Best Tonearm and Cartridge for 4K or under for restored Garrard 301
I have a good set up for digital audio and would like to venture into analog audio. My digital set up is Cary DMS600 -> Cary SLP05 -> Cary CAD211FE -> KEF Blade. I love the sound!
My first and only TT is a Thorens TD126 with TP16 tonearm and TMC60 MC -> PPA990 and phono stage is Cary PH302.
I bough an old Garrard 301. Planning to get it restored by Jim Campbell. Have a slate plinth. Now I am looking for a tonearm and cartridge that will justify my set up. I am thinking 4K. I could go lower or higher depending on the feedback, cost/value. I am looking for a good bargain. If I don't like it, I can easily sell it without much loss. I listen to classical, jazz, rock, indian music.
I have never setup a tonearm before. But I looked extensively on the internet and Michael Fremer's how to set up videos. I understand all the different angles, VTA, SRA, Azimuth, Zenith.
Looks like Michael likes Kuzma 4PT, I liked his review of the tonearm. I am also looking at linear trackers like Transfi Terminator. Woody, Triplaner Mk VII, SME 3012R, SME 312, Ortofon RS 309D, Dynavector DV 505/ 507, Reed 3P, Stogi reference, FR 64S, FR 64 FX, Sumiko 800.
Be aware, Fremer like it fast and technical. He's very up front about it so you should know but just making sure you do. In spite of that he also seems to describe things very professionally accurately- something I know from personal experience as the guy actually called me one time and we had a good half an hour talk about tables and arms.
I would skip the linear as being way more headache than they're worth.
Other than sound quality, which you will figure out for yourself, the two things I find matter most are ergonomics and a direct signal path. I would never again buy an arm that requires an interconnect. No way. One continuous wire from cartridge clips to RCAs is the way to go. Next to that I would pay attention to looks and feel and ease of use. One fussy comment and I am gone. Too many fine sounding well engineered arms to be messing around with anything else.
One factor on that to keep in mind. When you hear people talk about the magic or matching or whatever... think of computers. How many after they spent untold hours and finally figured out all the BS you have to go through to make a PC do what you want, how many after all that have the strength of character to admit, I shoulda got a Mac? All that stuff I went through, its not even one click on the Mac. I hook it up, it knows I hooked it up, it just happens. Nobody, ever, said that. Its just way too hard to admit they wasted all that time on a colossal mistake. Same with arms and tables. Nuff said.
Nice arms in your list. What are the carts in your shortlist? Is it important for you to have removable headshell to swap carts? Imo this is about getting the best arm and best cart for the respective money and at the same time picking arm and cart that are a good match together. And at the same time getting enough output from said to cart to make best use of your preamp. A triangle if you will...
The Reed is an excellent choice. To save money, Reed 2a isn’t far behind according to people that I respect their opinions. I have an Ikeda it407 on my grease 301. Another good choice. Maybe getting out of price range though. FR 64s also cool with the right cartridge and if you want to stay vintage. I do feel that even though some on your list are very good arms, in my opinion they just don’t suite the vibe of a 301. But that’s just me. But on my Kuzma table, that’s a different story.
Kuzma and Triplaner but I think you will blow your budget. I can say the Triplaner w Lyra Delos sounds sweet.
more in the “ gestalt “ of your 301 might be a Jelco 850 / Decca.
not exactly sure what the Apple computer rant had to do with ignoring basic physics, but mismatched cart and arm ( mass and compliance ) are quite possible in an uninformed science denial world. When in doubt about an arm/cart combination reach out to those on this forum who have done more than sleep at a holiday inn...
To add. My dynavector XX2 sounds great on the Ikeda. Good drive, full powerful bass and not as tipped up in the high frequencies as most others so it’s better for rock and your Indian music. A good friend of mine listens mostly to Indian music. Make sure you demo with this music. Most systems aren’t pleasing with this music. This is always an issue for him. He likes his Koetsu Rosewood signature over his Airtight Pc1 for this reason. We listen to the airtight when I come over though.
@millercarbon Thanks! I will stay away from linear trackers then. I am a newbie to analog but quick leaner. Their selling point seems soo obvious, but will stay away. Can you pls elaborate on the One continuous wire from cartridge clip to RCAs.. The thorens I have needs no set up except tracking force and anti-skating. Then I use RCA cable from back of the TT to PPA990.
