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DaVinci Audio Grand Reference Grandezza tonearm Review

Jack Roberts describes the ineffable in the $10,200 Grand Reference Grandezza tonearm

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DaVinci Audio Grandezza

Tonearms come in different shapes and different lengths, They are made from different materials, with different bearings, and different degrees of sophistication. There are some that look so simple, and others that look like they could be part of the children’s game Mouse Trap. Thus, some of tonearms are so complicated to setup that they literally take hours to get right and only seconds to get them out of whack. The Grandezza is a twelve-inch long, straight, very sophisticated tonearm; yet functionally it is very simple.

It only takes minutes to open the box, take out the different parts, assemble them, mount the tonearm on the turntable, mount the cartridge in the head shell, and do the alignment. Some of the ease of setting up this arm comes from the fact that everything is done with one or two tools that come with the tonearm. You can adjust VTA on the fly, as well as the magnetic damping. Truth is, the Grandezza took about an hour to set up and a day or two of listening to finish dialing it in. It is very simple and intuitive to set up and use. The only complaint I found in the setup or use of the Grandezza was that the cueing mechanism took a longer time than I would like to lower to the record. This didn’t matter much since I usually lower and raise the tonearm manually.

How do Tonearms Sound?

Have you noticed how few reviews there are of tonearms. I did a quick check of the review archives of the eight print and online magazines that I read and could find less than 30 reviews of just tonearms. Then I dug out my old copies, back to issue 1, of The Absolute Sound. I was looking for the best vocabulary for reviewing tonearms. No luck though, tonearm reviews are a rather small part of our hobby and there seems to be no consistent vocabulary for describing how they sound. When you do find a tonearm review, about 80% of the review will have to do with description and setup.

DaVinci Audio Grandezza

Maybe this explains why Art Dudley in his recent review of the EMT tonearm uses terms like, “less wimpy”, and “juicy” to describe its sound.  So I was glad to discover I’m not the only one who finds tonearms hard to review. They’re easy and fun to describe, they’re interesting, and they’re fun to fiddle with; but it’s hard to know just how to describe how they affect the sound. One of the reasons for this is that it’s not easy to move tonearms from one turntable to the other, and a tonearm may sound terrible with your favorite cartridge, but wonderful with another cartridge. This of course is because of things like compliance, mass, and such. I was shocked a year ago when I installed a very expensive, and well accepted tonearm on my table to discover how bright it sounded with my Benz Ebony TR. Then I installed the EMT JSD-5 in that same tomearm and it sounded better than I had ever heard it. So, with the above confession, let me see if I can tell you how the Grandezza tonearm affected the sound of my system.

The Sound of the Grandezza Tonearm

First, I noticed two things I find typical of good twelve-inch tonearms. The sound had a more relaxed quality to it than I hear with any nine- or ten-inch pivot tonearms I have used over the years. Second, as I expected, it tracked those records with troublesome inner groves much better than the shorter tonearms. I expected both of these from a twelve-inch arm, but I was pleased to discover the Grandezza did these things without any loss of detail or transparency. In fact, it was as transparent as any tonearm I have heard on my turntable. Not only was it transparent, but it was very revealing of musical instruments, and their different tones.

The Grandezza, like the In UniSon turntable, created a big sound from my system. It had a warm, big bottom-end that I found very nice when used on my Clearaudio Anniversary Wood CMB turntable. It also allowed my system to have a very wide, deep, and cohesive soundstage.


I enjoyed this tonearm on the In UniSon turntable, and it worked wonderfully on my Clearaudio Anniversary turntable. If it wasn’t so expensive it would be on my short list of tonearms to own, but like fine Swiss watches it is out of my price range. If the Grandezza is in your price range, you should surely put it on your short list of tonearms to own.

Note: After reading the draft, Jolanda Costa of DaVinciAudio gave me a very cordial and graceful phone call, and told me that the Grand Reference Grandezza tonearm was created first to work with the company’s top-of-the-line AAS Gabriel turntable system, and that the In Unison turntable system was created afterwards as a second model to work specifically with the Grandezza. It is Jolanda’s opinion that the In Unison turntable setup at Jack’s home was suboptimal, hence his very positive but not completely overwhelmed experience. -Edito

One Response to DaVinci Audio Grand Reference Grandezza tonearm Review

  1. Kurt says:

    I need a hax a wranch for tone arm adjustment.
    Where can I get one and what size is that?

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