Discuss The Viv Lab Rigid Arm

I am trying to do my due diligence about this arm. I am just having a hard time getting my head around this idea of zero overhang and no offset. Does this arm really work the way it is reported to do?



Hi Sir. Have you looked at the Schroder LT. Brilliant design!  Then there is the Reed 5A and 5T. The only other solution would be a tangential straight line tracker, but that one is difficult to pull off. There is not a satisfactory one on the market yet. Both the Schroder LT and the Reed arms require more real estate than a 9 or 10" arm. You have to have a turntable that will accept a 12" arm.

The fact that the Viv arm sounds good to some people speaks to the lack of sensitivity our ears have to the distortion created by zenith error. It is well made and trick which helps. 

The fact that the Viv arm sounds good to some people speaks to the lack of sensitivity our ears have to the distortion created by zenith error. It is well made and trick which helps. 

@mijostyn   While your supposition above seems plausible, I would not consider it a valid statement of fact.  I'll agree that a no offset underhung arm has much larger TAE than a traditional offset arm.  I'll also agree that many find this type of arm to sound good.  To attach these two facts together to make conclusions about the relative audibility of Zenith error is counterproductive and a much deeper dive into what is going on is needed.  I know I have done similar in stating that a 3° zenith error in an underhung arm (the one case i tried) did not seem to equate sonically to the same error in in an conventional arm.  It has also been posed that the UH arm users simply like distortion, that TAE is a pleasing distortion, and that if you like the sound of this arm your system is not capable of the required resolution for high end audio.   It can also be pointed out that if our ears are not sensitive to TAE then any discussion of different alignment types becomes a fools errand.

I find all of this to be the exact opposite of the proper scientific method where one observes a pattern of behavior (good sound from the UH arm in this case) and then goes in search of an explanation.  Many here seem to be looking at the 'standard' procedure of judging setups by some theoretical Y-axis value on a graph and cannot deal with the concept that there may be much more to this than looking at an excel spreadsheet.  The differences in anti-skate between the two methods as well as other tonearm build factors have also come into the discussion.  I expect it is some complex relationship of all of the factors mentioned in this thread that explains the seeming disconnect between TAE and the sonic perception of a 'traditional' vs. Viv arm.   

I have been joking lately that crosstalk and channel separation have  become the most important parameters in cartridge setup simply because they are the easiest for anyone to measure and brag about.  I am adding the whole discussion of alignment types and TAE to this category since they are really easy to calculate and very difficult to implement to the accuracy required.  



Mijostyn, please do a little more thinking before erupting. Zenith error has an equally destructive effect on alignments whether you’re using a UH tonearm or a conventional one. In both cases you lose null points and TAE is exacerbated. But, come to think of it now, with a UH situation, there might be a point on the arc of stylus travel where zenith error by chance corrects for TAE, and you’d actually have less TAE (maybe even a null) at that moment. I wonder whether Dave has looked at that.

On the day Dave "twisted" my cartridge (Audio Technica ART7) to correct for its zenith error, using an electronic method, not guesswork, my ears immediately picked up to the effect of the proper correction. And Dave’s did too. It was quite obvious that the SQ had ticked up a notch or two. So, with an overhung tonearm (in this case, Kenwood L07J tonearm on my L07D turntable) I certainly can hear TAE errors. Currently in the Viv I am listening to my ZYX Universe. That cartridge has never been re-tipped. By visual inspection using my Olympus microscope, it has considerable zenith error in the mounting of its stylus, in that you can easily see it by microscopy. Whereas the two other cartridges that have been in the Viv (Dynavector 17D3 and Ortofon MC7500) may also have zenith error, but I cannot see it by visual inspection.


I have a hard time believing that the distortion created by the underhung arm is euphonic. But, whatever. My approach is always to setup my system with a scientific approach. In order to determine what is going on with the Viv arm I would have to buy one and a second cartridge. It is far enough afield that I am not interested in doing that, the deeper dive. Knowing what phase errors do at high frequencies my supposition while not proven is as likely as any other. The distortion caused by zenith error is easily measured. As for cartridge set up. I prefer Lofgren B because it has the lowest TAE across the entire record accept at the last 2 cm which are usually not used in modern records and most older ones. Setting a cartridge up is a very fastidious process that requires the right tools and a sharp eye. If you have not used a SmarTractor I highly suggest you try one. It looks intimidating at first. After a few installs you'll never understand how you managed without it. The WallySkator is also very useful as is a proper USB microscope  and computer program. The WallyScope uses a great head unit from Amscope and a great program, but the stage is a work in progress. I know of no horizontal stage that is appropriate for a high powered microscope. I my case I made my own cannibalizing an old medical microscope.     


Zenith error and TAE are almost identical. The stylus is presented to the groove at the wrong horizontal angle. In the case of TAE the entire cartridge is at the wrong angle. One can safely assume that the distortion would be very similar between the two, perhaps a bit worse with TAE.   

You like the sound of the Viv arm and there is no way I can argue with that.                       


How do you know you actually have the alignment you say you do?  Here is a test report of three random samples of stylus assemblies from an order I placed.  This is representative of the best numbers I have seen thus far and are kind of terrifying.

I don't care how great of a protractor you have if you are aligning to a cantilever without consideration of possible diamond set error then I see the baby going out with the bathwater.  JR addresses this by optically placing a number on the Zenith error and then providing a protractor with the ability to correct for this error.  Next we can open the can of static vs. dynamic worms and observe how much skating forces and groove modulation come into play here as well.  In many setups, when you adjust azimuth to better crosstalk numbers you also change your alignment.  Add or remove a gram of anti-skate correction and you have just changed your alignment.  Its really easy to brag about a preferred alignment and the precision of your setup and quite humbling to realize you are actually nowhere near where you thought you were.