@solypsa Please help with tonearm and cart combos with SLP05. Thanks!
@sdrsdrsdr it took me a while to understand the difference between idler wheel vs DD vs belt drive. Mine is a grease bearing 301 as well. Please suggest good combos for the 301.
I am looking for low compliance high mass tone arm as everyone suggests for the 301.
@sdrsdrsdr Thanks for the tips about Indian music. Which TT does he use? Pls explain why the Lyra is not good? I am trying to learn and understand. Demo is a problem as I live in rural area. I live in Wheelersburg, OH. I am happy to travel to demo stuff if anyone is willing to show me.
I am looking for low compliance high mass tone arm as everyone suggests for the 301.
Used Ikeda IT-345 and Fidelity-Research FR64s are the best you can get! They are probably the highest mass tonearms ever (over 30g). FR-64fx with W-250 counterweight and headshell integrated cartridges like SPU or FR7 series is an excellent high mass tonearm, with lighter stock counterweight and conventional headshell the mass of FX version is much lighter. Ikeda and FR are the best for the money, definitely (if you need high mass high-end tonearm).
I have gone down this route. I have a restored Thorens TD124 and Garrard 301 rimless grease bearing. First, I echo Millercarbon and Chakster, though I lack the experience Chakster has with a wide range of arms. I have two Reed 3P's. There is nothing more important than an arm that is easy to set up. Reed supplies levers for each and every adjustment. Loosen a knob, adjust a lever, and bang, you're done. Reed has a unique design on the bearing assembly which is not quite a bearing assembly. News flash-despite the success, the Fremer Video-which I own-is so basic that it is practically useless. Properly setting up a table is not like watching a Youtube video to learn how to replace a cartridge valve in a faucet. Getting azimuth, VTA and SRA optimized takes a ton of hands on experience and special tools. My advice is to hire a pro. That is what I do-Brian Walsh. If you buy a Rega or VPI Scout or similar, sure, that basics will do because you have a basic table. But if you are going to the lengths that you are going, don't waste that great deck and arm with a mediocre to bad set-up. I have used Jim Campbell. He worked on my TD124 before many years later deciding to have it worked on again, this time by Greg Metz. He is a great guy. His forte', in my humble op, is building plinths. Do you want your Garrard cleaned up the proper way? I mean really cleaned up and restored? There is Ray Clark of Classic Turntable Co. in Wakefield, Jolly UK (I bought a bunch of aftermarket parts including his power supply and have talked to him) and there is Greg Metz of STS just outside Nashville. These two will strip your Garrard 301 down to the parts, if necessary sandblast your chassis and repaint it. These two know every trick there is to restore a Garrard to like-new condition and which after-market mods are worth the money and effort. Greg is an absolute technician and stickler for precision when it comes to working with turntable mechanisms and parts. I don't want to take any business away from Jim Campbell, but most Garrard 301 experts will tell you that slate is not the best choice. Sure it sounds like a great idea, but that doesn't mean it is optimum. Steve Dobbins out of Boise Idaho is a noted Garrard 301 expert. He supplies a plinth known as the Dobbins Plinth. I used Russ Collinson, again in Jolly Old England, (Layers of Beauty) to build a huge custom Shindo-like plinth with Cocobolo veneer. If you go to Russ' website, you can find a video of him applying the veneer to MY plinth. Everyone who has seen it, including Brian Walsh, say they have never seen a nicer one. My point being that imho layers of proper wood are better for Garrard 301's than slate. The Garrard 301 needs to be tuned with complimentary sounding components, not deadened.
@chakster Thank you for the high mass tonearm suggestions. I am not 100% sure if I have to go the high mass tonearm route. Most 301 users suggest high mass and low compliance carts. If they are cheap and best, then its a win win.
This is all new to me. There are so many variables and I am trying to get as much info as possible. Thanks again.
@fsonicsmith please help me understand. I have read both sides of wood vs granite plinths. They say shindo is the best which is layered cherry. Then peakhifi sells granite plinths and Oswald Millls Audio made granite plinths and I spoke with the owner and he swears by it. I went with granite bcos of the logic of not coloring the sound by the TT and keep it neutral. However I like the idea of complimentary components as well. Then I read CLD is not a good idea for garrard. I am very open minded. What tonearm and cartridge do you use. Did you upgrade the plinth and bearings? Thanks
@kanchi647 I have two Jim Campbell plinths. Slate and birch-ply. Both AudioGrail 401 tables. One early twin spark, the other later. Look at my system in my profile. Go with 12" tonearms. Make sure you replace the idler with an AudioSilente one and look to replacing the bearing with a SPH. I’ve also replaced the platter. All this has brought the performance to a level unrecognizable from the original.
