Just adding a link to the tonearm listing:
I was looking at one of those too. I'd really be curious to see what folks think about them, especially if they're already familiar with an ET II type arm, etc... Looks to be a bargain if it is well machined and solidly constructed. Sean
I don't think that Tom has a lot of experience with linear trackers, let alone air bearing arms. Then again, i don't think that he would mind if you wanted to send him the arm along with another table to set up and check out for free. This would allow him to keep his existing set-up as it is and use it to compare against the new table and arm combo. Having said that, at the cost of buying the stuff and sending it to him, count me out. If i'm spending money on gear, i might as well be the one trying it out : ) Sean
Now listening to: The Mooney Suzuki / Electric Sweat on Redbook
I loved my Maplenoll arm, with the right cartridge nothing images like an air-bearing linear-tracking arm, I never had problems with mine, it was very musical and had excellent bass (a traditional Maplenoll strength). I've been staring at that arm for a while now. Didn't know the headshell was plastic, though. When I click on materials I get Klingon.
Only one way to find out, and that's try it.
Very good point that the pump costs extra.
Sean is correct about my arm experiences. I've avoided linear trackers because of the air pump issues. Although I hear them on other people's systems, I don't use them on mine.
It's not that I don't like the idea of linear tracking, I do. But I have high humidity levels here, and the pumps, dryers, and me being on solar power don't lend themselves to that type of arm for my application.
I'm very interested in hearing from whichever "guinea pig" tries it out. It might actually be ok.
I get the tonearm on Friday, so will try and set it up then. Challenge may be getting the armboard/seating correct, as I'm sure my Teres armboard won't do the trick - will likely need to work out the right fitting for the table, which may take some time. I welcome any advice/recommendation on the right setup of the arm for a Teres. I'll post my findings as soon as I can. Bear in mind though that I'm not a critical or experienced reviewer like some on A'gon. I will do my best to share what I hear though. Key comparison will be with my OL Silver which has served me very well so far. I think comparison will be interesting.. I also have three cartridges to compare - A new Denon DL103 with about just 1 hour on it, a Shelter 501mk2 with about 75 hours on it (but the cartridge is misaligned - I bumped into it a couple of weeks ago - still seems to play great music though) and finally the piece de resistance - a ZYX Airy 3x-sb low output cartridge. This arrives in about a week, and should offer crazy good sound, if all is set up correctly. Turntable is Teres 255 with latest clamp, battery upgrades and battery power. Finally, I've a new stand on the way - a custom Adona rack with oversize turntable shelf. A lot of variables which will impact the sound - hopefully all for the better though :-)
Well, I received the tonearm yesterday. The packaging was excellent, and the build quality of the tonearm seems top notch. I haven't managed to install it yet, as it looks like I'll need some type of custom amrboard to support it, which is a shame - was hoping my Teres 255 armboard could be leveraged (hopefully it still can, if I can figure it out). I'm a little unsure of next steps because whatever arm support I use will need to allow for space for the output cabling and the airflow. Anyway, will see can I work it out. one option would be to use the existing teres armboard, but add an additional buffer of wood to the bottom of the armboard, drill an appropriately sized hole in that, and then tighten. I guess it might work - still allowing clearance for the airflow and output cabling will also be a challenge. Oh well, I'll see can I figure it out. Will update soon,
Well, I managed to get the new arm installed. I'm still working through a few kinks, but initial impressions are very favorable.
I used my existing Teres cocobolo armboard for support. However, I needed to mod it a little. The armboard is supported by a relatively thin screw and nut which was clearly far less diameter than the clearance that the Teres armboard allows for (which is drilled for a Rega/OL type arm). So, I added a layer of wood to the bottom of the armbord for support, with a hole in the wood just sufficient to allow the screw to come through. Then I tightened the nut to attach the arm to the armboard. I also had to reverse the alignment of the armboard, swinging it clockwise so that it sticks out towards the front rather than towards the back of the table. The tonearm structure needs to perfectly parallel to the diameter of the platter (so that the arm/cartridge is perpendicular to the tonearm structure - allowing for perfect alignment with the grooves of the record). Also, the stylus needs to hit the record at precicely 162mm from the tonearm structure. That was a challenge - because the Teres armboard allowed me to position the tonearm structure no less than 168mm away from the diameter of the table. As a result, I needed to use the tonearm adjustments to stretch the arm out a little so that the stylus aligned correctly. An alternative would be to drill a fresh hole in existing (or new) armboard - I might do that over time, but for now, I'm up and running.
