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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
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Old 3rd February 2016, 02:21 AM   #11
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
A little more tweaking last night seems to have solved the skipping problem. I've not had any skips at all. Carriage movement is smooth and imperceptible except during lead in/lead outs. I reduced the tracking force a little with no issues.

I have a second one on the way for the other 124 and working on cartridge choice, keeps pointing to an Ortofon Cadenza.

The Benz works far better on this arm than it has on anything else and actually shines - enough so that I immediately developed a strong liking for the arm. It was over in minutes. LOL

Bill, I'd be delighted if you dropped by sometime. Drop me a PM and we'll talk. I'm active in a number of local audio groups which you might also enjoy.
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Old 5th February 2016, 09:58 PM   #12
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
Default New addition to the family

The NIB SLA-3 I purchased on eBay arrived today, days early. The extended armboard for the other TD-124 is on order and should be here in a couple of weeks hopefully.

I need to give some thought to the cartridge I will run on this arm.
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Old 5th February 2016, 10:06 PM   #13
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
The Souther survived a full run through of "The Drum" by Soul of Man without mis-tracking, held its own fairly well against the Schick/SPU-A95, neither clearly better than other, but different.

The Benz is a little smeary on the top end compared to the A95, the Benz might have won on the bottom end.

This is not a particularly great recording except that it is pretty good at inciting mistracking in the bass with styli leaping out of the groove - none of that here.

The Muscovite is the better phono pre and the A95 should have the edge in resolution, despite this it's not winning; not loosing either; a tie of sorts.
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Old 5th February 2016, 10:17 PM   #14
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
The fact that this thing acquits itself as well as it does is particularly amazing in that I have $0 in this arm and cartridge, and yet I am daft enough to think it competes against an arm and cartridge combination that costs infinitely more, and that I had to work hard to pay for! I guess that should serve as some sort of recommendation.

The couple of caveats living with this thing for almost a week now (lol!) is that you must keep things scrupulously clean at least compared to what I am used to, and attention to detail is important. Lead dress of the lead out from the cartridge is critical. I've not had any skipping since I figured these things out.
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Old 6th February 2016, 06:16 PM   #15
TerribleT is online now TerribleT  United States
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Hi Kevin,
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I always learn from your posts. I have a SLA-3 in storage that I plan to use on my TD124. The one you have shows a clear glass or plastic bar on the support plate. Mine does not have this. Was this a factory feature or was it one of the many mods that was done on your arm? Could you describe the other mods that was done? I'd like to try some of them. You mentioned a factory option to eliminate the use of the spindle support so that the arm would hover over the record supported only on the end on the plinth. One last thing, how about trying the SPU on the Souther?
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David
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Old 6th February 2016, 06:36 PM   #16
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
Hi David,
As far as I am aware all SLA-3 and indeed the Tri-Quartz all came with a clear plastic cover right from Souther. Many people remove them because the tonearm wiring hits the cover and causes mis-tracking.

My Tri-Quartz was a gift from its original owner and he related many problems with the plastic cover and its ultimate demise.

My NIB SLA-3 is complete as the factory packed it, and clearly was never used. Came with one of the optional arm wands that is made of bronze and has an extended cartridge mounting plate. I'll photograph and post it one of these days.

Choosing the right cartridge for one of these arms is a bit of a balancing act. The Ebony H seems to behave quite well on this arm with a suitable vertical compliance (not disclosed) and a lateral compliance of 14 cu. Tracking force of 1.6 - 1.9gms works, but I suspect that higher tracking forces are better, reducing likelihood of tracking/skipping issues. I'm aiming for a cartridge for the SLA-3 of vtf > 2gms..

