SP10 MK3 recommendation

So I'm in the process of upgrading my analog set up. I just bought Albert's SP10 MK3 and I'm trying to decide on arm/cart combo. I'm freaking out a little because I don't want to make an expensive mistake.

My current arm from my last set up is a 10.5" Reed 2P. I might stay with this arm to start with, but I see a lot of 12" arms on the Technics tts so I'm not sure about the length. I'm also trying to decide on which cartridge. I'm leaning towards the Lyra Atlas or Airt Tight Supreme.

My current system is VAC Sig. IIa preamp and VAC Phi 300.1a amp. Speakers are Margules Grand Orpheus with Acuton (ceramic) drivers. SR ICs and Pranawire speaker cables.

So I'm looking for feedback about Reed arms with the SP10 tables and especially 10.5" arms.

Also looking for thoughts on synergy of Reed arms and the two cartridges mentioned above and in the context of the rest of my system.

Here's to a great (sounding) 2013 to all!
As someone who has heard Albert's turntables, It's hard to beat the SME Airtight or SME Lyra combo's. They are both pretty special.

I have head the Reed 12 (pretty sure it was a 3q...maybe a 2a) with a Lyra Olympos at a friends a few times (on a dobbins tt). That is also a great sounding system.

I think this depends where you want to nudge your system if you want a little more speed, the best resolution, the best dynamics, it's the lyra. If you want a little more warmth...the Air Tight. Now these are small differences...not night and day...but that's what I hear when I've heard the two...

I bought a Atlas...

Nice stuff :-)
Still with B&W?

Happy New Year!

The 12" Triplanar would not be a mistake either! I just heard one on an SP-10 MK3 and it was remarkable!
I would like to read about a comparison between the 12" Triplanar, 12" Graham Elite, and the 12" SME V-12. Interesting that the Triplanar and Graham have SME mounts. There seems to be quite a newfound interest in these longer arms. From my experience, I can report that the V-12 is a significant improvement over the standard 9" SME V which I compared on the same table with the same cartridge and wiring. I can also recommend the AirTight Supreme/V-12 combination. It is very good. The Supreme was developed on an SME arm, though I don't know if it was 9" or 12". The 12.5g weight is ideal for the arm, allowing the fully loaded counterweight to move very close to the pivot point, lessoning the moment of inertia.

I have also read that the Durand Telos is a contender, though I have not heard it. And I have only heard the Reed in show conditions, so can't really comment on that one.

Albert Porter has been testing a few arms on his table. You may want to contact him for some more thoughts. Congratulations on getting his old MK3. I'm sure you will have a very happy musical year ahead.
C1 Ferrari,

No more BMW. My whole system is basically new. I just haven't updated pics yet.
I Will be for sure leaning on Albert's knowledge, but he hasn't heard the Reed arm on the MK3 so I'm fishing around to see if anyone else can comment on the sound of the Reed arm compared to these other great arms especially with the cartridges mentioned.

Between the Supreme and the Atlas does anyone have experience which handles less than great recordings better? What if an album has a little spit or sibilance, will the Atlas make it unlistenable? I have a lot of 70's and 80's classic rock which I just can't find great pressings of.
Congrats! on your table purchase.

Gotta love Vac, what phono are you using?
I have owned a few separates and found I liked this or that but still enjoyed the the Vac, I just received my Burmester 100 phono so it will be interesting.

I own the same pre with phono built-in paired up with Vac 450 Statement mono's, absolutely marvelous! :)

I also have a 12" Reed arm, have it paired up with a MSL Ultra BC cart and just love it, have owned several other arms and carts. It was a toss up compared to a Olympos and Ref Schroeder arm set-up. I found listening they both have more similarities than differences but for what ever reason it may be I seem to favour arms with wooden wands, just sound more natural "realistic" to me without giving up anything.

I have only heard good things about the Atlas and look forward to hearing one in my system.

