The FX3, is a low mass tonearm design,
very suitable for high compliance cartridges as the likes of the Ortofon 2—M series.
The F512 is 18 grams effective mass (12” version), making it ideal for stiffer (low compliance) MC’s like a Denon DL-03 for example.
For those with no feel for analogue, a turntable supporting two or three arms represents the epitome of a waste of money. Many passionate LP-listeners, on the other hand, wish to own such a deck and this is based on multiple and very sensible reasons. Arm 1, for example, can hold a Mono cartridge to achieve optimal playback of 50’s and early 60’s vinyl treasures whereas Arm 2 can hold a stereo cartridge.
Or Arm 1 is fitted with a less costly but robust cartridge to be used whenever one doesn’t want to risk damage to the precious, exotic and pricey MC cartridge fitted in Arm 2. (Something one would like to be able to use when sifting through second-hand records obtained on a flea market or a thrift shop or when the occasion arises that one has a wee bit more to drink when friends are over and you just want to spin those old Rock- or, pardon, Funk-records only!)
Or, maybe just for the sake of it, just because there is no cartridge in existence that is ideally suited to every musical style and or decade, or having the luxury to be in the position to have two different approaches to the records acoustics at one time - an earthy-slamming sounding cartridge for blues and an airy and open portraying cartridge for opera.
A stylus assembly doesn’t doesn’t get worn by hanging around in a headshell but through use. Replacing the stylus of a quality cartridge can be financially costly. So, for those who are able to use two cartridges side by side, even considering the cost of the second tonearm there is a financial advantage.
We all know and understand the key factor for the final sound quality is the deck and instead of buying two separate decks, here you purchase only one.
The predecessor to FX3 was the FX-R. This was based on Rega’s bearing pillar.
The current FX3 and the F5 are built entirely by funk firm in house.
User configurable, both F5 series and FX3 arms are available as 9” and 12”.
A fully loaded SDG with two FX3 tonearms costs €7200
Normally, most multiple arm decks, being nearly all high mass designs such as the larger models manufactured by Clearaudio or Transrotor are rather expensive.
Funk’s Super Deck Grande is neither massive nor expensive. An acrylic planked fiberboard plinth and finger thick glass platter design keeps the weight low. This has benefits. The low platter mass removes the need for a massive spindle giving lower friction and so a lower noise floor. An added benefit is speed fluctuations are very low indeed. The total design solution means it can be made at a relatively low price point.
Just €1600, for the basic deck sans tonearm(s) isn’t what I would call an outright bargain, but the results obtained in our own Audio Laboratory, running our own measurements protocol make the Funk out to be a potential Giant killer. The results for wow and flutter set an all time new low record, whilst the results for rumble, (nearly -82dB), are hard to obtain if not impossible from turntables costing many times that figure. It appears there is more to the “Vector-Drive” design by Arthur Khoubesserian than just a cool name.
A very stable DC-motor can precisely set 33 or 45 rpm. From its drive pulley, the power gets transferred via a flat drive belt on to a machined sub platter where two slave pulleys drive the sub platter absolutely symmetrically, thereby practically eliminating any sideways force onto the sub platter’s spindle. On top sits the glass platter supplied with the classic felt mat. The best thing to do is to swap the felt mat for the Achromat that is made by The Funk Firm as well. This mat is available in different colours and consists of some sort of hard foam and delivers higher precision in the bass, better transparency and more neutrality; a benefit you can get if trying it with any other turntable.
The Funk-arms come in both 9” (Rega geometry) and 12” inch and so are universal in their application. For the SDG we ordered the brand-new top model FX3 that sits on the left back of the plinth. The right back belongs to a 12”inch. This is the position where we placed the comparatively cheap F5-12”. That the two look quite similar, comes from the fact that both have a sliding weight on their arm tubes used to set the tracking force. Elegant: For a higher tracking force (you more the slider further forward) and this results in a higher effective mass for the tonearm, giving it a possibility to tune the arm to the compliance of the mounted cartridge. Generally speaking, the long F5 with its 18 gram effective mass belongs in the high mass category, making it ideally suited for the harder sprung, low compliance, Denon DL-103 R which we fitted for this test. This Japanese MC-Classic combined with the Funk sounded so good in a manner the reviewer has seldom heard: very clean and over the course of one lp side, ultimately distortion free.- the needle’s profile profited audibly from the typical 12” lower tracking angle distortion, providing an enormous expressive and lively tonality. Just like the Little Super Deck before (AUDIO12/12) the Grande’s sound capabilities are remarkably precisely focussed, giving tonal contours and depth that one can grasp whilst at the same time exhibiting an uncluttered, unbridled transparency.
Even more astonishing, the lighter FX3, fitted with an Ortofon 2M Bronze, lifts another veil to present another layer of detail which at the same time displayed fire like dynamics that no one would expect or trust to come from such a fragile arm tube. The complex structure of the arm tube, with its internal carbon fibre bracing, has seemingly come to fruition. It seems difficult, to denote this record player package costing €4500,- to be an outright bargain, but it’s high intensive, neutral tone makes the Funk just that, a bargain.
Text in the picture: Symetrical:
The Vector Drive tensions the belt by using
small, light nylon pulleys, creating an
equilateral triangle around the sub platter.
The frequencysweep is influenced by the cartridge but gives a result about the tonearm resonances- respectively in this case it being completely absent. The speed deviation measurement result is +/_ 0.047% (weighted) and is one of the best results ever that we at AUDIO magazine have ever had. The reference tone is a spike that is narrow and free of by products. Measuring rumble via a test coupler the SDG returned an impressive -81.5 dB S/N value.
Audiogramm: + Absolute neutral, very lively and precise tone. – F5 somewhat fiddly to set up, no perpex hood/ cover. Optional accessory.
Klang = Tone 110 points, that gives it a seventh overall place in the AUDIO test results listing.
Ausstatung = equipment’s lay out, good
Bedienung = ease of use, good
Verarbeitung= built quality, very good.
Klangurteil = sound or tone judgement, 110 points
Preisleistung = price vs. quality, outstanding
Arthur Khoubesserian with his Super Deck Grande shows the analogue community that a record player with perfect measurements, a world class sound and good day-to-day useability doesn’t need to cost a fortune. In addition he offers vinyl fans an easy route to the question of a second arm, be it right off the bat or later as an upgrade. The choice is theirs to use another Funk arm or perhaps another make of Rega derived tonearm.