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Thread: Tone arm info for novice

  1. #1
    Join Date: Aug 2021

    Location: South West

    Posts: 102
    I'm Stuart.

    Default Tone arm info for novice

    With a degree of embarrassment I am posting this question and do hope my fellow AOS members will take pity on me with their replies!

    Although I have owned a turntable for about 40 years, I still consider myself a novice when compared to others. I spent years using an entry level Sony direct drive, upgrading to a Project Debut Carbon with Ortofon Red about 6 years ago. I have never progressed beyond this.

    Now that I am TT-less (my brother purchased mine yesterday!), I am considering what to do.

    But whatever I do, I need to understand once and for all the reasons for upgrading a tone arm.

    I realise that to anyone who has been around turntables for years, this might seem to be such a basic question that it doesnít need asking.

    But I simply donít know the answer - Iíve found lots of info on-line about what functions a tone arms serves, instructions for replacement, what fits what, yet Iím still struggling to get my head around Ďwhy do it at allí?

    Thanks in advance for any empathetic replies!

  2. #2
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: Chichester, West Sussex UK

    Posts: 368
    I'm John.

    Default

    In simple terms, a better tonearm lets more of the signal through so you can hear more of what's on the record. This is achieved through better quality wiring, more closely tolerance bearings, resonance absorption/dissipation via construction material specification. The better something is engineered then the more it costs and the better the results (in most cases).

    Sent from my I3312 using Tapatalk
    Money may not make me happy.
    But it helps me afford the kind of misery I prefer.


    SYSTEM 1:

    Analogue.
    Brinkmann Bardo / 12" OL Enterprise Mk4 / Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum /BigBottle mk3 /MFA Baby Reference Pre/Nord One UP SE NC500M/Martin Logan Summit

    Digital.
    Docet Lector CDP-7TL mkiii/Pimped Bluesound Node2 + BOTW SBooster Lps/ Pimped Mk1 Jolida Fx Glass DAC.

    Wires etc.
    Audioplan Musicable ICs & TQ Black ll SC, assorted branded kettle leads.
    Target TT shelf & Alphason 5 shelf rack.
    Power Inspired AG1500S mains regen.

    SYSTEM 2: Back to the 80s.

    Garrard 401, RB250, A&R P77Mg / Mk1 Marantz CD63 SE / Sony TC-FX150 / Sansui T500L / Cambridge Audio C50 + 2x A50 as bridged monos (mid 80s Stan Curtis's design) / or KEF 104ab/ Original 80s Monster Cable IC, DNM SC / Target 5 shelf rack.

    SPARE KIT:
    A&R E77Mg
    Ortofon 2M Silver + Blue stylus
    Philips CD600
    Arcam Alpha 8P
    Pro-Ject DacBox S FL
    CCA
    FiiO Taishan
    Heybrook HB1 S2
    Q Acoustics 3050

  3. #3
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 49,084
    I'm Geoff.

    Default

    That's pretty open ended. You need to have a budget in mind, an idea of what level of performance you want, whether you want new or used and what level of complexity you'd be happy to deal with. An 'all-in-one' new deck might be what to aim for.......or not.
    Conspiracy theories are only perpetuated because people go looking for them!

  4. #4
    Join Date: Aug 2021

    Location: South West

    Posts: 102
    I'm Stuart.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
    In simple terms, a better tonearm lets more of the signal through so you can hear more of what's on the record. This is achieved through better quality wiring, more closely tolerance bearings, resonance absorption/dissipation via construction material specification. The better something is engineered then the more it costs and the better the results (in most cases).