Both carts you mention are superb but it's gonna really be hard, your system being different and what you like.

Best if you can go and hear some set-ups and see what peaks your interest but still in the end will be a crap shoot when it comes down to the actual set-up in your own.

My 2-cents worth anyways

Happy New Year! to all
I have a 10.5-inch Reed 2A mounted on my Mk3, and it is the best of my many tt/tonearm combinations. But really this has been said many times here, the tonearm should "match" the cartridge, first and foremost. True, the tt will impart its own set of colorations but in my experience, those are rather independent of the tonearm chosen. You cannot use a 9-inch Triplanar on the Mk3 without re-plinthing the motor separate from its square escutcheon-like chassis, simply because the offset of the Triplanar base from its bearings gets in the way physically. Same would hold true for a 9-inch Reed or possibly the Talea. (Talea is a shade longer than 9-inch I think, so might work.) 10.5-inch and 12-inch tonearms can easily be mounted so just choose one that is a good match for your cartridge. Then fugeddaboudit.

Ralph, Can 9-inch Triplanars be "upgraded" to the 12-inch version?
I'm just using the built in phono with the VAC right now. I have a friend near by that wants to hear the SP10 when I get it set up. He has an Alnic H3000 that I'm pretty sure I can get him to bring over.

Both Albert and Steve Dobbins use the Allnic. Steve told me he went through something like 18 Phono stages in two years before settling on it. Albert said the only thing that bested the Allnic was the Ypsilon. On those two recommendations I will probably go that direction
If the arm board can accommodate your 10.5" Reed why not try it first with both carts and see if you like it? Are you going to mount the arm yourself? If so and you don't have the Feickert spindle to pivot point tool I would pick one up. It will make it much easier and more precise.
Kuzma 4Point. I have one on my SP10 MK II. Trounces the SME 312S in terms of dynamics and clarity.

So I probably will go with my 10.5" Reed to start with. I wish I could try both but I don't see how that would be possible with out buying them both. Between the Atlas and Supreme which do you think would have better synergy with the Reed and in the context of the rest of my system? I suppose I'm probably safer going with the Supreme, but if the Reed is a warm enough arm then the Atlas would probably work great too. Still scratching my head....Oh well!

not trying to get off topic but just replying.

Have you roled any of the tubes in your Vac? specially in the phono section? If not you should.

I've heard the Alnic, both individules you mention do have financial interest in the product and have completely different set-ups than you and just their opinion. I personally know many whom prefer other phono's over the Alnic, I prefer others such as FM Acoustic, Kondo, Boulder and lastly the Burmester to just name a few and I have no financial interest.

Burmester is getting allot of praise lately specially from owners of these other phono's and comparing, saying it's now their preference but in the end it still comes down to your own taste.

Reed, reading above Lewm appears to be very happy with his which doesn't surprise me, great arm!

If it were my choice I would go with the Atlas paired up with your current Reed, if you don't like the Atlas keep me in mind to purchase it from you. :)
I have not heard the Air Tight. I have heard the Atlas a couple of times and like it. If you still have the Allnic Puritas you could try it. Maybe it will give you some insight on what direction you want to go.
Dear Mikeba316: I agree with Lewm, the more important subject is the tonearm/cartridge combination. On which TT?, it almost does not matters at all always that the TT be a " decent " one as your MK3.

Why do you need a new cartridge when you own the Puritas?, is something wrong with or it is only that you are whealty enough to try a new expensive one even if maybe will be a different but not really better performer that what you own?

If you want to try a different cartridge sound maybe the Colibri is a good alternative before the ones you name it here and for a lot less money.

Oh yes, the Colibri is not the " new kid on the blok " but I can tell you that those new " kids " have a very high challenge to beat the Colibri and IMHO your Reed tonearm could be a very good match for it.

