Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

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readargos
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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by readargos » 05 Dec 2017 16:52

Over the weekend, I had time fill the trough with fluid and do listening comparisons. Albums initially chosen for the comparison were Santana “Abraxas” (Music on Vinyl), Rickie Lee Jones “Pirates” (MoFi), and Martha Argerich Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto (Clearaudio).

“Singing Winds, Crying Beasts,” the impressionistic opener on “Abraxas,” features chimes, piano, bass, and drums, along with Santana’s searing guitar licks. I have this album on MoFi CD, SACD, Music on Vinyl, and Sundazed vinyl (not to mention an unopened copy of the MoFi Ultradisc One Step), and it sounds largely the same on all versions: The chimes tend to sound a bit hot, the bass very full and ripe. Using the trough didn’t really cure the hotness of the chimes, but it did open up the soundstage, so all the musical elements were more rooted, with more space between them. The bass seemed slightly tighter, better defined, and more grounded. It was a bit larger and more floaty before implementing the trough.

“Pirates” is a MoFi reissue that just hasn’t sounded good on the RPM 10.1. Acrylic platters are broadly neutral and highly detailed, but criticized for some extra upper midband energy, which some people call a ringing. I hear it, especially in direct comparison to other platters and mats, but it’s usually not an issue for me. I prefer acrylic’s strengths over most platter materials I’ve experienced at home. (The Groovetracer delrin on the Rega deserves more evaluation.) But with “Pirates” on the RPM 10.1, the birdlike warble of Jone’s voice, the Ortofon 2M Black, the ringing of the acrylic, and the resonance of the 10cc EVO all seem to combine to make the lyrics virtually unintelligible. I have other Jones albums with which this hasn’t been an issue on the 10.1, and I have admittedly not tried other cartridges on the 10.1 since the album came into my collection. At any rate, the trough took great strides in making the lyrics more intelligible, and making Jone’s sound more human. Otherwise, this was already a pretty good sounding album with jazzy accompaniment and good frequency extension, but, as with “Abraxas,” the trough opened up the soundstage, and kept the individual elements more rooted with more space between them.

Finally, the Agerich Prokofiev, which I believe was one of Harry Pearson’s superdiscs, and has long been a Jonathan Valin reference, as well. Unfortunately, I have never found the sound to be all that super in my setup. The perspective is more mid-hall, and I guess I’m a sucker for a more up-front sound. It will be no surprise when I say that the trough yielded a much more grounded presentation for the orchestra, with the soloist standing just proud of the rest, and a good bit more separation and differentiation within the orchestra. It was easier to follow everything that was going on.

I continued to listen to albums over the weekend, not doing direct comparisons, but choosing albums with whose sound I was familiar within the context of my current setup. The impressions were consistent. The bass was less big and blowzy, but tighter, more grounded, and more solid. There was greater background quiet, with more space to be heard within the soundstage and between instruments. All performers, whether instrumental or human, were better differentiated and more solidly rooted within the stage. Consequently, I found greater naturalness and listening ease. The presentation was less mechanical.

In my view, any diminution of high-frequency output was more than countered by the greater naturalness and openness, and therefore greater sense of transparency, from the trough. I was hoping for less surface noise from the vinyl itself, or a mitigation of ticks and pops, but I didn’t really find that. Albums that I expected to have some noise remained noisy, so the trough isn't going to seem to improve the physical condition of one's vinyl collection.

If you look at moon unit’s write-up, he reported largely the same effects as I have. I followed his instructions and put the screw about 15 minutes (on a clock face) into the silicone using a 180g record. Obviously, with thinner records, I will get a bit more trough, and with the 200g reissues from Analog Productions, I will get a bit less trough, but it seemed a happy medium with all the records I have so far played.

My kit did not come with the allen keys that are pictured in moon unit’s photo of the kit, or in the photo that appear within the current instruction manual. Fortunately, I had a kit with small enough keys.

The kit isn't make or break, but it is a worthwhile upgrade that will get more out of the arm. If your choice is between getting a new cartridge and getting the kit, I would recommend getting the cartridge first (I am a fan of the Shure M97xe for a cheap audiophile cartridge that punches somewhat above its weigh, and have used one on both my Pro-Ject and my Rega). If your choice is between better phono cables and the kit, I would probably favor the kit. Moon unit criticized the cost, but if you've ever looked at getting parts machined at a machine shop (e.g., for your own DIY turntable design), then you might find the price more reasonable. The design work has been done for you, and you're not likely to build something better yourself that both works as well and looks as good. It blends in with the tonearm and the 'table, it looks stock, it fits both the 9cc and 10cc 'arms, and it even works with the larger bearing yoke on the EVO generation of the cc arms.