    Sent from my I3312 using Tapatalk
    Thanks.
    Perhaps naively, I’d thought it was all about quality of stylus, quality of cartridge and internal wiring. Couldn’t get my head round what else the tone arm itself would influence.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Aug 2021

    Location: South West

    Posts: 102
    I'm Stuart.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MisterMoseley View Post
    Thanks.
    Perhaps naively, I’d thought it was all about quality of stylus, quality of cartridge and internal wiring. Couldn’t get my head round what else the tone arm itself would influence.
    Thanks.
    I’ve posted on another forum about a potential replacement turntable and had some really useful replies - most of them suggesting older/used TTs. I guess that’s really where this question comes from. I don’t want to venture down the second hand route only to find out later on that the TT is OK but that I should have been looking for one with tonearm ‘xyz’
    I realise that the most straightforward option for someone like me is to simply buy a good entry level TT from the likes of Rega or Project.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: Chichester, West Sussex UK

    Posts: 368
    I'm John.

    Default

    The cart does have an effect, however a £40 AT95E on a good arm in most instances will sound way way better than a £500 mm on a shite low, end arm. The good arm will be maxing out the 95Es performance and letting it through to your ears (downstream kit permitting). The good arm will also allow downstream kit to perform at a higher level as its getting a better signal.

    Sent from my I3312 using Tapatalk
    Money may not make me happy.
    But it helps me afford the kind of misery I prefer.


    SYSTEM 1:

    Analogue.
    Brinkmann Bardo / 12" OL Enterprise Mk4 / Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum /BigBottle mk3 /MFA Baby Reference Pre/Nord One UP SE NC500M/Martin Logan Summit

    Digital.
    Docet Lector CDP-7TL mkiii/Pimped Bluesound Node2 + BOTW SBooster Lps/ Pimped Mk1 Jolida Fx Glass DAC.

    Wires etc.
    Audioplan Musicable ICs & TQ Black ll SC, assorted branded kettle leads.
    Target TT shelf & Alphason 5 shelf rack.
    Power Inspired AG1500S mains regen.

    SYSTEM 2: Back to the 80s.

    Garrard 401, RB250, A&R P77Mg / Mk1 Marantz CD63 SE / Sony TC-FX150 / Sansui T500L / Cambridge Audio C50 + 2x A50 as bridged monos (mid 80s Stan Curtis's design) / or KEF 104ab/ Original 80s Monster Cable IC, DNM SC / Target 5 shelf rack.

    SPARE KIT:
    A&R E77Mg
    Ortofon 2M Silver + Blue stylus
    Philips CD600
    Arcam Alpha 8P
    Pro-Ject DacBox S FL
    CCA
    FiiO Taishan
    Heybrook HB1 S2
    Q Acoustics 3050

  7. #7
    Join Date: Aug 2021

    Location: South West

    Posts: 102
    I'm Stuart.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
    The cart does have an effect, however a £40 AT95E on a good arm in most instances will sound way way better than a £500 mm on a shite low, end arm. The good arm will be maxing out the 95Es performance and letting it through to your ears (downstream kit permitting). The good arm will also allow downstream kit to perform at a higher level as its getting a better signal.

    Sent from my I3312 using Tapatalk
    Hi John
    Thank you again.
    Itís slowly starting to make sense now.
    Stuart

  8. #8
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: Chichester, West Sussex UK

    Posts: 368
    I'm John.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MisterMoseley View Post
    Thanks.
    Iíve posted on another forum about a potential replacement turntable and had some really useful replies - most of them suggesting older/used TTs. I guess thatís really where this question comes from. I donít want to venture down the second hand route only to find out later on that the TT is OK but that I should have been looking for one with tonearm Ďxyzí
    I realise that the most straightforward option for someone like me is to simply buy a good entry level TT from the likes of Rega or Project.
    With regards used decks, both the Revolver and Systemdek are more than worthy.
    The Revolver is a very good starter deck in the Rega 2 or 3 catagory (and better than your old Pro-Ject) and the arm is good for upto £300 MMs whilst the Systemdek is further up the food chain, the deck can easily support a £500+ arm (think Tabriz/OL Silver.
    The One Bazzer has for sale at a very good price fitted with the RB250 would be capable of supporting top mm carts and MCs upto about £1k so could be bought with confidence knowing you could move up the cart ladder should you wish without needing to upgrade the arm or deck.

