Cartridge / Tonearm opinions requested...

After 23 years of living with an Ariston RD11s I’ve decided it’s finally time to upgrade. I recently pre-ordered one of the upcoming Teres Audio 265 tables (with the cocobolo platter). I’ve been making myself fairly insane over arm and cartridge selection and I’d appreciate any feedback anyone would care to offer (Twl?).

Unless someone can relate a horror story I’ve pretty much narrowed down my arm choice to the Wilson Benesch Act 2. It was a coin toss with the Moerch DP-6 but I’m a freak for carbon fiber.

My short list of cartridges are:

Shelter 901
Wilson Benesch Analog
Koestsu Rosewood Signature
Allaerts MB-1 Boron

I haven’t heard much about the W-B cartridge. I know it is of unknown Japanese make. I would think the synergy with the Act 2 arm would be great but I don’t know much about it's sound characteristics. I’ve read lots of raves about the Shelter 901 (In fact I just ordered a 501 for my office system). The Allaerts is supposed to be imbued with magical properties that will forever elevate the life of the owner but I haven’t really read too much about it beyond a bit of hype. The Koetsu seems like the safe old favorite – it simply can’t be a bad choice…but is it the best choice?

The related analog gear is a Krell KPA phono stage, Sonic Frontiers Line 3 preamp, a Jadis Defy 7 Mk III amp, a White Audio Labs A250 amp. Speakers are custom Unity Audio Super-PARMs (four piece system).

Would anyone care to offer an opinion/comparison about these 4 cartridges and how they might work with the W-B arm?

(Sorry for the long post)
I have gotten emails from some Audiogon members stating that they got good results using Shelter cartridges on their WB arms. The WB arms have stabilizers, and should do better than basic unipivots with a lower compliance cartridge. I think you're reasonably safe with the Shelter or Koetsu or WB cartridges. I don't have any experience with the Allearts cartridge.

As far as the cartridge choice goes, that is pretty subjective, and may have budgetary considerations. I think the Shelter 901 is a terrific cartridge and costs far less than any of the other ones you mentioned. If you want to venture into higher-priced territory than that, I would use the Shelter as a benchmark, and audition the others against that, to see if they can beat the Shelter enough to make them worth the extra money. I think you'll find that the Shelter will "hold its own" against just about anything, and is alot easier on the wallet. But, if you find that you like one of the others better, and want to fork over the dough, then at least you've satisfied yourself that you got more for your money by comparing against the high-value cartridge. I've seen people get a little upset when they have bought a very expensive cartridge, and found that the Shelter would have done better for alot less.

I would also add a ZYX R-100 Fuji to your cartridge list. This is a very fine cartridge, about $2k, and is competitive with the Shelter 901. The Fuji is slightly better on small-scale music and the Shelter is slightly better on large-scale music, and the bass response on the Shelter is absolutely first class.

May I ask what made you conclude that the W-B arm was going to be the arm of choice?

Just a minor correction - Wilson-Benesch is a UK company & not a Japanese one ( From reading their philosphy of analog design, it is clear that they are proponents of low-mass design. This is a key point! Teres Audio is a big proponent of mass-loaded design. Everything they make is very heavy! They have very good design principles as does W-B & I'm not critizing any manuf. here - merely pointing out the diff. The ACT 2 arm is designed to go into a low-mass, rigid system. This leads me to believe that the synergies between ACT 'table & ACT 2 arm will be symbiotic & "made for each other" by design. It is not clear that the ACT 2 arm will perform the same way in a mass-loaded Teres design. It might & then it might not. The 2 philosphies are very different. My gut feeling is that the ACT 2 arm is a wrong choice for the Teres 'table. It might give you very good perf. but nowhere near the optimum that the 265 is capable of. Of course, this is my opinion!

A suggestion would be to chose a tonearm from Chris Brady's "tier 1" list. All tonearms there are proven to perform at the highest level with a Teres. I'm sure that you know that SYNERGY is a key part of obtaining top-notch performance. Getting a carbon fibre tonearm for the sake of looks seems to be the wrong method of chosing a tonearm. Again, IMHO!

