Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

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bra10n
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Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by bra10n » 22 Dec 2018 20:56

After a very long time deliberating I decided to replace a DA-401 arm with an Audiomods Series V arm.
Wonderful arm in every aspect and I highly recommend it.

ATM I have a limited cart stable; F14 with Soundsmith CL Ruby, FR101, AT3600L and Nagaoka JT-322. In terms of rating, this is my order order of preference.

This arm has been with me for just on 2 weeks and I initially set it up with the Fidelity Research cart, which, from the outset, sounded sublime. Much better than how I remembered it. First thoughts were how good is this arm :D

I listened for a few days and decided to bypass the other carts and went straight to the Grace for obvious reasons.

I have to admit after listening to the F14 on this arm for 10 days or so now the improvement factor of the FR101 is just not there. Sure it is a very nice cart and still outperforms anything I have by a long margin, but, I was very hopeful.

I've been thinking of how or why this might be and can only see two possibilities; the Grace was giving all it had even on a lesser arm or (devastatingly) the Grace is showing its age and breaking down.

I'd kindly appreciate thoughts or other takes on this.

cheers

noisefreq
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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by noisefreq » 22 Dec 2018 21:51

I know there are times when certain carts just sound better to me then the obvious choice.
Be it arm compliance, signal chain,"synergy" or just a change of pace.

Right now I'm loving my $80 Pickering.
It's beating out my Grace, Shure, and Audio Technica.

I'll come back around to them soon enough.
Cart rotation is a luxury to be appreciated.

Woodbrains
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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by Woodbrains » 22 Dec 2018 21:54

Hello,

The Audiomods V is a very low effective mass arm. Is the grace cart a high compliance, I don't have experience with it? It might benefit from a headshell weight that is supplied with the arm. Otherwise I don't know; if the grace sounds OK on other arms and is still on a par on this arm, then it is not likely failing, you might just be hoping too much. If the bass is a bit light on the Grace/Audiomods combo, then I should think it definitely needs a headshell weight. The Rega arm tube it is based on needs a bit of weight sometimes as it is, so this lightened version will likely need some extra.

Mike.

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by sturgus » 23 Dec 2018 00:46

The mass on the Audiomods is adjustable. You can add or subtract weights on the counterweight. You should also have 3 different headshell weights. You just have to experiment to get the right combination. I have used a Koetsu Rosewood, Denon 103(Paradox body), Shure V15-V, Nagaoka-500, and SAE-1000. All with great success in this arm. You should get the Grace to sound great. If not I would check the cartridge.

bra10n
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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by bra10n » 23 Dec 2018 01:44

Thanks for the replies.

Headshell weights shouldn't be required IMO.

For the record cart and hardware weight is 6g and with the counterweight stripped of the layers of lead the balance is exceptional IMO with the weight located just behind the pivot. Right where you'd want it :D

VTF is 1.1g which was recommended by Peter Ledermann.

Don't get me wrong the Grace does sound great, only there wasn't the step up in improvement that was had with the FR.

But I now have a theory on what is going on here. I'm thinking the limiting factor here is my cheapo phono pre which at any rate is only temporary so time will tell once that is swapped out.

If I'm correct on this, then not only will the Grace benefit but the FR might also have a little more in it still.

So I'll be looking into a Graham Slee unit and hopefully take advantage of a loaner program made available by a local distributor.

Stay posted...

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by sturgus » 23 Dec 2018 03:45

Which Slee are you looking at?

bra10n
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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by bra10n » 23 Dec 2018 03:58

I can get the Reflex M/PSU1 or the Gram Amp 2 out on loan but unfortunately not the Era Gold V.