There are some allegations that the adhesives used to secure the quartz rods are soluble in solvents like alcohol. I needed to clean things thoroughly and did in fact use isopropyl alcohol, steering clear of the areas with adhesive and the carriage/bearings. YMMV and caveat emptor. Not recommended; in my case it was necessary to get the grime off.
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Old 6th February 2016, 06:44 PM   #17
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
I've decided not to try the Royal N on the SLA-3, the compliance of that cartridge is really low and I'd rather not risk damaging the cartridge if it misbehaves on the arm. There is some question even with the weights out at the far end of the back of the arm whether there is sufficient effective mass to get the resonances down below the point where problems ensue.

I'm looking at cartridges with compliances of 12 - 16 cu and fairly high tracking force which is the one area where the Royal N might be interesting.

The suspension on this cartridge is so stiff I am concerned it will just result in bearing rattle. I had some problems with this even with the Benz during set up, it doesn't sound too nice when it happens.

Clear Audio produced a support that gets installed with the base that allows you to support that end of the arm and disable the spindle support. I did not have the space to install it with the current set up. I will install on the other table with the new arm board. There is a support block that goes with the whole thing, but it is too thick to use on a TD-124 so I will have a friend make me one.

All of that said I have not been able to determine that there is any problem noise wise with the spindle support on the Tri-Quartz. I will note that it is quite a bit different from that on the SLA-3. Note that the Tri-Quartz is not an SLA-3 and the third quartz rod is one of several things that set it apart from the SLA-3.
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Old 6th February 2016, 07:00 PM   #18
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
I am planning on some modifications to my newly acquired SLA-3 including adding the third rod found on the Tri-Quartz.

Here is a potential source for the rod: Technical Glass Products: Fused Quartz Rod

It looks like either 6mm or 6.4mm O.D. quartz rod would be suitable. Length would be about 5.25 inches. (Minimum order is $50 unfortunately)

Another option 4ft minimum: https://www.waleapparatus.com/produc...ed-quartz-rod/ This would be under $30...

https://www.fdglass.com/products/details/50
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Old 7th February 2016, 11:10 PM   #19
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
An entire afternoon of playing records without a single skip, anyone who owns one of these arms might recognize that as a significant landmark.

Arm looks pretty rough still, some work required to fix it up, but it does sound really good. I guess I've never heard an arm as free of resonances.. I am rediscovering old and very familiar vinyl; what? I never heard that before moments are frequent, and not expected.

There is some bearing noise at the lead out, not sure whether further cleaning will address that issue or not, but given the age of the arm I think I will start looking for a replacement set of bearings.
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Old 9th February 2016, 01:32 AM   #20
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Souther Linear Tonearm on A TD-124
Still no skips, so this seems a resolved issue. As I have become more familiar with the arm it does appear that the mechanical noise floor of this design is significantly higher than a good pivot if for no other reason the carriage bearings are in very close proximity to the cartridge.

In the case of record eccentricities I can very occasionally hear noise that is clearly from the bearings on silent passages. On the lead out where velocities are high it is pronounced.

I am going to look for replacement bearings and have contacted Clear Audio's U.S. distributor about replacement bearings amongst other things. (Should that not work out there are a number of flanged bearings available, one of them ought to work.)

I have applied three small blobs of blu-tack on the carriage behind the bearings and this seems to help a little wrt to bearing noise, more interestingly the noise floor dropped audibly on the lead in and between cuts. Also in audiophile speak there seems to be somewhat more "air" and a quieter background. Note this could all be placebo effect, uncontrolled experiment, yada, yada, yada. Very subjective, and because these are the sorts of improvements I would expect to hear, I might just be hearing them whether or not they are in fact real.

Regardless I am still pretty impressed that a freebie arm and cartridge on the clunkier of my two TD-124s is able to acquit itself well in direct comparison to the Schick. Sighted or not, this isn't what I would have expected. It's clearly a very good if quirky arm in the right hands and with the right cartridge, all installed on the right table.

There are obvious trade offs, I think to some extent you trade distortion for more background noise with this design; that's my impression after considerable listening.

All things considered it's pretty brilliant, and improvement is possible. I see a lot of experimenting down the road..
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