Cartridge upgrade for SME 20/2A???

Okay, it's almost time for a cartridge upgrade for my SME 20/2A (with SME 4.5 arm). Currently I am using a Dynavector 17d mkII and though it sounds pretty good, I'm also pretty sure that the cartridge - along with the phono interconnect - is a limiting factor. Any thoughts that you guys/girls might have would be most appreciated, including information as to the compatability of the SME arm with certain types of cartridges. I'm not even sure of budget yet, though I realize I will have to spend at least double the amount of the 17d mkII to get a real improvement.
Hi, I have the same table/arm.

I agree with your assessment on the stock arm cable.

Before I answer, can you tell me a little what you're looking for sound wise? I saw your posted system-nice :) !

Jfrech -

Hard to say exactly what I'm looking for sound-wise. Over all I'm relatively pleased with the 17d mkII in terms of tonal balance, so I think I'm really looking for better resolution and detail, and maybe a tiny bit fuller and firmer bottom end. Also, it might not be a bad thing to have a caertridge with a little more output, sine the Dynavector only sends .24 mv to the phono stage. The 17d mkII gets a wee bit confused at times when the musical load becomes really complex, so I really think it's a matter of finding a more suitable partner for my 20/2A which I believe is capable of much more.

I am interested to find out more about what cartridges are suitable for the iv.v arm in terms of mass. I've been able to figure out that the SME arm is a medium mass design, but don't know anything about cartridge masses. Some of the cartridges I have been thinking about are:

Koetsu Rosewood Signature
Dynavector XV-1 or XV-1S
Transfiguration Temper Supreme
Benz Micro Ruby 3
Lyra Skala

I am also actively looking for a new set of interconnects, but for the moment I don't want to pay retail, and DIN to RCA cables aren't that common.
The 17d mkII gets a wee bit confused at times when the musical load becomes really complex, so I really think it's a matter of finding a more suitable partner for my 20/2A which I believe is capable of much more.
I agree your rig is worth a better cartridge. It's also worth a better phono stage, which would likely provide more of the clarity you're seeking.

On the cartridge front, I've heard many that get confused just as you described. Then I heard a ZYX. Their clarity and ability to reproduce individual instruments and voices is unflappable, no matter how complex/dynamic the music gets.

I've owned the Airy 2, Airy 3 and UNIverse (in several configurations). They all maintain the clarity you're seeking. What you get as you move up the scale is increased resolution of inner detail, increased dynamics/heft/bass tightness and increased speed.

For your system and priorities I'd suggest the Airy 3 or (if at all possible) the UNIverse. The Airy 2 is rather "polite" and may not have the low end heft you're seeking. The Airy 3 is a stronger cartridge, well worth the small additional cost. The UNIverse is in another realm altogether. It's among the top handful of all cartridges being made today, and it's particularly strong in the areas you're seeking to improve. No cartridge I've heard, at any price, does a better job of portraying individual voices in the midst of wild complexities, without ever sounding analytical or unmusical.

- an Airy 3 or UNIverse on your arm would need ZYX's optional "SB" headshell weight, you'd lose dynamics and bass weight without it

- low output ZYX's are faster and more dynamic than high output ones and you should be fine with them; the quoted spec is .24mv but that's per a non-standard test record; the actual output spec comparable to Dynavector's is about .36mv

- the copper coil option is faster and more lifelike on leading edge transients, the silver coil option smooths things off slightly and provides a more relaxed sound

The Dynavector XV-1S and Transfiguration Orpheus would also be very good choices. My tastes run toward the transparency and neutrality of ZYX, particularly the UNIverse, but others prefer the slight additional oomph in the bass that those cartridges provide.

Enjoy the music whatever you choose!
Dear Esoxhntr: Certainly any of the cartridges that you named ( but the Koetsu ), the Universe and many other top ones could give you some kind of quality improvement in the music sound reproduction, well is obvious to because all those cartridges are a lot more expensive that your Dynavector: we have to expect that.

But, in my humble opinion, I think that your analog weak link is on your phonolinepreamp and not in the Dyna cartridge ( btw, very good performer, better than what you are hearing. ), I agree with Doug statement: +++++ " It's also worth a better phono stage, which would likely provide more of the clarity you're seeking. " +++++

I think that before you change your cartridge please think seriously in a better phonolinepreamp, at the end it is in this phonolinepreamp where the cartridge signal must be processed and it is at the phonolinepreamp where the cartridge signal could or almost could not suffer degradation/corrupted and that's what you are hearing today. Think about!!!!, even if you change the cartridge you need a better phonolinepreamp: as a fact if you change for a better cartridge the change of the phonolinepreamp is a must to do, more critical.