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by Cloudbase » 23 Dec 2018 08:25

Hi D

Not withstanding the slight drift away from what I was writing about recently on the Origin Live arm change thread as I have only 1 cartridge in the house I didn't really need the micrometer attachment the Audiomods 5 arm comes fitted with so I stuck to the OL brand (among other reasons too)
I think you will see a lift in SQ once the new pre amp is in the chain, I think with such a light VTF as 1.1 grams adding a bit of headshell weight and moving the counterweight back a bit will also improve things.
One thing I have noticed with the upgraded arm on my deck is the solidity and in particular the definition of the bass has increased and everything sounds more........... separated, the detail retrieval has gone up as you would expect. (So it should) Sounds, dare a I say it more CD like. :lol:

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by Woodbrains » 23 Dec 2018 09:19

bra10n wrote:
23 Dec 2018 01:44

Headshell weights shouldn't be required IMO.

For the record cart and hardware weight is 6g and with the counterweight stripped of the layers of lead .........
Hello,

You do realise that the lead layers are designed to semi de-couple the counterweight from the stub (only the lead is touches the stub, holding the SS away from contacting it by a small gap). Also, the lead and SS forms a sandwich of dissimilar resonators to aid damping the counter weight. I can't help but think you have altered the dynamic of the arm detrimentally by altering the counterweight. And now what of the arm's EM. That might have altered enough to be a mismatch for the cart.

Mike.

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by bra10n » 23 Dec 2018 09:27

Hi Alan,

Yes thinking about it now I'm confident I'll get what I'm after with a better phono pre.

Re the VTF, it is what Peter @ Soundsmith recommends. In fact on the box it shipped with he's noted VTF MIN: 1.1 gms. When I asked about running it between 1.25 - 1.5 gms I distinctly remember I got a short pause... and he said run it at 1.1 gms :lol: I definitely don't need a headshell weight! I can set VTF to whatever I want with this arm/weight combo. Also the set up is ideal AFAIK with the weight close to the pivot point thus not adding weight to the arm's effective mass.

I ran the specs through the resonance calc here on VE and got 8Hz as lateral resonance of the cart which is bang on with both the arm specs (9.5gms) and cart data (6 gms and 25 × 10 -6 cm / dyne). The 8Hz was also confirmed with the HiFi News test record so I see nothing wrong with this marriage!

Anyway spent the afternoon micro-tuning lol. Slight adjustment to A/S and VTA over several hours. Anyone looking for material to set A/S with I've found it:
15906-visage.jpg
(46.74 KiB) Downloaded 208 times
I can well agree with your sentiments on this arm here also. There's just a relaxed calmness to the presentation over the previous arm... control? well yes, but it is more a swagger / competent feeling. I've not had any issues with the bass from this arm either, tight and defined. TBH it's what triggered me into thinking of the current pre as the culprit as the bass seems a tad overdone ATM.

Re the Slee I can also audition an Accession / PSU1 on the loan offer which is the one I think I'll go for.

Hope you are well!

cheers

D

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by bra10n » 23 Dec 2018 09:34

Woodbrains wrote:
23 Dec 2018 09:19
bra10n wrote:
23 Dec 2018 01:44

Headshell weights shouldn't be required IMO.

For the record cart and hardware weight is 6g and with the counterweight stripped of the layers of lead .........
Hello,

You do realise that the lead layers are designed to semi de-couple the counterweight from the stub (only the lead is touches the stub, holding the SS away from contacting it by a small gap). Also, the lead and SS forms a sandwich of dissimilar resonators to aid damping the counter weight. I can't help but think you have altered the dynamic of the arm detrimentally by altering the counterweight. And now what of the arm's EM. That might have altered enough to be a mismatch for the cart.

Mike.
I ran this by Jeff prior to purchasing and he suggested (he knew :lol: ) that at least one lead disc would need to be removed. Re decoupling he also provides copper discs for this reason I'd say. It is possible though so I might snap a pic of what is and run it by him again and see what he says. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by Woodbrains » 23 Dec 2018 10:05

bra10n wrote:
23 Dec 2018 09:34
Woodbrains wrote:
23 Dec 2018 09:19
bra10n wrote:
23 Dec 2018 01:44

Headshell weights shouldn't be required IMO.

