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Something new in vinyl playback: The Moerch DP8 “anisotropic” tonearm

The vinyl record came on the market more than sixty years ago and vinyl playback might be expected to be a “mature” technology, with only refinements and small steps ever closer to perfection the only changes. But surprisingly, not long ago, something fundamentally new and fundamentally better appeared. And what is even more surprising is that, in a world where all kinds of minor improvements are hailed as breakthroughs, this real breakthrough has attracted comparatively little attention (though I Golden Eared it twice). Lots of vinyl enthusiasts seem never to have heard of it, much less heard the thing itself! 

 The Moerch DP8 “Anisotropic” arm really is a breakthrough: For the first time in the whole history of the pivoted arm, the bass can be played with fundamental correctness…really the first time.  This is not all that the Moerch DP8 does—it is a fine arm otherwise, with no resonant signature, perfect geometry, elegant appearance, and a refined sound in all respects, among the best pivoted arms in every regard. But it offers something the others do not: it will reproduce the bass power and extension of vinyl completely, even before damping is applied (though damping is indeed part of the package).

The way this works is, like many really good ideas, striking in its simplicity—once you have seen it!

 An arm needs to be “light” in the vertical plane (low moment of inertia, technically) to handle warps [and micro warps at least are present in virtually all records]. At the same time, since bass is cut almost entirely horizontally on records, to get all the bass, the arm needs to be “heavy” in the horizontal plane (high moment of inertia).   But most arms are, more or less, the same in horizontal and vertical moments of inertia.

The Moerch DP8 gets it right, gets vertical lightness and horizontal heaviness   by using “outrigger” weights. These are located on the axis of vertical rotation, so they contribute almost nothing to vertical moment of inertia, and warps track fine. But the weights are out to the sides and thus contribute a lot to the horizontal moment of inertia. So you get all the bass.

And you get the timing of it right, too in a way you do not otherwise (take my word please for this technical point, minimum phase and all that—it works). And warps are still tracked correctly and easily.

OK so this maybe seems to some people like theory only, like techno-babble, the kind of thing that belongs in physics class and can be safely ignored elsewhere.

But believe me, the listening effects are stunning.

With the Moerch DP8, vinyl has total solidity beyond anything you have ever dreamed of.   

The DP8 is not inexpensive, but it is the one that works. Buy a less expensive turntable if you have to leave money to pay for this arm. To my ears, the Moerch DP8 will make a much larger difference in what you hear than the sonic differences among the high quality turntables, and the more expensive ones won’t give you what a cheaper on with this arm would give you…even a much cheaper one.

You have no idea of how a vinyl record can –and ought to –really sound until you hear the Moerch DP8 via speakers that have real bass.  It is a revelation.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen for yourself. Hearing is believing!  You don’t have to think about physics to hear the difference. And you will never ever go back. This is the big one, I promise. 

By Robert E. Greene

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