Is the KAB Fluid Damper worth it if...


...that is the only mod you purchase for a technics 1210? My setup will consist of a 3" maple platform with brass footers replacing the existing ones. I really don't think I could do the rewire myself, and I don't really want to send my turntable into KAB. With just the purchase of the damper would this rig be able to get the most out of higher end cartridges?--Cheers
jmoog08
I think most 1200 users agree that the best upgrade for the Technics is the Sumiko headshell. At $40, it's also the most inexpensive.

http://www.needledoctor.com/Sumiko-HS12-Headshell?sc=2&category=432

I believe the fluid damper only makes a big difference when using finnicky cartridges that cost far more than the SL-1200 itself, like low-compliance, low-output moving coils. So if, as you say, you plan to use a high-end cartridge, then absolutely, go for it. I find Denon MC cartridges pair very well with the SL-1200. The most popular pairing is with the DL-103 and DL-103R (which perform beyond their modest price tags) but the $950 DL-S1 is one of the greatest steals in all of audio. Just some suggestions.

Try the Sumiko first. I consider it essential so regardless of whether you do the fluid damper or not, it won't be a wasted purchase.
Ed, in past times you were pretty enthusiastic about the DL-160 on the SL-1200, a little less so about the DL-103. How has that changed for you in the last 2-3 years, and what's your current opinion on the DL-103 or DL-103R on an SL-1200 vs. the DL-160? And did you ever mount a DL-103 variant on an SL12x0 with the KAB fluid damper? I have an SL1210 M5G w/fluid damper, Sumiko shell, and DL-160. I'm wondering what the DL-103 brings to the party.

And +1 on your assessment of the Sumiko headshell. It should be the first thing an SL-12x0 owner buys after the turntable itself. In fact, whenever I think about getting another cartridge, I think of getting another Sumiko to mount it on. I won't be putting it on the Technics or Stanton shells I have hanging around the house.
04-09-08: Johnnyb53....the Sumiko headshell. It should be the first thing an SL-12x0 owner buys after the turntable itself.

johnnyB, hmm? must've missed this in the past. So, the sumiko headshell provides what improvements? I already have the fluid damper and use a AT150MLX cart.

thanks, ed
The ZuPreme Headshell is an alternative to the Sumiko.

I use the ZuPreme.

Never compared the two.
My experience is that the fluid damper is a must have. My cartridge is an AT120e/t which is very forgiving however it certinately tracks and SOUNDS much better with the damper. Other people think the Cardas tonearm re-wire is the biggest bang for the buck. Can't comment on the headshell as I'm using an 20 yearr old Audioquest w/gold connectors and litz wires.

04-09-08: Edo_musica
So, the sumiko headshell provides what improvements? I already have the fluid damper and use a AT150MLX cart.
First of all, I'm a BIG fan of the fluid damper. I added it after I had already gotten a DL-160 mounted to a Sumiko HS12 headshell.

Improvements from the Sumiko?
--Increases effective mass of the tonearm to match the compliance of popular cartridges today
--More rigid and less resonant than stock cartridge
--Much better headshell leads and clips than stock (worth $20 on their own)
--More secure and rigid mechanical interface to the tonearm with second alignment pin
--Azimuth adjustment, which enables you to dial more accurate and symmetrical seating of the stylus in the groove, resulting in better balanced stereo image and soundstage

The headshell weight could be a help or hindrance depending on the cartridge. The DL-160 is very light, so the Sumiko helps compensate. For a heavier cartridge, a lighter headshell might be warranted, but the Sumiko still brings better wiring, better bayonet mount, more rigidity, and adjustability.
Thanks johnny. I see. Good to know about the weight.
BTW, my AT150(MM)cartride's weight is 8.3g vs. the DL-160(MC) 4.8g. -ed
Ed, in past times you were pretty enthusiastic about the DL-160 on the SL-1200, a little less so about the DL-103. How has that changed for you in the last 2-3 years.

Since I discovered the SL-1200, I've found that, at least on bulletin boards and discussion forums, that "the most popular pairing is with the DL-103 and DL-103R." I was just stating what I believe the be a fact, not my personal opinion. I still prefer the DL-110/DL-160 to the DL-103 because I like the additional detail their more sophisticated cantilevers/styli provide. But the DL-103 has an undeniably bold and immediate sound that many people associate with much more expensive low output MC designs.

