Clearaudio Master Reference vs. Basis Debut V ??

Need purchase advice on which of these two to go with. Am intrigued, yet concerned with the tangential arms on the Clearaudio- the TQ-1 2000 arm is $3k ; the Master TQ-1 arm is newer, bigger and stupid expensive @ $6k. Is this new arm magic or nonsense ? Would use Graham 2.2 on Basis, which would, btw, be the vacuum model. The Graham arm seems to be almost universally praised, while getting a consensus opinion on the Souther tangential arms is far more difficult. Any 1st hand advice would be greatly appreciated.
Fbhifi- I recently went through the same dilemma. Ultimately, I decided on the Basis with the Graham. Turntables require more effort on the user's part, even with the most reliable and user-friendly tt systems. Regardless of their performance when everything is just perfect, the TQ arms can be quite frustrating in less than ideal situations. I wanted an arm that would work day-in, day-out with very little additional TLC. In the end, the vacuum holddown and the Graham arm/cartridge combo were the primary reasons for my decision. However, there is certainly no denying that the CMR is one beautiful tt. Either way, how could you lose? Good luck.
Jcbtubes-- thanks for the post, under what condition(s) do you think the TQ arms would be problematical ? I have a basement room w/ no windows or ventilation system- i.e. very little dust. I'm also really trying to figure out if the new MASTER TQ-1 arm has solved any of the common TQ arm problems, or is just an overpriced object d'art.
I wish I could offer an experienced suggestion. As for beauty, the Clearaudio is the winner in my mind. I'm also influenced by the Clearaudio's linear tracking concept. My (current) reference turntable uses that technology and produces the best sound I have ever had.

I leave for CES on Monday, and will be visiting the Clearaudio / Basis room. Both are now represented by Musical Surroundings, the same people who do Record Research, Benz, Graham and Koetsu to name a few.

One of my best friends has an old Versa Dynamics and is looking for a new table. Since he too prefers linear tracking, I am already on task to discover all I can about this product during this show. If you can wait one week, I may be able to shed some light on this subject.
A few people have emailed me on my previous Clearaudio forum comments, so I will share further experiences here.

I have the same gut feeling as Albert on the linear tracking concept. I use the Clearaudio Reference with TQ1 rather than the Master table and arm. And I too had trouble with the TQ1 trackability issue early on as I wrote in other chat forums here.

My experience is that the TQ1 arm just shows poor tracking cartridges a little more than other arms. I had a Benz Glider on a Linn LP12 and even though the Telarc Omnidisc test record showed the Glider to be a mediocre tracking cartridge, it worked fine in a Linn Ittok arm. The Grado Sonata and Sumikos before it all had much better tracking scores. But it was the Glider that I had when I got the TQ1 and thus the trouble started with the new (actually used) Reference/TQ1 setup. I tried some adjustments to the arm height and angle, and this helped, but there were still enough problems with the cartridge getting stuck near the inner-most grooves of LPs to make me try another cartridge.

I then switched to a Koetsu Rosewood Signature and not only did I have a whole new wealth of musicality, the tracking problem was instantly gone! No more getting stuck anywhere in the LPs. I can only assume that the TQ1 is more sensitive and thus more resolving .... and thus more unforgiving to cartridges that have not great tracking.

And I too came very close to going with a Versa Dynamics but now I am grateful I did not. As wonderful as they might have been in their time, I can only imagine the even more added headaches to get one of those up and running ... and on a continuous basis. For me the Clearaudio Reference/TQ1 combination with the Koetsu is so very wonderful. And as complicated as the TQ1 arm assembly is, I see how simple the travel is for the cartridge across an LP and this just makes me feel this is the way to go over a pivotal arm.

I have not heard a head-to-head comparison to any other table/arm combinations. This is always such a difficult thing to do. But what I had with the Glider in the Clearaudio setup was so far above with the Glider in the Linn setup. Resolution is in a different league altogether not to mention incredible low end extension now. It is not easy to know what traits are mainly due to the table or arm's performance but the combination is wonderful.

I too have heard of arm boards for other arms in the Clearaudio tables, but I can only assume synergy exists when you use their arm as well.

And one final note, I did order a plexiglas custom cover for the Reference table to keep out the dust and wondering hands and thus looks so very nice too. Contact me if you'd like to see a picture of this.

fbhifi: over the past month, or so, i've spent some time in my audio dealer/close friend's main room listening to the latest CMR with a master tq arm and insider cartridge, all set up by garth leerer, the owner of musical surroundings. (while garth was in town, the CMR also had a graham 2.2 mounted on a separate board; you can mount 3 arms simultaneously on this tt.) i was prepared to be underwhelmed, having heard earlier versions of the top-of-the-line clearaudio tt/arm. boy, was i surprised! this combo produced the best analogue sound i've ever heard, bettering the basis debut V vacuum/graham/koetsu onyx that sat next to it. (i would guess that my dealer, audio unlimited, in denver, is the only place in the us to have both of these rigs in stock.) after an open house to introduce the clearaudioo line, followed by dinner, we broke out a couple of sealed lp's i had traded for equipment, including a japanese remaster of the who's, "tommy." i've heard this recording many times (i have another japanese pressing and several others on vinyl and cd.) i've never heard it sound as it did, tho, played on the CMR. my older son, who was also at this listening session, felt the same (he's a consultant to fm radio stations and several record labels). i've been looking to sell my tnt 3/airtangent combo and replace it with a basis debut V vacuum/graham 2.2 for some time now. not any longer. i'll likely opt for the newest clearaudio tt, the mini-master reference, with the master tq arm, unless i win the lottery, or an unexpectedly large verdict. the mini-master will have one less plinth than the CMR, with 3 motors and the same power control unit as the CMR (the platter and bearing will be the same, i think, as the reference). the new souther-based tq arm is much more robust and dependable than its predecessor. it should not be mated, tho, to anything less than the mini-master. if you wish additional information, send me a private email. -cfb

