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Tonearms

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by scroggie, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. scroggie

    scroggie
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    I have just sold my Gyrodeck, that I have owned for over ten years, and I am going to upgrade to an Orbe. I have used an SME V tonearm for the last 12 years and although I have found this to be a really world class arm, particularly the bass response, tracking and detail, it is is my opinion a bit lacking in soul.

    I have read a lot of reviews of the Origin Live (OL) arms and the Michell TecnoArm and would appreciate any feedback from owners, who have used the SME V and either the Origin Live or Michell arms on their decks. My personal experience has been that you can listen to arms in the dealers showrooms but it is only when you have used the arms at home for a few days before you can really judge the characteritics of an arm fully. Also, it is very difficult these days to get suppliers/dealers to lend you arms to try at home, and so any views you have would help. The maximum I am prepared to pay is around £1500 and so this is in the OL Illustrious territory. However, views on the TecnoArm and the OL Silver and Encounter would be most welcome, as some of the reviews indicate that nowadays you do not have to pay a fortune to get a top class arm.

    Thanks

    Steve
     
  2. karkus30

    karkus30
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    I own the encounter Tonearm, which is currently on an old Roksan Xerxes, fitted with an Ortofon Jubilee Cart. I think that this is a fantastic combination and TBH I cant say I have heard better. The Orbe is a great sounding deck and the OL encounter is probably as good as the SME V, but has a little more life. The only fly in the ointment might be reliability. I have never had a problem with my arm, but I do know one guy who had problems with the internal cabling, it was sorted out by OL, but it's worth making you aware. The SME is bombproof so reliability should never be an issue.
     
  3. scroggie

    scroggie
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    Thanks Karkus,

    The more I hear about the OL arms the more I am inclined to listen to the Encouter/Illustrious at a dealers. Wasn't aware of the reliability issue, so thanks for metioning this. You are right the SME's are bulletproof.
     
  4. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Bought mine s/h from Ebay without any demo (TBH it's very difficult to demo arms) cost me about £400 :) it was used once to test out an Oracle 5, before it was decided that the Oracle could handle the illustrious and show sufficient improvement, so it was all boxed up and the fittings were still in their wrappings (luvly). I bought the cart direct from a guy in Germany, dont know if he still does this, but my cart cost me around £300, brand new and guaranteed ! ho ho I love a bargain. Bit shaky mounting the cart mind :eek:
     
  5. Londondecca

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    What is the rest of your system.

    I wonder if spending 1500 quid on a new arm will give you value for money. Whilst I think arms play an important role, I am not sure if they play a significant role in the context of a full system
     
  6. scroggie

    scroggie
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    The system will be a Michell Orbe front end (arm and cartridge still to be decided), retaining my existing Kinshaw phono stage and Rothwell passive pre-amp and valve amplifier, and the speakers have again yet to be decided. I heard a very nice pair of audiovectors a while back - there were around £1000.
     
  7. alexs2

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    Sounds as if you have a lot of auditioning ahead of you....the arm/cartridge/speaker combinations that you could come up with are enormous,and the potential for changing the sound significantly is also very large.

    You have an excellent front-end in the Orbe,and my own experience of the OL arms is that they are all superbly well made,but you should also have a look at some of the Rega arms,rebuilt by OL,which in price terms are almost a bargain.

    I can understand what you mean about soul in a system,having just bought/refurbished and upgraded a TT for mine,plus all the looking around for a good phono stage,and now looking around for a good(perhaps used)MC to upgrade from a Supex....good luck!
     
  8. nikyzf

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    Don't rule out the Linn Ekos. It doesn't have to be on an LP12 or have a Linn cartridge fitted.
     
  9. alexs2

    alexs2
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    True,although Ekos prices tend to be rather high for the assumed quality of the arm currently,and many consider the OL equivalent to be superior,but it would need to be tried if at all possible.
     
  10. Paul Williams

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    Very careful audition for an Orbe/Ekos combination, having lived with Linn TT's for over twenty years (have a friend with an Orbe & uses an SME 300 as he likes it better than the V) I'd say these are poles apart in the way they present music! The Ekos is more neutral than the Ittok, but not by much.

