Top 5 Tonearms Newer or Vintage Under 2500 That Will Beat anything above/below 2.5k?


From all your tonearm experiences trials errors comparisons etc is there a Top 5 tonearm list that are known for their musical superlatives in all music ranges and genres? including finer detail nuances feeling, 3d sound but also deep bass and midbass, basspunch. Airy highs. And importantly long hours listening without fatigue.
The criteria also to be met are easy setups for all angles vta vfa azimuth anti skating etc 
The Tonearm must also the ability to use more than just one or two cartridge compatibility.

Probable Turntables to be Used: Garrard 301/401, Lenco, Linn, Thorens 124, Technics 1100 1200 10 or 15. 

Heres the list i compiled of ToneArms to pick from.
Feel free to mention others.

  • Tw Raven, D Talea, Graham 2.2/phantom, Moerch, Origin Live, Vpi, 
  • AudioMods

  • Clear Audio, Stax, Rega, Technics 500/1000, Sumiko, Alphason, Black Widow, One unipivot, Saec, Clear Audio, Basis Vector, Triplanar

  • Origin Silver, Rega 9, Linn Ittok, Project, Technics 500/1000,
  •  Alphason, Audio Technica, Dynavector 507

    Grace, Mission, Grado, Ortofon, EMT, Thorens Tp,
  • ESL, Sme 3012, Sme 3009, Sme V, IV,

  • Schroeder, Kuzma, Eminent, Ikeda, Breuer, 
    Stax, Kenwood 007 arm, Sonys top Arm, Artemis
vinny55
Post removed 

The question is confusing. The question should be:

top 5 vintage tonearms bellow 2500 which will beat

anything above 2,5 K .

My answer Sumiko 800 (the arm) , FR-64S , Micro 505

will beat some of the (new) tonearms above 2.5K.

NB 5 is numerical quantor; anything is universal . We have

no idea what ''anything''  refers to.

Stogi Reference Tonearms plus J Allaerts MC1 Boron        :)

@amg56, Is ''Stogi Reference'' made by Kuzma? Can

this tonearm be counted as ''vintage''?

@nandric 

Define vintage? 1996? considering the advances in tonearms and cartridges to 2018 I would define it as getting vintage, and still brilliant.

Im using TW Raven 10.5 on my TW AC1 turntable with all Black Night upgrades and Transfiguration Proteus cartridge for best analog sound.
SME 3012R, Micro S 505 and 808X(good luck finding one!), Technics EPA-100/250/500, TransFi Terminator.  
Dynavector DV505 is universally adjustable to fit all cartridges.
@nandric Newer or Vintage Arms not just Vintage.
@ dgarretson are Micro and Sumiko related? Whats the sound like of the Technics Epa 250/500. Please Describe the sound of the ones you listed. Thanks
@ nandric i heard from many that Fr64s is silver wired and bright. Silver isnt made for audio. Copper has been the standard and naturally musical. Fr64 is also very limited cartridge compatability even tho it sounds great from what i been told. Its a very heavy arm as told.
Describe Sumiko 808 and Micro 505

Hi vinny55, I would call ''vintage'' those from the ''golden age''

of analog. Say from the 80is. BTW the ''S'' by FR-64/66 kinds

means steel not silver. However both, copper and silver versions

were available. I should also add Lustre 801 and dgarretson SME

3012 R to my choice. Together we have more than 5 (grin).

Reed 3p "12 Cocobolo is the best new tonearm i’ve ever heard.

Vintage:
Technics EPA-100 mkII
Victor UA-7045
SONY PUA-7 (stand alone version only). 

for high compliance cartridges:
Luxman TA-1 (made by Micro Seiki) with removable armwand and heavy base stabilizer.
@chakster please describe how they sound and on what ttables used and cartridges hooked with
@nandric  no worries.  what era was Sme 3012r made and who made Lustre 801?

Dear chakster, I also own Reed 3P (12'') but I would like to

try the ''vintage'' Micro Max 282. Hard to find one but those

are certainly above $5000 ?

BTW my problem with Technics EPA 100 and ''variations'' is

that they are not suitable for the most MC cartridges.

Hi vinny 55, Lustre is produced by Koshin (Akos?) before

1980. Also called ''magnetic drive'' because VTF and anti

skate could be adjusted by magnets, without any mechanical

contact. SME started with steel versions of both; SME 309 and

3012 . Later on aluminum was used instead of steel. However

the Japanese wanted ''steel back'' so the series ''R'' were produced

of both kinds. Alas I am not sure if this was before or after 1980?

But I am sure dgarretson knows .

