THALES SIMPLICITY II TONEARM REVIEW PART 1


In my travels and frequent correspondence, the Thales Tonarm Simplicity II tonearm was too often served as a subject of discussion to simply ignore it. Usually, I don't ask for a review samples. It works the other way around in 99%, but in this particular case, I really wanted to understand and hands-on experience the inner working of this unique tonearm from Switzerland.

I've contacted Micha Huber directly and in few weeks, the Thales Simplicity II tonearm arrived.

THE SIMPLICITY II


Even the first encounter had revealed a highly refined manufacturing quality and the Swiss painstaking executing down to the tiniest part. I'm always inspired and ignited when Swiss horology like the precision quality level is implemented and Simplicity II is a prime example of such dedication. 


Let me look closer at what makes the Simplicity II different, unique an interesting...

The Thales Simplicity II was designed from the ground up to set the benchmark for what is possible in contemporary tonearm design. The tracking geometry is based on a unique tetragon solution that reduces the tracking-error down to impressive 0,006°. 


Thales new TTF-bearing-technology allows the performance shift with the help of the micro- ball-bearings, that are arranged in a tension-free setup and with the painstaking tuning of the two tonearm tubes, that addresses the optimum damping of intrinsic frequencies.


The crucial part of any high-end audio analog setup is the proper setting of the tonearm and cartridge. The Simplicity II tonearm comes with a special setup tool, that puts the installation into the similar precise realms as manufacturing itself.


There are three different counterweights included with the package, each one, with a different mass. This allows a compatibility with the wide range of cartridges, that carry the weight between 7 and 23 grams.

Few insights of the Thales II Simplicity tonearm production

Simplicity II headshell with locking mechanism can be removed very easily for exact alignment of the cartridge.


The tonearm is available in bronze, grey or black anodized finish and features Thales’s own internal wiring. This wiring is highly flexible and made of purest copper and one can choose from three different wiring terminations.


1. Tonarm-tubes, made of aluminum
2. Cardanic bearing, TTF-technology
3. Counter-weight
4. Base-ring, EMT / Ortofon standard
5. VTA-adjustment
6. Azimuth-adjustment
7. Tonearm-lift
8. Headshell with locking mechanism
9. Head bearings 


HIGHLIGHTS


There are quite a few interesting features worthy of highlighting. Here is the official breakdown...

1. Geometry

By building the two arms slightly longer, the tracking error is reduced to 0,006° while the max. offset angle is reduced to 19°.

2. Bearing

Many long nights of research passed by to create a new bearing technology which combines the advantage of the traditional ruby-bearing (damping properties, one point contact) with the benefits of the ball bearing (load resistant, solid). This TTF technology (Thales Tension Free) is a very clear musical improvement for all our tonearms and has - as a nice side effect - an integrated shock absorbing system for less sensitive handling and transport.

3. VTA

The VTA-levelling and clamping mechanism have been improved with two specific mechanical components for sophisticated adjustment and improve the dynamics of sound.

4. Azimuth

The Azimuth can be adjusted accurately ±2° with an adjusting screw.

5. Sight unit

The sight unit has an updated reading device for more easy and accurate setting up of the cartridge.

6. Wiring

The internal wiring is guided in both arm-tubes, split for better channel separation. The tonearm has a ground-connection and we provide three different wiring options...


TTF-TECHNOLOGY


Thales has a long-standing tradition with the manufacturing of the ultra-high quality micro bearings, that points back to 2012, when they've started with the development of the TTF - Thales-Tension-Free technology.

The initial plan was to combine the advantages of the traditional jewel bearing like damping properties, one point contact and angular alignment with the benefits of ball bearing (load resistant, solidness). 

After prolonged and countless hours of R & D, Micha Huber was able to achieve something very different. It was by no means easy to implement this principle to the Thales tonearms, but the newly developed TTF technology had revealed incredibly low friction values, absolute freedom of backlash and as a nice side effect, an integrated shock absorbing system.


As most of you, I'm always highly inspired by the products with an interesting and intriguing technical background. This usually, but not as a rule manifest in the better performance. Read on how Thales Simplicity II unfold its virtues...

