Micro Seiki MA 505 Arm - how good is it?

I have a Micro Seiki MA 505 Mk I arm on my Spacedeck. I am wondering just how it rates against more modern - and expensive - arms such as, say, a Kuzma Stogi Reference, a Graham Phantom, a Triplanar, an Ortofon, or maybe an SME M2.

The arm is being used with a 15g AT headshell and extra sub-weight with a Koetsu Rosewood and the sound is truly excellent. It certainly sounds a lot better than the SME IV which it replaced (which sounded boring with just about any cartridge I tried with it). The MA 505 is also more versatile and by using different headshell weights I am able to use a wide variety of cartridges with it.

The real test of course is how it sounds, and it really does sound excellent, and I have nothing to complain about, as I did when I had an ARO on my LP12 (sounded thin and lightweight) and the SME IV (boring). And yet I have a nagging doubt that I should be spending a lot of money on a more recent arm, particularly as the MA 505 was not even one of Micro Seiki's "high end" arms.

I'd be interested if anyone has any thoughts on how the MA 505 Mk I compares to more recently produced and more expensive arms.
You have answered the question yourself. The 505 was one of Micro's better arms. The sound is what counts, not the expense. I have noted that some of us feel uncomfortable if we are not paying through the nose for a component. Relax, they are all expensive enough. Also calculate what the 505 would cost if it were produced today. If you still feel you have not payed enough you can send me an large payment for this reassurance and we will both feel better. Or at least I will.
Of course you are right - the MA 505 is a fine arm by any standard, and sounds excellent. One day I may try a Triplanar, Brinkmann or Da Vinci Grandezza on my turntable - but I am not expecting profound improvements.

I own an MA505 MkIII and like it very much. These are the weaknesses in the design, as I see them: (1) Too many pressure-fit connectors between cartridge and preamp. You have the headshell to arm tube, arm tube to pivot assembly, pivot assembly to phono input (via DIN plug). These might not be any problem if you are using an HOMC or MM cartridge but might degrade the signal if using a LOMC. (2) Tonearm counter-weight is not in the plane of the LP. (3) No azimuth adjustment.

Of course, not all modern, big-buck tonearms are without at least some of these same design flaws.
I've seen lewm mention this lack of azimuth adjustment quite a few times. Just to set the record straight that is not correct. There is a screw where the headshell connects, all you have to do is loosen this and adjust away.
Now he tells me!
Sadly for me, I sold my MA505 MkIII long ago. Azimuth or no azimuth, I regret the decision.
The 505 (in all three incarnations) was the baby brother of the MAX-237/283.

It was a nice arm. I have a marginal preference for the Fidelity Research FR-64FX, but 10 different people could easily split their preferences for these two tonearms 50/50.

I'd put the little Jelco 250 (which my buddy and I modify under the Artisan name) as being in the same class of arm.

In my experience, the next step after these arms is the Tri-Planar/Graham/Kuzma/Reed/Durand/etc. class of tonearm (pick according to your taste). In my experience, there doesn't appear to be an intermediate point worthy of your opening your checkbook.

Thom @ Galiber
The The MA-505 Mk-III does *not* have adjustable azimuth. The Mk-I (with its "S" shaped wand and removable headshell) does. I have not handled the Mk-II.

Thom @ Galibier
I have a MA-505S which designates silver wire. Not certain of this but I've read some call that the Mk II.

Isn't the Mk III a straight arm tube rather than S shape?
I had a MA-505/II for a while on a VPI TNT. I thought it was very good on that table with a Clavis da Capo. I would personally avoid silver conductors ANYWHERE in a system, but YMMV.
Yes Pryso. The Mk III has a straight removable arm tube (headshell is fixed).

A point of clarification on the "no man's land" of tonearms between the $5-800 price-point and $5K and upwards.

1. I haven't tried every tonearm extant.

2. I intentionally omitted the Analog Instruments Elementum for two reasons: (a) I've had private dialogs with James Grant (its designer) and we may be taking on a project together, and (b) James has come to realize it is far more expensive to manufacture than the unipivot arms on which he based the pricing. Knowing what goes into its manufacture, I'd asses it fair price to be in the $4,500 to $5K range.

Do all the versions of the MA-505 have on-the-fly VTA? Is it easily repeatable? Cheers,