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Question Arm Upgrade

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
For years I have been using a SME 3009 mkII arm with detachable head, I rewired it a year back and this helped to give greater control over the tracking as it made the arm much easier to pivot, anyone who know this arm will know it has a knife bearing for the vertical movement it is crude, friction being the problem. I use PTFE spray lube to help and as said before the arm has been rewired. The arm is mounted on a highly modified Thorens TD160 mkII.
I have listened to a new Rega P3 with RB330 arm and while its good it is not as good as my TD160 and SME3009 arm, having said that I know that the arm is at its limit as when using an Ortofon test record I can determine that the vertical arm test is the arms down fall, no matter what adjustments I make I just cannot get it to track better.

So I am looking to fit a new arm and the one that seems to work well on a Thorens TD160 is the Rega RB220 or RB330. Mounting boards are around for this setup so it should not be a problem.

Question is will the Rega RB330 be better and or is there another arm that would work well at around the same price that I have missed. one things for sure I won't get to demo this set up, its going to be in for a penny or in for a pound and see how it ends.

Cartridge, Goldring 1040.
 

Al ears

Moderator
For years I have been using a SME 3009 mkII arm with detachable head, I rewired it a year back and this helped to give greater control over the tracking as it made the arm much easier to pivot, anyone who know this arm will know it has a knife bearing for the vertical movement it is crude, friction being the problem. I use PTFE spray lube to help and as said before the arm has been rewired. The arm is mounted on a highly modified Thorens TD160 mkII.
I have listened to a new Rega P3 with RB330 arm and while its good it is not as good as my TD160 and SME3009 arm, having said that I know that the arm is at its limit as when using an Ortofon test record I can determine that the vertical arm test is the arms down fall, no matter what adjustments I make I just cannot get it to track better.

So I am looking to fit a new arm and the one that seems to work well on a Thorens TD160 is the Rega RB220 or RB330. Mounting boards are around for this setup so it should not be a problem.

Question is will the Rega RB330 be better and or is there another arm that would work well at around the same price that I have missed. one things for sure I won't get to demo this set up, its going to be in for a penny or in for a pound and see how it ends.

Cartridge, Goldring 1040.
Interesting, are you going to sell on the SME?
I think the RB330 could possibly be bettered for a little more cash and would suggest you look at the Origin Live Onyx tonearm.
 

daytona600

Well-known member
Oct 5, 2012
252
127
19,070
Rega arms are fixed geometry with no adjustment for VTA / Azimith
as AL mentioned better options from Origin Live , Funk Firm or , Groovemaster if you wish a detachable headshell depends on your budget
SME stopped selling tonearms & these are rare & price will only go up if in good condition
 
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Al ears

Moderator
Rega arms are fixed geometry with no adjustment for VTA / Azimith
as AL mentioned better options from Origin Live , Funk Firm or , Groovemaster if you wish a detachable headshell depends on your budget
SME stopped selling tonearms & these are rare & price will only go up if in good condition
Whilst excellent I think the likes of Funk Firm might be outside of the OPs budget which is why I mentioned Origin Live. The RB330 is only £375
 

Al ears

Moderator
Funk F5/F6/F7 arms are under £400 & £600 for complete deck like in Gett
https://theaudiophileman.com/gett/
Sorry, understand your article but from what I read he is looking for an arm to fit his Thorens and not a whole new turntable, and that is why I replied as I did.
That turntable does make sense if starting from scratch, the F7 on its own is £495 and looks good, still £120 more expensive than the Rega but if OP can stretch that far it's well worth considering..
I was notable aware of the F7. I thought their cheapest was the F5.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
 

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
Interesting, are you going to sell on the SME?
I think the RB330 could possibly be bettered for a little more cash and would suggest you look at the Origin Live Onyx tonearm.
Yes if the new arm is better then I will sell the arm.
Not sure about the Onix but its around the right price.
Thank you for pointing me in the direction of Origin, Its tough.
 

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
Rega arms are fixed geometry with no adjustment for VTA / Azimith
as AL mentioned better options from Origin Live , Funk Firm or , Groovemaster if you wish a detachable headshell depends on your budget
SME stopped selling tonearms & these are rare & price will only go up if in good condition
The Rega RB330 is fixed but will fit without any problems the VTA is adjustable via Rega packing spacers that use the same three point fixing as the arm.
Never heard of Funk Firm but had a look at the arms, the prices start at £495 for the F7 (don't like that) and £700 + for the F5 that will fit, That F5 price brings it into play with many arms including Thorens TP92 an arm that has very good reviews.
its going to be dificult to decide but thank you for the advice.
 

