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Vintage Fidelity Research FR-2 + Yamaha GT-2000 Vinyl Setup

My good friend wanted to give his Yamaha GT-2000 vinyl rig a shot in the arm. I suggested a few changes to improve cartridge/headshell/tonearm synergy.

We achieved this by installing a gorgeous, vintage Fidelity Research FR-2 moving coil cartridge and RS-10 headshell. As any knowledgeable vinyl lover will know, Fidelity Research was a Japanese ‘vinyl-things’ manufacturer, with a legacy of sublime cartridges, step-up transformers and beautifully made headshells. In fact, FR gear is more desirable now than ever, and for good reason.

Fidelity Research

Fidelity Research, or FR as they are better known, became famous for products like the FR-1 moving coil cartridge I currently use in my KD-600 rig, (though actually meant for my L-07D), the legendary FR-64 tonearm and the FR-7 moving coil cartridge, with integral headshell (yes, it’s been done before…).

From the wonderful Stereophile:

“Way back in 1967, Ikeda-san founded Fidelity Research, a celebrated Japanese firm that left its mark on the world of phonography with its FR-64 series of tonearms and FR-1 and MC-202 cartridges. (One could say that Isamu Ikeda has left another, more personal mark, inasmuch as many of Japan’s well-known cartridge builders have served him as apprentices.)

In 1985, as the first shadows of the passing Compact Disc were cast upon the marketplace, the plug was pulled on Fidelity Research—yet Ikeda-san wasn’t idle for long: By 1986 he had founded Ikeda Sound Labs, specializing in low-compliance moving-coil cartridges and high-mass, transcription-length tonearms. Which are wonderful things, indeed.”

Yamaha GT-2000

You may have seen my friend’s GT-2000 turntable in a previous post. He hasn’t had the best luck with his rig and I wanted to help fix that. Specifically, I wanted to find him an excellent, medium compliance vintage MC cartridge and matching headshell, better suited to his GT-2000 tonearm. At this time, he had a Denon DL-103R moving coil cartridge installed on an Ortofon LH-9000 headshell. Nice combo, but suited to a long, heavy arm.

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The beast – the Yamaha GT (Gigantic & Tremendous) 2000 direct drive turntable, all 30+kg of it!

One of the issues with the Yamaha GT-2000 direct drive turntable is the tonearm that comes with it. The arm is a lowish-mass design, common at the time.

It is perhaps more properly described as medium mass arm, but contrary to what you might read elsewhere, you cannot use low compliance cartridges and heavy headshells with this arm, it won’t work properly. This is based on physics, and there’s no escaping it. The DL-103R is a low-compliance cart, and the LH-9000 is a h-e-a-v-y headshell.

With too heavy a cart and headshell, you’ll have to wind the counterweight all the way out, because the arm was not designed to cope with all this mass. The resonant frequency will also be too high, because heavy carts are usually lower compliance designs. Low compliance + light arm = high resonant frequency. All this is a recipe for mistracking, poor sound and vinyl damage.

Vintage Vinyl Goodness

After thinking about this, and knowing my buddy wanted some vintage vinyl goodness in his setup, I suggested two things: a Fidelity Research FR-2 low output moving coil cartridge and a Fidelity Research RS-10 headshell.

So, why make these changes? Two reasons – first, the previous cartridge/headshell combination was mechanically incorrect for the GT-2000 tonearm. Second, the FR-2 is a much nicer cartridge than the DL-103, as good as the Denon is. The DL-103 is fantastic for the money, but one can certainly buy better, and with such low compliance, it’s really not well-suited to many tonearms, despite being fitted to them. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand this.

Fidelity Research FR-2

The FR-2 is a gorgeous cartridge, quite rare now, but worth keeping an eye out for. It’s a low-output design, like most FR stuff, and features a line-contact stylus. It’s also lighter than the DL-103R.

A good step-up transformer is an ideal partner for the FR-2. If you don’t have one of those, you’ll at least need a very low-noise, high-quality MC preamp. The output of the FR-2 is l-o-w, so high gain is required.

You’ll also need to be able to tailor the load to match the lowish 6 Ohm DCR of this cart. Again, get the loading wrong, and it will sound wrong. Get the compliance match wrong and the resonant frequency will be out. Not only will it not sound its best, but it can also damage the cartridge.

