Hi All, Most tonearm manufacturers make a ten inch tonearm. I am aware as to why someone would want a twelve inch tonearm or a nine inch but where does the ten inch apply? If I wanted to replace my nine inch tonearm with a ten inch, would it matter and if so, how?
As tablejockey said, 10" is a compromise —in a good way—giving some of the advantages of a longer arm with those of the 9". Legend has it that 9" is faster due to less mass, while 12" does the better tracking thang.
There are two other variables depending from TT construction. There are TT's which allow only 9'' tonearms ( Kuzma Stabi Refernce) as well TT 's which don't. Technics SP mk 2 for example does not allow 9'' .
At the extremes (commercially available, that I'm aware of more) is the ViV Rigid Float arm at 7" and the Kuzma 4P at 14". What does that tell you? Any length will work and they all have their pluses and minuses.
Viv also make 9” and longer versions of their tonearm, all the way to 14”. Viv is an underhung tonearm, entirely different from Kuzma or nearly all others, that overhang the spindle. Underhung tonearms generate much more tracking angle error than overhung tonearms, which error is directly proportional to length. I think Nandric nailed it; some TTs simply do not fit 9” tonearms, so there is a market for 10 and 10.5 tonearms for those TTs. And I do NOT agree that 12” tonearms are inherently superior to 9” tonearms “in every way”. Thus some choose 10 or 10.5 as a compromise . EDIT. I misspoke. Of course TAE for overhung tonearms is also proportional to length, which accounts for the existence of 12" tonearms. What I was thinking is that the very large amounts of TAE that result if you use a 7-inch underhung tonearm like the Viv are drastically reduced if you use the 14-inch version. If you're obsessed with minimizing TAE across the surface of an LP, then you might opt for a 12-inch overhung tonearm (with the attendant increase in effective mass and greater propensity for resonance), or a linear tracker.
tablejockey, the term ‘concern’ is a bit of an exaggeration. I’m mainly interested in knowing whether a 10 inch arm would be a possible option given that I’ve seen a number of 10 inch tone arms on the used market. As far as fitting a ten inch arm instead of a nine inch, doesn’t seem like a big deal seeing that it’s only an inch longer.
It’s even possible to use a 12 inch tone arm on a Thorens TD 160 or a Linn LP 12. So would that be a reason to mount a 12 inch tonearm on these tables, because you can? I’m inclined to believe there would be a difference in sound between a 9 inch and a 10 inch arm on a Thorens. I would even make the radical assumption that cartridge matching would have it’s benefits too. Really, no need to check brain in at the door.
Even Micheal Fremer says there is very little differrence between a 12'" and a 9" arm in how well they can sound, as long as they are a high quality arm to begin with. Just enjoy what you have, unless it makes you unhappy.
If so, upgrade to whatever strikes your fancy. I consider it more important how well your tonearm/cartridge is set up.
Why I like10 inch tonearms: - 10 inch has more eff mass than 9 but still not so much as 12. I can always use heavier headshell if needed. - bigger distance from spindle compared with 9 inch less vibration etc. Also 10 inch is very easy to transfer as it fits most of turntables. - 12 makes a problem with closing of lid sometimes. Fiddling/setting if wall is close to turntable can be less convenient with 12 inch.
My questioning stems from choosing to use or not to use anti-skate. It seems that setting up a cartridge is as much an art as it is a science. An inch seems like a small adjustment where it pertains to making a mounting plate and installing a tonearm but a lot where it pertains to the cartridge alignment and getting good tracking along with a fluid sonic signature. Looking at an alignment tool, there's little margin of error when aligning the stylus so adding or subtracting an inch to the tonearm may make a difference or maybe not? I've been modifying this Thorens TD160 Mk1 for some time and have upgraded the overall sound by a noticeable margin. The original TP16 arm is all-right with a mono cartridge but I was wanting to upgrade the cartridge at some point and doing that only makes sense with a better tonearm. I've seen Jelco arms on the used market, some of them 12 inch, some of them 10 inch and some of them 9 inch. It just seems like a good idea to understand what I'm in for if a nice 10 inch arm comes along and opt to take on that project.
bukanona, a salient point, thanks! Lookin around, many 12 inch arms state their strengths when using an Ortofon SPU. More choices just seems like more possibilities. And while I use a silk cloth rather than an acrylic dust cover, a 12 inch arm would just present too much work.
