Technics 1210/RB-250 vs. stock arm + fluid damper


I'm in the market for a new (used) turntable, and I'd like to try a Technics 1200 variant. I have the opportunity to buy a used SL-1210 with Rega RB-250 arm & armboard at a reasonable price. An alternative would be a used SL-1210 with the stock arm, and adding the KAB fluid damper. (I assume that the fluid damper does not fit the Rega arm, both literally and figuratively). I plan on using an Audio-Technica AT440MLa cartridge that I recently bought for my outgoing table.

In theory, the Rega arm is better than the stock Technics arm. But does this automatically hold true on this TT? And what about the addition of the damper? Does anyone have any ears-on experience? Your true-life experience or wild, theoretical prognostication is requested.
davetherave

In theory, the Rega arm is better than the stock Technics arm.
Davetherave (Answers)

In what respect is it theoretically better, and according to whom?
Have to agreee with Tvad, not sure I would say the rega is better than the technics arm.........defininate not if you send it back to KAB and get it re-wired with the Cardas wire.

I was really surprised at how well the Technics table from KAB performed.....
I just asked a question.
Alright Tvad, you got me. The fact that I'm going against the audiophile tide to a direct-drive Technics table should be enough of an example to go against the tide of audiophile noise on the tonearm as well. Touché.
Having owned a Rega RB-250 arm and now owning a SL-1200MKII with Cardas rewire done by KAB I will say I find little to no quality difference in overall performance between an SL-12xxMKII arm and the RB-250 in fact with the Cardas rewire I suggest my SL-120MKII arm performs better. Both the Rega and SL-12xxMKII arms are about the same mass, both have very close tolerance bearings and both do a superb job at tracking a record groove.

I would not bother swapping an SL-12xxMKII arm out for a Rega. The money in upgrades should more likely be as in order.

1: Cardas arm rewire, or you can but an SL-1200M5G which has improved wiring from Technics.

2: KAB fluid damper.

3: Outboard power supply.

Note you do not need any of these to have a Technics turntable that operates very well for its price (in fact it punches above its weight), a dead stock SL-12xx is a good performer but if one is looking at tweaks or upgrades I suggest as I did above.

I will be adding a fluid damper later on for my setup but as is with the Cardas rewire my SL-1200MKII with Denon DL-110 cartridge sounds KICK BUT!!!
Alright Tvad, you got me. The fact that I'm going against the audiophile tide to a direct-drive Technics table should be enough of an example to go against the tide of audiophile noise on the tonearm as well. Touché.

I feel like most audiophiles would still tell you to go with the stock arm on the Technics - the RB250 is very good tonearm, but the Technics arm was, well, made for the Technics tables. And with the KAB upgrades available for it, I really see no need to switch out the stock tonearm.

Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find that many audiophiles who don't consider the Technics 1200 series to be solid turntables, especially now that KAB has addressed some of the issues that kept it out of the audiophile realm. If I personally am prejudiced against the 1200 (and similar tables) it's just because they have a lot of features I don't need/don't care for, and my experiences in the past with turntables with bells & whistles has lead me to follow the KISS philosophy. The build quality is legendary, and some people really like that "fast," punchy sound the direct drive gives music.
I found it interesting that the Artisan Audio Capricio tonearm offered on Galibier turntables...very fine tables...has a removable headshell with azimuth adjustment ala the Sumiko headshell for the Technics.
03-18-08: Les_creative_edge
Having owned a Rega RB-250 arm and now owning a SL-1200MKII with Cardas rewire done by KAB I will say I find little to no quality difference in overall performance between an SL-12xxMKII arm and the RB-250 in fact with the Cardas rewire I suggest my SL-120MKII arm performs better.
Since I've had an SL1210 M5G (which comes from the factory with upgraded wire) first without, and then with the KAB fluid damper, I'd have to say that based on your comparisons with the RB250, once the fluid damper is added, I'd conclude that the Technics arm is better than the RB250. Honestly, I don't see how it *couldn't* be--it's so smooth and detailed, yet dynamic (provided you get the fluid level just right). Plus, with the Sumiko shell, you can correct for azimuth, and the tonearm's double gimbal pivot will keep it there.
3-18-08: Tvad
I found it interesting that the Artisan Audio Capricio tonearm offered on Galibier turntables...very fine tables...has a removable headshell with azimuth adjustment ala the Sumiko headshell for the Technics.

for the price of that arm rewired you could buy a used SME309 and put that on the Technics.. this is an excellent combo and you can add the SME V fluid dampener to that arm also, plus they make SME mounts for the SL1200, similar to the origin live armboard. That was my other thought about the an arm option for the SL1200's.
That's an interesting option Cytocycle.

My reference to the Artisan tonearm was intended to highlight the fact that a high end tonearm offered as an option by a high end table builder (Galibier) has a removable headshell very similar to (if not exactly the same as) the Sumiko or ZuPreme headshells offered for Technics tonearms.

The rigid unibody armtube vs. a removable headshell has sometimes been an argument made for the superiority of Rega tonearms versus Technics arms. I don't know which side of the debate is more correct.

When it comes to my Technics table, I am inclined to leave the Technics tonearm on it. My instinct is that another tonearm would sound different, but perhaps not better. Just a different "flavor".
Dear Tvad: +++++ " When it comes to my Technics table, I am inclined to leave the Technics tonearm on it. My instinct is that another tonearm would sound different...." +++++

IMHO the tonearm is not a " stand alone " audio item with an own sound.
Any tonearm needs its couple: the cartridge, where when some one wants to evaluate the quality sound reproduction what you can/could evaluate is the sound generate for the couple: tonearm/cartridge. When we are testing a tonearm/cartridge combination we don't say: that tonearm sounds great/fine/dull/or what ever, we test and hear the couple.
The good match between a tonearm and the cartridge is of paramount importance in the quality sound reproduction. When a tonearm/cartridge combination sounds bad we can't say that is because the tonearm poor performance or because the cartridge poor operformance ( of course that could be but.... ), what we can/could say is that that tonearm/cartridge combination makes poor matching, maybe that cartridge with other tonearm could sound very good and that tonearm with other better match cartridge could sounds very good too.

A big advantage in tonearms like the Technics ( removable headshell ) is that is more easy to match almost any cartridge to the tonearm changing the headshell for a different one ( different weight, build material, headshell shape, etc, etc ), something that you can't do with the Rega one. You can try the same cartridge ( in your Technics tonearm ) with two-three different headshells and you will hear two-three differents kind of sound where you can choose the best one combination., at least all these are my experiences about.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.