I just got in touch with Denon to see if they would loan me a DL-103 or 103R for a detailed review in Positive Feedback Online. I'm also planning to conatct Kevin at KAB about whether or not the fluid damper will work with my SL-1400Mk2, which is the only Technics I have on hand right now. If both work out, I'll be able to do a thorough listening test of the DL-103 and a nice sidebar on how it performs with -- and without -- the fluid damper.
I own a KAB SL-1210MK5SE with just about all of the mods you can get from Kevin, except for the record clamp. You can always remove the tonearm and send it in to Kevin to be rewired, that's what I did. That was because when I bought the table I planned on using it with the OL armboard and a Rega RB300. Didn't like it and when back to the OEM arm with the fluid damper and rewire. I think the rewire over the stock wire is the biggest bang, then the damper. I tried the LPGear Zupreme headshell and didn't like it with my cartridge, a Garrott FGS. I went back to the OEM headshell, but did upgrade the cartridge leads. But, I'm sure the headshell upgrade is all dependent upon the cartridge you choose. Just a word of caution though that it may not work as well with all applications.
Back to the original question, I *think* both mods are important, but I don't know exactly because I have the SL1210 M5G which comes from the factory with upgraded wiring. I *have* noticed further (subtle) improvements by separating the interconnect leads and then loosely twisting them together. Based on that, I suspect that an upgrade from garden variety SL1200 tonearm wire to Cardas, Kimber, or whatever Kevin offers would have a welcome effect of more openness, more detail, more dynamics, airier presentation, improved soundstage, etc.

The fluid damper brings a different set of improvements to the party. I can't say which is more important, though I guess if you don't have good signal transfer from the cartridge, the rest of the tweaks won't be as noticeable either. Some critics say the stock SL1200 sounds dark. I would never say that of the SL1210 M5G, but hey, maybe it's the better tonearm wire.

OTOH, I disagree somewhat with Ed in that I found the fluid damper to be a noticeable improvement even with fairly low-priced cartridges, in my case, the Denon DL-160. It's not a dramatic night-and-day difference, and you have to make sure you don't overdamp, but once it's in, you get a greater sense of refinement, sweeter strings, clearer, more articulate percussion, more clarity and inner detail and bass detail. Its improved ability to track warps has made it a boon to this bargain-bin LP shopper.

Ed may well be right that these improvements manifest themselves more dramatically with upscale cartridges. I can't speak to that but I certainly felt that the trough was well worth it for the DL-160.

Given that great matchup, I bet the Sumiko headshell and trough would be killer with a Sumiko BPS EVO III or Blackbird.
Are you still considering the KAB fluid damper? If so, I'll be buying one and posting before/after audio samples here in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Just FYI.
103 fans may want to try the 103sa. I'm still running mine in, but so far, it has quite a bit more in the mids to highs. Frequency range is rated from 20Hz - 45kHz in the documentation. What I am hearing is much more richness in the mids and highs.

And ever since I tried UWE's wood body for my old 103r, I would never go back to the stock plastic body. I have the 103sa in an ebony body now.

Based on my experiences with a 103, 103r and 103sa:

103 - excellent cartridge
103r - extended highs over the 103
103sa - far more extension over the 103 with added richness

I have not done a side by side comparison.

I am in line for the KAB fluid damper. Can't wait to get that installed. I have the SL1210MG5 and I can say that the wire that comes with that model is very very good.
The KAB Electro-Acoustic TD-1200 Tonearm Fluid Damping System is one of the last KAB mods I have left to try. I think the Record Clamp is the only one I'm missing.

Is the TD-1200 worth it? With out question. This is a very impressive modification to the stock tonearm on the SL1210M5G. I have to give Kevin utmost respect and credit for his line of modifications to the Technics 12xx turntable. His designs are elegant and simple to install and they definitely are educational.