Was talking with Mark Baker about my Sovereign/Enterprise purchase when the subject of arm length came up. Mark said the longer arms offer just a little bit more natural ease and sophistication. Between the table and the arm itself they also add a fair bit of cost. Not so bad when ordering new as if you were to add later, which is why he brought it up.
I said well it seems that if I were to want more performance it would make more sense to step up to the next better arm and get a great big improvement instead. To which he said, "Yes that's right."
The next arm up in my case was a lot more than I was prepared to spend, yet I wasn't about to spend more just to get "a little bit more" ease and sophistication. I know lots of ways to get that without spending that kind of money.
millercarbon, so then why not a 16 inch tonearm; which after all, is the original transcription tonearm. Of course, the build and sonic signature have to be solid as well. But a 9 inch arm compared to a 10 inch arm? If the differences are justified, than it would make sense for manufacturers to lean more towards the 10 inch arm market than they are.
My least favorite topic, guys who never manufactured anything in their life asking other guys who never even made anything (let alone for sale) why guys who do it for a living do it. Second least useful, the hypothetical "if" something or other is this that or the other thing "then" leap to some random unwarranted conclusion. We can do this all day. Wait a minute! Already are!
@millercarbon I thought this was a forum. @rauliruegas the SAT guy says Much the same as Townshend Audio, Helius and Breuer - helius and Breuer form the view 10.5 is the optimal size and that the distortion point is a red herring which is outweighed by stiffness and the interaction of resonant frequency with arm length. 12 inch advantages are often derived by the weight better matching cartridge compliance.
Seriously, Millercarbon, there’s no obligation for you to participate in this discussion. Which is all that it is, a discussion. I never said anything that could have been interpreted as being judgmental or ill meaning. If you want to contribute, then fine and if not, that’s fine too.
Dear @goofyfoot : ""
I've always understood a 12 inch tonearm to be better than a 9 inch arm in every way. Hard to believe a tonearm maker would make a ten inch tonearm if there wasn't something that made them desirable. ""
Well I already posted that as you I had the same misunderstood.
I’m inclined to believe there would be a difference in sound between a 9 inch and a 10 inch arm on a Thorens.."" I can add: in any TT.
I don't know what you are analising because 2 same EL tonearms that comes from different manufacturer, either 9" or 10" or 11" or whatever EL, sounds different too: not big deal to post about, it's just common sense.
there's little margin of error when aligning the stylus so adding or subtracting an inch to the tonearm may make a difference or maybe not? ""
always makes a difference not one inch but even 1cm. That you can or can't hear the differences is another matters.
than it would make sense for manufacturers to lean more towards the 10 inch arm market than they are. """
Maybe you need to email to each tonearm manufacturer suggesting " your idea ".
@rauliruegas , GREAT LINK. Everyone should read this link. It is a much better explanation than I can give. It explains why shorter arms are better and if you read into it why the needle pivot is not a good design for a tonearm. There are certain rules a tonearm has to follow to have even a chance of producing the best possible performance. Appearance is not one of them. Just because an arm looks cool does not mean it is going to perform well. Being beautifully made does not assure decent performance either. I would not call the Kuzma 4 Point 9 a really nice looking arm but it out performs arms costing four times as much and is in some ways a better design than the SAT arm. My Schroder CB is not a particularly good looking arm either. It is rather plain and simple looking, deceptively so because it is more adjustable than the majority of arms out there. David Fletcher of Sota and AJ Conti of Basis never considered making turntables for 12 inch arms because they felt that it would compromise the performance of their tables. They were good friends.
rauliruegas, so what is your point, I have a personal understanding as to whether or not different types of tone arms have characteristics? I never stated those things to be absolutes. Maybe I’m wrong. If you disagree then why don’t you state why?
goofygoot 12 ich tonearm is better for spu as you can’t add weight and if you look into SME 3009 R versus 3012 R - SME 3012 R is the better for application from eff mass point of view. Thus in Japan a lot of 3010 R was sold as they do have small spaces at home and it’s convenient. Tonearm has to be convenient to use, to adjust and easy to change cartridge. Technical blah blah goes later on - perfect doesn't mean convenient to use.