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
Sorry, understand your article but from what I read he is looking for an arm to fit his Thorens and not a whole new turntable, and that is why I replied as I did.
That turntable does make sense if starting from scratch, the F7 on its own is £495 and looks good, still £120 more expensive than the Rega but if OP can stretch that far it's well worth considering..
I was notable aware of the F7. I thought their cheapest was the F5.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Its all about what is considered to be a good arm, the SME3009 has a poor bearing design in the knife blade, The REGA 330 is a known arm of good design that will probably track better allowing a more refined sound I hope.
Both the Onix and F5 look like good arms and both manufactures provide lots of reviews, so its time to do some reading to see if one can see the light through the reviewers mindset. Thanks.
 

Al ears

Moderator
Its all about what is considered to be a good arm, the SME3009 has a poor bearing design in the knife blade, The REGA 330 is a known arm of good design that will probably track better allowing a more refined sound I hope.
Both the Onix and F5 look like good arms and both manufactures provide lots of reviews, so its time to do some reading to see if one can see the light through the reviewers mindset. Thanks.
Yes, research is the name of the game and we are here to help.
Whilst the Rega is a good arm it can be bettered by others that offer more functions like VTA adjustment (as daytona 600 pointed out) that certainly helps with potential future cartridge upgrades. The Rega spacers only offer three options I believe, not good if you need something in between whatever they offer and the three-point fixing again limits potential upgrades.
However, if you're set on buying one do not let me put you off.
For what it's worth, if in good condition, you could expect something between £350 - £375 for your SME.
 

panzrwagn

Active member
Oct 9, 2020
2
1
25
Unless the mounting geometry is exactly the same, you will need a new armboard for the RB330. As others have mentioned, the VTA and azimuth are not adjustable, and so you will need to engineer the mounting (Using a 3rd-party VTA Adjustment Base) and/or the armboard according to the requirements of your cartridge. Having been around the Shibata and microline stylus shapes since they were invented, two observations: they are extremely sensitive to alignment in all 3 axes, usually to the detriment of the treble performance (harsh, spitty, etc.) and they work much better in longer arms where tracking error is less. For most people a .2 X .7 micron elliptical will be far more 'livable' on a broader range of of vinyl. It may not have the last word in detail 'extraction', especially compared to a microline stylus, but it will be a sin of omission, not commission.

Regarding the RB330, it is justly recognized great design (VTA, et al adjustments notwithstanding) but one of its greatest features is rarely mentioned - the spring loaded tracking force. This was also a feature of Dual turntables 50 years ago, and they had a well deserved reputation for tracking warped records better than any gravity-based design save a couple of silicon fluid damped arms. Modern 180-ish gram vinyl rarely warps unless seriously mishandled, but if you play a lot of vintage vinyl, this will matter, as will the more conservative stylus recommendation.

Finally, in a suspended table like a TD-160 (or a Linn) replacing the arm and mounting may mean rebalancing the underside springs to keep things level. It's not that difficult, if a bit tedious, but necessary. A sagging mount may cause skating or other tracking issues.
 
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DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
Unless the mounting geometry is exactly the same, you will need a new armboard for the RB330. As others have mentioned, the VTA and azimuth are not adjustable, and so you will need to engineer the mounting (Using a 3rd-party VTA Adjustment Base) and/or the armboard according to the requirements of your cartridge. Having been around the Shibata and microline stylus shapes since they were invented, two observations: they are extremely sensitive to alignment in all 3 axes, usually to the detriment of the treble performance (harsh, spitty, etc.) and they work much better in longer arms where tracking error is less. For most people a .2 X .7 micron elliptical will be far more 'livable' on a broader range of of vinyl. It may not have the last word in detail 'extraction', especially compared to a microline stylus, but it will be a sin of omission, not commission.

