Are there other Artisan Fidelity TT owners aorund?

So after being an audio hobbyist since my uncle got me going down this demented path some 17 years ago I finally purchased a TT. I had flirted with the idea for a very long time but honestly I've heard a number of TT's at shows and at buddies homes and none of them moved me. Now obviously many many variables are involved. Lets start with, was their TT setup correctly (superlatively).., I don't know. Was the arm/cartridge combination simpatico.., again, I don't know. Was the phono preamp just so-so or great and if it was great was the cartridge loaded correctly.., you get my drift.

So with my digital down through the years easily besting (to my ears) the analog I'd been privy to, I found no reason to spend the money required to involve myself with analog. My former Bidat easily dispatched a SOTA Cosmos Vacuum TT in a head to head listening session. Ditto for my former Dynavox Dynastation.., same with my AMR DP777...etc.

At Axpona last year I listened to the $170K Clearaudio TT along with about $85K worth of Pass Amplification and perhaps $200K worth of JM Labs speaker and cabling only to be more moved by the sound from the Playback Design MPD-5 in the same room.

Finally I realized the only way I would ever find out for myself would be to purchase my OWN TT and make sure it was expertly setup and dialed-in. I had a rare chance to purchase a latest-revision-pristine example of a Graaf GM70 Phono Preamplifier. I have a soft spot for Graaf as Mr. Mariani simply builds the finest gear I have laid ears on. So now I have this phono pre sitting in the box for a few months when I see a SP 10 MK III come up for sale in Agon. So, I threw caution to the wind and contacted Chris at Artisan Fidelity; after some conversation I hung up having just commissioned the building of a SP10 MKIII Next Gen TT.

I was happy for about a month then the fear started to creep in, "what have I done?". What if this thing SUCKS!!!! and my digital system which is very very very good if I do say so myself stomps it!

During the build I researched and read tons of user reviews (I don't really pay attention to so-called pro reviewers) on arms and cartridges. I finally settled (with a lot of talking to Chris and other friends and a lot of late night web searching) on the Kuzma 4 Point and the Ortofon MC Anna.

So, here we are today and I have had my TT for a little over 3 weeks now and I have about 150 - 160 hours on the rig. Early on it sounded ok, you know.., good but nothing special. I liked it but my digital was fully up to the task and in some cases much better :) (now I'm scared)

Ok, so fast forward to 100 hours.., ok, I think I'm starting to understand all this analog hype :) better and better. now we are at 150 hours.., the word SUBLIME comes to mind. The spaciousness, openness and natural continuity of the analog is addictive. The dynamics seem to go on forever along with a naturalness that is very difficult to put into words. I did purchase the Furutech Demag, the Destat II, a scale..., all the toys to go along with it :) Again, I wanted to know for myself and the only way to do that was to take the plunge.

So how does my digital hold up? Well, my well run-in long time AMR DP777 has NOTHING to be ashamed of. It sounds great and I can easily go from the TT to the DP without too much shock (the AMR guys are big vinyl heads and use vinyl as a reference when designing) BUT... when I have two equally well recorded pieces of music (Best of Eva Cassidy comes to mind or Diana Krall Live in Paris 24/96 vs 180g/45) as good as my digital sounds the SP10MK III simply walks away. Again the digital is not trodden underfoot and indeed 20 seconds of the digital and you will be into it fully, but the analog rig beguiles with its effervescent ease and infinite continuity of musical flow.

Ok, so to end this long synopses.., I am now deeply into analog and have been going to local used record stores and burning up my cc on Music Direct and Acoustic Sounds...etc.

The folks at Artisan Fidelity are the real deal and they built me a museum quality +180 pound Porsche Basalt Black TT/piece of art that sounds AMAZING!!!!

I also ordered a Bassocontinuo Apogeo rack for the table which should arrive in about 2 weeks. I am enjoying my foray into the land of analog!!!

Great story! I always enjoy reading about digital fans discovering vinyl. I am not clear on just what Artisan Fidelity did though. Did they build a new plinth for the SP10 or something more?
Hi Salectric (I get your handle, cool throw-back reference)

Yes, AF built the plinth and refreshed the SP10 Mk3.., i.e. bearing polish, power supply check.., calibration, re-cap...etc. You can check out my table (this is actually the table built for me) here:

I have been busy buying vinyl and being introduce to new (new to me) artists from the past :) I plan to hit a couple of used record joints this weekend.

