Tonearm ranking

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
8,852
45
48
London
#1
Hi all,

Feel free to rate the tonearms in the following buckets based on your experiments. Will give something to muse over

1. Sonics for playing classical LPs while playing with neutral, dynamic carts, like Ortofon A90
2. Ease of mounting
3. Ease of adjustment (VTA, SRA, swapping carts, etc).

The tonearms are: Durand Talea II, Da Vinci Grandezza, Thales, Schroeder LT, FR66s, Ikeda 407, Air Tangent 10b, Kuzma Airline, Kuzma 4P, SME 3012.

Additional comments welcome. While ranking you can also add in parentheses next to the arm the carts you have experienced them on
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
6,872
1
38
Northern NY
#2
Graham phantom has a lock on 2 and 3...
I have an A90 mounted to a 10" Phantom Supreme on my Clearaudio Master Innovation. Excellent combo. No personal experience with any of the arms you mention in my system.
 
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BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
899
0
16
#3
Hi all,

Feel free to rate the tonearms in the following buckets based on your experiments. Will give something to muse over

1. Sonics for playing classical LPs while playing with neutral, dynamic carts, like Ortofon A90
2. Ease of mounting
3. Ease of adjustment (VTA, SRA, swapping carts, etc).

The tonearms are: Durand Talea II, Da Vinci Grandezza, Thales, Schroeder LT, FR66s, Ikeda 407, Air Tangent 10b, Kuzma Airline, Kuzma 4P, SME 3012.

Additional comments welcome. While ranking you can also add in parentheses next to the arm the carts you have experienced them on

Morning B,

Ok in for a penny in for a Pound:D

Most memorable Sonics for playing Classical?

--easy my Decca arm/Deram combo in 1957--the first Cart I bought to play the 1812 Klemperer 10" version--well it was my first foray into Audio --one always remembers the first time -no?

so for the present:

Carts I've owned and recommend for Classical---

Decca London--bit of heaven and hell-- when she's good she's great--when she's bad she's horrid!

Jan Allaerts Finish--- great on all counts superb Cart--I'd own again

Koetsu Onyx long Body only--- as above 5 stars

Ortofon A90- excellent sonics detail to die for-- replicant tip needs careful usage--short working life compared to others

EMT TSD-15--the Big balls of the lot--kicks serious crescendo butt--nothing phases it-- tremendous drive--can be used stripped down from H/shell

Miyajama Madake-- a truly oustanding transducer--what it can retrieve from the LP is staggering--for its price sonic marvel

Shindo SPU ae-- if you want no hassle true to source Scale and Weight --and just want to hear the dulcet tones/plus full scale of playback without worrying about the equipment--this jewel is the pinnacle


Arms I've owned and recommend as above:

My personal Fav amongst Pivoted--the Breuers

I experienced the 7/8c models long and short versions--never eclipsed sonically by any other Arm up to now I've run with but sadly no longer current

so that leaves:

Kuzma 4point--a sonic wonder-does most things an Arm need to do 100%--can't find fault sonically great Arm

Fidelity Research Fr66S--the jewel in the long arm stakes--dependant on TT for mounting superbly made and sonics absolutely first rate-- snavel one pronto--if you can find them!

SME 12R Knife edge version-- up there with the 66s -I'd own both in a heartbeat

RF-773 Meursaurt 12" Dynamic balance Arm --paired with its SPU ae can deliver what most others promise--sadly not in current production

Like most on the site I've had other dalliance with arm /carts --some Ok some -right doozies:mad:


Of the Arms you mention--Ive' heard the Ikeda, Durand, Schroéder, Thales,

all are excellent choices and highly recommended

Also bear in mind the Airtangent !0B is in a class of itself amongst Linear trackers

Re the Carts:

Of the ones I've heard in other systems and recommend

Lyra Atlas,Kisecki Purple heart,Koetsu Blue lace,Ortofon Xpression


In spite of all this platitude waving/etc you and only you must be the ultimate judge of your decision

so Audition carefully my friend and welcome to the minefield intricacies of the wonderful world of Vinyl:)

Good Luck

BruceD
 
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Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,092
21
38
#4
Hi all,

Feel free to rate the tonearms in the following buckets based on your experiments. Will give something to muse over

1. Sonics for playing classical LPs while playing with neutral, dynamic carts, like Ortofon A90
2. Ease of mounting
3. Ease of adjustment (VTA, SRA, swapping carts, etc).

