I think it was a complete waste of time. At the last minute Frank decided he did not want to use the same cartridge so there was no real way to compare apples to apples.
Given the circumstances, I thought both sounded good, but I preferred the Talea setup the way it was. I thought it sounded more natural and lifelike.
Oh, I also forgot that Frank Schroeder also, at the last minute, decided to use a different phonostage that cost about $20,000 and the Talea went through the one in the integrated Atma-Sphere preamp. Nothing against the Atma-Sphere, but it certainly goes to show how ridiculous this "event" was.
Everyone that I spoke with that attended felt hoodwinked by the last minute "changes" and were rightfully upset.
I suppose the thing that struck me most was the camaraderie between Frank and Joel. They continued to talk with one another way after the event was over. My take is that whatever flavor you prefer it has been created by guys who genuinely have passion for what they are doing. It's art, you know.
Besides, I got to hang with an icon of mine, David Shreve. That was good.
"The Emperor's New Clothes"
The discriminated analog Enthusiast shouldn't be despaired, do your own comparison with the Originals: Well Tempered Arm /Triplanar.
Would that be the same David Shreve who did the Rabco SL-8 mods back in the 1970's? As I recall, he was also one of the first to emphasize the importance of VTA.
I posted about this event elsewhere. As Jtinn suggests, it was not a valid comparison between two tonearms, but it was fun to see and be part of the enthusiasm for these gadgets, which is what they really are. For what it's worth, from where I stood in the back of the room, I slightly preferred the Schroeder/Sussuro/Artemis to the Talea/DynavectorDV1S/Atma-sphere, because the former sounded a bit more lush and dynamic (to me, from where I stood). There was no "loser". And I got to meet Win (Mosin), one of my icons. I wonder who David Shreve considers as an icon and if he got to meet him.
Good point, Syntax. The Schroeder is son of Well-Tempered, and the Talea is son of Triplanar (as are Reed and Grandeeza).
What can we make of posts on the web in various forums that the "schroder is a world class arm but nevertheless i preferred the talea?" i wonder if someone out there preferred his schroder? I'm this is the case. or is it?
Dear Mosin, we always like to think of audio components as pieces of art or the strive for excellence. In fact they are mechanical (tonearms) , electrical or mechanic-electrical devices.
No art, - but either applied physics consequently executed (rarely so..) or fair to good attempts to do so.
The sad fact that so many audiophiles like to look at audio designers as "genius", "guru" or plain "audio wizard" tells a lot about the audio community, but nothing about audio ( if it tells anything, then that a majority of us has no clue about audio design).
It certainly isn't that great news nor does it sound very sexy, but this is plain engineering and fairly low level science.
Our beloved and almost mystical audio components are just that - audio components made to extract, equalize and amplify low frequency (everything we hear is low frequency from the technical viewpoint).
They either do their job fair, good, mediocre or excellent.
Very simple indeed.
Yes, he is that same Dave Shreve. I believe you are right in that he was ahead of his time. We discussed his association with Jim Whiney of Magnepan, the tonearm Magnepan made with on-the-fly VTA, and how it was influenced by Mitchell Cotter's writings. We also talked about the Spiral Groove tonearm, and how it appears to be a progression of the work.
Anyway, Dave has a great set of ears, and he definitely thinks outside the box. I was really thrilled to meet him. He still mods linear tonearms, by the way.
I am reminded of the great sculptor, Alexander Caulder, who held a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but considered himself an artist. He thought the two could walk hand in hand, and he proved it by combining disciplines. I suppose he was yet another with an intense ability to think outside the box.
As to simplicity, the devil is in the details, and always has been. Maybe that is what is referred to as being deceptively simple. It is when it can be made to look easy that it becomes art.
Warren Buffet once described value investing as "simple but not easy". I think that can be applied to audio design.
We see things that seem so elaborate, but it's the ones that appear to be so straightforward that appeal to me. It is like they are more honest. I suppose it is that aspect that defines us as audiophiles, and draws us to certain audio equipment designs, and even to certain music.
In a curious sort of way, it also biases us to a point that we fail to consider some of the alternatives out there. Maybe audio is less free thinking that we are willing to admit, but still, I try my best to find the silver lining in both the visions of others, and in various sorts of music.