In the other side and if I was you my first move could be to change the phono stage for a better non-tube ( especially with LOMC cartridges. IMHO: Phono stage is the worst place for use tubes and even worst with the ones using step-up transformers. If you decide for one of this units then it does not matters which cartridge/tonearm combination you choosed because you never know how that cartridge really performs.! ) one and please don't take for sure the advise of audio items seller. Which seller can speaks bad of what he have on sale?

The Phonolinepreamp IMHO is almost important as the cartridge/tonearm match, even more important than the TT.

You have several alternatives to improve your audio system quality performance level.

Money is always important but more important is the knowledge level on what to do and why.

Your actions IMHO must be " induced " by your specific music/sound targets/priorities and not because this or that item is the latest expensive one to " impress " other people. First than all think on what you want, think how to meet/even your references.

Well, only an opinion.

regards and enjoy the music,
Raul, There is more than one way to skin a cat. Each phono stage topology has it's pluses and minuses. SS phono stages usually employ negative feedback to achieve their low noise floor. IMO this is the worst place to employ NFB. Each to their own. Ideally everyone should listen and decide for themselves which they prefer. I have not heard every SS phono stage out there so there may be one I prefer to my Allnic H3000 but I have not found it yet. I agree that SUT's are a compromise but so is NFB.
Dear Sarcher30: +++++ " There is more than one way to skin a cat.... "

agree with you but that's not my point because IMHO the use of tube/sut on phono stages is the wrong and worst way to " skin that cat ".

About the NFB I can tell you that several today SS designs do not use it any more but that NFB subject does not determine perse a phono stage quality performance level but its overall/whole design and design execution.

For you can understand my statements about maybe is important that you analize and understand which are the cartridge signal needs to when that signal passed through a phonolinepreamp process of degradation this degradation be the lower one, this is: to add the less and lose the less. IMHO there is no contest against a good SS design.

That many persons prefer tubes/suts does not means is right that only means that the AHEE made it very good job teaching we " ignorant " audiophiles that tubes/suts is the way to go when that same AHEE knows for sure are wrong!!!

Please return a little on the time and read what was the scenario/stage when appeared the LOMC cartridges and then you will understand what I'm posting here.

Now, in this regards as in many other audio regards my position almost always is not what is my preferences or other people preferences but what is wrong or what is " right " against very specific references/standars as: accuracy, neutrality, dynamics, the feeling of the music power as we have on live events and to hear and feel the natural agresiveness that live music has.

What you or me prefer has nothing to do with that because our normally self " ears colorations " are a by-product not of live music but a by-product of the time that we lived hearing music in the wrong way through our audio systems: many of us have ears and brain equalized in the wrong way. Time to change: don't you think?, just for fun!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Mikeba316: +++++ " but I see a lot of 12" arms on the Technics tts so I'm not sure about the length.... " +++++

IMHO the today " fascination " for 12" tonearms is only a today " fashion " more than a real advantage over a 10.5" tonearms.
In theory there is only one advantage and this is that the 12" has lower tracking error against shorter arms. I say in " theory " because that theory is not reflected in what we can detect and where we for sure can say: " hey, that was because the lower tonearm tracking error ". We are talking here of so small/tiny difference in traking error between the 12" and 10.5" that IMHO no one can be aware of this " lower tracking error ".
That some persons liked the 12" ones over shorter ones is not because that " tracking error " per se but because exist different kind of colorations/distortions in two same model tonearms that only differ by its length.

In the other side in a longer tonearm the cartridge signal has to travel for a longer tonearm wire and at this stage is critical for that cartridge signal to have the shorter paht we can give it: due to its very low output level that signal is extremely sensitive to degradation of many kind as longer path, emi/rfi and the like, as longer the signal path as bigger the signal contamination.
Other disadvanatage is that a longer tonearm respond not so fast as a shorter one to the cartridge stylus movements needs and this is an important subject.
A longer tonearm push more stress on the tonearm bearing developing higher distortions in the same way that the longer arm wand generate additional resonances/vibrations that degrade the cartridge signal. I can go on and on with other disadvantages on longer arms in favor of shorter ones.

