Kuzma Four Point compared to SME V-12 tonearm


Interested to learn who has heard either the SME V-12 or Kuzma Four Point arms, and with what related equipment.
I'm familiar with M.Fremer's review of the Kuzma.
I want to upgrade my Technics SP10 MkII table from the very nice Acos Lustre ST-801, and have a new Micro Benz LP-S cartridge. The two arms I am considering are the SME V-12 and Kuzma's Four Point.
My audio buddy has the V-12 and I am quite familiar with it, but his system is solid state where mine is hybrid, his cartridge is beyond my means, and his speakers, though wonderful, are monitors where mine are full range with subs.
I look forward to learning what *experience* others have had.
Thanks very much in advance for your assistance.

Best, David
cdk84
David,
Classic 'table you have there.
I've sold and set up several 4Points, with each and every customer thrilled with their purchases. One of them had owned an SME V and a TriPlanar, preferring the latter but feeling he could do better. From the first few bars with the 4Point he was all smiles, saying it did exactly what he hoped for.
I imagine the V-12 is better than the V, being similar but with less tracking error due to the length.
If budget is a concern the Kuzma Stogi S 12 VTA delivers a lot of the 4Point's performance for about half the price.

Dealer disclosure.
I am getting wonderful performance from my LPS from a VPI 10.5i.
While I cannot attest to the merits of the LP-S, I do have direct experience with the SME V-12, similar SME 312s and most recently, the Kuzma 4 Point. All aforementioned arms are worthy considerations and siting the characteristic differences between the V-12 and 4-Point although apropos may, like in so many similar instances when comparing top contenders, prove subjective in nature. Judging solely by specifications, either tonearm would mate well with your LP-S. While comparing these tonearms here, using the resident VDH Colibri XGM, I immediately noted the SME to have a slightly more upfront demeanor and balanced overall presentation. The Kuzma 4-Point throwing a more dimensional presentation with accurate spatial cues and high resolving capabilities.
I ought to have mentioned, for several reasons, that I've had considerable listening time with Both SME V-spec arms, the 9" and the 12. The difference is Very Pronounced. This is direct experience with at least 200 hours' listening.

From another pretty reliable source I've heard comparison of the 312-S and V-12; if their report is as trustworthy as I suspect, there is no comparison between the arms, just as there is very little shared between the V-9 and V-12. The SME V-12 arm, properly set up --which takes some time, patience and developing expertise-- gives some of the finest playback I've heard, ever.

I don't consider myself a well-seasoned audiophile, but I'm not new on the block either, just not as familiar with analog as I would like to be.

It's largely MFremer's review placing the Kuzma 4PT above the Cobra on his Caliburn TT that has me wondering.

To place things in perspective, I listened last night to a range of familiar source material with the SME V-12 and found myself referring to Fremer's review and the viewpoint of one of the above-mentioned listeners. Essentially they say the Kuzma 4PT is more 'lively' than the SME V-12. When I listened last night I asked whether anything more 'lively' sounding could possibly be other than exaggeration, as the SME V-12 was so solid, so credible, so well balanced, feeling accurate both timbrally and in wealth of textural detail. It tamed the sibilance on 'April in Paris', gave better depth and color to the skins, more air to the cymbals on the Sheffield Drum Track while still representing the flaw of the recording, namely that the drum kit sounds almost twice life size (ie: gives more of the good stuff without lying about the liabilities). How could something be more real?

Is this one of those occasions when I just have to spend $6K to find out?

That's why I'm asking.

Thanks again for your thoughts.
You should try to check the new Simplicity from Thales (Swiss Co.)

I was reviewing it for Hifilive e-magazine and I am liking soooooo much
I am interested in this also, the SME , Kuzma, AND the Thales are on my radar..
4points and Simplicity are these days two of the best choices available at any price
I've heard the 4PT at several shows-- with performance varying from average to superb. The best so far was as personally set up and demoed by Franc Kuzma at CES. He demoed the 4PT on a redesigned Stabi Reference table. The TT now has a belt-driven single DC motor with enough torque to get the LP to full speed in one revolution. This lets you queue up a stationary record, sit down on the couch, and start play via remote control. A very convincing demo.

BTW he mentioned that the Airline still surpasses the 4PT.
Dgarretson, that was not a redesigned Stabi Reference, that was the new Stabi M, introduced last year at the Munich hifi show and shown for the first time in the US at the recent CES. It has a single large 3-phase DC motor and very different belt.
My apologies, the plain-jane exterior of the formidable Stabi TT had me confused.
I tend to think of it as understated, certainly not plain-jane.
Still interested in learning people's direct experience with the 4PT arm, particularly in relation to the SME V-12. Helpful though some of your responses have been, I think we got a little off topic.
Thanks
01-30-13: Pojuojuo
4points and Simplicity are these days two of the best choices available at
any price

Applause.
I am waiting for the 4P Ltd (Wood tube, retail $45000) :-) mounted on
the Good Night Turntable Mk 33⅓ in combination with the long
awaited Meteor Cantilever Koetsu.
Syntax, you have a great deal of experience with a broad range of arms. Have you heard the Kuzma 4PT? If so, with what associated equipment?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

David
Dear Cdk84: I respect all the persons opinions here but IMHO the first issues to compare two tonearms ( any. ) is that must be with the same cartridge in the same TT and with the same IC and seems to me that only Chris74 did it inside that " environment ".