The Fluid Damping System brings coherency to the for-front for benefits to my system now. Sounds are now fully flushed out and filled where before they were somewhat hollow. From the bottom up to the top, the lows to the highs are now fully fleshed out with body, very nice. I have a Graham Phantom I've been thinking about mounting, but I've lost a little motivation now, I don't know, I may get to it soon. But the Technics 12xx is seriously ready for enjoyment.
Might be a silly question but does the dampen help lower the noise floor on this tt because i like the sound of the tt but the noise floor even with a nice benz micro ace is too high for this analog newbie but grizzled digital vet!

Thanks

Michael
" noise floor is too high for this analog newbie but grizzled digital vet!"

Damper might help.. but unless your cleaning and treating with good wet/vac solutions on your vinyl media it will never improve to that extent, clean and it will.
Just installed my TD1200 last week to my SL-1210M5G with a Goldring g1042 cart on stock headshell. I had the tt a couple of months with out the damper so I had plenty of time to listen without it. I had lots of fun with the table. many positives and there are some areas that are not great. Take the new album ON Rainbow by Radiohead, the music seemed to come from different palces in the soundstage but never got back together to make music- the damper brought it all together and just seemed to make it sound more like a live performance would. It had made that difference on several different albums that I have listened to. Some, though, didn't sound any different at all, or very little. On my better pressings it did make a nice improvement and the Goldring cart seems to have some pretty nice range to really dig out the info in a groove. The Gring 1042 is at an awkward price point at around $400- but it is an incredible cart with this table. Lush comes to mind as I can't seen to get enough s of it. I just crossed the 50 hour mark and it continues to impress.
Is the tonearm dampen something a newbie can install? One that is not mr diy?

Michael

Ps sure wish the technics 1210M5g could use any phono cable you want because the attached one looks cheap! Yeah perhaps can ship to kab but thats a pain! Anyone change out the phono cable?
The TD-1200 Tonearm Dampening System is easy to install, the trickiest part is removing the tiny screw on the tonearm of the MG5. I stripped it, so I had to get a Dremel tool to cut a flat screw slot into the stripped phillips screw head in order to get the screw out.

The phono cable on the MG5 is actually a feature that you paid for in getting the MG5 model. The cable is pretty darn good. You are much better off addressing other issues on the turntable first before to approach the actual phono cable. IMHO

The external power supply and tonearm dampening system are two big areas of improvement.
The fluid damper is not difficult to install. The biggest risk is in over tightening- stainless into aluminum is easy to strip. No need to sock it down, just snug it up and you will be ok. As James mentioned be careful removing the screw on tonearm . It is a small philips that will require an eye glass type philipsl to remove.
It will be well worth your efforts.
Radioheadokplayer:

Lowering the noise floor is a cumulative process and the fluid damper represents one increment. The biggest is clean records, but the biggest for the Technics is how you platform it. If you don't want a multi-layer approach, at least get the Isonoe feet from KAB. If that's more than you want to spend, then do what I did and replace the feet with Dayton threaded brass cones from PartsExpress situated on a $25 or $50 butcher block cutting board from Ikea or Cuisinart respectively, placed on the proper weight-rated Vibrapods or Mapleshade's cork/rubber Isoblocks. Next, get some Technics bearing oil and put a few drops into the bearing well. You'd be surprised what this does and how commonly it's ignored. Oh, yeah, and the Sumiko or LPGear ZuPreme headshell. It's more rigid and less resonant.

Also, some stylus shapes are reputedly quieter than others. The MicroLine stylus in particular (used on several Audio Technica cartridges) is cited by reviewers for this characteristic.


Ps sure wish the technics 1210M5g could use any phono cable you want because the attached one looks cheap! Yeah perhaps can ship to kab but thats a pain! Anyone change out the phono cable?
The M5G cable may look generic but it's not. I believe it's OFC litz wire. At least it's OFC. I've lived with my M5G for over a year and have made lots of mods and upgrades, but haven't felt any urge to upgrade the cable. It's fast, extended at both frequency extremes, clear and transparent, and a good capacitance match. For reference, I'm used to using Kimber Hero, JPS Superconductor, and Audioquest PSC+ (high purity single-crystal copper) as interconnects. To the M5G's credit, I have been able to easily tell differences in cartridges, turntable mats, the fluid damper, and downstream improvements in the phono and line stages. A low-rez interconnect would obscure those changes. The transparency and speed of my 1210 M5G is remarkable. I never would have thought I could get the sound out of it that I do, though it's been a year-long evolution.

