Fidelity Research 64s vs Jelco SA-750e


Currently I have a Jelco SA-750e (10 inch) arm on a Sota Star Sapphire with a Koetsu Rosewood Signature. This runs to an EAR 834p, Thor TA-1000 pre, Quicksilver v4 monos, and Verity Audio Parsifal Encores. The sound is very good now, but I wonder if I could decrease record/surface noise and increase bass and dynamics with a better tonearm.

Obviously the Fidelity Research 64s is better than the Jelco, but can anyone offer opinions about what kind of differences I might hear and the magnitude of difference, if I change the Jelco for the FR? Trying to decide if it is worth the extra $1300 or so to upgrade.

Thanks everyone!

montaldo
You’ve got a nice system of high quality, so I suspect you would hear and appreciate the difference between the two tonearms. Not that there is anything wrong with the Jelco. The Koetsu would also benefit from any added effective mass, since I suspect the FR64S is higher in effective mass than the Jelco. So in that regard, it’s a win-win. Whether all this amounts to $1300 of happiness, only you can decide, and unfortunately you have to take the leap in order to know for yourself. But think of it this way: If you buy an FR64S, you most likely can get all your money back should it disappoint you, which I doubt will be the case. I recommend an aftermarket headshell with the FR64S, not an FR headshell. I use an Ortofon LH9000 (18 grams) with my Koetsu Urushi, and the Urushi never sounded better. My FR64S constantly surprises me with all sorts of cartridges, high and low compliance, but in fairness, I've not heard the Jelco in my own system.
I’t’s hard to beat a 64fx or 64S for Koetsu. I once had an opportunity to buy the Koetsu-branded arm for a good price, but passed because it was a Jelco build, and my FR64fx (mounted on a SOTA Star btw) was so obviously built to a higher quality standard.

Now I have a 64S too, on a different table. And many Koetsu cartridges. If you’re a Koetsu lover - just get an FR. Koetsus sound more alive and dynamic on an FR than with the other arms I have (Graham Phantom Supreme and Clearaudio Universal, the latter being an awful pairing). Any hint of sluggish, syrupy sound, missing treble, and/or soft bass disappears with the FR. You get even more of the "midrange magic" - vocals are shockingly palpable. And the depth of the stage expands, too.

That said - the FR64fx is a heavy arm for the SOTA. They can accommodate up to 2.5 lbs, and the 64fx runs 2.2. The 64S is heavier and may or may not work - you’ll want to check on this first. A SOTA definitely won’t work with a B-60 base; my 64S w/ B-60 weights in at 3 pounds!

The Star III with 64fx and an old Onyx Signature was what made me fall in love with Koetsu.

And yes - you can toss the stock FR head shells. Some are OK, but you can do better. 
You could also look at the Jelco 850 if you can fit a 9" arm on it. Lots better than the 750. 
Great thoughts. Thank you. I had not thought about the weight of the ard the Sota suspension! Good warning...

The FR-64s without B-60 base (vta of the fly) is not so good.
I have’t tried the N-60 stabilizer

But 64fx is good as it is, becase the arm base of the 64fx is much better than the arm base of the 64s.

So for the 64s you need the B-60 base which is optional and very expensive.
With 64fx you need nothing, but the right counterweight (heavy counterweight W-250 is optional and very rare!) 



I owned both the Jelco 750D (9-inch) and the FR-64S played with my RSP. The Jelco was tweaked with the old TTW VTA collar which, like the B-60 base, adds even more weight to the arm. The FR-64S was without the B-60 Base. Head shells were Yamamoto HS-4 (Carbon Fiber), HS-6 (Titanium) and Ortofon LH-8000 (Laquered wood).  
In my system, the overall difference was small with the edge going to the FR-64S.  The FR with the LH8000 had the best combo of bass extension, midrange beauty and extension on top. Perhaps the difference would have been even greater with the B-60 base but it was enough that I was happy to sell the Jelco and do not miss it. I think the difference is small enough that you can take your time to find the right FR-64 (condition wise) for your table. 
Though I haven't had a stock 64S base, I'd agree with chakster that the stock 64fx base is really nice and solid. It's also very easy to dial in VTA with this base - not as easy as with a true VTA base, but easy enough unless you like to change VTA between records. 
This is great feedback! Exactly what I had hoped for. Karl_Desch, what a break for me that you have experience with both of these with a  Koetsu. Thanks so much.
I haven't made a move on tonearms yet, and instead changed phono stages from my ear 834P to a Joule OPS-1. I had Rich at Signature Sound upgrade caps to Jupiter Copper/wax and he also improved power supply. My God what a fantastic component! I cannot believe how organic, non-fatiguing and magical it sounds. Everything is a notch better in terms of convince people and instruments in real space. By the way, Rich was so great to work with. Super conscientious, careful and his work is beautiful. A+ for him!

