What's the best unipivot to arm ever made?

I'm really fond of unipivot tonearms in their way of music reproduction. For my point of view they represent the music with full of energy without loosing its authority and signature. Less is more? I do not know! I'm currently using a Mayware Formula 5 tonearm and believe is one of the best to arms ever made regardless price. Much better than my previous Schroeder Reference (even though I must admit Schroeder was mounted in an inferior turntable). What's your opinion about the best unipivot tonearm ever made and why your preference is so special?
Dear Pentatonia: I owned and own several unipivots including your Mayware. IMHO the best of that kind of tonearm design I heard was and is the Satin one.

For several and good reasons that alredy been analized in other thread where the Talea tonearm and others was the subject the unipivots are not my favorities but I accept that with a good matched cartridge performs very good and with a specific cartridge in a specific system can sound/performs great.

Every single pivoted tonearm design has its own trade-offs, nothing is perfect. Every one has the privilege to choose for his best trade-offs that match his targets.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Graham Phantom II
Naim Aro
i like to use the term 'prefer' or favorite as opposed to best.

i have not heard all Unipivots, but i've owned a fair number of tonearms and listened to most arms out there. my favorite is the Durand 12" Telos. which is also my favorite tonearm of any type.

i use 15ips 1/4 inch master tape dubs as my reference and the Telos is as good as those in my system. it's simply more precise and without distortion than other arms i've tried. the whole reproduction chain falls away and you just have music.

it's not cheap and there is a long line to get one but it's my preference.
Dear Mike, Thanks for the URL. It is striking to me the degree to which the Telos is a "throwback" design. I note that it uses a string and weight for anti-skate and that the counter-weight is pretty far back from the pivot point, so it does not minimize effective mass. Further, the center of mass of the counter-wt is not below the pivot point so as to be in the same plane as the LP. I take this as a vindication of the design of certain vintage tonearms (the Grace wood unipivot comes to mind), not as a criticism per se of the Telos, because I am certain that it must sound great, based on what I heard from the Talea.

Have you ever auditioned the Pete Riggle wood tonearm? He is out there in your area is why I asked.
Grace 704/714. While not wildly popular in their day, they perform admirably with modern cartridges, both MM and MC and were well ahead of their time.
hi Lew,

i've not heard Pete Riggle's arm; but it has been recommended to me. i understand Pete lives east of the mountains here in Washington State.

i think that the Telos has something in common with other minimalist-out-of-box thinking tonearm designs. at first glance it does look simple, basic, and even maybe a touch crude. on closer inspection it's crude like a cruise missile is crude. the perfect uncompromised tool for a particular job....and nothing more.

in fact; think of the Telos as like a Manhattan Project of tonearms. what if you were able to rethink everything, and then could apply free thinking and an unlimited materials budget to every bit. and some pretty sophisticated computer modeling was used too.
Please correct me if I'm wrong but when I saw Telos I thought that if pivot shaft was looking downwards it could be more adequate as a vibration coupling device. Of course I'm sure that Mr. Durand has already tried this out...so I'm sceptical about the pertinence of my remark.
Stuff I thought I "knew" (like certain principles of modern tonearm design) is constantly being debunked, so finally nothing surprises me. After all, the RS-A1 tonearm sounds great, and it breaks every single rule anyone else ever posited.
Another vote for the Aro. It is best for my playback preferences.

just over three short years ago, Joel Durand was an audiophile doing a DIY project of building a tonearm from scratch on a whim. he documented each step thru that process on a personal website/blog which at one point i looked thru. he tried every possible way to have a bearing, including looking upwards and downwards. i'm no techie or engineer, so i don't have much more than a gut feel for the consequences of those approaches.

in any case, i know he has considered that question from many different perspectives.
Of all the crazy moves I've made over the years the most obvious improvement came from the Naim ARO.
Manitunc, I am attracted to the 714 (assuming that's the wood version), but now the prices have gotten so that I would need to be very sure about it before making a purchase. (There's one now on eBay for >$1000.) Do you own one, and more important, do you use it?
The original "Audio and Design" arm with the arcuate mercury baths and designed by John Wright of IMF fame. I bought one directly from him decades ago and used it with great pleasure over a long period. It was superior in materials and construction to the later (cheaper) KMAL version. I still have a few parts of it. ;-)

I have to second the RS Labs A1 and Durand designs.

