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The other thing is that the arm’s qualities come through regardless of cartridge. I haven’t come across a cartridge with more sheer aliveness, air and sparkle than the Van den Hul Frog Gold but you’d never know it on the IV. Maybe I’m being a bit tough but on The Phil Woods Six Live From the Showboat [RCA pl 02202], the sax is pretty much devoid of harmonics and overtones. You get a solid earnest ‘faithful’ rendition of the facts but to my ear little of the musical truth, the snap, pizzaz and swing that make you want to learn to salsa.

It’s not that it’s completely dull and lifeless, more that you feel it’s got an accountant’s values and needs to go out, take a trip to Ghana and discover what life is about. Struck glass is close to a joke, a dull clunky thing with pretty much zero ring or afterspray.

On Yusef Lateef The Doctor is In and Out [Atlantic SD 1685] it gets the music’s forward rhythm and drive, the power and muscular definition and the whole is well organized. In fact it sounds okay and if you came on just this track I suspect you’d find my other comments on the harsh side. But if you’ve heard better you will instantly recognize that the drums sound soft dull and beige, the cowbells like Bakelite, the bamboo flute like a flaccid reed.

The overall sound is authoritative, bold and outlined but not to the point of caricature or cartoon. It’s grey and there’s no chiaroscuro, no shadow in the colors. Things are the equivalent of a graphic novel rather than a film. Am I being too harsh?

Such a hard question. I’m sure there are people who will be completely happy with this arm and others who would come in here and go ‘what on earth are you on about?’ But all I can do is try to be as honest about my own views as I can. For me this arm is two chopsticks short of a noodle. It’s an ox and it plods. To turn it into a nightingale you need to change the wiring and upgrade the bearing. Do that and you have not just the keys to the kingdom, you also get the one to Juliet’s door. It’s called an SME V.