Regards and enjoy the music.
The best acoustic guitar reproduction I have ever heard,by FAR,was with a ZYX Universe!!
Ok, here goes my reply. I can't comment on your electronics, I haven't heard them, but if the phono stage is a weak point, I'd have to agree that it and the arm cable maybe the bigger areas to hit first.

Also, on your SME 20/2a, I've had big results with isolation. Currently I'm using a Symposium Ultra shelf sitting on a Arcici suspense stand. I have a Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference stand on order, I'll see if that improves things. Power cords on the motor controller also help. I've used several and settled on the Omega Micro via Walker.

Arm cables, I've written a review on the Purist Venestas I believe. I've also used the Graham IC 50 and Hovland Music groove cables. These make a marked improvement.

As for cartridges, I've stayed in the lyra line over the years. Started with a Lydian Beta, then a Helicon, now a Skala. The Skala is killer. I don't know about the others but know that they seem to be good matches with the SME 20/2 due to other posts around here. I have a review posted on the Skala as well that might help you some. The lyra's all output about .5 so that helps you some. Plus, I doubt they'd get confused any-especially the Helicon or Skala. Setup is very critical here.
The Dynavector Karat is a great cartridge. You might want to upgrade your phono stage or preamp. I have no doubt you will see improvements.

First off, a sincere thanks for your comments. I have a feeling that you haven't had a chance to compare my phono stage with others that you would consider superior - so you'll have to trust my judgement when I say that the phono stage is not an issue, at least not to the same extent that the cartridge and interconnect are. The phono stage may well be an issue on down the line, but I have plans for that, eventually...

I am also concerned about isolation for the table, but have tried a number of available solutions (some very expensive), and nothing has worked yet even remotely as well as a 1" slab of MDF with PVC flange fittings and 20 inflatable miniature sports balls - cheap and incredibly effective!

The motor controller and phono stage already have upgraded power cords. So I 'm pretty well set on dealing with the cartridge and interconnect first. I do have some questions:

Is there a particular value of cartridge mass that I should be looking for to work effectively with the SME arm?

Any particular comments or opinions that you would like to share regarding Koetsu? Seems like there is little enthusiasm for that brand...

Anyone feel compelled to share thoughts on the overall sonic qualities of the ZYX Airy 3 (I don't think the Universe is going to be an option ;-), and the Lyra Skala (I will certainly read your review Jfrech)

Something to keep in mind - I have very widespread musical taste and listen almost anything and everything with the exception of opera, death metal, hard core punk, and common rap - the ability of a cartridge to produce accurate timbre on acoustic instruments is very important to me.

Koetsu...I have 2 friends who both have Jade Platinums. That's a killer cartridge. I've also heard the Rosewood Signature Platinum in those same two systems. They are great...I'd take my Skala over the RSP. The Jade I think bests it...for another 2k. And it's .2 mv output which is why I've shyed away.
I am using a Sumiko Celebration ($1,500)on my SME Model 10, SME V arm and a Harmoniic Technology copper phono cable with excellent results. The Celebration was designed using the SME 30/2 and V arm so the synergy is superb. I am intrigued by the Skala though.
Dear Esoxhntr: +++++ " when I say that the phono stage is not an issue, at least not to the same extent that the cartridge and interconnect are " +++++

+++++ " The 17d mkII gets a wee bit confused at times when the musical load becomes really complex, so I really think it's a matter of finding a more suitable partner for my 20/2A " +++++

That problem is not a Dyna cartridge characteristic and certainly don't comes from the SME rig. Now, if you think that your Blue Circle phonolinepreamp combination is out of the problem then you are in big trouble ( from my humble point of view ) because that kind of problem comes from everywhere your audio system, btw I know perfectly your CLS/SW-800 combination and I can asure you that the problems that you heard does not comes from here either.

I'm not saying that your analog electronics are not good, what I'm saying is that you could have the quality performance that you are looking for through a better phonolinepreamp. The phonolinepreamp has the most " hard/dirty " task in the analog chain and its rol is of paramount importance and extremely critical to obtain the quality sound reproduction that all of us are loking for and makes the difference that you think don't today.