I am having a good deal of fun and I am looking forward to discovering more great music on vinyl.
Audiofun, That is just plain gorgeous! I see that they did something major which you have not cared to mention; they removed the motor assembly entirely from the chassis and mounted it directly into their fabricated plinth. That is a good way to go, if for no other reason than that it affords you the choice to use any and as many tonearms as you may wish to use. In stock for, the square escutcheon surrounding the platter severely delimits the choice of tonearms, and mounting two tonearms is a bear, unless the secondary one is a 12-incher.
What a beautiful table! Anything that looks that nice has to sound great! I am sure you will enjoy it for a long time.
Congrats. He does fine work.
I have worked with Chris in the past and will again in the future, most likely on an NG MKlll very similar to yours. His work is gorgeous. The MKlll has great flexibility and in my opinion, when well implemented, there really is no better table. Reliable, simple to operate and reference quality playback. Congratulations on your table. You're very lucky to have one.
Since I already have a Mk3, can you give me some idea about the cost of the plinth-ing? (I would not need any of their rebuilding services; my unit was NOS when I bought it and then Bill Thalmann massaged it thoroughly in all the same ways that yours has been serviced. It only lacks the Krebs mods.) Thx.
Hi and thank you all for the compliments on the table. It is absolutely what I wanted and yes it sounds beautiful with my Graaf GM70 phono pre :)

Yes Lewm, I did fail to mention the fact that the motor unit was completed extricated from the aluminum stock housing. Lewm I would totally tell you the cost of the plinth if I could but I purchased my deck as a package, meaning that I purchased the SP10 MK3 unit and arm ...etc together as a package :) Give Chris a call, he is a very easy person to deal with.., I have never heard him talk badly about other people or their products. I think it is awesome that you have a MK3!!!!!!

Thanks Sonofjim, yes I do feel very fortunate to have this set-up and I am even more fortunate that I love the sounds it makes after parting with my money :)
Beautiful deck you have there Audiofun.
What is the second arm pictured? You don't mention it?
I picked up my Achatese Lenco November 2 2013. Like you I had some fear after ordering it. My over 30 year old Oracle Alexandria with Morch DP-6 arm was getting old and I had to make a change. The rest of the system had been updated over the past 10 years also. The Lenco came with an Orirgin Live Encounter MK.3C arm. Using a Clear Audio Maestro V2 cartridge. From the start I was very happy with the purchase. After about 40 hours of playing time I am very happy and really wish I was retired so I could do more listening. I also have a Jolida cd player with a level 1 mod. I still like it but the tt is considerably better. It is a fair amount of money for most people to pay for a tt but after listening to it in a system that is worthy of it, the tt is acually a bargain. It performs beyond it's price tag. Artisan Fidelity is definently worth considering if your in need of a tt. Also the audio phile that is considering this type of purchase probably has spent as much or more for amp and pre amp and Artisan Fidelity turntables are going to benefit your system just as much as good electronics.
A beautifully restored and replinthed Artisan Fidelity Garrard 401 owner checking in.

I've sought Christopher Thornton's (Artisan Fidelity) audio advice regularly over the last 15 years. Christopher has always been helpful as well as knowledgeable when I ask him for system advice, even if I was not purchasing anything from Artisan Fidelity.

After some serious research on my own and after multiple consultations with Christopher regarding his latest upgrade offerings for the idler drive based turntables, we proceeded with Artisan Fidelity's new inverted bearing and platter upgrade on my already upgraded and replinthed Garrard 401.

I was not prepared for the sonic improvements the inverted bearing and platter brought to my analog presentation. My 401 sounded excellent to begin with but I now truly understand (and can hear) what Christopher meant when he suggested that these upgrades would result in a true reference level analog source. Clarity, precision, drive, extension and a new level of refinement are what I now hear. Everything has a wholeness to it that was not present before, and again, I thought the table sounded great before! These latest upgrades have made a 40% to 50% improvement in my system overall and I could not be more pleased. A true return on my investment (which to me is saying a lot in this hobby!).

