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Revisiting the Zeta

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

  1. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    Lol I was the second highest bidder on that arm, enjoy :)
  2. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    Jamie I remember the pictures, one of the nicest looking arm/deck combinations I've seen.
  3. martin dawson

    martin dawson pfm Member

    I owned 3 Ittoks in my time moved to an Aro some 10 years ago, to get the best from the Aro it needs the Armeggedon. Theirs a synergy between them on an LP 12, great with the rest of my Linn, Stiletto, Karmen, Plateau and a Kiseki Blue NS.

    To me the Aro is very seductive you may lose out on the extreme ends of the spectrum but the in between bits are magic.


  4. Mark Packer

    Mark Packer pfm Member

    I run a AO required Zeta on my Rock III with a Koetsu Rosewood. I find the combination astonishingly good. Similarly, I’m using an extra heavy weight made by AO.

    It’s an excellent arm, beautifully made and really solid.
  5. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    So do I every time I hear it!
  6. TPA

    TPA Trade: Tiger Paw

    Small world! Yes, they don't seem to come up very often. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that the Zeta, Ittok and Alphason all share the same mounting (Linn) geometry and cut out. If you're not too far away then maybe at some point you can try it out and see how it compares.
  7. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    Wow! Yes I’d love to, I’m in brighton.
  8. Jag Audio

    Jag Audio Trade: Jag Audio

    The Mission 774SM is a very good tonearm indeed and nearly as good (but not quite) as the Zeta. I had all 3 in my collection with the same Ikeda silver rewiring and fettling by Audio Origami so after comparing them I was astounded as to how good they still sounded compared to current top rated tonearms.

    Stupidly I sold off the 2 Zeta's as well as the Mission 774SM in their wooden boxes because I decided to keep the best of the bunch which is the Mission Mechanic. I probably will never sell these Mission Mechanic's as they are superb performers and up there with current top tonearms and mine have the later bearings all tested by Audio Origami. I did have some Linn dealers saying that the Mission Mechanic will be too heavy for the Linn LP12 but from what I gather, the Ekos SE is a similar weight so believe that there is a definite ring of bias against anything other than "Linn" products.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Regarding the weight thing I consider myself pretty good at setting up LP12s, at least as good as some who charge for it, and I’d certainly say the Zeta is noticeably harder to deal with than arms like the Ittok, 774SM or real light stuff like the LVX, Hadcock, original Mission 774 etc. The LP12 is still really an Ariston RD11 at heart and that dates from the time of the SME 3009, Hadcock etc. It just wasn’t designed to cope with heavy arms and asking it to inevitably ends up with the back spring by the armboard far more compressed and shorter than the other two. The Zeta brings another issue in that it has an odd arm cable that exits downwards, so dressing it is a bit fiddly. I think some very late Zetas had a standard Linn/Japanese style 5 pin plug which would make life a lot easier. I found it hard but certainly not impossible to get a good vertical bounce with no twisting, and I also found it didn’t stay set long. I’m too obsessive about these things so ended up fiddling with it every few months! Luckily I had a ‘bogseat’ Quadraspire support at the time so could just reach under and give the back spring a nudge!
  10. Jag Audio

    Jag Audio Trade: Jag Audio

    On my Zeta's I had a standard 5 pin DIN fitted by J7 as well as the rewire etc and generally use less stiffer arm cables like the Audio note AN-VX etc so more flexible and an SME 90 degree plug. This helps to get the cable dressing easier without affecting a good pistonic movement of the suspension. I did buy lots of Linn suspension springs and tested for the more stiffer ones, labelled them for particular use as the third position to support the heavier tonearm mass better for longer term stability.

    I did not weigh the total mass of the Zeta with counterweight, mounting collar and bolts etc but suspect it might be a bit heavier than the Mission Mechanic. If it helps others I can unbox one of the Mechanic arms and weigh the total unit as a comparison. The Zeta seems to have a slightly bulkier and more substantial bearing housing/unit in comparison.
  11. Mignun

    Mignun pfm Member

    Which could just as easily be said of the Alphason. The HR100S is well worth a look - the bearings were superb and reputedly have stood the test of time and use well.

    Also look out for the Alphason Xenon, which was a sort simplified HR100S. The simplification was only on the anti skating mechanism, armrest platform, and losing the polished finish on all bar the titanium arm tube. Otherwise, it was basically very similar. Back to back they are very difficult to tell apart, but you'll save a bit of money going for the Xenon. Alphason tried to pull the HR100S ahead by the MCS (mono crystal silver wiring) upgrade, but the Xenon soon followed suit.
  12. cre009

    cre009 Member

    There are a couple of early reviews of the Zeta at VE


    The Jimmy Hughes review describes the history and it is clear the arm went through some iterations to resolve earlier issues.

    I have what is probably a late Zeta on my Heybrook TT2 and have not found any issues with the suspension on that deck.
  13. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Martin, I think that genuinely depends on the deck/arm-board that it is attached to. The LP12 termination with a lump of shoddy mdf isn't the ideal support.
  14. martin dawson

    martin dawson pfm Member

    Hi Simon,

    It’s made hell of a difference moving onto the Plateau sub chassis as it now comes with an aluminium arm board.


  15. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Plenty of life in the fruit box yet.

    Has anyone tried the zeta against the Sumiko mdc 800?
  16. Jag Audio

    Jag Audio Trade: Jag Audio

    Yes, had the Sumiko MDC 800 too and a lovely tonearm and lighter than the Zeta and sounded very silky smooth. I regret selling it but the Zeta had more presence and solidity to the overall sound with more authority and bass.