@nandric  Micro Max 282 is what i wish to buy too, but it's too expensive, definitely over $5k (used). Actually new Reed 3P is over 5k euro, but a bit cheaper on used market. So ellegant, so nice, oustanding build quality. 

Yes, Technics is better for those who uses MM or lightweight MC of mid to high compliance. 

Lustre GST-801 (by Koshin, ACOS) is nice, but magnetic system doesn't work in most cases, it can be repaired, but it's too compliacated. Mine was ok (without magnetic drive), i just sold it to a friend. Still own some important spare parts if anyone needed (original lustre ring weight and additional counterweight). 


The TransFi Terminator is developing a cult following amongst Lenco fanatics. Two Vintage arms with fans are the Sumiko The Arm (designed by David Fletcher) and the Zeta. Both are medium-high mass arms with great bearings and stiff, large-diameter arm tubes. Good for low-compliance cartridges, including Decca/Londons.
@vinny55

please describe how they sound and on what ttables used and cartridges hooked with

Reed 3P "12 Cocobolo is my reference tonearm, purchased for Technics SP-10mkII (in a custom teak wood plinth) to replace my first EPA-100. The Reed 3p was a stunning performer with Audio-Technica ART-2000, Glanz MFG-61, Audio-Technica AT-ML150, AT-ML170 and AT-ML180, Victor X-1, Victo X-1II, Pioneer PC-1000 mkII, Garrott P77, Argent MC-500HS ... Every cartridge on this tonearm was great (MC or MM), even high compliance Stanton 980 LZS. This is very detailed sounding tonearm, and the only tonearm to my knowledge that allow us to adjust AZIMUTH ON THE FLY and VTA on the fly. So with REED everyone can adjust everything properly for the most complicated stylus profile. Reed has no limitations and the other tonearms. This tonearm is a must have for serious listening to make your cartridge sing. I sold my plinth, so i don’t use it at the moment, i’m gonna mount it on my Luxman PD-444 soon.

Well, the vintage tonearms i have mentioned are 5 times cheaper than Reed 3P, but for its price they are great + removable headshell is a nice option to swap cartridges. I’ve been using them only on Luxman PD-444 turntables.

I like SONY PUA-7 for the build quality as well, this toneam has the best anti-skating mechanism, the best and super smooth armlift, vta on the fly. I like tonearm with counterweight that i can use without digital scale, there is a digits on the counterweight to set up tracking force. I use this ronearm mostly with MC cartridges like Fidelity-Research PMC-3, Argent MC110, Dynavector DV-30A ...

I feel the same about Victor UA-7045 tonearm, but for MM cartridges only. I like my Grace F14 and AT-ML170 cartridges on this arm. Tonearm can be purchased for under $750 and it is such a good value for top quality tonearm from Victor. Actually the price is a steal!

And my Luxman TA-1 with removable armwand and heavy tonearm stabilizer is for High compliance cartridges, it’s like the Infinity Black Widow, but better quality from Micro Seiki. I use it with Stanton Signature SC-100 WOS. Maybe i will sell this toneam, i bought Technics EPA-100 MKII nor so long ago and i can use it for high compliance carts if i will find out how to mount it on my Luxman PD-444.

I don’t like to describe sonic quality as i’m not a reviewer and it will be impossible to compare all the tonearm in a proper way (with same cartridges on the same turntable at the same time etc). I use different arms for differend needs (i have many different cartridges). I still think that cartridge is more important (if it’s not a total mismatch between the arm and cartridge). What i have learned is that a vintage tonearms are not bad compared to very expensive new tonearms. There are many great vintage tonearms available in top condition for reasonable prices.


Naim Aro...if you can find one :)
A "vintage" arm that's still in production (and it's on your list) is the Moerch series. I've used a UP-4 on a Thorens 124 and a VIP HW-19 and I've been quite satisfied with the price:performance ratio. If you have a question, Hans Moerch himself will usually respond.
Thank you all. Have any of you tried Graham and Raven?
Trans-Fi Terminator. I suspect the greatest bargain in audio at $1K. Uses standard parts and clever engineering instead of intricate machining.

