Tonearm Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Dec 29, 2020  |  19 comments
With all due respect to Gem Dandy’s new PolyTable Signature “layer cake” of a “two tiered” turntable, the bigger news here is the Sorane TA-1L tonearm George Merrill chose to package with his new turntable. Why is the Sorane news? Because it’s the possible successor to now defunct Jelco. But first, the new $2995 (not including arm) turntable, which, for sure, is also news.

Malachi Lui  |  Oct 07, 2018  |  7 comments
The all-in-one turntable market has one gargantuan issue looming over it: the Crosley Cruiser. With everything an analog neophyte thinks he or she needs, these $70 “turntables” sell by the boatload, only to seriously damage records after but a few plays with their five grams of tracking force. Why are they so popular then? Because they’re small, inexpensive and the purchaser doesn’t have to think about piecing together an entire system; it’s right in front of them. Even so, it still feels extremely wrong to spend $100 on a vinyl box set and subject it to the evils of a $70 turntable.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 01, 2018  |  6 comments
Best known for its sexy looking Delphi turntable first introduced in 1979 and currently in its MK VI iteration ($8850), Canada-based Oracle Audio recently updated its lowest priced Origine turntable to MKII status.

The upgraded version includes a new “wall-wart” powered 16V AC synchronous motor (the original was 24V AC—customers with that motor can get a free upgrade, paying for shipping one way) and a new silicon damped cueing mechanism replacing the original’s “direct action” cueing system (which for original Origine owners can be upgraded for $85). It uses a knob rather than a traditional lever, that you turn to raise and lower the arm.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 06, 2018  |  15 comments
The amount of faux "controversy" surrounding the 10" arm Technics will supply with its upcoming SL-1000R turntable bordered on the absurd. Much of it centered on the pivot to spindle distance and effective length. It all began when the 'table arrived and the spec sheet listed the effective length as 239mm. That didn't make sense to me because that would be the effective length of a 9" arm!

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 30, 2018  |  139 comments
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show, Technics CTO/Chief Engineer Tetsuya (Tony) Itan, Yoshiyuki Sumida, Assistant Manager Technics Team, and Technics Business Development Manager Bill Voss brought over and installed the new Technics SL-1000R turntable and tone arm for a week's stay. While this was a pre-production sample and not suitable for a full review, I thought you would be interested in first impressions that is not a review.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 24, 2017  |  20 comments
Editor's note: AnalogPlanet (and Stereophile) policy is to review products as sent to us unless they are broken and/or clearly defective. In this case the speed was "off" but the 'table was neither "broken" nor "defective" so we chose to review "as sent".

The importer wrote to say the unit was sent with "the wrong pulley" and as stated in the review, we allowed for the possibility that the 'table had been previously used for reviews or for some other purpose. However, without trying to sound too harsh, if you're going to send out a product for review, it's important to check out its functioning before shipping and that would include making sure it's running at the right speed.

As the importer points out, the Kid Thomas previously reviewed ran at the correct speed but clearly this one did not and it was what was sent so there was an obligation to review "as sent" just as there was an obligation to ship a properly functioning review sample! I know this might sound "harsh" but I'm always thinking of the consumer who buys and uses without checking speed accuracy and ends up listening at the wrong speed.

AnalogPlanet readers' thoughts on this are most welcome.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  52 comments
The original Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable introduced in 1972 enjoyed a thirty-eight year, six generation run. Technics sold more than 3.5 million of them. In October of 2010 just as vinyl was staging its unlikely comeback, parent company Panasonic pulled the plug on the SL-1200 Mk6.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 24, 2016  |  52 comments
VPI just announced a new, easy to accomplish modification for its full line of 3D printed arms that turns the unipivot into a dual pivot design that creates a fully stable arm that fully eliminates "wobble".

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 25, 2015  |  17 comments
For vinyl lovers, it’s important to know that Wilson-Benesch first began in 1989 as a start-up dedicated to building a turntable simply because it felt vinyl was a superior medium compared to CD. For that reason alone, the company should be venerated. W-B argued that new, emerging technologies like carbon fiber could further elevate vinyl playback.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 26, 1998  |  0 comments
When Bob Graham introduced his 1.5 tonearm at the end of the 1980s, many thought he was dreaming: Vinyl was going the way of the console radio—who would invest two-grand-plus in a tonearm? But there was a method to Graham's madness—he'd designed his arm to be a drop-in replacement for more than 20 years' worth of SME arms, all of which shared the same mounting platform. Perhaps, in his wildest dreams, Graham had already envisioned the current "analog revival"—but even without it, he figured there'd be a robust replacement market, and he was poised to exploit it with what he thought was a superior product.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 14, 2011  |  1 comments
Trends in turntable design shift back and forth over time, each "advance" turning out to be a mostly sideways move. Over its long history, VPI's founder and designer, Harry Weisfeld, has moved the analog goalposts back and forth as he's refined his thinking. His early turntables were mostly standard spring-suspension designs of normal size. By the time Weisfeld produced his fully tricked-out TNT model, which was originally designed to stably hold the heavy moving mass of Eminent Technology's ET2 air-bearing arm, he'd moved to a massive, oversized, sandwiched plinth with isolating feet at the corners. He first used springs and, later, air bladders originally designed to cushion a tractor-trailer's load, and which he'd found in a trucker's supply catalog. Via an O-ring, the TNT's outboard motor drove one of three pulleys that protruded from holes in the plinth, and attached to a T-shaped subchassis that, in turn, drove the other two pulleys via two additional O-rings.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 31, 2010  |  0 comments
Ideally, LPs should be played with the pickup stylus remaining tangential (ie, at a 90° angle) to the groove—just as the lacquer from which the LP was ultimately stamped was cut in the first place. Over the years, many attempts have been made to accomplish this. Back in 1877, Thomas A. Edison's original machines tangentially tracked his cylinders, but Emil Berliner's invention of the flat disc put an end to cylinders altogether. In the 1950s, a number of companies marketed so-called "tangential" trackers that used dual arms, based on conventional pivoting arrangements, to change the angle at which the headshell was mounted as it moved across the LP side. In 1963, Marantz introduced the SLT-12, which used a plastic pantograph to move the stylus across the record surface. Garrard's Zero 100 pivoting arm controlled its independently pivoting headshell with a bar that extended from the main bearing of the tonearm.
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 23, 2007  |  1 comments
Simon Yorke is an artist, a machinist, an electronics wiz, and a political idealist. He's also an analog enthusiast who melds aesthetic and technical considerations into eye-catching, densely packed, compact record-playing devices that are ruggedly built and functionally elegant. His turntables' smooth, matte-gray, metallic finishes and efficient lines make them among the most visually pleasing ever made.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 06, 2006  |  0 comments
"Hello, I'd like to apply for a Federal Grant? For what? Oh, to design and build a new, high-tech, very expensive turntable. What's that? It plays records. Yes, that kind of turntable. Of course they still make records. Why? How much time do you have? Oh, I forgot—you're a federal employee, you have all day! Well, I didn't mean to insult you. It was a joke....No, I'm serious about the turntable. You do? What kind of music? When are they from? RCA Record Club? Classical Music? 1950s and '60s? Yes. I'll give you $5 each. I know it's generous, but... How much money do I want for the grant? Coupla hundred thousand dollars. No, our turntables will never be used to play Marilyn Manson records—Marilyn doesn't do vinyl. It's in the mail? Thank you. I'll come get the LPs tonight."

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