Morch UP-4 9" tonearm Chrome w/ green red yellow or blue armtube, 1.2m cable RCA

MO 02 AUP4 9 CHR
NZ$ 2,500.00 ea (incl. GST)
Morch Tonearms

High End Hi-Fi PlayBack Equipment - Finest Craftsmanship

New
Morch is a Danish tonearm manufacture known for their exceptional performance. While observing correct design fundamentals, crucial parameters such as choice of materials, a new approach to mass distribution, and elimination of arm resonances required in depth study for the design of an exceptional tonearm.

The Model UP-4 incorporates a special concept of the unipivot principle. The bearing consists of a hardened steel pivot resting in a concave, polished sapphire. The bearing is damped in all directions with silicone fluid. The low positioning of the bearing provides for a greater stability compared to other unipivot arms, since a considerable part of the moveable mass of the arm is positioned above the pivot point.

With the model UP-4 the azimuth adjustment is made by the way of the counterweights.

Supplied in chrome or 24 carat gold finish, or you can special order in black. The armtube plating is done without the use of magnetic materials.

The Danish Mørch UP-4 is the unipivot relative of the DP-6, The DP-6 has knife-edge vertical bearings and roller, ball-bearing horizontal ones, while the UP-4 is a true (damped) unipivot. Actually, the UP-4design is the earlier of the two, but the DP-6 was new at the time of review, and got all my attention. (Both arms remain available.) Although it has a different set of sonic virtues from the DP-6, the UP-4 has virtues indeed; and at its low price, it offers extraordinary value.

Unipivot pickup arms as a class have some advantages over other types: In particular, unipivot bearings have virtually zero friction and high structural bearing rigidity. Moreover, this rigidity is forever--a unipivot does not loosen with time and wear. On the other hand, unipivots are a little tweaky as to setup, since azimuth adjustment is controlled by the position of balance weights. In the UP-4, the counterweight itself is mounted eccentrically so that rotation of it one way or the other shifts the equilibrium azimuth of the arm. (If that sentence fails to make sense, please just take my word for it that the adjustment is tricky to make but stable once made.) 

Like-the DP-6, the UP-4 comes with interchangeable arm tubes of various masses. With the lowest mass tube, it is compatible with the highest compliance cartridges, and indeed the arm in this configuration has the lowest effective mass of any currently available arm that I am aware of. At the other end of the spectrum, the highest mass tube makes the arm compatible with low-compliance moving coils. (For how to figure out the arm mass you need for a given cartridge, see the explanation in the box below.) This adjustable mass feature is really nice--the mass/compliance match-up is crucial sonically, and is unlikely to come out just right by accident!

Why Arms need Damping

All the Mørch arm tubes, regardless of mass, are designed to be low in resonance, and, indeed, sound that way. The UP-4 has a low level of arm-induced coloration, to my ears. And the sound is clear and detailed. Tracking is excellent, enhanced by the mass matching feature. Actually, in many respects--especially clarity and retrieval of detail--the UP-4 is fully competitive with more expensive arms. Where the UP4 loses out to its big brother DP-6 of the Mørch family is in control of cartridge energy, or so one gathers. Cartridges try to vibrate as they play, and it seems that the DP-6 is a bit better at restraining this. The UP-4 sounds a bit light-bright, by comparison as a result--only a bit though, and not to the point of sounding splashy or toppy.

Actually, some people with experience with both Mørch arms have told me they prefer the UP-4 for its greater liveliness. But regardless of how one votes on that, the fact that the issue is debatable shows how well the UP-4 is doing. It is, after all, much less expensive than the DP-6-and a fraction of the price. The bass of the UP-4 is also not quite up to the very highest standards in weight and extension, although, to tell the truth, the possibility of getting the mass right in the UP-4 will almost always completely swamp whatever theoretical advantages other arms might have in the bass. (Of course, the DP-6 also has adjustable mass. And other contemporary arms do tend to be more or less mass-compatible with most moving coil cartridges, but only pretty close; only adjustable mass will make exact matching possible.)

The UP-4 is as elegant looking as all get out, in a Danish, restrained but "high-tech" way--Plexiglas and chrome , and so on. It will certainly look at home in even the highest High End setup. 

Now I have to admit that I have become convinced that the ultimate in vinyl playback requires damping at the front end of the pickup arm (the cartridge end), à la the systems used by Townshend, or Maplenoll for lateral tracking. But no doubt many people are not going to want to fool with the required trough. And even for those that will be willing to, the question remains of what arm to apply the front end damping to. The UP-4's low structural resonance, adjustable mass, and low-friction, low-noise bearing make it a good candidate here, too.