The tonearms are: Durand Talea II, Da Vinci Grandezza, Thales, Schroeder LT, FR66s, Ikeda 407, Air Tangent 10b, Kuzma Airline, Kuzma 4P, SME 3012.

Additional comments welcome. While ranking you can also add in parentheses next to the arm the carts you have experienced them on
I've heard all those tonearms, but only lived with the Talea II. and while I likely prefer the Talea II to those others; all of them are quite competent. if I was in the market for a tone arm in this general price category I would choose the composite arm wand Durand Kairos, not the Talea II. it is closer to the simple elegance of my Telos or Telos Sapphire.

if you are sticking with used tone arms due to price then I would easily choose the Talea II.

in many ways the Talea II was developed using the A90 mainly. I know back when Joel Durand was testing the Talea and Talea II in my room that was the go-to choice primarily.

as Joel is a musician and classical composer all his tone arms excel at the nuance of classical music; particularly separating musical threads in the soundstage and ease on massed strings and other energetic music. violin and piano come thru with full harmonic complexity. I love string quartets and full orchestras on the Talea II. OTOH Led Zep rocks too.

as far as ease of mounting, the Durand tone arms come with an aluminum template and Mint Lp protractor for your exact tt/arm combo; and they surface mount so only need threaded screw holes not a cut-out. for ease of cartridge mounting and adjustment I'd say that is more a matter of personal experience than tone arm design. if you do it enough with any of those tone arms the actual ease with any of those will become similar. some might be easier for the novice to understand. but once you've worked with any it's the same process. don't allow that factor to be important.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
8,852
45
48
London
#5
Wow Bruce, 1957? You started before some of the Decca and EMI recordings were released lol. Thanks for the recommendations. I have heard a da vinci with a Jan allaerts top of the line and liked it, as well as a Kuzma 4p with Ortofon A90 into Apogees. Heard the Kuzma also with Lyra Atlas and a Colibri.

Christian yes, heard the Graham with a Kronos. Good thing with Graham Triplanar is they are easier to dem as some London locals have it.

Mike yes, looking at used prices.

The shortlist is getting bigger not shorter. Maybe I should head back to the CDs vs Vinyl thread to see what I have missed that makes CDs sound better.
 
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Jun 5, 2010
826
0
16
#6
I have an Ikeda 407 tone arm. It has a removable head shell so mounting a cartridge and changing cartridges are easy. In my case, I bought extra head shells to make cartridge rolling even easier. I also have an Ortofon A90 cartridge and I can tell you first hand they match very well.

I experienced the Breur tone arm about 25 years ago. It is crafted by Dr. Breur of Switzerland. It does not have a removable head shell. The sonics from my memory were energetic and truly alive. This is one of the best tone arms for me. I will keep mine forever.
 

Altanpsx

New Member
Sep 10, 2014
80
0
0
#7
except durand i know all of them. Used many of them, and mount heart many of them in my friends setup's. My best is Graham Phantom Elite, in all the way. Others are very strong contenders, but with your check list, i can double check every box for graham elite.
 

marslo

Member Sponsor
May 2, 2014
495
4
18
Poland
#10
I have not so much experience with different arms and carts , but if one can rely on Marshall Nack's opinion ( PF issue 50 ) the SME/Transrotor 5009 tonearm with Shelter Harmony is a very good combo . I had also Phase Tech P 3 G and Shelter Harmony lifted the sound to the new level , in accordance with Marshall findings. My arm is an improved version of JR 3500 and the headshell is standard 5009 SME version. BTW Mr Nack is of the opinion that SME 5009 betters the praised 312 tonearm in this specific setup.
Since last year I have also a new Groove SRX mk2 with new Lithos capacitors from Tom Evans and I really like classcial with my analog front end, I would say on par with regular DSD from Lampi B7. I still put the best native DSD recordings above my analog rig but the deck is rather mid level and it may be a reason. I do not intend to invest more in analog , just enjoy my vinyl collection and do not buy more than a few vinyls a year.

