We are happy to introduce the 2nd generation Talea™, a high-end tonearm for the demanding audiophile, with unique features and a sound that has been hailed as “a game changer” by some of its new owners.
Coming a year after the introduction of the first version at the 2009 RMAF, the new version includes a few changes that some of our customers have requested, such as an arm rest and a more ergonomic mechanism for VTA adjustments. But beyond these improvements, there are also more profound advances in sound reproduction, the consequence of a thorough re-examination of the materials used in the metal base as well as in the armwand. We are confident that the new Talea™ pushes even further the limits of what the first model could do!
When a musician goes to a luthier or an instrument maker to buy an instrument he/she doesn’t spend too much time on the issues of engineering–although the materials and techniques used in the construction can be of the highest interest; the musician plays the instrument, and listens. He wants to know if the instrument can do what he wants it to do, if it produces the sound he wants to hear.
Choosing a tonearm involves the same process.
… the Background
As a professional musician, my reference in audio reproduction has always been the live music event. I’d rather go to a good concert than sit at home in front of a blank wall (even if the wall is decorated with the pretty lights of expensive audio equipment). I have been to hundreds of concerts, in many of the best (and the worst…) halls of Europe and the US; unfortunately there are just as many concerts I have not attended, or will never attend.
Having moved away from some of the greatest cultural centers in Europe and the US, I started to miss the opportunity to hear live the world-class ensembles one can only find in those places on a regular basis. So the only way to recover some of that magic was to bring them home, in the best possible conditions. As I progressed in putting together my audio system, I soon felt the need to direct the creative energies I had devoted for so many years to musical composition into this new area, in a way that would combine my early training in sciences with what I had learned about music in the last three decades. This is why the Talea™ was born. In order to realize this project, I spent countless hours reading about tonearm design, machining prototypes and trying to fully understand the manufacturing process; and I listened to a lot of music–the best part of it all!
In the process of developing the Talea™, whenever there was a choice to make in the design or selection of materials, I followed the path that brought me closer to the real sound, that delivered the level of realism I knew so well from the concert hall and was aiming for when I started the project. I am confident that the Talea™ is one of the very finest instruments on the market. I trust that you will agree, once you have had the chance to hear and play it.
… the Talea
A mixture of wood and metals
Far from simply being an inert vehicle enabling the transmission of the electrical signal coming from the cartridge, the tonearm is probably the closest component to a musical instrument in the audio reproduction chain: like a violin bow, one of its primary roles, in conjunction with the cartridge, is to communicate the mechanical vibrations from the musical source without damaging them. Each of the tonearm’s constituents carries a crucial responsibility in the transmission of these vibrations, so every element, down to the smallest screw plays an essential role in the resulting sound.
This is why I spent considerable amounts of time selecting the variety of materials that make up the Talea™: it is in the combination of carefully selected exotic hard wood and the different metals used in the assembly that lies one of the secrets of the Talea’s remarkably transparent and dynamic sound. Achieving this delicate balance is a very difficult process, one that involves paying the closest attention to the location and properties of every element of the assembly, and finally putting together each unit by hand and tuning it individually.
The result is a tonearm that delivers exceptional dynamic range and unmatched tonal realism throughout its bandwidth.
A unique device for azimuth setting
Just like a musical instrument that needs to be perfectly in tune before it is played, a tonearm should have a number of adjustments readily available to maximize its tuning. Beside the finely graduated adjustment capabilities for the Vertical Tracking Angle/Stylus Racke Angle and Vertical Tracking Force, the Talea™ offers a unique mechanism for azimuth setting. Thanks to new, patent-pending technology, the Talea™ is the first tonearm to offer the ability to adjust the azimuth on the fly. Never before has it been possible to fine-adjust this essential parameter while listening to music. Anyone who has spent time getting the most out of a high-end tonearm knows how critical it is to find the proper setting for the azimuth… and also knows how painstakingly complicated it is with most modern tonearms. With the Talea™, all you need to do is turn a small bolt on the side of the azimuth tower; and it can be done while playing a record.
… who’s doing what
The result of over 2000 hours of research and development, the 1st and 2nd generation Taleas™ were conceived, designed and realized by Joël-François Durand, mostly in the machine shop of the University of Washington Mechanical Engineering department, with resources and help from several departments of the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) including Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, the School of Music, the School of Art, the Business School and the School of Law, as well as the Center for Commercialization.
For production, the most intricate parts of the assembly are now made on a 4-axis CNC mill at the Aeronautical Testing Service, while the woodwork is realized by Curt Hart. Small part manufacturing, final assembly, tuning and testing are done by hand by the designer.
- Effective length: 263 mm (10.35”)
- Pivot-spindle distance: 247.37 mm (Loefgren A geometry). Because the pivot is offset from the VTA tower, the Talea™ can be mounted in the position of a 9” tonearm
- Overhang: 15.66 mm. Effective length fine adjustment is realized with a cartridge plate on which the cartridge is mounted
- Offset angle: 20.81 degrees
- Mounting distance (from spindle): 207.8-220.2 mm (8.3-8.7”). If you want to make sure that the Talea™ will fit on your turntable, you can download a mounting template here (click on tab “Talea™ Mounting Templates”).
- Mounting hole dimensions: 10-24 (metal screws) or #8 (wood screws). Mounting on the plinth/armboard is done with 2 bolts (for metal armboards) or 4 screws (for wood armboards). No large central hole needs to be bored.
- Weight of the whole assembly: ca. 2.3 lbs (1.04 kg)
- Bearing: Swiss-made non-corrosive, non-magnetic stainless steel pivot in a sapphire jewel
- VTA: on the fly fine adjustment, with knob; each turn of the knob corresponds to 0.5 mm change in height. Maximum range: 23 mm
- Azimuth: adjustable on the fly (patent-pending technology)
- Progressive and adjustable anti-skating mechanism
- Decoupled counterweights, with additional fine adjust weight to allow adjustment of VTF in small increments (typically +/- 0.1 g). The Talea™ is a medium mass tonearm, and the combination of counterweights provided with it allows use of most MM and MC cartridges currently available
- Phono cable uninterrupted from cartridge clips to termination connectors (available in unbalanced and balanced configuration); see below
- Jig to set the pivot-to-spindle distance provided; no need for a ruler, the jig places the tonearm exactly in the right position
- Arc protractor included
To ensure excellent protection and durability, the main metal parts are black nickel plated.
The Talea™ is supplied with the high quality Discovery Plus 4 phono cable (four conductors, twin shields and locking phono plugs); length: four feet. All Discovery cables utilize a patented reverse lay stranding technique; this proprietary method of stranding eliminates EMI within each conductor. The cable is made up of high purity oxygen-free copper and PFA Teflon (the highest grade on the market) dielectric. Available in unbalanced or balanced configuration.
The Talea™ is entirely made by hand in the USA; in fact it’s all made in the Seattle region (see the About page for more about the people who are involved in its production).
Retail price: $9,500.