Regarding the RB330, it is justly recognized great design (VTA, et al adjustments notwithstanding) but one of its greatest features is rarely mentioned - the spring loaded tracking force. This was also a feature of Dual turntables 50 years ago, and they had a well deserved reputation for tracking warped records better than any gravity-based design save a couple of silicon fluid damped arms. Modern 180-ish gram vinyl rarely warps unless seriously mishandled, but if you play a lot of vintage vinyl, this will matter, as will the more conservative stylus recommendation.

Finally, in a suspended table like a TD-160 (or a Linn) replacing the arm and mounting may mean rebalancing the underside springs to keep things level. It's not that difficult, if a bit tedious, but necessary. A sagging mount may cause skating or other tracking issues.
Thank you, first all my albums are flat having looked after them for the last 35 + plus years for the oldest ones.
second, setting up my highly modified TD160 is not a problem.
thirdly, the TD160 has no feet, instead its got a sheet of sorbothane covering the 10mm ply base that's placed directly onto a Atacama Calibration stand with the Atacama double glass shelf's as in a foam or rubber layer between the glass shelf, for all I know that could be sorbothane as well. That's all mounted on a solid concrete ground floor.
fourthly, those mods and the rewire of the arm are the biggest improvements I noticed. its far better that a Rega P3 when I tested it and my mates stock Linn Sondeck by some way.
My issue is the arms tracking under demand of a barrage of information, everything else is crystal clear clarity and massive amounts of information, instruments I had never heard before in the background, just amazed but looking to remove that small weakness.
 

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
Thank you all for you help.

I now have a list of arms I am willing to spend on, It is unfortunate that I cannot fit them all and chose the better one. So any information or help that you want to give please do as I find this an utter madness to spend money on something that may even not work on my deck.

Thorens TP 92 £729
Rega RB330 £375
Clear Audio Verify £790
Gold Note B-5.1 £840
The Funk Firm f5 II £699

The thing with the Rega is it would allow me to use a MC cartridge where as I would have to stay with the Goldring 1040 MM in one of the other arms. To my knowledge the SME 3009 mk II is not a good tracker with MC's.

thanks
 

Al ears

Moderator
If the Rega is going to be useful then go for that. Many of the others listed I have no idea what they are capable of.
Much depends on which cartridge you intend to use as tonearms can work well or not so well with the weight / compliance of the cartridge you intend to use with it.
Suggest some more homework on arms effective mass and cartridge compatibility is required.
This might help:-
 

panzrwagn

Active member
Oct 9, 2020
2
1
25
So let's back up to the basics for a moment. Arms don't track, a stylus, suspended in the cartridge does. the arm supplies a platform on which a cartridge is mounted. That platform is faced with two conflicting requirements: infinite mass relative to the motion of the stylus in the groove, and zero friction relative to the spiral motion of the groove. The arm/ cartridge geometry must also provide minimal tracing error across the arc of the playing surface, and no 'slop' from the arm bearings, or resonances from the entire arm/mount/platter/bearing system, any of which, when triggered, cloud the detail available from the record.

Finally, the we arrive at the cartridge. The magic in cartridge design is the minimizing the impact of the tradeoffs inherent in the design decisions. Stylus shape - conical styli are very 'forgiving' of alignments and tracing errors, but leave a lot of higher frequency detail unrecovered. Shibata and microline designs, with their sharper edge profile and deeper groove penetration recover that detail, but are very sensitive to setup alignment and tracing error, often sounding harsh or 'glaring'. They work best in longer tonearms (e.g. >10") with inherently lower tracing error.

The cantilever in which the stylus is mounted is subject to any number of resonances setup by the combination of tip mass, material selection and construction (aluminum, boron, straight, tapered, etc.) and the cantilever suspension material. At the end of the cantilever is either a magnet, a coil, or an iron which when wiggled by the stylus tracking a record groove generates an electric current. The strength of that current is determined by the strength of the magnetic field generated by system. With most moving magnet and moving iron cartridges, that's on the order of a couple millivolts, with moving coils, it's much less. High output moving coil cartridges use higher powered magnets (adding mass) or more coils (adding inductance and resistance) or some of each. Inductance is probably the most misunderstood and least discussed physical parameter in phono cartridges, but in my experience, one of the most impactful on dynamics, focus, and the other 'ephemeral' characteristics.