Air bearing, adjustable, repeatable, made to mod. What's not to like?
Had an Origin Live Silver II arm that was very nice sounding, a Trans-Fi Terminator with all the upgrades that was even better, and now have Pete Riggle Woody that sounds extremely fine.  It lists for almost double what a TF costs new, however and the TF is about $300 more than the OL-S at list prices.  Very hard to find a TF used as apparently most owners are keeping them.  Used all 3 with several different cartridges--Soundsmith Level 2 Shelter 501 Mk II, Music Maker III, Benz Micro Ruby 3, Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood.  All 4 cartridges sounded good with each arm, but were a little better with the TF vs. the OL.  The Benz was the best sounding of the lot.  The Woody is also next to impossible to find on the used market as their owners love this arm.  Probably NO easier to adjust arm in every parameter--most of the key adjustments are on the fly with it.  No tools needed to adjust anything--just your fingers.  Not quite as fancy as a Reed, but very close in sound.  I have a heavily modified Lenco with most of the Jean Nantais upgrades.
A used Triplaner MkVII
Good luck finding a Durand Talea for $2,500

lottery like luck

@chakster , If I remember well Raul preferred manual VTF

adjustment by Lustre 801.The reason being that the counter-

weight could get nearer to the pivot this way. So those who

own Lustre with defective magnetic VTF adjustment need not

worry. I hope you deed not sell your sample because of this

''imperfection'' (grin).

By the way, the Terminator is available with your choice of silver or copper internal wiring. ;-)

As noted by Nandric, he and I are "long" on SME 3012R, with five or so examples between us.  There are a fair number still available, mostly from Japanese sellers.  This is a really versatile arm-- working well with both high and low-compliance cartridges.  Some consider it superior to the SME IV & V-- particularly in terms of LF precision without bloat.

The Trans-Fi is also fine, though I find that its low vertical mass occasionally presents a tracking problem with some cartridges.

From what I've heard from a few friends with Reed, it's a really enjoyable listening experience, but colored in a euphonic way.  

I keep a new-production Kuzma 4PT on the same Luxman PD444 as the 3012R.  These arms are close in overall quality, but the 4PT may be slightly richer than life.  

Considering the (very) attractive price as well so much praise

for the Trans-Fi I am wondering if those ''intensive care connections''

have something to do with sceptical attitude by buyers ?

Chakster, Despite the fact that dgarretson also seems to swear

by (your) PD 444 I wan't part from my SL 1000,mkII with Obsidan

plinth. BTW I also own Kuzma's Stabi Reference.

@dgarretson 

About the low vertical mass of the Trans-Fi, I use two work-arounds: first, instead of using mounting nuts on the top of the wand, I have a disc of brass alloy C770 (quite hard, half copper, quarter nickel, quarter zinc) with holes tapped for stainless screws. That adds 5 grams, IIRC. Second, I add brass weights by fitting them into the arm wand holes. Lets my Koetsu track well at 2.1 grams or so.

@terry9 

Thanks.  I machined similar weights and agree with you that they work well.  I felt it was more appropriate to comment on the Trans-Fi as supplied, as the OP is a newbie.  It's a great tonearm and relatively simple to modify. 

Quite right on both counts.
Used ET II.  It has VTA adjust on the fly and choice of three different arm tubes for quick swap of about any cartridge.

Chakstr you must have misspoken when you wrote that the FR64 is best suited to light, high compliance cartridge s.

to who ever wrote that silver was not made for audio, are you serious with that line of thought? Copper and silver are both conductors of electricity. Period.

meantime, what happened to the OP's question ? 

@bdp24 is the Trans-fi an air bearing tonearm?

Everybody knows Van den Hul, some know Van den Dungen

(Kiseki + Prima Luna) but who is familiar with the 3th Dutch

''grand master'' Eddy Driessen? Certainly worth mentioning

by ''vintage tonearms'' . The problem is: if you need to ask for

the price you are not suitable as his customer. His trade mark is

''Pluto'' while all his TT''s and tonearms are hand made by him.

@lewm 

Chakster you must have misspoken when you wrote that the FR64 is best suited to light, high compliance cartridges.

Can't find anything about it in this thread, but anyway the FR-64FX is not like the FR-64s. So what i said earlier somewhere is that FR-64FX (Black Color) has a bit lighter effective moving mass compared to FR-64s superheavy monster. The FR-64FX can be used for heavy FR-7f or SPU cartridges and that's why i bought my FR-64FX.

Actually even with the small counterweight the heavy MC cart like FR-7 can be balanced and used as i can see in the internet, but it's probably wrong as the counterweight is to far from the pivot. The right conterweight for heavy carts (up to 32g) is FR W-250, on this picture you can see both (the bigger is W-250).   

This arm was developed in the 80s, later than FR-64s. FR-7f black cartridge (and FR-7fz) also developed later than silver color FR-7. So i believe the FR-7f supposed to be used with 64-FX tonearm (they are both black). 

