With Sota's in general the big difference is the vacuum. The house sound is often described as a little dark, but the vacuum, especially when paired with the reflex clamp, makes for rock solid imaging. I've heard the Avids and my recollection was that their sound is a little more... bright maybe, but thats not controlling for cartridge or amps so it would be hard to say for sure.
I have a Star Saphire thats about 20-years old. The vacuum works beautifully. I've heard non-sota owners claim the vacuum is fussy, but I've never had so much as a hickup with mine. I can only imagine that a new Cosmos would be that much better.
I own a Cosmos Mk IV. In the past, I've owned two VPIs, a Michell Orbe, a Well Tempered Reference, and others even further back. The Cosmos is far and away the best of the lot. I have auditioned the Brinkmann and an SME 20, but can't make a direct comparison since they were in relatively unfamiliar systems, although I can say that absolutely nothing stood out as being clearly superior to the Cosmos.
Sota tables,particularly the Cosmos are superb in every way.They also happen to be under-priced,IMO.Some folks can recognize this,and are rewarded with a "first class" product.Others are impressed by higher priced products(though not a drop better,in performance,and helping to allow an arm/cartridge to extract musical information).
Common sense usually prevails,and the customer service/support offered by a "local" manufacturer should be seriously considered.
Best of luck
Ive owned most of the Sota line and currently have a cosmos iv. I have directly compared it to many of the best out there with the same arm and cartridge and am convinced you'd have to go way up the food chain to best it. Look at the features, a jeweled bearing, advanced suspension, super stable and accurate motor with supply and a flawless vacuum. I was very happy with my nova but the cosmos is really an amazing upgrade and as Sirspeedy has pointed out that even at full retail its an amazing bargain. There are many great tables out there that you would be very happy with but if you poll most Sota (particularly cosmos) owners youll find they've become converts for life.
How high would you have to go to better the performance of the cosmos?
> How high would you have to go to better the performance of the cosmos?
An unanswerable question, one calling for an informed and critical opinion of one who has not only heard the Cosmos at length but who has extensive experience with, say, Rockports, Caliburns, TW Acustic, etc., etc. I would speculate that those folks are few and far between - and then there's the issue of listening biases to take into account.
I'll stick my neck out and say this. I think that it's unlikely that my Cosmos - with Triplanar arm and (currently) ZYX Universe - is unlikely to suffer in any comparison that could be devised. I have no doubt that better exists, but how much better? I personally feel that I'm at the cliched 'law of diminishing returns'. Of course, others will argue that this point occurs with the (excellent) Rega P5, for example...or does not occur until you hit Walker territory.
Dear Bobby: All those TTs you named are very good along the Sota that I like it if for no other thing because its vacuum hold down LP system that IMHO makes a whole difference for the better.
Anyway you can't go wrong with either, where you have to take more care is that the tonearm will be a good match to your cartridge(s) and the Phonolinepreamp that too can makes a difference to achieve top quality analog performance.
regards and enjoy the music.
Also, you may think that Sota owners seem a little cultish about their tables, and you would be correct!
Of course its with good reason.
I have owned Sota TT's for over 20 years. Star, Nova and now the new Cosmos IV. I could not live without vacuum hold down.
I've had those TT's with SME V for many years. Now i have the Phantom II with Dynavector XV1's. Cable is Stealth Hyperphono.
Simply stated, musical nirvana.
How much more do you need to spend for better performance???
Answer: look up Paul Seydor's review in The Absolute Sound issue 145.
He reviewed the model III not the upgraded series IV.
I believe that this is what my dealer is suggesting as well...
I think the Cosmos with a Graham Phantom tonearm sounds like a final turntable.
Has anyone hear checked out the Spiral Groove turntable. I'm not sure, but I think this turntable is the latest design of a guy who helped design the Sota Cosmos. Has anyone compared the Spiral Groove to the Cosmos?
Spiral Groove is Alan Perkins' company and yes he worked for SOTA and designed the Cosmos - circa 1990 or thereabouts.
Smoffatt - v. nice setup!
I currently own the Spiral Groove SG1 Turntable. This turntable provides world class sound, and it has transformed the analog sound in my system.
