Tonearm - Acoustical System Titan GC
It all started when I visited my friends home and he told me the has a tonearm that is so accurate and it can adjust all setting with a micrometer and the setting is repeatable. When I went to his room, little did I konw that I was fallen into a big hole!. The arm he is using is Acoustical System Titan Grande Complications. Yes, it is the top of the range piece of art, an upgrade for my Axiom. As I like Axiom so much, this visit has put me into tears. Compared to Axiom, no, there is no comparison, the Titan is so much better, not just the ways how this arm is constructed and also how well it is built. As illustrated on AS web site, here are the repeatable settings :
The sound? To put it simply, it is Axiom on steroids. Everything is better. I was trying to resist the temptation but the force was not with me and I gave in and place an order.
I took a few months and it finally arrived. It is a true piece of art, the finishing is impeccable and made of titanium. Dietrich told me that he was one of the first to use titanium as a material in tonearm design simply because of its properties of fast energy transfer, making the sound more dynamic and life like. Something I can definitely relate to.
My armboard is also made in Titanium with bean blasting finish. It matches the Titan GC perfectly. Almost like original. The arm board is screwed on my AF1P with TA2 Titanium screws
The total mass of the tonearm together with my GmEX is around 29.3gm. This is measured by removing all counter weight withthe stylus on the scale.
The compliance of the GrandmasterEX is 15cu. The calculated resonance should be around 1000 / (2 x π x √ (M x C)) = 1000 / (2 x 3.1416 x √ (29.3 x 15)) = 7.6 Hz. This is slightly lower than the desired value and I could actually see severe resonance on some albums.
Knowing this problem. Dietrich quickly responded to that and made a Magnesium headshell. This headshell is half the weight. This lowers the total mass of the arm and move the resonance frequency back to the 9-12 Hz range. That solved all the resonance problem.
I guess I am one of the lucky ones to have the designer, the CEO, the owner to come all the way over to check out my arm and my turntable! How does it sound on my system?
In terms of sound, everything I described about Axiom is still true. But there is a lot more bass, more treble, more extension to both ends, more mid tone richness, more blackness, more 3D space, more microdynamics, more everything in a positive way.
The overall presentation gives a more fluidic flow, more silky, more richness, more lush.
If I can borrow a term from photography, its the word Bokeh. From Wikipedia, In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. Photographer and camera enthusiast paid 100x more for a lens that can create nice bokeh. A German company - Leica is well know for that.
So what has that got anything to do with music playback. Well, a nice bokeh can bring the musical elements that is not in focus fade into the background. making them less intrusive.
This cartoon best demonstrate the concept of bokeh. When the chief violinist is playing, the rest of the orchestra just blurred into the background. They are still an important part of the orchestral piece, but they are not disturbing. This is also true in real life music, you can clearly point to Mutter when she is playing her violin in an violin concerto even if you close your eyes. Each instrument that is the center of attention will stand out naturally, not by spotlight highlighting them in a harsh way, but with the rest of the orchestra take its position in the background oblidged and diligently assuming its role to contribute to the piece of music. That's what makes the presentation of Titan very 3D. This is what makes Titan so much better than Axiom. With Titan, you can see Mutter moving to left and right as she plays.