@chakster which TT do you use? Thanks for all the suggestions and combos. I will start looking for them on hifishark
All linked pictures above are my own, so i use all those tonearms. Reed 3p "12 and Schick "12 was on Technics SP-10 mkII as you can see. My main turntables right now are two Luxman PD-444, here you can see FR-64fx with FR 7fz on the right side.
Most 301 users suggest high mass and low compliance carts. If they are cheap and best, then its a win win.
It’s a classic combination for Garrard, Ikeda and FR tonearms are about $2-3000 each depends on condition. For low compliance cartridges i doubt you can find anything better even for higher price.
But i think Tomas Schick "12 is under $1500 new, very elegant tonearm designed for low compliance cartridges like SPU.
Kanchi; First, to respond to your response to Chakster, I have a 12" Cocobolo Reed 3P on my Thorens TD124. It is not a high mass arm. Reed markets the different woods as having different masses and there is both an element of truth and an element of misleading marketing there. All of the Reed 3P's regardless of choice of wood are medium mass afaik. Every cartridge I have mounted on my 12" Cocobolo has absolutely sang-including my two Benz Glider LO's which frankly never sounded good on three different VPI arms I used to own. I am currently using an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze on that arm and it sounds great. Now as to plinths. Of course Oswald Mills is going to tell you that there granite plinth is best. I believe they will also sell you a cast iron plinth that got press in S'Phile not long ago-though that may only be for the SP10. You read that constrained layer damping is not a good idea for Garrard? Well, how do I respond to that? No offense but you can read all kinds of things on any subject-but they are often not true. Plus, there is no right or wrong. It is a matter of taste. Do you want your Garrard 301 to sound fast, clean, and sterile (admittedly this is somewhat of an exaggeration but I need to express characteristics associated with such high mass inert plinth materials mated to the 301) or do you want it to do the best possible job conveying tone and texture? I will give you an analogy; take a look at Jason Victor Serinus's system and his reviews in Stereophile and compare it to Art Dudley's. Or go listen to a system with Magico's powered by CH Precision electronics and compare it to an all-Audio Note UK system. There is no "perfect", there is no "correct" and there is no "does everything the best". You have to choose what you want and what you are willing to give up. Just as with loudspeakers to use yet another analogy. You can't have it all.
I second @fsonicsmith comment about refurbishment. A full strip down and rebuild is the way to go. check out Matt Taylor of AudioGrail.
On the slate vs wood... while I have 401s not 301s, my experience may be helpful. I found the slate to have a little more glare than the wood plinth. That is, until I put the slate on 3" maple. The slate plinth is amazing at extracting detail and dynamics. The wood plinth a little less so. And because it’s wood, there is a somewhat woody tone compared to the slate. Go with the slate if you want to extract as much info as possible. Ask Jim what he thinks. Note that my slate version has considerable mods as outlined above. Nevertheless, I've been on this ride for a few years now, starting with an old dirty 401 for $700 to what I have today.
@noromance I love your setup. Superb! I cannot find the Idler on audiosilente website. Is it pulley? pardon my ignorance. Pls elaborate on SPH and platter. My platter has no markings. Would you have given it to Jim for cleaning? (I know you used audiograil) They are a bit expensive and shipping. What are the things below the spikes on the slate plinth. Where did you get the spikes. I like the look.
Thanks to you and everyone who has posted in this thread. Its really fun!
Just curious Kanchi-did you look at my system on my profile page and particularly my Garrard 301? If you prefer noromance’s, my feelings will not be hurt but.... The idler wheel is rubber on steel. http://www.audiosilente.com/garrard-401-idler-wheel-garrard-401.html "They are a bit expensive and shipping"? Perhaps you mean with shipping. This is no time to be looking to save on things. If you want it done right, you have to pay for shipping. I bought a lot of things from the UK, Ray Clark’s PSU for the Garrard, my plinth from Russ, shipping is not that terribly expensive. Hell, I got in the car twice and drove six hours each way to pick up my decks from Greg in Nashville. Worth every minute of my time.