For me longer arms is a misunderstood error a misunderstood of the LP/cartridge needs and obviously a marketing/comercial " hip " to take more money from us customers in change on no single ADVANTAGE OR REAL AND PRECISE IMPROVEMENTS OTHER THAN ADDED COLORATIONS.

In your " place " I will stay with that 10.5" Reed against any 12" tonearm. Do it a favor and left all those 12" owners to follow living in the " error ", I think you don't have to live with.

Of course that everything is up to you.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Btw, I own several 12" arms that I almost don't use any more other that for especial tests.

Gentlemans, please no offense to the 12" owners. I live in the " error " for years ( not only in this critical tonearm subject but in many other audio subejcts. ) following what the AHEE teached me till I take the " destiny " of my audio life by my self and trhough this movement/action I learned and still learn each day in a few years a lot more " interesting " discoveries in audio that in all those years under the AHEE tutorial. Every one of us pass through that kind of tortuous road.

The best thing that happened to me in audio was that AHEE's LIBERATION/LIBERATED.

Today the only audio compromise I have is with. M U S I C !

Regards and enjoy the music,

While I agree that much of the fascination with 12" tonearms is stylistic, that is also true for turntables and almost every other piece of "audiophile" gear. But there are still some valid and practical differences that make 12" tonearms useful and desirable for certain applications.

16" (12" EL) tonearms are a holdover from the days of transcription turntables, so-called because they were designed to play 16" transcription disks. Many of these early systems morphed into commercial playback systems designed for audio studios and radio stations, and many of the early stereo cartridges were (and still are) designed for longer tonearms; such as the Denon DL-103, some of the obsolete Shure cartridges and the Ortofon SPU series.

Everyone has read or recited the standard mantra about longer tonearms and lower tracking error. In a perfect world this is true, but in practical terms the actual advantage doesn't amount to all that much. Also, I think that your argument about tonearm wire length is somewhat specious. Unless you were skirting the edge of danger with your tonearm wire or had some fantastic interference, the actual difference for the distance involved between a 10" and 12" run just isn't that great.

Your argument about mechanical damping is probably valid, except that 9" and 12" tonearms are not designed exactly alike and (presumably) a competent tonearm designer would have accounted for the mechanics.

As audiophiles we routinely use the term resonance to describe a complex series of mechanical interactions between the cartridge, tonearm and the arm board or plinth. The fact is that tonearms of equal length but with a similar published value for "resonance" do not act the same, do not sound the same and are not matched well to every cartridge. They are simply not the same. Without getting into a Physics 101 lecture, let's just agree that complex mechanical assemblies made up of different parts and different materials behave differently. While the published value for "resonance" may be the same, different arms will load and transmit energy from the cartridge differently.

In short, the tonearm and cartridge work together as a unit, and some cartridges will simply work (sound) better with longer tonearms.
My apologies to the OP for going off topic. Raul, I have little experience comparing 9" to 12" tonearms. HOwever, I did do a rigorous two week direct comparison between the SME V and the SME V-12 on the same turntable with the same cartridge and wire. The V-12 is much better. In addition to the difference in tracking error, there is also other geometric advantages to the longer arm. Namely, different thickness LPs effect SRA/VTA less, the headshell offset angle is less, lessening the need for anti-skate. Energy absorption may be different.

