Here is my new tonearm

Sometimes ago I showed to my local audio-friend an absurd looking old Russian tonearm that Russkies made somewhere in 70s. The friend of mind, the MIT-type person, look at the tonearm, then look at me and asked me very seriously: “Romy, are you sure that this is not a peace of the Chernobyl Reactor and are you sure the this thing is not radioactive?” We were laughing for quite some time after the joke, but the tonearms got it’s permanent American name - "The Chernobyl Spinnaker”

 I own this tonearm for a while and recently decided to put it in use…

The tonearm was initially designed by Leningrad’s designer A. Likhnitsky as a part of “Korvet” turntable. The tonearm, like many other things made or designed by Russians, has some interesting ides alongside with completely foolish and irrational ideas, not to mention the typically-horrible implementation.

The tonearm has knife-edge VTF bearing, ball-bearing horizontal, adjustably-magnetic decoupling from the bottom, spring-managed antiskating and VTFs settings. Everything in there is well-considered, and designed very economically or I would very frugally. The damping is the most interesting things in this tonearm. At the pivot line there is a large, attached to the wand, hermetic sphere filed with glycerin. Inside of the sphere there is another sphere that is not attached to anything and that floating freely in the glycerin. According to Likhnitsky a moment that take place at the end of the tonearm gets transmitted to out-sphere and reduced by the tension between the inner-sphere and out-sphere (kind of gyroscope effect). Presumably, the masses of the spheres, the amount and viscosity of the glycerin and the distances between the spheres are properly set. Likhnitsky clams that this type of damping provides minus 10dB at 9hz compare to any other damping methods.

I have to tell honestly that I am not particularly subscribe what Likhnitsky proclaims and I have heard a number of inconsistencies from him, including the inconsistencies about the given tonearm. In addition, I have no idea how all those theories manifest themselves sonically. Do not ask me also how the Moon’s gravity affects the performance of this tonearm creating the tides within it or what will happen if you drain the glycerin and fill the tonearm with 30 years old Scotch Whisky. I’m pretty much a user of this thing, or a casualty in a way…

I certainly was not able to used the tonearm “as is” because too many things in there were way below any criticism. I decided to invest efforts and to see if I would be able to use the good ideas that “Korvet” had. I changed all wires, put a new headshell, put a new 12” graphite wand, added adjustable contra-mass on back, designed and machined a VTA-adjustable base, made my Micro-suitable arm-board, changed both top and bottom bearings, replaced the bottom magnet assembly (I manufactured the exact replica of that Likhnitsky had only with a highest level of precision), got rid within the arm whatever I considered unnecessary. The entire projects cost ~$500, winch is 50 time more than the price of the arm…

Another mystery story about the “Korvet” arm is that the Russians had some problems during manufacturing of those arms and as a result most of the tonarms were manufactured defective…. without the inner-sphere. I made a bunch of the experiment trying to figure out if my arm has the inner-sphere. My tonearm’s ball does not spins on a table (similar to none-boiled egg) and when I shake it then “something going on” inside. Eventually a friend of mine X-rayed the sphere.

 

Even looking at the images I can’t figure out what is going on. Obviously there is a second sphere inside, however I was under impression that the distance between the spheres should be smaller…

Now, I officially closed the project, placed the arm in my TT and will be doing some listening during December. I will announce the results of the listings but for now I could not resist do not post the images of this ugly but in a way gorgeous duckling.

I always said that a quality of a tonearm generally could be determined by how long I might listen it before I trash it and replace it with 3012. I hope that the reincarnated Likhnitsky’s “Korvet”, or my “Chernobyl Spinnaker”, will be able to resist…

Romy the Cat

11 December 2004