Why the sudden popularity of 12 inch arms


VPI was the only mainstream manufacturer for years, now we have 12 inch arms from
Kuzma, Schroder, SME, Consonance, Brinkman to name a few.

Why is this?? fad or long term

Would a 12ich Grahham, Triplaner or Basis be a better sounding product??
downunder
There's a pretty lengthy discussion of this topic in the new issue of Hi-Fi plus. Much of it kind of blew past me, but I remembered that the 12 in arm compared to the shorter arm makes 25% less tracking errors.
Yea that is what prompted me to ask the question as RG has reviewed a half a dozen 12 inch arms in the last few months.

He says they blow their 9 inch equivalents out of the water for playing music.
Because we already have 9" arms and as there are a limited number of audiophiles who listen to vinyl and a business needs to keep doing business we need to learn that all of our current equipment is no longer any good and that we need to replace it with the newest and bestest. I love my Nottingham but I can't believe a 12" Ace space is as nice as a 9" Phantom or triplanar.
Shane, the major differences I find between 12" and it's 9" counterpart is the way the music is presented. The shorter arm would have better detail, speed, transparency and more of the hi-fi thing (if that's what you're looking for) while the longer arm presents music in a more effortles, relaxed way with less highlighting.

They are just different and hard to compare...just like apples and oranges.
And, after upgrading to a 12" arm, the next step is linear tracking.
The advantage of 12 inch arms is nothing new, nor are their shortcomings.
On paper a 12" arm is superior, but when it comes to manufacturing one it is not so easy. I think the combination of technical advancements, lowered manufacturing cost (or conversely the reduced aversion to a high cost arm), and the need to expand the product line (as others have said) are driving this. We are a fickle bunch so the desire to have the latest and greatest has a lot to do with it to.
SME has been making 12" arm for years, Japanese especially loves the old SME 3012 and some 3012 were made with beautiful gold plating. Genesis168 pointed out the key point and that's why 3012 is a favorite of Japanese who value musicality over speed and detail.

SME moved away from 12" arm for years when they introduced SME V/IV/309 family, but now they are introducing 12" arm again. Market demand might be the reason for the re-introduction of 12" arm.
Size does matter
And, after upgrading to a 12" arm, the next step is linear tracking

True
Although longer arms produce less tracking error, they also have higher effective mass.

In the 70s, there was a common believe that cart should require light tracking force. Most of the MMs in that era were tracking at less than 1.0g. Even MCs were tracking at less than 1.5g. In order to achieve that, cart must be very high compliance and they were poor match for high mass arms. Therefore, those 12 inch arms were slowly out of favor and disappeared from the market.

Nowadays, most of the carts are medium to low compliance. They can work well with 12 inch arms.
Some creative marketer will call it a "304.8 mm arm" and charge an extra $600.
Tracking error issues/differences are nothing compared to the destructive effect of crappy bearings. Great bearings is what put SME on the map after all!

Beyond great bearings, straight line tracking is the best since it mimics the action of the cutting lathe; but its benefits can only be realized by solving (at great expense) the other mechanical problems straight line mechanisms present.

To me, a 12" arm that is both lightweight and free of resonances implies a cost/benefit ratio that is not going to be favorable compared with a 9" arm.
.
I would venture that the original primary market of the 12" arm was the broadcast industry, and that was partly driven by the broadcast industry's use of larger diameter records sometimes. Home audio's use of 12" arms was always marginal. LPs have pretty much disappeared from broadcast studios, so manufacture of 12" tonearms dropped precipitously.

But as vinyl has been revived in home audio and gone decidedly upscale, a compact footprint is no longer an essential sales point. A larger turntable footprint provides the platform for trying a 12" tonearm for lower tracking error. So if 12" arms are on the rise again, it would be purely in response to the home market, whereas before it was driven by the broadcast industry.
I agree with Johnnyb53.
With the rising number of people building their own plinths one can choose any arm they like. I just ordered a new Ortofon 12 " for mine after much deliberation and frustration of trying to find an older or used arm. I want it partly do to the look and feel of my final product and partly because it works so well with a lot of mc cartridges.
I was wondering about this, particularly in light of hte fact that my linear tracking Souther (now Clearaudio)seems to have a 3" arm, which slides along parallel to the grooves. It seems like VTA would be all over the place. Watching this arm work is strange, because I keep thinking it can't possibly work, but it does. Any thoughts?
Hey guys, I think the 12 is coming back because the advantages remain but BECAUSE the disadvantages, some of them, have been overcome. I just got an SME 312 and an LP sounds the same all the way across. It is lighter and stiffer than what I was using. Same TT, same cart, new long arm, HUGE improvement. Only variable here is tonearn wire. SME is inexpensive copper, still much beter overall. Can't wait for a retail version of 312S! Z.
Dear Downunder: I can't for sure answer your question. Many people here already give you some differents answers and all of them ( one way or the other ) could be right.

