It’s not like it’s an emergency or anything, but at some point, some day, I’m going to want to upgrade the tonearm on my Dr. Feickert Blackbird turntable. It shipped with this modified 10.5″ Jelco tonearm, which is probably fine, and I’m only qualifying that because I’ve never heard a different arm on it. But still, I’d like to have a “nicer” arm on it at some point.
Luckily for the shopoholic in me, there are only about 5.2 Million choices, should I so choose to explore them.
I really do believe the Blackbird to be a superior table. So, naturally, I want the ‘arm to be of similar quality. This, of course, means it’s gonna be expensive. [Insert wince here]. Okay, well, at least I’m open-eyed, right?
Here’s a short list of ‘arms that have caught my eye:
- Audio Origami PU7. ~$3000.
- Graham B44 Phantom II. ~$5000.
- Tri-Planar Ultimate. ~$5000.
- Reed 2P. ~$5000.
- Durand Talea 2. ~$8000.
The pricing on these things are a bit nutty. A Da Vinci Grandeeza Grand Reference starts well over $10k. I’ve eliminated this arm as a matter of course, and set a totally arbitrary price limit of “less than a Da Vinci”. Honestly, I have no intention of spending $8k either, but the Talea was really fine looking (and sounding) at RMAF, so I figured I’d leave it on the list. I have a suspicion that, much like Merlin or Joule-Electra, no one buys a Durand at anywhere near MSRP.
Most interesting to me is the arm I haven’t listed — the supposedly forthcoming arms from Dr. Feickert. I figured I’d have the best match, right out of the box, and given their commitment to over performing for their price point, the$3,500 price target should compete well into the “audiophile” zone that the Tri-Planar and Graham dominate.
There are two odd-ball contenders, the Audio Origami and the Reed. Both are very nice ‘arms, and both get rave reviews from owners. I’ve actually seen a Reed (last year at RMAF), and I think they’re awesome. The headshell azimuth adjustment is dynamite. And did I mention that they have a version that has a laser? Yeah. Fuck “ruler flat”, lets shoot for “laser flat”. Ahem.
Well, this purchase is at least 3-5 months away, I figure — I want to give the Feickert a chance to hit the market, first. But I woke up this morning daydreaming about finely made machinery, so naturally my thoughts turned to tonearms.
Yeah. I know. I have a problem.