Which tonearm to practice on?

KPC

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Dec 4, 2019
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I’m almost finished assembling my first bucket list analog+digital audio chains. I’ve already purchased arms for my for my turntable and will have WAM Engineering review my cartridge’s stylus and mount my carts so I won’t damage my top carts (VDH GC, Etna, Koetsu Rosewood PS, Aida Mammoth Gold). WAM will create spacers(?) so I can mount 3-4 carts on my 4point, and WAM will mount my VDH on my Schroeder CB-L.

I’ve no experience mounting a cart so I need a tonearm to practice on. My practice cart is a Audio-Technica VM740ML MicroLine.
I’m hoping to get a practice tonearm that’s transparent enough to hear changes so I can understand and gain experience. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot on audio components so would like to keep a lid on my spending.

What practice tonearm should I get?


VPI Avenger>VDH Grail SB>Constellation Inspiration Pre+Stereo>MinoD
 

bazelio

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Sep 26, 2016
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Well, I recommend not getting yet another tonearm, but instead just an extra head shell for your 4-point. You can use it for your practice runs. The 4 point head shells come off by loosening a single set screw, and there's really no better tonearm that I've seen from an ease-of-use perspective.

What are these spacers you speak of for the 4 point? I have a 4 point, and a total of 4 head shells for it. I have carts pre-mounted/aligned on the spare head shells, so it becomes fairly straight forward to swap them out. I document azimuth and VTA settings so that I can quickly return those to optimal settings for each cart when I swap out head shells. I'm not sure where spacers would come in to play? By the way, there's also a nifty storage case I found on Etsy to keep them in so they don't collect dust or get bumped while not in use. Kuzma makes one too, but the asking price is goofy.
 
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Tango

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I’m almost finished assembling my first bucket list analog+digital audio chains. I’ve already purchased arms for my for my turntable and will have WAM Engineering review my cartridge’s stylus and mount my carts so I won’t damage my top carts (VDH GC, Etna, Koetsu Rosewood PS, Aida Mammoth Gold). WAM will create spacers(?) so I can mount 3-4 carts on my 4point, and WAM will mount my VDH on my Schroeder CB-L.

I’ve no experience mounting a cart so I need a tonearm to practice on. My practice cart is a Audio-Technica VM740ML MicroLine.
I’m hoping to get a practice tonearm that’s transparent enough to hear changes so I can understand and gain experience. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot on audio components so would like to keep a lid on my spending.

What practice tonearm should I get?


VPI Avenger>VDH Grail SB>Constellation Inspiration Pre+Stereo>MinoD
Get the SME 3012R. It is very durable. You can get so clumsy no tenter delicate hand needed it would not break. Easy to set up too. And you sure will hear difference between cart easily with this arm. Price wise also not crazy. Worth keeping it at least for practices. One day you might even realize something you did not before in sound.
 

KPC

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Dec 4, 2019
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WAM is going to use spacers to make cartridge change easy for me to swap carts with minimal/no adjustments. Can’t give anymore detail because I have no clue until I visit WAM to fully understand. Waiting for delivery of both tonearms (and a Schick for my SPUs adventure). Then I’ll bring arms,cart, and turntable to WAM.

I thought about using the 4point to practice on, but I don’t want to mess up WAMs setup until I know what I’m doing.

I’m been somewhat curious about the SME 3012R because that’s what DDK uses.
 

tima

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Mar 3, 2014
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WAM is going to use spacers to make cartridge change easy for me to swap carts with minimal/no adjustments. Can’t give anymore detail because I have no clue until I visit WAM to fully understand. Waiting for delivery of both tonearms (and a Schick for my SPUs adventure). Then I’ll bring arms,cart, and turntable to WAM.

I thought about using the 4point to practice on, but I don’t want to mess up WAMs setup until I know what I’m doing.

I’m been somewhat curious about the SME 3012R because that’s what DDK uses.

It is good to practice as you describe. I would practice without using spacers - I'm sure they will yield a fine result, but, with all respect to J.R, they are a crutch. Or, put differently, you want to learn to do alignment and how to dial-in SRA/VTA on your own -- and to reject cartridges that are not built properly.

Nonetheless, having a cartridge mounted with spacers gives you a reference for your own practice. You don't need another tonearm for practice, just get some extra headshells for your 4Point as suggested. And maybe two lower priced instances of the same cartridge - maybe a moving-coil with a line contact or Shibata type stylus . Have one cartridge mounted by WAM and use the other for practice. That way you can compare your work with a professional mount.
 
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AMR / iFi audio

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WAM is going to use spacers to make cartridge change easy for me to swap carts with minimal/no adjustments. Can’t give anymore detail because I have no clue until I visit WAM to fully understand. Waiting for delivery of both tonearms (and a Schick for my SPUs adventure). Then I’ll bring arms,cart, and turntable to WAM.

I thought about using the 4point to practice on, but I don’t want to mess up WAMs setup until I know what I’m doing.

I’m been somewhat curious about the SME 3012R because that’s what DDK uses.
SME makes wonderful tonearms, you will be more than happy with it. If you want something easy to practice on, maybe a Rega RB330? Inexpensive but solid choice.
 

KPC

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Dec 4, 2019
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Thanks all. I’ll get the SME3012R as it is within my budget…..whatever that is. It will also scratch my curiosity itch.

Feeling both smart and dumb for my latest purchase of a Koetsu Coralstone-D: Smart because Coralstone seems to be the best sounding Koetsu stone cart, it’s being discontinued so this may be my last chance to hear it and own it, and I got it new at half price. Dumb because it’s WAY MORE that I’m comfortable spending at this time because of all my recent carts, arms, and cable purchases.

I had somewhat considered a Bokrand Ortofon tonearm for my SPUs, maybe a brand synergy but seems not. So I’m starting with a Schick and may move up tonearms later. However, I’m glad I got a VDH cart to use on my VDH phono- hoping for some additional synergy
 
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KPC

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Dec 4, 2019
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San Francisco Bay Area
Originally I was targeting a used 4point or a Reed 3P. Ended up with a new 4point because I wanted Kondo wiring. Feels financially foolish to purchase both. Then again, maybe this hobby’s spending is already a bit foolish. Quoted to my wife $60k all in for both analog+ digital, I’ve spent double and still a ways to go.
 
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