Hi Doug. I have no personal experience with the Morch arm, so I can't really comment about that. I know that alot of people really like that arm.
To be fair, there are a couple of unipivots that can handle the Shelter well, but they are mostly higher than the $800 price range.
To comment about your questions, the adjustable azimuth feature is most important if the arm or cartridge is made wrong with bad azimuth. If it is correct, then it doesn't need to be adjusted.
I never used an arm with adjustable vertical damping, so I don't know how that improves things. I would suspect that it may have an effect on warp tracking, either good or bad, depending on how it is adjusted.
Horizontal stabilization is important, and naturally I think the HiFi mod is exquisite in this regard. But I have to recuse myself from that part of the discussion because I am the inventor and seller of said mod. There are a number of HiFi users that may want to comment about it.
The effective mass of the OL Silver is good for a cartridge like the Shelter.
Since I only have experience with the OL Silver, of the arms in question, I can say that set up and ease-of-use with this arm is easy and good. The main drawbacks of the OL Silver are that the VTA adjustment is more crude than some other arms I've seen, but it works well. The wiring loom is adequate, but not as good as the megabuck arm wiring. The stock counterweight is easily bettered by the Expressimo Heavyweight, and should be considered as a mandatory part of this arm package, for best performance. The appearance of this arm is quite pedestrian, and lacks the "wow" factor of some other arms. But it makes up for that with very good sound quality for the money. It has excellent bass response, liquid mids, and nice clear highs, and is very low in colorations. One of the least colored arms that I know of. Very musical and detailed, and not analytical. It is probably not the ultimate in any single category, but as a whole it does it all better than most arms. I'd say it is a very good value arm, and with some of the aforementioned "fishing weights" properly placed, ........well, you know.
Others who are more aware of the Morch performance characteristics can comment on that arm better than I.
I'm familiar w/ the Morch (but not the OL; what a quandary:)) It's a very good arm and relatively easy to set up. The azimuth, angle, etc are correctly set, so no problems (unless the previous owner has been playing with this; if so, Tom, if you can convince him, could probably solve the issue magnificently...).
I used the arm with a Clearaudio Accurate & Discovery. It's on the neutral side of neutral (to coin a bad phrase), tracking is very good & resulting "speed" effect is excellent. Musical presentation is very open, mids are liquid (not harsh/ analytical) and the upper end extension obtained was at par (if not better) than with a more expensive arm. We didn't notice resonance issues and the bass was very clear and tight (maybe lacking ultimate extension?). Note that listen to classical music & use large orchestral passages to "audition" arms & cartridges.
I THINK a Morch would like the construction concept of the Teres; it felt very well in a Clearaudio TT, a big Project and a S. Yorke.
BUT, I've never used a 901. Maybe Tom can extrapolate because $800 for the Morch +cable looks like excellent value.
BTW, this is an exotic analogue rig you're setting up!
The Morch DP-6 is a dual bearing design, while the UP-4 is a unipivot. The DP-6 has a ball bearing damped with silicon in the horizontal. It uses two sapphire bearings in the vertical. Damping in both planes is separate. Vertical can be adjusted. One of the sapphire bearings is used to provide azimuth adjustment.
I agree with Greg that $800 for a good used Morch DP-6 is good money spent. I have found the Morch arms very fluid and accurate. I heard the DP-6 as nearly straight neutral and the UP-4 as just a hair on the warm side of neutral.
Personally, I think that the Morch is a better sounding arm than the Silver with the midrage a little more forward inthe presentation, but that may well differ depending on table and cartridge, I'm sure. And, I've never heard one with the now famous HiFi mod. The Silver has less "adjustments" and is, therefore, easier to set and forget. The Morch is a bit more work and likely no the arm for someone fearful of "working with" their tomearm
Thank you all for your responses.
Obviously I know you're the inventor of the mods, no need to recuse yourself. I've read all of that amazing thread and everyone who's tried it declares it's a keeper. You should be proud of your baby.
It's good to know that azimuth adjustment is "optional".
I had the same reaction as you to the concept of vertical damping. Damping the arm at the beginning and end of a warp would momentarily increase effective tracking weight. This "should" have only a minor sonic effect. Damping the arm at the top of the warp would prevent a momentary decrease in effective tracking force. This "should" help prevent mis-tracking that might otherwise be audible. Theoretical conclusion: a judicious amount of vertical damping should provide audible benefits on warped records, though possibly minor ones. I suppose experimentation would be in order.
Thanks for the tip on the Expressimo Heavyweight. How would you compare it to your suspended weight mod?
Thanks for the Morch insights. There aren't many users of this arm so it's hard to find a review. Your observations were especially pertinent since our music is also 99% classical, including lots of large scale works. That's what steered me toward the 901 vs. the 501. The 901 reportedly shines in large scale works.
Yes it will be a fairly exotic setup, though hardly in Twl's league. The rest of my stuff is downright pedestrian by comparison. I doubt I'll ever buy another TT. I can't say that about anything else in the system.
At last! Someone who's heard both arms, even if un-modded. Your comparison is about what I would have guessed, but my expectations are based entirely on reading rather than listening. Always best to get an ears-on report. I don't particularly fear working with a tonearm, but then you know what they say about fools and angels!