There are two tables made by Spiral Groove:
1. The Spiral Groove SG1/Reference Retail $25,000 (My turntable).
2. Spiral Groove SG2/ Retail $15,000(I have heard it once at a show,and it is quite good).
I am using a Graham Phantom in my setup. Although, I understand that Allen Perkins is in the process of designing his own tonearm (Which I have not heard yet, but, I am sure it is going to be quite good).
I bought my Spiral Groove SG1 from Precision Audio in Moorpark,California (Southern California).
You can find more information by going to Immedia's(The Manufacturer) Website:
Hope this was helpful,
I too recently acquired the Spiral Groove SG1 table. I am using it with the latest Tri-Planar arm and the Ortofon Windfeld cartridge. With this table I've experienced what SPEED ACCURACY can contribute to analog playback! Truly a giant leap forward in musicality. Highly recommended! I purchased mine through Xtremefidelity (www.xtremefidelity.net).
That sounds like a pretty huge jump in price from a $6K Cosmos. Go with the Sota.
All audio components depend on what kind of music you like. I found Sota to impart a soft soothing quality to the music. Not good if you like hard rock.
The Sotas sound terrific, but if you ever need to send it in for repairs (or order a new one even), you'd better have the patience of a Saint.
Looking for advice from fellow SOTA owners. I have an older Sapphire with Premier FT-3 arm and Benz MC20E cartridge. In 2005, based on their recommendations I had SOTA install a composite arm board, modify the sub-chassis, replace the bearings, reglue the mat/added EAR and add a large drive belt. Table sounds pretty good but now I want to bring my analog set up to another level.
What do you recommend I do to get the wow factor that I'm looking for? Can I get it on a limited budget of $1,000. Is a cartridge upgrade (for example, Benz Glider) the way to go or do I need to bite the bullit and buy a SOTA with vacuum, like a Star? I personally don't think my table justifies a better arm. But if I'm wrong, please tell me.
You have a great tt/arm combo. upgrade your cartridge and later you can raid your 401k and buy a cosmos with a triplanar or sme V or graham and a ridiculously expensive cartridge and then upgrade the rest of your system and build a purpose designed listening room. Thats what I did.
Would the move to a Star with vacuum hold down be a big improvement over what I own? If so, I'd consider trading in my table and buying a refurbished Star directly from SOTA. Is the Glider a good choice or do you have another cartridge that you'd recommend?
There is NO way you'd be sorry if you added tha vacuum feature,but thee are alot of very valid options in analog.
I think you are going to have to make the decision for yourself.
Rocky, I think youd be very happy with a star. The caveat being that if you buy one used it may need a trip back to Sota for a bearing repair and platter work if it has the older lip and some of the old ones have noisy pumps. Kirk can make it like new for you so factor that into your offer. Sota has a slow turnaround as they are a small family owned company but they will treat you well and it is well worth the wait.After owning many "highend" tables once I got my star I was a convert for life and have moved from the star to a nova and finally to a macassar cosmos IV all of which were refurbed by Sota. Honestly the star will give you most of what you get with the cosmos.
good luck and good listening
I talked with Donna at SOTA yesterday and she is developing some options for me. Now all I have to do is find the money!
Send in your table. By the time the table is ready you will have the money (and possibly Grandkids).
OK, being serious... Ask Donna how long it will REALISTICALLY take. I am guessing 2-3 months which will give you time to find the money.
Others hear have attested it will be a worthwhile upgrade, so if you have the patience, go for it.
Thanks. Am currently dealing with Donna and will ask for a realistic turn around time. But, on the bright side, I can collect a lot of empty soda cans in 2-3 months.
Question: Will the vacuum holddown eliminate the need for using my reflex clamp? And will moving to a vacuum holdown table make noticeable improvements in the sonics? Same question for moving to the upgraded motor. Will an improved motor improve the sonics?
Bottom line: I'm really looking for the wow factor and not interested in just swapping out compononents for the sake of functionality.
Rocky, you will still need to use your reflex clamp. The vacuum improvement will be more noticable on some records than others, on a flat 180gm disc there will be very little difference btwn the vac on or off but on some records the difference is bigger and this of course depends on the resolution of everything downstream. As far as the motor is concerned the more accurate the speed stability the better the sound period. I dont think any one component or change will generally yield a large "wow" factor, improvements are usually incremental and in high end audio the magnitude of improvement is generally over exaggerated when being discussed.