But it shouldn't be a problem to use lighter carts with 64FX tonearm if the owners got additional (smaller) counterweights. So the FR-64FX is more versatile tonearm than his older brother FR-64s.    
Dear @vinny55 : It's important that you share with us the list of components/items in your home audio system. It will be more easy to give experiences and advices.

Thank's in advance.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear @chakster : Your logic about those cartridges with diferent color has no sense to reklated to tonearms for it.

Both cartridges are diferent: has diferent output levels. The 64fx appeared at the begening of 1980, the 66fx in 1981 and the 64fx pro in 1984. The black body cartridges started at the end of 1980.

Anyway , I know that you like to live in that " audio world " a wrong/dark one but is your choice. Too much to learn, me too.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Fidelity-Research products in order by release dates:

1) FR-7 (1978):
http://audio-heritage.jp/FIDELITYRESEARCH/etc/fr-7.html

2) Tonearm FR-64s (1976):
http://audio-heritage.jp/FIDELITYRESEARCH/etc/fr-64s.html

3) Tonearm FR-66s (1977):
http://audio-heritage.jp/FIDELITYRESEARCH/etc/fr-66s.html

4) FR-7f (1980):
http://audio-heritage.jp/FIDELITYRESEARCH/etc/fr-7f.html

5) Tonearm FR-64fx has been released in 1980 and discontinued in 1990 as far as i know: http://www.jupiteraudio.com/5005/5005.html

According to this logic the FR-7f cartridge and FR-64fx tonearm were introduced in the same year (1980) and supposed to be made for each other with W-250 counterweight.

P.S. I wish to continue with release dates of the FR-7fz and FR-702 cartridges, but i have zero information about it. Anyway these models appeared to be released later than FR-7f. They are all black, so the latest Ikeda-San's tonearms under Fidelity-Research brand are the FR-66fx and FR-64fx. Normally any tonearm designer is trying to upgrade his products in the latest versions.  


Stupid things. You just read but in reality did not my post. Re-read it.

Why you said: "  and supposed to be made for each other."" when the tonearm appeared at the begening of that year and the cartridge at the end ! ? ! ?

@c
Dear @vinny55: Your thread has no sense at least what you stated:

"""  From all your tonearm experiences trials errors comparisons etc is there a Top 5 tonearm list that are known for their musical superlatives in all music ranges and genres? including finer detail nuances feeling, 3d sound but also deep bass and midbass, basspunch. Airy highs. And importantly long hours listening without fatigue. """

Where do you learn that could exist the possibility that a tonearm can comes with those atributes/characteristics?

Btw, the incredible things in this thread is that all other gentlemans already gave you opinions in your no-sense statement ! ! ! ???
I N C R E D I B L E   !

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
@rauliruegas

The black body cartridges started at the end of 1980.

What is your source to make sure the carts are from the end of the 1980 while the FX series of the tonearm is from the beginning of the 1980?

Why you said: " and supposed to be made for each other."" when the tonearm appeared at the begening of that year and the cartridge at the end ! ? ! ?

They are from the same year (1980), your statement must be checked, but actually it doesn’t change anything. With optional W-250 counterweight FX series of the Fidelity-Research tonearm is suitable for FR-7f and FR-7fz cartridges from the same designer, but also suitable for lighter carts with different counterweight. This tonearm is more universal than its predecessor 64s. I didn’t said it was made exclussively for FR-7f and FR-7fz or FR-702 cartridges, but those cartridges were the best from Ikeda-San at that time and according to J.Carr - Ikeda-San is still proud of them. In my opinion matching the best products in color is also a good idea for those who cares not only about the sound, but also about aesthetics.
Does anyone have any information ob the FR-34S? It's the only Fidelity Research that I know of that would drop into mt table at 222 cm spindle to pivot.
rauliruegas04-12-2018 2:41pm
Your thread has no sense at least what you stated ... stupid ... Stupid things ... ignorant ...  no-sense statement ...  Your logic about those cartridges with diferent color has no sense ...  other gentlemans already gave you opinions in your no-sense statement ...  you like to live in that " audio world " a wrong/dark one ...
Not everyone who disagrees with you is stupid, Raul. Not all of the "ignorant" people who disagree with you are wrong.

 
Dear @chakster : Yes, the best by Ikeda but the best FR was designed by the today My Sonic Labs than before this founded Entré rigth a way when left FR.

The Japanese audio bible that states month and year. Aesthetics is a diferent issue.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear @cleeds : As almost always you don't have nothing say.

Now, if you are in favor of the OP thread statement, good for you and for me because tells that " you don't have any sense " at least audio common sense/knowledge level.

R.