Anyone have experience with Fidelity Research FR-54 & FR24 tonearms?

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by mjw21a, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Ok, so I recently had a Fidelity Research FR-24 Mk2 installed on my Ariston RD110 SL. Sounds absolutely spectacular with a level of realism and transparency I've never heard before. It actually manages to make my JVC QL7 sound almost digital in comparison.... That is unless I play some actual digital music. It's actually made me very unhappy with my JVC.

    The end result is I'm looking to replace the tonearm on my JVC turntable with another Fidelity Research tonearm. Now my JVC turntable is the table I run my moving coils on so a lower compliance arm would be fine on this. My understanding is that while the FR24 is suited to a wide range of carts the FR54 is a little heavier and gets along rather well with low compliance carts like the DL103 and the SPU.

    The thing I can't figure out is whether these would both sound similar? the main difference seems to be that the FR24 uses a gyroscopic bearing whereas the FR54 is a unipivot. When I Google gyroscopic I can find nothing on this. What are the differences/pro's and cons of these bearing types for my intended use?

    Here's a picture of my completed Ariston for anyone interested. I've never hear a better sounding table than this though I really need to learn how to adjust the suspension eventually:

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. jeremyjustic

    jeremyjustic Analog Subscriber

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    Congrats on your new table and introduction to some serious esoteric Japanese hardware! Fidelity Research makes some great tonearms and cartridges! I have two fr54's and love them. First the FR 54 is not a unipiviot design, it is the standard gimble bearing (or whatever its called) design. It is a high mass arm so as you said , works great with carts like the dl103. I use a soundsmith retipped , cocobolo bodied dl103r and it sounds amazing!

    The FR54 is an interesting tonearm, not a lot of information out there, I've even been told by a former FR dealer that "Fidelity Research never made a tonearm called FR-54" Well he felt a little silly when I produced one , in the factory box. "Must be a grey market piece" he said, whatever that means.

    It is a great sounding arm , supposed to be a step up from the fr 24 but not as nice as the fr64, I dont have experience with the 24 or 64 so I cant really comment on them but I can highly recommend the 54, great arm for the money.
     
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  3. jeremyjustic

    jeremyjustic Analog Subscriber

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    oh and I have the ultra rare instruction manual in english, I can scan it if you need it. good luck!
     
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  4. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    The issue with the 24 and 54 as far as I'm aware is that they were never made for export, strictly Japanese home market items originally. Having said that, they do seem to have had some sales in a few markets, Canada seeming to be one of them. All it takes is one dealer to twig onto a good thing and stock can start flowing, right? One way or the other....

    As to which is better, the 24 or the 54 I was under the impression that the 24 was slightly up-market from the 54 but that in fact performance is very similar between the two. They have the same effective length and similar mass etc. The main difference is in the bearing design. Both great arms at any rate!
     
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  5. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow I gotta get me a new title

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    Gray Market is a term used for products sold outside their intended market as alluded to in fiddlefye's post. Common when discussing German cars of the 80s when one could save some serious thousands of dollars bringing in a car built for the European market. Even after the costs of conversion (headlights downgraded to sealed beam, side guard door beams installed, bumpers reinforced to 5mph standards, catalytic converters installed), a $30,000 US version of the car could be had for a number of thousands less and might even have a more powerful version of the same motor. The DM to $ conversion was such that this was easily done by many. Porsche, BMW and M-B had lots of cars imported as grey market cars.

    Those FR tonearms are nice. An FR-64s with an Ortofon MC-30 Super is a very nice combination.
     
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  6. sreten

    sreten Super Member

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    Hi,

    YMMV but its likely the difference in the turntables, not the arms, that is the big difference.

    rgds, sreten.
     
  7. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I wouldn't say so in this case. The FR arms are leagues above what came on the JVC, nice as it is.
     
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  8. cannext

    cannext Active Member

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    First , no experience with FR arm so no help here .
    As to bearings ; ( simple version ) ,a tonearm moves in 2 directions being up / down and left /right .
    To make this possible one needs bearings , a gyroscopic / gimbal bearing uses 2 sets of bearings so 4 in total .
    The axes of the bearings cross at 90 degrees .

    So imagine two rings nested , the outer ring has two bearings connecting it to the inner ring .
    The inner ring has two bearings connecting it to the tonearm , which runs through its center .

    Now suppose the the axis of the bearing in the outer ring is vertical , the inner ring (and therefore the tonearm) can move in the horizontal plane.
    The axis of the bearings in the inner ring has to horizontal ( 90 degrees to the outer axis ) enabling the tonearm to move in vertical plane .

    A unipivot tonearm uses one bearing .

    No bearing is frictionless so taking 3 bearings out means less friction for the total arm .

    However unipivots are harder to build but when done right will work nice .

    As said this is the simple version .

    FR has a verry good reputation nad if the price is right ....

    Regards and enjoy F.
     
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  9. sreten

    sreten Super Member

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    Hi,

    I'm not saying a FR arm won't improve the JVC, what I'm
    saying with an FR arm it still won't get near the Ariston.

    Best way of proving this is swap arms, before a purchase.

    rgds, sreten.
     
