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Tonearms over £700

Audio Note Arm 1, Arm 2 and Arm 3

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 - all I could really come up with was that the finger lift doesn’t hook around your finger and so at times feels like it could slip off, but the superb lift/ower mechanism makes this redundant anyway. If you’re in the market for an arm at this level then you really should get an audition, I can think of no other arms that combines this level of precision, speed and musicality.

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 - Copper internal wiring and external wiring (external wire is Audio Note AN-A): £POA

Audio Note Arm 2 - Silver internal wiring and silver Audio Note AN-V external wire: £POA

Audio Note Arm 3 - Silver internal wiring and silver Audio Note AN-Vx external wire: £POA

Nottingham Analogue Ace Space

The Ace Space tonearm is a beautifully hand crafted design. It features an ultra light weight carbon fibre arm tube and uses a damped unipivot bearing. This damping means this arm is as easy to handle as a fixed pivot tonearm, suffering none of the instability you otherwise tend to get when cueing. It produces a delightfully natural sound with exceptional speed and good dynamics.

It is available in two different lengths, a 10” model (shown in the top photo) and a 12” version (as pictured below). A 12” tonearm is always preferable where you have space for it as it lowers tracking distortion, offering a more consistent and effortless sound throughout an LP side.

Nottingham Analogue 10” Ace Space tonearm: £900.00

Nottingham Analogue 12” Ace Space tonearm: £1,050.00

Michell TecnoArm 2

The TecnoArm 2 is the latest evolution of the Michell tonearm. Cosmetically its Rega underpinnings are there to see, but look past that and it’s obvious that this is a very carefully considered design with many detail changes. Most obviously the 22 holes drilled into the underside of the arm tube reduces weight without compromising rigidity, the arm is foam damped internally and the underside of the headshell machined flat. The wiring used is a continuous pure silver loom, with silver plated cartridge tags and RCA plug terminations.

Polymer bearings are used for their low friction and a rigid Tecnoweight counterweight assembly is fitted. The counterweight is beautifully engineered and  is marked to every 0.1 gramme so tracking force can be setup without a stylus balance.

The arm base is the 3 point Rega mounting, so can be used on a wide variety of turntables and is pictured here with the optional VTA Adjuster fitted, which allows fine tuning of height by use of a threaded assembly (at the expense of adding a little height). Conventyional fixed spacers can also be used too.

Michell Tecnoarm 2 in Silver or black: £1,300.00

Nottingham Analogue Ace Anna

The Ace Anna is the reference tonearm from Nottingham Analogue. This features all the ‘Ace’ refinements and tweaks that have evolved the cheaper Ace Space into the giant killer that it is, so when applied to this, the ultimate Nottingham Analogue arm you can begin to imagine the results! It’s difficult to know where to start with this tonearm, I struggle to find any short comings with it and find it combines remarkable resolution, a wonderfully open and spacious top end along with prodigious bandwidth, musicality and neutrality. It’s a very difficult tonearm to surpass and works with a very wide variety of cartridges too.

Nottingham Analogue Ace Anna 10” tonearm: £2,150.00

Nottingham Analogue Ace Anna 12” tonearm: £2,340.00

SME M2 Series

We are pleased to see the return of SME selling some models of their tonearms separately. The Classic range consists of two M2 models, the M2 and the M2R which share some common elements between both.

The M2-R (pictured above) is available in both 9” and 12”  lengths and features a classic ‘J’ shaped arm stainless arm tube and the original SME removable headshell which has become something of an industry standard and is ideal for quick headshell changes and also for suiting specialist designs like the Ortofon SPU range. Please click here for the 9” spec sheet and here for the 12” spec sheet.

The M2 (pictured above) is a more contemporary style of design and has a straight stainless armtube and the more modern removable magnesium headshell as seen on the 309 (so it’s a bit more rigid at the expense of there being less options for headshell swapping). Please click here for the spec sheet pdf

SME M2-9 straight shaped 9” tonearm: £2,388.00

SME M2-12 straight shaped  12” tonearm: £2,628.00

SME M2-9R  J curve shaped 9” tonearm: £3,180.00

SME M2-12R J curve shaped 12” tonearm: £3,348.00

Audio Origami PU7

The Audio Origami PU7 is an evolution of the classic Syrinx PU3 tonearm and is hand made to order (with each arm taking in the region of 4 weeks to be produced). The specification is completely customisable, with a choice of arm tube lengths between 9 to 12 inches and arm mass can also be specified to ensure the perfect match with your cartridge. The standard finish is a high quality matt bead blasted silver, with Polished, custom colour anodising and gold or chrome plating all available as options. The standard model has Cardas copper wiring with Ikeda wiring available as an upgrade.

-Audio Origami PU7 9” arm in bead blasted finish: £2,500.00

-Audio Origami PU7 9” arm in black finish: £2,650.00

-Audio Origami PU7 9” Ti Deluxe (titanium arm tube) in silver: £2,850

-Audio Origami PU7 9” Ti Deluxe (titanium arm tube) in black: £3,000

A 12” version of the above arms are available for an additional +£300


Helius Omega range

It is great that Helius have returned to the market, and as you’d expect their latest offerings include some superb tonearms. Detailed here is the Omega range, a stunning looking design featuring many of the aspects that have made Helius arms so sought after. Inside there are twelve large bearings formatted in the Helius tradition of a tetrahedral 3-ball race

Technically the arm is very sophisticated, being dynamically balanced, damped by differential masses and having non-coincident bearings. In addition, it pays close attention to small but significant details ranging from bracing ridges machined into the headshell, silicon bias correction, collet clamping base plate with infinited VTA adjustment, micro-adjustment of tracking downforce via an easy rotary control and a cunningly concealed internal cue construction.

Ignoring arm length options, there are two versions of the Omega. The standard one has tungsten bearings and copper wiring. The Omega Silver Ruby, as the name suggests, features cryo treated Silver wiring and Ruby bearings. The latter's arm tube is normally silver in colour (pictured at the very bottom of this article) but if desired it can be ordered in the same black as the standard model.

A short highly flexible cables leads out to a break out box with RCA sockets on it, enabling the interconnect of your choice to be used without impacting the suspension of the turntable.

Helius Omega Standard 10” tonearm: £3,224.00

Helius Omega Silver Ruby  10” tonearm: £4,464.00

Helius Omega Silver Ruby  12” tonearm: £4,629.00

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