I think that if you try with a better analog electronics your Dyna will shine and you will be " heavy " satisfied about, that cartridge is a very good one by any audio standards.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Okay, it's not like I don't appreciate the input, but y'all need to understand two things... First, I am not unhappy with the sound I'm getting from my combo, but when I state that there is a weakness, I think you need to take into account that I am speaking in relative terms. The 17d mkII has a nicely balanced natural sound to it, and generally speaking is not a disorganized sounding cartridge, but I also realize that as an $800 component it is going to have limitations, as does the standard Van Den Hul interconnect supplied with the turntable.
Second, I have tried a number of phono stages against my BC27 pi, and while at $1500 it's not the most expensive piece of equipment in the world, it competed very favourably with phono stages costing over twice as much. Unless some of you have A/B tested some phono stages against a Blue Circle, then I'm not sure how you can be so sure that it is a problem. As I said earlier, I have a solution down the road for that anyway, but trust me the phono stage is not the issue here, at least not yet.
Bottom line, stop beating up on my phono stage; my guess is that you would be pretty surprised at it's level of performance.
Peterayer: very nice system!

Esoxhntr: I think your first move is a tonearm cable. You may have to pay a little here. A Hovland Music Groove II, Graham IC 50 (or ic 70) are both reasonable $$ choices. I'm sure there are others but those I've owned. The Graham is lighter and the Hovland more warm. Both are VERY good.

Personally, given your setup, I'd try a Purist Venastus. It's killer, then maybe move to a cartridge. That vdH cable is a definite weak link.

All my humble opinion. But from personal experience. Good luck...let us know what you do.
Dear Esoxhntr: Sorry to disturb you about.

Other than the cable and with out to spend a lot of money in a new cartridge you could have a serious quality improvement through the Sumiko Celebration ( I agree with peterayer ) that I think is the best cartridge match for your SME tonearm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Wow guys - I just spent the morning looking over your systems pretty carefully, in short I am very impressed! I would have looked your rigs over sooner, but have spent most of the week prepping to conduct a musical. Now that opening night is over with, I have a bit more time.
Clearly, a great deal of thought has gone in to each of your systems, and it is a reminder to me why this is such a great hobby since there are a limitless number of ways to achieve a musical result.

Raul - you are an analog wildman! It would be a priveledge to have the opportunity to look over your gear and discuss tonearm and cartridge matching. I've never seen such an assortment of stuff! I am really taken by your Micro Seiki, it looks awesome.

Doug - a Loricraft, and a Teres 320, and a Triplanar vii, AND and ZYX Universe????? That's extreme; clearly sanity left you long ago :) I hope somday to pick your brain a bit about the Loricraft. My project for the next two years is to "ramp up" my analog setup, and a record cleaner is on the "to do" list.

Pete/Sounds Real (Jim?) - what elegant and well integrated setups you both have, obviously well thought out and I bet they sound awesome.
You have convinced me that Sumiko and Dynavector should be on my shortlist, though I may eventually shoot higher than the Celebration or the Te Kaitora.

JFrech - another clearly awesome system, and of course the best turntable of the bunch ;-) (sorry guys, just couldn't resist). I have been waiting for a PAD Din to RCA cable to show up here on the 'gon for quite some time, so far no luck, but I'm still watching...

Just to provide a little more fodder for conversation, here are some of the phono stages I have listened to (in my system) and not purchased:

Benz Lukashek
Pass Xono
Ear 834
Aesthetix Rhea - not impressed!
Bat (don't remember which)

I would certainly value opinions on what might be a suitable phono pre, keeping in mind that it's #3 on my priority list, and the Blue Circle compared favourably to the above mentioned units. Also Raul, I won't be building my own, okay? :)

Thanks again guys,

Well George, let me just give a few quick opinions here, as I am a huge Blue Circle fan + owner.....

First, as good as the 27pi is (esp for the $$$$), I upgraded to a Pass Labs Xono, then to a Joule OPS1 Mk4 or Mk5 (have to check that one)with matching outboard power supply. Both beat the 27pi. The Pass a little more SS like than I prefer! (though SUPER easy adjustments, and quiet too - the Blue Circle had a better soundstage though)The Joule is as quiet as the Pass, but with more inner detail, better layering and staging than both, big bottomed bass (+ hall info) the 27pi I think is the weak link IMHO for your analog system (now if Gilbert is going to build you a crazy Ag based or 200/300 series phono pre, then go for it - I had Gilbert build my amps to be one of a kind BC206 like monoblocks into my BC2's..... sent the Joule OTL's packing)

I have a Basis TT/Vector Arm/Celebration cart, and the Celebration killed with all the above preamps. Like Raul said, SME Sumiko combo is something synergy wise to be heard, with the Basis being very similar to the SME in platform/performance.

