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Thread: Timestep T-612 'banana' tonearm - mini review

  1. #11
    Join Date: Mar 2016

    Location: Barnet, london UK

    Posts: 944
    I'm Adam.

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    I had to visit Tom's place yesterday on some other business aside from Vinyl music reproduction, but, inevitably, within a couple of minutes of stepping foot in the house, the old Thorens TD 124 Idler was spinning!

    So I had the pleasure of enjoying a taste of what the Timestep T-612 tonearm arm can deliver.
    The arc of the arm tube is just beautiful, a really lovely thing. I have to say, it did intimidate me slightly so I politely declined Tom's offer for me to spin a record with it. Maybe it was the the Arc of the arm or the
    cantilever-less cartridge that was sitting proudly at the end of it.. anyhow it threw me and I declined!
    Funny how we get used to our own set ups and then others equipment seems scary (I've had this with people who visit my place and confront the task of the dreaded unipivot handling

    Paired with Tom's other new toy, (there are a few) an Ikeda 9C III, cantilever-less design MC cartridge, the Tilmestep T-612 tonearm, was a perfect partner for such a cartridge, indeed it was also a great partner with the other cartridge Tom employed during my visit, the Ortofon SPU Royal N moving coil.

    It was with the Ikeda 9C III the real magic appeared though. The Timestep T-612 being a 12'' arm was relaxed but no slouch and helped deliver simply amazing dynamics from this cartridge and a truly sumptuous midrange. It was very special. Was it the arm or the cartridge that was shining? Well both. On another Tonearm the AT 1010,
    Tom assured me the Ikeda 9C III cartridge was pretty poor. It takes quite an arm to control this special cartridge, which the Timestep T-612 did with real authority.

    We had previously in the session played a CD of The Ray Brown Trio Solar Energy, Concord Jazz, with the fabulous Gene Harris on piano, using Tom's CD / DAC set up (a very nice CD/DAC combination indeed!!) and it really was fantastic, just great timing, music swinging, the toe was tapping.

    Off Tom went and had a rummage in his racks and pulled out a Vinyl cut of the same Ray Brown record.
    (always a nervy thing to do comparing A/B CD to vinyl, too many variables)
    The needle dropped, Oh Sweet Lordy!! the music basically burst into life, one of those moments where you just nod your head and mutter, 'there it is!" I can't do all that Audiophile jive talk, but the music got squeegeed
    like someone had put a defibrillator on the music, but not just the extremes, the subtle beauty was all still present.

    And there it is indeed, The Tilmestep T-612 'Banana' tonearm, paired with something I'd never experienced before
    a Cantilever-less design MC cartridge. A terrific combo, as indeed are Ray Brown and Gene Harris.
    Audio Bliss!
    "lack of passion is fatal"

    Vinyl: Garrard 401, Russ Collinson 'shindo' plinth / Tenuto gun metal mat / SME-3012 j7 rewired / audio-technica ATP-12T - phonomac modified / Ortofon Vintage SPU GTE /Shure M3D / Ortofon Royal N / Cartridge Man Music Master with isolator / Miyajima Zero B 0.7mil mono / Vintage GE VRII mono / Amps: Radford STA25 mk3 / David Coe AD Audio 'Satchmo' pre & phono / Hashimoto HM-7 SUT / Digital: SW1X Audio Design DAC 1 signature / Roon / Tidal Speakers: Tannoy 12" MGs' in RFC custom 'Rutland' Cabinets with RFC custom crossovers / Cables: Duelund DCA16GA tinned copper / Kimber 12TC / SW1X Audio Design USB-SPdif / Duelund DCA20GA interconnects / SW1X Audio SPDIF Aero 6 / Mains Power Conditioner / Box Furniture sapele rack

  2. #12
    Join Date: Sep 2012

    Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

    Posts: 21
    I'm Keith.

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    Thanks for the info Tom. One way or another a change from the Shilabe would be expensive and I am not sure the Madake (for example) would be that much of an improvement. The SPU Royal N would probably be more of a side step. Might look at keeping the Shilabe and looking for something like a used SPU Royal or A95 if any come up as I like that look in the wood headshell. Have you seen the new SPU wood in the A style headshell?
    Simon Clarke dual mono Paradise Phono amp to Najda pre amp/Dac/active crossover and DSP. Crown XLi 1500, Guy Sergeant Hiraga Le Monstre, Leben CS300sx.
    Nottm Analogue Mentor Ref with modified plinth, 12" Audio Creative Groovemaster 2, Oyaide head shell, Miyajima Shilabe. PC running Roon and Tidal to Najda dac.
    Lowther DX4 in Mauhorn V cabinets or DIY open baffle with 18" Fane Colossus XB, Beyma 12p80ND and Beyma TPL150H with Rel S2 sub.

  3. #13
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,163
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keith1962 View Post
    Thanks for the info Tom. One way or another a change from the Shilabe would be expensive and I am not sure the Madake (for example) would be that much of an improvement. The SPU Royal N would probably be more of a side step. Might look at keeping the Shilabe and looking for something like a used SPU Royal or A95 if any come up as I like that look in the wood headshell. Have you seen the new SPU wood in the A style headshell?
    I have tenatively thought of selling the Madake to fund the latest SPU 100th anniversary due out in May but then I put it on and change my mind ...

    Yes the SPU Wood is realy cool but you'd need an adapter ... they are available though. Tempting just for a bit of fun.

    How about this for an upgrade to the Shilabe - Miyajima step-up tailor made for it has just appeared in the classifieds ....
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  4. #14
    Join Date: Mar 2009

    Location: South West-ish, UK

    Posts: 211
    I'm Patrick.

