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.  


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.

I might add that my best results with the Viv are using either a Yamamoto or Oyaide carbon fiber headshell, over the OEM metal headshell but the sample size is too small to justify an unqualified conclusion.  And I own the 9-inch aluminum version, which I failed to mention above. So, CF headshell on alu Viv.

@tomic601 Panzerwood? That stuff is ugly as h-ll. Send me a template and I will make you a handsome one out of Rosewood or Ebony. Both are extremely dense having a specific gravity almost as high as water. I laminate it with 1/16" thick aluminum plate. You can drill and tap holes for screws.  

@lewm Did you forget that I am a dog. I have respect for the fact that you were brave enough to try it. I tried the Transcriptor's Vestigial Arm. Looking back on it, that was more stupid than brave. 

@rauliruegas I would like to emphasize your point on having a reference. 

When tuning a HiFi system you have to have some idea of where you are going. You have to have a reference. You have to know what is possible with the very best systems, which is why listening to serious high end systems is so important even if you can not spend that kind of money. Never say you can't get that kind of sound out of a less expensive system. People would be surprised how close they can get with careful equipment choice, attention to detail and good room management.