The "beauty" of a medium mass tonearm is that you can easily add mass, if you decide to go with a very low compliance MC cartridge. Whereas, medium mass tonearms, as is, mate well with most medium and medium high compliance cartridges. On the other hand, you cannot easily reduce tonearm effective mass, if you should want to try a very high compliance MM or MI cartridge from days of yore on a very high mass tonearm. So, I would stick with medium effective mass and think about Triplanar and Reed, primarily, if I were you. I've never heard the Kuzma, so cannot exlude or include that one. fsonicsmith says his Cocobolo-armed Reed is "medium" mass at 18-19g. I'd want to stay in the 11 to 16g range for max flexibility. I use a Reed 2A with a Red Cedar arm wand. Red cedar is a little less dense than cocobolo. But rules like this can be gently broken, because if you look at the equation for resonant frequency, you can see that there is quite a bit of flexibility in values for effective mass and/or cartridge compliance allowed, while still staying in the desired resonant frequency range of 8-12Hx.
As to slate as a plinth material, it's been excellent for me. I own two turntables with solid slate plinths: Lenco L75 and Denon DP80. They're both quite neutral sounding. Slate is in and of itself "constrained layer damped", because that is the nature of slate per se; viewed from the side there are overlapping irregular layers of material, which is what makes it very difficult to cut with a water jet. (I know this first hand.) On my Technics SP10 Mk3, I used a more massive piece of slate coupled to a cherrywood base, mounted to the slate from below. I listened to the Mk3 before vs after I attached the wood base, and I heard maybe a 5% uptick in solidity and neutrality with the wood.
@fsonicsmith OMG! that's a beauty. I have to admit, I did not know how to look at system. @noromance in his first post had a link to his system and I just clicked. Now I know how to look at someones system!! Did Greg in Nashville rebuild rebuild your system? He is only 5hrs away and I can easily drive. I actually drove to Washington DC to listen to Greg Beron's system and his tape decks. I like your suggestion about going all in. I will order the Idler wheel. If I may ask, where do you live? Thanks!
Now on my Thorens TD124, it was entirely different. It had been in my family for 60 years since my dad bought it brand new in 1959. It needed a lot of TLC. Greg stripped it down to the chassis and parts, had the chassis sandblasted and repainted to original cream color and at the time, Greg was able to supply a massive machined aluminum platter and custom bearing of his own design. He supplied the plinth and took all the steps necessary to implement the 12" Reed 3P including having a custom pillar pod machined to raise the arm the necessary height for the thick platter (something rather unique to TD124's where the chassis is elevated over the OEM platter more than usual). It too got a bunch of after-market parts including the AudioSilente idler. Greg's real passion and expertise is with Thorens and the 124. He studied repair of the 124 in Switzerland under one of the former Thorens technicians for several weeks many years ago.
You are best off shipping your project to Greg and then only going to see him when the project is done and ready for pick-up. He lives out in the boonies and prefers to meet at neutral locations. I never asked but assume he prefers his privacy and that his house and workshop are exceedingly difficult to find if you are not a local.
And last, I live in suburb of Columbus OH. If you are ever nearby and want to see/listen, just PM me.
Lots of good suggestions and ideas. A couple comments: 1) the Cary phono pre has somewhat low gain for mc and limited loading (100/47k). This may all be a non issue but take it into consideration. ( on the other hand the Cary preamp has a fair amount of gain...). In general it may be best to stick with carts .5mv and up...
2) finding a really good Fr7f/z will take some hunting. I have a regular fr7 and its nice but not fantastic. I'm not afraid of vintage carts but you cannot ignore that they are old... 3) this may be a process of discovery since OP preferences are not included yet...so an arm with good flexibility for various carts makes sense.
finding a really good Fr7f/z will take some hunting. I have a regular fr7 and its nice but not fantastic. I’m not afraid of vintage carts but you cannot ignore that they are old...
Regular FR-7 and FR-7fz is day and night difference. I have compered these two FR-7f & FR-7fz versions and "fz" is much better.
This particular series (if the stylus is not worn) is the best investment because sealed suspension never fails. No one never seen any FR-7 sample with weak suspension/damper. This is just a proper design by Ikeda-San. Loads of fans here on audiogon.