So back to tonearms... Does anyone have an opinion about how much better the FR-64x or 64s might be than the Jelco 850? The 850 would be a drop-in replacement and no worries about weight with my aging Sota. I will either get the 850, or, if the FR arms are significantly better, wait and upgrade the table to a Nova or Cosmos and get an FR arm down the road a bit.

Thanks
Stu
As I said above, the 850 is significantly better than the 750. Jelco now make a 10" 850M. The 850 is open and transparent. 

Yes I have no doubt, basednon your and others' comments, that the 850 would be a great upgrade. I am just wondering how much I would be missing by not going all the way to a FR arm. I kinda feel like I might get 80% of the benefit by going to the 850, in which case due to cost and hassle, the 850 would win.
 @noromance I am getting a quote for the 850 M to go on the recently back from rebuild at factory Saphire. The Ft-3 that came with it is shot...

Not exactly sure what cartridge..yet...something below $2 K


I bought a used Koetsu Rosewood Signature for $1400 that I use with my Jelco 750e (10") and old star.sapphire and it is pretty amazing sounding. I have trouble envisioning how it could improve, with the exception of perhaps less groove/record noise. But  buying used cartridges is high wire work... A little scary. I got lucky.


@montaldo The 64 is not a 66. Legacy reviews say the 64 is a little lacking in top end detail. The 850 is crystalline clear. AFAIK, George Merrill has the best Jelco pricing.
Thanks noromance. One thing I want to be cautious of when changing tone arms is I don't want to significantly change the tonal balance. Right now it is about perfect and so I was hoping staying with jelco brand would give me a very similar total balance and house sound but reducing record noise and may be improving things without Shifting the balance. Is your experience with the 850 versus the 750 consistent with that or is the 850 very different sound?
Not sure if you saw my meandering post (read it all as there are some notes) on my 750 to 850 upgrade but it kind of sums it up.
In a nutshell, the 850 gives you more of everything while retaining the qualities of the 750 - space, acoustic, slam, tightness, air, color, timbre, sweetness, clarity! The best definition is that you will hear an arm experience you didn't know existed.
Yes I read your review. Very helpful  do you (or does anyone) have knowledge about the merits of the 950 vs the 850?

Reminder that I use the Koetsu Rosewood Signature and the compliance is rated at around 8-9 (5 by Japanese specs @100hz which I understand translates to 8-9 when comparing)

Thanks
@noromance 

The 64 is not a 66. Legacy reviews say the 64 is a little lacking in top end detail. The 850 is crystalline clear.

This review is from 2010 and a plain BS in my opinion. The reviewer more concerned about awful SPU cartridges (the reason why he can;t get crystalline clear quality), but the FR tonearm must be used with FR-7fz cartridge and it's mind blowing experience. The reviewer prefer Thomas Schick tonearm which i oaned with various SPU cartridges and it's nothing special. The FR-64s or 64fx are much better tonearms than Thomas Schick handmade arms. And i believe the Koetsu cartrige is much better than SPU. So the reviewers opinion doesn't matter. 

I wouldn't compare Jelco to the Fidelity-Research 64s. 
@montaldo The Koetsu should be fine. I run a Deccas in my Jelcos and they sound excellent with no tracking issues.
I obviously agree with chakster about the quality of the FR arms, owning both FR-64s and FR-64fx. And the synergy with the FR-7 series MC's is certainly special, but they're definitely not a must. The FR-64 arms work their magic with a great many other cartridges as well. I only use them with LOMC's, but according to other owners they even work well with MM's with higher compliance. Despite the high effective mass - certainly in the case of the 64s - they turn out to be surprisingly universal.

I haven't heard the Jelco, but based on most reports it doesn't seem to be a serious competitor to either the 64s or 64fx.

This review is from 2010 and a plain BS in my opinion.

It IS total BS.......and lucky it's on my screen and not in printed version or you know where in my body it would be used.....?!
The FR-66S is arguably the BEST match for ALL the SPUs ever made (A style or G style).
The writer is obviously deaf, has tinnitus or lives in Mexico City....🤪
Or is writing about the 64...
I have both....no differences.
You seem to have not heard either...?
@halcro I haven't any recollection of hearing the FR64/6. However, my only dog in the fight is the Jelco 850 which the OP is asking about. I quoted and linked to a review on the 64 which said it was a little rolled off in order to assist the OP. Then the FR fanboys cried foul which is fair enough.