Tone Arm Mass

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by allied333, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    My JVC TT QL-A5 has a medium mass tone arm per what I read on the internet. I am not sure what the tone arm weight is as specs state 220mm length, 15mm overhang & weight range 12.5 to 18g including head shell weight. I do not understand the 12.5 to 18.5 weight spec.

    I am using a Grado Blue. The Grado Blue likes light weight to medium weight tone arms. On my TT it fails tracking on a test record. The second level of five levels on the test record the Grado starts distorting on high frequencies, but on standard vinyl recordings it sounds good. If I change the stock 11.5 gram head shell to a 7 gram head shell would this help with the 4.5g tone arm weight reduction?
     
  2. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    The Prestige series is a relatively light cartridge compared to some others for starters. By lowering the total mass of the headshell/cartridge combination, in theory it should help the cartridge to track better. The bonded styli on the Prestige series is not known to be an excellent tracker compared to other cartridges, and therefore is why many people don't like Grado cartridges. As I mentioned in another thread, the Grado's are hard on arm bearings, and a potential improvement is to do the Longhorn modification. Just for reference, my AT440mla and AT150mlx are both better trackers than any of my Grado's, even my Gold1 with 8MZ and the Longhorn mod. I have a vintage Empire OP5 that tracks about as well as my Grado's but it doesn't have that lush midrange and Grado house sound.
     
  3. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    Thanks. I ordered the lighter head shell. I will test with lighter head shell on test record and report back.
     
  4. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    I installed the 5 gram lighter head shell. My Grado Blue now passes all five levels on the Shure test record vs distorting on the Shure second level test. These Grado much prefer low mass tone arms vs medium mass. I am guessing my tone arm is now on the low side of medium mass. It definitely is not a high mass tone arm.
     
    Leonthepro likes this.
  5. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Diamond Tone Junkie

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO USA
    That's great to hear! And yes most people run them on low mass arms, but there are some medium-mass arms that they will work well with as well. It comes down to how the arm is damped and how good the bearings are.
     
  6. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Seems odd that the tonearm mass would have that effect unless the record is warped or pressed off center, but I guess they are all to a degree. If not for those common record issues, I would think high mass best for sound quality and tracking, all else equal. Of course, just adding mass to the headshell won't be as advantageous as using the added mass to build a stronger and less resonant tonearm and headshell, but a massive tonearm should provide a more solid and less resonant foundation for the vibrating cartridge motor.
     
    Leonthepro likes this.
  7. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Are Regas low mass and Technics medium mass arms?
     
  8. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    I believe the Grado Blue are an old design and do not track as well as many other more modern cartridges. But, I never had a tracking issue unless on a test record. The cartridge is laid back, but advancing my treble control brightens up the cartridge nicely. The midrange is very good too.
     
  9. I have a Grado Blue 1 and have issues tracking high frequencies at times. I used it on a Technics SL1200, stock arm and headshell. I guess it would work better with a lighter headshell? Doesnt exhibit the Grado dance or hum that I've heard people talk about. Its sound is great despite the issue.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  10. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    Same issue here as yours. The light head shell solved it. I bought 7.2 gram head shell that replaced a 12 gram head shell.
     
    Mitsuman likes this.
  11. I'll do the same and try it out. I'd be happy to put that cart back to use.
     
  12. Mugrug12

    Mugrug12 Yellow brick, Black on black

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Do you use a digital scale to check tracking force?
     
  13. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    Yes, digital scale. Never trust the markings on TT tone arm weight.
     
    Leonthepro likes this.
  14. Mugrug12

    Mugrug12 Yellow brick, Black on black

    Location:
    San Francisco
    So you made the headshell lighter, I guess you then had to lower the tracking force on the counterweight?
    Trying to think it through...
     
    Leonthepro likes this.
  15. Put cartridge in new shell -> align cartridge -> balance arm to floating = 0 VTF -> Apply correct VTF.
     
    Mitsuman likes this.
  16. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    Actually I needed more counter balance weight due to lighter head shell.
     
  17. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Makes sense.
     

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