  10. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Wow, I'm glad I asked the question. Everything I wanted to know has been answered. I guess I'll get the FR54 ;)

    Yes thanks. That would be greatly appreciated thanks mate :)

    I think I'll go ahead with the purchase anyway. Any improvement is welcome and the little lady won't stand for any new table purchases.
     
  11. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    Most JVC turntables but one or two models don't accept other arms. The manual models with the spaceship motor units can have alternative arms.
     
  12. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Thanks mate. My experience so far is that these are amazing arms, as opposed to the one on my JVC which is merely good.

    I'm thinking the FR54 will sound great with my Hana EL and Denon DL103. The 103 has a mahogany body, replacement solid aluminium cantilever (the stock one is kind of chunky) and elliptical tip.

    Thanks, your advice regarding the FR24 is one of the reasons I got the FR24 for the Ariston. You were quite right, an amazing tonearm :)

    I'm definitely upgrading at this point. The JVC is an easier table to swap carts on than the Ariston so it's my daily driver. A step up will be welcome. I've bought Dynamat for it too. Unsure of whether to just treat the plinth, or to treat the platter as well. It may kill dynamics on the platter.

    Ah, brilliant. Do know what they mean by referring to the FR24 bearing as gyroscopic? Is that a gimbal or unipivot or is that another distinctly different bearing type? It certainly looks different....

    Not to worry, the QL7 is one of the spaceship models similar to most of the Denons ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
  13. sreten

    sreten Super Member

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    Hi,

    Live and learn is what I say. If you think the FR arms are amazing all
    power to your elbow. I don't. I think the Ariston is better than the JVC.

    I don't see what swapping arms has to do with any new purchases.
    It would be educational - to say the least - about what matters.

    rgds, sreten.
     
  14. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Ok, I've bought a Fidelity Research FR-54. Now the wait for it to arrive. Shouldn't be too long as the seller is in Japan. I've always found sales from Japan arrive quickly and are hassle free. Only the Germans seem to do it better ;)

    It will indeed be educational and I look forward to hearing the results. I daresay the improvement will be rather noticeable, though if not I can put the original arm back on and sell the FR54 for what I paid for it.

    I'm currently of the school of thought that a turntable simply needs to keep the record spinning at a constant, non fluctuating rate. So long as it can do that, then the arm change should make a considerable difference. I'm happy to prove myself wrong though I'd rather give it a try and find out for myself. At least with the FR54 I won't have a droopy arm anymore ;)

    I think with all of the previously posted, positive information I can safely assume that there will be some kind of improvement though the true test will be once the arm is installed :)

    I'll let everyone know of my findings once it's in there :)
     
  15. sreten

    sreten Super Member

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    Hi,

    IMO your completely wrong about turntables and arms,
    which swapping arms on the JVC and Ariston will prove.

    Why not plan on fitting the FR54 to the Ariston, so that
    the swap is simply an interum measure, for education.

    Put the FR24 on the JVC and the JVC arm on the Ariston.
    You have nothing to lose, and will learn a lot IMHO.

    You can do this before buying the FR54.

    rgds, sreten.

    FWIW I'd be looking at a Rega for the Ariston.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
  16. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Already bought and paid for ;)
     
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  17. bob smog

    bob smog AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    954
    Can any of the FR-24 owners comment on height arm measured from the mounting surface to the mid-point of the pivot?

    I would love to try one of these arms, but worry that they couldn't be adjusted low enough for the arm to be level on my table.
     
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  18. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I'm not entirely sure about that. I suspect the JVC is a nice, quiet drive unit and with a better arm the end result could be really nice.
    Just a question: have you ever heard or used the FR-24 or 54? Have you run both an Ariston and a relatively upper-tier DD table? The FR arms are vastly better than you imagine them to be and a good DD table can sound every bit as good as something like an Ariston, if perhaps a bit different. I run both an Ariston and a Technics SP-15, have a FR-24 MkII arm and am quite familiar with the Rega arms as well. I know someone with a an upper-tier DD table running a FR-24 MkII on it and in a head-to-head comparison with the top-of-the-line current Rega the pairing came off as easily equivalent through a really fine system. I've seen reference to the FR-24 being at least as good as a Graham Phantom. Don't sell these arms short, not by any means. In the Rega line you would have to go to either the upper tier of the current offerings or move to one of the boutique versions like the Audiomods to get the same results and at a great deal more expense.
     
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  19. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    What table do you have in mind? I could pull mine out (it is waiting for me to get my TD-125 done to get mounted) or maybe the OP could take a shot at a measurement? I don't recall the arm needing a huge amount of clearance, though. Unlike the Nottingham Ace on my B-12H. That one just barely goes low enough to work..... but it does so beautifully.
     
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  20. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    BTW I wouldn't expect to get exactly the same presentation from the arm on the solid plinth DD table as from a suspended belt drive. Equivalent quality, certainly.... but different. In my limited experience a solid plinth DD will have a bit drier, perhaps more "correct" approach? Not inferior, but a different "flavour". I don't know about anyone else, but I don't necessarily want all of my tables to sound alike.
     

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