Don't mind me, I'm willing to accept Pro Tools produced recordings and drum machines, if the artist is honest enough to present the work for what it is without apologizing for what it is not. All we can hope for in the end is a musical experience that is genuine, and one we can relate to. The best case is the best presentation of that performance inside our house. That sounds easy, right? Some would have us think so, but I'm not so sure.
By the way, a fellow named Rabinow invented the Rabco tonearm(s). He lived here in the Washington, DC, area, I think, and was a friend also of Herb Papier, who designed and hand-built the Triplanar. The Rabco tonearm was just a sideline for Mr. Rabinow, as I recall. I guess Dave Shreve improved the Rabco breed; I seem to remember when that happened, after Mr. Rabinow either passed away or just lost interest in the product. Successful audio designers seem to have a lot in common with other successful entrepreneurs; they are first of all smart/creative/insightful, but they also have the perseverance (and in some cases the cash) necessary to bring a product to market.
Mosin, the most important (and true genius ) thing about "thinking outside the box" (in audio) is the ability to sell it (the mere thinking and its results...) to those inside the box.......
Its not the devil who is in the details but - according to Mies van der Rohe: "God lives in the detail".
True art is the result of craftsmanship combined with inspiration and (most important and mostly lacking) taste. And there are always only two options in taste - good and none.
The discriminated analog Enthusiast shouldn't be despaired, do your own comparison with the Originals: Well Tempered Arm /Triplanar.
Good point, Syntax. The Schroeder is son of Well-Tempered, and the Talea is son of Triplanar (as are Reed and Grandeeza).
Syntax & Lewn: this might be a silly/obvious question on my part but how do you guys know that Schroeder has its origins in the Well-Tempered tonearm & the Talea in the Triplanar??
Is it the mere looks that gives this information away? Any material I can read to educate myself?
I am interested in knowing more about both arms hence my question(s). Thanks.
In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.
Granted that it was impossible to distinguish the effect of the tonearms in this comparison. But one thing was clear to me - the Talea setup outperformed the Schroder setup by a significant margin. Joel Durand played a piece by Ravel that floored me. He played it at concert volumes, which is to say, much less loud than what you normally hear out of a stereo reproduction. This is a huge challenge to stereo playback because we often compensate for lost detail by raising the volume.
The Ravel piece had three crescendos of very short duration. The rest of the piece ranged from rather quiet to extreme pianissimo. In this range I have never heard such dynamic nuance and tonal color coming from a stereo system. I have only heard that in a concert hall. Without these nuances the music is generic and dull. My perception was that the listeners in the room fidgeted quite a bit when the piece was played on the Schroder system - and for good reason. It could not deliver that level of detail. So the musical interest was lost.
Fascinating to hear the Talea setup in absolute terms, not just in comparison to the Schroder setup.
Lewm: You stated: "For what it's worth, from where I stood in the back of the room, I slightly preferred the Schroeder/Sussuro/Artemis to the Talea/DynavectorDV1S/Atma-sphere, because the former sounded a bit more lush and dynamic (to me, from where I stood)."
I was sitting dead center second row and I had an SPL meter. Every time the Schroeder was played, it was played at 5-8db louder which could explain what you heard. I would say where I was, the Talea setup had greater body, texture, inner detail and naturalness. It just sounded more lifelike.
I actually complained a number of times that the volume wasn't matched between the two setups and I was ignored. I finally walked out after about 4 tracks being played on both arms.
I have no financial interest in either arm. I have heard the Talea more than a few times before and have compared it with several top arms and it is absolutely outstanding. I have also listened to the top of the line Schroeder in my system as well as many others and while quite good, I do not have a sense that it is in the same league as the Talea.
Listening at RMAF did not change my view at all.
Jtinn, from what I have heard so far about this much talked about (before and afterwards ) "shoot-out" it displayed indeed once again that real-world fair comparison with only one variable parameter ( ... which should not be the volume...) is hardly of interest to any manufacturer.
An old and well-known scenario displayed its charm once again - the old "dominant male" (deer) was defending his territory against the new-coming young rival.
