Rega RB300 (giant killer) $250 - $400, - - - Zeta tonearm (Giant) $1350 NOS. sold for $800 on US audiomart.
I’m stepping up a level in the cartridge dept, and wonder if the benefits of doing so might be further augmented by stepping up a level in the tonearm dept, and if doing both would make a sonic improvement greater than the sum of it’s parts?
A gain of that level in sonics would make such an expediture intriguing, Eg: 1+1= 3.5. (ajusted to compensate for the law of diminishing returns).
Has anyone out there used "both" an RB300 and a Zeta? And would you feel that moving to a Zeta is closer to a lateral move, or more reflective to an exponential improvement? My Rega has been rewired with Discovery interconnects, and uses the heavier counterweight.
(Cartridge move is from a Grado Reference Sonata 1, to a Dynavector 20x2 High Output).
In my experience, the Rega is a poor sounding arm. I own that arm, a Polestar arm, & a Victor 7045. Both the Polestar & the Victor blow the Rega away top to bottom. That stated, I suspect you would get a major improvement switching to the Zeta.
I also had the RB300, and very high hopes. I was very disappointed. No cartridge, from high-compliance MM to LOMC, sounded nearly as good on the Rega as they did on other arms. Everyone conceded the wiring in the Rega was lousy, so I rewired with VDH pure silver — there was little improvement if any. I was doing a tonearm survey at the time — starting with low with the original Rega (made by Acos; I blank on the name, RB-200 maybe?), the SME 3009 II Imp, then Technics RB500/501, Grado Reference, Linn Ittok, Syrinx PU3, SME 309. Oddly, the only arm as lifeless and dull as the Rega was the Grado.
The 300 is praised by so many, and so widely hyped, that mine is a lonely opinion — but at least Boxer12 agrees. I simply can't imagine a Zeta in decent condition won't blow it away.
do your self a favor and look into a Jelco 750 series or the newer models in those price ranges its better then the Rega arms by quite a bit of margin. also its very important to know your table specialy in your case where your table is susceptible to arm weight and will require changing your tables suspension springs to match, not hard but will have to be done. I went from an RB600 moded to a Jelco 12" 750l arm on my new table and its a huge improvement. I have not heard a Zeta so I can not comment there. I've owned 4 Oracle tables in the past mk1's and MK4. I currently have a Garrard 301 that I upgraded to from the Mk4.
I forgot to mention, the RB300 I had was mounted on an Oracle — not the Delphi but the Alexandria, a step down but using exactly the same design principles (suspension, platter/bearing/motor, etc). All the other arms I mentioned above were mounted to that Oracle, and Rega was runner-up for last place. If you liked the Pirelli analogy, this may strike a chord — Putting a RB300 on a Delphi is like using Chevy parts on your Porsche.
The Syrinx LE1 was the bottom of the Syrinx line, their offering in the "budget" arena, and unlike Rega they weren't geared up to mass-produce, crucial in that low-margin market. Quality control was all over the place. I have and still use the better Syrinx PU3 and it's superb. It beat the SME 309 (IME) — the 309 is a pricey high-end arm — in a strict head-to-head comparison. And I didn't want it to, so there was no confirmation bias. It destroyed the RB300. I've not heard the Zeta, but it was reputed to be competitive with the PU3, one the "super arms" UK seemed to produce in abundance during vinyl's so-called Golden Age. Viridian's suggestion is a very good one, and he notes the Oracle/SME connection. SME made an arm specially for Oracle, though it was a variant of their TOTL V, as is the 309. Again, I've not heard the M2-9 but I've owned several SME arms and they never disappoint.
Early Zetas had bearing issues. If it is fine today, it should be fine tomorrow.
It was not all zetas, but a few, and of course it was blown out of proportion. They had excellent bearings with just the right amount of of play and tightness. Which means, depending on how the metals were stressed during cutting, shaping and finishing and usage/application, means they can either go loose -or go tight. IF lucky and well planned, they stay in the zone. EG, all Dual turntables of the 80’s require arm bearing adjustment. All. It was even an instruction set -- in their tech manuals. Fix the arm bearings according to the manual on a $25 Dual belt/direct drive unit from the 80's.... and you've got cheap performer - for peanuts.
The Zeta was always an excellent arm. Early Kuzma Stogi’s come in at nearly the same price and play in the same range of quality. A minor mod can make an original Stogi really step up to the plate. The original Stogi was designed principally on an LP12.
Just checked, maybe not.. getting rare and prices are going up.
Zeta it is, if the decision was mine.
We are talking about synergy..and I’ve owned the Delphi, a few times...and had a stogi on it. As well as an early Linn Basik Plus. Knowing the Zeta and what it was generally paired with (low output MC, mid/high mass suspended tables).... the Zeta should work decently on a Delphi.
Results will vary according to human tastes in listening, of course.
Edit: just remembering how the mat and clamp combination on the Delphi has a tendency to slightly over-damped, which darkens and slows things a bit and the high output dynavector should negate some of that, due to how high output coils tend to sound and how they retrieve signal. Might be a very nice combination.
You might find yourself staying there for a while, and not trying to visit anything else.....
if you still have the acrylic arm board go buy an aluminum one from oracle they are a huge step up and look way better too. and reasonably priced, get a service kit while your at it if it has not been done already.
I've tried the Rega, Mission Mechanic and Zeta, the latter on an Oracle Delphi Mk 2. Surprised at all the dislike for the RB300 - it is still a bargain, sonically, but the Zeta is a work of art that should handily better it, They are rare, so finding one will be a challenge.
If money isn't a problem you can always just shell out for an SME V.
I’ve heard a ton of systems, & aspecially from the price point, the RB300 is a good tonearm, and it’s mustard. It’s never given me a spec of grief. Are there better options - - - you bet, or I wouldn’t have typed this post.
Pullies, counter weights & wires may look aesthetic on tonearms, but as Mr.Scott so eloquently put it "the fancier the plumbing, the more likely you’ll clog the drain". That’s why I’ve been leaning towards the Zeta & the SME V .... no clutter.
That said, "SME V" - ahhhh - it’s only money, make it every day, LOL. If money wasn’t an issue I wouldn’t be looking at tonearms from the 90’s.
$2500 bucks for a used V, then ship it off the SME to be rewired & refurbished (they have a service shop just north of Toronto), there’s another $450-600 clams, that’s an easy three G’s for a used arm .... forget it.
In 1984 I paid $1800 dollars for just the table, I’m not throwing $3 grand at an arm, I’m caping the tonearm budget at $1800 bucks. That’s why I’ve been seriously considering the Wilson Benesch 0.5.
True, there is a counter weight at the fulcum, but it’s not as complex as a Graham, VPI, or Tri-Planar, and cost a lot less.
So thanks for the heads up on the Zeta wspohn. On that choice we agree, but
SME V, it’s too rich for my blood.