In short, the UP-4 is a truly excellent value, offering a remarkable percentage of an ultimate performance at a fraction of the prices usually charged for would-be "best" arms. The vinyl world, what's left of it, is waking up to unipivot arms, as well it should. The UP-4 has been around for a while in Europe, but its sound principles are by no means obsolete. Cool looks, fine sound, reasonable price; if money is any object, it's a very attractive package indeed.

Specifications

Reviews

Specifications

Construction: Radial arm with interchangeable arm tubes.
Bearing principle: Unipivot
Effective mass incl arm tube:
      Light (green): 4 g
      Medium (red): 6 g
      Heavy (yellow): 8 g
      Extra heavy (blue): 14 g
All arm tubes can be used with all models.
Fundamental resonance (depending on arm tube): 8 - 16 Hz
Tracking force (when using calibrated scale): 0 - 3 g
Bias compensation: Watch spring with string - adjustable while playing.
Azimuth: Azimuth is adjustable for correct channel separation.
Cueing mechanism: Piston in U-pipe, damped with silicone fluid.
Distance between pivot and centre of turnable platter: 212mm or 294.1mm
Diameter of hole for mounting arm base: 20mm
Rear overhang from pivot: 70mm
Effective length: 230mm
Offset angle: 24 degrees.
Lateral tracking error: 0 degrees at 66mm and 120.9mm from centre of record.
Pivot point: Pivot point is in level with the record surface.
Bearing Friction: Bearing friction less than 0.04 mN in all directions.
Balancing: Four different balancing weights.
Internal wiring: 19 strands of ultra pure silver insulated with Teflon.
Capacitance per channel: 28pF for all models.
Tonearm Cable: Balanced. Extremely purified copper strands that are heavily silver coated. Halogen free insulation. Morch tonearm connector with Cardas RCA connectors.
Capacitance per channel: 100pF.
Terminals: All terminals throughout the arm are gold plated.
Bearing concept: Hardened steel pivot resting on a concave sapphire, and damped for all motions with silicone fluid.
Finish: Standard is chrome, gold available at a premium, and black as special order. 

Reviews

I highly recommend it both on sonic and visual grounds-it's a stunning combination!
Marc Bratton - Vinyl Asylum

SUMMARY - With the Morch, one can hear the wetness of the reed, the vibrato, and the dome of ambiance being gently stroked to life by the bassoon's undertones.Lovely, lovely stuff. 

EXTENDED REVIEW - This tonearm occupies a niche between the bare bones basic tonearms like the Regas and all their modified variants, and the super arms like the Graham 2.2, Wheaton Triplanar,the SME's, and the like. As such, it is sorely needed. In fact, to my knowledge this is the only tonearm in the sub 1K price range that offers not only adjustable VTA and azimuth (adjustable azimuth in particular is given short shrift in most all of the sub 1K arms...I take a very dim view of this), but also gives one the option of using multiple armwands. Just like with the Graham 2.2, you could have one premounted with a MM, one premounted with a cherished moving coil, and quickly and easily switch between the two. The armwands come in four different weights, ranging from the lightest (green dot), to the heaviest (blue dot). You match the weight of the armwand to the dynamic compliance and weight of your cartridge, the purpose being to optimize the arm's resonance point. Should you want a 12" armwand, those are available too, in red dot and blue dot weight ranges. You can also get something called a Precision armtube, which features wider and more precisely machined headshells than the somewhat vestigal standard headshell. The tonearm cable connects via a DIN socket.

My version is the red dot standard armtube with the upgraded all silver DP-6 tonearm cable. I was fortunate enough to find one of these on the used market, and jumped on it quickly, as they tend to be snapped up.

The fit and finish on these arms is absolutely first rate...the phrase "jewel like" comes to mind. Clearly the gold plated DP-6 is the more stunning of the two, but the UP4 is so highly polished and beautiful in its workmanship that it shames a lot of medical grade instrumentation I've worked with. In fact, with it's gracile armtube, deep, deep chrome finish, and plexiglass pivot plate, it looks like something your dental hygienist might bring to bear on your teeth. Rzzzzzzzzz........seriously,

this is truly an exquisitely made piece of kit. The pictures make them look bigger than they are...these tonearms are tiny! 
I heard others mention how difficult these arms are to set up, but I didn't find it any more difficult than any other tonearm, just different.