The Morch was just snapped up by someone else. (If it was one of you, grrr!) Looks like it will be an OL Silver after all. Thanks again for the help. Maybe I'll upgrade to a DP-6 next year, after paying off all this exotica. Really like the idea of a 12" arm. I haven't needed to adjust for skating or non-tangent tracking in over 25 years.
Doug, I think that you will be well served my the Silver. Please realize that when I indicated a preference for the Morch DP-6, it is a matter of rather small degrees. Both are fine arms. I felt the Morch presented the midrange a bit better and had slightly tighter bass. If the HiFi mods retify this, you are all set. Plus, when the two are compared on a retail price basis, this speaks very highly of the Silver. Best of luck.
Doug, this rig you are assembling will definitely exceed what I am using. You will be quite happy with it, I'm sure.
As for the Heavyweight on the Silver arm, I have used the standard OL counterweight, the Heavyweight, and am now using my prototype hanging counterweight. For overall performance, they fall in that order: standard, Heavyweight, hanging counterweight.
For normal OL users, the Heavyweight is the best available option, because it is just a "drop in" part that installs quickly. It makes a nice improvment in tracking ability and sound, and is worth the money.
I am just an inveterate tweaker, and had to try some ideas that I had about counterweight theory. Again, it proved out that my hunch was correct, and the hanging counterweight definitely outperformed the Heavyweight. It would do fine on a Teres, but I don't think it will work well on a suspended table, because all that flopping around will cause the hanging weight to do too much swinging. On the Teres is sits dead still, except when you swing the arm over to cue a record. It stills itself pretty quickly, and isn't problematic at all on the Teres. I am not selling the hanging counterweight, but if you want to make one you can email me, and I'll give you instructions on how to make it.
Too bad about the Morch being gone, but I don't think that you'll be hurting any with the OL Silver, especially when modded with the HiFi, and possibly with the hanging counterweight. With both those mods, there is a very substantial improvement to the sound of the Silver arm, which is already, by itself, quite a nice arm. There is no doubt in my mind that my modded Silver is in the category of the "super arms". No doubt whatsoever. I wouldn't be at all worried about comparing it against anything there is. At the very least, it would give a very good account for itself, and maybe it might even win. For the money that is invested, it is no contest. The performance increase from the mods is very big, and every user that has tried the HiFi has been shocked at the amount of improvement. I have had no negative comments from anybody, and they are all ecstatic with it. The hanging counterweight is not as big of an improvement, but it makes the arm more liquid sounding, and unencumbered. More lively, open, and responsive. Tracks better too. I don't want to get carried away with superlatives, but this is a damn good arm with the mods, and I really like it. I have under $800 in it, since I bought it before the price increase, and mods were practically free.
Thanks 4yanx. I have NO doubts this rig will blow my current one away. (For $6K+ it had better!) I'm not at all unhappy about going with the OL. It's been on my shortlist for months and actually became the arm of choice after I read the HIFI mod thread. I only went looking again after the evil Chris Brady created the drop-dead gorgeous Teres 265. My partner thought the OL Silver a bit plain by comparison. The Morch certainly answers in that category. Oh well.
Instrumental/voice timbres matter most to me and I can't tolerate digital nastiness, but Paul needs to hear clean attacks/decays and clear, powerful bass. We're a tough pair to satisfy but I think this setup will. Twl's outriggers reportedly control the arm and help the bass, which should be especially good with a Shelter 901. Dammit! I may just order the Classic Records re-release of 'Pictures at an Exhibition' (Reiner/CSO) right now.
Twl, I doubt my store-bought amp will outshine the HOLY GRAIL. :)
I had exactly the same concerns as you about the hanging counterweight (reading your thoughts on that mega-thread was very educational). It might be a disaster on a Linn, but on a Teres, no problem. No floppin' around! I won't be set up for about a month and need to get my feet wet before going too crazy. I've never adjusted VTA/SRA or even used a VTF gauge. Once I climb up the learning curve a bit I'll let you know if I want to try it. Thanks.
Interesting that you find the hanging counterweight,
"makes the arm more liquid sounding, and unencumbered. More lively, open, and responsive." In his review of the OL Encounter for StereoTimes, Paul Szabady said, "The Encounter was in complete control. In comparison, the Encounter's less expensive brother, the Silver, sounded a bit like an over-achiever, less confident in its ability and so pushing harder to make a good impression and occasionally losing control."
Your description of a modded Silver and his description of the Encounter sound strikingly similar to me. I'm very encouraged.
Good luck & maybe we can look forward to a review of "my new analogue rig playing Mahler 8". Cheers
Doug, we'll see very soon how my modded Silver measures up with the Encounter. I have an Encounter on the way, for evaluation purposes. Actually, the large bearing housing on the Encounter is partly designed to increase the lateral mass component, and is likely the major factor in the sound difference between the two standard arms. Whether the Encounter's bearing housing matches the HiFi mod in that department is something that we shall see very soon. As far as the hanging counterweight adding to the Silver's abilities compared to the Encounter, I think that the standard counterweight on the Encounter will not match my hanging counterweight on the Silver. All-in-all, I expect my modded Silver to outperform the Encounter. However, I will try my hanging counterweight on the Encounter also, and find out how that combo stacks up in the mix. This should be an interesting week for listening. If my modded Silver beats the Encounter, I'll be gunning for the Illustrious next, to see how they compare. This is really the only way to tell for sure. I'll be doing all my testing with my Shelter 501 on the arms. Of course, I'll give a full report on the outcome.