Both tonearms are good performers but with its own trade-offs from a " perfect " tonearm design. IMHO when we are talking of this level of quality performance people normaly decide taking in count which item is/performs nearer to their music sound targets/priorities ( almost each audiophile has unique audio priorities. ) and in the other side which item is more " user friendly " or gives me more " facilities " and even its second hand price to re-sale when the moment comes.

Your vintage Acos is a good performer too unfortunately is not the Lustre GST-801 that after internal rewiring is a hard challenge for any of the tonearms named here with the advantage that is aremovable universal type headshell to match in better way with a cartridge.

IMHO you have to contact directly with Chris74 and talk with him in a wider way on the subject, he is a very good " reference " and as a dedicated audiophile ( you can try to find out other persons to take some advice from first hand experiences. ) IMHO better than any audio magazine reviewer or audio distributor/sellers.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Syntax, you have a great deal of experience with a broad range of arms. Have you heard the Kuzma 4PT? If so, with what associated equipment?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

David

Yes, one of my friends owns that Arm mounted on a Raven AC, we compared on that table with Kuzma Airline, Graham Phantom and a Triplanar VII. Same cartridges (at that time we used 2 Zyx UNIverse), same Phonostage, Frontend ....
We also compared the Raven AC to Kuzma reference Table, both tables used the Airline Arm...
I posted some time ago some pics about that ...
http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1359028374&openmine&zzSyntax&4&5#Syntax
Dear Cdk84: You posted on that thread that Syntax linked. Read the Downunder post.

As some one in this thread posted several times the differences in opinions are because it does not matters how high/to or low is the audio system the system owners give their oipions according his personal/subjective priorities.

All of us like different kind of distortions, I know almost perfectly what kind of distortions likes Syntax and I can tell you not only are different from yours or mine but in the " high " side.

Even that I prefer to take in count audiophile opinions over any reviewer/seller opinion.

Now: what did sugest Benz Micro for its LP-S?. Now ( again ): which phono/line stage are you using with?

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Raul, you are old and your "brain" shows its time. You repeat your distortion nonsense year in year out (like everything).

I know almost perfectly what kind of distortions likes Syntax...

You k-n-o-w??? Come on, don't confuse me

I forgot more about high quality analog reproduction than you will ever learn (but i wrote that to you years ago and your limited brain simply didn't get all over the time, maybe the mexican sun?)
Syntax,
Could you share some impressions from that comparo? AC vs. Kuzma TTs; and how different arm compared?
Thank you
Ps68, We just upload my review of the new Thales pick up and turntable on Hifilive. Check it!!!
02-13-13: Pojuojuo
Ps68, We just upload my review of the new Thales pick up and turntable on Hifilive. Check it!!!

Hi Pojuojuo,

Would you post the link to your Thales review, please?

Thank you,

cdk84
Sorry I am late but I just saw it

http://www.hifilive.es/2013/02/13/thales-ttt-compact-brazo-simplicity-2/

My next review is about 4points so I could write here a little bit something
interesting. Maybe next one will be some SME-12" arm...
I have 4point, benz lps, and heart sme many times in my friends setup which i am very familiar. First of all i think you cant go wrong with benz, it matches any tonearm(imid to high mass of course). It plays good in any setup, thats why i decided to buy.

The tonearms is a different issue. Imho 4point is more allrounder, but it is more polite then sme. If you value prat sme would be a good choice, but if you care refinemen and borader dynamic range t kuzma is a good choice. These are my opinions, based on my experience and my system and my friend system. Analog experience can be very different, i respect any different experience and like to hear it.
I had the SME v standard size on a SME 20/2 TT. I now have a Kuzma XL4 TT, initially with a ref Stogi 313arm (12") . I compared the kuzma set up with the SME using a Benz LP ebony in both. The Kuzma was superior.
I know this is the shorter sme arm but I found even tracking on a test record was better with the Kuzma. I dont know about the 12" but the standard smeV has no azimuth adjustment. I have found this can make some difference.
I now have added a second arm, 4pt, to the TT. This improves on the ref 313, dynamics, bass, image, are all a step up from the already excellent ref313.
IMO and others, the Benz LPs is not much different from the original LP and although I liked the Benz, owning 2, I found it a bit over romantic. I have replaced the LP with an airtight PC3 in one arm and Shelter Harmony in the 4pt. Both these carts out shine the Benz in all areas.
SME though rigidity is far more important than Azimuth adjustment, analog world is about compromises in design.