Now as far as Cabling, I think the Tg Audio High Purity listed on Audiogon would be killer for your setup. I have Tg High Purity throughout(with Basis Silver Tonearm cabling the only exception), and have through my BC3.1/27pi/Xono to Joule LA150/OPS1 with the Blue Circle amps(or Joule amps), and it has been synergistic from the get go (over Cardas Golden Ref, Kimber 1030/3035, JPS Super2). I would check out that Tg Audio High Purity Din/RCA cable if still available. Killer staging, PRaT, dynamics, hall info, musical/palpable....

Let me just restate that the Celebration has similar pritorities to the Blue Circle sound/presentation. Of course if you go Dyna XV-1s then, hey.... but If you stay with the 27pi then I wouldn't go for better than the Celebration. That is a killer combo IMHO with the SME.
Monk -

Well, as a matter of fact, there was some talk of a custom phono stage a little while back, nudge nudge, wink wink ;-)

Funny, the Xono didn't work out that way in my system, mind you, it was good, so was the EAR. I'd be interested to know what speakers you are running, and I will certainly look into the TG cable, that might well be the place to start.
Most of the above was on Merlin VSM-Se's, which were just upgraded to MX'e' versions end of 06.

To be honest, the Xono didn't work out for me either. I preferred the Blue Circle's presentation for sure, although once I heard some detail I was missing in the 27pi, I had to move on..... to find both. Still the 27pi is killer good for the $$$, and in your case system synergy too.

I know Gilbert likes a challenge, maybe a Hybrid or full tube phono would be sweet with a GZPZ power supply.....

The Tg Audio and BC gear REALLY go well together. AC, IC, and Speaker. The High Purity is something else. If you do go that route, I'd love to get your feedback.

Doug - a Loricraft, and a Teres 320, and a Triplanar vii, AND and ZYX Universe????? That's extreme; clearly sanity left you long ago :)
You must be new around here. Everyone knows this. ;-)

I hope somday to pick your brain a bit about the Loricraft. My project for the next two years is to "ramp up" my analog setup, and a record cleaner is on the "to do" list.
No RCM?! Move that to the top of your list.

Don't ask any Loricraft owner for advice until you've set aside the purchase price. Don't waste time looking for a used one either, you probably won't live long enough.

I noticed that you have all Blue Circle electronics. If you like the sound of a particular line of electronics, it does make sense to stick with that line all the way through a system. That would argue in favor or staying with the BC phono.

However, the most likely area for an exception is with choice of phono stage because it is much harder to get a compatible match between a phono stage and cartridge than between phono stage and linestage.

I am not familiar with the BC phono stage so I can't comment on whether to replace it or not. But, the advice given by some to at least consider alternatives is reasonable. You may very well be looking at having to replace both your cartridge and your phonostage to get a meaningful improvement.

Your Dynavector is sort of in the sweetspot, price wise, for cartridges, so you might have to spend considerably more than double its price to get a big improvement in performance (declining marginal return is a bitch). That "better" cartridge may or may not work well with your BC phonostage and/or it may make evident weaknesses that you will want to ameliorate.

The cartridges that I am familiar with that I think would be substantially better are quite pricey -- Lyra Titan and Transfiguration Orpheus. Both sound great in my Vector Arm/Basis Debut (vacuum)/Viva Fono rig. The Orpheus I have also heard sounding very good on an SME arm/Roksan table combination.
Unless you can afford the very best I beleive very much in complimetary colorations. The lush midrange of the Koetsu is ideal for your M/L CLS.
It does present some real problems. Price. To get the frequency extremes you'll need one of the more expensive models. At least a Rosewood Platinum Signature or higher.
At the risk of asking a stupid the SME 5 pin din connector different than other din connectors, or will any 5 pin din connector fit the iv.v arm?
Dear Esoxhntr: It is similar to any other tonearm DIN pin 5 connector ( well the SME one is angled instead straight like other ones ) but different to other DIN pin5 connectors that are used in electronic devices ( preamp, amps, medical machines, etc, etc. )

regards and enjoy the music.
Ah, so the 90 degree angle is an SME thing is it? By the way Raul, that is a beautiful looking preamp that you've built! (I've been looking at a few of your posts from the last little while :) Would you mind sharing some of your thoughts regarding the Sumiko Celebration cartridge - I think you mentioned it in one of your other posts?


