Used TechDAS Air Force III vs New Feickert Firebird with Kuzma Safir 9 vs SME 20 MK 2

Sorry so many ideas.  Looking for help on a used TechDAS vs some new options. 

Used TechDAS Air Force III with used SME IV.VI Arm


New Feickert Firebird with New Kuzma Safir 9


New SME Model 20 MK2


New Kuzma Stabi R or Ref 2 with New Safir 9



Have you heard any of the mentioned tables/arm combos? I've heard myself the Stabi R Safir combo and it's sublime, best analog I've heard to date, wish I could afford it. 

I've heard a Feickert with the 4Point arm but the rest of the system wasn't great.  Not sure how you really compare a turntable unless you also know the cartridge, phono...speakers...etc. I'm about 2 hours away from any HiFi shop for borrowing anything.  No TechDAS dealer in Colorado anymore....

I have a Stabi R with the Safir and continue to find more and more to like about the combo and how it brings out the best in a wide range of recordings. And this takes place without imposing any kind of "sound" on the source, instead leaving the impression of hearing what took place during the recording.

That said, I would want to know more about the kind of music to be played. I primarily listen to acoustic jazz from the 50s and 60s (think Bill Evans, Art Pepper, Oscar Peterson) so there is that. I also have moved to all tubes and recently switched to Joseph Audio Perspectives, so I would give some thought to how the combo will integrate with your other gear.

I don't know the other combos you are considering, so I hope this obviously biased perspective is at least slightly helpful... 

Thank you thr1961.  I too like a lot of Jazz and a great deal of my audiophile grade recordings are Jazz.  But I'm 43 and will play rock music and just bought some Billie Eilish.  Female vocalist are probably my favorite.  

My setup is Wilson Alexia V with Dan D'Agostino so pretty revealing.  

I plan to have two tonearms and one might run through a tube phono to make those poor recordings sound a little easier to listen to!

I also play rock at times, ranging from Steely Dan to Foo Fighters to Pearl Jam to softer stuff like CSNY or Van Morrison. All of it sounds more present with the Safir (and my current cartridge which is a Koetsu Rosewood Platinum.)

For what it's worth, I know of someone else who planned to add a second tonearm, but after a month with the Safir, simply didn't see the need. 

@thr1961     I am not clear how the choice of a purely mechanical component out of direct contact with the signal, like an arm (or a turntable) can have a differential effect on sound when playing different musical genres.

Do please explain.

I like the idea of the Kuzma Safir arm. I like the look of the AF3 TechDAS better than the Stabi R.  I also like the idea of the vacuum system....

But the Stabi R comes in white which I like!  

I wonder how the Safir Arm on a Feickert would be compared to the Stabi R....




@clearthinker I am not any kind of engineer nor do I have enough physics knowledge to try to answer your question. However, I do know what I hear (and am fairly confident in not falling victim to owner's bias) and I consistently hear what I described earlier.

For a truly technical point of view, Fremer's review is quite complete:


I like the idea of the Kuzma Safir arm

+1 it's an end-game arm, nothing to upgrade to

Understand the arm is next level but would the Stabi R be holding it back too much....?

As a suggestion, in relation to having two TA's.

If the Safir Model is selected, this will have a Fixed Headshell and leave the situation where wanting to trial out Cart's or have a collection of Cart's at hand to use, is presenting a precarious and risky situation each time a Cart' is to be swapped out.

A second TA worthwhile considering is one that has a Removable Headshell, but even more importantly, a design that has a very rigid secured method put in place for the Head shells attachment. A interference Fit design is the way to go.

As a secondary consideration, a Headshell Design that fits the above and is also available in a variety of materials.

With this type of TA in use, the Headshell can be pre mounted with a Cart' which is then aligned. Once in this condition, it can be kept in a Cart' Keeper. This is how I am doing it for myself. 

The specific changes required between Cart's for the TA to undergo during Cart' Alignment can be recorded.  This as a method will enable Cart's to be pre-mounted onto a particular Headshell type and put into service as a very low risk operation and easy to achieve method.

It will certainly leave the main TA un-tampered with, keeping in place the critical adjustments that have been carefully added during the periods spent making discoveries, in conjunction with the Cart' of Choice.

As you are expressing an interest in having Two Phon's as well, the method will also enable speedy setting up of exchanges, to create the initial impact of the changes being made to not incur too much delay during the comparisons. 

OK. Items I want on a turntable are an isolating suspension, vacuum clamping, a magnetic thrust bearing and a versatile arm I can adjust to the majority of cartridges. In terms of clamping, reflex clamping is a second best and a good standard thrust bearing is tolerable. The other traits can not be compromised. 

The Air Force Three is a complicated used turntable with a second rate arm. I would not even look at it. The Firebird and Kuzma R do not have suspensions so you would have to spend an additional $5K on a MinusK platform. 

The Ref 2 and SME 20 are very similar tables. Both have a suspension and both utilize reflex clamping. The Safir regardless of anything anybody including Frank Kuzma says is viable for very low compliance cartridges only. It is otherwise well designed. If you are going to spend the rest of your like with a Koetsu, fine. Otherwise you need to look elsewhere. The Reed 2G, Tri Planar, 4 Point 9, SME V and Schroder CB are all excellent arms. I went with the Schroder as did Mark Dohmann. He demonstrates his Helix turntables with a CB. 

