My Fatboy review

My Fatboy review

Postby teenage diplomat » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:45 pm

As I posted in the Support section a few days ago, I replaced a first generation 12” 3D tonearm with a Fatboy on my VPI HRX turntable last week. The cartridge used on both arms was identical (Audio Technica’s ART-7 LOMC) and it was set up with a Mint LP protractor and Fozgometer. The rest of my system was, and is, comprised of an EAR 864 full-function preamp upgraded by Mitch Singerman; a VAC Phi 170iq stereo amp; and PSB Imagine T3 speakers.

My initial listening sessions showed me that there is a strong family resemblance in the way the two tonearms sound. Everything that the original 3D tonearm did exceptionally well (male and female vocals; instrumental timbre; overall dynamics) the Fatboy did at least as well. For example, both tonearms put Dean Martin “in the room” with me on Dream with Dean (Analogue Productions 200g 45RPM reissue). So the Fatboy passed the Hippocrates test: it did no harm. But the family resemblance diminished the more I listened, replaced by a clear portrait of the Fatboy’s sonic superiority.

The Fatboy consistently displayed substantially better, more lifelike bass performance. It was both deeper and more impactful than the original 3D tonearm’s. More importantly, the bass was better controlled as well. With the original, deep bass had a slightly diffuse character, and bass transients seemed a bit slower than those at higher frequencies. (Dare I say it wallowed just a bit?) This sensation disappeared with the Fatboy. For example, Ray Brown’s bass on Soular Energy (Analogue Productions 200g 45RPM reissue) was tightly focused in the soundstage, rather than being smeared slightly across it as it was with the original tonearm.

This advantage continued in the midrange. With the original tonearm, Barney Bigard’s clarinet on “The Mooche” (Ellington and Armstrong Recording Together for the First Time, Mobile Fidelity Original Master Recording reissue) tended to spread toward the center of the soundstage; with the Fatboy, it stayed on the right, where it belonged.

But the biggest advantages I heard with the Fatboy took place in the higher frequencies. With the original 3D tonearm, I could never totally get rid of excessive vocal sibilance. With the Fatboy, excessive sibilance entirely disappeared. In addition, cymbals consistently took on a sheen that I hadn’t heard before. Same story with the overtones and reverb tails exhibited by the orchestral bells and xylophone on Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” (Night and Day, A&M Records).

Finally, the Fatboy was noticeably quieter in the groove than the original 3D tonearm. Lead-in and inter-track spaces were almost eerily silent. As a result, live recordings presented more ambient information with the Fatboy than I had previously heard. My stereo copy of Dance to Duke! (Columbia Special Archives Series) showed much more hall sound, as well as a much deeper soundstage, than it had with the original 3D tonearm.

I’m not a professional reviewer, nor am I an audio engineer. I’m not qualified to speculate on the “why” behind what I heard. All I can tell you is that the Fatboy sounds significantly better to me than did the already excellent first generation 3D arm it replaced. I consider the HRX my “destination” turntable – it has now found its “destination” tonearm.
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby adeep42 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:04 pm

From another non-reviewer, non-engineer, just someone who loves to listen to music of all kinds, GREAT REVIEW. Thank you.

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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby Buck115 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:06 pm

I'm not sure my system, as well as my aging ears and diminished hearing, could completely utilize and appreciate the benefits of the Fatboy, but I appreciate your review and it certainly gives me food for thought on potentially trying one; "just because"! :)
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby Brf » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:14 pm

Great review and well thought out. Well done!

I hope to get my Uni-Fatboy by month's end and will do a direct comparison between the current production 12-3DR and the Fatboy.

Since I will have both tonearms completely disassembled waiting for two identical cartridges to be mounted, I will take that opportunity to calculate the Fatboy's effective mass as per a couple of request from forum members.
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby Letsmakeadeal » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:21 am

Brf wrote:Great review and well thought out. Well done!

I hope to get my Uni-Fatboy by month's end and will do a direct comparison between the current production 12-3DR and the Fatboy.

Since I will have both tonearms completely disassembled waiting for two identical cartridges to be mounted, I will take that opportunity to calculate the Fatboy's effective mass as per a couple of request from forum members.


Hey Brent. I am very anxious to read your comparison to the current 3DR. The current 12" 3DR is a completely different animal from the original tapered 12" 3D.

My guess is that the arm's performance is going to be highly dependent on the mass and compliance of the installed cartridge moreso than true difference between the arms themselves. Time will tell.

Thanks
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby suntea » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:14 pm

teenage diplomat wrote:
But the biggest advantages I heard with the Fatboy took place in the higher frequencies. With the original 3D tonearm, I could never totally get rid of excessive vocal sibilance. With the Fatboy, excessive sibilance entirely disappeared. In addition, cymbals consistently took on a sheen that I hadn’t heard before. Same story with the overtones and reverb tails exhibited by the orchestral bells and xylophone on Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” (Night and Day, A&M Records).


Nice review, thanks.

However, the quote above is interesting. I still use the 10.5 JMW memorial tonearm (2, one for stereo, one for mono) and have never had the vocal sibilance you mention getting with the 3D. I wonder if this could have been a setup problem or do all the 3D arms have this issue?
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby teenage diplomat » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:19 pm

If you have been blessed with not having to tame the excessive sibilance monster, you’re a fortunate man ;). In my case, I played with all the usual suspects (VTA, VTF, antiskate, different protractors, azimuth, etc...) and could only minimize the problem. I set the exact same cartridge up in exactly the same way on both arms, tracked at the same force. Only azimuth setting was accomplished differently (Counterintuitive on the original arm, dual pivot and adjustable side weight on the new arm). As I said at the end of my original post, I’m not an engineer, so my theories are not backed by analysis, but I do have a theory: the original 3D arm was too light for my cartridge and sibilants excited an unwanted resonance. Just my guess, take it for what it’s worth. Or maybe the dual pivot is responsible. Frankly I don’t know. All I know is there is a sonic advantage that I’m enjoying, and other long-term sibilance sufferers may enjoy as well.
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby Jbelben » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:01 pm

Hi

Thanks for the Fatboy review. Well thought out and articulated. I too own the PSB Image Tower 3’s.

Cheers
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby teenage diplomat » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:13 pm

Jbelben, I love my PSBs. I have a hard time believing that there is much better to be had for realistic (rather than stupid) money. The only other speaker I seriously considered was the Sonus Faber Olympica III, but at just about twice the price, I couldn't justify it sonically.
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Re: My Fatboy review

Postby Stringreen » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:05 am

I have a 3D and have no sibilant problems....either with the aluminum arm, with the 3D, or with the addition of the 2nd pivot.
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