Not critizing you in any way. Of course, you make the final decision as it is your system & you have to live w/ it. I feel that you might be compromising the TA-265 right from the get-go.

FWIW. I hope you take this in the right spirit. Thanks!

I definitely take your comments in the right spirit and I appreciate your input (same goes for Twl - your insight regarding analog always seems to be spot on).

What I was referring to was the W-B cartridge which is of Japanese origin - not the arm which I know is of British origin. I don't know who in Japan makes the W-B Analog cartridge (the Carbon is sourced from Benz).

Regarding my choice of arms...I really could not decide between the Moerch or the W-B. I was kidding about the carbon fiber but I actually do prefer the look of the W-B over the Moerch for what that's worth. Of course sonics come first.

As far as the synergy with the Teres and W-B...I spoke with W-B's North American distributor. He was not familiar with the Teres table but considered the Act 2 to be more of a "universal" design than the .5 arm which is specifically designed to work in the Circle table. He didn't suggest their would be any compatibility issues with any particular tt design approach. I've had numerous conversations with Chris Brady regarding arm selection. He didn't seem to feel as though there was as much of a difference among the arm choices as there was from jumping up to the 265 from a 255. I mentioned the Wilson Act 2 arm and he didn't voice any opinion that it would be a bad choice. Perhaps he isn't intimate with it.

I haven't ordered the arm yet so I may wake up tomorrow and decide on the Moerch but this is starting to get to me. I'll have to come up with a definitive answer soon.

Looks like I need to do more detective work and ask more questions...

If you are open to other choices for tonearms, I would strongly suggest the Origin Live tonearms. I use the OL Silver on my Teres, and it is a stunning performer. Personally, I feel pretty strongly about using a gimbal-bearing type tonearm with low compliance cartridges, which you seem to prefer, judging from your list. At the prices you are looking at for WB tonearms, you could get the top line Origin Live Illustrious. Make no mistake, these OL arms are at the top of the heap. They may not get the press that the other top arms get, but it is likely that they will outperform most of the more well known top arms. My OL Silver works beautifully with the Teres, and I have no desire to change to SME, Graham, or anything else. It's a perfect match for a Shelter(which I am using now), or Koetsu, or any other low to mid compliance cartridge. Don't let the lower price scare you away. These are some of the best arms you can buy.

Glad to note that you have taken the comments in the right spirit.

Re. the W-B arm, I feel that just because Chris Brady didn't say anything negative doesn't mean that it will be a suitable match! From his website, it is quite clear that he has virtually zero experience with it & he is not going to tell a customer not to use it on his 265 'table! Re. the W-B rep. in the USA - you can expect him to use those exact words. That's his job! I would take his words with a grain of salt esp. since there is no other user out there to confirm this.

Your other choice of Moerch DP-6 seems to be much better esp. since it has a proven track record on the Teres. This to me is more important than looks or W-B's carbon fibre technology (which no doubt is very appealing. The engineer in me digs that kind of stuff!).

As an aside (w/o meaning to be an Origin Live salesman!): TWL's recommendation of the Origin Live arms is also 2nd by me. I too have the Silver 250 on my Bluenote 'table with just excellent results. The TA-265, I think, warrants a better arm such as the Illustrious or the Encounter.

IMHO, chose an arm from the "tier 1" list or one of the OL arms & relieve yourself of this mental anguish.
As Twl, and a few others on here know, I recently participated in an audition of several different tables using an OL Illustrious and Shelter 901 (and 501) combo. On a Teres table (and a Nottingham Hyperspace), the OL/Shelter combo was among the best I've ever heard at ANY price. Given that Twl finds the Teres/OL sympatico, I would not hesitate for one second to drop that bad-boy combo into the fray. And then, hold on.

I would have only one nit pick. Phono Stage...

Regarding the phono stage...the Krell KPA has served me well for the past 8 years. It's a very flexible unit but I'm not married to it. As you can seem from my initial post I tend to live with equipment for a long time. Considering the age of the Ariston the Krell was more than adequate. There are lots of great phono stages out there and eventually I'm sure the Krell will find a new home. The arm/cartridge situation is making me neurotic enough - I couldn't even think about a different phono stage right now.

