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Sideways Uni-Pivot Arm, SUPATRAC Blackbird, formerly "Ekos Killer (Price?)"

Discussion in 'audio' started by sonddek, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. VTA

    VTA pfm Member

    I have been watching the development of this arm for some time, as with you I found the string lift a bit of a turnoff but with time as well as feedback from users that have found string to be a good method as a finger lift I am now actually excited about it. Change is often hard to accept but if the string works better than an arm lift then I am game to give it a go!
  2. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 pfm Member

    It's not about whether it's a good method as a finger lift, it's that it cheapens the look of the arm. The design of the arm is very angular, rigid, and sleek. Putting a floppy piece of string on it just looks awful. A regular tonearm lift (which is also an option that is provided) is much better aesthetically with the rest of the arm and works just as good as the string.
    paulski likes this.
  3. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    The arm comes with a rigid finger lift as well as the string lift (see my avatar).

    As regards aesthetics, just about every turntable ever looks better with no arm at all. My Amadeus is sitting on my electrics table in front of me now without an arm, and it's beautiful. I personally use string because it works really well. Others may prefer a rigid lifter or no lifter at all, like the original Amadeus arm.

    So far, many people have reported being surprised at the ease of use of the string, so maybe in time it will cease to look ridiculous and start to look practical. In the end, I'm more interested in stuff that works than stuff that just looks good, as my wife would confirm ;-)
  4. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    BTW, I don't have a picture of the current (non-prototype) rigid finger lift right now as I don't use them, but here's a graphic of the 3D part and animation looking around it...

    RichShortland and Darren L like this.
  5. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 pfm Member

    I definitely don't agree that just about every turntable looks better with no arm at all. Not sure what turntables you've used, but the tonearm always complements the platter and plinth. If a turntable was just a platter and plinth, you may as well call it a Lazy Susan and start serving food on it when guests are over.

    That said, I would think most people who hand cue their tonearm, like to lean their pinky on the plinth as they're lowering the needle into the groove. With the string lift being above the tonearm, it makes that method of cueing almost impossible. The rigid lift, which is installed on the side of the arm, makes this much more easy to accomplish. Also add in the fact that the string is not rigid and can shift positions while moving, which may in turn change VTF during playback. I'd much have a rigid lift that is going to stay exactly where it's screwed into.

    Again, I love the concept of the arm, but do think the string, regardless of how it works for you, takes away from the rest of the design, and in some ways, compromises it.
  6. RichShortland

    RichShortland pfm Member

    I’m going to try the (stiffened) string option on my DIY well tempered copy. The possibility of more intuitive operation and a reduced risk to cantilever damage is much more appealing than aesthetic considerations…
  7. iansr

    iansr pfm Member

    I presume there are now a few arms out there being used by customers. It would be great to get feedback from them on the performance of the arm.
  8. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Have you tried a cuing string?

    As I mentioned, the arm includes a rigid finger lifter for those who are not willing to try the string or who do not prefer it. I have put a picture of it up as my avatar! ;-)

    Why? Is there something wrong with the arm design?
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
  9. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Status: there's one in London - customer not a forum type. One in Canada - Adam of hifiaf has provided a fine review. One went to the home counties but is not installed yet as the deck will be upgraded at the end of August. One is installed on a Sondek in Malaysia, again, the customer does not appear to be an English-language-forum regular, and today one was sent to a UK customer who looks likely to report his experience on another forum. I hope to send out more arms this week to the customers who have paid and are patiently awaiting their hand-made arms. I try to batch each part of the production process, so several arms will go forth in a flurry.
  10. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Over at Lenco Heaven, the owner of the fifth Blackbird in the wild has installed it today and says:

    I expect he will have a few more things to say when he has an extensive listen. Interestingly his other arm is a clone of the Well Tempered arm.
    iansr, RichShortland and tiggers like this.
  11. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    I have ten arms in the final stage of production in front of me, mostly pre- ordered, and today I've had reasonable quotes for batch production of several of the key components. Before Christmas I should have capacity to ship hundreds of SUPAs annually.
    RichShortland likes this.
  12. RichShortland

    RichShortland pfm Member

    wow - also as someone with a Lenco and a WT clone I find this very interesting…
    I’ve been contemplating how difficult it would be to convert my WT clone to a horizontal unipivot. Is looking very feasible, especially if I retain the main post/fishing wire as the hoists. I’d just need a pillar for the horizontal bearing and a flat surface for it to bear against…
  13. RichShortland

    RichShortland pfm Member

    offer the choice of either rigid lift and the string que….everyone covered. For what it’s worth I think the string lift is genius.
  14. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    I said that a year ago!
    sonddek likes this.
  15. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    I know - nearly! The first Blackbird sale/installation was in March, six months after you said it would take "years". ;-)
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2021
  16. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    If someone placed an order for 1000 units, would it present any problems filling it?
  17. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    This thread is jumping the shark. sonddek's sold less than 10 thus far (not a criticism), why would he suddenly get an order for 1000? Scaling up is definitely something that needs building into any business, but scaling up to that extent is not going to happen anything like immediately from where he is now so not worth worrying about. It's a bit of a daft question frankly. Oh and before you say anything I work in R&D consultancy and small embryonic business development, this sort of thing is my bread and butter and sonddek is doing extremely well and with little external help it seems.

    Look back and you will see many on this thread at the start suggested he wouldn't get this far yet here is the arm, the manual, sales, R&D happening to improve the product, good feedback etc. I think he is to be commended and given the concept is genuinely something different in a world we all care about we should be positive in our critique. He knows his stuff, e.g. I engaged in some PMs with him over the string lift, but he explained the principle and why it is better and you know what, he is right. Not the last word in aesthetics, but it is a better engineering solution less likely to damage records and cartridges.
    effinity, joe9407 and nobeone like this.
  18. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    No, but they wouldn't be ready tomorrow. How would you like to pay?

    tiggers and Darren L like this.
  19. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Allegedly Naim only ever produced a little over 1000 AROs. They're going back into it now.

    I think David's point is that producing a few arms a month isn't really 'production' in the sense he originally meant it.

    However, if David transfers a million and a half into my bank account I think it would be possible to deliver the thousand Blackbirds in a month. It would be all hands on deck, hiring, new premises, multiple suppliers for CNC parts, but for that fee it could be done, partly because non-precision manufacture was one of my original design goals, as the impressive creativity at Lenco Heaven demonstrates.
    tiggers likes this.
  20. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    It certainly wasn't meant as a criticism!

    My point was that a 'Production' item that could be easily rolled out in quantity would likely look different.

    Rega's RB300 is an interesting case in point as it was clearly designed from the outset for easy volume production.

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