Listening #194: Sorane ZA-12 tonearm Manufacturers' Comment

Manufacturers' Comment

Editor: Thank you, Art Dudley, for your thought-provoking review of the Sorane ZA-12. It is a design that eschews complications, a product with quality materials and precision, at a fair price.

Complications in wristwatches are "cool" and add value. Complications in tonearms usually detract from the sound. The ZA-12 is simple for a reason. We didn't want to compromise the arm for compromised cartridges. If your cartridge needs azimuth adjustment, send it back for another, or to The Soundsmith for repair.

The leads are extra-long for retermination purposes. It is possible to use the arm for years without damaging the leads. On the other hand, people get frustrated and they have accidents. When I mount a cartridge, I take the leads, make a loop, then connect them to the cartridge.

The problem with finding an effective mass for the arm has been the quite wide variation in cartridge compliance, specifically within the same cartridge line. I did note that the EMT's and DL-103's resonances fell within the recommended range of 7–12Hz. That falls below virtually all recorded musical material.

We now have a new tonearm lifter that allows an additional 4mm of clearance at the back of the arm, which gave me much more room for adjustment on my Thorens TD 124 and Denon DP80 (both "short" turntables). It solves the problem we both had on our Thorenses, and makes life easier.

I hope you will throw a suitably obnoxious, really cheap, low-compliance cartridge on there, like the Shure SC35. Great arms excel with noisy/obnoxious cartridges like that. Hopefully, you'll get the chance.

I feel that we have achieved our goals with this product, and that it presents a unique blend of value, performance, looks, feel, and sound. I really appreciate your thoughtful commentary.—Phillip Holmes
Mocking Bird Distribution

Kursun's picture

Regarding Mr. Holmes' comment about Shure SC35C being a noisy/obnoxious cartridge... The truth is far from that comment. I feel sorry for Mr. Holmes as he is in the audio business and yet I believe he has sub-standart ears.