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue50/transrotor.htm
 

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BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
899
0
16
#11
Read that on Breuer you can't adjust the azimuth, isn't that a drawback?
Correct--Herr Breuer obviously did/does not consider it necessary with his design likewise no finger lift--(the Azimuth aspect same with Linn-but that another story!):p

Incidentally I have had correspondence from him in Switzerland--so he is still with us

sadly no longer producing his benchmark products

BruceD
 

perart1

New Member
Mar 17, 2012
44
0
0
Cheltenham
#12
Hmmmm

I am going to throw a curved ball into this thread. You may want to look at the ViV rigid Float tonearm. It is counterintuitive and does not conform to the accepted wisdom relating to Offset, anti skating or the usual trajectories for pivoted arms. There is an interesting commentary in Stereo times that is worth a read.
w
However this is also about my own experience of the arm as i was able to borrow the 10" version from a friend while my Graham is back in the USA having upgraded bearings etc. I have now had the arm for about 6 weeks mounted on my Verdier (I had to make some Oak blocks to provide an appropriate platform) and defeat the suspension. I have had both an audio note Japan Io-j and a Dynavector XV-1s on this arm and i am struggling to find something that that I do not like. I could go into detail but I do not think that it is relevant to this thread. The only thing that I would do if i were to buy this arm (very tempted) is have a set of C shims to adjust VTA.

Peter
 

Detlof

Member Sponsor
Nov 5, 2015
307
0
0
#13
1.: Sat
2.: Sat
3.: Sat

You don't know what's in those grooves unless you've heard this thing on a good system.
Macro- as well as microdynamics are vastly improved compared to the Graham. Never hearf my AFO like this before. Mikey did not exagerate when he wrote about his experience with the SAT.
I would go as far as to say that whoever has the dough to buy an expensive TT like the TechDAS ows it to himself to at least cosider this arm as an alernative to what is generally used. This thing is truly SotA, period.
 
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rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
6,872
1
38
Northern NY
#14
1.: Sat
2.: Sat
3.: Sat

You don't know what's in those grooves unless you've heard this thing on a good system.
Macro- as well as microdynamics are vastly improved compared to the Graham. Never hearf my AFO like this before. Mikey did not exagerate when he wrote about his experience with the SAT.
I would go as far as to say that whoever has the doe to buy an expensive TT like the TechDAS ows it to himself to at least cosider this arm as an alernative to what is generally used. This thing is truly SotA, period.
Fremer certainly loves it.
http://www.stereophile.com/content/swedish-analog-technologies-tonearm-page-2#s8udt60StUqrRkZy.97

For $28k it better sound better....costing twice as much as a Graham Elite. Perhaps a case of you get what you pay for. Unfortunately the VTA adjustment is less than convenient compared to Graham...Unlock tone arm and turn knurled knob. Pretty tough to do on the fly quickly like the Graham. I would demo the arm on my table if made available. Buy before I try ? No way.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,059
29
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#15
The SAT is an interesting tonearm. Steve and I saw it at T.H.E. Show in Irvine, but it was on only static display. I think that anything Fremer raves about it and purchases is worthy of serious consideration.

But in addition to sound quality and apparent build quality the robustness and likely longevity of the company matters to me. Marc Gomez appears to be a "one-man band," but he seems like a serious, dedicated guy.

Detlof, do you happen to know how many SAT tonearms have been produced so far?
 
May 30, 2010
13,964
42
48
Portugal
#16
The SAT is an interesting tonearm. Steve and I saw it at T.H.E. Show in Irvine, but it was on only static display. I think that anything Fremer raves about it and purchases is worthy of serious consideration.