As you know I'm already in a tonearm design where I'm learning how complex is a tonearm design/build.

Cero tracking error is a desired goal in any tonearm design and in a pivoted one the theory tell us that a larger arm has lower tracking error, good but this tonearm atribute/subject alone means really very little about the performance tonearm, there are other factors/goals that could be more important to the whole tonearm performance: bearing, build material, effective mass, static/dynamic balance, isolation, internal wire, etc, etc.

My experiences with a lot of tonearms ( any size you want , including linear trackers. ) and with a lot of different cartridges tell me that that lower tracking error is not so critical ( because is very small anyway. ) like you can think about.

Now, that person that post here that through a long SME his cartridge sound performance level goes up means that that cartridge is better " served "/match with that tonearm but not because is a long type tonearm, this new tonearm is a different tonearm ( not only in its internal wire ) than the one he normally use it. So we can't say that a long type tonearms sounds better or have some kind of signature sound performance advantage because it does not have it perse.

Any well designed tonearm ( short or long ) can/could perform in a great way with the right cartridge.

The same for the people that thinks that the linear tracking tonearms are better because has cero tracking distortion and mimic how the LP was cut/recording. IMHO any one of these people that favor the linear tracking tonearms over the pivoted ones happen that any one of them never had/have the opportunity to hear a pivoted tonearm with its right matched cartridge, that's all. Yes I know that them already heard a lot of pivot tonearm but maybe never the right tonearm/cartridge combination!!!!!

All those theoretical advantages about tonearm tracking error in long tonearms and in linear traking ones are really too relative not only for what I already posted here but because all the recording LP process is not a perfect one and not a perfect one the cartridge/tonearm set up so that theoretical advantage are far from be a real advantage and more important that that theoretical advantage was/is the main cause of a better quality sound performance.

There are many subjects to discuss about and maybe in other time we can/could do it, it will be very learning for all of us.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul, Please read my response again. Slowly. I changed one component. The only proper way to evaluate a new addition. I could hear the geometry change with my other arm. If you have your Lustre set up properly, you will hear it too. This 312 is light years ahead of our beloved 801. In addition to the geometry, it is quieter, faster, and more detailed. I suppose you could say the 312 matches my cart better, I am not using a 25 year old cart with my 25 year old arm! Z.
Zieman, it's not my place to walk Raul's dog for him so I'll offer a comment for all to consider.

You may have changed only one component but you changed multiple parameters. Not only degrees of tracing error but also mass, stiffness, bearing design and quality, resonant frequency, and wire (considerations just off the top of my head). I hope no one would disagree that you heard improved sound. But so many factors are involved that it is not fair to attribute that improvement solely to a longer arm.

From reading Raul's post slowly, that is MY conclusion.
Pryso, The original question was why the 12s are back. I thought I answered fairly well in my first response. Perhaps only five years ago a 12 inch arm would NOT have shown this dramatic an improvement. Again, (slowly) I think that many former disadvantages to the 12 have been eliminated. Materials research and manufacturing capabilities have not stood still. As far as I know the laws of physics have. Z.
Well, I think, there are some reasons why the 12's are back.
Mainly based on marketing reasons, because they can be sold.
That's it.
The technical reasons, well, most manufacturers are not stupid, they know how to build a good arm, some offer both, sell both and honestly, who cares. Some of them say, no one needs a 12 Arm, some reviewers write, they can not live without one....
In a way, it is like Raul wrote, when you have the perfect match, no one cares. Some time ago I listened to such a match and honestly, I simply couldn't believe it. It was a old FR64 Arm with a Koetsu on a real super Turntable.
When I closed my eyes ( a "Blind test" ) I really thought " I'm listening to an Air Tracking Arm". But, the Table was really a good one.
Some Arms can compensate Errors from the Turntable/Cartridge more or less, but at the end of day I think, the 12s look cool.
Zieman, I have no problem with your answer to the OP. The point I was attempting to make was the caution that a 12" arm will not automatically be an improvement compared to a shorter arm. Some might infer that from your post, particularly with your emphasis that only the arm was changed.

