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A quick visit to Immedia / Spiral Groove

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  • A quick visit to Immedia / Spiral Groove

    A few weeks ago I attended an event at Elite Audio in San Francisco and while there bumped into Allen Perkins owner of Immedia/Spiral Groove. I mentioned to him that I own an older Immedia RPM-2 tonearm and told him how much I liked it. He said that he still services older product like mine, and for a very reasonable fee would go over the tonearm and make sure that it's operating in top condition. Since my tonearm is close to 20 years old and shows its age in a few minor ways, I decided to pack it up and send it to him. About 10 days after getting the tonearm, Allen emailed me that it was ready and I arranged to pick it up as his office in Berkeley.

    The drive up to Berkeley takes about an hour - it was Saturday morning and traffic wasn't too bad. I got there mid-morning and found the Immedia offices were in an industrial part of town that has been gentrified over the years and is now a mix of industrial office and trendy coffee houses and restaurants. Below is a picture of the building. I walked up to the front door and was greeted by what sounded like live drumming. I was impressed, thinking that Allen must have quite the system in his offices. The sound was so loud that my knocking wasn't heard, so I waited for a lull in the sound and then knocked again. This time I was heard and Allen opened the door and welcomed me in. It turns out that it wasn't a great stereo that I heard but instead Allen's drum set. He explained to me that he's an active musician and plays with groups around town 3 days a week. He uses part of his office as a recording studio and has his drums set up there. While waiting for me to arrive, he was just fooling around on the drums.

    My tonearm was all packed up and he explained the various things he'd done to it. Among other things he'd replaced some of the rubber decoupling on the counterweight, replaced parts of the antiskate mechanism that were a bit out of wack, tweaked the arm lift so it moved smoothly, and gave me some new tools in case I'd misplaced the ones that came with the tonearm. He also offered me an alignment gauge for the tonearm like the one mentioned here:
    since he wanted to be sure that I could set things up properly. He has a bunch of these lying around so he just threw this in. He wasn't sure if the first one he found was ideal, so we went on a tour through his entire facility. It's a large loft like space with a big open area, great light, lots of space, and some offices up above. While touring the offices up above he pulled out an old Audiocraft tonearm which he said was the original inspiration for Bob Graham's original tonearm.

    The big open area is where SG products are assembled. It was well organized but there were still parts everywhere. There were many, many Centroid tonearms on the shelves ready to go and a few SG turntables in various states of assembly. Allen pointed out a prototype of the new SG Revolution turntable that was ready to go except that he wasn't satisfied with the quality of the work from one of his subcontractors. So he was going to have that part redone until it was up to his standards.

    Overall, it was a short visit. I wasn't there for more than 30 minutes. But it was fun to see a small high end manufacturer's operation. It's clear that small companies like Spiral Groove are a labor of love. Allen Perkins really cares about his customers and went out of his way to take care of me despite the fact that I was not spending much money with him. He's someone I'd like to do business with again in the future.
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    Analog: Scheu + Immedia RPM tonearm + Koetsu Black + Pass Xono or Threshold FET 10pe
    Amps: First Watt F7, HK Citation II
    Pre-Amps: CJ Premier 14, Threshold FET 10e, DIY 417a with output transformer
    Speakers: Horning Eufrodite, Reference 3A mm de capo
    Tuners: Sansui TU9900, McIntosh MR78
    Digital: i7 Server (Roon) + SSD, Sonore urendu + Mutec MC3+ USB + Berkeley Alpha Dac, Audiomeca Mephisto
    Power: Audience AR12, Torus Tot, DIY filters

  • #2
    Allen is one of the very best in the business. we've had many a phone conversation talking shop and discussing whats essential to designing a SOTA turntable/arm. until recently I had two RPM-2 tables and arm combos, he restored one to perfection and its new owner is over the moon. the other went to a owner of an original model 2 who acquired mine as back up for spares/parts as he never wanted to be w/o an RPM 'table.

    I wish we could get designers of Al's caliber to opine on some of the turntable/arm topics we discuss here at AN...much more conductive than the blind leading the blind as it were.


    • #3
      Always admired the SG at shows and I have met AP a couple of times. He understands the hobby and the people in it. Very nice all the way around.
      Turntable: TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Transfiguration Proteus Cartridge (repaired and re-tipped by AnaMightySound), Massif Record Weight, PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.
      Digital: Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer
      Amplification: VTL 6.5 preamp Series II, Pass Labs 150.8 Amp
      Loudspeakers: Piega C711 Loudspeakers
      Isolation: Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks and grade 2.5 Balls
      Misc: Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 Atmosphere power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, synergistic Research Galileo and Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

      Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.


      • #4
        I love my Spiral Groove Centroid arm...
        Speakers: Rockport Lyra
        Amps: Nagra HD Pre Amp & HD Amps
        Cables: Transparent Magnum Opus Gen 6 cabling
        Power Transparent Opus Power Cords & Opus Isolators
        Digital dCS Vivaldi full stack w/ Transparent Reference XL Digital cables
        Phono: Grand Prix Monaco 2.0 TT, Kuzma 4-Point, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Nagra Classic Phono & PSU
        Racks: Grand Prix Audio Silverstone F1 (x4)


        • #5
          Thanks so much for the write up Gary!

          It's often crossed my mind to visit Allen when in SF but never found the time.

          It's great when a manufacturer can maintain service on an old product and outstanding service when they will offer to update the vintage product.
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor,

          -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
          -Goldmund Telos 440 and 1000 Nextgen mono amps
          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
          -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, vdh Colibri Master Signature, Mutech Hayabusa,
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Skogrand, Kubala-Sosna, Audience FrontRow; Audience FrontRow, Genesis Advanced Technologies , Goldmund and Ensemble Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.3+ platforms.