Tom, I will be interested in the Illustrious/Silver Bullet comparison. Then, maybe someone can send to me a Silver Bullet so that I can do the same comparison! :-)
Why do you feel in advance that the Silver Bullet will outdo the Encounter? No disrespect intended here, just wondering if there is some design that is apparent upon visual impressions only that lead you to this supposition before listening.
Well David, of course it is just conjecture, still to be proven, at this point. But here is my reasoning.
First, the bearings. The bearings are said to be better than the Silver, but since the Silver already has bearings as good as most very high-dollar arms anyway, I really doubt that is going to have an effect. Both arms have their bearings located in the saddle, at wide spacing, similarly. So, I estimate the bearings to be a tie, in real-world effect. I could be wrong, and there might be a slight edge to the Encounter here, but only as much as you could hear the difference between ABEC 4 and ABEC 5 bearings. Not much.
Next, the arm tube. The Encounter has a different tapered tube which may actually be better than the Silver's tube, as far as resonance control. I don't think the stiffness differences of the tapered tube will be a factor. So, the Encounter may have a slight edge in arm tube resonance, but we'll have to see if that is the case or if it makes an audible difference. Possible edge for the Encounter here.
The end-stubs are the same on both arms.
The major factor that I see in the improved design of the Encounter is the massive bearing housing. While this looks like it will provide a "very strong" support for the arm bearings, in fact that area doesn't really need to be all that strong. It is plenty strong enough in the Silver to withstand any possible deformation of the bearing saddles, at the forces that are present there. But, it does provide a certain amount of added lateral mass, which provides an increase in performance that is aimed at doing the same thing as my HiFi mod. Here, the question arises, does it do the lateral mass thing as well as the HiFi mod? This is what I want to see. Frankly, I don't think it will do as well, because the mass increase on the Encounter is located almost entirely within or around the perimeter of the bearing saddles. It does not extend outward beyond the bearings to any extent at all. I'm not sure of the material they used yet, but it is likely to be aluminum from the looks of it. So the Encounter's lateral mass increase is a lighter material and not placed as wide as the HiFi mod. There may be some more material there, but it would have to be alot to overcome the difference between lead and aluminum. Also the positioning is very important, because the force is increased by "mass times distance squared" calculation. So the higher mass, and the distance from the center pivot, are key factors. My mass increase is much wider and therefore exerting much higher static moment in the lateral plane, than the Encounter is. The result of this, is that my modded arm has the ability to stabilize a higher force of stylus excursion, before being moved laterally in an unwanted fashion. Since I already have tested and used my mod, I am certain that this level of static moment in the lateral plane is not causing any problems to the normal movement of the arm. So as long as the mod doesn't impede anything, it is not too much force. Also, since my weights are attached to the actual ends of the bearing axle, they provide mass and damping to the axle itself, and make it nearly impossible for tha bearing axle to be excited by any arm vibration, which could cause bearing chatter. Chatter is virtually eliminated with this mod entirely. The Encounter(nor Illustrious) have this characteristic, and rely solely on the bearing adjustment for chatter control, and are not subject to the benefits of the advantages that are present in my HiFi mod in this regard.
Possible large edge for the Modded Silver here.
Counterweight. The counterweight on the Encounter is the same as on the standard Silver arm. This has been tested by me, as I mentioned earlier. The standard counterweight is easily bettered by the Heavyweight, which in turn is easily bettered by my hanging counterweight. No contest here. Definite edge for the modded Silver.
Wiring, from what I can tell, is the same on both arms. Adequate, but nothing exotic. This should be a tie.
Baseplate and mounting. The Silver has the Rega baseplate, and the Encounter has the new OL Baseplate. I like the looks of the new OL baseplate better, but I don't know whether it sounds any better or not. This is an unknown.
To sum up, in my opinion, the main reason why the Encounter is considered an improvement over the standard Silver arm is the increase in lateral mass provided by the large bearing housing on the Encounter. Users and reviewers of the Encounter are hearing the benefits of what I've been saying for over a year now. They've never heard or used my HiFi mod, so they are extolling the virtues of the "more controlled, better bass, dynamics,detail, and tonality," sound of the Encounter, without actually realizing what is causing the improvements they are hearing. I do realize what is causing the improvements. So since I think this is the case, and from my estimation and calculations my modded Silver has a better designed lateral mass implementation with greater control, I predict that my modded Silver will have a greater improvment in this area. Additionally, my hanging counterweight will be a definite improvement over the standard one on the Encounter. My guess is that these 2 major factors will exceed any of the benefits that may be normally afforded to the Encounter, when both arms are in their standard configurations.
I think that most of this also will apply to the comparison with the Illustrious, although the Illustrious has better wiring, and that could complicate matters. But the basic design of the Encounter and the Illustrious is extremely similar, and if I can beat the Encounter like I think I can, I'll have a real shot at the Illustrious.
So, those are my pre-judgments on this matchup. We'll see soon how accurate these thoughts are.
By the way, I like your "Silver Bullet" moniker for my modded Silver tonearm. The name fits well, in several respects.
Very interesting. Let me ask a few questions further, if you will.