Dertonarm: Well said. There were so many people interested in this and it was a complete farce. A person with good intentions would not have manupulated people this way.
Great one Syntax. Where do you find these cartoons?
I didn't go to the shootout while there. Simple reason. I knew that it would end up being inconclusive. Every arm has it's synergies and I know a few who are not fond of the A90. I also know a few who love it. Goes to show how important the system is. What would we know in a few hours in an unfamiliar system / room etc. What if the system is voiced away from neutral and you hear the Talea/ A90 balancing out a warm system w. extra detail (just a random example - I wouldn't know) I personally know how capable the Schroder is and how difficult it is to better. I have no idea about the Talea, but if I was marketing an arm, I would definitely go after Schroder's market to get my arm accepted. The only one with something to lose is the one on top. Those who haven't heard the Schroder perform well, I am sorry. Either it is not to your taste or you heard it in a poorly setup system. I have an idea about who, when & where you heard it but I would add the arm is not easy to setup and speaking with a few previous owners of Schroders, not all truly understand how to set it up (what a pain). You need to match the armwand to the cartridge. Since it has a magnetic bearing the armwand material is more critical for damping than in a gimbal arm.
Jtinn, So that was you with the iPhone displaying the db level. I was looking at your phone display over your shoulder, but at that distance (standing in the back of the room, you were about 3 rows in front of me) I could not make out the data read-out. I also noticed that you left the room early. Dre had a similar app on his iPhone. He was standing along the window side of the room. But I wonder why the discrepancy in volume was not corrected, since in my mind, anyway, Thom was running the show in terms of volume setting. I do not and did not think that Thom had a vested interest in the outcome, so I could only assume that the difference in SPL had been corrected, once you and others observed that the Schroeder was played at higher levels. On at least one occasion, it seemed to me that the Talea was louder than the Schroeder. Anyway, I pretty much hated all the musical selections, which is what finally drove me away (to Steve Dobbins' quieter, calmer atmosphere). FWIW, others told me the same, that up closer to the speakers, the Talea had an edge over the Schroeder. I did not by any means take my observations to indicate anything at all about the relative merits of the two tonearms, because of the phono stage and cartridge differences. Glad the MP1 did so well for the Talea, because I own one (an MP1, that is). As I noted, it was obvious from the get-go that this was no kind of mano a mano "shoot-out". And so what? It was fun anyway to see so many crazy audiophiles grinding their teeth and taking it so seriously. I include myself, of course.
Dgad: It is my understanding that it was the other way around. I heard Frank approached Joel. :)
Lewm: When I was there, Frank was controlling his volume. My teeth are worn down from that session. :)
As far as volume is concerned, I left it to Frank and Joel, who knew the musical selections. With the Atma-sphere's stepped attenuators, it was impossible to obtain an exact volume match.
I'm still recovering from the show, and I'll revisit the other comments in this thread in the coming days. Your observation was an easy one to address quickly however.
My biggest regret (as I posted in the "meet and greet" thread) was to let "team Schroeder" show up at the last minute with a piece that we had to spend time positioning in order to eliminate hum - at everyone's expense, and in a room being heated with OTL's and Dave Slagle's Tequilla and beer.
Frank put me in a difficult position when he advised Joel and me at 4pm on Saturday, that his sample of the A90 wasn't consistent with his earlier experiences of the cartridge. The arm had yet to be mounted on the Stelvio-II at that time.
Frank proposed that we might round up a second sample of a Dynavector XV-1s, a cartridge he has on more than one occasion diplomatically stated was not his preference.
Perhaps Frank can comment further.
In an attempt to give Frank every opportunity to shine, I let him in the door with a wonderful, $20K LCR phono stage designed by Jeffrey Jackson (being exported to Asia by Artemis Labs). 30-50 people were inconvenienced for 40 minutes as a result of this late (but wonderful) entry.
Those who expected a definitive outcome were amply forewarned, but having said that, I would have liked to have been able to maintain a bit more consistency between the two rigs.
If you trace back through the other threads on this forum, you'll note that I requested that we begin working on equipment compatibility on Thursday night, and locking it down by Friday night at the latest.