    I'm always a bit concerned when people say they're trying to get the soul or emotion out of an LP, it usually means it isn't there. I've gone from a Linn, to an SME TT and without question its a streets ahead of anything I've ever listened to. The downside is that there is no hiding a crap record. One of my all time favourite LP's tracks I can now hear the 'dropins' where they've taken bits of other sessions for guitar solo's and so on. In one section nine in 30 seconds. This was always the strength of the likes of Linn, to pass over these LP weaknesses and merge them into a cohesive whole. On the plus side other LP's have gone from OK to magnificent with real depth of emotion & presence that couldn't be found before. Which is better, well I did buy the SME and don't miss the Linn, which is right in their presentation, both. Which turntable manufacturer treads the best line between the 2 modes, Nottingham Analogue. Which is the best arm I've ever heard on any TT, Graham Engineering. I've heard the 2.1, told the 2.2 is way better & one day I'm going to try and listen to a Phantom on SME & Notts TT's.

    http://www.graham-engineering.com/db3/00271/graham-engineering.com/_uimages/PHANTOM-FINAL31.jpg

    End option, you will have to spend a lot of time in a good analogue dealers dem room and sorry to all those using an Orbe/Ekos combination, if its wonderful, let us know. What would I try for an arm, well I doubt that a 2nd hand Graham (2.1) will turn-up but I I'd try and find one, even if you have to drive 100's of mile to audition it at a dealer. For a safer bet Rega 900.
     
  11. ukaudiophile

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    Hi Steve,

    with some judicious spending, £1,500 will get you a significant upgrade with that T/T. The Orbe has always been a solid T/T, though it is starting to look rather expensive now in comparison with some of the latest turntables which have come along, but I think you can do much better than either the Ol Encounter or the SME V.

    There is no doubt in my mind, the OL Encounter is a signifcant step up from the SME V, which I've always found dull and lifeless in almost any turntable, and as good as the OL arms are, they're traditional gimbal bearing arms, which to me are no match for a first rate unipivot arm. My choice right now would be either a Hadcock Cryo arm at around £800, or find myself a used Graham 1.5 or preferably a 2.0. With the new Graham B44 coming into the country, you can find 2.0 for around £1,200 - £1,500. I have one of these arms, and they are stunning, I would happily call them the finest tonearm in the World if it was not for the existence of the 2.2, the B44 and the new Basis Vector MK. 3 arm.

    From a cartridge point of view, with an arm this good, the sky is the limit, but for something special at a sensible price a Benz Glider L2 makes an excellent used buy at between £350 and £450, whilst new a Lyra Argo is outstanding at £800, but it depends how far you want to go.

    I hope this helps, if you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to ask.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    rewire the SME V and remove the yoke, it starts to get a life then!!

    I like unipivots, and have used them for 17 years now...
     
  13. scroggie

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    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the feedback. I have never heard a unipivot and have only used Rega based/SME arms before. I had a look at the Graham engineering website and the Phantom (B44) looks a great arm. The hadcock I had never heard of before and it is nice to see that this is a uk made product. I definitely want the Michel Orbe, as my Gyro gave such reliable results for over 14 years, but I am seriously going to consider the Graham and Hadcock arms. I will check with the Michell dealers in my part of the contry and find out if they also stock the Hadcock or Graham arms and see if they will demo them for me.

    How do you find the unipivots, only I read that they are not as easy to set-up and use as a twin pivot design?

    Thanks again for the reply.

    Steve
     
  14. Thekop

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    It's a shame the Kuzma Stogi and Stogi reference tonearms aren't around no more. The stogi sounded lovely on my old Voyd Turntable - with Van Den Hul MC1 Cartridge. It was more than a match to the Linn Ittok and Ekos.

    :thumbsup:
     
  15. Londondecca

    Londondecca
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    Or a Zeta arm, which reminds me I must get mine rewired and sell it
     
  16. ukaudiophile

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    Hi Steve,

    In my experience I've set up both SME IV and V arms on 4 T/T's, and I find them far more difficult to optimise and set up than the Graham 1.5 or 2.0. The Graham arms come with a truly superb manual. outstanding vernier gauges on all the main settings on the arm, and an array of set up told which are unparalleled in the field of tonearms. I can pretty much install and optimize a Graham on almost any turntable in under 30 minutes now without even touching the manual, it really is that easy. The Hadcock used to be a nightmare, but recently they have tightened up the quality control, wrote a new manual (which is a massive improvement over the original, it's very clsoe to the Graham's manual) and made the arm far more stable in use. For absolute quality and dependability I'd go for the used Graham, but if you want a new arm, then the Hadcock is pretty much impossible to beat given your budget. Both arms will outperform a SME with ease.

    I hope this helps.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  17. Paul Williams

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    I many respects, having had a play with a Graham arm, you are right, however, it can sound very restrained and lightweight in its presentation and I still don't think it responds in some areas as well as an SME. But overall, as an SME owner (and someone who feels it has some really bad design features) it (the Graham) is the only arm I would like to have. I have had no experience of Hadcock for many, many years. But the last time I listened to one, felt the standard Rega arm outperformed it both in the context of sound & build quality. Glad to hear things have improved.