Next challenge is to have the table, arm etc all level. I know this is always important, but in the case of this arm, it's critical. Reason is, if you're off with the level on the plane of the airbearing - the tonearm will more easily slide left or right, which puts a lot of strain on the cartridge, and can make the stylus skip grooves (almost like a CD skipping) - not a pretty sight, nor sound.
Anyway, despite some setup challenges, which are understandable, the tonearm is now singing (or at least allowing my cartridge to sing). Cartridge I'm using just now is Denon DL103. I'll have an Airy 3x-sb in a few days, but want to master setup with the Denon first, rather than risk any damage to the Airy on account of me not getting used to the MG-1. That brings me to another point. Generally, I feel his arm to increase the risk of damage to the cartridge - by this I mean, it's more easy to make a mistake and manhandle the cartridge, than it would be with a traditiona pivot arm, like the OL silver I've been using. A key case in point is the lever one uses to raise and lower the cartridge to the record does not perform the action in as graceful, measured a way, as does my OL Silver.
The instructions were a little vague and didn't really lead me through installation. That said, I still was able to figure things out, and if I can, I suspect most others could too.
Finally, the hum coming from the air pump unit is quite loud. Included is a pretty long air pump cable though (might be about 20 feet). This allowed me to just about put the airpump unit outside the listening room, and close the door behind it (providing almost silence). Still, if you don't have the luxary of getting that airpump out of the room (or into some box/crevice), then you may have a problem - it's quite loud.
Anyway, the above concerns stated, I think the arm is a very cost effective, high quality, super sounding piece of kit. Construction really looks first rate. The arm assmbly/structure is a really tough, rigid metal that feels really solid. It has an on-the-fly vta adjuster (the top knob that you see in the photos moves the airboard up and down). Given that Teres sells its VTA adapter alone for $200, and this whole tonearm sells for $300, it's hard not to see this thing as an extreme bargain.
Settings and adjustments possible are quite varied, and elaborate. One can change aztimuth, vta, vtf very easily - in particular, the VTF adjustment is really nice - no back-and-forth with an allen key to get the weight just right - you simply screw back and forth. I think it works great.
Ok, now for the sound? Well, I'm never comfortable getting into a discussion on the sound of a pice of kit. Generally, I just know if it sounds better, and I think this tonearm does. I noticed a lot of air around the instruments, great channel seperation, great detail. Overall, I liked what I heard. Also, I'm still tweaking, and expect to get more out of the arm as I work with it more. All told, I think it may be a giant killer. Still, I'm not a good refernece point for such an opinion, as I'm not experienced much at all on the analog front. I've only owned a Teres - have upgraded within the line from the original 135 to the 255, and I've only owned the OL Silver arm. Still, my impression is that this tonearm is amazing value for money. I 'think' it sounds better than my OL Silver. BUT, I haven't done close comparison (the time and hassle of switching setup seems prohibitive), I'm still concerned with the potentially higher risk of manhandling/damaging of a cartridge, compared to more traditional design, and setup is not for the faint-hearted. Finally, I really sense that this arm could benefit from further refinements (although well built, it sort of feels like a 1.0 product, with more improvemetns possible). All told though, I guessing it's a wise purchase in the context of competition at anything close to it's pricepoint. I hope others can follow suit and buy this thing - if anything to help me iron out remaining tweaks :-)
I am suprised more people have not discovered this arm.I suspect it is because a lot of us audiophiles(myself included) always associate price with quality.The pittance,(relatively speaking),that this arm and air pump goes for makes us hesitate to give it a try.Well i gave it a whirl,and i am quite happy with it on my TNT/HRX hybrid,so much so that i parked my 10.5 arm.It is not an Airtangent in fit and finish,but i daresay it matches and maybe even exceeds the performance of my old ET2 tonearms.And even if memory is not serving me correctly,i don,t feel i am missing any thing that the ET2`s might have given me,and it certainly is not as tweaky as the ET2 was,so far for me set it and forget it.The best part though,given the performance i am getting,is the price.
