The Triangle ART Osiris Tonearm

I don’t really envy those shopping for tonearms. The variety, the differing approaches, and the issues of system compatibility complicate things in a way that only high-end audio can. It can be a confusing mess for anyone in the market for a tonearm, and so – understandably – they look to reviews to help cut through the fog. And tonearms are quite a bear to review. Each one has its own peccadillos that can take a period of tweaking to sort out. Not to mention cartridge compatibility issues and the fine-tuning related to that. To make things a little more complicated, I had no other tone arm on hand with which to compare the Osiris. However, I thought that I would be able to get a handle on the Osiris within the context of the Triangle Art Signature Table that I recently reviewed for another publication. Using this systemic approach to reviewing the whole apparatus on its own merits, I don’t think I could have had a better experience. Consider this text a deeper look into the system as a whole, examining the contribution that the tone arm made while revealing the contrast of the different cartridges. I did have access to the outstanding Clearaudio Stradavari 2 cartridge as well as my in house Ortofon Cadenza Black, and the comparison of these to very different-sounding transducers went a long way toward peeling back the curtain on the contribution that the Osiris had on the system. osiris3 I will come clean right off the bat: I love a good piece of audio jewelry. From Jeff Rowland, to Esoteric, to Pass Labs – I have enjoyed some outstanding examples of sophisticated industrial design, not to mention the world-class sound that each of these fine companies provides. The Triangle Arts Signature turntable, with its gleaming and perfectly machined & polished components, was as visually stunning as I have ever seen. Not only does it look smashing, its operation is a cinch to set up and get playing. If you like the look of the Signature table, you will likely love the look and feel of the Osiris tone arm: Gold-plated, polished brass matches the record weight on the Signature Turntable for some visual continuity, while the 12” arm wand – hewn from Macassar ebony – looks and feels sumptuous. At the point of contact the Osiris has two BB-like embedded magnets that suspend the tone arm; one magnet facing up, one facing down. The top-magnet attaches to the arm’s base and is stabilized by the downward facing magnet. If the arm becomes disengaged from the top-magnet, the bottom magnet will “grab” the arm and keep it from flying off the table. It took me a little while to figure out just how much force the magnetic connection could withstand without knocking it off kilter – this part is slightly tweaky.  The counterbalance was a cinch to adjust giving me a good 2.75 grams of downforce on the Clearaudio Stradavari 2. That delicate connection provided by the magnetic pivot keeps the transfer of bad vibes to an absolute minimum, the integral head shell contributes to the over all silence. According to designer Tom Vu, the brass and macasar ebony were chosen as a result of much testing of different materials. osiris2Aside from a slightly fiddly cueing set-up process, getting the Osiris right was a lot easier than getting it wrong. VTA is as simple as unlocking a screw and turning a knob. Azimuth is set by unlocking a couple of very small hex nuts and slightly rotating the arm tube. Smart & simple design. What is the highest compliment one can give to an audio product? That it imparts no sound of it’s own? I’ll agree that is a big part of it, if not 85% of the goal. The last 10 to 15% must allow for some level of magic, some musically consonant fairy-dust sprinkled over the music that grabs my attention and keeps me musically involved. Neutral is fine for Swedish foreign policy – I want to be immersed in beauty. The Osiris delivers a goodly dose of that necessary neutrality and manages to sprinkle some of that fairy-dust, while yet still showing up the differences – with stark relief – between the outstanding Ortofon Cadenza black and the Clearaudio Stradavari2 Cartridges. The Clearaudio Stradavari 2 sounded very linear, with outstanding frequency extremes and a midrange that developed wonderful image presence. In broad terms, the Ortofon had a spreading warmth from the midrange on down through the bass that was coupled to a vibrant upper midrange and treble. Yet the presentation of the Clearaudio/Osiris with all it’s linearity and extension flat out nailed timbre and instrumental color as well. There is underlying warmth and, when called for, a woody/reedy natural resonance that gives instruments real credibility. I have to give credit to the Osiris for revealing all the Stradavari 2 seems to offer. As for the Ortofon Cadenza Black, I can and have lived with its slight colorations because of what it does very well: it swings, baby! There is an eagerness to the dynamic presentation that I really love. Cadenza Black also reveals tone very well, though upper harmonics perhaps less-realized than with the Clearaudio. There is also a bit of forwardness in the upper-mids, where a slight sheen lies. Somehow, though, the mid-band of the Cadenza Black remains very natural and musical despite its slight deviations. The Osiris also allowed me to get a clear picture of the low end. With the Ortofon, There is a fair amount of transparency, not trigger-like as with the Stradivari 2, but propulsive non the less. At 2/3 the price of the Stradavari 2 the Cadenza Black puts up a vigorous fight, but ultimately cannot keep up with the overall resolution and neutrality of the Stradivari 2. With these cartridges hanging from the Osiris, the different characters were a snap to decipher; like changing the channel on a television, there was little sonic crossover from one cartridge to the next. beatles-box-tiffHuge piles of records are cast about my listening room, and none more dear than my new Beatles collection that I received for Christmas. Rubber Soul sounds outstanding … intimate, direct, solid, with imaging completely detached from the speakers. The presentation creates a real treat for any Beatles fan. Another quality that the system exhibits is real sense of ease and freedom. The system had a way of really letting the notes fly. Coltrane’s Sax, Red Garland’s Piano, Joe Satriani’s guitar are all allowed to reach their full dynamic bloom. There is little to no sense of strain or compression, giving previously un-involving (compressed) recordings new life and vigor. This tone arm seems to be really getting out of the way and allowing the music to soar. Piano, in particular, nearly reaches the holy grail of lifelike dynamics! Bass frequencies are handled with seemingly endless reach. The Osiris/Clearaudio combination could send quivers of leviathan bass up the perverbial pant leg. This is a tough test as most analog rigs cheat a bit in the lower registers, but not the Triangle Art Osiris/Clearaudio combo. Extension, power, texture and near perfect levels of low-end control … it is all there. Listening to Disturbed “Asylum” over the Osiris/Clearaudio was like subjecting myself to water boarding … but in a good way! There’s nothing quite like a good, low-frequency pummeling! And the top-end: sweet, extended, and fast. Limped delicacy on track after track. With the Ortofon taking over duties, “I aint got nobody” from Red Garland’s Bright and Breezy, dances along subtly shifting dynamics, particularly during the solos. Riveting stuff! END GAME: There appeared to be very few distortions being generated by the arm that might color the sound beyond what a sort-of organic warmth that seems to kiss all the right sonic spots. Even the sheen imparted by the Ortofon was handled with a slight dose of sweetness. I noticed this less with the Clearaudio, though it seemed to be there to a somewhat lesser degree. Again, that 10% to 15% of added-magic is where this sweetness does its thing. In all, the Osiris tone-arm seems to be one of those rare components that allows for deep musical insight – that’s about the best compliment I can pay.

Comments are closed.