E&OE Copyright 2010-
Tonearms up to £699
The RB202 is the successor to the classic RB250 tonearm, famed for its remarkable sound at an incredibly low price point. The RB202 uses their latest arm tube design which was made possible thanks to the latest computer modelling technology, which allowed them to reshape the arm tube and reduce mass from the headshell end and have a more flowing, organic shape near the bearing housing.
Initial auditioning suggests that this is a seriously worthy replacement for the RB250, it combines the precision of this classic arm with a more transparent and colourful midrange making it an absolute steal at this price level.
Rega RB202 tonearm: £198.00
The Rega RB303 is quite possibly one of those landmark products that comes along only once in a blue moon. Its true predecessor, the RB300, revolutionised budget tonearm performance when it was launched in 1983 and became the standard against which all others were judged. The RB303 seems to have gone a serious step further, and it appears to be thanks to an improvement to what makes the classic Rega tonearms so special -
The results based on early listening are something of a revelation, the sound is more immediate, cleaner and the slight greyness that Rega arms have always exhibited appears to have gone too. Now I’m not rubbishing the sound of the old arm, it was and is a giant killer, its limitations were fairly benign and never a real issue with sane priced system combinations, but they were identifiable and repeatable. However the RB303 seems to have addressed these few weak points and in doing so moved the benchmark for budget tonearms on a huge leap further.
Rega RB303 tonearm: £348.00
The RB808 tonearm from Rega takes the design seen in the RB202 and RB3030 to the next level. Like those arms it uses their latest arm tube design, and adds a more rigid metal arm base, a special, thicker, coating on the tube (which serves to damp the arm more than the normal powder coating) and very precisely set bearings giving exceptional freedom to movement. To finish it off a low capacitance Rega cable is externally.
Rega RB808 tonearm: £598
Michell TecnoArm A
The TecnoArm A is another modified RB250, but Michell’s upgrades are some of the most comprehensive and certainly the best executed that we’ve come across.
The attention to detail includes an arm tube that is drilled on its underside to reduce mass and resonance’s. The underside of the headshell is then machined to ensure its absolutely level and finally the whole tube is bead blasted.
The wiring is replaced with very high quality pure silver cable from Deskadel which runs in one continuous piece from the cartridge tags to the phono plugs (both sets of connectors are naturally silver plated).
The counterweight is the beautifully engineered Tecnoweight which is marked to every 0.1 gramme so tracking force can be setup without a stylus balance. Finally a VTA adjuster and finger nut is included for decks with a suitable armboard allowing easy changes of vertical tracking angle to be made without tools (although the VTA adjuster can easily be removed for decks that don’t have the provision for it).
After all this work is completed the bearings are adjusted by hand by Rega trained engineers (unlike many of the modified Rega arms on the market) to ensure the best results.
The sound of the Tecnoarm A is extraordinary and ultimately will tell you more about the cartridge fitted to it than it will about itself. However what stands out is a level of detail retrieval and precision that few can match and none at this price level that we know about.
Note: New version now out, which features the new improved arm tube from Rega and 3 point fixing mounting, pictures and more details to follow shortly.
Michell Tecnoarm a: £665.00
Michell Tecnoarm a Black: in black paint finish £677.00
Nottingham Analogue Interspace
The Interspace tonearm is fantastic value for money. It combines an ultra light weight carbon fibre arm tube with a damped unipivot bearing and is in essence a scaled down version of the Ace Space arms (see below). As you’d expect from Nottingham Analogue the engineering is superb and the sound is fast, open and immediate.
Nottingham Analogue Interspace 9” tonearm: £640.00
New for 2011 is a new affordable tonearm design from Audio Note. These exquisitely made arms use a single piece of machined aluminium for the one piece arm tube/headshell, which is internally tapered to keep the arm both stiff and light. Another solid block of aluminium is machined to make the bearing housing which contains ‘captured unipivot’ bearings.
The arm uses the same geometry and fixings as Rega arms, so can be fitted to almost any deck, and thanks to a wonderfully simple and effective collar (pictured below), vta can easily and repeatedly be adjusted in tiny increments (there’s a clear marking for every 0.25mm increment).
At first the most striking thing about the sound of this arm is the sheer speed of transients, the leading edges of notes are captured brilliantly and seemingly not at the expense of their natural decay (as is often the case with many ‘fast’ sounding products). It has a very focused and tight sound, like it’s always in control but it doesn’t ‘sit on’ the music at all. In fact I it’s a very hard product to fault -
The arms are available in silver or black finished and the different models are identical except for the differing grades of Audio Note wiring used internally and externally (the Arm 1 is pictured and auditioned here).
Audio Note Arm 1 -
Audio Note Arm 2 -
Audio Note Arm 3 -