Which tonearm for vintage Micro Seiki BL-91

I have "upgraded" from a vintage Micro Seiki BL-51 to a vintage (again)BL-91 (checked by the local Hi-Fi shop). Unlike the BL-51 that came with a hard wired original tonearm this BL-91 comes without any tonearm.
Could someone recomend me a good tonearm for this turntable. I'm wondering if modern tonearms like the Kuzma 4 point ( have an offer for a second hand one), SME V (or IV-VI), Schick Tonearm, or TriPlanar would be a good match or should I rather go to the older ( and less expensive) designs like the Saec 407/23, Micro Seiki MA-505 Fidelity research FR-64S).
I have a Miyajima Shilabe that I bougth second hand here on Audiogon. Sounds very "organic" meaty full bodied and that is what I like.
Does someone have experience in using recent desings on older turntables?
Thanks in advance
Enjoy the music this weekend
The MA-505 should provide a very good level of performance. I was very please with mine (on a modified TNT) before I switched to a VPI JMW-12 (on an Aries 1 extended).
thanks for your response I read somewhere that the MA-505 would have a slightly more narrow soundstage than its competitors of that period? what was your experience with it and how does teh VPI JMW-12 compare to the Micro Seiki.
I have to agree with Bpoletti, the MA-505 is probably the best overall match for this deck; the MkII for "standard" cartridges or the MkIII version if you want to use a high compliance cartridge. The BL-91 is a little resonant, so IMO a dynamically balanced tonearm will work better than a static arm. Also, in order to mount a VPI arm you are going to have to drill a blank mounting plate. The geometry of the deck will limit you to a 10" or (possibly) a 10.5" arm.

I have setup many MA-505s, and if you take care to match the right cartridge and take a little time to set up the arm properly these tonearms can really sing. I have had very good luck with either the Benz Ace and Glider LOMC carts with the MA-505 MkII, but there are several other cartridges that will work well with this arm.
The 505 is a very good arm. IMO, a bit dark, but very warm, damp and lush. In comparison to a Jelco SA-750D that I had also mounted on the same table, the 505 pretty much beat it in every category I can recall. And the 750D is no slouch arm. Carts were an AT OC9 and a Lyra Clavis da Capo. The CdC sounded pretty well-balanced in the 505 where it is bright (sometimes laser in the eyeball bright) in other arms.

BTW, the 505 I used (and still have) is a Mk II. Some might feel that it is a bit "gadgety" but it is very functional. Also has on-the-fly VTA over a pretty wide range. Very handy.

Comparing the 505 to the JMW-12 isn't quite fair in this case. The JMW-12 was mounted on a table (Aries 1 extended) that was quite a bit better than the TNT table. And further, the JMW-12 would never be a good fit, physically, on a BL-91. It's just plain too big, too long from arm pivot to platter spindle.

Email me off-line if you care to discuss the details of the 505 or get serious about looking around for one.
thanks for your explanation
I thought the BL-91 with its wooden plinth woodn't be that resonant or at least less then other designs.
Any idea how to dampen that resonance: Changing the feet? Use the heavy cupper platter (8kg) instead of the aluminium platter?
Anyway the reason why I'm asking about comparison with modern arms is because I like the vintage designs and especially the Micro Seiki MA-505.. but musical sound is more inmportant than the looks and the specs on paper.
A friend of mine is offering it to me for the equivalent of 300 USD but we saw that when turning the antiskating knob completely back : i.e antiskating "off" the wire that is connecting the knobs with the internal spring is a bit lose. How do we know that this antiskating is still in working condition. On a "blanc" Lp with teh antiskating completely turned in the the tonearm keeps on turning towards the spindle as if there no antiskating wokring on it. VTF for my Miyajima Shilabe (weight 11,2 with original mounting screws,compliance 10x..)is set at 3.0gr (a
Any experience with MA-505 antiskating problems.
Last wek I could audition a Kuzma 4 point with a Shilabe on a VPI (but don't remember the type) at the local store but the price is 11 times the price of the MA-505 even it is a demo unit. Of course I was impressed but it was not on my system
Thanks in advance
A MA-505 is a very good arm. Very musical. My only comment is that it's a bit dark. But that also makes it lush and involving.