    Paul
     
  18. ukaudiophile

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    Hi Paul

    Certainly the 1.0 and even, to a degree, the 1.5, were known for being a little light in the bass, but for my personal taste I find the SME arms to be too robust in their bass output, and to me this drags down the speed and dexterity through the midrange and high frequencies, but given their enduring appeal there are certainly those out there like the SME sound, but the Graham and Hadcock are not as widely known over here as the SME.

    As far as the Hadcock and Rega are concerned, I have both a standard Rega, a Tecnoarm and also a Hadcock Cryo. As good a value as the standard Rega is, it is bettered by a not insignificant degree by the Tecnoarm, but the Hadcock Cryo eats them both for breakfast, the Hadcock's basic design deals with energy far better than the Rega, giving a cleaner sound, whilst the cryogenically treated cable (I believe it is Cardas) and cryogenically treated arm brings out far more performance from any cartridge I've tried to date. Thankfully the old days of Hadcock arms falling to pieces in your hand with crackly noises from the dodgy wiring are long since past.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  19. cosmicma

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    whatever happened to the alphason hr100s arms ( used to have one on an LP12 ) are they not rated anymore ??
     
  20. Londondecca

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    The Alphason was a very good mid priced arm
     
  21. Paul Williams

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    As far as I know Alphason now only make furniture, so no support (pun not intended) for these, plus 'S' shaped arms seem to have fallen out of favour. (Morch being the one of the few still going) Also I feel even modest current designs exceed the capabilities of the hr100s.

    Paul
     
  22. ukaudiophile

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    Hi,

    Yes, they are still rated by those of us with long enough memories. They were an expensive arm when they were out there, but the performance was outstanding.

    I have never put one of these arms head to head with a Graham or Hadcock, I am confident that the unipivots would better the HR100S, but I always felt the HR100s had better lf control and HF extension than the SME IV, and if you can get a mint used one today, it will still give many contemporary designs a run for their money.

    Thenks for reminding us about this forgotten analogue gem from the UK, it's such a shame that Alphason quit the noble art of turntable engineering in favour of building furniture.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    There seems lots of love for unipivots now. Nottingham analogue ones I have used for years, have been making these when no one knew what unipivots were! I even remember Naim buying one and next think we had was the Aro? or what ever their unipivot was called!!
     
  24. nikyzf

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    I never heard the HR100S myself, but it was considered to be in the Ittok/PU3/Zeta class, with the usual trade-offs of strengths and weaknesses. I remember bass performance being considered weak compared with the other top arms of the time.
     
  25. nikyzf

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    I remember comparing the Aro with the Ittok and Ekos on an LP12, all with Troikas, and being amazed how much the the Aro differed in fundamental presentation. You would think the bass player had been swapped with one from a different band!. I have always found that unipivots do strange (to me) things with bass.
     
  26. Paul Williams

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    I've only hands on experienced I've had of Unipivots were Mayware and the Aro on my Linn and neither lasted long (I'd dismissed the Hadcock back then) - the Mayware (purchased) didn't work particularly well the Aro (name I believe based on the fact the arm tube was derived from the extruded alloy tube used to make Arrows) was on loan. I felt it was just totally overpriced for what it delivered, so I stuck with the Ittok.

    The only other unipivot in the shop was a strange one designed by a guy called Tom Fletcher attached to one of his turntables (referred to as the cake - I think it was officially called the Dias) the dealer said it as too good for the Linn & would highlight it's weaknesses. Tom Fletcher of Nottingham Analogue, has over the years produced some stunning products (I wish I'd bought one of his parallel tracking arms - just no money when they briefly appeared) & I will say that his would be my starting point if I was thinking about a unipivot.

    Paul
     
  27. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Tom 'ordinary' arms are actually better than his parallel trackers Pauls, by his own omission!! Tom arm is what I have used, as you know. Once I got a full NA front end, Mentor, Mentor arm, Martin Bastin PS and Tracer IV MM I lost the will to change. Hiskit is great including the unipivots.

    on a side not I think I learned more about SQ from Tom than anyone and he was very kind to me over the years. As I student I needed to get to his for a demo of a Croft supermicro. I had no realspare money and public transport to underwood was iffy at best. Tom came and collected me, and drop me back in Nottingham when we had finished and I had bought my Super Micro. He was brilliant, even though it was only £199, it was a huge amount of money to a poor PhD student in the 80s.
     
  28. Paul Williams

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  29. scroggie

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    All,

    Just to let you know that I am going to hear a demo of the Nottingham Analogue Systems (NAS) Hyperspace and Dais turntables later this week, with the NAS Spacearm and the OL Illustrious. I know, I thought I was definitly going to get the Michell Orbe, but after reading the reveiws of the NAS decks I thought that I had better check them out.

    I will keep you posted.

    Steve
     
  30. Paul Williams

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    Look forward to hearing about your demo and what you think of the Nottingham products.

    Paul
     

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