OL silver vs. Clearaudio Unify

Has anyone compared the sound of these arms on a Teres TT with a Shelter cart? (265 and 501mkII). I would appreciate any direct comparisons. . . I am leaning toward the Unify though I have heard many are happy with the OL Silver. . .


It's refreshing to hear from somebody who is so aware of the realities of physics in analogue: mass matching seems to be something of a forgotten art these days. This being so, I thought that some clarification of your point was necessary for Joeljoel, to wit, that the cartridge mass must be added to the tonearm mass to come to a total system mass for the calculation to be meaningful. Just because jj knows the mass of his cartridge, doesn't mean he knows to add this mass to the mass of the tonearm (no slight intended to jj).

The point concerning my Decca is that the Shelter is a low-compliance cartridge, and for this reason feeds a lot of energy back into the tonearm, as Dougdeacon noted. The Decca is the lowest compliance cartridge made, thus feeds back the most energy, and so provides an example in practice of unipivot/low-compliance matching (the Decca is a bitch to match to anything). Dougdeacon provides the most relevant information of all, actual examples of such matching with a variety of unipivots. Since jj seems to favour the unipivot (I know not why), then I thought I would encourage him, I have no agenda, and actively use a variety of tonearms, including a modded Rega, a knife-edge bearing, an air-bearing, and so on. Had he favoured the modded Rega, then I would have told him of my good experiences here.

I would add something to Dougdeacon's detailed expose, however, that very few combos can track the cannons, and the HFN testrecord is increasingly considered as an unrealistic test of a cartridge-tonearm combo. In practice, "real-world" records, which is to say regular commercial pressings, rarely present a problem. But nothing is perfect. To get back to my Decca (only one of my many cartridges), there are quite a few things it will not track well (except in one tonearm I have tried), but I love the sound and so learn to live with it. It's just plain a blast to listen to. For this reason, I keep other cartridges around, like the track-everything Shure V15. Perhaps jj just wants to have fun, too. But the Shelter should be quite a lot easier to live with than my Decca.

By the way, in getting back to the person who is asking for the advice, why do you lean towards the Unify, Joeljoel?
Joel, yes you can do that, but it has its drawbacks too. Most methods like tonearm wraps will add mass, but will do it in both planes of motion. It is desireable to have lower mass in the vertical plane for good warp tracking, but desireable to have higher mass in the horizontal plane for better cartridge stability. The amount needed will vary, depending upon the other factors involved.

Additionally, the added mass may solve the mass/resonance need, but does nothing for the stability problem regarding unstabilized unipivots and low compliance cartridges.

John, nice response.
I have been around on these analog pages for awhile. You might have noticed some of my other posts. I actually have done some tonearm mods(called the HiFi) and made them available to the members, and have designed some turntables and tonearms that are destined for market in the future.
I do some analog design and other design work for a fairly well known audio company.
Thanks for all your responses. As to why I am leaning toward the Unify - it is quite simple, I have found one which may come in a bit cheaper than the OL Silver. Also, I am not crazy about the plastic base of the Silver (i.e. I find the esthetics of the Unify more pleasing [a lame concern, I know]). After your input, I may be pursuing the Silver instead. . .

Thanks again,

Thanks for the kind references. I don't have your broad personal experience with arms and cartridges, but I certainly believe you that very few combos can track those silly cannons. I imagine even fewer can do so and also display a high degree of musicality on real music (of which that particular record contains exactly zero.)

My limited personal experience, however, has discovered at least one combo that can do both. My Shelter 901 on a Twl-modded OL Silver blasts through the cannons with no undue excitement or gymnastics, yet plays music that will break your heart. I'm only guessing that a 501mkII on the same arm might perform similarly, perhaps with slightly less bass response and top end detail.

I totally agree that the HFN record is of marginal utility for setting up good combos, but I think it's pretty good at showing up bad ones. If a combo does especially poorly on fairly simple test tracks, I'd worry about how it might handle the far more complex problems presented by real records.
Nothing lame about aesthetics. We both fell for the Teres 265 and I'm certainly not ashamed of that! A Moerch DP6 or Basis Vector might answer all our concerns, but not at a price you or I could stomach.

I agree the OL arms look pretty humble, even humbler with Twl's goofy-lookin' HIFI Mod stickin' outta the sides. (Just kidding Tom, I post referrals every week.)

Here's how to get around the look: cue up a good record and watch your friends faces. Trust me, they won't care or even notice what anything looks like. The normal response is closer to that of the great Art Dudley, "Holy mother of crap!"