There are many design/construction differences between your 312 and your Lustre and I believe that was one of your points. That supports the position Raul has stated many times - many elements come into play in matching a cartridge with different arms. For whatever combination of reasons, your cartridge sounds better in your 312. One should not assume it was just because your SME is 12".

I believe you understand this so I was trying to offer a clarification to readers with perhaps less experience. Peace.

Thomas, Thanks for breaking the ice on the looks issue. Perhaps how absolutely beautiful this thing looks has an effect as well! Visually stunning piece of work. I'm going to go back and just look at it now! Z.
No sweat Pryso. The original question, which seems to be so quickly forgotten in some of these forums was why the sudden popularity. Technology and mat'ls are why the disadvantages can more easily be eliminated. I can hear the geometry change with most "short" arms. The technology now exists and is affordable to hang the cart way out there like never before. SME thinks enough of the improvement to build a 20/ series table just for this length arm(s) When was the last time SME latched on to a fad or a marketing scheme? Z.
Dear Zieman: +++++ " Raul, Please read my response again. Slowly. I changed one component. The only proper way to evaluate a new addition. " +++++

IMHO I think that you missed what a tonearm involve in sound reproduction performance, you can read my post again or better yet read what Pryso posted about whom understand perfectly the subject:

+++++ " You may have changed only one component but you changed multiple parameters. Not only degrees of tracing error but also mass, stiffness, bearing design and quality, resonant frequency, and wire (considerations just off the top of my head) " +++++, build material, tonearm shape, counterweight position, etc, etc. and Z it does not matters with which cartridge.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul, I see you have some vintage gear. Things have changed in the last 25 years. ALOT! Please re-read the original question. SLOWLY. You admit in your first response that you can't answer the question. THANK YOU. Please allow folks who perhaps can, the chance. Changing the topic does not help the member who posted the question. Z.
Dear Z: The only ones that can ( for sure ) answer the thread question are the 12" tonearm manufacturers.

" Changing the topic...", please let Downunder that he decide about.

" Vintage gear ", well vintage and today audio items, if you read slowly you can see what MC cartridges I own and which tonearms and you can read several today ( including your MC cartridge and a the SME IV ) gear.
I have to tell you that some of those " vintage " gear ( cartridges/tonearms ) outperform your today analog gear, you could try it!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
I think the discussions and debate's that are ongoing is great.

My original point of the post was really to see if any folks had changed from a 9 inch arm to a 12 inch arm and what were the results in your system.

Clearly Zieman has seen positive results in changing to a 12 inch arm and that mirror's RG's review in hifi+.

Me I have had two 12 inch arms for a few years now so I can appreciate the better tracking at the end of a record compared to my 9inch naim ARO arm on my LP12.

If I understood te RG article correctly, he concludes that a relatively inexpensive linear tracking arm outperforms all the 12 inch designs.
Dear Downunder: Well, it seems that the only one that changed from 12" to 9" was me and let me tell you that I change six long tonearms for the short ones because I can't find a real/true quality sound improvement in the long ones, maybe my music/sound appreciation and music/sound priorities are totally different from yours, that's all.

+++++ " Me I have had two 12 inch arms for a few years now so I can appreciate the better tracking at the end of a record compared to my 9inch naim ARO arm.... "+++++

IMHO this kind of performance/behavior is almost totally dependent on the tonearm/cartridge combination and not because one tonearm is longer than the other one. Here we have to remember that the Aro is a unipivot design that are not the best trackers at inner record tracks. For you can get to your conclusion you need a 9" Aro against a 12" Aro and even here the result is dependent with the cartridge match with either tonearm model.
I had that experience with the Audiocraft AC-3300/4400 and the Morch DP-6 where the only variable were the arm wands size and there is no differences that I can say: " it is because the arm wand size ".

As I already posted in a well tonearm design and well tonearm execution ( build ) the arm wand size can't make " the differences " for the better in a 12" against a 9-10" one, there are other factors that are more important and critical for the quality sound performance and I'm not saying that the size is not important it is but not at the level you or other reports about but because of its disadvantages against it " theoretical " advantage.

