Listening #185: Audio-Technica & Arché Contacts

Sidebar: Contacts

Audio-Technica U.S., Inc., 1221 Commerce Drive, Stow, OH 44224. Tel: (330) 686-2600. Web:

Acoustical Systems, Alpenstrasse 26, 86935 Rott, Germany. Web: US distributor: Rutherford Audio, 12649 E. Caley Avenue #116, Centennial, CO 80111. Tel: (303) 872-6285. Web:


TC's picture

Mr. Dudley, thank you for your outstanding review. Based on the Stereophile Recommended Conponents list and the fine work by you and your colleagues at Stereophile, I purchased an ART1000 cartridge and a VPI Classic 4 turntable recently, and am delighted with the result. I have found the information in these pages to be invaluable from a technical standpoint, but also entertaining.
I’m curious which SUT you chose for use with this cartridge, and if you found any substantial differences between the Audio-Creative and EMT tonearms.

eskisi's picture

You will protest but I am at a loss why one would ever want to use idler wheels. The beauty of a turntable is that a heavy platter keeps speed more or less constant, with just a small, gradual loss due to friction, air resistance, etc. A belt makes up for that loss beautifully, without interfering with anything else. An idler wheel, by contrast, provides a near rigid connection to the motor, certainly adding some noise. Furthermore unless the idler rubber is made to surgical accuracy, there will always be some wow introduced. Even then, a few days of non-use and the rubber will develop a flat spot, just like a rarely driven car’s wheels do. (Direct drive has similar issues but at least not the flat spot problems.)

I know this first hand as I restore old reel-to-reels and many 1950s US models have idler wheel driven capstans. Getting them to sound “just OK” is a major chore. In some the flat spot has turned into a half moon from years of pressing against the motor shaft.

Few weeks ago, at an audio meet, the maker of an — unnamed but major — turntable brand said to me, idler wheels provide “better dynamics,” especially for classical music but that belt drive maybe better for jazz and rock. I barely suppressed a chuckle — how does the turning method affect whatever dynamics the record has or the cartridge can generate? But unlike Galileo I know when to remain silent.