Had I taken a hard line on this, we would have listened to only the Talea, and I would have come off as shutting the Schroeder out of the picture. I was in a difficult situation in this regard. Perhaps I should have taken a hard line on this.
Thom @ Galibier
I think as long as people enjoyed themselves and are adult enough to deal with and understand what went on, I think you did no wrong by letting it go on, even if it may not have turned out to be the comparison some hoped for. From Mosin's comments (#3 comment in the thread), one doesn't get the feeling Frank and Joel are wrapped up in angst as to how things turned out. And as Dgad points out, whoever owns one but not the other tonearm still has a tonearm which until recently was thought of as top dog or which for many people is now (or still) top dog. Bravo to you for making the effort to allow two top tonearm designers to put on a well-considered and highly anticipated display of analog reproduction prowess. I am sure that many who attended were afforded a taste of the possible and went home dreaming that some of the 'losing' tonearms start showing up on Audiogon at half price. I, for one, would have loved to have been there.
Dgad, I'm not sure if you were referring to the Talea or making a general statement. There were no gimbal bearing arms in the session. The Talea is a unipivot.
All of my statements are generic. I am aware about the A90 variation. Heard it from quite a few users.
I never mentioned who told who what. Got me confused on that.
I have never owned the Talea so I don't have anything good, bad or otherwise to say other than it looks cool. It might be an excellent arm but I am happy enough to not feel the need to look further for tonearms at this time. If someone wants to lend me one to try I have no problem comparing it. But it will take me time. Any of my comparisons take time. About a month to become familiar with the sound, setup variables, etc.
But honestly a show like RMAF to do a shootout of anything will be limited. The room, speakers etc. You know when you heard great or good sound. But to attribute bad or poor sound to anything is quite difficult. Almost the same speaker in 2 different rooms w. different electronics had huge differences. I didn't think the Artemis room to be special. But I have no familiarity with any of it to know better.
"But it will take me time." That is what I expected, but to date it hasn't taken anyone more than about 5 minutes. FWIW, YMMV, etc.
Wasn't there, wish I was, even now w all the info posted. I think T_bone has said it all. Good post, man!
Five minutes is a bit optimistic ;^) The first time I ever heard the Talea was when it was being compared to a Kuzma linear tracker in someone's home system. It actually took be about 15 minutes to recognize its superior performance. Only one variable, the arm, was changed and it was in a very controlled and quiet environment with my own music. It was a very convincing demonstration. The Talea is a very good arm.
I'm sorry I missed this demonstration, but I was wiped out by 8:00PM and went out to find some dinner.
Dgad: My comment of, "It is my understanding that it was the other way around. I heard Frank approached Joel." was in reference to your statement of:
"I have no idea about the Talea, but if I was marketing an arm, I would definitely go after Schroder's market to get my arm accepted. The only one with something to lose is the one on top."
HOpe that clears it up.
Your confidence amuses me. That is what I love about Audiogon. There is always something new blowing away the lastest and greatest w. the same old technology. What is even more amusing is how many of the same jump on board. I have already been down that road and seen that road repaved several times on this forum by the same dealers with a new song.
I did not need to attend the shootout as I have owned the Schroeder reference for 5 years ( it is a great tonearm) and have recently switched to the Talea. I agree with Dan that it only took a few minutes in my own system to hear the improvements. They were not subtle. The Talea also provides added convenience of much easier adjustability.
I couldn't agreed with you more. Any opinions from dealers should be taken with a pinch of salt and I doubt dealers can be fair in their assessment of their competitors products compare to the products they represent
Dan_ed, I agree with you. An improvement ( an improvement in the mere sense of the word ... sonically spoken..) is indeed (or should be...) apparent and clearly noticeable within a mere few minutes.
With tonearms anyway (even if there are souls out there believing that tonearms need hundreds of hours of break-in).
I for one do still believe (sounds better then "I know"...) that tonearm and cartridge ( if its an LOMC then add the matching SUT to the list ) do form ONE integrative mechanical spring/mass-system and none can be "judged" ( if at all ) - not in absolute terms nor in subjective - without the other.
However - the original idea to perform this comparison with the A90 was a GOOD idea, as this cartridge does offer a really good match (mechanical-wise) to either of the two tonearms in question.