It is the same for ( IMHO ) the false assumption about the " perfect/mimic " cero tracking error advantage of the linear tracking tonearms, there are a lot of other factors that have a huge influence in the whole tonearm performance. Of course that some people like the linear tracking or long pivot tonearms but that does not means that are better ones and for the reviewers that support those tonearms designs we have to think/take in count that they have/must support to their advertisers and to the today products: specially the " new kid in the block ", very difficult to really trust on them: they are part of the audio business, I can and understand that.

IMHO you can/could obtain almost perfect/stellar/excelent quality sound reproduction from either tonearm design: long or short one, obviously with the right cartridge in either tonearm design and I can tell you more: either of these ( well cartridge matched ) pivoted tonearms outperforms ( overall ) a well matched linear tracking one.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Much earlier in this thread, I said the same thing Raul just stated -- namely that the tracking error reduction from a 9 to a 12 inch arm will be sonically insignificant compared to other factors. I think it's also important to remember that the original reason for having 12" arms was for playing broadcast 'transcriptions' which if I remember correctly were 16" in diameter -- it had nothing to do with reducing tracking error.
Raul, Even after Downunder explains HIS question to you SLOWLY, why do you refuse to stay on topic? Do you still prefer drum brakes and carburetors as well? Ignoring, or not having a basic grasp of the laws of physics won't make them go away. Perhaps having a garage sale and purchasing something from THIS CENTURY might change your mind. If you have some romantic attachment to obsolete/vintage gear, that is cool. And your perogative. I have some myself, I keep it to remind myself of times when I did not know any better and couldn't afford anything better. You may have your own reasons for clinging to the past. You do however, look really ridiculous trying to convince the OP that it is HE and not YOU who does not understand HIS(!) question, or any of the answers. There are many elementary books and classes to help you with the basic science that is being discussed here. Keeping abreast of current materials research and manufacturing tecniques may prove more difficult. There is however, no voodoo or magic involved in answering the OP. Please read, SLOWLY, and perhaps several times, the article by MR. SME, a gentleman who has forgotten more than you or I will EVER know about vinyl playback that discusses material relevant to the focus of this forum question. This may take you several days to digest, if you have trouble with any of the big words, I'm sure there are many members willing to help you. Myself included. Good reading! Z.
I have a Walker Proscenium Black Diamond with linear tracking tonearm and a Technics SP-10 with SME 312S ((Magnesium) conventional pivot tone arm.

I absolutely love both of these arms! So I defend the guys at Hi Fi+ for their enthusiasm about 12 inch arms.

The linear track arm is always perfect, zero error. The difference between arms is more than tracking. I also owned the Air Tangent 10B and it was terrible. It's execution was excellent, appeared to be as high quality as the Walker, but wouldn't beat a 9" Graham. The Walker KILLS it !

Execution is paramount, not to mention the care of set up. The design is critical, but execution can over ride a (potentially) superior technology.
Raul

" I change six long tonearms for the short ones because I can't find a real/true quality sound improvement in the long ones"

Looks like you bought some crappy 12 inch arms. Like to share what those six 12 inch arms are ?? So we can stay clear of them :-)
Dear Albert: In some ways we are talking and agree on the main subjects.
I only want to be precise that I'm not against the 12" tonearm ( I still have it and like it ), I'm only saying that it is not better than a 9-10" one only because is longer. Btw, nice to see that you have the pivoted SME one.

Design, execution and well matched cartridge ( obviously, like you posted : set up. ) is the " name of the game " in any tonearm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Albert

Interesting that Valin in TAS liked the TW Acustik / phantom as much or better than his reference - the fully decked out Walker.

Is the TW table that much better than the walker table? - given that the walker arm kills the Phantom.

Or is Valin due to give back or sell his permanent loan and he is looking for another :-)
I did not read what Valin wrote, but if he likes the TW Acustik more than the Walker, that will be good for TW's sales.

As for your comment that the Walker arm kills the Phantom, I don't know if that is true and probably no way to test. The Walker arm only works on a Walker turntable and the Walker table will not accommodate a Phantom :^).

Or is Valin due to give back or sell his permanent loan and he is looking for another :-)

Unknown, I am not close to Valin. It's not by choice, I just don't know him well enough to have "inside" knowledge.

