Tonearm Features Shared by All Origin Arms
High Strength components
Your cartridge needs to be held with rock like solidity if it is to accurately extract the microscopic information contained within your record grooves. In strategic components rigidity is essential to reduce microscopic bending and “give” in the tonearm structure. The exact reasons why this is so critical go far beyond superficial explanations such as reducing movement or resonance. The truth is little understood and would require a book to explain due to technical complexities.
Soft alloy castings and carbon fiber tubes (using fishing rod technology) are commonly used in tonearms but are wholly inadequate for high grade performance. Origin Live arms avoid these cheap alternatives and as you might expect the music benefits immensely from the improved rigidity. Gone is the soft, woolly, haziness and muddle that so many arms are responsible for producing. Instead notes have greater impact, dynamics, speed. This gives our arms their outstanding reputation for realism.
Ultra-low friction Bearings
All bearings in our arms function with exceptionally low friction. This aspect is one of the reasons behind the phenomenol tracking ability of our tonearms which defy compliance formulas. Subjectively it also results in a far more transparent sound. This achievement is due to intensive research resulting in all bearings being manufactured to our own exacting specifications.
Unlike most arms we “float” the bearings so they have minimal contact with their housing. This seems to counteract the principle of rigidity but works because isolation becomes the over-riding factor at this point . This is a prime example of where untested adherence to a single misunderstood principle is not the best answer.
The advantages of improved decoupling is a considerable reduction in noise produced by the equipment.
Dual Pivot Bearings
The Encounter arm and above, employ dual pivot bearings. There are around 4 other high end arms in the world which employ this technique. All came out around the same time to combine the virtues of standard gimbal bearings with the strengths of Uni-pivot designs. Read More
Internal high grade copper Litz wire
Litz wire is renowned for it’s transparency and lack of grain. We use high grade copper Litz wire manufactured to our own specification. This is much harder and more costly to work with than conventional wires.
Cartridge tags are copper beryllium for high conductivity. They are then plated with Gold, Silver or Rhodium depending on the grade of arm.
Internal wires for higher grade arms are upgraded to Silver Hybrid wire. This is a proprietary design which dramaticaly improves performance whilst avoiding the brightness sometimes associated with Silver.
External wiring comes in a number of grades. You can find the grade for each arm on the specification pages.
Standard Cable: This is a commonly used tonearm wire which although thin and unimpressive in appearance is well designed and performs well. Some make the mistake of using conventional, expensive interconnect wire for tonearm cable. The reason this seldom improves performance is because tonearms must handle signal levels which are around 1000 times less than CD or streamers etc. This needs a different design approach.
Upgrade Cable: Called “upgrade cable” because it upgrades the cable on high end arms. This high purity copper cable is cryogenically treated and posesses many of the attributes needed for good low level signal conduction. Carefully researched and great value for money.
Silver Hybrid Cable: After years of research we finaly came up with a huge advance on tonearm cable performance. Silver hybrid, as the name suggests is a combination of copper and silver wiring. This highly specified combination was tried against a leading £1000 tonearm cable (better than some at £3000) and found to be a long way ahead.
The sound delivered has all the transparency and purity you expect from Silver but without the slight tonal lift and edginess. You can be confident that this is a supremely capable performer.
Silver Hybrid-S Cable: This is a specially treated version of Silver Hybrid Cable with increased transparency and cohesion. The treatment method is proprietry and unique.
Connector RCA plugs
The phono plugs fitted to our cables have a surprisingly audible influence and are fitted in 3 grades
- Nickle plated brass, moulded RCA Phono Plugs
- Gold plated Brass, clamping RCA Phono Plugs: To ensure a secure joint, these RCA use a twist action to clamp them hard onto your amplifier Sockets. This improves performance and reduces noise.
- Black Rhodium RCA Phono Plugs: These single point contact RCA plugs are Rhodium plated for improved current flow and minimal eddy currents. Rhodium may not possess the highest conductivity but this is outweighed by it’s unsurpassed surface smoothness which enhances performance at joints. They are simply the best sounding high end performance plug we’ve heard.
Integral VTA adjustment
Cartridge “Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) is adjusted by raising or lowering the rear end of the tonearm. This is an important adjustment to get the most from many cartridges and is included on all Origin Live arms. Our VTA adjustment is infinitely variable,calibrated and easily repeatable with precision.
Tracking Force Adjustment
The downforce on the cartridge (tracking force) is adjusted by positioning the counterweight using a secure mounting. We avoid common methods which use loose threads, magnets or springs which have the drawback of feeding resonance into the structure (which affects the cartridge).
Side Bias Adjustment
Your cartridge generates an offset friction force as it slides through the record grooves. The tendency is for the arm to force the cartridge stylus onto the inner wall of the groove ( not the outer wall as some mistakenly think). To counteract this force using what is known as “side bias force” ensures that the cartridge plays evenly within the groove and reduces wear of both record and stylus.
The method of applying side bias affects performance. These include:
a) Spring dials
b) Magnet dials or slides
c) Falling levers
d) Varying the leverage using a thread and falling weight.
Research has concluded that d) is significantly superior in terms of sound quality to the other 3 for reasons explained in a later section “What makes a better arm”. For this reason all our tonearms use method d).