Of your selections I would get the SME and put a Schroder CB on it. My next choice would be a 4 Point 9. The Safir is Frank Kuzma doing his "just because I can" act. 

A Sota Cosmos offers Vacuum clamping, a great suspension, a magnetic thrust bearing and the CB fits perfectly. On top of this you get state of the art speed control and a great isolated hinged dust cover you can use during play.  Just an FYI

An individual who I meet a few times throughout a year, has a passion for Reed and Glanz Tonearms.

This same person, is the supplier of the Glanz 12" TA, I regularly encounter in use.

The owner of the Glanz 12", had a selection of TA's available when making their assessments for a shortlist/purchase. My SME IV was a loaned item to be tried and when used it was discounted as a result of the impression it made. The (not word for word) recollection of the description given for the deselection was its a typical SME presentation, and does not create an attraction like a few of the others TA's are able to generate.  

The Reed 2G and Glanz TA's both have removable Head Shells as part of their design. The Reed 2G also has a reasonable price attached to it.


I thought Soundings in Denver was a TechDAS dealer. I think they  had one in the store the last time I was there. 

I think The Audio Salon, new distributor, is going through all existing dealers and deciding who is keeping their dealership with TechDAS.


I demo'd a TechDas V in my system for a month and really enjoyed every minute.  Being a fan of the Kuzma 4P9, I ended up going for a Kuzma Stabi R with two arm "wings".  NO regrets!  This table has excellent speed stability and weight.  Translates to great dynamics and drama.  Very enjoyable.

I don't really miss the the vacuum hold down offered by the TechDas (sonically) but that and the air bearing are clear technical advantages of the TechDas over the Stabi R.  I used a Vibraplane for both tables.  Some vibration isolation should be part of your table budget unless you go for the SME.

Dear @mijostyn @chauncey  : " It is otherwise well designed. If you are going to spend the rest of your like with a Koetsu, fine. "


Not with the Rosewood Signature Platinum ( that I still own ) due that it's not really low compliance.

What is really " weird " is that MF review where all the cartridges he used with the Safir have between medium to high compliance as the Atlas Lambda SL where the frequency resonance in between the Safir and all those cartridge statttttes at 4hz-5hz. From where comes that clean or exemplary low bass?

Now those tonearm 60grs plus de cartridge weigth is what the cantilever/suspension cartridge is looking due that exist not only the effective mass at rest position but exist too a dynamyc mass during play along the " tremendous " forces developed by the stylus tip movements that goes to the Safir bearing ( four unipivots as MF posted. ): no " chatter " at all at microscopic levels? who knows.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,



Sorry I haven't spent a lot of time investigating cartridges yet.  What is a high compliance cartridge vs low compliance?  

What I would like to use since I already own it!  Is a Mutech Hayabusa MC Cartridge.  Thoughts?

Dear @chauncey  : The cartridge compliance along the cartridge weigth numbers makes " differences " with the tonearm you will " marry " it.


High compliance cartridges normally ( everything the same. ) are has better cartridge tracking abilities that means can pick-up " more " music information that came in the LP groove modulations and that's per sé an advantage over a low compliance cartridges and other advantage of the HC is that tracks better at the inner grooves of the LP than a LC.


Low compliance could be in the range of 4cu to 9cu, medium compliance from 10cu to around 15-16cu and high compliance over this last compliance range.

 The ideal frequency resonance range between a cartridge and tonearm combination should be between: 8hz to 12hz for that cartridge could shows at its best.

If you buy the Safir for the Hayabusa probably you were out of that range what's not a good idea. For the Safir with a cartridge weigthing 9grs. you need that the cartridge has between 5cu to 7cu.

I never has the opportunity to listen the Safir and I never buy a tonearm with that kind of very high effective mass because that all mass will be what the cartridge cantilever/suspension will looks during play due that's a dynamic mass.




Also what unit is cu? I feel bad even asking but it’s been a while since my electrical engineering classes!


Dear @chauncey : Yes, your SME tonearm will be a good " husband " for that lady. That tonearm is an excellent design for almost any cartridge, I the V and listened that one in the TechDas TT.


In the other side, cu means compliance units.

Btw, this is what the designer of the Safir posted in his site:


" All four points of the bearing have minimal friction and zero-play in all planes of movement, thus ensuring that the cartridge platform and the cartridge itself follow the grooves of an LP with extremely low friction and minimal vibrations. "

The tonearm is a 4 point unipivot design and even with out any measure where the designer could confirms that zero-play/low friction we know that unipivots normally has low baring friction but unipivots always has a " chatter "/rattle self movement due to the enormous/tremendous forces developed bay the cartridge stylus during play trying to folows those "Himalaya mountain chain " that are the LP groove modulations. There is no true/measured evidence at microscopic scenario where we can find out that the 4point tonearm has not that chatering under playing condition and through high velocity LP recorded grooves.


I know that almost all 4point tonearm designs owners and reviewers " like " what they heard but it’s not enough for me that " like ". Well this is me and others differs from me and it’s ok.