All our arms are offered in 12 inch versions: this option can be specified using the 12 inch option button that appears in the ordering process for any arm.
People often ask about 9.5 inch arms vs 12 inch arms? The answer is firstly that the reduced tracking distortion manifests itself in a more effortless and coherent presentation, bass weight also increases surprisingly and the presentation is generally smoother all round. On the downside there is a slight loss of speed and transient attack but overall the timing is more coherent and we prefer the 12 inch sound. Having said this, it is not a vast difference and the overall character of an arm shines through predominantly on both versions of the same arm. For example a 12 inch Silver would not outperform a 9.5 inch Zephyr which is one step up in the range and therefore has significantly better performance.
A longer armtube means that inner and outer tracks sound more similar due to lowered tracking distortion, however shorter arms can sound faster and so choice boils down to a matter of preference – some people just don’t seem to miss speed of transients.
12 inch versions look fantastic and have certain advantages that appeal to those who prefer their alternative presentation.
Overcoming Technical barriers
There is an argument that the extra tube length of a 12 inch arm creates additional resonance that does more harm than good. This logic no doubt holds true for some arms but it all depends on whether better resonance control can mean that the advantage of lowered tracking distortion outweighs the resonance effects.
Once the real secrets of armtube construction are realised, it is possible for 12 inch designs to render superlative performance without suffering effects commonly associated with a longer arm tube. As the first review of the 12 inch Encounter shows, you can gain significant benefits from the Origin Live 12 inch arm.
If ever there was a case of swings and roundabouts within a hardware comparison then the tonal differences between the 9.5in and 12in versions of the Encounter 3c were it. The 9.5in had a lighter step. It had finesse and style with fine detailing. The 12in provided more bass extension that in no way swamped the soundstage but just pushed the arm’s awareness into a new, lower frequency range, opening the door into a grown-up arena that sounded both adult and rounded. Both arms produced superb quality sound yet I feel that the 12in arm, on this system, provided a better balance. It relaxed more into the mix, making sound production effortless and more natural. It was a close-run choice, though.
Full Review of 12 inch Encounter Tonearm