I listen to other owned systems that have a different Tonearm Length in use to those that I own and use. I cannot say at any time during a listening experience that there has shone out any noticeable differences, this is my experience when using recollections of Album's heard in various systems as the reference. I do believe without any doubt, if differing Tonearm Geometries were set up on the same plinth a difference would be detected, but a proportion of the differences detected will quite easily be described as being down to the Design/Mechanics, Internal Wiring, and Cartridge being used for each device on demonstration. It would be a very difficult call to isolate any noticed differences to Tonearm Length Only.
I am fortunate to have reliable sources of information available to help guide me when I am being inquisitive and demonstrations offered from those contacted are usually great reinforcement to descriptions and reasoning on offer.
I had been in discussion with an Engineer who produces Tonearms and is the producer of my preferred and most used Tonearm. I was looking to have a 12" Wand produced for this Tonearm. This thought pattern was discouraged, as the benefits were not recognised by the Engineer, the R&D was suggested to be better used to produce improvements on Mechanical Interfaces on any given model rather than extend/shorten the Wand in the belief improvement would be found. It was explained to me that the altering of the effective length of the Tonearm, would reduce/increase the angular error between null points, and creating these changes to null point error, was not a solution to improve a Tonearm that had been produced with other design issues needing to be overcome. Keeping it in context, resistance offered by incorrect selection and routing methods for internal wand wire can degrade SQ on a Tonearm in a very detrimental way. I have had this A/B demonstrated and can stand sure in the recollections of the differences between the two methods selected for wiring a Tonearm. Would the much improved impression offered by Tonearm B, be matched by Tonearm A, if a 12" Wand was placed onto Tonearm A . I did not experience the exchange of a Wand Length so the answer through drawing on experiences encountered is not available from myself.
Most important factors: Longer arm reduces tracking error. Shorter arm easier to construct rigidly. Shorter arm less mass.
The mechanical performance and resonance matching of arm and cartridge are far more important than a tiny reduction in tracking error. If you don't like tracking error then get a parallel tracking arm.
Very little difference between 9" and 10" arms on any of these factors. IMO not worth going for 12" but either a 9" or 10" is fine.
I've seen Jelco arms on the used market, some of them 12 inch, some of them 10 inch and some of them 9 inch.
I have a 12" and a 9" Jelco 850 on my slate 401 and swap cartridges between them and can make on the fly comparisons. With that in mind, I can confirm that the 9" is faster and snappier while the 12" is not quite as fast but has a more expansive 3D soundstage and a tad more color which I find more musically satisfying.
Dear @clearthinker : ""
are far more important than a tiny reduction in tracking error. ""
you are just rigth and you can be sure that kistening ( every thing the same ) OP can't be aware of that tiny tracking error and even maybe he not know what to look for ( during listening tests. ) and be aware on.
Btw, in other words lewm just asked him something that at the end I asked him too before. I don't know for sure but seems to me thahis overall understanding about is low enough to make all his questions or is trolling and nothing more. Who can know about but only him, I'm guessing.
Enough for me. It's futile to follow in this useless ( for me. ) thread.
noromance, your findings are helpful. I’m assuming that you’re using a stereo cartridge on both the 9 inch and 12 inch tonearms. I’m thinking of a Hana MC Mono. The idea of hearing a wide soundstage from a mono cartridge seems a bit heretical but of course, I could find myself being surprised if the experience presented itself. I’m beginning to think that there’s really no sonic difference between a 9 inch tonearm and a 10 inch tonearm. Which leaves me puzzled as to why Jelco and SME even bother making a ten inch arm.
OP, It could be because some tables specifically recommend
(due to alignment) either a 9" arm, or 10" arm.
I've used 9, 10, & 12" arms (different manufacturers) but was waiting for someone to chime in who used various lengths of the same arm on the same table, (which noromance did) to note their differences.