But in addition to sound quality and apparent build quality the robustness and likely longevity of the company matters to me. Marc Gomez appears to be a "one-man band," but he seems like a serious, dedicated guy.

Detlof, do you happen to know how many SAT tonearms have been produced so far?
An acquaintance got one and was really enthusiastic last time we met - next time I will visit him I hope to listen to it. He was even more hyperbolic than Fremer himself. :)
 

Syntax

New Member
Feb 26, 2012
162
0
0
At The Dark Side
#17
A tonearm is a mechanical unit, to get the "best" it is helpful to to get some information about the geometry, material mix (what was chosen and why), the bearing (what kind of and why), what does the manufacturer know about energy transfer, Null points (which ones and for what) and so on and on.
Unfortunately this "knowledge" is buried (generally), today we have marketing and that replaced it for full. We can't blame someone, all want a piece from the cake. The price tag normally suggest a higher quality but from my experience, a higher price tag is also used to get into the area of getting the "Medal of Serious High End". Most buyers have no idea what a very "expensive" unit is really worth....$400 from factory...4000 final.... I listened to a lot of Arms (10 years), praised, beloved, great "reviews"...which serve a nice distortion in a given area of a demanding record...or Airtangent 10B...a class of itself ...yes, from sales price...in the inner grooves the air does not have the same pressure compared to the pressure of beginning .... or a piece of wood ... headshell without arch angle (for what???) ... dynamic pressure into the cantilever ....some arms kill a cantilever sooner or later based on their "design" and so on and on ... A lot is flavor of the month ... and that's ok. It is a hobby and not a religion. Or?
That was one advantage from Digital Players...no fiddling, a strong output ... and a remote
 

number95

New Member
May 14, 2014
380
0
0
#18
except durand i know all of them. Used many of them, and mount heart many of them in my friends setup's. My best is Graham Phantom Elite, in all the way. Others are very strong contenders, but with your check list, i can double check every box for graham elite.
+1
 

Detlof

Member Sponsor
Nov 5, 2015
307
0
0
#19
A tonearm is a mechanical unit, to get the "best" it is helpful to to get some information about the geometry, material mix (what was chosen and why), the bearing (what kind of and why), what does the manufacturer know about energy transfer, Null points (which ones and for what) and so on and on.
Unfortunately this "knowledge" is buried (generally), today we have marketing and that replaced it for full. We can't blame someone, all want a piece from the cake. The price tag normally suggest a higher quality but from my experience, a higher price tag is also used to get into the area of getting the "Medal of Serious High End". Most buyers have no idea what a very "expensive" unit is really worth....$400 from factory...4000 final.... I listened to a lot of Arms (10 years), praised, beloved, great "reviews"...which serve a nice distortion in a given area of a demanding record...or Airtangent 10B...a class of itself ...yes, from sales price...in the inner grooves the air does not have the same pressure compared to the pressure of beginning .... or a piece of wood ... headshell without arch angle (for what???) ... dynamic pressure into the cantilever ....some arms kill a cantilever sooner or later based on their "design" and so on and on ... A lot is flavor of the month ... and that's ok. It is a hobby and not a religion. Or?
That was one advantage from Digital Players...no fiddling, a strong output ... and a remote
Talk to Marc and you will get precise answers to your excellent points......
 

Detlof

Member Sponsor
Nov 5, 2015
307
0
0
#20
The SAT is an interesting tonearm. Steve and I saw it at T.H.E. Show in Irvine, but it was on only static display. I think that anything Fremer raves about it and purchases is worthy of serious consideration.

But in addition to sound quality and apparent build quality the robustness and likely longevity of the company matters to me. Marc Gomez appears to be a "one-man band," but he seems like a serious, dedicated guy.

Detlof, do you happen to know how many SAT tonearms have been produced so far?
Not sure Ron, but I think he in in his thirties now...
Sorry, that should have been a reply to Microstrip
 
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