Integrityhifi Tru-Glider Tonearm Review
A free-standing second tonearm system that hangs by a slender thread? Jay Garrett investigates this pick-up with a difference…
Tru-Glider Tonearm System
MSRP $5,000 US (£3,636 as reviewed)
Some people might have spent their whole lives reviewing hi-fi, and still not have come across something as zany as this. The $5,000 Tru-Glider tonearm system that you see here requires no special mounting plate to fit because it is free-standing. Not only that, but it's a standalone frictionless pendulum design. This means that where those looking to fit conventional tonearms often need to drill their plinths to accommodate it, or at the very least track down a new armplate – that is not the case here.
It's the brainchild of the Canadian brand, Integrityhifi. Based in Ontario, it is headed up by husband-and-wife team Carlo and Tina Lupo. I have reviewed the company's turntable accessories previously, and the quality and craftsmanship of the Tru-Lift and Tru-Sweep impressed me from the off. Since then, I have become the proud owner of the Tru-Kleen too, completing the trilogy.
A while ago, Carlo hinted to me that he was working on something rather special. Naturally, I wracked my brain as to what was left on the turntable to accessorise. Should I expect the announcement of an Integrityhifi platter ring, perhaps? No, that wouldn't make much sense as Integrityhifi also now looks after the distribution of Nasotec products, including the company's Outer Ring Clamp.
As it happens, Carlo had been working on a tonearm system for the last couple of years. What sets the Tru-Glide apart from the other options out there is that not only is it a standalone frictionless pendulum design, it also comes packaged with everything you need to set it up and playing, cartridge aside.
In a well-presented box, you get the black aluminium straight arm, which is available in lengths from 10 to 14 inches, the hefty plinth, the hanging mechanism, a series of weights for the arm and a Nasotec Swing headshell which itself is an interesting design. Additionally, there's one of Integrityhifi's Tru-Lift systems built into the Tru-Glider's tower.
As this is a unique product, Integrityhifi has put together a neat, easy-to-follow three-episode video series on YouTube which you will be sent links to once you have made your purchase. These work well for the likes of me who are instruction manual phobic. That said, the Tru-Glider is an elegant and straightforward design and, thanks to several hex screws at various points, enables the whole system to be adjusted to suit your turntable with little issue. The version sent to me to fit my VPI Prime did not need the extra base puck so, for the 12-inch arm and Tru-Glider system, Carlo said this particular 5kg set-up would retail for $4,500.
Set-up is relatively straight-forward and should take between an hour or two to get the tonearm really dialled-in, according to Carlo. I felt quite accomplished as I managed it in around ninety minutes. What's worth noting is that, as the Tru-Glider works on underhang rather than overhang, for a 12-inch arm, the mounting distance is 11.5-inches. This means that you might not need as much room as you would initially think.
The arm is suspended at a single point by a fine Dacron Monofilament line. Although it looks as though the arm sits on a pivot point, it is totally suspended. What you see is a guide spacer hanging over a point to limit the arm's swing should it get accidentally knocked. Both point and arm should never make contact with one another. Because of its design, the Tru-Glider requires no azimuth adjustment, no anti-skate, and zero offset. Additionally, as there's no bearing, there's pretty much no maintenance to take care of either.
Once you have the tonearm positioned and your chosen cartridge fitted, it's a small matter of setting the VTA and sorting out your cartridge's tracking weight using the selection sent. Finding the right combination of weights to get the required tracking weight for my cartridges was the trickiest bit for me. I'm not great at maths, so it was all done by trial-and-error. I am sure you'll make a better job of it than I. Once you have that stage completed, attach the Tru-Glider's earth cable and plug in the arm's Cardas Audio phono cables into your integrated or preamp, and you're ready to rock.
For most of my critical listening with the Tru-Glider, I had the Nastoc Swing Headshell fitted with my Cartridge Man Music Maker III moving iron cartridge, as I am extremely familiar with its character. However, I have also been auditioning the latest low-output moving coil cartridge from Sumiko, the Songbird. So, as it happened, the Sumiko also spent some time at the end of this tonearm. The Cardas Audio cable was plugged into a YBA Passion P150 pre-amp which was connected to its sibling, the Passion IA350 integrated.
Although I rate the JMW 10 3D tonearm that comes bundled with the VPI Prime turntable – and love how it seems to stay out of the way of what the cartridge is there to do – I was immediately struck by just how well the Tru-Glider raised the bar. For example, its insight is such that it proved well able to scythe through the erratic and fuzz-laden mix of Queen Adreena's final album The Butcher and The Butterfly.
I have been a fan of KatieJane Garside's vocals since first hearing her in Daisy Chainsaw but – especially in the track Childproof – it sounded unnervingly real through my system. Backed only by her regular co-conspirator Crispin Gray on acoustic guitar, Garside's voice seemed to hover above and in front of the instrument. It was even more impressive that this level of separation was also evident in more raucous outings, such as Black Spring Rising.
A Perfect Circle's Eat the Elephant is a favourite of mine to use to test various components, and here I heard its opening few bars being superbly articulated, with a weight and confidence I have not heard through my system up until now. Maynard James Keenan's vocals were explicitly expressive, too.
Indeed it was soon apparent to me that the Tru-Glider is a tremendously confident performer, both in terms of rhythmic and dynamic fluency and tonality and detail resolution. Michael Kiwanuka's Dangermouse-produced 2019 release, Kiwanuka, opened-up in three-dimensions and presented stacks of tonal and textural information that were, up until now, not wholly apparent. The midband came through in a beautifully organic way, whereas the low-frequencies had punch and presence. The percussion was allowed to shine in all its glory with rhythmic precision and ease.
The Beatles' Abbey Road LP continued to play to the Tru-Glider's winning one-two of clarity and musicality. The arm was able to pull out detail from this much-loved nineteen sixties pressing with such a convincing midband, without it suffering from being overly analytical. Instead, Lennon's vocals on Come Together were suspended in their own space way out of the instrumental mix, while McCartney's unmistakable bassline grooved away with a deep and luxurious tonality. The classic Here Comes The Sun also gave this tonearm a chance to show its upper-frequency chops. This uplifting track had an incredibly open, spacious sound that picked out George Harrison's acoustic guitar as well as Ringo Starr's snappy snare and hi-hats, letting them shine without any excess brittleness or shimmer.
The Integrityhifi Tru-Glider is one of the best tonearms I have heard to date, managing to walk the line without forsaking one characteristic for another. It is at once transparent, engaging and musical – and while its tonality and rhythmic grip are indeed worthy of praise, one must also acknowledge its versatility. With no need for routing holes in your precious turntable plinth or bolting on mounting plates and other associated hardware, this tonearm can be moved freely from turntable to turntable without so much as a hint that it has been there.
The only thing that the Tru-Glider does leave you with is the sheer enjoyment it pulls from your vinyl record collection. So if you're looking to invest in an extremely capable tonearm that you can bring with you on an analogue audio journey, I unreservedly recommend it.
For more information, head on over to Integrityhifi.
StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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