FWIW, Of the 9, 10, & 12" arms I've used, I prefer the 12" for the reasons noromance stated, but it's really apples/oranges due to the fact that they are not the same arm (arm geometry will make more of a difference to SQ than arm length). Whatever length arm you decide upon, being a perfectionist with cartridge alignment is very important to overall SQ.
Goofyfoot, Yes, try to get it as close as possible (preferably on) to the point(s). Also align the vertical lines (of your alignment gage) parallel with the front of the cartridge while you are doing this. You can hear slight distortion (depending on the cut of your diamond) when off.
Raul's link at the beginning f this thread explains everything nicely. Tonearms are very simple mechanical devices and not hard to understand. At the bottom of it all is the cartridges amazing sensitivity to vibration. This is where a leap of understanding is required. Just a few angstroms movement (miles as far as an electron is concerned) will create an audible signal. It does not matter what is vibrating, the stylus, the record, the cartridge or the tonearm. A signal will be produced that may or may not represent the music. This is way more significant than a degree or two of tracking error. Spurious vibrations are also not easy to deal with. Frequently you can not stop them. You have to be happy just moving them out of the audio band where they do no harm.
IMHO it is more important initially to analyze the construction of a tonearm before listening to it. It has to meet certain requirements to be a good arm. I am just as susceptible to visual cues as anyone and I might initially think a cool looking arm sounds fine only to discover after a time it does not. In my experience the arms that failed did not meet all of those requirements. I think Marc Gomez's article points to those requirements. I would also add that people without vacuum clamping need to look at neutral balance arms and arms with their vertical bearings at record height. This makes warps less audible and allows the arm to track them better. If a record is perfectly flat it does not matter. Judging by the design of Mr Gomez's arms, he expects records to be perfectly flat or everyone to be using vacuum clamping.
Goofy, the whole issue of tonearm effective length is less critical, if you are going to mount a mono cartridge (not totally irrelevant but much less relevant). So use whatever length best meets the mounting requirements of your turntable.
https://resource.buyee.jp/yahoo/auction/54/08/e5/1e50854 Just picked up this nice 10" tonearm this morning on Yahoo Buyee for $153.56Audio Technica AT-1503 or ATP-12T (American designation), it’s a heavy broadcast arm, very rugged yet sensitive with excellent bearings. I have one now in the back position of my Victor 2 arm plinth with a Denon dl-103 cart and it sounds amazing. About 21 grams effective mass so best used with a low compliant cartridge. This one might do a tour of duty on my rebuilt Russco Studio Pro idler drive, of course with another DL-103. BillWojo
lewm, my thought was that the tonearm length is important depending on the cartridge build, including a mono cartridge (i.e. SPU) but I may have been confusing information. Most likely confusing length for weight. I was also thinking that a more expensive arm would most likely render better results but that seems minimal with a mono cartridge? I believe I’m going to have to buy a used arm over a new one so it’s good to know what to consider ahead of time. Always appreciate your input.
goofyfoot, I suspect that the SPU mono cartridge will be a low compliant cart (stiif cantilever suspension) so it will need a high mass tonearm to get the best out of it. If you put a low compliant cart in a light weight arm the stiff suspension will tend to wiggle the end of the arm around during the low frequency bass notes. Since the arm is moving as well as the cantilever, the out put on the bass notes will be both low and muddled. The stylus/cantilever riding in that stiff suspension needs some mass to push against as it's swinging side to side, on the light arm it's pushing the end of the arm as well. This is why it's important to match arm and cartridge. That Audio Technica arm I purchased above is a high mass arm, it will mate very well to a Denon DL-103 cart because they are very low in compliance. As far as the cable, I usually use the cable if it's still in good shape. Audio Technica built quality components. I'm sure somebody will tell me I need to spend hundreds on a new cable or I need to rewire it so there are no connections from cartridge to RCA connectors but I really don't think I'm leaving much on the table. I work with industrial electronic controls, some of the signals are very low and we don't seem to have issues with it.
Since a mono signal is entirely encoded in lateral motion of the stylus, one would think that maybe lateral compliance of the cartridge (not vertical) and inertial mass in the horizontal plane of the tonearm might be critical factors. Azimuth setting would just be for perpendicular physical orientation of the stylus; there is no such thing as crosstalk. Anti-skate is also less critical.