Another killer Japanese LOMC is Miyabi Standard and Miyabi MCA from Takeda (Legendary cartridge designer). Those vintage MC cartridges are pure magic!
Fidelity-Research FR-64fx tonearm with stock counterweight is not heavy, but with this optional W-250 counterweight (double size) and heavier headshell (or over 30g SPU alike cartridges) is heavy. The 64s is heavier by default, because the armtube alone is heavier, but two counterweight cab be used for different cartridges.
kanchi, I think OMA was known and is known for slate plinths, not granite. Many of the cognoscenti who have tried granite (I have not) were underwhelmed and preferred slate. Furthermore, there is a wonderful low production turntable based on the Lenco idea (the Saskia) that is entirely made of slate and very well regarded at the high end.
I spoke with Greg at STS. Great guy. I am planning to get it rebuild by Greg. He offered a lot of upgrades for 301. He stocks
AudioSilente idler wheel. He also has long spindle bearing and bigger platter which sits on top of the original one. He says that it is better than the shindo bearing and platter. This upgrade is for 2600$. I will go with upgrading idler wheel for sure. I will buy the plinth from
Layers of Beauty and ship it to Greg. Greg likes SME 3009 and SME 3012 version i or ii tone arms and he said he can refurbish them as well. He also carries Schick tonearms. Now I have to hunt for a tonearm and cart. Thanks again for all your help.
@fsonicsmith I sure will. May I ask why you did not use the Brass platter and bearing and spindle from STS? Greg said that the one he makes sits on top of the original platter. Its like having two platters.
only thing I'm going to add after just finishing my Garrard 301 is spend more on the arm now and skimp a bit on the cart for now. also think about an arm with VTA on the fly its a god sent for set up.
also a consideration is the plater Hight of the plater above your specific plinth as the plater is quite high if the table is not countersunk. I put a 12" Jelco 750 arm on mine and had to make am arm board about 1/2"-3/4" taller then the plinth, my table sits on top of the plinth. I would not get a Jelco if it's not the new design, the older ones as good as they are have set up issues that the new ones don't. (grr VTA setting, but there are aftermarket VTF on the fly for the older ones, highly recommend for those with older jelco arms)
3012s1 are hard to find but do have a higher effective mass vs the 3012s2 or 3012r. Meanwhile the 3012r has a cult following.
The Groovemaster titanium is no slouch and highly recomended for a brand new arm under 2k but *if* you can find an excellent 3012s1 or fr66s or Ikeda and the like awesome. I agree get the arm you want even if this means a bit of a skimp on cart.
@sdrsdrsdr Thanks for the tips about Indian music. Which TT does he use? Pls explain why the Lyra is not good? I am trying to learn and understand. Demo is a problem as I live in rural area. I live in Wheelersburg, OH. I am happy to travel to demo stuff if anyone is willing to show me.
My friend that likes the Indian music also has a 301. I talked to him earlier today and he’s selling his triplanar and airtight combo. Also selling his fr64s. He prefers the SME 312 and Koetsu Rosewood for his indian music. He likes a very smooth forgiving sound for his music. I bring my records when I come by and we listen to the other arm though, which I prefer. And so does he listening to my records. You should really audition first. It sounds like your budget is limited and many of these recommendations from others are beyond it. That’s why I mentioned the Reed 2a. Go for the 3P if you can though. A warm forgiving MC you could consider, wood body Benz, Koetsu Black, ortofon spu royal n, dynavector xx2. Or vintage MM cartridge. As far as all these expensive 301 modifications, fine if the budget is there but not necessary to get great sound. I recommend to give Steve Dobbins a call. Or Chris at woodsong audio.
The other question about what I said about Lyra. They are awesome sounding cartridges. But I find only with awesome sounding records. If your record collection isn’t up to it like most Indian music, you’ll find you’ll not be enjoying it. In comparison to others they’re very extended, very fast, and slightly lean. Similar to ZYX, which I also really like. I had an airy 3. But not with less than excellent recordings. This is one of the reasons that many of us have more than one tonearm and cartridge. Just make sure to choose what plays your style music best, not what the rest of us think is best for our tastes.