ps- associated equipment during listening sessions: aesthetix io (latest edition) pre or boulder 201o pre, a pair of accuphase a-50v amps run bridged, avalon eidolon speakers, tara- the one ic's and cables.
CFB- Too bad both tts weren't setup with the same cartridge. The comparison would have be even more enlightening and compelling.
Out of curiousity, how easy was it to readjust the VTA for different LPs with the TQ arm? I've found that I need to fine tune for nearly every LP and the Graham is a dream for this adjustment as it is extremely accurate and repeatable and doesn't change any other arm/cartridge setting. Don't get me wrong, I too have a bias for linear tracking arms. However, the couple that I've had always performed better in theory than in everyday use.
Thanks for sharing your experience with the CMR. I guess I'll always wonder if ....
kelly, i had been talking to John Barnes all last fall about the CMR but he couldn't really say how it compared to the Debut V. i really appreciate finally hearing how the comparison came out.

in the meantime, i have found a Rockport System II Sirius used that i am getting instead of the CMR. I really wanted the vaccuum and linear tracking and had been torn between the CRM and Debut V.
I own a Basis Debut V with vacuum and I agree with that what Jazzhelp did write.
I was looking for years for my final turntable and I checked the Clearaudio, too.
I decided to go for the Basis.The vacuum is great. And everything works perfect, on and on and on.
Never a problem.
The Clearaudio is an old design, the arm, too which was tuned up from Suchy. When it works, it's fine, but I said when ...
The Clearaudio cartridges, specially the Insiders, have a HUGE sale price and a low dealer price.
Every dealer praises them because when selling only one of these, he really makes a lot of profit. And they are NOT reliable, sooner or later one channel stop working, bad design, bended wire which breakes when the needle gets a bit too much pressure.
That was one point which really disturbed, me, too. With this arm there is sooner or later always something happening. Well, I didn't care, I ordered a Graham Arm for my Basis, I use the combo very often and it is like a Mercedes: it's always working perfect.
For me, I did the right decision. I would go this way again, 2 years later.
thomasheisig: unless you've heard, and seen, the latest version of the CMR and tq arm, your statements as to their reliability and utility are dated and no longer valid. and, i've no idea where you get your information on the insider. the markup is the same as it is for most cartridges; moreover, your assertions as to its reliability seem to come from far left field. i'm glad you like your basis and graham. they're great products. BTW, if your graham is 2 years old, its not current either. -cfb
My friend,
believe me, from German Products I know some things you do not know. The Graham Arm works the way it has to and a simple bearing cup for $ 350,-- doesn't give me sleepless nights. And when Mr. Graham would be able to deliver a bit faster, then I would have the latest mod, but it doesn't bother me. What's the reason for your " advice " ?
And btw. I think you make your money while working as a sales person in a high end shop. I can only speak or write for me, but I am always very sceptical, when such guys write their " opinions " in a forum, specially about products were the profit is big.
Thomas, i don't know Kelly (CFB) personally but i do know his friend at Audio Unlimited that sells the CRM. i have done business there for 5 years and they sell and recommend many different analog products. i bought my Basis 2500/Graham 2.2/Aesthetix Io from Audio Unlimited. last fall when i was considering the CRM, Audio Unlimited had not compared it to the Basis/Graham combination and wouldn't venture to guess which sounded better. in fact, they were leaning toward the Basis Debut V as probably better. now, after spending time comparing they have come to a different conclusion. that doesn't mean everyone would agree but their credibility is very high and as they sell many of the competition there is no reason for them to do a "sales pitch".

just my 2 cents.
As the originator of this thread I wanted to comment on my experience @ Audio Unlimited here in Denver. I've known John Barnes for several years and purchased a cartridge and power cord from him a year or so ago. I went back to see him recently to discuss with him a tt / arm upgrade. John is one of the rare breed of retailer who actually tries to answer questions as objectively and honestly as possible. He has been in this business for many years, and is particularly knowledgeable when it comes to analog. I ended up buying the Basis V vacuum / Graham 2.2 from him and am very pleased w/ the performance. I went to see him twice to look at and discuss the CMR and Basis tables. I walked away from both sessions feeling that he felt both were excellent products and both had different strengths. By no means did he, or his partner Carl, favor one over the other. We're talking chocolate and vanilla here- plain and simple. It was up to me to make up my mind- I was not being steered to either unit. I respect and greatly appreciate this type of treatment. It's rare to have this quality of sales experience nowadays. As for which is the "better" table- I guess will have to let this forum decide!!
I have a CMR which I bought second hand from Audiogon. I fitted a Graham Phantom II arm and Koetsu Urushi Wajima cartridge. The sound is amazing. Is it better than this or that? Who cares!!! I'm listening to music. The CMR looks amazing, is quiet as a mouse and speed stability is as good as I've heard. I fitted the ceramic magnetic bearing and bought a clamp and outer ring from TT weights. I probably will never upgrade this combo except to add different arm tubes and other cartridges.