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Mandy's Kamagong tonearm VS EMT!

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 9:09 pm
by pigdog
after beingn on the road for nearly 6 months and after finally getting the kamagong tonearm set to my liking, i decided to have a bit of fun. i performed a shootout between the Emt 930St with the stock Ortofon 929 arm
Equipment used:

45SET amp, Aikido-Gomes Based Preamp
speakers : Altec 604c Harana Cabinet
here are the contenders:

on the left corner:

Nordic Concept Artiste armed with Mandy's 12 Inch Kamagong Tonearm with Mammothed Denon DL103r
SUT: JBL Mic Input trannie

on the right corner:

EMT 930ST with Ortofon 929 10 inch arm and EMT TSD15 MC Cart recently retipped by EMT
SUT : Joergen shou

Phono Stage: both ttables connected to similar phono stage, which is an Andy Grove designed circuit using 3 6992 valves, built by hypertriode


Melody Gardot, My one and only thrill. songs used for reference: Baby i'm a fool and If the stars were mine
i chose BaBY I'M A FOOL As i am very familiar with the tune and the second tune was chosen because the end part of the song has a very interesting background recording of a little girl.

before i began i made sure my speakers were properly set up with a particular concern for imaging, following Mandy's lead everytime he sets up an arm

so first to go is the EMT 930st playing the first track of Melody Gardot's Baby i'm a fool. Ms Gardot's voice is known for her torchy smokey character, which amazingly she manages to keep in control while singing passages with higher keys. her phrasing is excellent and she certainly can swing.
so how does she sound like with the EMT and its signature EMT TSD cart and 10 inch 929 transcription arm? she is in my opinion sounding very warm, pretty much what one would expect with tubed equipments. nice rounded sonic quality and rather vintage like presentation. in essence, i would say seductive...malambing. staging is ok with the strings blending in the background

as for the Nordic Concept artiste with the Kamagong tonearm. a totally different presentation. whereas with the EMT Ms Gardot sounded languid and seductive, here she sounded more immediate, like a presence in the room, staging is very obvious, her voice right smack in the middle of the room with seperation from the instruments there is a sense of life like presence with her voice with the nordic concept, perhaps a darker background, maybe due to the more quiet motor of the nordic. as the music plays, one can hear the strings in the background yet it is not as distant sounding as the EMT. there is a considerable amount of clarity. a friend of mine who was present during the shoot out commented that he can hear Ms. Gardot's breath gently rushing out of her mouth and this is not the ssshhhh of sibilance.


The Emt with the 929 ortofon tonearm and TSD15 MC cart sounded warm and lush but less dynamic, it has a relaxed yet seductive quality, this is nice if one wished to have a quiet relaxed evening. but compared to the Nordic with the Kamagong tonearm and the USD300 budget denon DL103r mammothed mc cart. this one wins on the soundstaging and the details, presenting a lifelike quality, except it is not as warm as the EMT. i would use the Kamagong arm for jazz and small classical ensembles and an occasional vocal, whereas the EMT to me is good for pop, rock and large classical ensembles, mainly because to me most of the pop/rock and larger ensembles can be a bit too overwhelming for the kamagong arm, as this arm is known for its amazing clarity, detail and dynamics. the EMT though just a bit more softer has a tendency to smooth out the rougher rock and pop recordings. but if one wishes to experiance a "living prescence" Mandy's kamagong arm with the denon dl103r (nude or mammothed) would be an excellent choice. there are no winners here, as both setups has thier own strengths and weaknesses.

Re: Mandy's Kamagong tonearm VS EMT!

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 5:48 am
by mandym
Thanks for the flattering review Mr. pigdog!

I generally agree with your observations on the arm, specially about the holographic presence and the amount of details it digs out from the vinyl. My mouth waters when I imagine hearing it with top ancillary equipment such as yours. I hope someday someone will mate the arm with one of the pricey carts instead a Denon! Also I found the arm to track very well. Just last night I got a text from a new user that it (with a Shure M97) passed the infamous 1812 overture recording (Telearc is it?). Try it on your favorite "torture" records, you will be pleased.

Finally, please pardon my ignorance, I have been Googling the EMT TSD15 /Ortofon 929 but I couldn't get a good grip on the pricing. If you could maybe PM me the info, I could better assess the real value of the Kamagong arm/Denon combo.

Thanks again.

Re: Mandy's Kamagong tonearm VS EMT!

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 10:43 am
by pigdog
i do have a telerc 1812 overture as well i think i will try that one also, although from previous experience with Holst's The planets, specially the section on Mars the tonearm was able to track nicely something my SME3009 cant seem to handle

at some point i will do a tracking comparison maybe using the stock arm of the nordic against the kamagong arm. as both arm shares the same ttable.

the emt 929 arm came with the ttable along with the emt tsd15 when i first bought it, the cart at that time needed a new suspension and retipping
having it done late last year cost me euro 170 from emt. a brand new emt tsd15 will cost around Euro 600 at present.roughly usd 900

what is inspiring with Mandy's arm is that one does not need to spend huge amounts of money for expensive carts, for me the denon dl103r that was modded already made it a sound like a very expensive cart. i am sure other users were using shure M97 which is even most cost effective and still a great performer. the tonearm somehow manages to bring the best out of the budget carts and make them shine, that is provided they are set up properly