FR 2
Beautiful FR-2 moving coil cartridge

FR-2 Specifications

Type: moving coil
Output Voltage: 0.1 mV (that’s L-O-W!)
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 35kHz
Tracking Force: 1.5-2.0g
Mass: 7.5g
Channel Separation: > 27dB

Fidelity Research RS-10

Because the FR-2 is a medium compliance cartridge, and we have a lowish (maybe medium) mass tonearm, we want a medium-mass headshell to match. The Fidelity Research RS-10 headshell weighs in at 11.3g. That’s over 5 grams lighter than the Ortofon LH-9000 my friend was using previously, not light-weight, but not heavy either. Add the extra gram saved by using the FR-2 and we are now 6.5 grams lighter than before.

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The FR RS-10 headshell is medium-mass and has a movable finger lift. Like all FR headshells, it’s extremely well made and this one is in almost perfect condition.

Don’t get me wrong, the LH-9000 is a beautiful headshell and is currently for sale, however, it is not a good match for this tonearm. The RS-10 is a much better match, though perhaps still a little heavy.

The RS-10 headshell isn’t the nicest headshell FR made. My FR RS-141  is a nicer design, but too heavy for this GT-2000 tonearm. Unfortunately, the RS-10 doesn’t have the collet-style hardware of the RS-141, but it’s nevertheless a very nice headshell and lighter than the RS-141 or LH-9000, critical in this application.

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FR + FR = killer combination
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The FR-2 + RS-10 just look so good together and sound sublime.

Precision Turntable Setup & Vinyl Recommendations

Liquid Audio is a turntable specialist and we are very happy to pass some of that on and properly set-up and service your vinyl rig for you. We offer recommendations, based on understanding the science and art of vinyl set-up, and first-hand experience listening to hundreds of the finest carts, headshells and turntables from the golden era, through to current products.

With vinyl, it’s the little things added together that make the difference: bearing and motor oil, azimuth, VTA, overhang, the headshell, mat, fastener torque, etc. All of this stuff and the skill and expertise needed to implement it cannot be just ‘read’ somewhere. It can only come from someone who is a specialist in their field.

My aim is to get your turntable sounding better than ever, just like this Yamaha GT-2000, FR-2 and RS-10 combination. Get in touch to discuss your turntable requirements and to book your deck in for some Liquid Audio TLC.

6 thoughts on “Vintage Fidelity Research FR-2 + Yamaha GT-2000 Vinyl Setup”

  1. Interesting, how does its sound signature compare with other FR carts? I’ve currently FR-1 Mk3, Mk3F, MC201 and FR-7 for reference…. The body looks very similar to the MC201.

    1. Hi Matt, yes she sounds great, like other FR stuff. Difficult to compare across different decks and ancillary equipment like this, but typically musical and relaxed, like most FR I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.

  2. Matthew J Willims

    I’m a big fan of the FR gear. I’ve a few different FR arms (FR-14, 24 Mk2, 54, 64S) and a FRT-4 SUT. They made spectacular gear which is quite good value vs comparable current offerings.

    Don’t have the 24 mounted currently and the 54 may make way for the arm off a Denon DP55M if it’s performance is comparable. Like the idea of auto lift at the end of each side.

    Do you do any work on tonearms? I’ve a Mayware Formula 4 needs a restore before putting it into action. It’s my only high compliance tonearm.

    Cheers mate 🙂

    1. Hi Matt, sounds good, you’ve got some great gear there, but you need an XF-1 or XF-2! These are killer transformers, seriously in another universe. I work on tonearms yes, but draw the line at re-wiring them in most cases due to time and economic considerations. If you live locally I’d be very happy to help you out though, just give me a call sometime to discuss.

  3. Matthew J Willims

    I have read that about those though the two carts I run are the Audio Technica ART9 and FR-7. I believe it’s the medium output XF-1 I’ll need? Unfortunately they’re single input vs the FRT-4 though.

    I’m located in Brisbane Have read a number of your excellent articles. One of which began my discovery of decent solid state gear. I sourced a Quad 405 copy which was indeed excellent and prompted me to try more. Very much enjoying a darTZeel NHB-108 copy.

    1. Hi Matt, glad you are enjoying the articles! The ART9 and FR7 are quite different, so while the XF1 medium will work for the ART9, it won’t be ideal for the FR7. By the way, having only one set of inputs and no switch is the best approach technically and therefore sonically. Removing anything unnecessary from the signal path is the goal. Regarding the 405, I strongly encourage you to get a real 405, over a clone. The differences aren’t subtle, for a number of good technical and materials quality reasons, and of course you get warm fuzzies from owning the genuine article, from the golden era. Anyway, happy hifi-ing!

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