You can extend the top end a bit by separating the left and right leads, and can lower noise by then twisting them together.
johnnyb53,

is it easy to replace existing tt feet with the dayton brass cones?

are we talking vibrapods cones or isolators....4 right?
06-24-08: Radioheadokplayer
johnnyb53,
Is it easy to replace existing tt feet with the dayton brass cones?
Are we talking vibrapods cones or isolators....4 right?
As luck would have it, the threads included with the Dayton cones are size M6 (metric), a screw-in replacement for the original feet.

You *could* remove the feet and replace them with Vibrapod cones, with the footer threads resting on the balls of the Vibrapods, but I haven't tried that yet, and you would have to have some other means of leveling the turntable.

I was talking about regular Vibrapods *under* the cutting board, with the brass cones above, between the turntable and the top of the cutting board.
This is an interesting discussion regarding isolation and coupling with the turntable.

Hard cones are coupling devices. They don't inhibit transmission of vibration. Vibrapods are isolation devices akin to using sorbothane.

So, it's interesting that someone finds a mix of isolation and coupling to work for them.

Most of the high end tables that use air platforms (Walker for example) are implementing isolation. The Ginko Cloud platform uses isolation, as do the Isonoe feet sold by KAB.

I isolate my TT using a Neuance platform with sorbothane under the platform. The TT has its adjustable stock feet (they are useful to level the table). If I replaced the stock feet, I'd likely use the Isonoe feet.

06-24-08: Tvad
This is an interesting discussion regarding isolation and coupling with the turntable.

Hard cones are coupling devices. They don't inhibit transmission of vibration. Vibrapods are isolation devices akin to using sorbothane.

So, it's interesting that someone finds a mix of isolation and coupling to work for them.
That's exactly my intention and it's based on the Mapleshade model. I use the brass cones under the turntable to transfer vibration into the butcher block cutting board. To increase this function I would like to replace the Dayton cones with Mapleshade Heavyfeet and get a second cutting board and epoxy them together to increase the mass that absorbes the vibration (but for that money I decided to get a Cambridge 640p phono stage instead for now).

I put Vibrapods under the cutting board to isolate the entire structure from the stand and room, and perhaps to help dissipate the vibration that the cones transfer into the cutting board.

At least, that's my theory.

That's why I see the Isonoes as a sort of standalone solution, to dissipate the SL12x0's plinth vibrations and also isolate the table from in-room vibrations. If you use Mapleshade Heavyfeet instead, it's probably better to platform them onto a Mapleshade block or cutting board, and isolate the whole thing with Isoblocks between the board and the shelf.
Ok james i bought the butcher block and vibrapods...

It says you can put them under existing feet....think that is good idea or také off tt feet?

Michael

06-25-08: Radioheadokplayer
Ok james i bought the butcher block and vibrapods...

It says you can put them under existing feet....think that is good idea or také off tt feet?
You will get some improvement setting the turntable with OEM feet on the butcher block/Vibrapod assembly. You will get another jump in dynamics and clarity when you replace the OEM feet with *at least* Dayton brass cones from Parts Express ($20/set of 4 + shipping) or other feet such as Mapleshade heavyfeet. Adding the brass cones definitely is a noticeable improvement. My wife noticed both improvements easily.

Another alternative might be to replace the feet with Vibrapod *cones* with the turntable's foot thread sockets resting on the balls of the Vibrapod cones, but I haven't tried that setup yet.
Anyone try the mapleshade to see if worth extra $ over the dayton or vibrapod or others?

There are two mapleshade feet v3...one 2 feet high and one 1.5 high
The Mapleshade feet to get (if you get'em) are the Threaded Heavyfeet at $40 each, or $160/set for a Technics.

A-goners who have them like them a lot. I'm not sure if anyone has had the smaller Dayton cones and then upgraded for comparison. I am guessing that the Mapleshades would sound noticeably better than the Daytons. They almost certainly would sound different, as the heavier weight would change the mass loading, vibration paths, and resonant frequencies.