By all accounts, the heavier counterweight on the OL Silver and other Rega-based arms is accepted as a worthwhile mod. So much so that one sees, "worth its weight in gold" and other such comments in testimonials. Given such wide acclaim, why, in your opinion, did OL not incorporate this feature or something similar into the design of the Encounter and Illustrious? For the price, these arms SHOULD be more than a degree or two better that the Silver. Would seem to have been a no-brainer based on the sales records of that mod alone. Suppose it is a blind adherence to one's own design? Wouldn't be the first time that has happened!
If, in your estimation after comparing, the Encounter outperforms the Silver, what then? Of course, it would depend on the degree. Just a wee better would give the nod to the Silver as having more value. But, if it is more than that, do you try to tweak the tweaks for the Silver to make it match, apply tweaks to the Encounter to make IT even better, or both? :-)
There are not a lot of independent reviews to be found on the Encounter and Illustrious at this point. One of the most glowing reviews was done by Stereo Times and Hi-Fi News . Some have criticized the reviewers as "being in bed with OL", but I haven't a clue. Anyway, even these thumbs up reviews cite play in the bearings with the arms, same as noticed in the Silver. I know there is a trade of between fluidity and stiffness with a gimbal arm but play seems unacceptable. Does your HiFi mod, in part, address this "looseness" in any manner. If so, would not the same type of mod prove beneficial to the more expensive, "better" arms. I guess I am wondering if there is possibly more hype than design in these arms.
With respect to the Encounter/Illustrious comparison. A visual inspection reveals that they are very similar, indeed. A different plate used as a arm pillar/tonearm rest support, one silver the other black, "gold" accents on the Illustrious. You mention that the Illustrious has upgraded wiring. The website for OL claims not cost pared in materials for the arm tube and bearing with respect to the Illustrious. Yet, they look the basically the same. Since it is somewhat hard to find information on these arms, other then the OL site itself, do you have the skinny on these two? Are the arms tubes, bearings of a different composition, etc.? I have asked these questions of some internet dealers and found the responses somewhat vague.
Oh, one more thing, and anyone please jump in here. OL arms up to the Silver have been seen as a true VALUE in the sense of performance/cost ratio. If the law of diminishing returns has set in with the Encounter and Illustrious, does this mark a change in philiospohy of OL to focus more on profit, or is it more likely a failed attempt to improve design? I am not saying this is the case, but if Tom's suppositions prove true, it would call into question the value statement.
David, I think those are some good questions. Here are some answers.
First the counterweight. Mark Baker feels that the offset counterweight(Heavyweight) is not all it's cracked-up to be, and in some ways he's correct. While it solves some things, it causes other problems. The first thing is, that it places the bulk of the mass down lower near the plane of the record, which is where it should be, and that improves tracking and cartridge damping. That is a plus, and why people like it.
With the traditional "donut style" counterweight, there is no change that occurs when the arm is moved up and down by warps, during play. This is because as the arm moves vertically, the top of the counterweight tilts rearward, and the bottom tilts forward in equal amounts, thus keeping all forces equalized during the attitude changes of the arm tube.
Conversely, the offset counterweight(Heavyweight) has the arm tube going through a hole that is not centered, and thus as the arm changes attitude vertically, the lower part of the counterweight(below the arm tube) moves more than the upper part(above the arm tube). This causes changes in the tracking force during warp riding. That's not so good.
So you have some good and some bad with each design. I think that my tests have shown me that when tracking warped records are not the main goal, but just better performance with a normal record is the goal, then I like the Heavyweight better for sound. And I don't know that the Heavyweight is really any heavier in mass than the original counterweight. It may be a little, but nothing much more. It is primarily the positioning of the majority of the mass in the counterweight below the arm, that is the difference. I think that the "Heavyweight" name is more of just a marketing name, than a description of the mass of it.
The hanging counterweight addresses these issues and also a few more. The hanging counterweight puts all the mass below the arm, and all of it at exactly the right spot, at the height of the record surface. This is ideal for the location of the mass, and you can't get any better than that. Second, the mass always remains equal and "stationary" in counterbalancing force, no matter what the vertical attitude of the arm is. This is because the hanging counterweight is like a "plumb bob" and stays "plumb" under the arm tube. It is hung by a line, so that the force is applied at the same point under all circumstances, no changes in tracking force, and it remains "plumb" under the arm. It also decouples the large mass from being right on the arm tube, and this sounds alot better to my ears, than having the big heavy mass bolted right to the arm tube. The only "hitch" is that the line wants to move around on the end-stub when you move the arm around for cueing. In order to stop this, I added a rubber O-ring on the end-stub shaft, in the correct spot for the tracking force, to keep the line located and not shifing position. This worked great. It didn't sound quite as good with the O-ring on there, but it wasn't much difference, and made it alot easier to live with.
I don't think it's "blind adherence" to an approach on Mark Baker's part, as much as it was a decision to keep the arm forces equal in all ways, during all types of playing conditions. But for my system, I would personally change to the Heavyweight for my own preferences. That is, if I weren't using my hanging counterweight.
Now about the comparison. If the Silver doesn't win out in the comparison, I'll be a little disappointed, but like you point out, it is still a great value for the money. I don't think that I'll try to tweak it out any further, because of that. What I'll do, is to try the hanging counterweight on the Encounter and see what that does for it. If I can get the Encounter to do even better with that counterweight, then maybe I'll try that combination on my table. I can't afford an Illustrious right now.