A truly satisfied Artisan Fidelity repeat customer,


Tim that sounds awesome. I think Chris told me about your TT as he was
tuning it :) I nevere thought I would even consider getting out of my chair to
flip a piece of vinyl with my iPhone/iPad (for control of my digital rig) in
hand :)

The analog makes the physical requirements a non-thought :)

I bet your 401 is gorgeous!!! Always wanted to here an idler... I will get that
chance next weekend. Going to take a listen to another audiophiles
Garrard 401 although it hasn't been gussied up like yours :)
Halcro, thanks for the compliment on the table. The arm is a Reed. I didn't
mention it because I don't own that arm. While the table was still being fine
tuned, Chris made sure that all the pieces worked if you will. I will be
adding another arm soon :)
Saygrr, congrats on your Achates. Those tables look fantastic. I agree with your assessment of the relative cost of adding a superlative TT to a nicely fleshed out audio system.
Hi Audiofun,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your beautiful Artisan Fidelity table. I will be able to finally check them out for myself next month at the AXPONA Show in Chicago. I'm really looking forward to it as I truly think that they are works of artÂ….simply beautiful! I'm hoping that he will have a couple of his designs there and would be great to compare for instance his Achates with the SP, etc.
Hi Everyone,
I have always been and have never deviated from being a vinyl only audiophile. Never gave up on it and never looked for an alternative. In the many years in this hobby, I have owned many turntables, but never really knew what all the unending accolades were really about.
That ended when I received my Lenco DCHM from Chris Thornton. The fantastic sound reproduction was unlike anything else I had ever heard and it was breathtakingly beautiful to boot. Run don't walk, you will not be sorry.
Steve Blinn

Not sure if he is going to be there, I will be there myself and I will check with Chris to see if they are going to be displaying. I hope they will be at Axpona as I would love to hear some of his other offerings.

Thanks for the compliments on the table, just finished listening to Keith Jarret Standards, Vol. 1 Gary Peacock Jack DeJohnette. That album was given to me as a gift by a very good friend who has been into analog for a while now.

Sounds like you're seeking out good sounding vinyl to play on your new table. Consider the Stockfisch titles for sale at Elusive Disc. Any of their samplers or any Sara K title (Waterfalls or In The Groove) will sound amazing on your system. They are direct metal mastered. Not sure of the source, nor do I care. They have amazing sound quality.
Thanks Sonofjim :) will do!!!
No problem, I myself own two MKllls. If I were single, I'm sure I'd have an idler drive and maybe even a DP-100. Still, I don't think a well implemented MKlll can be beat. Every time I see one up for sale it pains me that I can't buy another one, even though I have no need for another. I'm glad you found one and appreciate it. I really don't think a better drive mechanism has ever been devised. I anticipate I'll be making another drive to Hammond to have my second MKlll put in Chris's NG plinth soon. You could easily spend twice what these two MKllls cost me to put together another table that doesn't perform as well. Pictures of my current set up are available on my system page if interested.
Although I do not own or plan to buy anything from Chris I drove over to one of his show house in Hammond IN I live in portage...spend several hours talking about audio, music, the industry and listening to music...a first class guy If i had the money or i could not make what I wanted I would talk with Chris first and see what he can do....

Sonofjim I'm laughing because I totally understand :) I'll probably end up purchasing another MK3 someday just to have it. I did just purchase a Garrard 401 LOL because I really want to experience a really good idler unit and the price was very attractive. This Is going to be a slow project as I'm in no hurry plus I have to let my wallet cool :)

I would love to check your system out.
Sonofjim, Awesome room, Awesome gear and yes I see the 2 mk3's. That is really something!

Is that a Wolf Projector. I still have Selco 3 gun (CRT). I think it has about 2300 hours on it :)
Ok Sonofjim.., now I'm on Amazon buying the Art Vinyl & Display Frames... Thanks for that LOL....
I don't want to start a ruckus, but if you want to experience a "good idler", you might also consider a Lenco. AF has done many Lenco re-plinthings.
LOL no ruckus LOL... I'm sure it's great it's just that an excellent condition 401 basically fell in my lap for an awesome price :)
Thanks Audiofun. I forgot to mention one other thing that impressed me about the tt. The on and off switch. It does not feel like a cheap switch. It has an usually solid feel to it. Chris recommended The Panzerholz plinth if I wanted the ultimate. Having had this table for four months now, I would recommend the Panzerholz plinth also. When he was explaining what Panzerholz is, it was like listening to science fiction. The materials that are used today to make the highest quality components is really something.

