Comparison of sonic qualities of some tonearms

I’m relatively new to the world of vinyl, listening seriously for probably only 2 years.  Of course, many big picture items (e.g. turntable, phono stage, cartridges) are discussed extensively on this forum, but I haven’t seen much discussion comparing different tonearms.  I would be interested to hear about different people’s experiences with different tonearms, mentioning the audible advantages and disadvantages of each tonearm, realizing that there is no perfect sound, although from what I read about others’ experiences, SAT tonearms may come closest, albeit at a very high price.  


I myself am a advocate of Magnesium and have Headshells between 8 - 10 Grammes produced from it.

I also have the same arm tube as the SME V on my SME IV, I bought this under the guise the Magnesium Cast Arm Tube will have been the better material than the Rega Cast Aluminium Arm Tube of which SME were copying.

Magnesium does have properties that are stronger and stiffer than Aluminium, but for myself I can not say that it is an audible property. 

On a Budget Aluminium wins as it does not need to be coated to prevent corrosion where as Magnesium corrodes and needs a anti corrosive coating. 

I've handled many many Magnesium Headshells and sold on plenty as the corrosion is lifting of the coating. I keep the pristine ones for myself and gifts to friends.

Interesting as well, last time checked anyways, how thpe Korf Blog has never tested a Magnesium Headshell against the Ceramic Design so well supported ?



@mijostyn  : " A tonearm can not improve sound quality. it can only degrade it.   " 


I already posted something similar not only with tonearms but with other audio items and obviously that I'm in agree totally with you.Well the best that can do a perfect tonearm ( that does not exist. ) is not degrades the cartridge signal. All tonearms make a signal degradation no matters what.

So my take is to look for the tonearm that could makes the lower signal degradation. Degradation takes the form of added to the signal: colorations, distortions, noises, etc, etc.

That's why we need a real REFERENCE when we make comparisons, any kind of comparisons.

This is bullcrap. That is my opinion and you are welcome to yours. 

As I said before, we don't listen in laboratories. You folks need to get out your own heads and cease thinking (pun) that you can intuit your way to the truth. 

Raul, for what seems like a thousand years you have sung your torch song that it is "the musics [sic] and not the distortions [sic]" and, well, how about moving on already to something more useful than a banality that happens to be both meaningless and yet paradoxically wrong. 

What if, using my previous analogy, we were to believe that a speaker enclosure can never compliment the qualities of the drivers mounted to it and instead can only degrade them? What if we were told to believe that a violin's soundboard can never compliment the sound of the strings and can only degrade them? 

Give it a break already. And stop preaching from on-high. 


I really enjoy testing and comparing different equipment. It is an expensive hobby, but yields intellectual satisfaction of what sound can sound like. I would be interested in testing and comparing many tonearms; however, the main drawback with my system is that I have to buy a new armboard for each tonearm, and the armboards for the Dohmann are rather expensive ($3,000), which adds a major cost to simply switching out tonearms every month. . .however, reading about the Viv Rigid tonearm, it appears to be freestanding, but it would have to stand on the minus K platform of the Helix to be a fair comparison; however, if someone has one that they want to send me to try out, I'll be glad to try one out and render my opinion. 

Same can be said of the DV -505… including just ploping it down on the plinth… yikes… $3k for an armboard is insane…. i balked at the $600 Brinkman wants and fabricated a short stack of Panzerwood, i’ve done same for the duplicates for the bespoke aluminum on the Italian plinth for the Demon….

carry on…

I am very happy that I purchased the Viv Float, but it is not cheap at US prices, or at least it depends upon how you define "cheap". I did get a better deal by purchasing it in Japan, in part because of a very favorable exchange rate, and thanks to the help of my son who speaks Japanese fluently. There were no Viv Float tonearms for sale in the various emporia I visited; they were all sold out and no one expected any inventory until about a month after we were to return home. (I am guessing they make them in batches.) So we contacted the company itself by phone. Dan talked to the owner, who speaks zero English but seemed like a cool guy, and we made a deal.

I really don’t like to mention it on this forum, because that only elicits dogmatic negative responses (or agreement from the few who have heard the tonearm). Anyway, so far I have auditioned 3 different cartridges on it. In each case, I believe the Viv brings out favorable qualities that I did not hear when those same cartridges were mounted on other "good" tonearms. Those qualities are a very relaxed, fluid sound (which feels like lower distortion, compared to conventional pivoted overhung tonearms) and a notable capacity to separate instruments in complex musical passages. Or at times the Viv can just sound good. Most importantly, it never sounds excessively distorted, as orthodoxy would predict it should. But I realize this is all controversial.