Eminent Technology ET-2 Tonearm Owners

Where are you? What mods have you done ?

I have been using these ET2's for over 9 years now.
I am still figuring them out and learning from them. They can be modified in so many ways. Bruce Thigpen laid down the GENIUS behind this tonearm over 20 years ago. Some of you have owned them for over 20 years !

Tell us your secrets.

New owners – what questions do you have ?

We may even be able to coax Bruce to post here. :^)

There are so many modifications that can be done.

Dressing of the wire with this arm is critical to get optimum sonics along with proper counterweight setup.

Let me start it off.

Please tell us what you have found to be the best wire for the ET-2 tonearm ? One that is pliable/doesn’t crink or curl. Whats the best way of dressing it so it doesn’t impact the arm. Through the spindle - Over the manifold - Below manifold ? What have you come up with ?
I currently own an ET-2 and an ET-2.5 tonearm. My ET-2, which I bought used, came with a Wisa air pump and Airtech surge tank and my ET-2.5 came with an ET branded Takatsuki pump (also bought used). My ET-2 has an aluminum arm wand and my ET-2 has the magnesium arm wand. I don’t know if my ET-2 is the low pressure or high pressure version.

As I understand it, there were two linear tracking arms offered by ET. The ET-2 and the ET-2.5. The ET-2 had a smaller OD (outside diameter) spindle and a smaller ID (inside diameter) manifold than the ET-2.5. There was a high pressure manifold option for the ET-2 that had reduced air bearing clearances (.0007" less ID to the manifold according to this Stereophile article). All ET-2.5 arms were the high pressure version (thanks for that bit of info, Ct0517). There are also three arm wands available- the original aluminum, magnesium, and carbon fiber.

Were there any arms with the ET-2.5 designation? My ET-2.5 says ET-2 on it, but it’s clearly the larger manifold and spindle. I have always assumed that all ET-2.5s just used ET-2 bearing housings. If that’s true, none have the ET-2.5 designation. Anyone?

There are two things that set the ET arms apart from others, in my opinion. The first is the arc block or VTA block as stated in the parts list on ETs website here. The arc block is the post that the bearing housing rides up and down on during VTA adjustment. Its purpose is to keep overhang exactly the same as VTA is adjusted by not only moving the bearing housing up and down, but in an arc. Do any other linear tracking tonearms have this feature? The other feature is the decoupling of the counterweights from the spindle. The I-beam connects the weights to the spindle. The I-beam is connected to the spindle by a thin piece of metal situated vertically. This lets the spindle move side to side as the cartridge follows an off centered LP without even moving the tonearm weights. This results in a much lower horizontal effective mass. Do any other linear tracking tonearms have that feature?
Mods for ET2
Removed heatshrink from arm tube
Removed foam from arm tube
Removed teflon filler from headshell and replaced with carbon fibre
Had stiffer bracket that joins armtube to bearing tube manufactured
Replaced wire with van den hul silver - hello radio campus ( rf )
Replaced wire with copper litz from Sumiko tonearm box, hung below pivot and soldered directly into MIT cable approx 2' behind the bearing tube in the centre of the range of movement
Placed small cupboard door magnet under bearing tube - this provides electromagnetic dampening on eccentric records.

All of these were good improvements. I have found any sort of dampening other than the magnetic described slugs the sound.

Oh and using an isolation transformer on the air pumps, running 2 air pumps out of phase to double the airflow and surge tanks.
I still have the original 2.0, but plan to upgrade to the 2.5 manifold soon. I run Discovery wire from the cartridge pins, looped over the top and directly into my Herron Phono stage via Eichmann plugs. That was the single most noticeable cable change I've ever made. I have Fo.Q tape in a couple of places on it, including along the I Beam. I have a Lyra Delos on it. I adjust VTA on almost every record I play, to the extent that I'm looking to get Bruce to replace the worn out arc bloc. I don't know how folks can live with one VTA setting, given the difference in vinyl thicknesses, and variations within a thickness. I've had mine for about 15 years.
Dover, what was involved in having a custom armtube bracket made? That sounds like a good mod.

Had stiffer bracket that joins armtube to bearing tube manufactured
Replaced wire with van den hul silver - hello radio campus ( rf )
Replaced wire with copper litz from Sumiko tonearm box, hung below pivot and soldered directly into MIT cable approx 2' behind the bearing tube in the centre of the range of movement
Placed small cupboard door magnet under bearing tube - this provides electromagnetic dampening on eccentric records.

Hi Dover – I’d love to see a picture of the set up, wiring, magnet and remanufactured bracket. Is there any chance of posting or linking a pic ? You can’t leave us hanging like that. How long have you had your ET-2 ?

Ketchup – I had a look at your setup. You have done some really interesting stuff too in your system. You have gone in front of the manifold with the wiring. You were considering some new medical wire ? .003" in diameter with .001" thick teflon insulation. Do you have the details on it ?

Here is some general information.

All the ET-2 arms say "Eminent Technology Tonearm 2" regardless if they are ET 2.0 or 2.5 versions.

