The arm is apparently unique -- no clone -- and the $500 days seem long past.
Be sure you're up to it; This thing is one of the finest-sounding arms I've ever
tried -- had it in my system for over a month -- but also the most maddening.
Arm lift sucks and no cueing lever, very difficult to get into the lead-in grooves
(and out again at the end of a record) without mishap. You need a steady hand
and a cartridge that will take abuse but, as I said, it sounds absolutely great.
PS The cartridge cannot be a threaded one, BTW, or one that installs from
underneath. And the arm wiring is VERY fragile.
I think the price is at least $1100 these days, still a relative bargain if you can deal with its idiosyncracies. I actually heard it at Dopogue's home. During a recent trip to Tokyo, I tried to find the RS-A1 in several of the high end audio shops. There were none on display, and my communication skills were such that I did not get any information on it. Next time I go (to visit my son who lives there), I will get him to translate for me. By the way, I mentioned to you that it is made by 47 Labs. This is to the best of my knowledge, but I am not even sure it's correct. In a sense you might say that the current product is a "clone" since it is no longer made by the original company that marketed it. The construction breaks EVERY accepted rule of tonearm design, which I guess is a commentary on tonearm design and the engineering thereof.
Price on these for a new arm is $1350.
Here's some information from their website:
I am interested in the RS-A1, however, I'm not sure I have the patience for it.
Do you think with time and handling, a person can use it with ease and use it as a primary arm?
Which cart did you hear it with?
Can you describe the sound, compare it to other arms?
Oregon, the friend who owns the RS-A-1 that I tried for a month came over this afternoon and we discussed this thread. As far as, "Can you describe the sound" is concerned, we're both puzzled and he asked, "Can you describe the taste of chocolate?" which I thought was apt.
The RS-A1 is very open, musical, and forgiving. It will change all your views of tonearms and how they work. Doesn't seem to matter all that much where it's mounted relative to the turntable/spindle as long as you get it in the ballpark. It just sits on the plinth (doesn't have to be attached but has a tendency to fall over if it isn't). VTA and VTF are similarly in the "get it close but don't sweat it" vein. No antiskating is provided or needed. The arm is straight, the "headshell" swivels but is not offset and the cart doesn't precisely follow the groove, so any comparison to straight-line trackers is off the mark. Tracks like a champ, though. It is simply a goofy arm that works very, very well if you can stand to live with it. I couldn't.
Oregon, I'm the owner of the RS-A1 referenced above and there's not really much I can add to Dave's excellent description. The only direct comparisons I've made in my own system have been with an ET 2 air-bearing arm and an RB 300. It bested both of these arms in sound quality although it may be a pinch lighter in the bass than the Rega. It is also ridiculously easy to set up (which was a real change from the ET 2) and Dave is correct when he says it can't be compared to a linear tracker despite the "swiveling" headshell.
One of the attributes the arm does have in common with the ET 2 and other linear trackers is the lack of inner groove distortion (at least to these ears). The midrange and treble are nimble and extended, and the whole range is ligtning quick. I would say the RS-A1 is the tonearm equivalent of my Quad ESL 57 speakers, although with more extended treble as confirmed by listening to it in another system.
As Dave also pointed out, the caveat is ease of use (or lack threof). I had five mishaps the first week trying to get the cartridge into the lead grooves (even with the use of an ingenius "dental cueing aid" Dave came up with), and a robust cartridge is initially recommended. I'm much better at it now (no fumbles in two weeks), but I still need to stay focused and normally switch to digital media if I've had a few drinks :-). For this reason (and this reason alone), I'm still evaluating whether I'll be keeping the arm long-term.
P.S. I seriously doubt you will find any used in the $500 range. The best price I can remember seeing in the past year was around $900.
One was sold off this website for $500, or certainly less than $600, within the past 6 months. I know because I wish I had bought it.
Thanks, Lew. I now feel like I did when I saw my SUV on sale for thousands less only a few months after I purchased it. Aargh! ;-)
You are exchanging communications with a man who once owned collector sports cars now worth many millions of dollars. Not to mention why didn't I buy that Ferrari 250GTO back in 1971 for $12,000 (now worth upwards of 5 to 10 million)? I guess one reason was that $12K was more than I earned in FY1971. So, it's all relative, and c'est la vie, etc.
Anyway, patience is its own reward. FWIW, there's an RS-A1 for sale now on A'gon, for more than $500 but with a re-wire upgrade that adds value.
Yeah, I saw that one at $1200/obo and thought ... "Wouldn't it be fun to play with?" Such awesome sound. Such a pain to use.
So I took a cold shower :-)
Someone else did not make it to the shower on time. It sold. And not a bad buy at that. Congrats to the buyer, if he read this thread, and please report to us your impressions of that weird yet wonderful gadget.
I just installed the RS Labs RS3 rotating headshell on my Dynavector arm. Results are very promising. the headshell is not hard to use like the arm and comes with a usable arm lift.
The sound is very airy and "natural" with excellent ebb and flow. Lots of spatial information and life. If you have an arm with a interchangeable headshell, this might be your ticket.
As for the arm, I have not seen one for the low $500 price used but sometimes you'll never know.
Me to - I recently received one and have been trying it out. In theory I guess it shouldn't really work but I'm surprised at how it's sounding - micro moments than I haven't always heard before it seems to be digging up - I just think the design could be improved as you want the stylus quite far behind the pivot point - not near it ! Anyway I'm using mine with an SME MK1 12 are and SPU / Koetsu as so far so good - the theory against the design approach hasn't actually materialized sonically ! I'd be interested to know if there are any other RS3 users out there ???????