There is a complete owner's manual collection on vinylengine dot com in their tonearm section. There is a detailed breakdown of the arm and all of its components. Also, an explanation of the workings of the arm.

If the anti-skate spring is loose and not repairable, that could be a problem. I can't remember all the specifics. You might check to see if the thread can be tightened. It might just appear that way because the thread is loose.
Tgaral, please don't misunderstand my previous comments. The BL-91 is a great deck. But turntable technology (or our perception of such) has changed a bit since the late 1970s. The BL-91 is constructed of veneered plywood. This was quite good in the late 1970s, and was considered to be non-resonant. Improvements in materials and construction techniques have led to significant changes in plinth technology over the last 25 years or so.

Remember, the original (standard) tonearm for this deck was the MA-707, which is rather low mass unit. I believe that the MA-505 will provide a much better sonic result withour breaking the bank. Can you do better? Probably, but what is it worth for the small additional gain? (this, of course, being the original audiophile conundrum)

If I read your last note correctly, you are being offered an MA-505 for $300? If this is a "real" MA-505 (and not a re-purposed DD-40 variant) this is a very good price. Is it a MkI or II (S-shaped) or a MkIII (straight) model?

Regarding your questions about additional damping for the BL-91, frankly I wouldn't bother. You might make some minor improvements but in doing so you may jeopardize the resale value of the unit. Unless you hear a problem when played, I would just leave it alone and enjoy it for what it is: a very nice vintage turntable.
thanks for the explanation I will have a look at the vinyl engine with my friend.
Br3098, don't worry I didn't misunderstand your comment at all. I realy appreciate your and BPoletti's input on this. I do realize that this is an old design, which is one of the reasons why I like it. The turntable arrived yesterday evening and it looks very good almost no damages. I will need to clean it but that is part of the enjoyment, isn't it. Both 33 and 45 speed are stable. No play on the spindle which was my biggest concern.
This evening after reading about the antiskating on Vinylengine we will try my friends MA-505 which is a MK1.
The reason for the low price is because he prefers selling it to me, as a friend, rather than listing it for sale out also we don't know how are the bearings etc.
With my BL-51 I removed the original spring loaded plastic feet that are fixed to the plinth with a simple screw, and coupled it to a 4cm thick japanese maple slab as big as the turntable, with 3 vintage (again) Harmonix MY-T TU-210 feet (without using their metal base). The Maple slab is resting on 4 square pieces of very heavy slate that are each supported by Vibrapods level 4. Probably this reads and even looks a bit strange but not having a decent audiorack (just a handmade pinewood bookshelve) This selfmade damping/insulation was the best we could hear for the money ( I only paid the second hand Vibrapods that I bougth at HiFi-do here in Japan). I will certainly try the same setup with the BL-91 but haven't tried yet to remove the original plastic feet.
thanks again to both of you
Last evening we installed the MA-505. We used the tonearms mounting templates and a Feickert protractor. So far we have been listening to my Miyajima Shilabe with a Yamamoto ebony headshell. In comparison with the the BL-51 static balance tonearm this is an improvement in clearity and bass. Most probably this is not only the tonearm but also the Turntable itself which is a step up in the Micro Seiki BL-series. The BL-51 must have been already dark because we can hear a significant improvement in detail and clearity while the bass is also deeper much deeper. Soundstage is a bit wider but can be better I think. I haven't tried my Micro Benz Ruby 2 yet. That will be for tomorrow. The tonearm cable is an old Micro Seiki but time and smoke have erased its typename. Would like to know how a recent tonearm would sound on a BL-91. Anyone?
someone else with experience comparing newer designs with MA-505 .. if possible on Micro Seiki BL series?
thanks in advance

i have a micro seiki ddl-120 with a MA-505. I have a Denon another deck with a FR64s and Grace 704. so I can move cartridges around.

The MA-505 is quite good and checking out cartridge combinations that work well is fun.

Also like me you have an armboard there are not many arms you can use without some modification. You can look up the manual on vinyl engine.

FastMick thanks for your input. FR-64s has lots of raving comments but very expensive on the second hand market

its expensive to buy but you can sell it for the same price if not more. It doesn't depreciate like most Hifi equipment.

I have the 64s on a Denon turntable its a dp-6000 in a dk-2000 base. it has space for 2 arms the other arm is a Grace 704. The Denon turntable and base you can get cheap and its better than my DDL120.

