 18 mm?
No we did not, Fransisco. Not last night at least. The LP is very thin, and based on my experience with records of this thickness, very few are above 17mm. It also sounded so good, even from the side out of the sweet spot at the turntable, that we stopped and simply enjoyed the music. Tonight, however, I was curious to test your question. I raised the arm by just 0.25mm to 17.25, and the note became discontinuous and no longer sounded natural. So, anything higher would have been even worse. I returned it to 17 and it sounded glorious. At this setting the balance between the transients and texture of the strings, and the rich tone of the wooden body was just right. The reverberation of the sound within the recorded space was incredible, and the energy from this period instrument filled my room. Every aspect of the note was in focus and natural sounding. The beauty of the music and Bach's genius came through. 17mm is the setting for this recording, and we hit it last night at Al's suggestion while he sat in the sweet spot.
 

Al M.

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Tonight, however, I was curious to test your question. I raised the arm by just 0.25mm to 17.25, and the note became discontinuous and no longer sounded natural. So, anything higher would have been even worse. I returned it to 17 and it sounded glorious. At this setting the balance between the transients and texture of the strings, and the rich tone of the wooden body was just right.
Yes, this is extremely critical. On this period instrument there appears to be a larger contrast between the wooden tone of lower fundamentals and the silvery edge of the string sound than on a more modern violin. This can easily sound too discontinuous on incorrect reproduction. I was worried about precisely this point when I heard it yesterday morning on CD, it didn't seem quite right to my ears. Yet after I came home yesterday evening after our session I spun that music again and I was pleased how similar the balance sounded to the LP at 17.0 mm. Today, with fresh ears, it also sounded great to me on CD. There is a silvery envelope to fast transients but not too edgy and not disconnected from the fundamentals. You'll be the judge, Peter, when you hear it on CD, if you find the balance right or a bit tipped over. It's definitely tricky.

Interestingly, when you briefly tried a similar difference in VTA setting on Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain I did hear a slight change in sound, but it was not critically make or break for me.
 

Al M.

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the best method of 'on-the-fly' tone arm adjustment is with headphones; otherwise you are chasing your tail unless it involves two people.

I suppose some of us can reach a tone arm with our heads in the sweet spot, but my arms are not that long. :)

and not sitting in the sweet spot searching for optimal nuance of VTA adjustment is a waste of time.
It depends. You can do it simply in small increments of 0.5 mm, and when it sounds right to you that's it. I guess with experience you get a feel for if you need to lower or raise the arm. Not more audiophilia nervosa involved than already necessary ;)
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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Thank you, Gardener. But I am with Al M here.

If I select a second tonearm specifically because I want VTA adjustability, I would like it to have "on-the-fly" adjustability, meaning to me that the record can be playing and I can adjust the tonearm height with everything else being locked. As far as I can tell only the Grahams, the Axiom and the Kuzma 4Point have this true on-the-fly VTA adjustability.

Peter is very good and quick at his VTA adjustment procedure, but I don't want to be pulling up or pushing down the main tonearm support with every adjustment.
Tri-Planar also has true on-the-fly adjustability.
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
925
462
63
the best method of 'on-the-fly' tone arm adjustment is with headphones; otherwise you are chasing your tail unless it involves two people.

I suppose some of us can reach a tone arm with our heads in the sweet spot, but my arms are not that long. :)

and not sitting in the sweet spot searching for optimal nuance of VTA adjustment is a waste of time.
I'm vaguely recalling Roy Gregory talking about on-the-fly adjustment when you're outside the sweet spot. He said (I think) to adjust to the spot where the music sounds the loudest.

Does anyone hear a volume change - no doubt it would be slight - when changing SRA?
 

PeterA

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I'm vaguely recalling Roy Gregory talking about on-the-fly adjustment when you're outside the sweet spot. He said (I think) to adjust to the spot where the music sounds the loudest.

Does anyone hear a volume change - no doubt it would be slight - when changing SRA?
Sometimes dynamics improve along with clarity, and these can often lead to the sense that the volume has increased, at least to me. If the wrong setting increases high frequency distortion, that may give the impression of loudness, so correcting that may result in a perception of lower volume, for me.

I find it is possible to hear subtle effects of SRA from outside the sweet spot, but I like to confirm final settings from the center seat. Focus, clarity, subtle recording venue room cues, listening room fill, I can hear these outside the sweet spot in my room/system. Most arm designs seem to me to be a compromise between ease of adjustability/convenience and rigidity for optimal sound. Though I have not heard it, the SAT looks like a great compromise between these two. Durand has evolved away from the offset VTA tower in favor of rigidity. SME is all about rigidity. TriPlanar looks like it is about adjustability. The Graham and Kuzma may be good compromises. I have not heard or played with the SAT or Kuzma, but I have the others mentioned.
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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Thanks for the follow-up, Peter. I suppose there is 'a sense of loudness', as you say - increased clarity, emphasis, articulation, that we might, at first blush, describe as louder sound. I have not had any luck finding the RG quote. The notion of increased loudness does not strike me as recording dependent.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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For some time I have been meaning to confirm that my turntable, motor controller and the steel ballast plate on which they are placed, are centered on my Vibraplane. The intent was to equally distribute the weight/mass over each of the three air bladders to potentially increase the longevity of each, and also to perhaps improve the effectiveness of this isolation approach and ideally improve sonics.

I figured out a simple way to do this without scales and measurements, and calculations. I went to the hardware store and for $2 bought a 36" X 1/4" round dowel. I deflated the Vibraplane and marked the center of the top plate. I then placed the dowel on the top plate and located the center of gravity by sliding it around until it was balanced. This was no so easy as the turntable, controller, and ballast plate together weight about 250 lbs.

With some effort, I was able to locate the center, in one axis, and I moved the mass over the center of the Vibraplane. The other axis is more difficult. I can find the center of mass of the table and plate, but the center of the Vibraplane is no so clear because it is square, but the three air bladders are unequally distributed, with two in the front and one in the rear.

So, for this axis, I simply moved the turntable and controller toward the front, so they are more directly over the two bladders in front. When I went to re-inflate the three bladders, the table rose more evenly than before, so it is an improvement.

I will have to wait to assess any sound quality change until after I get one of my Transparent Audio cables back. It is at the factory being recalibrated for the new output impedance of my new phono stage.

Finding the center of mass of the turntable/controller/ballast plate:

IMG_4650.JPG

Aligning the center of mass of what is above to the center of mass of the three Vibraplane air bladders:

IMG_4652.JPG

Shifting the turntable forward to be more over the two air bladders in the front of the Vibraplane.

IMG_4654.JPG
 

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