For any future task like this - folks, RMAF 2011 is only a few weeks away...;-) .... - it shouldn't be too hard to arrange arrival in time for all contenders and a fixed set up with a TT giving space for two tonearms ( adjusted for the same geometry ?) accompanied by a preamp with two phono-inputs ( a switch...).
That would further eliminate the "equal-volume-question".
I am sure that Ortofon would be willing to provide two closely matched ( electrical-mechanical ) A90 for the next shoot-out.
But that shoot-out RMAF 2011 will be between the Talea MK2.2 vs Schroeder SQ Reference 3.1.
And I will certainly not wanna miss that show down.....
I completely agree. The opinions I offer don't mean squat.
DT, That was exactly the situation in the Dobbins room, where one could listen to his "The Beat" direct-drive turntable with two Reed tonearms mounted. Both were connected to the same Allnic phono stage, etc. Speakers were MBL. The cartridges in use were the Verity Puritas and the A90. One could compare the two cartridges easily in that milieu, but there was still room for argument about proper VTA, VTF, etc. There always will be. And personal taste, listener bias, what your friend just told you, etc, will always affect one's idea of the outcome. But you know that already.
Lewm, sure - there are always the usual ( suspects...;-) ...) by-effects ( audio buddies, individual matrix, taste, mood, financial situation, latest internet-hype etc. ) but we can still try to eliminate as many variables as possible to enable an almost fair comparison.
There are enough micro-details which can hardly all be tuned in, but - willingly or by lack of attention - ignoring aspects which can easily fixed is another matter.
I respect any effort where - like in the Dobbins demo you mentioned - one tries to give fair and as objective as possible periphery conditions to a comparison.
This is something every demo should strive for.
With all of this talk of a "repeat" for 2011, I need to comment that the Tri-Planar has been wronglly perceived as the red-headed step-child in all of this discussion - much as I have tried through all of this to emphasize otherwise.
The Tri-Planar is (to my ears), every bit as valid a reference component as anything I've heard from Frank's body of work.
Much as I tried to paint this otherwise, the Tri-Planar has all but been ignored in these discussions.
Another obvious contender is the DaVinci. Considering the lack of "finality" of any of these comparisons, I would argue in favor of adding a different arm in the mix - IF we do another tonearm event next year.
As far as the comparisons in Steve Dobbins' room are concerned, I heard several critiques of how much real information could be taken away from that demonstration. Sound familiar?
All of these comparisons are inherrently flawed. Perhaps Dan_ed, Palasr or someone else can comment, as: (1) I didn't witness any of this, and (2) it's not my place to comment.
The takeaway from all of this, is that these are show conditions, with varying samples, and only a general sense of what this gear sounds like can be ascertained.
So ... what's the point of all of this? I think the biggest takeaway is that we can build relationships with fellow audiophiles which can better serve us as in the future.
If, for example Dre_J, Lewm, and David Shreve come away with similar observations from an event they've all attended, then they form a small circle, whereupon future observations have a reference point and validity to them.
When Peter and I started Redpoint in 2001, there was an uncanny consistency in our descriptions of our design prototypes, as well as how those changes either served or detracted from faithfulness to musical reproduction.
This was across a 900 mile distance, with us running considerably different systems. This drove our development in a consistent direction - albeit with the huge attendant shipping expenses resulting from our physical separation.
So, the way I look at this, the key takeaway is what we learn about each other, rather than what we learn about specific pieces of gear under adverse conditions.
Thom @ Galibier
Thom wasn't that your opening presentation. I expected as much before going. To me the benifit was seeing all the talent and great gear in one room. Thanks for hosting.
Yes, that was in my opening comments, and also, remember Frank's comments about 70% certainty in his introductory comments.
Even with all of these preambles, you'd be amazed at the amount of criticism (most of it constructive), that I've received offline.
Thom @ Galibier
I also find it odd that the Triplanar is not mentioned, if for no other reason that with a casual glance at the Talea, you see the trademark VTA tower and tunable weight system of the Triplanar. Its kind of hard to miss.