Just to update for those that are interested, I replaced the Van Den Hul interconnect with an Audioquest Jaguar - a subtle but nice improvement, still not quite the level of resolution I am looking for. I'm going to spend a little time making sure that the arm/cartridge setup is optimal, then I will have a listen to a couple more phono stages. Stubbornly, I still think a new cartridge is a priority, but it is also the hardest to audition, so I'll keep an open mind on the phono pre. Any recommendations you guys have will certainly be appreciated.

In the end, I will likely stick with a dynavector cartridge of some type, since I like the overall dynavector sound, but I will listen to as many of the recommended cartridges as I can dig up.
Esoxhntr, you have a very nice system. I have a 20/2 with a Graham Phantom and a Dynavector XV-1S, which I love very much. I started with a Cardas Golden Cross phono cable into my Ayre K-1xe phono stage, then moved up to a Purist Aqueous Anniversary, which is still breaking in but delivering a lot more of the music with much better dynamics and soundstaging already. I also acquired an Aesthetix Io Signature (I was advised to stay away from the Rhea) which I found to be a huge step up from the Ayre phono stage (which has been praised in magazine reviews and here on the 'Gon). While my recent experience with different products is limited as you can see and I clearly do not have the expertise that others on this thread bring to the table (some of whom have helped me very much over the past year), what it has demonstrated to me is the extraordinary difference cables and phono stage can make.

Doug Deacon and Kevin Tellekamp convinced me to spend the money to get a Loricraft, which I did with great misgivings. However, I can now say that none of my other purchases in the past 18 months has been more valuable to listening to LPs than the Loricraft.

Good listening,

I know this is off topic, but as the thread is starting to discuss improvements to an analog front end, could you please elaborate about how exactly the Loricraft improved your sound? I currently use a VPI 16.5 and though it is loud, it does clean the record. I guess the point is that everything from the cleaning thru to the interconnects leaving the phonostage should be thought of as a "system".

I certainly agree with your point that "everything from the cleaning thru to the interconnects leaving the phonostage should be thought of as a [vinyl] 'system'."

I have had for many years a Nitty Gritty record cleaner. It was certainly a great improvement over my previous ineffectual efforts to clean vinyl going back to my pre-high school days. However, results with the Nitty Gritty were well short of perfect.

I have not owned a VPI 16.5. However, this past year when I re-committed myself to vinyl (we had replaced our old transport & DAC with an Ayre C-5xe and my wife was arguing that we should get rid of the TT and sell our vinyl) and decided that the time to replace the Nitty Gritty was long overdue, a local dealer was kind enough to clean 10 of my most treasured Mercuries, Shaded Dogs and Ray Charles albums with his 16.5. The result was a decided improvement over my old Nitty Gritty, but still far from the level of improvement I was seeking.

I continued to seek advice from some of those whose knowledge, objectivity and opinions on analog matters I greatly respected. Their advice was to swallow hard and part with the big bucks to get a Loricraft. I did so reluctantly, but from the first record I cleaned with it, I was and continue to be very happy with my purchase. Most of my LPs are now as quiet as my CDs, as difficult as that may be to believe. I would recommend the Loricraft to anyone who has a substantial investment in vinyl and plans to continue to play it. I am very confident that the Loricraft will not only allow you to enjoy to a far greater degree the sonic wonders of your valuable collection but will also be a much better partner in helping you to preserve it for future generations.

Good listening,

You were not specific about the type of sound you like such as very warm (Koetsu) or very open anc clear (Lyra). I have the same table with a Phantom arm and love the sound with a Lyra Titan. This is a very non colored sound which is very detailed and smooth. This is what I like. Other friends prefer the warmer sound of a Koetsu. I have not used other brands of cartridges for many years now so I can't comment on them. If you are purchasing an expensive cartridge then you should go to several dealers and listen to the various products out there. Trust your ears more than the opinions of others. Good luck!
Lyra would be very good, Try the Skala if you can get it. The titan is good, pricy but good.

Lyra Skala is amazing for the price.
Well, the winner is a Dynavector XV-1. I got a chance to hear almst all of the mentioned cartridges (never could track down a ZYX), and though all were very, VERY good, in the end I preferred the tonal balance of Dynavectors. The ultimate nail in the coffin was Raul (many thanks for that Raul) pointing me in the direction of a killer deal on an XV-1. I spent a couple of hours setting the thing up last night, and while I am sure it's not perfect, it is close, and is a marked improvement over the 17DmkII. I did in fact get eveything I wanted - slightly firmer bass, better resolution, and a bit more output. Also, things are a little smoother up top.