    Sent from my I3312 using Tapatalk
    Money may not make me happy.
    But it helps me afford the kind of misery I prefer.


    SYSTEM 1:

    Analogue.
    Brinkmann Bardo / 12" OL Enterprise Mk4 / Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum /BigBottle mk3 /MFA Baby Reference Pre/Nord One UP SE NC500M/Martin Logan Summit

    Digital.
    Docet Lector CDP-7TL mkiii/Pimped Bluesound Node2 + BOTW SBooster Lps/ Pimped Mk1 Jolida Fx Glass DAC.

    Wires etc.
    Audioplan Musicable ICs & TQ Black ll SC, assorted branded kettle leads.
    Target TT shelf & Alphason 5 shelf rack.
    Power Inspired AG1500S mains regen.

    SYSTEM 2: Back to the 80s.

    Garrard 401, RB250, A&R P77Mg / Mk1 Marantz CD63 SE / Sony TC-FX150 / Sansui T500L / Cambridge Audio C50 + 2x A50 as bridged monos (mid 80s Stan Curtis's design) / or KEF 104ab/ Original 80s Monster Cable IC, DNM SC / Target 5 shelf rack.

    SPARE KIT:
    A&R E77Mg
    Ortofon 2M Silver + Blue stylus
    Philips CD600
    Arcam Alpha 8P
    Pro-Ject DacBox S FL
    CCA
    FiiO Taishan
    Heybrook HB1 S2
    Q Acoustics 3050

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jun 2015

    Location: London/Durham

    Posts: 5,661
    I'm Lawrence.

    Default

    I think of it the following way - the source of the music is from the stylus bumping around in the groove inducing a tiny current in the coils in the cartridge. Tiny aberrations in the physical contact between the two will lead to audible effects when the signal is amplified downstream.

    The key purpose of the tonearm is to make this contact between the two as perfect as possible (on the two contact points, one each for left and right channel) and all the complex engineering you see in more expensive tonearms is supposed to make this as good as possible.

    The wiring that has been mentioned is the other part of the chain, but that can always be changed if required (eg silver litz might match the tonal quality of some cartridges better than say straight OFC copper).

    There are other factors at play such as matching the arm to the turntable and cartridge (eg high Vs low compliance cartridges tend to work better with low and high mass arms - hope I've got that right!). So the best engineered arm is not always the best solution if you've already chosen a cartridge or TT. They are a complete system and should be chosen to match.

    Then you've got the phono stage to think of (and head amp or step up transformers if it's a MC cartridge) but that's a whole other question...

  10. #10
    Join Date: Aug 2021

    Location: South West

    Posts: 102
    I'm Stuart.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
    With regards used decks, both the Revolver and Systemdek are more than worthy.
    The Revolver is a very good starter deck in the Rega 2 or 3 catagory (and better than your old Pro-Ject) and the arm is good for upto £300 MMs whilst the Systemdek is further up the food chain, the deck can easily support a £500+ arm (think Tabriz/OL Silver.
    The One Bazzer has for sale at a very good price fitted with the RB250 would be capable of supporting top mm carts and MCs upto about £1k so could be bought with confidence knowing you could move up the cart ladder should you wish without needing to upgrade the arm or deck.

    Sent from my I3312 using Tapatalk
    Hi John
    Thank you for this. I will have a careful look at these.
    By the way, due to ‘brain fade’, I’ve only just realised that we’ve both been posting on my thread on the Wam. Sorry I didn’t put two and two together before now.
    I’ve just replied to Stewart about his Project TT which you kindly highlighted. As good as it is, it’s probably far more than I would ever need.
    I realise that for the money I can justify spending, I’m either going to have to go for entry level new Project/Rega with peace of mind warranty or higher quality used TT without any support/guarantee if anything goes wrong.
    Regards
    Stuart

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