Origin Live Tonearms Review

Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm

Origin Live Encounter MK3c arm
Note: tonearm cabling includes but not shown in image above

Just in case near perfection wasn’t good enough! The Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm improves on the already outstanding MK2 by leaps and bounds incorporating the latest technology from Origin’s $6000 Enterprise arm.

Now with new carbon hybrid armtube!

The Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm features a completely redesigned bearing housing (yoke) that utilizes an unprecedented dual jewel pivots for vertical movement while enhancing the fixed bearing in the horizontal plane. The result is a more agile arm with greatly reduced friction yielding a faster, purer sound and greater dynamics.

new hybrid arm tube employing carbon fiber, ebony and a special coating results result is an even more rigid structure with increased dampening of resonances which can be heard in an even purer tone, blacker background and greater resolution than ever before.

Soundstage has expanded into a considerably more three-dimensional or holographic image while the bass response is a touch enhanced.

All Origin Live tonearms now ready for SME armboards – adaptors available for others.

Testimonials (on all Origin Live tonearms.  Many of the reviews are on older versions – new versions are substantially improved)

“Encounter” Reviews

a new benchmark for musical communication, natural detail and timbral truth. All at a price that, considering the quality of its performance, can only be called a bargain.”
– Stereo Times

Origin Live Encounter MK3c tonearm shown mounted on a Brinkmann BARDO turntable
Photo courtesy of Helmut Brinkmann

“Timing is extraordinary good and overall performance is very well, even without respect to the bargain price… This is a really well done construction…I can give a good recommendation for our Bardo TT”.
 – Helmut Brinkmann, commenting on the Origin Live Encounter MK3c tonearm mounted on a Brinkmann BARDO turntable

“I have owned about 60 different tonearms so far, including Immedia, Wheaton, SME V, Forsell, Mission Mechanic, Linn Ekos, Naim Aro, the above mentioned Audio Note and many others. And what counts more: it [the Encounter] is the best conventional (gimballed) one in that class, and the best UK tonearm, too …  At its price point I consider the Origin Live a best buy.”
– TNT Audio

One of the truly special products I’ve reviewed in the past 18 years… Overall the Encounter’s look, feel and fit-n-finish are exceptionally high for its modest price of $1495.”
– Michael Fremer, Stereophile

Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm topview
Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm (same as current version except for armtube)

Enterprise” Review

“Overall, this is a superb pick up arm with a grippingly musical sound and lovely rhythmic ability. It has wonderful tonal shading (an SME Series V sounds monochrome, by comparison) and deep sound staging with masses of detail – one which offers a brilliant mix of tonality and rhythmic grip.”
 – David Price, Editor, Hi Fi World 2007

Conqueror” Reviews

“This is a review about a component that is the singularly most addicting piece of gear I have ever heard… Before the Conqueror arrived, I would listen for two or three hours and then want to take a break. Now, I actively dislike turning off the music… Having definitively surpassed what many consider to be the best tonearm in the world, I expect the Conqueror to be in permanent residence in my reference system.”
 – Rated 10 LPs by 10audio.com, see full review.

“The arm transcends its artificial mechanical aspect and seems a part of nature. These are heady regions to inhabit. The Origin Live Conqueror arm is another masterpiece from the fertile mind of Mark Baker. It merits the highest of recommendations and is the obvious choice for Most Wanted Component of the Year. Simply, the Conqueror is in a class by itself.”
 – Stereo Times

“The trio (Sovereign Conqueror Lyra Olympos) made me forget the walls of my listening room. Fed by well produced records you felt immediately transported into the recording location. In terms of speed, the combination not only gets from zero to one hundred in record time, but also gets back to standing in the same time. So much detail, so much speed, so much space and such a full presentation should be hard to get anywhere else at this price. For me ORIGIN LIVE in the analogue sector is the discovery of the year!”
– Image Hi-Fi