I have a Clearaudio insider reference on it.I had one problem initially with the heavy weight(11gms)of the cartridge.I resorted to an admittedly"Mickey Mouse"solution,a nickel and 2 sided tape,but it works for the time being.I am working on getting additional weights from Ada.I don`t have the damping trough.I assumed you received that free after a year of ownership,i think.I am sure that will make an improvement.
Paul, why not use a canister near the TT and mount the pump in a completely different location? You can build a pretty good sized resevoir for a few bucks out of PVC and a couple of brass pipe fittings. This will not only help to stabilize and regulate the air pressure levels, but cut down on the apparent noise near the listening area. Sean
Sean i am working on that idea now,sort of like the old surge tanks for the ET2`s.The pump is noisy in the same room as the listener,especially if it is as small as mine(12x14).I got an additional 20 feet of hose and located the pump in another room.Ada mentioned some form of control valve for regulating the air flow,that would further improve the sonics of the arm.I have not had the chance to explore that suggestion.Keep those ideas coming.
Don't forget that the hose itself smooths out pumping surges along with the tank, andwill further quieten things. The Maplenolls I lived with for years came with 100 feet of hose, and at something like 10 cents a foot we're not talking a fortune. An easy tweak, and allows you to get that pump even further from the source! Hell, why not 200 feet just to be safe?
Well, I wanted to update on my experience with the MG-1. For optimal setup I did have to drill a hole in my Teres armboard, to best accomodate the MG-1. I'm now better able to dial in the tonearm. The tonearm really sounds great, although there are some growing pains. Two stand out. I find if I walk close to the turntable, the cartridge jumps - literally. This is a bit disconcerting to say the least, so I find I have to tiptoe up to turn records etc. The issue may be realted to my new stand (Adona double rack), although when I try my OL Silver on the Teres now (with tt also on the Adona), nothing jumps at all - thins appear rock steady - so the arm seems to be the likely culprit. Secondly, I find that levelling of the air tube is critical, if there's the slightest leaning to either side, the arm may stall/skip - can be particularly worrying when the cartridge reaches the end of the record - I've had the cartridge get thrown/pushed back across the record - again, quite disconcerting.
Overall though, despite the setup challenges and kinks, the arm sounds great, and remains a bargain at the price, and I can't help but feel there's an extra degree of airyness about the presentation compared to the OL Silver. The presentation of the music seems a bit more light on it's feet. It takes me about a half hour to switch out arms though, and I don't like doing it (removing/reinstalling cartridge etc), so I haven't done a lot of close side-by-side comparison. I think I'll continue to use and play with the MG-1 until I've saved enough for a top dog arm - likely the Schroeder DPS or Model 1 or 2 (surely I can never afford the Reference ;-(
I will post photos of the setup soon - my camera is out of action just now...
My setup isn't quite as beautiful to gaze upon as John's.
But I've been able to get it to track an entire LP successfully. If you like to tweek, this arm assembly will give you plenty of opportunity.
To answer Kitch29's question, My suspended IIX was affected by the cantilevered design of the MG-1. Because of the horizontal arms that extend forward, my suspension was heavily weighted towards the front with the MG-1 installed. I had to increase the damping factor of the front suspension springs in order to get it leveled. Don't know if that is optimum for isolating the playing environment from outside influences. But I am still working towards the optimum balance because whenever I make miniscule changes, it affects the leveling overall in other areas. I'm also using a heavy aftermarket record clamp and an Oracle Mat which also adds mass to the sprung weight. So in my case, the stock suspension wasn't designed to control this much mass hanging over the front edge. It is a challenge that I will have to address in the future. But I've been able to reach a compromise setup that works for now. The arm itself doesn't seem to be affected by suspension bobbing. It is much more prone to suspension action that takes the arm out of level.
I am having problems with static electricity and possibly grounding. The manufacturer has given me detailed instructions on some possible solutions which I will try this weekend.
My impressions so far? Even without the optimized setup, the soundstage really opened up. My speakers are producing sounds that are perceived to be bigger than the actual room size. I guess you can say that the soundstage has expanded dramatically. Instruments decay gives the impression of placement and space in between musicians. Another thing I noticed is absolute silence inbetween tracks on my pristine LPs. I'm still fiddling with VTF and some of the grounding issues. I think I will need a more accurate VTF gauge.
However, I am impressed with the improvement created by the MG-1 so far. For the price, it is an acceptable gamble that will allow mid-fi enthusiasts like myself to experiment with technology that was only available to the big boys with unlimited resources.