    The MDC 800 is reputed to be extremely impossible to rewire and after my trip to see J7, he concluded that it was not a likely project for technical reasons due to the way it was built. If I saw another MDC 800 it would be tempting but a Bruer or a Brinkmann 10.5 looks like a modern alternative.
  17. Si74

    Si74 pfm Member

    I've had a lovely Zeta/ZYX Airy on a Fully Funked Linn, gorgeous.
    A Well Tempered Arm on various decks, seems to work alarmingly well on any deck with any cartridge given it's simplicity (apparent)
    A PU3/Koetsu on my Oracle, Extremely disappointing till J7 made additional weights to install inside the original counterweight, then it was rather special.
    Various Roksan arms on a Xerxes, loved the deck, not a fan of the arms.
    Numerous PU 2s on various decks, in spite of it's suicidal cueing tendencies, still a fave.
    A Mission 774 on a Systemdek with cheapo to expensivo at the time (who remembers being shocked at paying nearly 400 quid for a cartridge (Elite MCP 555) that kept me more than happy for eighteen years and I could live with again tomorrow if need be.
    Her indoors and finances meant the arm collection had to go.
    My all time fave is the Kuzma Stogi S, used it on Xerxes, an LP 12 and the Oracle.
    My current set up is a Kuzma Stogi/Koetsu on the Oracle, nice but doesn't blow me away like the Stogi S/Oracle combo did.
    Having set up serviced loads of tables, I always loved the Aro but wouldn't pay that kind of money and honestly think the Stogi S was better. As to Linns own arms, had rather a lot in the system on occasion(never my own) and always thought, why oh why spend that kind of money when you could have a Zeta, Syrinx, Stogi, Mission or WTA for a fraction of the price, more so these days in the worl of lunatic Ittok pricing:)
    The Zeta was something I should never have sold, likewise the PU 3 and the Stogi S, more so since I bought each of them for under £300, doubling and more my money on the Zeta, Syrinx and making a bit on the Stogi S after ten years of use. The Zeta was a peach although I think I'm a unipivot man at heart!
    Best I've ever heard?, a PU 7 sporting a 3.5K Audionote Cartridge on a home brewed Lenco, although hearing a prototype of J7's unipivot in his loft many years ago still has me thinking were my finances to improve, his unipivot is the only arm I'd be prepared to pay more for than I usually pay for my cars:) Long winded way of saying if you have a good Zeta, hang on to it FFS, If it's not sounding Magic, send it to Johnnie and be amazed when it comes back!
  18. user510

    user510 Active Member


    I bought this one from another audiophile sometime back around 2009 or thereabouts.

    I've used the arm on two very different types of turntables. the one pictured is a TD124. The other is a 3-spring subchassis table by Thorens, the TD126 mkIII. The Zeta has performed well on both of these.

    Prior to the sale, the seller had the arm wires replaced with an Incognito silver wire set. (vdh silver litz) To install the wires the arm was sent to British Audio Products. I'm told that in order to change out the wires it was also necessary re-adjust the pivot bearings as a final operation. For this, I'm told, the arm's designer was called in to perform the adjustments.

    Several years later, I continue to like the arm.
    Here are some more photos:


    If I were to say something negative about this arm it would be pointed at the mechanism within the counterweight. The designer put in some steel plates that function like cams to lock and unlock the counterweight over the stub shaft. These parts, I'm certain, will tend to vibrate with whatever vibes are traveling up the arm tube.

    My solution was to disassemble the counterweight, produce some very thin shims to place in between the plates. This method retained function of the counterweight locking design, while dampening vibes going into the counterweight. I used blu-tack, flattened out using a baker's rolling pin, to produce my shims. I 'think' it made an improvement. However, that said, it would make sense to replace the stock Zeta counterweight with a solid one made from bronze, I'd think. Or, perhaps, tungsten.

    edit: another negative. The arm rest clip is a resiliant polymer that squeezes down slightly over the arm tube. While this is great for retaining the arm within its parked location, it can lead to some wild out-of-control-exits from the park condition if the operator does not have a secure hold on it...and if the cue lever is in the down position. Just sayin' be careful or the arm can 'spring' out of its parked condition.

    Anyway, this is a useful thread and I'm glad I came across it. The Zeta tonearm doesn't get very much mention around the internet. Probably not its due.

    If I were to compare it to another arm of similar dimension, available new, the Jelco SA750D comes to mind.
  19. rontoolsie

    rontoolsie pfm Member

    In my audio lifetime I have owned a Hadcock GH228, Audio Technica AT1100, LV-X (two of them), Ittok (two of them), PU-2 (three of them), Zeta (x1), PU-3 (x1) and Aro.

    The Zeta was a fantastic arm especially after you remove the cueing mechanism, which is a source of great coloration and loss of dynamics. This was almost as big of a jump as going from the LV-X to the Ittok. The Zeta came with headshell that was slightly off in Azimuth though. I used it with a couple Koetsu, a VdH One, and a Karma.

    Although it was years between the Zeta and the Aro, I remember recordings on the Zeta that had much more gravitas than the Aro ever could. I only sold the Zeta about 5 years ago after having it in storage for over a decade. Think I asked $100 for it, and that was after it was rewired years ago with some solid silver wires.

    But to the OP, do try removing the cueing device-this will transform the performance while really not adding too much complexity in use. I think I used a cut out foam block to park the arm into, which may be a bit too utilitarian for most people.
  20. starbuck

    starbuck pfm Member

    Your Thorens/Zeta set up looks great, I bet sounds it too. May I ask what material your plinth is made from (hollow box or layered wood of some sort)? It looks like you're using the 124 without the mushrooms and adjustment wheel, so is the 124 bolted hard down to the plinth?

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