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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    If I find after all the tweaks to my JVC QL7 doesn't improve as much as I'd like , then I'll keep an eye out for another used vintage table. I do believe the wait will be a few years before something suitable crops up. Then I'll sell the JVC . I'd rather give it a try first though .

    I've already had someone with good knowledge of suspended subchassis turntables do the fit out and set up of the Ariston. It sounds spectacular .
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
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  2. sreten

    sreten Super Member

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    Hi,

    Perhaps I should have said all the great VFM turntables are suspended subchassis IMO.
    Not all subchassis types are great, by any means, some have quite blatant design faults.

    In my youth I was quite perturbed that locking the suspension on my HiFi-Choice "Best Buy"
    Philips (GA-222) suspended turntable seemed to make next to no difference in sound quality.

    Consequently through experimentation and modifications and tweaks I've formed my own
    set of opinions about what really works and what doesn't. And there is more than one
    way to skin a cat, I prefer the suspended route as the best path to navigate to quality.

    The solid plinth variety of turntable is a conumdrum. Go the Rega route with a low mass
    chassis - which has similarities to subchassis design - or go the massive plinth route,
    the favoured approach for idler wheel drives, and generally also direct drives.
    No-one seems to report a halfway house approach between the two works.

    For all its sins the AR XA can show a thing or two to most other types of turntables,
    and is an eye-opener for some about what suspended suchassis turntables can do.

    YMMV but I look at the energy loop from tip, through the cartridge, through the arm
    through the subchassis, through the main bearing, through the platter and mat and
    back to the tip. It all matters, including the outside interference from feedback.

    I wish I had more experience with the solid, high mass route, sadly not enough.

    rgds, sreten.
     
  3. bob smog

    bob smog ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Subscriber

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    Just Measured the distance from the Fairchild plinth to the center point of the pivot for the arm that is currently installed.
    47mm or 1.75"
     
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  4. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    The AR XA also is a fairly compact turntable.... Something which I can certainly appreciate. Not much room for large tables anymore.... My JVC QL7's plinth is a little on the large side.
     
  5. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Y'all will be fine with a FR-24 then. I pulled mine out of the cupboard (happy to see it, such a lovely thing) and measured from the bottom of the base to the centre of the pivot: 1.62". If 1.75" is what you have now you're in fine shape.

    I'd forgotten that while the arm doesn't have VTA-on-the-fly it has this lovely lever that tightens or loosens tension on the column so you can adjust with incredible smoothness and precision. The Sumiko MMT I set up recently was a horrid sloppy mess by comparison. The difference in quality is like between a cheap Kia and a Bentley. I disagree with the notion that these were Ikeda's "budget" arms. Not a bit, just designed for a different purpose than the now-famous higher mass arms. Design and build quality is every bit as good, just medium mass.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
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  6. muovimies

    muovimies Super Member

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    In the late 70s, FR-24mkII & FR-54 retailed for about 30,000 & 25,000 jpy, while FR-64 retailed for 50,000 jpy and FR-66 was 95,000 & 120,000 for the S version. So calling FR-24/FR-54 'affordable' It's not a dig at their quality, just a reference to their original retail price, and to me something being 1/4th of the price of something else, makes it very affordable in comparison. I haven't actually seen a FR-64 or FR-66 in person so I can't comment on the quality aspect, but one would imagine buying 4 times more you get at least some sort of improvement in something.

    Arms in the same price range would include stuff like SAEC WE-308, Stax UA-7, Micro MA-202/303/505 etc. etc. - it was a very densely populated area of the market, and I'd venture a guess it was the segment with "best value for money", a level or two up from the very cheapest stuff, but not into the truly expensive yet. It would be interesting to take a time machine trip to late 70s Japan and go shop for some tonearms.
     
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  7. bob smog

    bob smog ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Subscriber

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    Good to know - thanks for measuring! Going to pursue the lead I have on one of these - hope it's still available.
     
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  8. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Mine is going on my TD-125 when it gets restored/modded. Tough having it sit about unused, but I have a plan.... I took a little beauty pic while it was out enjoying the Fall air. Back to the cupboard now. Hanging around loose is when things get broken.
    DSC_4585.jpg
     
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  9. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    It sure would be cool to be able to walk into a shop selling all of these things back then! You're right about pricing certainly, though I have seen a FR-64 up close and personal and I don't think the build quality was in a particularly different league from what I see in the FR-24. Much bigger and heavier to be sure, but then that was the point to those designs.
     
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  10. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    You'll be pleasantry surprised. My FR54 will arrive this week. The FR24 on my Ariston turntable with an Empire 4000 D/I cart makes the most glorious sound I've ever heard. With luck the FR54 will get even more out of my Hana EL cart than my JVC arm does on the QL7 although it makes a lovely sound too.

    With an unlimited bank account of course..... What would be the fun without one of those? :p

    On another note, I had more of a listen to my JVC QL7 on the weekend and think I was overly critical of it. I think it merely has a different sound to the Ariston, and considering the system its hooked up to errs on the side of warmth/musicality I think its a fine match. I'm glad I have both.

    Since I already have the FR54 on the way I'll get that fitted at some point as it is a much higher end arm, and I'm sure it will get more out of my LOMC's. Not being a suspended design the JVC is an easy table to use daily and swap carts on.I'll take my time about it though. I may not get around to having this installed till next year sometime.

    I'll treat the underside of the plinth and platter with dynamat, then use a spray on sealant on the dynamat to ensure it doesn't leak its tar out everywhere. I am in Australia after all. On the upside, its location ensures it is never exposed to direct sunlight. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  11. jeremyjustic

    jeremyjustic Analog Subscriber

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    This thread inspired me to finally mount up my second FR54 on my 401. Love the sound and function of this arm, it is a very well designed piece. I've had several arms that sound nice but seemed flimsy and rickety in comparison The fr54 feels like a solid and smooth precision piece of equipment. You will enjoy it!

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    If it sounds as good as it looks that should be a sweet sounding deck :)
     
  13. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    That looks gorgeous and I'll bet it sounds even better. You hit the nail on the head with your description of the FR; "feels like a solid and smooth precision piece of equipment". The quality of design and machining is really quite remarkable.
     
  14. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    I like the Japanese tonearms as a rule, always well made, very well engineered, and well thought out. And practical to live with daily. Reliable as a rule.
     
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  15. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Hi Jeremy, you must be a fan of the FR arms to run two of the same on one table. It seems more common to see different arms on one table ordinarily. :)
     
  16. bob smog

    bob smog ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Subscriber

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    My current daily driver is a Micro Seiki MA-505 mounted on a Fairchild 412. Fantastic arm, that is a piece of functional art.

    [​IMG]

    If I snag the FR-24, it will go on a second, more massive Fairchild 412 that I'm building up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
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  17. fiddlefye

    fiddlefye AK Subscriber Subscriber

    That certainly was a period when the Japanese in particular seem to have been trying to outdo each other in the beauty and build quality of their arms.
     
  18. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Yes, they seem to have taken a balanced approach whereas other simply focused on just one aspect of product design.....
     
  19. jeremyjustic

    jeremyjustic Analog Subscriber

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    Yeah , I change the tonearms on that table a good bit, I happened to find a killer deal on a boxed fr54 so I added it to the collection. They are really nice arms, you will enjoy it!
     
  20. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    If it sounds as good as the FR24 I've not doubt of that ;)
     

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