The Triplanar uses a bearing that is harder than either of the arms in this discussion. When Herb was working with the bearings in the arm, he found that while many bearing worked well, in time the points tended to get flattened from very minor treatment of the arm. So he did his research and found the hardest bearings made. They are not a common bearing, and are made to order. Triplanar got investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, because they are using more of these bearings than Boeing is.
In short, just because it has had the various problems in an arm design worked out longer than the competition has is no reason to write it off!
I too would like to add, that between the Schroeder and the Talea it is not a choice between two but three contenders.
Atmasphere is right - if one really knows how to get the best out of the Triplanar (I in fact always liked the name "The Wheaton" - as we called him in the late 1980ies and early 1990ies - better), it is the sonic equal of most any pivot tonearm available today.
It is just very tricky and demands in deep knowledge as well as some skill to get the very best out of it ....
Bravo to you for making the effort to allow two top tonearm designers to put on a well-considered and highly anticipated display of analog reproduction prowess
Yes, specially the "Top Tonearm Designers" brought tears in my eyes. Thank you. The world is so good. A piece of wood is all you need. That gives me hope, because I found a bone from an old Mammoth, I will drill it because I think, its earthy sound will be a sonic revolution....stay tuned...
If one looks just a second longer, one will see that the Talea's VTA tower is much different than the Triplanar. The Talea VTA tower itself is not round, but faceted which gives a much larger surface area for the pinch clamp. The clamp of the Talea is also very different from, and IMO superior to, the locking mechanism of the Triplanar. The Talea and Triplanar both have offset bearings, but the Triplanar uses a gimbal bearing and the Talea uses a pivot and jewel bearing. The Talea has a single arm wand from which the counter weights hang, the Triplanar has a stub that the weights hang from and a separate arm wand. The Talea's anti-skate mechanism is completely different from the moveable dog-leg of the Triplanar. Obviously, the Talea's AZ adjustment is patented and very different from the Triplanar.
But, yeah, other than all that, I guess they look like they have some similarities. :-) I own a Triplanar as well so I know how it sounds and I know how the Talea sounds.
I was not at RMAF this year, but plan/hope to be there for 2011, where I hope there will be an encore. Since vinyl is (gasp!) my secondary source, I never expect to own one of these reference arms. But we can all learn from these demonstrations and Monday morning quaterbacking. Thom recognizes these lessons:
All of these comparisons are inherrently flawed...
The takeaway from all of this, is that these are show conditions, with varying samples, and only a general sense of what this gear sounds like can be ascertained...the biggest takeaway is that we can build relationships with fellow audiophiles which can better serve us as in the future.
And as dertonarm so succinctly noted:
I for one do still believe (sounds better then "I know"...) that tonearm and cartridge (if its an LOMC then add the matching SUT to the list ) do form ONE integrative mechanical spring/mass-system and none can be "judged" ( if at all ) - not in absolute terms nor in subjective - without the other.
I could not agree more. There is never going to be an objective, universally applicable "BEST" tonearm. When you add in the vagaries of an audio show w odd rooms, uncertain AC (and A/C), etc., etc., a demonstration like the Schroeder/Talea should be fun first and informative second. By no means dispositive. But fun. Did I mention fun?
Even tho I was not there, my hat is off to Thom for "sponsoring" and to Schroeder and Talea for agreeing and providing the product. That stuff ain't cheap and the demo was not without risk (both real and marketing)! Congrats to all for making it happen. Hope to see you all in 2011.
I have put off going to RMAF but after reading this thread I am determined to be there for 2011.
I also thought I would be in Aruba last year and get to hear Dgad's system,but you know what they say about the best laid plans.
Reading this thread with all of its bobbing and weaving it seems no one can throw the big knock out punch to end this fine debate.
I do have one question for Jtinn.Having the best seat in the house for the listening session why would you happen to have a SPL meter with you.
I hope to meet everyone at RMAF next year
Best to all
Invitation is still open. My system sounds better than last year. Would you believe due to the change of a resistor on my RIAA stage. If you provide yourself, I will provide scotch & the like. We can do a shoot out depending on what is on hand. But in my case, lets do High Resolution files to Analogue. IMO high resolution is getting very close and the cost of entry is not that bad.
Thank you Darren ,Hows the new family addition coming along