The Talea ll did best my RS Labs, but I think a lot had to do with Azimuth adjustment. I had a difficult time with the A1.

I will say that replacing the RCA ends on the Talea's cable with WBT Nextgen helped even further.

The Talea is a 9.5" arm. Without saying too much, I think my system needs the longer Telos arm.

I haven't searched; does the Telos use the same wire as the Talea ll?.
I have a few of the 704s, the all aluminum version. I do not own the wood version, but would like to get one. I used a 704 as one of my reference until recently when I purchased an Audiomods. I am now building an Empire 208 based project that will use on of my 704s.
I do agree that the price of the 704/714 have gone way up in the last two years. Not sure why.

The Telos uses a custom made cable, not the same as the Talea II.

As great as the Talea II is the Telos just takes everything to another level.
Thank you Grr6001. My system is at the point where the limitations of a 9.5" arm are noticable.

Glad to hear the wire has been improved.

not all 12" tonearms are created equal; but like they say, size does matter. :^)

and FYI both the Talea 1 and Talea 2 are 10.5" arms, not 9.5".
What about Nottingham 12" arms?
"My system is at the point where the limitations of a 9.5" arm are noticable."
Especially given that the Talea is actually 10.5 inches long, what does that statement mean?

"the counter-weight is pretty far back from the pivot point"

This is just the way the photo was made, it's not an indication of how the counterweight "should" be placed. The position of the counterweight will depend on cartridge weight and there are of course other positions that will work fine. The Telos is shipped with 4 counterweights and the user can choose the combination that sounds best for a given cartridge. I'm not advocating that the best sound is with the counterweight as far as possible from the pivot point; but sometimes it happens to be the best position.

Thanks, Joel. I did not mean for my remark to constitute a criticism of the design. Rather, I meant to imply that sometimes the "rules" of tonearm design are better off when broken, intelligently.
Sorry about that, 10.5" for the Talea ll. Have started saving for a 12", with the Telos at the top of my list.

Any thoughts on the attributes of the counterweight being below the pivot point?.
Having the center of mass of the counter-wt in the plane of the LP is said to result in less variation of VTF as the tonearm traverses a warp, or, I suppose, the normal vertical undulations imparted via the groove modulations. (But those vertical movements are, to say the least, microscopic.) Who, that can afford any one of these tonearms, plays warped LPs? Point is, I am not sure how critical this design element is or whether adopting it involves some other trade-down in sound quality.
"i use 15ips 1/4 inch master tape dubs as my reference and the Telos is as good as those in my system."
Mike have you cut records from the master tapes in question. If any tt front end can be as good as a master tape in your system then that suggests a lowest common denominator effect is resident. That is your system is only resolving as much as the lowest quality component. How else could everything sound the same - or "as good as".
There is no best or perfect unipivot, or even tonearm. The performance of any tonearm has to be viewed in the context of the rest of the playback system - the cartridge and the turntable. How has the cartridge designer dealt with unwanted energy - have they dumped it into the arm, have they designed the cartridge body to dissipate it ? What about the turntable tonearm interface, metal, polymer, composite, wooden materials used ? All these choices will impact the performance of the tonearm.
From the Durand site -
"When a musician goes to a luthier or an instrument maker to buy an instrument he/she doesnÂ’t spend too much time on the issues of engineering--although the materials and techniques used in the construction can be of the highest interest; the musician plays the instrument, and listens. He wants to know if the instrument can do what he wants it to do, if it produces the sound he wants to hear

Choosing a tonearm involves the same process."

The Durand is a tone control - no problems, if it produces the sound you like then thats fine.

My current unipivot tonearm of choice - Naim Aro, used with Koetsu & Dynavector Nova 13D Ebony. Does not work with MM's or Ikeda Kiwame also owned.
Would like to try - Graham Phantom Supreme, Spiral Groove Centroid and Telos.
Any of these should be pretty good assuming they match the cartridges chosen. What my experience was as a dealer was that any differences in these arms could be easily lost or reversed through sub optimal set up.
What I do like about unipivots is their degree of freedom to the sound, the ease of presentation, but they will not always be the best choice as alluded to above.
The Audiomeca Septum gets my vote for sound quality.

The VPI for ergonomics and price/performance ratio.

I had brief exposure to a Graham Phantom Supreme and it was phenomenal. I cannot comment how it compares to the Septum.