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Then there are five holes drilled in the back of the counterweight, three of which have Allen key bolts fitted into them in a fixed position. Interesting and novel. Where the sixth hole should be is a small shaft and mini counterweight for precision VTF setting. The idea is that you set the rough weight with the counterweight, fix it off then do the precise with the mini. There is a bit of play between the stub counterweight and its threaded shaft. This could be potentially serious as this is not a place you want chatter of any kind. But the problem is easily solved by again grubbing some Blutak up the shaft threads till you can’t feel any further play in the counterweight. I tend to add bits of Blutak everywhere including on the end of the stub and into the holes. Blutak is a particularly good damping material and it’s almost the case that the more the merrier especially where it can act as a further constrained layer.

So what about the bearings themselves? The vertical one is a captive-shaft twin-ball race within a solid-billet rectangular pillar mount. The horizontal is contained within the arm pillar itself. When you wiggle the arm against its bearings there is a minute degree of play, more on the horizontal axis than vertical plane. If you try the same trick on an SME V, IV or Mission 774 there is absolutely no play at all. And to me that is the place where I’d like to see work go into developing the Audiomods MkVI. The fact is, these bearings are good quality but don’t break any new ground I can see. The slight play tells us they may not be of the same quality as the rest of the arm. Of course they are a giant leap forward from the original Rega and I’d fall off my horse if you can find anything like their quality at this price point.

But Audiomods have achieved so much with this design and nailed their ambitions so high that it’s obvious this arm deserves nothing less than a top-range lossless chatterless bearing. Okay maybe two of those €100 ceramic bearings will be overkill (or not! hint hint) but because so much of the sonic signature of a gimbaled arm is produced at the point of contact between wand and bearings, I’d like to see what kind of performance we could get out of a top-quality bearing. If I had a choice for instance, I’d rather have the money put into bearings than into the fine-tuned VTA and micrometer system, simply because there’s more sonic dividends to be got out of the bearing than minutely nailing SRA.

The micrometer VTA lift mechanism is also contained in the pillar. It is possible to use the VTA adjustment on the fly but care must be taken at the top of travel. When you lift the micrometer you see that the up-down movement isn’t completely smooth but shifts from side to side forward and back. Which makes it obvious that we are not anywhere near the micron range of shaft and collar finish that SME and others sometimes aspire to and more rarely deliver.

But this is an important area of construction. I’d like to have the shaft collar looked at again. The anti-skate is via the well-known weight on a thread. It’s a simple system but clever and unusually allows for a degree of adjustment. Overall the arm has a reasonably classy feel to it. Niggles include that the arm lift is a bit on the short side but the raise/lower mechanism is excellent. I like the matt silver finish which matches well with the gold plating. A thoughtful selection of spares is included. Don’t expect quite SME standards of finish but it’s still an arm one can sit proudly on any turntable.

The arm comes not just with a number of shims of different weights but also two gold-plated counterweights which are little works of art on their own. Cartridge setup is of course via the horrible Rega ‘sled’ system which means most cartridges will fit but finding the null points takes an age. If I’m in a rush it can take forever and gets more and more frustrating. But with this system I for one don’t want to be faffing too much once I’ve got close enough. Frankly if one is changing cartridges a lot the SME system is worth it just for ease of finding the correct point. However Audiomods have helped things by providing a setup null point system that works very well. The idea is to try to get the cartridge body (whatever will be parallel to the cantilever) straight when the stylus tip is underneath the tip of the arm. From there it’s much easier to find the null points as they won’t be far away (at least if the pivot-to-spindle distance is set up right and they give a handy protractor for that). I use the Dr. Feickert but if you are using these, it may be an idea to cut them out into the shape of a partial LP.

The sound. The basic character comes across as precise, balanced, open and capable of reproducing the internal multi-layer vibrations that create a note.  Kuzma XL and Reson Etile. Yousef Lateef Eastern Sounds.  Here we get a lovely big bold sound without being washed out which keeps its density of timbre. Speed is good to excellent. Tonal color and timbre are a bit washed out compared to SME or Kuzma, not quite as rich or exuberant. There’s not quite the soundstage separation I’m used to but more important not the separation within instrumental ideas and thoughts.  Bass is firm taut clear and lovely. There’s a slight lack of top end shimmer on the high hats and cymbals. Clarinet has languor, the piano is well distinguished from the brushed drums. Lovely. Flute has beautiful fluidity and purity but not quite the absolute luscious density of timbre I’ve heard from the best combos.

Whether it’s the cartridge combo or the arm we’ll have to find out. It’s really only when things get overly complex that this combo gets confused. With this rig you could play a slow number at a hifi show and people would rightly think ‘wow’, that’s one hell of a seductive sound.