Ditto for the Isonoe footers. Some have Mapleshade cones; others have Isonoe footers at about the same price, but I don't know of anyone who has tried both.
Mapleshade cones are coupling devices. Isonoe footers are isolating devices.

Each must make the table sound differently.
james,

it looks like the dayton isolation cones are now $25.19 + shipping for set of 4 if I am not mistaken which product to order.

I will try this since its so much less than the mapleshade

it looks like the dayton isolation cones are now $25.19...
Radioheadokplayer (Threads | Answers)

Despite their name, Dayton brass isolation cones are not isolation devices. They are coupling devices.

Metal cones drain vibration to the surface below by coupling to it. Dayton cones, Mapleshade footer, and AudioPoints are examples.

There are many isolation devices: industrial air tables, audio platforms by Neuance, HRS, etc., Herbie's footers, Isonoe footers, Vibrapods, and sorbothane.

Some products try to accomplish both. Symposium Rollerblocks, Aurios, and Boston TuneBlocks are examples of these.

Which of these an individual will prefer is entirely up to the individual, IMO.
NO, not the ones at $25.19. I meant the ones they market as speaker spike/cones--the first four selections here, where they differ only by color. For example, for black chrome, you'd get this set for $22.88 for a set of four plus shipping.

These include m6-size threads which makes these brass cones a low-cost screw-in replacement for the Technics feet.

Of course, as Tvad said, you then need something to couple them to such as an isolation platform.
I had an extra set of Daytons laying around and gave this a shot, yes they are a direct replacement, however due to the design of the technics they have a swivel boot type footer built into the bottom of the table which is mushy that the old feet screw into and is not exactly easy to get the spikes to stand solid and level.

Also I don't know how effective spikes will really be screwed into a mushy device like this as you are basically still using a decoupled fitting into a solid spike but making it less effective than if the spike was threaded right to the solid part of the plinth. I have not done a comparison, and I have leveled the table via bubble level with the 4 new spikes installed.

I will say from past experience spikes on a turntable have been far better results than any spring loaded, or soft shoe type feet that are normally standard. Higher soundstagging, better more solid bass, and yes even Warmer more balanced dynamics, again not sure how effective screwing these cones into the stock technic footers would be, and it looks like you can not remove or modify the existing footer assembleys, which leaves you with no other options but to go to a Blue tack and stick like a 3 leg cone pattern to the bottom or drill new holes which I do not recommend.

Bottom line go to spikes fitted to the original inserts after removing technics feet and you will have spikes that Sway (or can be bo-legged)and do not stand totally straight due to they will have flexable mounts still.
So are vibrapods under a butcherblock and also above the butcher block with the technics feet left on and resting on the vibropods a good isolation setup?
Radio,
If you wish I do have a full set of the custom made "Vibrapods" but they are actually sorbothane boots made to fit directly on the technics feet perfectly from KAB U.S.A.. they are about 60 bucks a set, They are sitting in a box, I can do like 43 bucks for the set of 4 if you wish to have them.. I would still however probably SPIKE the Butcher block itself to the shelf it sits and then use the Iso feet under the technics feet on the table.. They fit snug over the old ones. Send me an email if interested, I will absorb the paypal fees and ship via Fed ex ground if you want for that price.

Heres a link
http://www.kabusa.com/frameset.htm?/
Kevin of KAB sells three isolating devices: Sonic Domes, Sorbothane Boots, and Isonoe Footers.

He seems to know the Technics tables very well, and I'd put my faith in his selection of tweaks.
06-26-08: Tvad
Kevin of KAB sells three isolating devices: Sonic Domes, Sorbothane Boots, and Isonoe Footers.
Yeah. I got tired of equivocating over whether to get Mapleshade Heavyfeet or Isonoe footers, so I ended up spending that amount of money on a Cambridge 640p phono stage instead. Turned out to be a good choice. :)
Turned out to be a good choice. :)
Johnnyb53 (Threads | Answers)
That's what counts.
anyone buy the super mat from kabusa? is it better than the stock mat for the 1210m5g?

thanks

Michael
Your M5G should have came with a 17oz X 1/4" rubber mat (Super Mat)
BTW -little tweak- try flipping it over so the smooth side is up for a different sound. The mat will then only contact the platter at the raised rings, amazing difference in sound, better or worse I am not sure, but different.
Kevin at kabusa recommended the thicker mat he sells so am gonna try that too!