But I really am optimistic that the "Silver Bullet" will win out.
I don't have the "skinny" on the materials differences between the OL arms. I don't think anyone does. I think that information is proprietary to OL. I don't doubt their word that improved materials were used. However, I do think that since basically the same design, shapes, and concepts are uses in both the Encounter and Illustrious, that they will have a strong "family resemblance", with the Illustrious benefitting from some better resonance characteristics of the materials used, and probably better care taken in the adjustments of the critical bearing clearances. It wouldn't suprise me to find that there is not really a hell of alot of difference in the sounds of these 2 arms. I'd call the Illustrious a "refined" Encounter.
Regarding the amount of pre-adjusted bearing "play" or "looseness" in the OL arms, it is only in the bearing that controls the pivoting of the arm, and not in the ones that are actually on the axle with the arm. I was also concerned about this when I first got the arm, but when I heard it, I was no longer concerned. Apparently, there is something about it that makes it work right. However, my HiFi mod will act to keep this bearing centered well, like the balance pole does for a tightrope walker. I can only say that OL is obviously capable of properly adjusting bearing clearances, so they must feel that making the play in this one bearing has a beneficial effect on the sound. I think it is a little odd, but it does work. They tell you about it in the literature, and specify that you shouldn't attempt to tighten it up.
Regarding you last question about the value, and diminishing returns aspect, I think that the Encounter and Illustrious have the criteria to be better than the standard Silver arm, in some key areas. I am sure that they are. What, exactly, the differences in the Encounter and Illustrious arms are, is somewhat vague, but there has to be an improvement in the Illustrious, and I'll bet that it is primarily in the wiring and the tighter hand-adjusted clearances on the axle bearings.
The only reason that any of this is even called into question, is really because of the existence of my HiFi mod. Without that, there would be no talk about whether they are better arms than the Silver. They clearly are better in stock form. Now there is something that can be added to the Silver that has the function of increasing the abilities of that arm in a similar manner to what the benefits of the higher models have. And it is possible, but not proven yet, that the HiFi mod may in fact have some added benefits that can make it into head-to-head competition with these higher model arms. And with the hanging counterweight, it may make the comparisons even more interesting. I think that the discussion, really, is not whether the better OL arms are great arms, which they clearly are, but whether the low cost HiFi mod can be a better cost value to achieve much or all of the same ends as buying a more expensive arm. I really think that is going to turn out to be the case. No knock on the OL arms, but more of an accolade to a cheap effective mod. Sometimes these things happen.
Just for information purposes, the OL dealer that is supplying me with this Encounter arm, has spoken with Mark Baker about my HiFi mod. He said Mark said it "was a very good idea". Of course, Mark Baker is the chief designer for the OL tonearms. That made me feel pretty good.
Tom, mucho obligoto for your most considered and detailed reply. Look forward to hearing your impressions and how the hanging counterweight "shakes out", as it were! :-)
Well, I just received the package from OL. Very interesting. There is an Aurora turntable, and Encounter Tonearm, and another very interesting little item. It is a new version of the Silver, called the Silver II. And guess what? It has a factory-made version of the HiFi mod on it. You heard right. A factory version of the HiFi mod on the new Silver II tonearm.
They have replaced the end-cap nuts of the bearing axle with some larger weights that are obviously intended to add to the lateral mass component of the tonearm.
Of course, I'm not sure what to think about this, as I think imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, I am not involved at all in this new addition to the Silver tonearm. I can say that the weights are significantly smaller than the ones I use.
I guess that I'll put this to the test along with the other stuff. Kinda took some of the fun out of it. I'm going to talk this over with the guys that want me to evaluate these things.
Tom, I hope that you sent a certified letter to yourself with a drawing of the HiFi mods. Could be grounds for litigation.... ;-)
That is hilarious! Are they going to let you keep all that stuff as compensation for "borrowing" your idea? I'm looking forward to your impressions. David may be on to something there.
Hi guys. I just got off the phone with the dealer and they said that they are not trying to duplicate my idea, but that it made sense to improve that aspect of the arm, and they did a combination of aesthetic improvement and functional improvement by changing the end-cap nuts to this small weight system. And they did like the idea.
To be honest, it is not nearly the significant horizontal mass change that my HiFi system is, and I don't think that it will really be competitive with my mod, due to that. It's sort of like, "HiFi Lite". But I think that it is a step in the right direction for them to improve that area of the arm. I'm sure that it will be better than the original Silver arm because of this, at least a little bit. I was told that there is no price increase related to this change.
So basically, I'm not pissed at anybody about this, and I'm kind of flattered that they thought well enough of my ideas to incorporate this into their arm design. Heck, now that one of the big names has validated my design theories, maybe it could open some doors for me elsewhere.
I made the idea available to anyone that wanted it, for free, on the thread about my mod. I guess they thought that it was good enough to use on the factory arm design. In fact, I'd say that it is quite evident that they did.
So, all you HiFi users, you were right all along, and you got in on the leading edge of tonearm design, by being a little adventurous and putting it on your arms. I congratulate all of you on being true pioneers in analog arm systems.
I've got some other stuff up my sleeve, that I'm working on. Don't worry about that. And it's alot bigger than a tonearm mod.
