Blackbird 12.5" Tonearm: revised with DIN Connector.

Blackbird 12.5" Tonearm: revised with DIN Connector

If tempted, write them, you will find them to be very enthusiastic. I recommend them without hesitation.



Manufacturing Blackbird Video

COST: (not direct comparison, just to say you can get a very nice long arm for not too much money)

75,000 rubles is $1,025. USD.

Used 12" Clearaudio, $6,700.



I bought an earlier Russian Blackbird 12.5" effective length Tonearm, for my Vintage TT, shown here:

Against sensible advice, I risked it. As I hoped, they are really good people, I am glad I did. Excellent friendly communication; made me a custom spacer needed for the height of Vintage JVC TT81 above the plinth.

Installation of that early version (they still offer it) gave me lack of sleep. I had to strip and solder 5 of the most delicate litz wires I ever encountered into a junction box. And then transport from shop to Plinth and install without tearing the little litz wires apart. Not for the average handyman, I had to learn new tricks. Whew, did it!

I told them repeatedly: they were nuts, they would sell a lot more of these if they would make it with a DIN connection. They finally did.


What I like (aside from true 12.5" length):

Now: locate and drill a small hole. Simple Linn/Jelco base surface mount. Plug in Din cable, above board, easy access!

Attach cartridge to the brass plate. The easiest mount/overhang/null alignment I ever did.

Micrometer for precise arm height: /VTA/SRA adjustment. Not while playing, but very precise incremental vertical movement. Leave Micrometer in the base, or remove after setup. (Adjust VTA while playing: the Acos Lustre GST 801 is superb).

Underslung Counterweight, Clearaudio says about theirs:

" The counter-weight is underslung providing an optimal center of gravity and allowing fine adjustment of the tracking force."

Anti-Skate: gravity: dangling weight.


Whether Russia or China I can no longer in good faith deal
with countries who's actions negatively affect so many others.

My personnel opinion yours my vary.

Whether Russia or China I can no longer in good faith deal
with countries who's actions negatively affect so many others.

You have to divide PEOPLE from GOVERNMENT in totalitarian countries like Russia, because not everyone share the ideology of dictators, but they can't do nothing against force and violence, they can't even vote anymore.  
kinda like Texas, Florida….

This tonearm company does not strike me as anything worthy of the gaze of an oligarch….

in a past life, i ……well, we shall leave it at that…
Interesting arm and price as well.  Would be willing to try regardless of where it was made.  Not in the market for an arm right now, but will consider in the future.

1. revised version has a din connector pre-wired on the base plate

2. early version (mine) has 5 miniature litz wires that need to be soldered to either rca or din or ....

Phono cables above the base are much easier to install/change, but dust covers often need a notch cut in them. 

I mounted their rca junction box using semi-permanent tape on the top of my plinth and cut a notch in my dust cover. I could have mounted it on the rear edge out of sight, but then the litz wires would be more vulnerable.

Looks like they finally listened to you Elliott. I remember when you were doing that setup. No way would I want to solder those wires.
I've seen and heard that tonearm in Elliott's setup and it's very nice indeed.
Sort of reminds me of WW II. The Russians are still doing things the old manual method while at SME production is almost entirely CNC. But the old manual machines are a dime a dozen and if you know what you are doing almost as good, just takes more time. I would go for the 9" version.
I sort of believe humans are the same everywhere, same basic set of instincts.  The real problem is with those who seek to gain power. It is no different here in the states. We need term limits and campaign finance reform. You should get votes by appealing to individuals not international conglomerates.
I just noticed, this 14" arm has their RCA Junction Box pre-wired on the UNDERSIDE of the pivot plate.

That requires a lot of clearance below, mine is ON a plinth, so: I bought that box as a separate item, stripped the 5 litz wires, soldered the tiny things, mounted the box myself separately on the plinth near the tonearm. I shake my head every time I think about it. The chances of it going poorly, then what? It was a big risk. Pre-wired DIN, very little risk.

I’m sure they would make your preference, RCA or DIN in any length if asked.
Those UNsoldered Litz wire leads provide an opportunity to run an interconnect direct to the phono stage inputs without a DIN plug in between. Or even to use a balanced connection direct from the cartridge if the phono stage is balanced.

the arm's designer 'prefers/preferred/stubbornly insisted' that the buyer can make as pure a chain as possible with loose litz wires as you describe.

I was not shy about my opinion: "you strip these wires, you solder them"!

There's a limit to how long a length litz wires should be, not to mentioned the lack of protection from EMI/RFI, so realistically it's going to a nearby connector of some type, then via din/rcabalanced cable. Mine: litz to their rca junction box; rca to SUT; SUT rca to mx110z MM Phono In.

I suspect they will make a balanced connector version if requested, they are enthusiasts as you can tell.

They finally had to admit, very few people are going to do that, and those few people might buy a different arm it seems to me. i.e. I would prefer to adjust VTA while playing. 

Their arm lacks a precision base like the acos-lustre gst-801, (no surprise at the low price). An optional VTA on the Fly mount would be nice, keep the base arm price down, pre-designed optional feature, like a conversion lens for a camera; kit lens/optional high quality lens ..

actually, after trepidations, I found stripping the litz wires easier than stripping a 'normal' wire.

usually we cut in from the edge with a wire stripper, depth adjusted for the particular gauge, and forcefully pull a length of the outer insulation off, trying not to cut/break the conductor strands. the thought of this is what caused me lack of sleep.

these silk covered enamel covered litz wires, hard to see even thru a magnified shop light: I simply used the tip of a fresh exacto-knike blade and scratched the silk apart/off by movements parallel to the conductors. get a fuzz ball of silk, cut it off, roll the wire a bit, repeat. Easy.