At thist time i have the 4points assembled so... time to enjoy
Yeah I thought that until I was able to adjust the azimuth. The kuzma arms don't seem to compromise on rigidity and are certainly better than sme.
DCTOM - I can't understand how you can say the original LP, and the LPS are close in performance. I hear an enormous difference between the 2 cartridges...the LPS being much, much better. I'm using the VPI printed arm.
Hi Springsteen - I can only relate what I heard and a uk dealer as well. Maybe the LPs has improved since.
Hello Stringreen,

I appreciate your input from many of the forums I've read over the years. I own VPI Classic and a Dynavector 20x2L.
Would you recommend a better cartridge or a 3d printed arm as first upgrade? Thank you in advance.

Cdk84
I ought to have mentioned, for several reasons, that I've had considerable listening time with Both SME V-spec arms, the 9" and the 12. The difference is Very Pronounced. This is direct experience with at least 200 hours' listening.
I arrived at the same conclusion after my tests.
Cdk84
From another pretty reliable source I've heard comparison of the 312-S and V-12; if their report is as trustworthy as I suspect, there is no comparison between the arms, just as there is very little shared between the V-9 and V-12. The SME V-12 arm, properly set up --which takes some time, patience and developing expertise-- gives some of the finest playback I've heard, ever.

I too did this comparison, both arms mounted on the same table using two identical Air Tight Supreme cartridges and identical high quality tonearm cable.

I also ran the SME 312S against the Kuzma 4 Point, Micro Seiki MAX, Talea II, Audiocraft AC4400, Technics EPA 100, Graham Phantom 12" and Primary Control 10.5" and Primary Control 12" tonearms.

All these arms have a personality, none are perfect including the one I choose to keep. Beyond arm choice is set up, which can easily undo whatever gain one arm design or material might have had over another.

Tracking force variation of 1/100 of a gram can alter the sound, especially a high performance cartridge like the Lyra Atlas or Air Tight Supreme.

I did not do any of these tests with Benz except SME 312S versus Primary Control 10.5 and in that case the tonearm cables were not identical, basically tilting the test.

Which arm is the winner is going to depend on what you like, assuming each is performing to it's maximum. If I had to rate this cluster of arms I would put SME V-12 at the top and Kuzma 4Point close behind.

The next tonearm in line would be a tie between Graham Phantom 12' and rewired (silver) Micro Seiki MAX 12" with Titanium wand.

Results could vary a lot depending on turntable mat, isolation of your turntable and if you use a record weight (or clamp) and which brand.

Last, if you choose SME you must use an aftermarket protractor such as MINT brand and inform them before hand which cartridge you plan to use and what the cantilever length is. This because SME relies on an industry standard that is not always followed, so setting up blindly using their instructions can make the tonearm to spindle length wrong. This because SME mount requires user to MOVE the mount position to accommodate stylus over the template.

Cdk84
I listened last night to a range of familiar source material with the SME V-12 and found myself referring to Fremer's review and the viewpoint of one of the above-mentioned listeners. Essentially they say the Kuzma 4PT is more 'lively' than the SME V-12. When I listened last night I asked whether anything more 'lively' sounding could possibly be other than exaggeration, as the SME V-12 was so solid, so credible, so well balanced, feeling accurate both timbrally and in wealth of textural detail. It tamed the sibilance on 'April in Paris', gave better depth and color to the skins, more air to the cymbals on the Sheffield Drum Track while still representing the flaw of the recording, namely that the drum kit sounds almost twice life size (ie: gives more of the good stuff without lying about the liabilities). How could something be more real?

You may have answered your own question with that statement. What you describe is the "rock solid" sound of the Magnesium SME design and it's close tolerance bearings. Add to that, rubbing your fingers along the headshell or tonearm wand will not generate noise into the speaker. Many tonearms get very excited by any movement including room vibration, sound pressure level and of course the LP itself.

If one prefers any excitement the specific arm / cartridge combination if providing then moving to another will be a disappointment. For that reason there are many "winner" tonearm and cartridge combinations and it's impossible for anyone to state with 100% accuracy what is the best.
Better cartridge
Thank you.

Let me thank everyone who has contributed to this thread.

Your thoughts and impressions have been very valuable, adding to my enjoyment and to the anticipation of (eventually) selecting a tonearm to upgrade the pleasure derived from listening to vinyl.

Very Best Wishes,

David
I have a Benz LPS MR and love it. Just bought a Transfiguration Proteus and the Benz is up for sale.

Wow.
I found that proper adjustment of azimuth is essential to good sound reproduction.  Make sure your choice has the ability to adjust.