I am refurbishing a Garrard 301 greased bearing TT but haven't decided on which tonearm to use. I like the classic beauty and design of the SME 3009 and all of the upgrades and options available, but I also have my eye on the Rega RB300. My current cartridge is a Grado Statement Sonata1, but I'll probably put something else on the Garrard when it's done, possibly a Denon 103 or other MC. I can be patient as I haven't built a new plinth yet, but I would like to have the tonearm in hand when I do. Words of advice from anyone with experience in these matters would be greatly appreciated, as well as other tonearm suggestions. So far, the 3009 is at the top of my list, so my budget is under $1000.
This is a note that when you do calculations for the resonant frequency match for the Denon 103 use the value of 12(13) cus compliance for the Denon 103 and not 5 cus.That 5 cus figure is based on a different table than the one most manufacturers use(Denon's fault).When Hi-Fi News tested the Denon 103 in their lab years ago in a review, they found the actual compliance figure to be about 12 cus.This is the figure you should use in calculations.Thus a Denon 103 with the improved SME would yield a resonant frequency of about 11.5 Hz.Does not guarantee it will sound good though,many matches that should not work do and vice-versa.
Much food for thought, thank you all. It is apparent that the cartridge comes first and that the Denon 103 is more demanding than I first thought. Since I will most likely use my Grado Statement Sonata 1 for at least a short while, does anyone have anything to say about the SME (preferably non improved) 3009 arms in general vs the Rega models? From what I can see, the SME arms look easier to adjust than the Rega's. I also like the SME's 2 knife edges vs the Rega, which appears to be bearing supported on only one side. All the bells and whistles aside, how do Rega arms (with upgrades if necessary) stack up against the SME 3009? Has anyone listened and compared?
The Rega RB300 is actually supported by bearings on both sides.That being said there is spring in the weight adjustment side that does vibrate.However,I remember Jean Nantais of Lenco idler fame giving the Rega RB300 the thumbs up as the real deal.He always rewired his arms though.One with an original tungsten weight is the one to go for.The Lenco idler wheel and Garrard 301 are probably very suited to this arm.
I have used most of the SME arms and use to be a dealer and also used the Rega. All are good but have different applications. If I wanted an SME I would get a used 309, they often appear used in your price range and will handle a wide range of cartridges. The new SMEs , forget the number, begin at $995 and look good. If I got a Rega I would get a VTA adjustor to begin with, they are a pain without it. VPI makes a good one [dealer disclaimer] and Riggle makes a very good one I have thought about for my Jelco 750. This arm is also one you might consider as the detachable headshell means you can tune the mass to a considerable degree. They are $500 without arm cable, a real bargain. You can adjust the VTA on them, the Riggle lets you do it while playing.
It looks good but wouldn't fit the tables I am using. Also after using the 12" VPI, which is a very good arm, I am not sure if I really want the added hassle of a 12". But the Jelco should be a real bargain; they have made arms for other companies that sold for top dollar and the 750 series looks just as good. The made the Koetsu arm and the Grado arm for example and I think Raven offers the arms as a option on their tables. If not them then another of the expensive German tables.
Dekay-I only considered "that" Denon because it always seemed to come up in discussions as though it were a "gold standard cartridge" of sorts. Since that's not such a great concern to me anymore, at least for the moment, I am still looking for a tonearm that will mate well with the Garrard 301 and allow me to use my Grado Sonata. Admittedly having little experience in this matter, it seems VTA adjustment and tonearm height will be a factor given the 301 chassis sits so high above the plinth, (roughly 14mm by my estimate), and the platter even higher. My guess is that a raised armboard would be the preferred method of roughing the height, with the final adjustment being done by the tonearm.
The Rega RB300 is a terrific value and an excellent arm; I have had over 25 years of flawless perfomance from one I use with an AR-ES1. It has two downsides you need to be aware of (1) it does not have VTA adjustment and you have to use spacers to get the correct height (2) The tone arm wire and connector are basic quality and you will get improved performance by replacing them.
The arm must be chosen with the cartridge you are going to use in mind.The rega is good but modified by origin live it becomes a great arm. I used one on a lenco. A great add is the vtaf of Pete Riggle,it adds air and details and the result is amazing.