In electromagnetism and electronics, inductance is the tendency of an electrical conductor to oppose a change in the electric current flowing through it. measured in Henrys or milliHenrys for cartridges. Here the math gets pretty complex, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductance#Self-inductance_of_a_wire_loop ) so I'll simplify it this way: high inductance cartridges resist changes in current more than low inductance. They also have greater hysteresis. Hysteresis in this case is `defined as a dynamic lag between an input and an output which disappears if the input is varied more slowly. In other words complex details from the groove, even if tracked by the cartridge, are lost because of the delay in changes of output due to hysteresis in the magnetic signal generator. In a word or two, this results in smear or lack of focus. This is not high frequency response, that's a static measurement. This is the ability of the cartridge output to vary rapidly irrespective of frequency. Much harder to measure.

So, consider the Ortofon 2M Red - very forgiving stylus profile, relatively high inductance, and thus high output moving magnet cartridge for a very reasonable cost. A collection of well conceived and executed design, engineering, economic decisions and mitigations. Well done. Who doesn't appreciate what Ortofon has delivered for $100? But not the last word in resolution, dynamics, detail, focus, etc, etc.

So now let's consider the Hana SL and SH moving coils. also well-regarded, they should, and do, have a better tracing stylus, lower moving mass, lower inductance, and thus greater resolution, dynamics, detail, focus, etc, etc. The SH variant necessarily gives up some of that for higher output. How much - that depends on the system as a whole, including setup and all the other physical considerations I mentioned.

Finally, let me mention the two cartridge manufacturers known for their moving iron (MI) designs - Grado and Soundsmith. If you are tracking (pun intended) with what I've been saying, low mass generators and low inductance electrical designs combined with reasonable compliance, should yield an optimal combination of all the dynamic elements. If you read the reviews of the Grado Timbre Series or any Soundsmith cartridge, the case for the MI technology is well made. Combine that with the fact that Joe Grado invented, and holds patents on ,the moving coil cartridge, yet Grado doesn't make MC cartridges is telling.

The bottom line, as always, use your ears first. But when you are looking for specific performance elements, understanding the enabling physics sure helps shortlist those items most likely to deliver.
 

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
If the Rega is going to be useful then go for that. Many of the others listed I have no idea what they are capable of.
Much depends on which cartridge you intend to use as tonearms can work well or not so well with the weight / compliance of the cartridge you intend to use with it.
Suggest some more homework on arms effective mass and cartridge compatibility is required.
This might help:-
Well that's opened my eyes, I run through those arms I listed and looked at Cartridges that would work with them, its not easy to get recommended cartridges to be in that green preferred band.
I looked at my own arm and cartridge, they work out to be in the yellow 12hz band but that 1040 Goldring is way out with all my listed arms and that throws a spanner in the works. To go with the Gold Note B-5.1 would mean having to spend a fair amount on a MC cartridge pushing the price into the £1200s.

The Rega makes the most sense, but the more I read about the Gold Note arm and there decks the more I like the idea, maybe I should hold fire and find some time to go down to a Gold Note dealers and have a listen,
 

Al ears

Moderator
Well that's opened my eyes, I run through those arms I listed and looked at Cartridges that would work with them, its not easy to get recommended cartridges to be in that green preferred band.
I looked at my own arm and cartridge, they work out to be in the yellow 12hz band but that 1040 Goldring is way out with all my listed arms and that throws a spanner in the works. To go with the Gold Note B-5.1 would mean having to spend a fair amount on a MC cartridge pushing the price into the £1200s.

The Rega makes the most sense, but the more I read about the Gold Note arm and there decks the more I like the idea, maybe I should hold fire and find some time to go down to a Gold Note dealers and have a listen,
Interesting. You're right in that cartridges do not have to be in the green band to work, this is simply an ideal. Mine is actually in the yellow band.
Perhaps a modified Rega like the Audiomods tonearm might suit your need,or indeed Origin Live. I wouldn't be pushed down the Moving Coil route just because I couldn't find an ideal Moving Magnet, that's an expensive route to take.
Don't know too much about Gold Note but surely their arm is made to work with their own cartridges.
 

DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
So let's back up to the basics for a moment. Arms don't track, a stylus, suspended in the cartridge does. the arm supplies a platform on which a cartridge is mounted. That platform is faced with two conflicting requirements: infinite mass relative to the motion of the stylus in the groove, and zero friction relative to the spiral motion of the groove. The arm/ cartridge geometry must also provide minimal tracing error across the arc of the playing surface, and no 'slop' from the arm bearings, or resonances from the entire arm/mount/platter/bearing system, any of which, when triggered, cloud the detail available from the record.