In my system, the longer arm resulted in a freer, bigger sound. There is more extension and less distortion. Music sounds more natural. Of course, others may have different results, but I prefer the longer arm in my system.
I have Reed 3Q 12 inch arm (cocobolo) and used it with Air Tight PC-1 Supreme and now have Lyra Atlas on it. Using both on TW Raven AC-1, I would give an edge to Lyra. Air Tight is a bit cooler, a little bit more delicate, bass is tight, deep. Lyra is more robust, more slam, bigger sounding, a bit more full body. Neither sound harsh, bright or edgy on lesser recording. Air Tight/Reed combination was great on most classical, vocal, chamber, piano music but not as good on rock,pop, large symphonic pieces. Lyra/Reed is really good on just about all kind of music I throw at it. Mine you, Air Tight can definite rock but not with Reed. Air Tight bass was excellent with Graham but I never quite managed to get the same magic on vocal, piano or violin as I did with Reed. In fact overall, I prefer Air Tight on Reed or JWM 10.5i than Graham. However, Graham is a much much better match to Dynavector XV-1s than Reed or JWM 10.5i.
If you stick with Reed, I definitely would go with Lyra. If it is other arms, it really would depends on synergy, I suppose.
Dear Br3098: In general I agree with you. On the length of the wire what you or me could imagine could be only speculation what is a fact is what is happening down there at microscopic level where contamination/polulation happened and remember that almost always in audio less is more.

+++ " (presumably) " ++++, whom knows for sure?

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Peterayer: I speak on 10.5" against 12" not 9" that has additional problems.

Btw, could be that an specific cartridge could " performs " ( that you like it more. ) better in a 12" tonearm than in a 10.5" but IMHO mostly because the added 12" colorations and not because any 12" real advantages because IMHO there is not.

Of course if we already own a 12" tonearm we have to believe we are with a self induction that this is the " one " because is the one I have and I paid for it.

Normally when I'm talking on audio subjects I try hard to stay unbiased in anyway but in favor of music home reproduction. I'm not married with any single audio factor/characteristic/parameter and always open to learn and change if necesary.

I make comparisons/evaluations against very precise targets where certainly one of those targets is not " what I like ".

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul, I'm just saying that in my system the 12" SME V-12 sounded more like real instruments than the 9" arm. I own both and paid for both, so the only thing that matters to me is which one I prefer. "What I like" for me means what sounds more real in my system, to my ears. It's very subjective. If that is not your target, what is? I use live classical music as my reference and frequently hear concerts and then gauge the quality of my system against that reference. Others may aim for numbers and that is fine. I don't know what you mean by "12" colorations."
Dear Peterayer: Your comparison on the V-12 against the V is not exactly: apples against apples. The V12 internal wiring is different to the V as is the tonearm bearing and the arm wand to stay with an almost similar effective mass as the V: 12grs against 11grs.

IMHO the diferences you heard are coming from a different build design, even that looks similar externally, more than the 12" length per se against the 9".

In amedium like the analog LP the tonearm has to deal with the reality of non perfect LP: warps and off center LPs and this is the day by day tonearm works in each single LP through all the LP tracks.
Well, the 12" are in disadvantages against the shorter ones that has a faster response to warps and off center problems, the 12" has slower response for deal with those LP problems and that means higher distortions/colorations.

Maybe your 12" tonearm could be better than your 9" one but IMHO not because its length but because a better design and execution design.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul, With all due respect, you are wrong about the SME bearings and wiring. As Riccardo Muti said, " CON ME, NO!" A very good friend of mine was a close associate of the late Alastair Roberson-Aikman, the founder of SME. As such he has intimate knowledge of the SME products and their technology. He owns an SME 30 with V arm and an SME 30/12 with V-12 arm. He has had the 30 for 19 years. He told me this morning that the bearings in the V-series arms changed about ten years ago, and today, the bearings in the standard V and the V-12 arms are the exact same. The internal wire in the V series changed also around that time and today, the current V and V-12 arms have the same internal wiring. My SME V and V-12 are both current models, though I just sold the former. Of course the arm wand is longer and therefore different, and this is accounted for by the greater effective mass.