I will try to upload a few photos later.

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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by Budddhacide » 05 Dec 2017 22:43

Great review. Cheers.

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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by moon unit » 06 Dec 2017 05:17

Very nice and well-written review readargos.

At 25-30 in you would have noticed a reduction in surface noise but at the expense of some high-frequency extension. Some of my brighter albums though really benefit from 25 in.

Just for the record I never criticized the cost of the kit, in fact I stated that it was well worth the $175 price and if I knew what it was going to do beforehand I would have paid more.

readargos
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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by readargos » 06 Dec 2017 20:34

moon unit wrote:Very nice and well-written review readargos.

At 25-30 in you would have noticed a reduction in surface noise but at the expense of some high-frequency extension. Some of my brighter albums though really benefit from 25 in.

Just for the record I never criticized the cost of the kit, in fact I stated that it was well worth the $175 price and if I knew what it was going to do beforehand I would have paid more.
Thank you for starting the thread and getting a number of us on board. I re-read your instructions and recommendations throughout the thread before completing the installation. I didn't mean to misinterpret your view on pricing. Glad for the clarification.

I should reiterate the wisdom of using less silicone fluid when first filling the trough. You'll probably need about half what you think you need. It takes a good 5-10 minutes to settle in and fully disburse, depending on the ambient temperature of your listening room.

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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by Big Al » 20 Dec 2017 11:18

Would love to see some photos of the trough fitted to the 10cc Evo Readargos as I quite fancy adding one on my Extension 10. Are you still happy with the changes?
Has anyone found a supplier for the trough in the UK?

readargos
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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by readargos » 21 Dec 2017 23:17

Here are a few images. (Digital cameras really emphasize the dust!) It doesn't show the whole 'table. I focused on the mounting and the oversize bearing yolk to show that you have enough clearance with a little by of wiggle room.
Attachments
A1.jpg
Front 3/4 View
(69.01000000000001 KiB) Downloaded 204 times
B1.jpg
Overhead View
(94.3 KiB) Downloaded 181 times
C`.jpg
Overhead Closeup
(73.40000000000001 KiB) Downloaded 183 times

Big Al
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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by Big Al » 24 Dec 2017 09:00

Many thanks. A close fit!

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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by Big Al » 19 Apr 2019 12:19

I finally got around to buying the Oracle silicon damping kit for the Project 9cc/Evo and 10 Evo arms. It is still available here in the UK and the price remains under £200. When I first fitted it I found it difficult to hear differences but having now lived with it for some weeks now the improvement is obvious. Thanks to everyone on this thread for the advice. I have it dialled in at ‘30’. My system is Xtension 10/ Ortofon quintet black / Primare R32/I32 and Spendor S6e’s. Last year I added a REL S3 subwoofer which I rate as the single biggest upgrade in sound quality I have ever achieved. The damping kit has been the icing on this cake. Listened to Joan Armatrading’s Me Myself I yesterday. My jaw is still on the floor. What a great hobby!

Alec124c41
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Re: Oracle silicone damping kit for 9cc arms

Post by Alec124c41 » 26 Apr 2019 06:01

Purnendu wrote:
13 Jan 2012 17:46
Hi and thanks for the info.
While the particular cart mentioned may be more than a bit on the stiffer side, I suspect that the damping trough would be useful for the more marginal cases. The denon dl 110 woul probably benefit from it but not the dl 103. The Zyx's and the Benz's would also perform better perhaps. The 9cc is indeed very light and there are a lot of good cartridges which are just on the stiffer side for an ideal compliance match i.e. between 9 to 11.

Whenever you have had time to listen to the trough, do send us thoughts.

P
The DL-110 is more compliant than the DL-103, but I would think that a 10 gram arm would still be on the light side for it, straight up. The DL-103 would be better on an arm with close to double that mass.
I haven't played around with damping very much, so can't say how well it can compensate. If it helps the DL-110, the DL-103 would certainly need it more.

Cheers,
Alec

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