Listening #180: Swissonor TA10 tonearm Manufacturers' Comment

Manufacturers' Comment

Editor: There are several problems with Art Dudley's review of the TA10.

First Problem: Mounting on a Thorens TD 124 turntable. The original plinth was designed for 8" tonearms, later for 9" tonearms. Solution: There's no problem with Swissonor's #29.0 plinth, which is designed for tonearms up to 10" or longer than 11".

Second Problem: Bearing function. As with every item, this TA10 was tested on a TD 124, and several parameters, such as bearing preload, were fine-adjusted by ear, using an Ortofon SPU Classic cartridge. The complete job, from A to Z, is done by our technician, who has studied under others and plays the harpsichord (he has one at home). He has much younger/finer ears than mine. He listens on a high-grade system he has owned for many years, so he can hear absolutely any smallest deviation from the ideal.

How is it possible that the bearings of the first sample we sent were not working? I had that issue once with the first-series TA10, after transporting a turntable in my car between two dealers without removing the counterweight. The bearing had moved off-center. I repaired that in five (hot) minutes. Was the tonearm Art reviewed shipped with the counterweight on? We think so. Solution: Leave off the counterweight for shipping, as we do. This is absolutely necessary, not only for Swissonor tonearms but for any design.

Third Problem: Azimuth. As I explained to Art, the azimuth of the supplied headshell, which seems not to suit Art's ideas even if it's the best one we've found worldwide (Japan-made, cast magnesium, double locker pins), can be adjusted through a full 360°. The double locker then makes securing that adjusted position very precise. Any azimuth is possible with the supplied headshell. Our technician checks azimuth with the supplied headshell type, an Ortofon Quintet cartridge, and a mirror.

With the single locker of the SPUs (and most headshells in the market), you can move the cartridge clockwise and counterclockwise easily, through more than ±1°. Therefore, you will change azimuth with each change of cartridge. Our customers often change cartridges from mono to stereo and back.

In every case, the TA10's azimuth adjustment is much more precise than that. Generally, as I explain in the user guide, when you screw down the mounting plate on the TD 124, you have to adjust parallelism or you will get the wrong azimuth, due to uneven compression of the grommets. Solution: Until now, using the above methods, all dealers/customers have gotten perfect azimuth without trouble.

Final Problem: Philosophy. When I think about our customers, they have one thing in common: They all spend time (and money) on collecting and listening to discs. At the beginning, they spend a little time on adjusting their gear, too. But their hobby is music, and hi-fi is only the way, but not the aim. When our dealers repair, refurbish, upgrade, and/or deliver a TD 124, it will sound so good that no one will think about how to make it even better, because they will simply feel no need for it. A well-known German magazine specializing in analog hi-fi tested the smallest Swissonor system and summed it up: If you're tired of running all your life after the "maybe even better" and look for peace of mind now, you may find what you need for the rest of your life.

I hope that each TA10 will find a lifetime place in the home of a music lover. (This should not be difficult, with the TA10's series 2 limited to only 50 units.) If Art is not at ease with this, better he should not write about our stuff.&3151;Urs Frei, Swissonor

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

Is this the first time that a manufacturer has suggested that a particular reviewer "should not write about our stuff"?
Swissonor doesn't sound like an especially customer friendly outfit.
For half the price, one could buy the Ortofon TA-210 tonearm which, when it was reviewed by AD, appeared to be free of the various mechanical anomalies exhibited by either sample of the Swissonor arm:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/listening-118
https://www.ortofon.com/ta-210-p-432
https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-TA-210-Tonearm

Robert Deutsch's picture

A number of years ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece entitled "How To Write Manufacturers' Comments." https://www.stereophile.com/features/22/. This manufacturer obviously didn't heed my advice.

Bob

BKinTheBK's picture

It's as if he read your article and decided to do the exact opposite of every suggestion.

He also seems to have never bothered to read AD's articles. Art seems to be definitively anti-hi-fi and fervently pro music. No fancy cables, cords, power conditioners & a perspective that suggests a desire for music that "moves him" at the expense of hi-fi perfection.