Damn it, Tom. You tease...
Can you give us a hint?
You must be kidding! On the day that I found out that my tonearm mod just got picked-off?
Listen here, Tom. This issue is bigger than all of us. And then there is my retainer to consider. All together now, "SUE, SUE SUE"!
I'm interested in seeing what the hanging counterweight looks like. Any pictures you can show without giving up your future fortunes;-)?
For everyone else including Tom, where's the best place to get the Expressimo Heavywight (East Coast)? Also, I just took delivery of Ozzy's Bluenote Borromeo, so fairly soon I'll be comparing it to my HiFi OL Silver...
Hey, I go out of town for one day and this thread goes over the top. Slow down folks, I just got the Shelter today. Still waiting for the TT, stepups and an arm.
Mahler 8? I can't wait! Oops, I don't have Mahler 8 on LP, yet. Can you recommend an available version?
"Silver Bullet", excellent.
I don't know who "Sue" is. I thought audio-tweaking was largely a guy thing. And let's keep dental hardware out of this thread. Who cares about your retainer?! Mark Baker clearly owes Tom Lyons big time. How about a free rewire of Tom's arm with the cable of his choice? Seems only fair.
I thought long and hard about the Silver vs. Encounter vs. Illustrious vs. Signature. The larger yoke of the higher end arms looks like it would go part way toward what the bullets do, but only part way. The wiring descriptions seem identical. The only clear differences are the arm tubes and mounting plates. You're far more qualified than me to estimate the relative merits, but my un-educated guess was that diminishing returns set in in a serious way once you go beyond the Encounter. If I had $1995 to spend I'd buy a new DP-6 with a 12" arm. Clear benefits there.
I HAD noticed that the computer generated image of the Silver on OL's website changed recently (in the last two weeks). Guess they were showing the Silver II, at least in concept. Congratulations on a significant compliment from Mark Baker, even if it goes unacknowledged by him.
QUESTION: will the Silver II still accept the Hifi mod? Is there a way to attach the bullets? That way I could end up with a Silver Bullet II. If the II won't accept bullets I'd love to see your shootout results. If a Silver Bullet beats a Silver II, maybe some dealer will still have a Silver I in stock that I can modify.
If I add both your side weights and your counterweight, will I have a Swinging Silver Bullet?
The best price I've seen for the Heavyweight is $79 at www.elusivedisc.com
Others, including the manufacturer, charge $89 or $99.
Hi Doug. The higher OL arms do have the added lateral mass in the large bearing housing, and that has alot to do with the better sound of the higher end arms.
Thanks for the compliment from you, and Mark Baker.
The new Silver II will not accept the HiFi mod. It has a totally different end cap arrangement, and already has some weight out there.
I don't know if I'd call it the "Swinging Silver Bullet" but if you make it, and want to call it that, then that's what it will be called.
Do I get any residuals for the "Silver Bullet" part or do those go directy to Coors, or maybe Bob Seeger, or The Lone Ranger? What, public domain? Ha!
Doug, the oral appliance definition of retainer actually fits me more closely..I ain't no lawyer! :-)
David, I think that the "Silver Bullet" name is a cool name for it anyway.
Fair enough. Given the rather meager contributions I am able to make here, name approval by the designer is more than sufficient to sate my needs! :-)
Doug's LOWFI Mod Passes Initial Tests!
Well, I got my Shelter 901 yesterday. Since I bought it used here I really wanted to try it out ASAP. Of course there were a few hurdles to overcome:
- no Teres TT yet (two more weeks)
- no Origin Live arm yet (ordered a Mk I yesterday, thanks for the heads up on the Mk II Tom)
- no Stephens & Billington stepups yet (due next week)
What's an audiophool to do? I did what any of you would, I installed it in my old rig. Try to read the next bits without laughing louder than I did. Here's the setup:
- 25 year old H-K/Rabco ST-8 TT with its short, featherweight arm, aluminum platter that rings like Big Ben, rumbly AC motor bolted to the plinth mere inches from the platter bearing, phono cable so dry it's about to crack, RCA plugs barely hold on
The counterweight was too feeble to balance the Shelter, so enter Doug's mod. I cut a length of lead solder and taped it to the bottom of the counterweight with electrical tape. Pretty snazzy rig for a $1500 cartridge. Thanks, Twl! ;)
Ready to go? Well, sort of. With no stepups available, I had to make do with the MM phono stage of my (all tube) c-j preamp. Had to crank the gain well past the noise threshhold. When I drop the stylus you hear a nice mix of tube rush and TT rumble. Oh well, how's the music in this uniquely non-synergistic setup?
THIS CARTRIDGE IS INCREDIBLE! We put three hours on it last night. Saved the best for last, Firebird/Dorati/Mercury (Classic Records 45rpm). Shame on me for not holding off until the front end is completed, but I couldn't wait. At the end, after we picked our jaws off the floor and pulled the cats off the drapes, Paul said, "I thought CDs were meant to have more dynamic range." Hysterical laughter from me.
Even mounted in this pitiful and inappropriate setup, the 901 never lost control. I cringed before the first couple of crescendos in antipation of mistracking (or even multi-groove backflips). Nope. Sailed through without a hitch. Bass drum whacks can rearrange the furniture, but they don't prevent the Shelter from playing high strings, cymbals, triangles, etc. as cleanly as it does when all is pppp. Fabulous.