For the record cart and hardware weight is 6g and with the counterweight stripped of the layers of lead .........
Hello,

You do realise that the lead layers are designed to semi de-couple the counterweight from the stub (only the lead is touches the stub, holding the SS away from contacting it by a small gap). Also, the lead and SS forms a sandwich of dissimilar resonators to aid damping the counter weight. I can't help but think you have altered the dynamic of the arm detrimentally by altering the counterweight. And now what of the arm's EM. That might have altered enough to be a mismatch for the cart.

Mike.
I ran this by Jeff prior to purchasing and he suggested (he knew :lol: ) that at least one lead disc would need to be removed. Re decoupling he also provides copper discs for this reason I'd say. It is possible though so I might snap a pic of what is and run it by him again and see what he says. Thanks for the suggestion.
Hello,

Be sure to post Jeff's reply, it will be useful for future reference for all who own these arms.

I don't believe the copper is for de-coupling, just another layer of dissimilar damping material and extra weight if it is needed. The lead is made to touch the stub by the torque on the counterweight assembly bolts. The SS is bored ever so slightly oversize, so would rattle a bit on the stub. The lead bulges slightly inside the CW bore, so reduces the bore slightly at the lead intersections; only the lead touches the stub.

Mike.

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by Cloudbase » 23 Dec 2018 10:17

" Re the VTF, it is what Peter @ Soundsmith recommends. In fact on the box it shipped with he's noted VTF MIN: 1.1 gms. When I asked about running it between 1.25 - 1.5 gms I distinctly remember I got a short pause... and he said run it at 1.1 gms :lol: I definitely don't need a headshell weight! I can set VTF to whatever I want with this arm/weight combo. Also the set up is ideal AFAIK with the weight close to the pivot point thus not adding weight to the arm's effective mass.

I ran the specs through the resonance calc here on VE and got 8Hz as lateral resonance of the cart which is bang on with both the arm specs (9.5gms) and cart data (6 gms and 25 × 10 -6 cm / dyne). The 8Hz was also confirmed with the HiFi News test record so I see nothing wrong with this marriage!
"

That's good Dennis sounds like your on top of the job and the Audiomods arm is undoubtedly a nice bit of kit.

Were all good here, merry Christmas from a wet n miserable blighty. :D

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by sysynn » 23 Dec 2018 11:19

bra10n wrote:
23 Dec 2018 09:27
I ran the specs through the resonance calc here on VE and got 8Hz as lateral resonance of the cart which is bang on with both the arm specs (9.5gms) and cart data (6 gms and 25 × 10 -6 cm / dyne).
You are very smart.
8.08 Hz is correct resonance frequency.

VE resonance calc uses Ortofon's suggestion.

The equation is very simple as below;

Freq = 159.1542/sqrt(M*C)

Considering additional weight of screw & bolt (1.5g, etc), VE cal result gives lower freq than actual.
So, if want to use VE resonance calc, should not add fixture weight on total EM estimation.
But, depending on the weight of additional fixture, it always does not guarantee reliable result.

I remember, another formula was once suggested with implementation example in the other thread.
Damn, it was disappear silently without any notice and discussion.

M(effective mass) = CW * [(x/el)+(x/el)^2]

where CW: counterweight mass, x: mass center location of CW at balancing position, el: effective length of tonearm
^2: square


Re: adding weights on headshell & CW

That is just simple empirical trials, it may improve vibration response at the headshell location,
But does not guarantee optimal stable value obtained from modal analysis.

Also Increase in total weight of tonearm affects on rigid body dynamics and give another effect as shown in
brian's visage picture above.

It is well known to tonearm designer that
for 9 inch tonearm, around 8 g is the bottleneck of implementation catridge weight.

That is why long tonearm is used in heavy catridge implementation.

Sorry for high jacking in this thread

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Re: Tonearm upgrade but not all carts reflecting improvement

Post by sysynn » 23 Dec 2018 11:49

I would like to suggest precise alignment of catridge instead of adding weight.
Especially Accurate effective length is very important. Measure accurate P2S (pivot to spindle) and make good protractor.
As far as I know, Audio mod tonearm is based on the geometry of REGA RB300; stevenson arc, 22 degree offset angle, IEC inner & outer radius.

Hope this may help you. Wish Merry Christmas to all

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