Dudley basically raved about how great his music sounded while using Urs's tonearm.

Urs, dude, this is for you: "Picking out and refuting minor negative comments in a generally glowing review draws attention to the negative aspects of the review and may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."

BKinTheBK's picture

to add:

- Never ever EVER claim superiority by saying that your technician plays the harpsichord. Non sequitur say what?

tonykaz's picture

I'm one, I care.

My Company will work closely ( very, if necessary ) with anyone writing about our Products, especially if the person has 70,000 Readers ( possible buyers ).

This Swiss Company only makes a tiny number of things, he can afford to snub a Non-European that can't get the set-up right or is having a difficult time of it. He has a ( responsible ? ) Importer to take care of these matters who might just surmise that our Mr.Dudley lives too far from Civilization to be considered "Worthy" of "Special" hand-holding. Oh-well, ( at $4,000 a pop ) a very Golden opportunity missed.

Come to think of it, why is the manufacturer writing the Comments, why isn't the Importer?

Because:

This Swiss guy might not be up to speed on writing in English annnnnd

He might be the Analytical type, not the Social Sales type.

He may be having a hard time just now, perhaps the whole thing is falling down over his ears, phew.

Still, to me, this Arm Review just doesn't make sense, Vinyl still dead, after all and the gray beards still playing vinyl already own pricy turntables.

Will someone who finds an old Thorens in the Closet spend $4,000 for a new Arm?

Tony in Michigan

ps. I still have a nice Vinyl collection to list on eBay as I merrily sail into the digital depths of the 21st Century, lucky me, I don't have to worry about any of this.

gbougard's picture

If one can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen
Why should Urs Frei pander to the nonsense thrown at his products and his company?
People should learn to de-entitle themselves, listen to those who know and stfu

Anton's picture

Problem: shipping with the counterweight on..

Question: did Art do that?

BKinTheBK's picture

so everyone can see Urs Frei for the ass hat that he is? Art's review was fair and actually quite positive! He loved the music. The tonearm checked all his most important boxes. Art even blamed himself for the plinth size issue.

If a review is mostly positive, yet cites some fairly considered critiques a businessman politely thanks the reviewer for spending his precious time listening and writing an even-handed review and then rebuts any disagreements like an adult. Or ... if you're going to be a dick, at least be humorous. No one likes an unfunny dick. No one buys products from an unfunny dick. How should a buyer expect to be treated if an issue arose and was faced with this "if i made a mistake it must be your fault" style of customer service?

Urs, you silly child. Take your ball and go home. Your colleagues should be ashamed of your letter and a grownup at your company owes Art and the readers of Stereophile an apology.

Anton's picture

At the end of the review.

Yes, it was an asshat response.

BKinTheBK's picture

thanks.

gbougard's picture

Urs Frei is pointing at Art's glaring mistakes and details the consequences of those mistakes
And he is the bad guy???
People think they know better than this guy who has spent a lifetime putting together fabulous sounding stuff?
And ignoramuses should be treated nicely just because they read stereophile???
No wonder Trump got elected!

Anton's picture

Did Art damage or mispackage the arm shipping it to himself?

From the manufacturer’s comments:

“Problem..... Was the tonearm Art reviewed shipped with the counterweight on? We think so. Solution: Leave off the counterweight for shipping, as we do. This is absolutely necessary, not only for Swissonor tonearms but for any design.”

Why would Mr. Angry Manufacturer kick Art’s butt over that? Speaking of ‘ignoramuses.’

dukeofhazard's picture

First of all, I want to thank Mr. Frei and Mr. Schopper to offer such idiosyncratic items for the vinyl loving community; and Mr. Dudley because of his funny and informative essays of this kind of equipment.

The interesting question here is, who has been trying to school whom, at first. Mr. Frei telling Mr. Dudley to not look closer and just trust: pay the hefty price and just shut up, because it is “swiss-made”, insinuating that this is what the “real” music loving habitus is all about. Or Mr. Dudley, retrieving a decades old story about hi-fi shopping disappointment and comparing Mr. Frei with a hi-fi-salesman from the seventies. Mr. Dudley could have just reported on the issue without the “filling”.