Next: Put a lump of 'silver' solder on the contacts first, then heat that lump and insert the litz wires into the molten lump, thus never heating the litz wire or silk covering itself.

To keep things in place, no tugging on the litz wires:
I mounted the arm in the removable arm board, down to the shop.
then I made an extension board to have a surface to temporarily mount the rca junction box behind the arm so it could not move (where it would be positioned on the plinth).
soldered everything, back upstairs,
then carefully get the junction box 'loose', get the temporary board under it out of the way,
insert/mount the arm board 
mount the rca junction box same location but now on the plinth (I used double faced tape).

Easy, unless you never did it before.

Why? After general advice against it (totally unknown here) I just couldn't get that arm out of my brain. I had messed with the JVC 7082 Arm's sagging counterweight issue, and found it was only 11-5/8" effective, ... I liked everything about the design, a full 12.5" (the goal was after all a long arm), it just barely fit, aren't I clever, 

oh yeah, I just remembered, beyond eBay/PayPal protection, I bought a square trade 3 year warranty for it $110. (called square trade first, discussed rarity etc.). Arm, with custom spacer was $1,090.  + $110. = $1,200. total delivered with 3 yr warranty

Now, pre-wired connector, din or rca, known nice guys, very little risk.

oh yeah, covid hit, the shipping got delayed, held here at JFK airport for quite a while, another display of my patience.

I'm still regretful that Russian Preamp didn't work out, not just me, but for the seller too, they really tried to solve it.
There's a limit to how long a length litz wires should be ...
I didn't know that there was such an issue with Litz wires. What is the limit? (Of course, it's generally a good idea to keep phono cables as short as possible.)
... not to mentioned the lack of protection from EMI/RFI,
That's not an issue if you run them balanced into a balanced phono stage.
Elliot, You figured it out. To strip those very thin gauge Litz wires, best to either scrape off the insulation with an exacto knife or burn it off with solder. I do the latter. However, if the Litz wires are silver, there is a risk of melting the silver of the wires in the process, because they are so fine in gauge. You have to be quick with the soldering iron and careful. (You seem to have noticed this issue and dealt with it.) You CAN have both shielding and no DIN connection by simply soldering your chosen shielded wires to go downstream from the ends of the Litz wires to the phono inputs. I’ve done that more than once.
As to this question of VTA "on the fly", I have vented my spleen on this question before: Why is it really necessary to adjust VTA on the fly? There is nothing lost by interrupting play, then adjusting VTA, then resuming play. If your aural memory is so short that you cannot keep in mind the tonal balance before vs after adjustment, then you have a problem. For me the big point with VTA adjustment is that I refuse to use any tonearm that does not provide for raising and lowering the pivot point in a precise, quantifiable, and repeatable fashion, and then locking down the chosen position. No more tiny set screws that squeeze the vertical shaft of the tonearm as it passes through the mounting base. You need 3 hands to adjust VTA precisely with that arrangement.  Otherwise, I see no need to be able to move the pivot point up and down while playing music. I own both a Triplanar and a Reed, as well as the L07J tonearm on the Kenwood L07D. All of these are described by some as permitting VTA on the fly. I would never think of using them that way.

I saw videos of people burning insulation off, but I figured I would melt everything shorter, repeatedly. You willl probably agree: until you have messed with them, you can’t conceive just how tiny these wires are. Frighteningly delicate. I still have a hard time believing how many individual strands are there after looking with my 30x shop light.

Seller marked the silk covering with colored markers very near the ends. Luckily I have set of different colored tape, and was able to mark them further up, because if I made a mistake, burned the strands, the wire would get shorter, and I would then scrape the original color mark off.

Recently, a friend’s Grace tonearm, ends of the cartridge jumpers soldered to the arm, a wire disconnected. I simply burned the vinyl insulation off and made the repair, so easy, I felt like a pro!


I meant a logical limit to the length of and physical/interference exposure of the tiny litz wires. They are frighteningly delicate.

here is silk covered 36 individual strands, each 0.04mm strand enamel coated so the ’skin effect’ is contained in each individual strand, not the twisted mass of 36 strands until the solder joints at the ends. that’s the reason for litz ’construction’.

They could break, get scraped, lose a speck of enamel coating, that is their only insulation within the silk, thus the enamel is the only outer electrical insulation as well.

Once you change to an insulated phono cable of any type, (in an EMI/RFI blocking junction box, mine is aluminum) off you go.

I have 3’; 6’; and a custom 8’ braided phono cable from Pine Tree (originally needed to get to the bottom of my mono arm, left side rearward facing, thus front left corner din connection), back behind, then down and forward to SUT on lower shelf.

I moved my SUT up and back close to the TT, was going to have Pine Tree make me 3 short phono cables, tried my various lengths, decided not to bother, I cannot perceive a difference in sound.

Aside from sound, short lengths minimizing the chance of acquiring hum is a consideration. Happily, never an issue in this setup. Prior setup other end of the room, I chased a hum for a few weeks till I solved it. What a curse hum can be.

btw, keeping cables too short can force you to locate something too close to something else, hmmmmm there’s 'better' worsening things.