I have a totally refurbished by myself Lenco 78 w/ many upgrades that Jean Nantais used in his TT and a couple that are beyond. Jean is the one who started the Lenco craze about 15 years ago. My TT now has a couple items from Artisan Fidelity including the AF chassis and pure copper platter, along with the Audio Silent idler wheel, JTN string/weight mod, Mirko bearing, 10-layered 100 lb. plinth of 3/4" birch plywood, and both 3/4" & 1/2" MDF.
I am now using a Pete Riggle Woody arm which has 3 different adjustments on it that can be done while the record is playing. All the adjustments on the arm can be done without tools, it looks very nice, and Pete includes an extremely thorough manual with detailed pictures on how to do all the adjustments to the arm. It is also capable of being a low mass or high mass arm by just changing out the headshell weight. It also looks extremely good with a Lenco or Garrard. The sound is on a level with any of the very good arms such as Schroeder, or Reed. New, the price is just under $2000. I got mine for $1200 used and in perfect shape. Pete will make any length you would like for the same price. He told me his 9", which I have, and the 12" have no discernible difference in sound. Therefore, I was able to just plop the arm in the Pete Riggle VTAF sleeve I had with previous arms such as the Origin Live Silver II and Trans-Fi Terminator w/ all the upgrades on it. Pete’s string theory bearing is genius and he stands behind his product very well. I had a properly working Maplenoll Ariadne TT/arm air bearing combo, along with VPI Scout, VPI Classic, Avid Diva II/ Origin Live Silver II combo. It was very tough to replace the Maplenoll with sound that was almost as good until I did the Lenco rebuild. The combo I have now exceeds the Maplenoll in most areas and is totally safe in use with no chance of the air supply ever failing and thus, snapping cantilevers on expensive cartridges. The Maplenoll is considered the greatest sounding TT/arm ever made by many experts.
I’ve used Shelter 501 Mk II, Benz Micro Ruby 3, and currently Charisma Reference 2 cartridges, along with a Grace F9E w/ Soundsmith level 3 rebuild--much better sounding; all to great success. On the Maplenoll, I also used Clearaudio Aurum Beta S, Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood, plus Cartridge Man Music maker III cartridges. They all sounded very good in the straight line tracking Maplenoll. I’d let you see the whole thing, but I’m currently finishing off my basement and my dedicated music room is getting a pretty extensive rebuild that should be much more functional and could be even nicer in sound. Won’t know until I’m done if the things I did were beneficial to the sound until it’s done. I’m 98% sure it will be at least comparable to the previous room, but COULD be quite spectacular if the rebuild does what I hope it will do from the research I’ve done for many years.
I spoke with Sien regarding the SPH Bearing. He made a lot of those for Lenco and TD124 and now makes them for 301/401. 1/3 the price. I am planning to buy one from him. @noromance thanks for the lead. Anyone here have any experience with SPH bearing?
Just get the SPH. However you should listen and understand the 301 sound with the original bearing first if you can. After a few weeks, swap the bearing. It’s a 15 minute job. Leave run for 6 hours. Then listen to your reference record. Be prepared to be amazed. The same with the idler. It's a blast.
The 301/401 oil bearings are interchangeable. I'd check with Sien on specific compatibility to be certain. I think he has a video but it seems to be private. The bearing is taller so keep that in mind. With the platter removed, you just need to remove 3 bolts to change the bearing. No need to overtighten.
I am a Ex Garrard 401 Owner and at present have a Idler Drive PTP Solid 9 as well as other TT's with a Lenco GL 75 awaiting a complete overhaul and new plinth.
Idler Drives are known for two things that will effect there Sound Quality,
1, is in all vintage models from any Brand, and that is, they not accurate in their speed control, to a measure that is desired in a Modern TT Design.
2, is that the Idler Drives I have listened to can if not treated properly at the time of setting them up have 'to my ears' a overbearing Bass, that indicate 'to me' as a undesirable colouration.
The above are not criticisms, but the noticeable traits of the models I have had the opportunity to enjoy over time, while listening to the most basic set up, through to well thought out designs for the set up.
Here are my thoughts on how a set up can be produced to clean up what I refer to as the 'Overbearing Bass', and allow the undesirable coloration 'I perceive' is being revealed in the Bass, to be brought into a control, that delivers more to Create the Perception of a Rich, Honest, Bass Note with a very attractive Decay.
The first control measure to be considered is the Plinth. The Plinth will have a noticeable effect on how the energies are to be controlled and how these energies will be dissipated.