Producer from Switzerland are becoming more and more under pressure. For a normal Swiss income the price of the tonearm is “half” the expenses as for the rest in Europe or the States. Swiss currency is ultra-strong, and selling these products outside raises serious cost-benefit questions on the side of potential customers.

I hope, this incident does not end the investigation of Mr. Dudley into this kind of product. I ’am looking forward to a comparison of dedicated power supplies by Schopper (http://www.schopper.ch/index.php?page=schopper-power-supply) and Hi-Fi Hanze (http://www.hanzehifi.nl/shop/index.php?action=article&aid=468&group_id=46&lang=EN) to decrease the voltage and support the magnetic eddy current break to slow down torque. Is there any real effect? Mr. Dudley, I hope I raised your curiosity…

Razorball's picture

First of all let me tell you that i am a big Swissonor fan, and having compared their gear and philosophy of hifi to others, I find myself vey happy and pleased I chose their amp, speakers and cables, and will need nothing more to keep me un-frustrated in my quest for the best sound. I heard systems that cost 3 to 4 times more and that doesn’t sound nearly as good (musical) as what I am proud to own. Yes their gear doesn’t sound « hifi », it just sounds purely « musical ». I know Mr Frei from a customers point of view, but I also had the pleasure to dine with him and his lovely wife, Anne-Marie. What striked me with the guy is that he is so passionate about his stuff, and mostly about the music and emotions it delivers. That being, he CAN be somehow radical with his opinions, and we had our moments when we tended to agree to disagree, always with a hint of Swiss humour (yes, yes, it does exist!). I know for sure that Mr. Frei respects Mr Dudley, and I am sure that Mr Dudley has respect for Frei, and the comparison between Frei and a 70s hifi salesman was purely humourous.
The amount of time,research, and again, passion, put into producing this arm was enormous.
I for sure think that the last line Mr Frei put in his comment was the one too much and should not have been written, that was done with the force of too much emotion and it it was from my point of view unnecessary. Maybe his own azimuth wasn’t in place??! :-) But isn’t it only the proof that Swissonor doesn’t give a damn about selling in the « hi-fi/ high-end » world and addresses mainly music enthousiasts and purists, maybe like me? This could also be perceived as a very punky, let’s say rock’n ´rollish attitude . As I said, I don’t want to defend his last line too much, I personally would have stayed more commercial with it, would it have been my company. I also think of Art Dudley as being the least « hi-fi/high-end » of the reviewers and one of the last that writes about what he really cares about.
I just want to stand for the man that appears like a dick to some that posted their reaction in this blog: Mr Frei is a good man, with a heart, a passion, and it saddens me that he comes out as unfriendly/uncommercial, because that is not that.

rbs12's picture

I will simply offer one other data point that makes me wonder if something wasn't lost in translation here. Last spring, I emailed Urs Frei inquiring about a Swissonor product that has been discontinued for a number of years. I received an immediate response that he would look for one for me. I didn't expect much, given experiences with other dealers/manufacturers. But to my surprise, about six months later, he contacted me, saying he had located one and putting me directly in touch with the owner. I bought it, the build quality is fantastic (easily the equal of my Shindo gear), the sound is wonderful and I am grateful to Mr. Frei for his uncompensated efforts. I would not hesitate to buy another Swissonor product.

Anerol's picture

I am impressed which turns this discussion has taken. Guys, this is our hobby and supposed to bring us joy and happiness. At least I think so. Differing opinions are just that - differing opinions.

I am one of the happy fews, and we will always remain few, that enjoys playing his music with the TA-10 of the current production run. I have had expensive tonearms and less esxpensive tonearms. New ones and vintage models. European built and Japanese built. If there ever will be a production of the s shaped arm wand for my Graham I will probably try it. Anyway, the TA-10 is a wonderful performer. Art and his description of the sound is absolutely in line with my perceptions.

In that sense I am grateful for this wonderful product.

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