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Topic: Here is my new tonearm.

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-11-2004

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Sometimes ago I showed to my local audio-friend an absurd looking old Russian tonearm that Russkies made somewhere in 70s. The friend of mine, the MIT-type person, looked at the tonearm, then looked at me and asked me very seriously: “Romy, are you sure that this is not a peace of the Chernobyl Reactor and are you sure the this thing is not radioactive?” We were laughing for quite some time after the joke, but the tonearms got it’s permanent American name - "The Chernobyl Spinnaker”

I own this tonearm for a while and recently decided to put it in use….

The tonearm was initially designed by Leningrad’s designer A. Likhnitsky as a part of “Korvet” turntable. The tonearm, like many other things made or designed by Russians, has some interesting ides alongside with completely foolish and irrational ideas, not to mention the typically-horrible implementation.

The tonearm has knife-edge VTF bearing, ball-bearing horizontal, adjustably-magnetic decoupling from the bottom, spring-managed antiskating and VTFs settings. Everything in there is well-considered, and designed very economically or I would very frugally. The damping is the most interesting things in this tonearm. At the pivot line there is a large, attached to the wand, hermetic sphere filed with glycerin. Inside of the sphere there is another sphere that is not attached to anything and that floating freely in the glycerin. According to Likhnitsky a moment that take place at the end of the tonearm gets transmitted to out-sphere and reduced by the tension between the inner-sphere and out-sphere (kind of gyroscope effect). Presumably, the masses of the spheres, the amount and viscosity of the glycerin and the distances between the spheres are properly set. Likhnitsky clams that this type of damping provides minus 10dB at 9hz compare to any other damping methods.

I have to tell honestly that I am not particularly subscribe what Likhnitsky proclaims and I have heard a number of inconsistencies from him, including the inconsistencies about the given tonearm. In addition, I have no idea how all those theories manifest themselves sonically. Do not ask me also how the Moon’s gravity affects the performance of this tonearm creating the tides within it or what will happen if you drain the glycerin and fill the tonearm with 30 years old Scotch Whisky. I’m pretty much a user of this thing, or a casualty in a way….

I certainly was not able to used the tonearm “as is” because too many things in there were way below any criticism. I decided to invest efforts and to see if I would be able to use the good ideas that “Korvet” had. I changed all wires, put a new headshell, put a new 12” graphite wand, added adjustable contra-mass on back, designed and machined a VTA-adjustable base, made my Micro-suitable arm-board, changed both top and bottom bearings, replaced the bottom magnet assembly (I manufactured the exact replica of that Likhnitsky had only with a highest level of precision), got rid within the arm whatever I considered unnecessary. The entire projects cost ~$500, winch is 50 time more than the price of the arm….

Another mystery story about the “Korvet” arm is that the Russians had some problems during manufacturing of those arms and as a result most of the tonarms were manufactured defective…. without the inner-sphere. I made a bunch of the experiment trying to figure out if my arm has the inner-sphere. My tonearm’s ball does not spins on a table (similar to none-boiled egg) and when I shake it then “something going on” inside. Eventually a friend of mine X-rayed the sphere.

Even looking at the images I can’t figure out what is going on. Obviously there is a second sphere inside, however I was under impression that the distance between the spheres should be smaller…

Now, I officially closed the project, placed the arm in my TT and will be doing some listening during December. I will announce the results of the listings but for now I could not resist do not post the images of this ugly but in a way gorgeous duckling.

I always said that a quality of a tonearm generally could be determined by how long I might listen it before I trash it and replace it with 3012. I hope that the reincarnated Likhnitsky’s “Korvet”, or my “Chernobyl Spinnaker”, will be able to resist…

Romy the Cat

Posted by Brian Clark on 12-11-2004

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Looks like something out of an old toilet cistern Romy! Smile


Posted by guy sergeant on 12-11-2004

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Hi Romy,

It certainly is a weird looking thing. I've never seen anything similar. It's hard, from the picture, to see which parts move and which stay still when the arm tube moves. How is the outer sphere attached to the 'gimbal'?. Could you post a sketch showing (from the outside at least) what is going on. This is one of these things which is probably easier to understand with 'first hand' and 'hands on' experience of it.

The only arm I've used which has a viscous damped bearing was a home made well tempered type arm. Certainly no bearing chatter was audible but in whatever combination of paddle & fluid I used the bass was never very good. How does the bass seem with this arm? (I appreciate that the bearings in this arm are more conventional but the designer is obviously trying to augment some aspect of their performace with his spheres.)


Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-11-2004

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There is an article where Likhnitsky explains what he was trying to accomplish with the tonearm. It is in Russian but there is an image there that presents the concept. The entire silver ball moves along with the arm’s wand. Inside the ball is swimming in glycerin another ball. When the outer ball moves the inertia keeps the inner-ball more or less stable relative to the “before-move state”. The tension of the glycerin between the walls of the balls presumably spreads out the pick of the resonance…

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-11-2004

Ok, was playing the tonearm today all day long. It dose work fine. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything further on about its sound as I finally concluded that I need a better mono cartridge. Screw you Denon-102! I can’t listen this midrange pusher anymore!

Posted by Brian Clark on 12-12-2004

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 Romy the Cat wrote:
I finally concluded that I need a better mono cartridge. Screw you Denon-102! I can’t listen this midrange pusher anymore!
Send it over to me Romy, I'll make sure the little offender doesn't escape! Smile Brian (who listens to a LOT of mono jazz) PS apparently Benz are now making a mono so at last count there are now four MC manufacturers that I know of that are in the game: Denon, Ortofon, Lyra and Benz. It's da New Ting I tell ya...

Posted by Romy the Cat on 02-26-2005



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I keep receiving emails asking me and complimenting me about this “Chernobyl Arm”. I have difficulties to estimate the worth of the entire project and the most important to pass the value of this worth to others.
The project was very valuable form a stand point of the getting best possible result form this “Korvet” arm but I do not know if it made sense from a point of view of getting a “better arm”. People keep asking me if this Chernobyl arm turned out to be better then some other arms that I like? I really do not know.

I have it now running with SPU Mono and I was not trying to conclude if it performs better then 3012 for instance. So, when I was saying that I go not know if it was rational to pursue the Chernobyl Arm I really meant this. You could go buy 3012 and would have a guarantied certain result without any problems or aggravations. To make the Chernobyl to work was a lot of pain. In the end of this pain - does it overperform the “defeat” 3012? I really do not know, furthermore I intentionally did not look the answer to this question. You see, beside the sexy look, and the impressive view of the Chernobyl arm there is it’s actual sound and this is the only things that mater

I kind of begin to drift from myself when I was among “anyone who loves tonearms”. This abstract, manhood love to the tonearms really shadows the real result - the functional purpose of the tonearm – namely it’s sound. Subsequently, the Chernobyl arm was the first arm of mine when I agreed upon it’s sound without bothering to correlate it’s sound to other “better” arms. It works for me but I doubt that I would be good enough for others. Therefore I would like do not suggest to others that my Chernobyl arm worth the spent efforts. To me it was a labor of love and I am not convinced that I was objective, or wanted to be objective in my judgments about the Chernobyl arm’s sound.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 06-15-2007
I got from web someone’s pictures of how that dam Russky arm was looking in the turntable. I think some of you would be looking and wondering…




Anyhow, 3 year later after spending some time with this arm I found myself to run this arm very little – there are clearly better sounding arms. The arm hosts now a cheap and not particularly interesting sounding Grado Reference MI cartridge and I play it quite seldomly – only what I have some through away records that I do not care even to clean….

Rgs, the Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 11-20-2008

I usually do not do those “fetish trips” but here I think it might be educational for Western readers as it is slightly different. I got an email with a like to a clip that you might like.  It is Russian-made turntable Korvet -038, from which I took the featured in this thread tonearm. The person who did the film was in a way Moron as he made a bogus film showing nothing interesting and did not highlighted some idiosyncratic design  decisions, and this turntable had quite a few. Anyhow, whatever the film shows…

It was made in beginning of 70s, it was very very  heavy and it cost a lot of money. If I am not mistaken then it cost 700 rubles – or a ¼ price of a common Russian automobile on those years.

Do not search eBay for it and do not trash your Rockford Turntable yet. Your Rockford does not deserve it as Korvet -038 was not so fantastic performer. It was moving-magnet oriented turntable and had own issues. However, have you seen what west did in beginning of 70s? Anyhow, the Korvet -038 is a good piece of turntable history.

I do not use the Korvet’s tonearm anymore as I find it way underperform with my MM needle.  If someone would like to take Korvet’s tonearm withy Micro mounting board then I would let it go in exchange for conventional SME 3012. Still, it is nice to know that Russkies did Korvet -038-level attempt at those times.

The Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 02-10-2009

If you read German there here is a guy who looks like the Korvet TT.

He had a lot of information about it and feels free to read it.

The caT

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