"At the end, after we picked our jaws off the floor and pulled the cats off the drapes,Paul said, "I thought CDs were meant to have more dynamic range." Hysterical laughter from me."
don't really understand why the cats had to be removed from the drapes but it was hilarious. Your entire story was very amusing.
Doug, very resourceful actions on your part. All I can say is that if you like it in that setting, you are in for one hell of a nice surprise when it gets put in your new rig.
You will definitely not even believe what that 901 will do when it is on the appropriate arm and table. You probably heard about 30% of what that cartridge is truly capable of. The Teres 265 and Silver/with HiFi mod will give you pretty close to as much as you can get from it.
I predict that you will be stunned beyond belief, and will be posting incomprehensible ravings on this page when it happens. And I am not exaggerating about that. The difference between what you played last night, and what you are about to assemble is a huge, night-and-day kind of difference. You didn't even have the cartridge impedance loaded right, had insufficient gain, and a turntable/arm combo that is not even in the same universe with the Teres/OL/HiFi combo. You are going to go stark, raving mad in a few days, so we will be patient with your babblings of ecstacy. I would love to see the look on your face on that first night that you fire this rig up.
Word of warning! READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!
You have to assemble the platter into the bearing properly before you play. This requires the oil to be put very carefully into the bottom of the bearing, without getting any on the side walls of the bearing. Use a large eyedropper that is made for giving infants medicine, that is graduated in milliliters on the eyedropper body.They have them for a buck at the drug stores. The Teres bearing needs 5ml of oil from the bottle supplied. Now when you put that platter/spindle into the bearing, it is going to take 12 hours for it to settle into position. YOU MUST NOT SPIN THE PLATTER OR TRY TO PLAY THE TURNTABLE BEFORE THE PLATTER SETTLES COMPLETELY. Let it settle into the bearing on its own overnight or about 12 hours, until the platter is about 1/4" above the plinth. DO NOT TRY TO RUSH THIS PROCEDURE. Once the bearing has fully settled and you can not push down the platter at all, and it doesn't feel spongy, and it is about 1/4" above the plinth, then you can play. No matter how anxious you are to hear the table, you must follow these directions, and I don't mean maybe. Do the platter seating procedure last, after you already have the plinth placed on whatever stand it will be on, and leveled. Trying to move a Teres around after the oil is in and the platter is on, will result in spilled oil, I guarantee it. I know you will want to play the table right away, but forget about it. You have to wait until it is ready. Put the plinth where it will be and level it,put the thrust pad in - teflon side up, put the 5ml of oil in with the medicine dropper, and put the spindle(with ball bearing inserted)/platter assembly on, and wait until it is ready. Then play, probably the next day. 8 or 9 hours ain't gonna get it. It takes at least the full 12 hours to get fully seated. It has very tight clearances, and you will damage it if you don't follow these rules.
You made a good choice by getting the Silver Mk1 arm. The Mark 2 has a very stunted set of weights on it.
mejames, the cats ignore most music except very energetic bass. The old cartridge (ADC XLM MkII) did pretty decent bass but the cats rarely noticed. They occasionally look up when a CD really whomps, but not often. When the Shelter reproduced realistic tympani and bass drum hits they both flew out of the room. Peeling them off the drapes a bit of dramatic hyperbole. Sorry :)
Twl, just 30% so far? I think I'm going to melt! Babble, babble, drool... I know the loading was wrong, and the gain, and the stability, and the TT rumble, etc. etc. This is going to be alot of fun. Paul's reaction at the end of 'Firebird' was priceless. Reminded me of the question he asked after we heard our first RCA Living Stereo release on CD. "They recorded this in 1959?! What the hell happened since then? When did they ruin everything?" That's when I knew our transistorized/multitracked/digital listening days were over.
I actually read through the Teres instructions twice before I decided to buy. Those who know me would not be surprised. They actually influenced my decision, since they are very impressive. Don't worry, we'll take our time. Paul has a PhD in materials science and rebuilt two electron microscopes while at university. He understood the theory of your mods after I attempted about three words of explanation. My enthusiasm + his brain = high probability of good outcome.
Well, I just did the first part of the listening testing.
First, the Encounter looks really good, and I like the looks alot.
Second, the Encounter has new wiring and Eichmann Bullet Plugs on it, so that is a big plus.
Third, I like the anti-skate on the Encounter better than the Silver.
Fourth, my hanging counterweight won't go on the Encounter, due to the position of the framework of the arm.
Ok, now for the impressions.
This was a pretty close contest, but overall, with all things considered, I like the Encounter better than my fully modded Silver arm. I think that the modded Silver had a slightly more dynamic quality, and also slightly more punch in the bass. But only slightly. The Encounter had a more refined sound, a little airier in the highs, and still had quite a respectable bottom end and dynamics. The wiring on the Encounter was brand new and not broken in yet, and I could still tell that the wiring was superior to the Silver. Just how much of the Encounter's superiority was attributable to the wiring, I don't know, since this is the first time that I was exposed to the new wiring package in these arms. I'm sure it has something to do with the sound I heard.