A Massey Plinth will absorb the produced energies, cleaning up the lower frequencies, but the design will keep with Noticeable Perception of what I refer to as a Overbearing Bass, and this will as a result make the Mid's and the Highs be perceived as being subdued in the overall presentation.
A Lightweight Plinth like Panzerholz, Permali, or Multiplex will or a arrangement of materials to produce a CLD Plinth Design, will be much better through the principles of the materials in use, to dissipate the produced energies. The Bass will be perceived as having a lesser presence in these type of Plinth Designs, resulting with the perception of the Mid's and High Frequencies becoming more projected in the Soundestage.
My preferred choice of Plinth today is the Latter, as I had a 9 Stone Granite Plinth with my Garrard 401, and the PTP Solid 9 has a Lamination of Corian Material, and I know my experiences with auditioning the Idler Drives in a Lightweight Plinth design surpasses what I have and what memories I have of the other Granite Plinth. My Friend / New Owner of the 401, has a Lightweight Plinth in use, as the 9 Stone Plinth was just to inconvenient when other TT's owned, were sharing the same support stand.
Another important consideration to really take the cleaning up of the Lower Frequencies to another perception of Noticeable Improvement, is the consideration of Footers for the Plinth. I have friends who have all being investigative into the best footers and Sub Plinths to use under their Idler Drive Plinths. I took a wild punt on 'Solid Tech Feet of Silence' and got very noticeable and impressive results. These were taken out to others systems and were exchanged for the designs used by the systems owners, the response the 'Feet of Silence' has been extremely impressive, all the owners who have experienced them in use, have either bought a similar type of device at a more affordable cost, and one produced a Sub Plinth using multiple elastics on the same design principle, and this has remained in place, over a the previous Sub Plinth and Footer set up, that was about £200 in cost.
When this level of control is in place, then a further attenuation can be worked with, using Platter Mats and Spindle Weights/Clamps. I am getting very good results from a Tenuto Mat and a AT638 weight. Be careful with this though, trialling of Mat Material in a set up is quite important to create a personal sound, I have had the Tenuto removed from another system, it made the High Frequencies too much for the system owner on their belt drive TT.
Now the road leads to Speed Controllers. Do not under estimate the importance of one of these devices being put to service with a Vintage Idler Drive System. I mention it last, as it could be confused as cure all, if it is used from the off set, the good impression it will make will leave the impression, enough has been done to upgrade. If brought to the set up as a last addition, if all the work done prior to the addition, has been perceived at each stage as having a noticeable improvement, then the addition of a speed controller can leave a stratospheric impression for the better on the works done prior to it being put to use.
My Speed Controller is out on loan, to a individual who has spent much time on the above modifications, and he absolutely places his 'acquired free Lenco GL75'with about £100 spent on Mod's, over his expensive Linn and Thorens TT's.
Sien 'SPH' offers bearings for various Idler Drives. I suggest that you can read up on these affordable bearings, learning of his earliest to his most recent reviews on Lenco Heaven.
My Friend that owns my 401, has been instrumental in offering design information to Sien, for the Latest Composite/Two Part Platter Spindle Design. My Friend has chosen Ebony as the material that the Platter connect to when seated on the Platter Spindle for his Stacked Platter GL75. He has been trailing this New Bearing against his original bearing with secondary extensions to create a stacked platter, and is reporting back that the Bass is much more controlled, and the Mid's and Highs are very impressive. He is claiming the perceived improvement is mostly attributed to do with the non metal to metal contact between the Spindle and Platter, I have no data of any type to support these descriptions.
My Suggestion is, if you are going to produce your own Plinth, or have a Plinth Produced for you, choose a Plinth Design that will allow for you to go for the Longest Bearing that can be offered for the 301, as the Geometry of the Long Bearing will be the best design. If you are to use a Sien Bearing, use the Composite Spindle, and if you can experiment try a few different Platter / Spindle Interface Materials.
As for Tonearm and Cartridge, well the options list is near on endless.
My personal choice today, for a Idler Drive is a Ortofon MC, as these are a little lean in the Bass, and compliment very nicely with a Noticeable Prominent Bass on a Idler Drive. My Tonearm of the Past was a SME IV, but this is now replaced with a custom modified Audio Technica AT-1010, referred to as a PMAT-1010, the PMAT-1010 was my most favourite find in many years. Two individuals have bought into it since auditioning mine, and there is a growing number of converts throughout Britain and Europe.
