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Revisiting the Zeta

Discussion in 'classic' started by TPA, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Actually, that should be visiting the Zeta for me, as this is the first time I've ever used one.

    Purchased used so was expecting to have to do some work on it, and duly stripped it down to adjust the bearings. You can tell immediately that this was made by an engineering company. The cup and ball bearings are extremely high tolerance, and naturally difficult to re assemble and time consuming to adjust. I would definitely not recommend anyone do this at home, unless you really are comfortable with delicate components. Bearings were set using a stethoscope, finger feel and strips of paper to set torque.

    I haven't set about a rewire yet as it uses a non standard connector system at the arm base and I want to change that out at the same time so it'll probably need a little more attention at some point in the future.

    Finally I made a specific version of Akula sub chassis to mount it so it is direct mounted and no longer uses the original arm collar. I guess these were only ever heard with the very old Linn arm boards back in the day so was intrigued how it would perform with a modern sub chassis. I also dispensed with the Zeta counter weight and used one of our sKale weights which have O ring decoupling.

    Deck is LP12, Radikal, Akula sub chassis, Linn Krystal cartridge. I'm really shocked at how good this is, this is a seriously good arm (in the context of this deck etc) I have no idea why it wasn't more popular back in the day. perhaps it didn't work so well with the old fibre arm board, I don't know, but it is a league ahead of an Ekos, and I didn't think I'd ever say that. It reminds me of an Aro in terms of vocal fluidity, perhaps a touch darker, but very solid tracking. In comparison to the Ekos it's much cleaner and less resonant. Anyway interesting arm, glad I investigated.
     
  2. wylton

    wylton pfm Member

    I seem to recall that it was considered to be a trifle to heavy to work properly on the LP12 at the time it was released.
     
  3. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Yes, I'd heard that also, but it weighs less than an Ekos SE. Probably around the same as a normal Ekos, and suspension is fine with it. I imagine it was panned by Linn and some of their dealers at the time, but interesting that Linn responded with the Ekos some 3 years after it's release which utilised a similar bonding system for the head shell and arm tube, and also into the bearing housing. Which was essentially the only difference over the Ittok.

    I can see why most manufacturers use standard off the shelf ball races for their arms; these are considerably more expensive to both make and assemble.
     
  4. Dark Energy

    Dark Energy pfm Member

    Zeta, Darker and less resonant, yes certainly, how do you find the PRAT?
     
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    My feelings too. I remember attending a three-LP12 dem between Aro, Ekos and Zeta. I didn't really like the Ekos, kind of dry and over-damped for me, I liked the Aro, but it was a bit gutless and not being able to align cartridges properly is just stupidity, and the Zeta was better than both. Like an Aro with real slam and dynamics to my ears. Rather wish I'd kept mine, though it would look very wrong on a 124!
     
  6. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Agree with you about the Aro with more slam analogy. Back in the day I didn't really take the time to compare much and just replaced the Ittok with an Ekos as it was the logical thing to do. And I know it's sacrilege to some, but I was never that happy with the Ittok, I loved the finish but it could get shouty and the Ekos solved that so it was a natural upgrade.

    @ Dark Energy, yes to my ears it's got a very natural dynamic and tuneful presentation. Certainly resolves bass lines well so easily captures rhythms etc. I can imagine though that when mounted on the old fibre arm board it could get a bit murky, but that's just a guess. Interesting to try these things in the context of the new leaner more accurate decks.
     
  7. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Agree with you on the Ittok too; something a bit grainy, crunchy and edgy in the upper mid/low treble even it it is a really articulate and tuneful arm.

    PS One sleeper is the Mission 774SM, kind of a cheapened Zeta (made by GB Tools, as was the Zeta). I went to one from an Ittok when I was waiting for a good Zeta to turn up. It is a nice mid-point between the two and not heavy either so easy to get a good subchassis bounce. The other GB Tools arm is the Mission Mechanic, which is allegedly superb/Zeta class. I’ve never heard one myself. Some had fancy ceramic bearings.
     
    darkmatter likes this.
  8. suzywong

    suzywong The Man who had no Naim

    Our Zeta was bought from Reading Hifi (late 80’s?), demoed against a Tiktok. It remains in pristine nick on our Sondek. “Bit of a buqqer to get the bounce right!”, was Phil M’s only comment following a service two years ago, but he still managed a cracking job of it. :D
     
  9. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Well to my ears that was a wise choice, it's been a real joy using to it this evening. Ha! Phil M, yep he's a quality LP12 man!
     
  10. YNWOAN

    YNWOAN 100% Analogue

    The reasons it didn’t get more exposure at the time are quite pragmatic. The simplest are that it was made in small quantities and there were some quality control issues. There is a bit more to it (some politics) but that is the core.

    (Tony’s mention of the Mission (don’t forget the Mission Mechanic that GB tools also made) reminds me that I have a mint Alphason HR100S I keep meaning to try)
     
  11. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Yes, heard interesting things about that Alphason.
     
  12. YNWOAN

    YNWOAN 100% Analogue

    Technically a very sophisticated arm - one piece titanium arm tube.
     
  13. flatpopely

    flatpopely Prog Rock/Moderator

    Tony, I hear this comment a lot and I just don’t hear it!
    I wonder if it’s related to the fact it was mostly used in the classic flat earth Linn NAIM systems?
    Certainly Joni’s vocals have no edge to them at all!!!!!!
     
  14. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    i nearly bought a zeta the other week off ebay,with hindsight it might have been a sideways move from my alphason,its a cracking arm combo on my rock 2
     
  15. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It is more a comparitive thing, the Ittok is fine, but move to an Aro or Zeta and that area improves to my ears. FWIW I’d say Joni was as good a test as any.
     
  16. flatpopely

    flatpopely Prog Rock/Moderator

    Well the Ittok is better than the ARO with Joni so go figure......
     
  17. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    I wouldn't worry about it; I'm definitely of the opinion that we all hear things slightly differently, sadly it kicks off just where my hearing is sensitive to it, once I noticed it, I couldn't 'not hear' it if that makes sense. I always thought it was peculiar to me at the time.
     
  18. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    did you buy the zeta recently?
     
  19. suzywong

    suzywong The Man who had no Naim

    I recall that not many dealers stocked it. As I recall, none of South Hampshire’s finest :) stocked it which is why we had to travel from Southampton to Reading.

    TPA or Us? In our case it was late 80's.
     
  20. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Yes, took a punt on one from ebay as I wanted to try and get a handle on different arms etc in the context of LP12s. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so enjoyable.
     

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