The Conqueror in my mind is THE FINAL TONEARM: I decided already to sell my SME V and the Graham 2.0 has been sold to UK already. The reason is the sound (or speak about no sound) the arm is providing. Definitely hard to explain the amount of improvement I achieved with this masterpiece of engineering.”
– B. Timmerman, Germany

“It was a shock to find out that the years with the SME were lost years. Your product betters the SME in each aspect. It is outstanding!”
 – Andreas Winter – Bochum, Germany

Arguably the very best tonearm yet made – a startlingly capable all rounder with none of the vices or quirks of rival super-arms.”
– Hi-Fi World review

Illustrious” Reviews

” I suspect the MK III Illustrious is now the value-for-money sweet spot in the Origin Live lineup, and if not the world’s best, it is certainly world class … it is an elegant – and addictive solution to extracting music from vinyl.  Combining the sonic virtues of both unipiviot and gimbaled bearings in a fuss-free package, it should work exceedingly well with a wide variety of cartridges and turntables. It is certainly the best all-around tonearm I’ve ever had in my own system.”
 – Bruce Kinch, Positive Feedback Online, 2008 (read the review)

The best tonearm I’ve heard to date ….brilliantly detailed yet utterly musical, this arm is set to join the ranks of the all time greats. Wholeheartedly recommended!”
– David Price, Hi-Fi World 

” and the winner is… the Origin Live Illustrious, a pick up arm that is quite simply breathtaking. Its ability to display a three dimensional stereo image is above criticism, as is its transparency and lack of artifice. It also has amazing tonal accuracy, which lets the “flavour” of each instrument or voice flood out of the speakers. This is the respect in which it is most obviously superior to the SME…. on any deck … this is surely the best.”
– Albert Lee, Hi-Fi World, Group test of 7 tonearms

Won Stereo TimesMost Wanted Component of the Year Award” in combination with the Origin Live Resolution Turntable

Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm
Origin Live’s new line up of Carbon Hybrid tonearms
Silver Mk3c and Encounter MK3c (left to right)

Silver” Reviews

“There’s a lovely airy quality about the treble. It’s very clean too … The bottom end is tight and clean. Low frequencies … when they’re present, boy are they present … A gorgeous tonearm.”
– Hi-Fi + Magazine

the Silver is…the very best tonearm I’ve ever heard… awesomely tight bottom end… the midband – glass clear, incredibly liquid, fantastic image precision, walkaround soundstaging and incredible timbral realism… the treble is shockingly open and airy up top… the 599 price tag is laughably low…could probably charge 5 times this amount…words can’t express how good this is – one of the designs of the decade.”
– Hi-Fi World

“A terrific arm, a terrific bargain, and obviously, the highest of recommendations.”
– Stereo Times

“There may be better value propositions around to upgrade your system but if there is I haven’t heard them… A fantastic product then from Origin Live and this particular audiophile’s dream review tool.”
– TNT Audio

6 Moons “Best of 2005” award for the OL Silver: “the Origin Live Silver tonearm is phenomenal and makes me realize what a bargain it truly is at its asking price … I couldn’t find a nit to pick with the Origin Live Silver arm. It was a beautifully emotive as well as a great-sounding presentation of the music.”
 – Jeff Day, sixmoons.com (read the review)


Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm 2
Origin Live’s new line up of Carbon Hybrid tonearms
Enterprise-C, Conqueror MK3c and Illustrious MK3c (left to right)


The Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm builds upon the outstanding performance of the Silver by improving the design and quality of all components. This is not just a development – it is a complete redesign.

The entire yoke and base are different from the Silver tonearm. These structures, contain the horizontal and vertical bearings and are therefore highly influential on sound quality. The upgrade in design manifests itself in outstanding deep bass along with increased focus, stability and resolution through all frequencies. The tight and powerful bass carries the hallmark of authority and adds so much to the musical experience. In addition the arm dramatically improves the great transparency, tonal balance and sound-staging of the Silver arm. It produces a wonderful live feel to the music, with fabulous transient speed and air. The Encounter arm is outstanding.