THE MUSIC


Some products reveal their real nature upon first few notes and minutes of the playback. Some unveil their potency in a more subtle way and over the repeated playbacks. Thales Simplicity II tonearm didn't need a prolonged evaluation to manifest its real potential.

From what I could quickly decipher, the Simplicity II more than deserved as special music material. One of the first records I've pulled out was outstanding Electric Recording Company limited edition of iconic Music for Viola & Cello, played by Herbert Downes and Jacqueline Du. This mesmerizing £500.00 black disc embodies an analog triumph of its own and serves the music for what it is and what it supposed to be. A powerful and radiant message!


Even within etudes, the Thales Simplicity II tonearm had exhibited veritable density. Inspiringly in the absence of dynamic overload, that can be too quickly a key factor with many tonearms. In high-end audio analog setup, every part is substantial and bound to the synergy, yet I've discovered a big step up in performance when Simplicity II was combined with my Audio Union Döhmann Helix 1 reference turntable.

Both micro and macro details have reached new highs. The same extent of quality had followed musical flow and formation of the notes. There are numerous factors, that are closely connected with the leitmotif of high-performance analog reproduction and speed belongs among the more important ones. With Simplicity II in action, the tempi was on forte, forging the impressive shifts of attacks and sudden dynamic changes. To say, that Thales tonearm was a step up out the ordinary would be an understatement. Simplicity II encapsulated the detailed and open presentation, without any typical sign of stridency.

Especially with Herbert Downes and Jacqueline Du Simplicity II had exhibited all the virtues, where upper echelon analog setup really shine. The sheer energy, beguile tone and enthralling three-dimensionality. Thales Simplicity Tonearm II exhibited far more attributes, that I was honestly expecting and had provided surprisingly immersive music representation and leading edge scenic sense!

SUM UP


So far, my time with the Thales Simplicity II tonearm has materialized into the aurally enlightening experience, that fourthly evolves into a refreshingly surprising analog adventure by each reference record.

I now understand more intimately, what so many people were trying to tell me about Simplicity II's captivating virtues. There is something very powerful hiding in a Micha Huber's exploration of the micromechanical universe. The result translates with the analog playback, that expanded the familiar musical material with a standout performance, that would call for much more exotically pricing.

In Roman mythology god Janus presides over everything that is put into to the motion, is of transitional nature, and is connected with endings. With his two faces, he gazes back into the past and firmly looks into the future. This is exactly how Simplicity II embraces it operating momentum. Thales embraces the rich analog heritage and aggrandizes the bold new world of ultra-refined micromachining...

For what it represents and for the level of information, that can be deciphered with Thales Simplicity II tonearm, liquefied into the seamless music portraying has led me to wholeheartedly award this unique analog gem with Mono and Stereo Upper Echelon Award even before the final conclusion.

Stay tuned for the part two, where I'll sum up my thoughts and expand on the musical references. And yes, I'm very impressed! 

Matej Isak

PRICE


CHP 8.400,00

SPECIFICATIONS


Spindle to Pivot: 230mm (EMT/Ortofon standard)
Effective length: 229mm
Effective mass: 18gm
Max. tracking error: ±0,006° (trad. 9“ tonearm: 2,2°)
Max. offset angle: 8...19° (trad. 9“ tonearm: 23°)
Cartridge weight: 7g - 23g
Colors: Bronze Grey Black

FEATURES


- optimised geometry, max. 0.006° tracking error
- Bearing with five axis and ten micro ball bearings - Fine-adjustment mechanism for VTA and Azimuth - chrome plated brass-parts
- anodised aluminium-parts (bronze, black or grey)
- exchangeable headshell, anodised finish - effective length: 9 inches
- effective tonearm-mass: 18g
- integrated 5-pin-DIN-connector
- option: direct wiring / terminal RCA/XLR 

CONTACT 


HiFiction AG
Stäffelistrasse 6
8409 Winterthur
Micha Huber
+41 52 202 43 12
E-Mail: mh@tonarm.ch