When I spoke to the owner of TW Acustik at the show, he had several tonearms mounted, including a Phantom, a Tri-Planar and something else (I don't remember). I ask what he liked best and he said "The Phantom, with Air Tight PC-1"

I certainly agree with him on the Air Tight PC-1, I have two of them now and no Koetsu. If you know how crazy I was about Koetsu you know how big a change that was. I also gave the PC-1 product of the year award at PFO where I review.

I did not get these as "samples" or reviewer freebees :^). I bought them at a reduced price, but no better than clever audiophiles and dealers get.
Albert

I was quoting you re the walker kills the Phantom. Or did u mean the air tangent??

What does the air tight bring to the sonic table that beats your Koetsu Jade's??

I have not heard one and have heard differing opinions
Raul, We are waiting for this list of "crappy" 12s. Although I doubt there is much risk of any of us picking up any of these crappy/vintage/obsolete throwaways, you owe us an answer. I see looking at your system pics a very real reason you may be having so much trouble making accurate comparisons that might lead to actually improving your system. Any first-year engineering student would understand the negative effects of having more than one tonearm mounted. You essentially have four antennae picking up room energy, at four different freqs and feeding all these resonant freqs into your phono stage. In the form of distortion! Take all that junk off and have a listen. You can thank me in the morning! Z.
Dear Downunder: IMHO I think that looks like a misunderstood from your part.

In any of my posts I told that the 12" tonearm are not good tonearms or that are crappy ones, I don't know from where you have that on your mind!!!!!, this is like if I tell you that your CJ preamp is a crappy preamp!!!. Downunder till today I never bought/own/owned any " crappy tonearm ", now you are clear of them.

Maybe I have to add some explanation on why I'm using the 9" tonearms: after that its performance is a great one ( with no single advantage from the 12" ones. ) the overhang on all those tonearms that I own ( the short ones ) is exactly the same and this fact make me easy the interchange of cartridges between them and this single fact is of paramount and critical importance to achieve the best from any phono cartridge.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul, whilst we all appreciate the experiences and comparisons that you bring to this forum, I think that Zieman has a point.
Your claim that the old technology of arms is as good as, if not better than the new, is demonstrably false just as your beliefs that the older cartridges (both MM and MC)are legitimately comparable to the newer LOMCs.
In my experience, the greatest advances in analogue playback have occurred in just the last 10 years with arms, cartridges and turntables!
Your most 'modern' turntable appears to be the Acoustic Solid from Germany. I have heard their Mambo and I'm sorry to tell you that this is not comparable to the Raven AC, Continuum Caliburn or Criterion nor the Walker Procsenium or Rockport Sirius.
The arm I have discovered since mounting the Continuum Copperhead, is just as important as the table and the differences can be quite stunning.
Once again all your arms cannot bear comparison to the Copperhead, Cobra, Phantom, Triplanar et al.
For you to claim that you have heard all these tables and arms and believe your tables and arms are just as good, means ALL of us can happily make those SAME claims about all OUR equipment as well.
It doesn't unfortunately, make it so.
To compound the problems I have with you, all your arms appear to have readily interchangeable headshells which presumably have plug-in electrical contacts?
For decades, most reviewers and arm-designers have eschewed removable headshells because of the sonic degradation involved and extra electrical contact points.
The sum total of your 'less than SOTA' turntables with your dubious arms with removeable headshells, seems to me to indicate that the sound you are able to extract from the vinyl is decidedly second rate.
The differences you will still hear between cartridges, but the validity of your opinion is severely compromised by the real lack of nuance and detail that you are missing.
Now it is absolutely fine for you to be happy with your set-up and system.....but when you progress to making absolute decrees on the universal quality of arms and cartridges to readers who have little experience,it can be dangerous and misleading.
Raul, sorry my poetic license for the use of "crappy"

However You quoted " I change six long tonearms for the short ones because I can't find a real/true quality sound improvement in the long ones"

Therefore you must have the same tonearm's in 12 and 9 inch and as you have indicated the 12 inch versions offer no sound improvements over the 9 inch version.

Please tell us what six 12 inch arms in your opinion offer no performance upgrade to their 9 inch versions.

I am certainly interested and I am sure a lot of other people are too, so we don't potentially waste our money upgrading to the 12 inch versions :-)

cheers Shane
Downunder,

I was quoting you re the walker kills the Phantom. Or did u mean the air tangent??