Finally, the we arrive at the cartridge. The magic in cartridge design is the minimizing the impact of the tradeoffs inherent in the design decisions. Stylus shape - conical styli are very 'forgiving' of alignments and tracing errors, but leave a lot of higher frequency detail unrecovered. Shibata and microline designs, with their sharper edge profile and deeper groove penetration recover that detail, but are very sensitive to setup alignment and tracing error, often sounding harsh or 'glaring'. They work best in longer tonearms (e.g. >10") with inherently lower tracing error.

The cantilever in which the stylus is mounted is subject to any number of resonances setup by the combination of tip mass, material selection and construction (aluminum, boron, straight, tapered, etc.) and the cantilever suspension material. At the end of the cantilever is either a magnet, a coil, or an iron which when wiggled by the stylus tracking a record groove generates an electric current. The strength of that current is determined by the strength of the magnetic field generated by system. With most moving magnet and moving iron cartridges, that's on the order of a couple millivolts, with moving coils, it's much less. High output moving coil cartridges use higher powered magnets (adding mass) or more coils (adding inductance and resistance) or some of each. Inductance is probably the most misunderstood and least discussed physical parameter in phono cartridges, but in my experience, one of the most impactful on dynamics, focus, and the other 'ephemeral' characteristics.

In electromagnetism and electronics, inductance is the tendency of an electrical conductor to oppose a change in the electric current flowing through it. measured in Henrys or milliHenrys for cartridges. Here the math gets pretty complex, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductance#Self-inductance_of_a_wire_loop ) so I'll simplify it this way: high inductance cartridges resist changes in current more than low inductance. They also have greater hysteresis. Hysteresis in this case is `defined as a dynamic lag between an input and an output which disappears if the input is varied more slowly. In other words complex details from the groove, even if tracked by the cartridge, are lost because of the delay in changes of output due to hysteresis in the magnetic signal generator. In a word or two, this results in smear or lack of focus. This is not high frequency response, that's a static measurement. This is the ability of the cartridge output to vary rapidly irrespective of frequency. Much harder to measure.

So, consider the Ortofon 2M Red - very forgiving stylus profile, relatively high inductance, and thus high output moving magnet cartridge for a very reasonable cost. A collection of well conceived and executed design, engineering, economic decisions and mitigations. Well done. Who doesn't appreciate what Ortofon has delivered for $100? But not the last word in resolution, dynamics, detail, focus, etc, etc.

So now let's consider the Hana SL and SH moving coils. also well-regarded, they should, and do, have a better tracing stylus, lower moving mass, lower inductance, and thus greater resolution, dynamics, detail, focus, etc, etc. The SH variant necessarily gives up some of that for higher output. How much - that depends on the system as a whole, including setup and all the other physical considerations I mentioned.

Finally, let me mention the two cartridge manufacturers known for their moving iron (MI) designs - Grado and Soundsmith. If you are tracking (pun intended) with what I've been saying, low mass generators and low inductance electrical designs combined with reasonable compliance, should yield an optimal combination of all the dynamic elements. If you read the reviews of the Grado Timbre Series or any Soundsmith cartridge, the case for the MI technology is well made. Combine that with the fact that Joe Grado invented, and holds patents on ,the moving coil cartridge, yet Grado doesn't make MC cartridges is telling.

The bottom line, as always, use your ears first. But when you are looking for specific performance elements, understanding the enabling physics sure helps shortlist those items most likely to deliver.
Well that really opened my eye's, a load of food for thought, an education to help me on my way, thank you.
 
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DELBOY14

Well-known member
May 6, 2017
33
14
4,545
Interesting. You're right in that cartridges do not have to be in the green band to work, this is simply an ideal. Mine is actually in the yellow band.
Perhaps a modified Rega like the Audiomods tonearm might suit your need,or indeed Origin Live. I wouldn't be pushed down the Moving Coil route just because I couldn't find an ideal Moving Magnet, that's an expensive route to take.
Don't know too much about Gold Note but surely their arm is made to work with their own cartridges.
Don't know too much about Gold Note but surely their arm is made to work with their own cartridges.
Hopefully i will find out soon, I am planning to have a little listen.
 
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