Now with Carbon-hybrid armtube:

The newest “C” version now comes with an arm tube comprised of a composite material including carbon fiber, ebony wood and a special coating. The result is an even more rigid structure with increased dampening of resonances which can be heard in an even purer tone, blacker background and greater resolution than ever before.

Surprising to many, the armtube is the most critical aspect in tonearm design. It affects performance more than any other single component of the arm. Many of us make the mistake of thinking bearings must be the most important aspect of an arm and while critical to keep the armtube stable and tracking, the effect of detrimental armtube resonance’s, as amplified 8,000 times from the cartridge signal to the final speaker output, destroys sound quality in a way that can have devastating effects. The most powerful optical microscope can only magnify 1000 times. When one looks at an arm tube as it plays a record, all seems calm and serene, however at a microscopic level resonant waves in tonearm are like watching the Atlantic sea in a hurricane. The cartridge is held by this constantly heaving / rippling surface and its accuracy in reading the grooves of the record is directly proportional to the level of micro vibration in the arm. Origin Live maintains that for this reason alone the money performance ratio of using a superior tonearm can have very substantial paybacks.

Origin Live’s new carbon-hybrid technology addresses this problem head-on and the result is an unprecedented reduction in unwanted and sonically compromising tonearm resonance.



The Origin Live Encounter MK3c Tonearm builds on the design of the Silver tonearm in the following respects:

  • New armtube of composite material including carbon fiber, ebony wood and a special coating to reduce resonance and increase rigidity
  • Completely revised yoke with higher rigidity and inertia
  • Higher specification bearings
  • Improved materials and bearing decoupling in arm pillar and yoke
  • Polished alloy headshell
  • Stylish arm rest plate


  • Arm uses the standard Rega mounting geometry
  • Effective length: 240 mm
  • Overhang: 17.24 mm
  • Offset angle: 23 degrees
  • Mounting distance: platter centre to arm hole centre 223 mm
  • Diameter of mounting hole: 24 – 25 mm
  • Size of base mounting nut: 32mm A/F (across flats)
  • Maximum armboard thickness: 27mm
  • Length of external cable: 1.2m except for DJ option of 2m
  • Capacitance in uF: 120 pF per channel
  • Resistance in Ohms: 0.002 ohm
  • Effective mass in grams 14.5g
  • Total weight in grams 758g
  • Stylus Force gauge included
  • Threaded VTA adjuster included: built-in
  • 10″ or 12″ versions also available (add $525)


Specifications Applicable to all Origin Live Arms. (Unless otherwise stated for 12″ arms below)

Effective length 240 mm
Overhang 17.24 mm
Offset angle 23 degrees
Mounting distance: platter centre to arm hole centre 223 mm
Diameter of mounting hole 24 – 25 mm
Size of base mounting nut 32mm A/F (across flats)
Maximum armboard thickness 27mm
Length of external cable 1.2m except for DJ option of 2m
Capacitance in pF for all arms up to Conqueror 130 pF per channel
Capacitance in pF for Linear Flow 2 cable 340 pF per channel
Resistance in Ohms 0.002 ohms

Specifications for 12″ Arms

Effective length 309 mm
Overhang 13.2 mm
Offset angle 17.6 degrees
Distance from Pivot to Spindle 295.6 mm

Variable Specifications

Onyx, Zephyr
Specification                                 Silver   & Encounter  Illustrious  Conqueror  Enterprise
Effect. mass, grams                        12g            12g              12.5g           14g             15.5g
Effect. mass, grams (12″ arm)     16.2g          16.2g         16.875g        18.9g        20.925g
Weight in grams                          570g          570g              850g         950g            750g
Weight in grams (12″ arm)          620g          620g              900g       1000g            800g
Packed weight in grams             850g        1650g            1850g       2050g          2050g
Stylus Force guage incl.                                                          •                •                   •
Threaded VTA adjuster incl.                         inbuilt             inbuilt       inbuilt           inbuilt

Origin Live have a policy of continuous development and reserve the right to change product specifications and appearance without notice.

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