Sidebar: Analogue Audio Questions for Roy Gandy
Hi-Fi+: What is your take on unipivot tonearm designs?
RG: We see that unipivot designs can have validity for certain lower-cost applications, although we do think they have certain technical limitations. For higher performance applications, however, we believe that properly executed gimbal-bearing-type arms can ultimately achieve tighter bearing clearances while providing a more stable playback platform.
Hi-Fi+: What is your view of air-bearing-equipped turntables and tonearms?
RG: We have misgivings about them—misgivings borne out of our belief that musical information lost through loose bearing clearances can never be replaced. Understand, please, that our best tonearms have bearing clearance tolerances of less than 1 micron—tolerances we do not think any present air bearing can hope to match. If you buy the notion that tight bearings are essential to proper information retrieval, then we don’t see the value of going to an inherently looser bearing system.
Hi-Fi+: Why don’t Rega tonearms offer provisions for VTA/SRA adjustment?
RG: Basically, knowing what we do about tolerances for stylus positioning within cartridge cantilevers, we do not really accept that the concept of VTA adjustment is valid or beneficial. Consider this: to the best of our knowledge, even the best cartridge makers are only able to achieve stylus positioning accurate to within about a 2 degree tolerance window—but not better than that. Now ask yourself why it is desirable to trim stylus positioning by fractions of a degree, when the stylus’ starting position might fall (and in practice does fall) literally anywhere within a two-degree window. We aren’t saying you won’t hear sonic changes when you attempt VTA adjustments, but we think those changes could just as well be due to minute changes in tracking force, or even to the tightness of set screws, etc. used in VTA adjustment mechanisms. This same line of thought, by the way, is also why we do not see the need for radial tracking tonearms.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Gandy’s views on these subjects, there is no denying that his is a unique and obviously thoughtfully reasoned approach to the subject of analogue playback.