If anyone has a regular ET 2.0 you can get Bruce to upgrade it to a high pressure manifold to be able to use it at a higher pressure and its doesn’t cost a lot to do this. It doesn’t have to be a ET 2.5 to use the higher pressure.
Both mine are high pressure manifolds and use the same Timeter Aridyne 3000 medical pump at 19 psi.

So as upgrades go consider:

1) there are two spindle versions 2.0 and the 2.5 the later being visually larger in diameter – about 5/8 inch in diameter for 2.0 versus about 6/8 inch for the 2.5. Sorry could not find the tape measure with millimeters this morning.

2) Two manifolds – a) the original ET 2.0 that you see mostly being sold used now. Again this manifold can be changed over to a high pressure manifold and b) the newer larger manifold that goes with the 2.5 spindle which only comes in one version. You can still however run it at lower pressure if you don’t have space/facilities to run it with higher PSI.

In discussions with Bruce here is some info I got from him. REMEMBER THIS IS JUST A GUIDELINE.

Based on the cartridges you are using consider the smaller diameter ET 2.0 spindle resonates at 5-6 hz. The larger ET 2.5 spindle resonates at 3-4 hz.

Aluminum armtube – good all around performance.

Carbon Fibre armtube– Lower Compliance MM’s and medium MC’s

Magnesium armtube – Lowest Compliance MC’s

Again the above is just a guide.


I really like the wiring on my ET 2.0/high pressure manifold. It is black teflon coated braided wire. It came with the arm when I bought it used. But for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out the brand or if its still available.

My ET 2.5 is using Cardas wiring and although it sounds great, I don’t like the wire itself for this arm. I have been moving the arm between my direct drive, idler and thread drive tables comparing the sounds of them. It bends and curls too easy and it is not pliable enough for me. I will be replacing it and the reason I asked my question initially.

ET 2.5 wiring - Cardas 33 awg

Cheers Chris
I recently took advantage of the .5 upgrade I had Bruce perform years ago by adding a compressor, and like Chris am running 19 psi. The results were eye-opening. I also made a DIY cable and am using my own routing scheme that has taken all of the pressure/force on the cantilever out of the equation. I'm using the latest Discovery wire. It is a heavier guage, but in the way I've constructed/routed it, everything is all good. I hope the pictures I'm posting will come through.

Your pictures came through. Looks good! You mentioned on your system page that you also did a cantilever bolt modification. What exactly is that?

I thank Chris for putting me on to this. Adding some more weight onto the bolt so the weights can therefore be moved in closer to the spindle. ( It doesn't take much, I used the smallest brass weight provided with the tonearm and tightened it all up with the stock threaded adapter) Ideally you should add another lead weight. Maybe Chris will chime in here to help me out. He's much better with the technical reasons than I am.
The end result was a slight increase in transparency across the frequency range and cleaner, clearer more musical bass.
Ketchup – I had a look at your setup. You have done some really interesting stuff too in your system. You have gone in front of the manifold with the wiring. You were considering some new medical wire ? .003" in diameter with .001" thick teflon insulation. Do you have the details on it?


I don't know exactly what wire I'm using right now as it came with my tonearm, but I think it's some kind of van den Hul wire. It's solid core, silver in color, with clear insulation that might be Teflon. The wire enters a tube that I added to my arm wand immediately behind the cartridge pins. From there, it loops over the platter and enters a Teflon tube that runs to my phono preamp. A copper braided shield covers the Teflon tube between the end of the "loop" and the phono preamp. The copper braid is grounded at the preamp. The four individual wires are separated from each other where they are exposed in the loop. This arrangement had the least effect on tonearm movement. The tonearm leads are soldered directly to the Lundahl step up transformers in my phono preamp. No RCA connectors are used. I should take a better photo of the wiring to show exactly what's going on.

As you mentioned, I would like to try some smaller diameter silver wire with even thinner insulation. Phoenix Wire has a lot of wire that would probably work for us. I doubt Teflon insulation over 0.001" is necessary, but I'm only guessing. I wonder what minimum gauge wire can we get away with using in this application.

Phoenix Wire claims that no order is too small, but if there's a price break for larger quantities, I'd be interested in going in on an order with some of you guys if we can all agree on the wire specs.
I wish we started this thread when I was off work last week. Steve - congrats on getting the virtual system up. yes the counterweight bolt mod. A significant upgrade for me was changing the horizontal/vertical ratio of the arm and how it affects the sound.

See the link to the ET2 parts blowout in Ketchup’s first post. I like to call the I-Beam the “plank”. You don't want to be near the end of this plank.

Have a look at your “I beam” and where your lead weights are positioned. What number does the lead start at?

For the newer owners:
Think of this arm as a simple teeter- totter. Physics says the lighter the cartridge will have these weights positioned in closer to the spindle. The heavier cartridges force you to move that lead out on the I-Beam to get the proper VTF. Its really that simple. Teeter-Totter .

