Thursday, August 13, 2015

Expressimoaudio The Lift

Of all the inconveniences of the vinyl life, and I am prepared to concede there are a few such as the endless cleaning rituals, the lack of easy track selection and so forth, the one that many have the hardest time dealing with is the need to jump up every 20 mins or so to lift the stylus off the record at the end of a side.  We've all done it, left a precious stylus sitting in the run out groove of an LP when distracted. I've walked out of my listening room and forgotten that I was spinning records rather than CDs, and I hear some poor folks have fallen asleep during a late night session only to wake up in horror, hours later, with the recognition that their needle was still spinning around or worse.  Yes, there might be drinks involved but let him who is without sin cast the first stone here. Nobody likes to think of those wasted minutes or even hours where a valuable cartridge is doing its thing in the deadwax.

Enter Expressimoaudio's The Lift. A deceptively simple looking brass device that you place near the tonearm's pivot, prime by swinging the upper arm around, and then leave alone to do the job. It lifts the stylus at record's end as the tonearm tube moves the upper lever to a tipping point whereupon the lower half of said level swings up and under the tonearm tube to lift the entire arm and cartridge clear of the groove. The Lift has a range of adjustability to allow for tonearms of varying heights and circumference, using a small allen key so the support pillar can be extended or collapsed as needed to find the sweet spot. It all sounds more complicated than it is, and  if a picture is worth a 1000 words, the above  video from Brian the designer should tell you all you need to know.

On my SME 20/2 with V arm, I required the heavier weight version to have the necessary force, and it took me more than a few tries to get positioning and height right. The trick for me was to recognize that the tonearm did not have to make contact with the top weight, but should slip under it to contact the lever. I also played around with BluTak to hold the Lift in place as it would otherwise fall over in use but once I got it set, and I did, the Lift has not left my table.  Set up time for me was more than the claimed seven minutes but once you get a sense of how it operates, the real trick is just positioning.

Now installed, the Lift works every time and believe me, I am glad it does. On more than one occasion it has saved my cartridge from unnecessary wear as I've left the room with a record playing and come back an hour later to find the room quiet, the platter spinning, and my lovely Sumiko Pearwood Celebration II floating safely above the  inner grooves. Ah, the small comforts that matter.

Drawbacks are negligible. On the rather hollow SME arm, the Lift makes a rather sharp noise on contact as the lever triggers and the stylus escapes the inner grooves but having examined this up close, it's not a worry, no damage occurring here. Bigger challenge is to get into the habit of priming it for every side. I've sometimes forgotten to bring the Lift arm back into place when changing sides and then, near the end of the next side, the arm bumps into the Lift's non-raised lever causing skipping. You sort of have to learn this the hard way - two months in and I still sometimes forget to set it but it's becoming second nature.

This is a $100 device that you might think is overpriced but given the general quality and the fact that it works (and let's be honest, looks a whole lot better on a decent table than the Q-Up that you can get for a few bucks less) leads me to unhesitatingly recommend it for table owners. Brian of Expressimoaudio is also a very customer-friendly guy who will work with you to get your set up correct (he's also working on a set of arm and table designs too that promise interesting results - this man is committed to the vinyl cause, watch out for him). I bought the Lift without mentioning my blog or HiFi'Zine so I know how Brian treats customers, not reviewers. He worked with me the whole way and I am confident he'll make you happy.  Buy it, set it, relax. No need to question if you have enough time left on a side to refill the glass, to run to the kitchen or heaven forbid, if you forgot to stop spinning when you left the house. LP listening just became a little more convenient.

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