I can not tell you what is responsible for the difference in sound that I heard between the V and the V-12, but geometry would seem to be the biggest change. The position of the counterweight is closer to the pivot on the V-12, so that reduction in the moment of inertia may play a role. What I hear is less distortion, a cleaner, smoother sound, larger soundstage, slightly greater frequency extension and an overall more realistic presentation. This was confirmed by some friends who also heard the comparison. The SME site does claim a 27% reduction in tracking error with the longer arm, though this is I think based on the SME 312S arm.

I don't know of other 9" and 12" arms from the same manufacturer that are so similar to each other as the SME V series arms are, though there may be some. I think that directly comparing these arms and hearing the results speak for themselves. We can each decide for ourselves. Over time the audiophile community will see if the current popularity of the 12" arms are simply a fad as you suggest.

Are you sure your Sony PUA-237 will outperform the V-12? I don't think either of us has actually heard that comparison, so I will not make any such claims. I also will not make any claims about other 12" arms that I have not heard. I think a few Audiogon members are getting ready to compare the new 12" Triplanar, 12" Phantom Elite and SME V12. That should make for some interesting listening and discussion.
Dear Peterayer: These are the SME numbers on tracking error:

for the V12 Maximum tracking error 0.009°/mm

for the V " " " " " 0.012 degrees x mm.

I took the values from the SME site.

Now, do you think that you or any one can hear for sure the difference on quality performance between the V12 and the V where the difference in tracking error in between is only:

0.003 deggrees per mm. ?!?!?!?!?!

IMHO no one can't and not only that: I think no one audio system has the resolution to do it.

In the other side: how do you know that any performance difference came from that: 0.003 mm????

In the other side, I can asure you that even on the tonearm/cartridge set up that 0.003° is higher than it, so why to argue on something that we can get even in the cartridge/tonearm set up?

Btw, do you want to try/test a 9" tonearm that outperform almost any 12" tonearm?, well buy the vintage Sony PUA-237 that you could find out on the net for less than 500.00. Test it and then share with us your experiences about.

12" tonearms and longer ( everything the same. ) makes more harm than good to the quality performance level in any audio system. There is no perfect tonearms, every one has its own trade-offs and IMHO the 12" ones trade-offs are " ofensive " in higher way to the music reproduction than the shorter ones.

Any one can do what any one want it. You can followed the wrong/commercial AHEE advise or follow what your brain and common sense dictate in favor of the music.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Please read the SME site and the V12 reviews.

First than all I posted " almost any 12" ". Never mind, try to find out the Sony-PUA237, test it against your V12 and if does not beats it then I buy your Sony.

Albert undoubtedly had a finely tuned setup. I would use whatever he used if possible or if not possible ask him for alternatives along with pluses and minuses of each.
Graham Supreme in whatever length you want. You can also have multiple arm wands with carts already aligned and ready to go. It is also the only arm with a built in bubble level so you can get VTA spot on every record you play on the fly in seconds.
Thanks everyone for insights. They have been helpful....... to some degree! I know the bottom line and ideal circumstance is to have something on hand and see how it sounds in your system. This is especially important when getting closer to the end of system building,which is where I'm at. But sometimes this is not possible, and it is very helpful IMHO to get feedback from several respected sources
I have two MKllls and each is in a double arm plinth. I believe you have room for two arms as well on that Porter Plinth. I use some high end arms and cartridges. The PC-1 Supreme on the 312s is very good. I currently also enjoy the Benz LP-s on Reed 3P. Albert sells a really good imported unipivot you may ask him about. I have a Shelter 90x on that one and even the Ortofon M20 fl super is great on it at $175. No experience with the Atlas unfortunately.

One of the spots I reserved for the EPA 500 system which is somewhat dated and not as fully functional as the others but sounds surprisingly good. It's also affordable and very flexible. I rotate armwands in about 30 seconds. It's a great way to work in less expensive MM cartridges(Ortofon M20 fl super, Empire 4000 D/lll, Shure V15vxmr) or a mono cartridge(XV-1s mono). They all sound great.

Anyway, you should be able to set this up with performance and flexibility that will push the limits of most budgets. Have fun.