I have a Denon 103R in the 64S and a Denon 103D in the Grace. The Grace 704/103D is the better combination.

If you go MC make sure you get a SUT I have a Au-340 and its substantially better than the Denon MA-500.

But i am off the track now.

thanks for your comparison between FR-64s and Grace.
I have a phonostage which has a good SUT. I'm keeping my system as it was excepted the turntable and the tonearm. Just want to know how newer tonearms like MOerch UP-4,DP-6, SME IV or V,Reed, etc perform in comparison with the older designs together with my Miyajima Shilabe.
First of all I wish you all a Happy New Year.
I finally went for the Moerch UP-4 in 9". Its mounting distance is 1 cm shorter than the MA-505. I received it last week but need another tonearm base that I will make myself. The MicroSeiki MA-505 had to go because it is not mine. I didn't buy it myself because I wanted a brand new tonearm. Looking forward to listen to this Danish Beauty.
No VTA on the fly though so a bit worried about that.
No VTA on the fly though so a bit worried about that
Unless you have so much time on your hands that you can afford to (or are anal enough to want to) reset VTA for different LP thickness, VTA on the fly is probably only really necessary if you are going to be swapping cartridges often.
Thanks for your comment I think I agree with you. Once my system wil be "finished" I will enjoy this for a while. But I want to compare new designs wiht older ones that is why I bought a second hand Saec WE-308L with stabilizing weight and bracket for plinth mount. All this for a very reasonable price. I'm expecting it this week. I will try to compare with the new Moerch UP-4 and decide later.
Enjoy the music
I have some BL-91 TT's and some Denon TT's.
As some other person on this forum, I also have an FR-64s with Denon dl-103R and a Grace g-704 with Denon dl-103D. The Grace/Denon dl-103D is the better combination. But somehow, I also like the FR-64s a lot.
But for the bl-91, you could go for both the FR-64s or the Grace g-704, both are visually nice on a bl-91 as is their sound. For the Grace, there is no standard armboard for the bl-91 available, but you can glue on the A-1201 armboard.
Other nice possibilities are: SAEC w407 or the newer SME 309.
Finally, you could also look for an older SME 3010R or a STAX UA9.

are you using a SUT I have a Denon AU340 for the DL103D and a Uesugi SUT (L) for for the 103R. I had a MA500 head amp but the AU 340 was better sounding. Please let me know what you have. i like the sound of the 64S too its magic with the 103D but somehow I feel the 103D is more pure/true sounding.

Tgaral i noticed before you had a Uesugi SUT at some stage?

thanks for the input. I've been reading very positive comments here on audiogon about STAX, Grace, SAEC FR64s etc
Only thing is that FR is realy very expensive at this moment, STAX is more accessible and Grace is hard to find.
Yes I had a Uesugi bro-5 and liked it with my Luxman LMC-1 cartrdige and even with an old Denon dl-55 but was rather soft and detailed. I lided it with Classical music Violin Cello etc but for Jazz and rock it was too smooth in my system. I replaced it with a Cinemag from Bob's Devices and found that an amazing dynamic/punch improvement in comparison with the Uesugi.
So far I like the SAEC WE-308L most on my BL-91. Micro seiki was not bad but too light for my Miyajima Shilabe: The Saec is has a bit more detail, better instrument positioning and most important for me sounds more "LIVE" than the MA-505, and Morch that I had the chance to try on this BL-91. I am cleanig it thouroughly now. Some people have reomended me the SAEC WE407/23 but it is too expensive. Other people like Miyajima-san himself for example recomended me the WE-308L some weeks ago. He is using this arm himself in his listening room on a Garard 301 that he has restored completely. I could buy one for a very reseanable price with SA-500E stabilizer (that I'm not using) and SAEC S1 bracket.
If I find a reasonable priced WE-407, STAX U9 or Grace I will certainly try them. AT this moment I'm in my "trial episode" :-)
Enjoy the music.
For de Denon dl-103D I usually do not use a step-trafo. I use a Creek OBH-15 a MC pre-amp. For the Denon dl-103R, I sometimes use a Denon au-320 step-up, but my default step-up trafo is an Ortofon T-30 (28 Ohm setting). My last trafo is a Dynavector DV-6x, but I have not tried it with the Denon dl-103R.
Ikeda IT 345/407 are good match for the shilabe , probably for the MS too
Since they use to work with FR as standard in the past
it has been a while... very busy with photography here
So far I have been able to compare on my Micro Seiki BL-91 :
Saec WE-308L (which I restaured myself) with Micro Seiki MA-505 1st version (sold) and Moerch UP-4 (new).
They all received a Miyajima Shilabe as this is my favourite cartridge.
As commented by BPoleti and Br3098 the MA-505 gives more musical sound. The WE-308L outstands in immediacy and punch. The difference is very clear here. For us it is a matter of taste but also it depends on the kind of music. They both sound great. As to the Moerch. It sounds more "normal" nothing special but has good tight and deep bass and is good all rounder but again without drawing the attention to the music. I may say it is very neutral or maybe a bit flat. When we listen to the other two arms our attention goes to the music as if we where at a live performance but each in a different way.
Trying to get my hands on a Lustre GST 801 or a Fidelity research FR64 .
I sold the MA 505 because I had a bad experience with the seller (an ebay seller from Hongkong ) ... and wanted to get rid of the bad experience.
I will decide after trying out the FR and the Lustre if I will buy another MA-505
At this moment the Moerch will go and the SAEC can stay.
Enjoy the music
Tgaral, a caution regarding MA 505 arms.