I know that the thoughts on how to get the best from any TT Set Up are varying, and that some of my information on offer that is produced from experiences and sharing in the experiences of others, might not be agreeable to some. I hope you get something usable from the direction contained in the above.
@pindac thanks for sharing the info. I will keep this in mind as I am doing more tweaking in the future
@noromance I went with PRW bcos I got it at a good price and works with all carts and has VTA, Azimuth on fly and many say it is as good as Reed arm I would like to know, why are you calling it an interesting choice I am also buying Sien’s tonearm. It looks awesome. I will have two tonearms mounted. Sien also suggested AT95E cart with custom aluminum body and shibata stylus, which I will mount on Sien’s arm. Need a cart for the woodie.
@pindac; A very heavy platter, like my solid brass platter from SMD will eliminate virtually all of the bass emphasis but sacrifice a good bit of the propulsive quality that many of us love about our idlers. With my current cartridge, a VdH Colibri Crimson, I like the trade-off but I am sure as hell not getting rid of my OEM platter. My current 301 set-up renders tons of detail and clarity at the expense of tone and midrange warmth. As I said above, no one turntable-despite what one noted analog expert would have us believe-provides everything. The same holds true for every individual component known to mankind, every phone cartridge, every system, and every room.
Can you pls elaborate on the One continuous wire from cartridge clip to
RCAs.. I use RCA cable from back of the TT to PPA990.
Yeah that's what you want to avoid, the interconnect between the table and the phono stage. What you want is an arm with integral RCA. In other words the cable and RCA is hard wired into the arm. One continuous wire.
This is because the signal coming off the cartridge is the weakest faintest most delicate in all of audio. The next stage in the process, the phono stage amplifies this weak signal by the most amplification in all of audio. The last thing you want to do in a situation like this is subject that signal to a whole bunch of unnecessary connections. Every one of which is prone to micro-arcing and all the many other imperfections inherent in every connection.
As far as setup goes, do it yourself. Its not nearly as hard as its made out to be. Its not nearly as expensive. You can download and print alignment grids right off the web, and then with a $20 Shure stylus force gauge and some tweezers you are set.
The reason this is all you need is because all the fancy jigs and meters and whatnot, all they really ever do is get you close. Once you get close all the fine tuning is done by ear. When you are tweaking VTF .05g by ear and the cartridge spec is a range twenty times as big you begin to understand why it just doesn't matter what gauge you use. When you are tweaking VTA by equally tiny amounts and doing it all by ear you begin to understand what a waste an expensive protractor is. And when you do all this stuff and see and hear and it all sinks in then you actually know what's going on and realize that right there was worth ten times the effort- and you will not hesitate to do it again, and again, and it only gets easier and easier. So just do it.
Chakster wrote that Oswald Mills Audio plinth is made of graphite. That is incorrect. They are made of Pennsylvania slate. Slate and graphite are two different things. Also, perhaps paradoxically, use of a heavier counterweight could have the effect of reducing the effective mass of the tonearm overall. This is because the effect of the counter weight on tonearm effective mass is proportional to its distance from the pivot-squared, times the weight of the CW. Thus the distance from the pivot is dominant. And substituting a heavy CW for a light one will bring the CW closer to the pivot, all other things being equal.
I agree in principle with what Miller carbon says about having a direct connection from the cartridge all the way to the input of the phono stage, but that is only an ideal goal and certainly not a necessity. I do insist upon it with very low output moving coil cartridges, but I cannot hear a difference with higher output moving magnet cartridges, for example.
@millercarbon Funny, your first post here represents my tonearm. It's a 1989 SME IV with Cardas rewire continuous from the cartridge clips to an outboard junction box (epoxied wiring at the bottom of the SME so it can't be pulled out and the box mounted to the back of the table). I especially like the arm's less sensitivity to vertical tracking angle. I can play 120 to 180 gram records and not have the problem many other high end arms have where the listener has to adjust the VTA up or down based on the record thickness. The negative is that it's a pain to get the VTA correct using the armspring method and lock. If I had to do it again, I would buy the SME V. The arm has about 10,000 hours on it and is in perfect condition. The 1989 SMEs came with crappy wiring and a DIN connection. Rewire it with RCA termination and it's a bargain high end arm.