I've already been in contact with Chris and he said that he will be attending the Axpona Show in Chicago. I'm really looking forward to being able to meet him and to see and hear his offerings.
The projector is a Runco actually and is old enough it really could be upgraded. It still has a good picture though and at some point you have to consider yourself lucky just to have what you do. My wife can only take so much.

You'll love love play and display frames. The bottoms of some of mine stuck a bit far out from the wall for my taste. If you find this to be the case, I recommend sticking the bottom corners down with small squares of adhesive Velcro available at any hardware store. They make the whole assembly more solid and stable. The ease of switching out album art and playing the records can't be beat.
Sonofjim, same reason I still have the Seleco.., sometimes you just have to stop. Sounds like there are a lot of satisfied people out there :)
Congratulations AudioFun
Artisan Fidelity defiantly a high level of craftsmanship in everything they do
Thank you In_shore.
Hey Audiofun, just found this thread. Until 5 years ago, I always put analog ahead of digital, my Michell Orbe/SME 5/Transfiguration Orpheus beating all comers digital. Then I invested in an Emm Labs CDSA SE cdp, and the shortfalls of my lp rig were laid bare, digital becoming my go-to medium of choice.
Then a year ago I discovered the Trans Fi Audio Salvation direct rim drive tt/Terminator T3Pro air bearing linear tracking arm, and in the last 3 months, the Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 powered by a Red Wine Audio Black Lightning twin battery psu.
Wow! Are the roles truly reversed. I love my Emm cdp esp w/German transport, and X output stage upgrades, and it's been supercharged by a new Entreq Challenger power cord I've installed.
But my new vinyl rig just gets me to a new level of flow/continuity, explosive dynamics, natural tone/texture, and transcendent transparency.
My beloved digital rig really performs, and I can listen to it for hours. But lps now just connect in a way digital can only aspire to.
Have any Artisan owners (sp10 or idler) experimented with any of the Koetsu mc's if so, would you please share your observations? I am thinking of playing around with a Koetsu on the secondary arm (I'm looking at a Reed or Ikeda:)
No experience with Koetsu. I can speak for the Reed 3P arm as probably the best arm I've ever had. I use mine with the Benz LP-s which is a great cartridge as well but the 3P is the only arm I have that's kept it under control(very heavy cartridge with a relatively high compliance). The 3P is a beautiful and well designed arm. Mine is cocabolo and palladium. Pictures do it no justice. No experience with Ikeda either although I know they tend to be high mass arms that would work well with a Koetsu also. My suggestion would be to audition a Koetsu somewhere first. They are pricey and don't seem to be everyone's cup of tea. Don't be afraid to try a moderately priced MM cartridge on your second arm. That's why one of my four arms is the EPA 500. I can switch out arm wands in less than a minute and some of the most fun you can have in vinyl is trying out $150-800 MM cartridges. You just may start wondering why you spent so much on a LOMC. Granted, I enjoy both but my eyes have been opened. The Ortofon M20 fl Super is one of the best cartridges I have and cost me $180 NOS and I have two NOS stylus replacements. In no way is expensive always better.
Sorry, I forgot to mention that the Ortofon m20 fl Super, if you can find one, works quite well on the Reed 3P as well. In fact, Dobbins used to recommend the m20 fl super to buyers with the Reed arm until they could afford something more expensive. My take from this is that the Reed arm may be much more flexible than the Ikeda. My advise is mostly anecdotal so investigate for yourself as seen fit. I just think if you only try expensive LOMC cartridges you may be spending more than you need to. A relatively inexpensive MM can really perform and in a second arm I would certainly want to leave that option open. What do you have to lose? $200 vs $5,000?
Sonofjim thank you for the advice, I'm going to take it :) as I'm new to analog I'm open to the advice of those with more experience and it does make sense to at least experiment with MM and gain an understanding of them. You just saved me some money, at least in the short-run :)
While the Reed is an excellent tonearm, the Ikeda, or actually any tonearm with a bayonet mount is infinity more flexible than the Reed. With the bayonet mount, you can experiment with SPU cartridges and head shells of different weights and materials.

Take a look at the FR, vintage SME and Ikeda arms if you want flexibility.