You definately want to use the reflex clamp, even with the vacuum. the difference is noticible. Images will push forward out of the sound field and the imaging will tighten up. There is an indentation in the middle of the Sota platters, approximately the diameter of the record label, that leaves a slight gap between the record and platter. You wouldn't think with the vaccuum that this would allow much resonance, but apparently it leaves enough that the clamp is a very worthwhile item to have.
One word of caution about the clamp though: If you have a cartridge with a wide body where the width of the cartridge actually overhangs the record label when riding in the final groove the cartridge will bounce off the clamp in the deadwax. My AT-OC9 does this. It does make you jump out of the chair in a hurry at the end of the record.
Yes, SOTA can be slow. They are a very small company. However, let me relate a little story to you.
Last May, I sent my Cosmos to SOTA. Fedex absolutely trashed it. Long story short - Fedex took until September to pay off on the claim, and SOTA took from then until Dec. 24 to deliver my virtually new from the ground up Cosmos. Now, back in early December I began pestering Kirk and Donna to get it back to me to ease my vinyl withdrawal symptoms. Kirk called me back and said "I know you have waited a long time, but I'm not comfortable with the way this new bearing is seating. It might be OK or it might not, but I'm going to keep it until it's right". Personally, that's the kind of care and attention that I want. Yes, I had to wait a couple of more weeks, but I'm absolutely sure that I have a 'table that will last many, many years.
Disclaimer: I have no relation to SOTA or its owners other than that of 'satified customer', but I will tell you this - I believe that they care deeply about their customers, and act accordingly. As an example, Donna (with my help on this end) dogged Fedex until they gave in. She didn't have to do it. After all, it was my claim. Just another example of them wanting to make sure things are right.
I don't think we are disagreeing. I have been working with Kirk and Donna, and they are terrific people. The table quality is excellent as well.
But, you do have to have the patience of a Saint. I am not saying it isn't worth it, but those considering Sota tables do need to realize the time it takes to make and service Sota tables.
If someone wants superb quality and doesn't mind the lengthy delays sometimes incurred, than Sota may be for them. The tables are fantastic. My Star/Sapphire sounds terrific, and I have a Cosmos on the way.
If a potential buyer thinks that not having their high end table for 3-6 months is intolerable, then Sota is not for them.
I understand they are a small shop, and I agree they are good people. They are busy all the time with a huge back log. What perplexes me is why they don't hire and train a few people to help with the easier stuff so they can sell and service more tables.
Surely the long services times and time to build new tables steers people away from buying Sota. Its a shame really. Some of the people I know would spend money on a Sota table or upgrade their current table were it not for the time factor.
I'm a Sota fan. I just think potential buyers should know both the pros and cons.
So did you decide to get a Cosmos table?
I got my Cosmos IV and have to echo the consensus above. The table has a superb finish, and is well built. The soundstage, clarity and depth of the bass is noticeably better than my previous Sota Star Sapphire table.
Kirk and Donna are a joy to deal with and Kirk has really supported the table when I got it back. I have a weird ground issue and he worked with my to get it resolved.
Things take a while, but Kirk told me he recently hired another tech, so hopefully repair time and the time to get new tables will drop a bit.
Weather you buy new or used, the Sota tables sound terrific and are a good value.
Good Luck in your decision DBJain.
The problem I had with the Sota Cosmos was space. The dealer thought that I could not put the vacuum close enough, so we had to ditch that idea. I ended up getting a Clearaudio Avantagrde instead which fits very well, plays nicely, and has no hassels. I will do a final upgrade on it with a Graham Phantom tonearm and just call it a day. I think that after a certain level, the room your system is in will probably play a larger role than the turntable.
The table is pretty forgiving of the room, there is no feedback (iosolation is pretty excellent...you can bang the bottom of the shelf it rests and the speakers will transmit no sound), and it is reliable and unfussy.
I am just focusing on getting records; what is amazing is that you do not need anything else. Nearly every new release is being released on vinyl. I do not even see the need to buy computer based audio.
By the way, GnRs Chinese Democracy is quite so-so...
I have bought 50 records and am enjoying myself.