Then again, I'm used to arms that are "different", since I had a Well Tempered arm for 10 years. This one's easier to set up than that one. Pivot to spindle distance, VTA, overhang, offset angle, and VTF are all set in the usual manner. You get a set of eccentrically cammed counterweights which you shimmy onto the back of the arm, and you adjust their positions until you get the azimuth correct. I found a 10mm bubble level, set right on top of the headshell, a great aid for this. You have a third smaller counterweight at the very back, which is not eccentric, which you use to get your VTF. I forgot to mention that you apply silicone damping fluid into the pivot point with a supplied tuberculin syringe right before you attach the armwand. All in all, very straight forward, and the instructions are excellent. The antiskate is applied by a coil watchspring, which attaches to the arm turret via an unbelievably fine monafilament thread...did I mention how like a fine watch this tonearm is built? I might add that I think they ought to include a WallyTractor as standard with these arms, as this arm seems to really, really like to be very precisely adjusted. It will reward you greatly to get this one dialed in to the nth degree, and I know of no instrument better for that than the WallyTractor. Enough said. On that note, take great pains to assure that your platter and armboard are very level, or performance will suffer, more even than with a conventional tonearm.

So, after mounting my ClearAudio Virtuoso, and dialing in all the parameters, I put on the HiFi News test record...another essential. It tested very well...I could not get it to mistrack except VERY slightly on the worst torture track. Same with the antiskate. It displayed no wobble at all, and only very little warbling @ 10-12Hz on the vertical and horizontal resonance test tracks. In summary, it measured very well. 

Feeling encouraged, I dropped the needle on some well known records. 

The first thing that struck me about this tonearm was its preternatural clarity and quickness in the all important midband. There is very little overhang with this tonearm-it "lets go of the notes" very quickly and cleanly. This allows a wealth of detail, dynamics, and ambiance to emerge naturally and gracefully. To give an example, in Hadyn's 104th symphony, wherein the bassoon is given the opening line: With the EM modded Rega RB250 arm which this one replaced, one hears a kind of rude, flatulent noise. One can tell it's a bassoon, but that's about all.

With the Morch, one can hear the wetness of the reed, the vibrato, and the dome of ambiance being gently stroked to life by the bassoon's undertones.Lovely, lovely stuff. Instead of "massed strings" you hear individual violinists playing, and it's a lot easier to "get" the subtly of their bowing technique. Lots of air and ambiance of the recording venue can be appreciated, assuming the recording got it.Small nuances in vocals comes out a lot clearer, giving the music more emotional depth. The bass quality is taut, clean, and tight.  I would NOT call this arm "bass shy". It's very satisfying. If I had to sum up the UP-4's essence in only one word, the word "articulate" is what I'd choose. No matter how detailed and complex the music, it sorts it all out in a very relaxed and competent manner, for your enjoyment. It refuses to get flustered, or lose its grip, no matter what you throw at it. 

What are it's colorations? Well, in stock form, with my cartridge, it seems a little silvery. Not run from the room bright at all, mind you. Just a little more lit on the edges perhaps than totally neutral. I HATE brightness and have gone to great lengths to eliminate it from my system, so when I tell you it's not bad, that's what I mean. Still, in a system already tending that way, it might not be optimal. After assuring myself that my VTA wasn't the culprit, here's what I did: A few days ago, my Extreme Phono solid state stylus cleaner arrived. I let if sit for 24 hrs before I used it, to let the goo settle as you're supposed to. They pack way more goo than is really needed in that little case, so some migrated out. You guessed it. I applied a little bit to the headshell, fore and aft of the fingerlift. Take care to apply only a little, as this stuff tends to flatten out and seep. When it was done seeping/settling, I had this perfectly clear coating of the goop covering the headshell and part of the cartridge body. It looked like it was made that way, all one piece, as its coloration matched the plexiglass pivot plate. Not kludgy looking at all. I adjusted my VTF accordingly, and listened. I was very pleasantly surprised! Not only was that slight residual brightness totally gone, but I had a welcome increase in the heft and weight of the bass as well, and I lost none of that quickness and clarity in the midband. A very useful tweak that costs nothing. Obviously, the slight increase in effective mass must have been what my cartridge was asking for, but I think the added damping of the very lightweight and vestigal headshell was a factor as well. 

All in all, this is very versatile, well thought out, and impeccably implemented tonearm. It significantly betters my EM modded Rega RB250 across the board, with the exception of the quantity of bass. How does it compare to my old Well Tempered? That is a very tonally neutral arm that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Its one sin is one of omission. I think the silicone damping, while making it an extremely low resonance design, tends to dampen out some of the microdynamics and details, and thus some of the life out of the music, compared to the Morch. I'd say the WT isn't quite as enjoyable, though still quite good. So, if you're in the market for a tonearm that costs a lot less than the superarms, but gives you a good measure of what they're all about, take a close look at this arm. Especially if you're looking to match it with a Teres, I highly recommend it both on sonic and visual grounds-it's a stunning combination!