An interview with Vidmantas Triukas – founder and designer of Reed Tonearms

1)       What caused you to go into manufacturing high quality tonearms, and how long ago was that?

2)      What is your experience and technical background that helps you to make a good tonearm product?

 I am an electronics engineer, working in the hi-fi audio equipment field since 1985. Some of my  other work, related to acoustic, were rocket science, literally: I was working in scientific acoustic and ultrasound area, researching acoustical noise of plasma in long-range ballistic missiles, and have three patented inventions in this field.

In 1987 I with a few friends built an “audio set”, consisting of turntable, speakers and an amplifier, and presented it in USSR’s largest technical achievement trade show in Moscow. For various innovations (turntable motor automatic speed control, amp with very low linear distortions etc.) it was awarded a bronze medal in the audio equipment category.

After 1990s I started business in another area; however audio still was my passion all these years. In 2007 I decided to start business in audio. After a year of continuous research, prototyping, design and testing I offered the first Reed series tonearm.

3)       Are you inspired by any designer or tonearm manufacturer when making your own products?

 I just decided that it is time to get back to my hobby and try to make business of it.

4)       Reed tonearms are well known for using only wood as a material of the arm tube. Do you believe that using wood for the arm wand that any advantages over other materials?

 The stylus, while moving in the vinyl’s groove, not only produces the musical signal, but also oscillates the cartridge itself. The oscillation can be transferred through the armtube, partially reflect from the counterweight, and through the tonearm bearings, tonearm support, chassis, platter bearings, platter, mat and vinyl, and then return back to the stylus. On the other hand, stylus causes vinyl plate vibrations, which, through the mat, platter, platter bearings, chassis, tonearm support, tonearm bearings and armtube, return to the stylus again.

The interference of these two acoustic vibrations can slightly impact the sound quality. According our research, certain armtube materials can suppress parasitic acoustic vibrations. The best material for suppressing these vibrations is wood, not for example Carbon fiber, Fiberglass or Aluminum (we researched these materials also). A result of our research was the reason why we have chosen wood as the only material for armtubes. More about armtube research you can find in our website research page http://www.reed.lt/research/58-wood-vs-the-rest-testing-armtube-material .

5)      Your arms have improved a lot since the early Reed L model to the current 2A, 2P and 3Q series. Can you describe some of the improvements that have gone into the new models and how do they help to improve the sound quality?

Sound quality of every Reed model is the same, but only if the tonearm is matched to an audio system (especially cartridge) and is mounted precisely. After designing Reed 2A (before of it Reed L) I noticed that some customers have difficulties to mount and adjust the tonearm as precisely as needed and reach the best sound quality. I started to think about how to improve this situation. After some time I introduced the Reed 2P model. Reed 2P model is dedicated for audiophiles who do not trust various setup rules and prefer to adjust their system based on their senses. This model has the possibility to adjust VTA on the fly. Limits of fine VTA adjustment is 0.8 deg and precision – 0.2 deg. In other words, height of tonearm can be changed very easily and quickly by +/- 2 mm. It is enough to adjust and compensate for different LPs thickness (from 0.8 mm to 3 mm).

At the same time I was thinking about a tonearm which adjustments could be done with very high precision for customers who prefer scale and numbers on it, and not just by hearing. After some time I introduced the Reed 3Q equipped with laser which lets you very quickly and precisely adjust VTA (precision +/- 0.1 mm) and azimuth (precision +/- 0.25 deg). It is very important after changing the cartridge, because of differences in cartridges heights. As known to everyone, after every changing of cartridge, VTF should be adjusted also. Using cartridges with high and medium compliance, VTA (SRA) should be adjusted every time after changing VTF. It is because VTF changes can cause cantilever bending (flexing) and changes of SRA. To get best sound quality, even after changing LP with different thickness (it can be from 0.8 mm to 3 mm), VTA should be adjusted accordingly.

So as a conclusion can be said, that main reasons of all improvements are Reed customer’s needs and mine as a designer intuition and knowledge. All these improvements do not affect sound quality directly, it only allows the user to get more precision in adjusting the various parameters of the tonearm and of course this contributes to better sonic performance.

6)       The latest 3Q model has a very interesting and unique laser VTA/azimuth adjustment system. Can you explain how you got the idea to include this feature in your arm? How is it better than more conventional methods of adjusting VTA?

I have already partially answered this question in my answer to question 5. I think the main advantage of using laser to adjust VTA and azimuth is that you do not need any other devices and can adjust very precisely. So it is a very accurate, user friendly and simple adjustment method. As I wrote, I am thinking about innovations all the time. Laser is not an exception, it is a result of long thinking and experimenting how well known level principles can be adapted with new technologies (laser) and used for VTA and Azimuth adjustment.

7)       Currently 12″ arms are very popular with many end-users. What are the advantages if any, of having this extra length as compared to 9″ or 10.5″ arms? Are there are any possible disadvantages in a 12″ arm design?

In general 12’ tonearms have lower distortions than shorter tonearms; there is only a question of system compatibility. The main disadvantages of longer tonearms are higher effective mass and moment of inertia, also bearings can sometimes be overloaded. But I prefer longer tonearms and if 12’ tonearm can be matched to the audio system (cartridge) I suggest longer tonearm instead of shorter because of lower tracking error.

8)       Do you have any plans for future products, and where do you see the position of Reed tonearms in the audio market in 5 years time?

I am almost always working on some new model. I have already designed a few more models but have not produced it in serial production. First of all I want to be sure that my thoughts/design really worked out in practice. Now I am working on a model that will include: magnetic anti-skating, magnetic VTF adjustment and magnetic vertical movement damper to eliminate swinging effect. But still I need to produce a testing batch and conduct more tests on it. Of course if we will decide to produce in serial production new model we will inform you and our other dealers about it and will send you photos and price list before announcing in our website.

Talking about Reed in the next 5 years, first of all I expect that it will become more established or at least a better known brand in the world. We cannot do it only by ourselves. Meanwhile I keep working very hard to improve Reed as much as possible so that it could be (and I think in generally already is) considered as a genuine high end tonearm brand.


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