Kevin was not convinced that changing the headshell is a great idea especially for a newbie so i ain't doing that for now
The big advantage to the thicker, heavier mat is that its extra weight dampens the platter better (and that's one ringy mo-fo). The extra weight also slightly increases the flywheel effect of the platter.

I don't have a supermat, but I *do* has a sorbothane-based Oracle Groove Isolator mat, which weighs about the same. It brought a noticeable improvement in dynamic range and clarity.

As for the headshells, the wire leads on the Technics could bear improving. Most places, the silk-wrapped OFC Litz wire replacements are $20, but they're $15.95 at LPGear.

Kevin has a point, that the Technics headshell is only 7.5g, and you would be hard-pressed to find one as light and rigid on the aftermarket w/o spending a lot more money.

OTOH, the 12g Sumiko (or LPGear ZuPreme) headshell increases the arm's overall effective mass to 16.5g, which provides a better match for many cartridges with a compliance in the range of 10-15. The Sumiko/Zupreme comes standard with those $20 cartridge leads, and provides azimuth adjustment as well.

So if nothing else, the heavier headshell increases the range of cartridges that run well on the Technics.
I owned a SL1210M5G and it doesn't come with the thicker super mat, just the standard one. And when my friend put the thicker mat from KAB on it, the noise floor was lowered.. I highly recommend this upgrade if you aren't ready to do the Isoplate/Herbies upgrade..$$$

AudioTechnica makes some lighter headshells. The big reason you see people change the headshells is for Azimuth Adjustment and to deal with the heavy Denon Carts. The Technics M5G has pretty good OFC copper wire leads.... so this update doesn't make as big of a difference as all the other Technics tables which don't have the upgraded wiring.
I bought 4 3/4 inch washers, they fit right over
the holes for the original feet. The Dayton cones
then fit tight & straight & don't sway at all.
06-28-08: Cytocycle
The Technics M5G has pretty good OFC copper wire leads.... so this update doesn't make as big of a difference as all the other Technics tables which don't have the upgraded wiring.
You're right--the tonearm wire in the SL1210 M5G is pretty good and I haven't had any urge to change it. The tonearm leads in their headshell is another story, however. I just got a set of the silk-wrapped litz ofc cart leads; I'll install 'em in my Technics headshell and see if I notice a difference.

Do you have a link to the lighter AT headshells? The lightest I've seen is their magnesium one at www.audiocubes2.com, and it weighs 11g, which is 3.5g more than the std. Technics.
Vinylvin
3/4 " Thick ? Or 3/4 " Diameter ? I tried out some washers, but basic thickness like a Quarter and about the diameter of a Quarter and they did Help a little in stabilizing the cones, however still can tilt pretty easily, just has more resistance to doing so fighting against the accordian style boot fitting with the threaded insert… I am guessing it might be that the M5G has a different mounting cup under it than some of the older or other style 1200 series? I don't doubt it as this footer system on the M5g does seem a bit more advanced than what would have been around on 1200 tables in the 80's or 90's etc… So maybe that is a difference here in getting the cones to stand solid.         
3/4 " Diameter, they fit perfect right over
the holes. They cost 60 cents each. I tried
the little quarter ones also, they did nothing
just like you said.

I can't believe how bad the original feet are,
you don't notice until you take them off.
3/4 " must be the hole size, I thought that was
small, the washer diameter is 2 1/4 ". They are
maybe 1/8 " thick.
"That must barely fit within the molded edge"

It fits over not in, I thought I got one the fit
inside the hole but these fit over & worked perfect.
It's more like 1/16" thick. It looks nice also. Just
pick out ones that are the same, they don't all have
the same edge. It sounds so much better with the cones.
so anyone try what vinylvin did to find a threaded cone to perfectly replace the technics tt feet?