Sorry I did not make myself clear, I was referring to Walker beating the Air Tanget as I had them at the same time. I also had the Versa Dynamics and the older Graham 2.2 mounted on a Basis Debut Gold MK 5.

What does the air tight bring to the sonic table that beats your Koetsu Jade's??

The Air Tight is faster, much lower distortion, higher resolution and detail, tracks better and images better.

Another benefit in my system is the output voltage. Koetsu Platinum is .2, Air Tight is .6. My phono (Aesthetix) is all tube, so this higher voltage (by default :^), lowers the noise floor, giving the first stage input tubes a lot more signal to work with.
Dear Shane: Ikeda, Fidelity Research, Moerch, Audiocraft, Micro seiki and SAEC. With the right ( matched ) cartridge all these tonearms ( long/short ) are really good!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
I CAN agree with Halcro,in that IMO the last few years has brought a "major" improvement in vinyl reproduction!!!
One just has to look at the better(quite a few)cartridges,and with a good table(there are many),and tonearm(quite a few "decent" choices,too)the serious vinyl hobbyist/collector can have a field-day at his/her local used record store!!!
Too much fun for one lifetime!!!
Raul, There will be no miscommunication once you cough up this list! Have you finished the reading I assigned yet? Did you learn anything? Do you have any questions, or do you remain the only one with ALL the answers? How did any of us ever get along without you and your vast experience with ancient hi-fi?

Halcro, you give Acoustic Solid FAR too much credit! I'll put a Scout(!) up against their top piece. The US importer provides speaker cable margin on this line. At retail. Which is so unrealistic, words fail me as to how I might draw a comparison. Fishing line, tied in a KNOT for a belt!
NO, that can't be audible!

Raul, How is that list coming, buddy? Z.
Acoustic Signature. My bad. Z.
BTW,one doesn't have to own the absolute "latest/best measuring/highest tech level" stuff to get "fabulous" sound!
I've heard many(domestic settings)systems that had somewhat retro equipment which just "HAD IT",in a very musical way!!The owner/hobbyists knew what they wanted to accomplish,and modded,and voiced these systems to a stunning level of enjoyment.There are MANY systems of this nature that actually embarrass some of the newer,highly regarded set-ups being marketed today.
Of course with a good amount of understanding,and alot of cash you will still do extremely well with todays TOP stuff,but it does not negate the legitimacy of MANY classic designs.....Think "Marantz 10B",as an example.
Also,if one reads Raul's equip listing,and his steps to eek out the best from his set-up,I'd bet it is darn good sounding!..Just some thoughts.
Best
Dear Halcro: Thank you to give all of us the opportunity to talk and understand about:

+++++ " Yes, today we have different/advanced body cartridge materials, different cantilever build materials, different stylus shape/profile, different, different,,,,different, but the quality sound reproduction is almost the same with cartridges build 30+ years ago and this is a fact. The same occur with TT’s and tonearms. Is sad to speak in this way but it is what we have today. Please, I’m not saying that some cartridges designs don’t grow up because they did it, example: Koetsu they today Koetsu’s are better performers that the old ones but against other cartridges the Koetsu ones don’t advance and many old and today cartridges MM/MC beat them " +++++

this is what I posted in other thread along with this:

+++++ " Where I think the audio industry grow-up for the better are in electronic audio items ( like the Phonolinepreamps ), speakers and room treatment " +++++, and I can add: cables. I'm still supporting those statements.

Now, you states: +++++ " In my experience, the greatest advances in analogue playback have occurred in just the last 10 years with arms, cartridges and turntables! " +++++,
that is totally contrary to my statements ( and there is nothing wrong with that. ).

We can take a look to the " today " analog gear design against some " old " designs, examples:

Triplanar design ( I already heard some samples of this tonearm even in my own system. ), IMHO this " today " design is a very old one that over the last years had/has some mods but the main design does not change.

SME, this " today " ( that I own ) very good design is a real " old " one. Do you know how much years has it?

Morch, this " today " ( that I own ) design " comes from an " old " Japanese Highphonic tonearm design.

Graham. this " today " very good tonearm comes from the Japanese Audiocraft " old " design. Btw, if I can remember the Phantom use a magnetic design for the antiskating, well: do you know that the Lustre GST-801 ( that I own ) not only has a magnetic antiskating but a magnetic VTF too? and the Lustre is a 30+ tonearm design!!!!!