So, to sum up, the fully modded Silver did very well and came very close to the new Encounter, but didn't win. Maybe a rewiring job on the Silver would have made a difference, but I had stock wiring. And a $350 wiring job would bring the price of the Silver close to the Encounter's price. In any case, I preferred the overall sound of the new Encounter, and I would choose that over my modded arm, if cost weren't an object. Also the looks of the Encounter make it an easy decision. It looks great sitting on the Cocobolo Teres 245.
Encounter by a nose. And it could get even better as the wiring breaks-in.
That's the honest assessment, and even with a possible psychological desire to see my arm win, I have to give the nod to the Encounter.
I'm impressed. Not just by the insights in your review, which we've all come to expect, but by your candid and humble honesty. You expected your baby to "win" and you certainly must have hoped for it to. (I know I did, I've got one on order!) It didn't win, quite, but if your horse finishes second by a nose and cost you 40% less than the winner, you're doing pretty well. "Place" still pays a pretty good purse.
In the areas where your mods would yield the greatest benefits, dynamics and bass, the Swinging Silver Bullet still edged out the Encounter. Just as you predicted. The Encounter outperformed in delicacy and refinement, exactly what we'd expect from higher quality wire and plugs.
Tom, have you given any sort of modified bullets a go on the Encounter? I know that the housing is different such that the weights cannot be affixed via the bearing bolts, but did you give the double-sided tape a try. Just wondering if the effective mod on the Silver can extract even more from the Encounter.
David, I haven't tried that on the Encounter, but truthfully there is so little difference that I don't think it is needed. My mod and the bearing housing on the Encounter are doing about the same thing. Maybe the HiFi mod might be a tad more stable, but again, it is too close to warrant any fiddling with the arm for such a small difference. For all practical purposes, I think the Encounter has enough stability as it is.
Just in case anybody's watching, we received our TX103 stepups yesterday from BentAudio. John Chapman (nice guy) builds these using Stephens & Billington transformers. To minimize connections and solder joints he extends the secondary all the way to the RCA jack that plugs into the phono stage. There's also a pair of small binding posts across the secondary, which allows quick and easy swapping of load resistors. Very nice workmanship.
Now that the Shelter is loaded properly and we plenty of gain, things have gotten a whole lot better. I'll spare you the hysterical ravings, although it's not easy :) :) :)
Anthony Salvatore thinks low level detail is the key benchmark of a system. YMMV of course. One of his guidelines is whether you can detect the occasional pre-echo that's on some LP's. It's not that you want to hear them of course, but you certainly want to be able to! We always could hear pre-echoes when the opening passage was ffff, or even ff. Last night I caught a pre-echo of a solo piano playing at pp, no joke. Utterly amazing.
The Teres and OL are in transit so we're still using the HK/Rabco. The effects of a ringing platter and uncontrolled arm are now very audible. Can't wait for that 60 pound hunk of wood!
The gain control on the pre is now slightly lower than for line level sources, so we may have a little too much gain. Hmm, should I add a pair of step-DOWN trannies? :)
Doug, I don't think that you will have issues with a little too much gain, especially if you consulted with Mr. Chapman regarding your stepup (agreed, a great guy). Put the pressure on for quicker delivery of that Teres. :-) What is taking the OL so long? Did you order them together from Teres?
I suppose a bit of extra gain isn't really a problem, though it makes setting volume kind of touchy. We're at full listening volume at about 9 o'clock. Any idea if different 12AX7's in the phono stage would modify this?
Mr. Chapman confirmed my guess that 20dB would be best. 5dB would have been inadequate to drop the noise floor low enough. It's so low now it's scary, love these trannies.
CHRIS BRADY - IF YOU'RE READING THIS GET BACK TO THE WORKBENCH! Just kidding, take your time and do it right. (Actually Chris has already told us it's shipping this week. We bought #10 of the twelve 265's he received in late July, so I'm sure he's been busy.)
I ordered the OL from Galen Carol, who had to call OL to get a Silver Mk I. The Mk II won't accept the HiFi mod. OL had to ship to Galen for reshipment to me. The good news? Galen got it in Monday and turned it around the same day.
We're almost there!
Doug, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised about that little bit of extra gain. I have a little bit extra too, and I am about max at 9 o'clock on the volume dial as well. This keeps the noise floor very low, and I think you'll like it.
Doug- Check Joe's tube lore at AA for info on 12AX7 subs that may have somewhat lower gain.
TWL- Does your mod for the Silver MK1 require dismantling and re-setting up the arm? I'm not the most delicate guy around and I've got a Benz glider with the naked cantilever that I could snap in a heartbeat.
Swampwalker, my mod is as simple as can be to install. You don't even have to remove the arm from the table. You just adhere the HiFi weights to the end-cap nuts on the bearing axle, while the arm stays in place. Nothing even comes near the cartridge end of the arm. There could be a little bit of tweaking on the hole size of my HiFi weights, to get them to be a good press-fit onto the cap nuts, but I make them very close to exact. It is about as simple as it gets for a mod.
Swampwalker, thanks for the tip. I'll check it out. Of course if pushing a lower gain tube harder would raise the noise floor, as Tom implies, I might just leave things as they are. I'm still learning here :)
Tom, I'm already loving the lower noise floor, even with the poor old TT and arm. Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra last night was shocking, like hearing the full score for the first time. Quiet passages were mesmerizing, and once again a full tutti for brass panicked the cats. Maybe I should upgrade to a 2wpc amp for their sake!