Actually I'm fixing up the Ariston and moving it into my office system. I have an Alphason HR100s sitting in a box just waiting for it and the Shelter 501 is on the way. I'm sure it should breathe new life into an old friend.
Yeah, I have to apologize, Laser. I did not mean to disparage your phono stage. Just got caught up in the Teres/OL/Shelter possibilities. Good Luck! :-)
If you do want to start thinking about a top notch phono stage, then start thinking about an Aesthetix IO. Then you can stop thinking and start listening to music. You won't find anything that is going to beat that. If you can afford to go with the IO Signature with Dual Power Supplies, then go with that. It has enough selectable gain to take any cartridge direct-in, and has the best sound quality I am aware of. It is right at home in the highest of high end systems.
Well, the IO's performance is beyond question, but I know I'd be doin' a BUNCH of thinking if I had to spend six large on a phono stage! Ha! :-)

There is a particular option of a tube phono stage that offers a great deal of flexibility and at least approaches the standard IO for about a third the price and is much better than phono stages in the $3-4 K new range. When you get ready and would like to explore options, contact me.

My friend just took posession of a new Aesthetix Rhea. I'm sure by the end of the summer the inevitable phono stage shootout will take place.

At one point I had an all Krell system. The KPA is the remnants of that system.
Just a side note, my audio dealer tells me that the WB tonearms are a bear to set up. I can't say I have any first hand experience with that arm. I have used a Graham arm for a long time and find it a great performer. Good luck on your choice.
Why do I get the feeling that no one here is partial to the Wilson Benesch arms? ;0)
The WB is an accurate and neutral arm that is a little bass shy. This was very noticeable on a Pink Triangle Anniversary table which is as good as most tables out there. Not hard to set up but the vta is not easy to make small changes as it is the pillar and set screw system. I cant see any real sonic reson to choose the WB over several less expensive good arms, (better Rega) for instance. The cartridge(WB) is quite good but was happily replaced by a Benz Ruby. I listened to this system over a year plus while building a friends system. Baldwin

Which WB cartridge did you have? Analog or Carbon?
I recommended OL arms because I much prefer gimbal-bearing arm designs. I like low compliance cartridges, and there is no question in my mind that they are handled better by gimbal-bearing tonearms. Yes, some unipivot arms have made improvements in stability by using outrigger bars, but they remain an inherently unstable platform, due to their single point bearing. Just my opinion, but it is derived from over 30 years experience with analog equipment.
It was/is an Analog. Recently retipped by vandenhul. Baldwin
Well I just threw a curve ball at my decision.... After reviewing the responses to my post and asking a LOT of questions to dealers, manufacturers and distributors I've decided to bail out on the Wilson Benesch arm and the Shelter 901.

Instead I am going for the Morch DP-6 and the Allaerts MB-1 Boron. In a way I'm a bit disappointed to not get the 901 (I can't wait for my 501 to arrive) but the Allaerts appears to be an out and out monster and has a real synergy with the Morch arm. I looked forward to the 901 but I lusted after the Allaerts.

Chris Brady expects delivery of the cocobolo platters early July so I hope to have my new Teres 265 up and running shortly after.

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my posts and e-mails.

Glad to read that your mental anguish is over now that you have decided on a tonearm & cart.

We'll look forward to reading a post/review of your Teres 265 system. I'm esp. interested in reading your comments of the whole set-up & the synergies between the Teres & the tonearm-cart. Too bad we will have to wait so long!
I've heard the Allaerts MC1b with a Schroeder Tonearm model 2 on a Platine Verdier. Fantastic. The MC1b is a great pickup, but try it with the Schroeder. I've listened to it for a few hours with the UK distributor (Graham Tricker from GT Audio). The model 2 is the budget model (1000 GBP). If you go down this route, listen to it with avantgarde horns and tube amps - sublime.

PS If you want to hear some great tube amps, try Graham tricker's TRON amps -great sound quality and SO SO Quiet!