In all fairness, I have gained a new appreciation for the abilities of the 17DmkII, it really does an outstanding job for it's price. But I certainly don't regret selling it to upgrade ;-)
I have a Dyna karat 17 D2 MK II, and is a good cartrigde, but the top Dyna XV-1S is the real match for a sme 20/2 be sure.
Shade of pale, (cool I.D. by the by :)

Yes, probably the XV-1S is a better cartridge, but I got a really good deal on an XV-1, and was not prepared to spend about double for a new XV-1S. And make no mistake, the XV-1 is a very competent pickup, and I am thrilled with it. And, considering the deal, and the savings I can now start to think about a record cleaning machine. Which leads me to...


I would certainly like to fire off a number of questions about the Loricraft in the not too distant future, if that is okay by you. I would also be more than pleased to hear from any other record cleaner owner/operators. The more advice the better!

Shoot me an email whenever you want to discuss the Loricraft. As difficult as it was for me to part with $2,000 for a record cleaner, I know believe it is indispensable for a music lover seriously into vinyl.

BTW, parting with that much cash for record cleaner is the only difficult thing about owning and using the Loricraft. It is easy to set up and very easy to use -- and QUIET!


The advantages of the Loricraft (and Keith Monks) are primarily related to the vacuum/vinyl interface.

With VPI, KAB, Nitty Gritty, Record Doctor, ClearAudio and similar RCM's, a vacuum wand with a "felt"-covered slot straddles the rotating LP. This has multiple disadvantages:

1. The felts get contaminated very quickly by soaking up grungy cleaning fluid. They require constant attention and frequent changing. Failure to monitor this means you're spreading scummy fluid residue around the next side you vacuum.

2. A flat, full-width slot cannot make good contact with low spots on a warped LP. Nor can it make good contact on the lead-in grooves of LP's with raised lips, the dirtiest part on most used records. Nor can it make good contact near a raised label.

3. To achieve effective air velocity across the full width of a 4" long slot requires a very powerful (and LOUD) motor. Even with this, multiple revolutions are required to get the record completely dry.

4. Unfortunately, friction from multiple revolutions causes a static buildup in the vinyl, which makes it attract the dirt you were trying to remove. To avoid this, many users advise vacuuming the record until it's "almost" dry. Unfortunately, this amounts to advising that you leave some amount of scummy residue on the LP.

In summary, RCM's with felt-lipped vacuum wands suffer from multiple operating deficiencies that are inherent in that design. The negative effects of these can be controlled with good operator techniques, but they cannot be eliminated.

By contrast, the vacuum on a Loricraft/KM is supplied via a hole that is < 1mm in diameter. The surface area of this hole is probably < 1% of the surface area of the slots on conventional RCM's. Achieving high air velocities through such a tiny hole requires a far less powerful motor. Vastly more effective vacuuming, yet quieter operation.

Further, the smaller motor generates less heat. A Loricraft will happily run 24 x 7 without overheating. Many VPI 16.5 owners can't clean more than 5 or 6 LP's in a session before the machine shuts down. I once cleaned 35 LP's in a single session on my PRC-3. I wore myself out but the machine just hummed along.

The vacuum head on a Loricraft/KM is mounted on a moveable "tonearm", which freely rises and falls over warps, lead-in ramps and other irregularities. As the arm motor drives the head across the rapidly spinning record, every inch of the surface receives the same (powerful) vacuuming.

The vacuum head/vinyl interface is metered not by grunge-grabbing felts, but by a nylon thread. Contrary to oft-expressed opinions, that thread does not "clean" the grooves. (Sewing thread is far too large to fit inside an LP groove.) The thead's only function is to maintain a constant, minimal but safe gap between vinyl surface and vacuum head.

The thread is advanced after each vacuuming sweep (with a quick twist of the spool on a Loricraft, automatically on a KM). Dirty, contaminated thread goes into the waste bottle and never touches your vinyl. A spool of thread lasts for thousands of vacuum sweeps, and replacements cost next to nothing.

With such a small point of contact and friction, static build up is virtually non-existent. Every side is vacuumed completely dry, with no undesirable side effects.

In summary, it's a better design. It's robustly built to work and last forever. As others have found, once you've used one it's very hard to imagine going back. Expensive, but worth every penny.

vpi has a new machne claiming half the the noise with twice the suction. retails for around two grand.
Sounds awesome. Now I just have to find one - not sure that's going to be easy up here in Canada. I guess if worst comes to worst Loricraft themselves can help.
As usual Doug nailed it. Nothing left to add after his post.