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.

DaveThreshold's picture

That was a very enjoyable review Art! I strongly suggest that any audiophile buy a dual head stethoscope. The membrane head, or that side, is INSANELY sensitive. When I was refurbishing turntables, I would listen to the plinth/frame area with that. The results are an abject lesson in what is a good design, or a poor design.
Sadly, the idler wheel turntables sounded like the German Tank in Saving Private Ryan. They were extremely loud with that scope, almost to the point of pain. The belt drives were far better, but even my Pro-Ject RM-9 had a bit of rumble do to the SILLY inverted bearing that many manufacturers like to use.
I have a Technics SL-1210 M5G, which was second to the lowest, before the KAB mods removed the power supply from it. What I heard was the 60 HZ MECHANICAL hum of the transformer in that unit. After the KAB mod removed it, it was as dead as a doornail.
The quietest, stock, TT that I ever tested with the scope was the Sony TTS-3000!! I even disconnected the belt and spun it up to about 200 RPM, manually, and it was still decibel DEATH.
I can not recommend a cheap, dual head stethoscope enough to any audiophile.