Just my two sense.
I think the choice of turntable has very little to do with the cartridge. The cartridge to tonearm match is by far much more critical. To that end, the Koetsu will work best with a high mass tonearm. You can have the Reed built with any one of 5 or 6 different woods. Some of those are heavier than others; pick a heavy one. Since Panzerholz is in fashion, you might look to see whether it is offered as an arm wand by Reed; that would surely be high mass. Cocabola, which they do offer, is also high mass. For that matter, Ikeda and FR would also work well with Koetsu, along with a high mass headshell.
Lewm, you may be right. Based on what I have been reading/hearing idlers are very musical and fun sounding tables and the Ikeda is not the most neutral of arms, so you may be referring to something I wrote with these ideas running through my mind. For example, it may be too much to place an Ikeda/Shilabe in the 401.., but then again it may be fantastic...
Thought I'd chime in again and say that the Origin Live Illustrious Mk. 3c tonearm that Christopher Thornton suggested and mounted on my 401, is an excellent performer and match with the table. I've had a few carts mounted on it (currently a Lyra Delos) and it has sounded great with all of them.

BTW, Audiofun if you're interested, I have a Clearaudio Maestro Wood that I sent to Soundsmith to have the Level 2 retip done on sitting in my closet right now (never used). PM me if you'd like too discuss further.
Beatlubum, thanks for the advice about the Origin Live tonearm. I have heard/read that the Origin Live/401 combination is very good. Thanks for the heads up on the cartridge. I am leaning towards a Shilabe for the 401 or a Decca Ref.., I want something different to play with on the 401 :)

In the end, who knows what I will end up with on that table.
For the sake of full disclosure I am a dealer is South FL who is a big fan of Chris' beautiful restorations. Each one of his tables should be considered one of kind pieces of art (IMO) which not only bring out the best in beloved classics but do it in exquisite execution and attention to detail, truly deserving to be alongside all other high end tables and gear. I personally own one of his restored Technics SP10MKII and absolutely love it.

Congrats Audiofun ! Be nice if you could post your system once you have your rack.
Just dropped my MKIII off at Chris's this weekend for NG upgrades and spent a couple hours seeing a few things he has in the works. As impressive as the plinths are, they're really doing some amazing metal machining. Constantly looking for ways to make it better too.
It was also my first look at a Kuzma 4 point which is an impressive piece of machinery in itself. I have no idea if that arm will ever fit into my system or budget but it certainly inspires gear lust.
Fvcruz: That is awesome to hear been busy with work and then a vacation :) I agree an think that his tables are a real work of art. My Bassocontinuo Apogeo rack arrived and let me tell you it is ridiculously heavy and very beautiful. Each of the 3 main support pillars is nearly 2.5 " and made of solid SS.., must weigh 70 pounds each. I will post equipment a little later :)

Moving the TT to the rack later today when the help arrives.
Sonofjim; that is awesome. You are going to find the wait worth it! As my analog system components continue to run-in the sound continues to truly amaze me with is depth, layering, quietness of background and grandeur. Considering all of the aforementioned attributes it also continues to imbue a lite ethereal quality when the music posses such traits; a feat I find many products can't replicate (i.e. they can do a few but something always gets left behind). Alongside my Graaf GM70 (one of the finest and rarest phono stages.., the only word is sublime) I've added an AMR PH77 and though just introduced it is sounding absolutely wonderful!!! I will continue to report on the PH77 as I run it in.., the number of features )by remote control or the face plate) is simply astounding!
I had mentioned I purchased a Garrard 401 for a new project because of what I have read about idlers... BUT, I may have been hasty with my new-found love of analog. I am so happy now I don't think I am going to run 2 separate analog rigs as my NG has 2 arm capability. Thought about long and way later than I should have last night, but even as I type this I think I am abandoning the 401 project... I am sure it would have been sublime, but I think 2 tables in 2 systems is a bit much for me :) guess I got analog greedy for a minute LOL!!!
Man this hobby!!!I Think the 401 project is moving forward LOL!!! I will just run both TT's in the same system. The 401 is a beautiful platform and I will be taking my time (what hurry right?) making design decisions about the project.

Ok, back to Diana Krall Live in Paris 45 RPM :)
The Live in Paris LP is really good. If you like that sonically try a Stockfisch Sara K LP, Waterfalls or In the Groove. These German LPs may be digitally sourced, I really don't know or care. They sound significantly better than any Diana Krall recording ever did and her sadly departed backup guitarist, Chris Jones, was amazing. Seriously, if you don't like these send them to me with the bill. I'll give them to a friend or keep them as a backup. I can send you my address in a PM if needed but I doubt that will be necessary.
Thanks Sonofjim, I will take your advice and obtain those albums you named :)