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    I am interested to know if this has been tried with a Decca (C4E specifically) and how well it works.

  5. #15
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,163
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Dixon View Post
    I am interested to know if this has been tried with a Decca (C4E specifically) and how well it works.
    The Ikeda cartridge is similar in design - it has no cantilever but is connected straight up into the coils via a short bridge - and has similar qualities of immediacy. In general unipivots are recommended for these as the majority of gimballed arms seem to struggle with the energy a Decca puts out (and I think the Ikeda is the same, it really struggled in an otherwise rather good arm, the AT 1010), but the Timestep not just copes with the Ikeda but actually lifts it. I'm not experienced enough with Deccas to answer but my guess is it would work similarlly.
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  6. #16
    Join Date: Mar 2009

    Location: South West-ish, UK

    Posts: 211
    I'm Patrick.

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    Thanks. It sounds interesting ...

  7. #17
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,163
    I'm Tom.

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    Well this has set the cat among the pigeons ... as luck (or fate) would have it an offer came along that I couldn't refuse, for the 12in version of the 9in Ikeda IT-345 CR1 arm I already own .. the IT-407. After verifying its provenance (I had a fairly long list of questions for the seller), the only think I could do was to nab it.

    Retailing at almost six grand to the Timestep's £1600 you'd expect it to be a slam dunk in the performance department but it's not nearly as simple as that. It has an effective mass of 20g without headshell - which is less than the 9in version of the Timestep and very possibly less than the chromed 9in Ikeda (there are no official figures) - as well as being a whopping 9g less effective mass than the Timestep 12in arm.

    It's a tribute to just how good the Timestep's bearings, wiring and balance are that their relative performance is pretty much down to whether the cartridge likes that additional tonearm mass or not. It was clear that the Miyajima Madake prefers the heavier arm. The Ikeda 9C III (shown in the pics), as you'd expect, goes the other way it sounds totally at home. SPU seems to have no preference. The vintage SAEC C3 I picked up recently (that I was so impressed with) was kicked up a further notch - not as low compliance as the other cartridges, it was clearly more at home in the less massy arm. Like the SPUs, the Miyajima monos are pretty agnostic, essentially sounding superb in both.

    There are other differences too .. the Timestep is static balance, depending (like the majority of tonearms) on gravity to provide the tracking force, whereas the Ikeda has dynamic balance, a spring mechanism providing the downforce (as with the FR64/FR66 before it). I was able to bring the Madake up to par on the lighter arm by slightly increasing the spring downforce. All in all it looks light a sleeker, lighter, more delicate arm and that's how it feels when you handle it too.

    Anyway I've been swapping them over back and forth for a few days now scratching my head ... I just can't figure which of them I like best and it's not something I suspect I'll resolve lightly. I might even need to keep both! (I have been tentatively pondering an SP10 project, out of curiosity as I've never owned one).

    I did manage to dig into the history a bit ... the new arrival in its satin finish is a fairly early example, possibly made by Ikeda himself, most likely in the early 90s ... he certainly personally made all the cartridges that bear his name before 2011, when he sold off the business and retired. (He must be well in his 90s now). My 9in Ikeda is a post-2011 model with a few small design changes, heavier as I mentioned. This is still with Angus (Phonomac) for fettling so it will be facinating to compare the two, made 20 years apart, when it arrives back.

    One thing I can say is that the Timestep has not been in the least embarrassed by the comparison and scored a few clear wins with certain cartridges - it also handles more securely I think and that titanium arm tube is really quite something, to set against the Ikeda's soft satin steel. One plus for the Ikeda though - the overhang at the back is a lot less, and I can get the lid on again ....

    Anyway some piccies:







    Last edited by montesquieu; 16-04-2018 at 16:55.
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  8. #18
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,163
    I'm Tom.

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    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  9. #19
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,863
    I'm Oliver.

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    That's an enviable collection you've got there,Tom.

    I think I prefer the looks of the timestep Banana arm. I'd love to try one of those 9TT carts, I think I'd like them.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK5 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken & Tesla Valves)
    Digital: NONE
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 & Monarchy Audio SM-70 Class A Amplifier
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  10. #20
    Join Date: Mar 2016

    Location: Barnet, london UK

    Posts: 944
    I'm Adam.

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    The Ikeda 12" sure is a stunner. What beautiful synergy with the 9C III cartridge. Just Perfect.
    It will be interesting when you put the 9" version in next to it, different flavour or too similar!
    Can't wait for the next instalment...
    "lack of passion is fatal"

    Vinyl: Garrard 401, Russ Collinson 'shindo' plinth / Tenuto gun metal mat / SME-3012 j7 rewired / audio-technica ATP-12T - phonomac modified / Ortofon Vintage SPU GTE /Shure M3D / Ortofon Royal N / Cartridge Man Music Master with isolator / Miyajima Zero B 0.7mil mono / Vintage GE VRII mono / Amps: Radford STA25 mk3 / David Coe AD Audio 'Satchmo' pre & phono / Hashimoto HM-7 SUT / Digital: SW1X Audio Design DAC 1 signature / Roon / Tidal Speakers: Tannoy 12" MGs' in RFC custom 'Rutland' Cabinets with RFC custom crossovers / Cables: Duelund DCA16GA tinned copper / Kimber 12TC / SW1X Audio Design USB-SPdif / Duelund DCA20GA interconnects / SW1X Audio SPDIF Aero 6 / Mains Power Conditioner / Box Furniture sapele rack

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