Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

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Jonnyz2
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Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

Post by Jonnyz2 » 17 Feb 2019 18:57

I’m helping sort out restoring a Thorens 124.

As part of that process, I've begin to wonder whether the tonearm should be upgraded. Right now it's fitted with a BTD-12S.

The fact that the turntable has the iron platter (limiting or complicating cartridge choices), the tonearm is high mass, cartridges can only be mounted from below (limiting choices), and there is no anti-skate make it is harder to find appropriate cartridges right now and I'm guessing that will get worse in the future.

In addition, the rubber decoupler at the counterweight has failed and requires replacement (about a $150 cost installed). Adding anti-skate would cost over $200 and there's mixed feedback on whether the retrofit works well or not.

It does seem that one of the benefits of an upgrade, possibly greater with the Jelco, is that for the long-term there will be more cartridge options and greater likelihood of using more advanced needle designs because of the higher compliance capabilities than with the BTD-12S.

More importantly, we are wondering if there be a significant sonic improvement with an upgrade. Would changing from the 12S to a SME 3009 II or a Jelco 550S (the replacement for the 750s) really improve the sonics?

Both options would cost around $900 or so including new armboard and installation for her. The owner is willing to pay for sound improvements if they get value for the money. If it is only a slight improvement, then that amount would not be something they would want to spend.

If you have thoughts on whether to repair or replace please share them.

If you think replacement is the way to go, please share thoughts on the two main tonearm options or suggest other tonearms if the costs would be roughly the same.

Thanks!

Alec124c41
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Re: Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

Post by Alec124c41 » 18 Feb 2019 00:15

They are not so easy to find these days, but the Sumiko Premier MMT is the precursor to the Jelco 750 series, and is a very decent arm, and much less cost.

Cheers,
Alec

Jonnyz2
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Re: Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

Post by Jonnyz2 » 20 Feb 2019 06:46

Thanks for the suggestion. I assume that means you think the replacement makes sense?

Alec124c41
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Re: Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

Post by Alec124c41 » 20 Feb 2019 12:06

I am not familiar with the Thorens tonearms, so can make no comparisons about sound.
I do have 4 of the 9 1/2 inch MMT arms, as well as a 10 inch SA-750E. They are well made, sound excellent, and take standard headshells.

Cheers,
Alec

goatbreath
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Re: Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

Post by goatbreath » 21 Feb 2019 04:17

I am having the same dilemma,I would really like an arm with detachable headshells to use different cartridges with..The Jelco arms appear to be much higher mass than the SME series 2 improved S2..Think I've got that designation right..The one with the detachable headshell..There still seems to be some Jelco SA250 D tonearms around for £400 UK..You can't take away mass though and I have quite a few different Shure Bodies..The SME Arms seem to vary in price..A new Jelco would be a safer bet reliability wise..The SME better for higher compliance cartridges...I wish the Jelco was lower Mass..Even with lighter headshells it is still apparently around 15 gms effective mass..

Jonnyz2
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Re: Useful Upgrade? (12S tonearm to SME or Jelco)

Post by Jonnyz2 » 21 Feb 2019 19:58

Hi Goatbreath - I can point you to a US source for the 550S at $500/550 (don't remember which). That's just slightly more than what you are quoted for the 250 (note, you'd pay shipping and import duties though).

The Jelco site shows the 550 at 9.2 grams effective mass.

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