I picked up a MA 505 from a friend several months ago and noticed the end stub for the counterweight drooped. That is to say it was not in the same plane as the armtube. Looking online I found pictures of other examples which looked similar. A couple of "experts" even stated this was the intended design. But I could easily move the stub up and down and I also found photos of examples which were straight. So I concluded it was damaged and sent it off for repairs. My arm had apparently been dropped since the mounting screws for the stub had been sheared. That repair process was delayed for multiple reasons but I just got word it has now been completed.

The point of my story is to insure any used arm is functioning as designed before evaluating it.

Now regarding your initial question on arm matching your table, it seems to me the critical match is between arm and cartridge. If you have a favored cartridge then I would look to match that with an appropriate arm. Then make certain that arm is positioned correctly (pivot to spindle distance) when mounted. After that it will simply be following the routine alignment procedures.
thanks... I know about the drooping end stub. My previous MA-505 had that problem but me too I thought this was normal. A Denon tonearm that came with the turntable had the same problem so I thought it was the design:-)
Now you are telling me, I realize that I sold it as it was and the buyer didn't ask me anything about that. Terribly sorry!!!!

By the way I have seen that you are quite popular here on Audiogon and you are very active here. Can I ask you one more question.
I love my Micro Seiki BL-91. It sounds much better, punchier, dynamic deeper bass and everything than my previous BL-51 ( with a fixed static balanced tonearm that was sold as a set here in Japan during its commercialization years).
I have been reading posts about "plinthless" versus "plinthed" turntables. Lots of new desings like Clearaudio still have both in their catalogue.
Can I assume that this is a matter of taste? I remember another very popular member "Raul" saying that he has changed his mind about Micro Seiki and plinths. Or is as you stated the combination of the tonearm and the cartridge more important once you have the plinth isolated. and the vibration reduced as well as one can or thinks he can.
I cannot compare, very simply because I don't have the money for new high-end turntables. That is why I ask you ....experienced audiophiles.
Thanks a lot
enjoy the music
Well Tgaral, I might question your judgement in calling me "popular" here on Audiogon. Many others have greater knowledge and post more than I do.

Regarding your BL-91, I can't comment. I don't know if I've ever even seen one.

Regarding plinthed VS plinthless, I've read enough opinions on that to know there is nothing close to any consensus. I suspect it relates to the amount of energy (possible micro vibrations) generated by a given motor unit design. The one point I feel strongly about is maintaining an absolutely stable relationship between the platter and the arm/cartridge/stylus. Why would the cartridge/stylus set up be so critical if that stability was not important?

So my only advice in your case would be to study all the Micro Seiki table designs. Which of their higher end models have the most similar drive system to your BL-91? I believe from their reputation the MS designers had a pretty good idea what they were doing so copying that to the extent possible may be helpful. Good luck.
Thank you Pryso, and all of you who have been sharing their experience and knowledge. I guess the only way is trying and spending money ;-)
More opinions welcome of course