- Oct 5, 2012
Kuzma announced a new flagship tonearm called SAFIR 9. Unfortunately no details are available yet.
View attachment 90760
I had a privilege to follow development of SAFIR 9 for more than two years. Even in it’s earliest prototype stage it was clear that Franc set himself a goal, not only to construct the best tonearm he can, but also to raise the bar of state-of-the (tonearm)-art. I haven’t heard this new tonearm in my system (yet), so what follows are my impressions based on listening sessions at Franc’s listening room which I know quite well.
The main characteristics of SAFIR 9 is a tape like lack of distortions with extremely high but unforced resolution. Music sounds much less reproduced yet you can hear so much more what’s on records or to put it differently, you get more resolution but not at the cost of musicality. I fondly remember lively reactions of my audio buddy when we left Franc’s place after the first introduction. He was shocked and couldn’t believe what we heard. There was a kind of calmness to the sound, instruments and their positions in space were breathtakingly convincing. Also, music in general was spectacularly fast. Of course not in the sense of turntable speed but in the sense of lighting fast reactions to signal changes.
When listening to systems with ultimate aspirations, I always listen (if it’s possible) to The Royal Ballet, the Arabian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite (RCA Living stereo/Classic Records reissue). My reference experience of this piece until I heard SAFIR 9 was Audio Exotics system from 2016. Arabian Dance ends with a short, slowly fading clarinet line. Usually you can “see” more or less clear 2D image of a clarinet but in this case you can also see a realistic, full bodied 3D image of an instrument with all of it's subtle dynamic and timbral shadings. SAFIR 9 evened the score. Even though this was a completely different system, the impact of this new Kuzma tonearm had the same effect.
I still think 4Point14 is one of the very best tonearms but SAFIR 9 is simply in a different league. No point to compare. Some will say its ugly (not to me) but don’t forget Franc design approach is strictly form follows function and SAFIR 9 is a purest result of that.
You will be able to see (and hopefully hear) SAFIR 9 at Munich High End show in May.
I don't think playing cards come in to play. It sounds like arm height is directly adjusted via the screw, and that it's precise and repeatable. Not a situation where the user needs to count cards and shim.
My money is on Franc not having forgotten to provide the same gauge as on the 4 point, though my money may not stretch far enough to acquire this arm either way. Another thing that's unclear is whether any of the dimples at the top align with the pivot center point so as to allow the use of my P2S measurement tool.
A while back CSPort told me their arm has an effective mass over 50g. Had never heard of an arm with such high mass and now the Kuzma even exceeds that. Did the industry learn something new?The Safir-9 page does say "Technical papers on tonearm resonances and effective mass- soon".
While he wants to encourages sales, Franc is not prone to hyperbole: SAFIR 9 shows the ultimate potential of your cartridge and will reveal music hidden in the grooves, effectively, giving you a new record collection! Sounds like we may learn something new.
I totally agree with your assessment of online resonance calculators being questionable in their value. There isn't even a consistently implemented standardized test that cartridge manufacturers adhere to. Your solution of using the test record is probably the best there is right now.Well, not to state the obvious, but a tonearm/headshell/cart combination outside the rule of thumb ideal of 9-11 Hz is not problematic if there is nothing present at that particular frequency to excite resonance. I always prefer being on the low end and relying on isolation or just pure mass to squelch the amplitude of external vibration. But this leaves record warp, and it would only make sense that periphery rings, vacuum hold downs, et.al. are imperfect at ameliorating it. I'm definitely on the low end now with my current combo, and rather than use flawed (verified empirically) online calculators, I simply measure resonance frequency with test records. This also allows me to backwards-calculate cartridge compliance. But I digress. With my lowish system resonance, I'd previously assumed that tonearm damping was the right thing to do. However, more recently, I determined subjectively that draining the damping troughs and subsequently even removing them from the arm altogether produced a substantially more desirable result. I've never had a single skip event except when using VdH carts for a brief while. I also note that Safir doesn't even provide damping oil troughs.
As to overhang, I agree. The evidence I have leads me to believe it is not uber-critical. However, I can get it very close to ideal and do prefer to know it is at all times.
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
|Julian (The Fixer)|
Website Build | Marketing Managersing