VPI, comes from SAEC.

Brickmann, comes from the " old " Swiss Breuer.

and I can go on an on!!!!!!!!

IMHO only the Schroeder is a real new ( very good and clever bearing design ) tonearm design, oh yes the WT too.

New build materials in the " today " tonearms?, well IMHO many " old " tonearm designs were the ones that start with " new " materials that many of " today " ones are using it: ceramic? SAEC, Titanium?, Technics, Boron/Titanium? Technics, carbon fibre? MS, wood? Grace, etc, etc.

Do you know that no one ( other than Schroeder ) of today tonearms can even the Technics EPA-100MK2 so low bearing friction?, far from there and perhaps this is ( overall ) the tonearm to beat for any " today " tonearms. Do you know all the technology design ( at every design level ) that this Technics use?: bearing, build material, damping, etc, etc, IMHO no one " today " tonearm is near it and this Technics is a stellar performer.
BTW, do you already try/tested it with your today audio system?, please do it.

+++++ " To compound the problems I have with you, all your arms appear to have readily interchangeable headshells which presumably have plug-in electrical contacts? " +++++

well the Graham and Morch comes with the same " problem " design. Btw, there is no perfect audio item ( including tonearms ) and you have to choose your own trade-offs, almost always!!!

+++++ " Your most 'modern' turntable appears to be the Acoustic Solid from Germany. I have heard their Mambo and I'm sorry to tell you that this is not comparable to the Raven AC, Continuum Caliburn or Criterion nor the Walker Procsenium or Rockport Sirius. " +++++

I totally agree with you if you compare the Acoustic Signature/Acoustic Solid with out any kind of isolation on it.
I already posted somewhere that the Acoustic Signature comes with a heavy/terrible isolation problems but if you make your part on this audio game and find how isolate it then the AS is a top performer and a very clever ( bearing and power supply ) design.

I already heard ( in very good audio systems ) all the TTs you named but the Continuum, are very good ones and perhaps the best today examples but the " old " ones like Micro Seiki 5000/8000 or the SZ-1TVS+SZ-1M ( this one is a statement of TT by any today standard ), Nakamichi TX-1000 ( its center record computer technology is very far from any today TTs, well no one of today TT builders care about!!!!!!! This TX-1000 TT technology is UNIQUE all over the analog gear world!!!!!!!! ), do you already try it with your today audio system? or the Micro Seikis? well I did, Technics SP-10MK2 and MK3 ( I own it ), Final Paruthenon?, do you know it? a 1984 design: stellar performer!!!! , Yamaha GT-200X, Denon DP-100, etc, etc
All these " old " designs compete and could beat many of the today ones including yours.

Cartridges?, well other of what you can read here:
http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1200430667&read&3&4&

I can tell you that many " old " MC cartridges not only even the best today cartridges but some can/could beat them.
Examples: Goldbug MS Brier, Victor MC L-1000, Sao Win SMC 10, Audio technica AT1000, FR MC-702, Ortofon MC 2000, etc, etc.
How many of these cartridges do you already heard in your today system? how many of the ones that I named in the MM thread?
Btw, the last one today cartridge that I tested in my system was the Air Tight PC-1.

+++++ " Your claim that the old technology of arms is as good as, if not better than the new, is demonstrably false just as your beliefs that the older cartridges (both MM and MC)are legitimately comparable to the newer LOMCs. " +++++

I don't think so because I can prove it, what I think ( IMHO ) is that you can't prove what you posted!!!!!

+++++ " seems to me to indicate that the sound you are able to extract from the vinyl is decidedly second rate. " +++++

well you can't prove this either but if you take that long flight to America and hear it you will be just shocked!! and could have a very nice " new " music/sound experience.

Sirspeedy posted:
+++++ " One just has to look at the better(quite a few)cartridges,and with a good table(there are many),and tonearm(quite a few "decent" choices,too)the serious vinyl hobbyist/collector can have a field-day at his/her local used record store!!!
Too much fun for one lifetime!!! " +++++

and I agree with him but that statement does not means that the quality sound reproduction is better than with those " very old " analog designs ( tonearms/cartridges/TTs ).

Dear Halcro, like some Agoner told me: " High end is who you are, not what you buy ".

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.