If you put a heavier person on the teeter totter with you they need to sit closer in to balance things out – remember that? Well if you are the cartridge side this discusses putting a heavier person on the I Beam and changing the horizontal/vertical ratio of the arm which is normally 6 - 1 according to discussions with Bruce.

I personally never liked moving that weight so far out on this I-Beam for heavier MC’s. So I ended up replacing the counterweight bolt with a longer stainless steel one. (.75 cents). Also try a brass one or other non-magnetic bolt to see what happens. These details when dealing with stylus vibrations affect things greatly so pick a few different ones and try them out.

Counterweight Bolt Mod

The one on the right is the original ET2 one. The one on the left is my modified one. It can hold more lead weights. On some older arms this bolt may not screw off. You can get a new original lead piece that slides into the holder from Bruce.
This now allowed me to use more lead and bring that whole lead assembly closer to the spindle closer to the number 3 with heavy cartrdiges where I think things are more stable.

Now this is the fun part. Order even more lead weights from Bruce or make some – you can get them for free from car shops (wheel rim weights) – the lead is easily cut into shape and drilled). You need the longer bolt to allow room for the extra lead and to allow the aluminum rod to be tightened onto it to hold the lead rigidly.

Go ahead start adding lead to get even closer to the spindle. Those of you that try this please tell us what you think of the sound.

Before I tried this mod I discussed this with Bruce – this was his response.

Adding weight in this direction causes an asymmetric load on the air bearing so there will be a point where the bearing may bottom at the end of play position.
The other thing to consider is the suspension system of the turntable, you are adding moving mass, this weight moving laterally may cause the suspension to deflect and change the state of level of the tonearm. Increasing the horizontal inertia can cause increased rumble.
As long as you understand these potential problems it does not hurt to experiment and have fun. Thanks


Give it a try.

BTW – how many of you are using the brass rings as counterweights ? Read page 32 of your manual - they are for leveling only but thats another subject I really want to talk about too later.
You want to be absolutely rigid with this arm. The brass could move on the arm as it is raised and lowered and resonate. If you need to use the brass rings to get your proper VTF get more lead and a longer bolt.

Sorry for the long post and any errors ahead of time.

Cheers Chris
Hi Ketchup –
That phoenix wire looks interesting – is anyone using it ?

"the four individual wires are separated from each other where they are exposed in the loop. This arrangement had the least effect on tonearm movement."

You can see this in your system pic. So you tested it out both ways braided and separated ?

Is anyone else using the wires this way ?

LEVELING – heres how I do it. Can it be improved ?

Do not even attempt this if your platter/tonearm basic support are not already level. You guys with suspended tables – I feel for you. You are asking for trouble with this arm.

I don’t use the brass weights for leveling. It takes too long and you are also messing with the most fragile “I think” part of the arm. The Plank. (I Beam). I use Blue Tac and I add it to the top of the lead. If the VTF is 2.0 grams I make up a quick blob of the blue tac and add a touch more weight say 2.2 gms. Leave it next to the platform when not using it along with your level balances.

As the manual says you want the arm to free float.
Blue Tac in place. I position the arm above the lead in groove first and I start touching/tugging/poking the exposed wire with my finger. Lowering the cue lever a bit to see if I can induce movement. I try to see how much effort it takes to make the arm move. When u think ur good bring the arm to the end of the lp position. Repeat. This is where it gets frustrating because of counter forces. If your wires have “little” effect on the arm it should not move. In either position.

Now take the Blue Tac off – and try lowering the arm again at the start and end of the lp positions. Is it coming down straight ? If yes you should be good to go.
The wire effect is ALWAYS there you can’t eliminate it. What we are trying to do is reduce it. How detailed (anal) you are in doing this is the difference I feel between making this arm sound like nothing else out there or just a fabulous arm.

If your platter/arm setup is not level before you attempt the above you WILL pull out your hair doing this. Something could have gone out of level. Like the guys with the suspended tables. This is the main reason I feel most “previous” owners sold these arms. They are probably better off with pivot arms.

Can the above be tweaked better ? Is there a better technique for doing this ?

Recommendation – buy a test MM Cartridge whose tracking range is in the low say .3 – 1 gram range. Set this one up first. It will test your setup. I feel if you can make this one work well, your 2.0 – 2.5 gm MC will have no problem and will sound like it has never sounded before.


Funny, this morning I happened to see the post where I got the Phoenix Wire idea from. It came from Oilmanmojo here:

New Maplenoll Ariadne owner needing advice

He gives another source for wire- A-M Systems
Thx for the link Ketchup will read through - Olimanmojo, Rushton, Piedpiper, Frogman, a few others helped me to get my feet on the ground with my first ET2 years ago on a nice piano black VPI HW19 MkIV. I hope those guys see this and chime in here with their vast experience.

I still remember once I got it setup I could not figure out why it could not get through the last track. Turned out the original old pump was down 1/2 psi to about 3.0 psi. It was enough to affect it. The ET2 needs at least 3.5 psi if I recall to work properly. A Medo AC110 fixed the problem for $50 on ebay and helped raised the PSI to 7 or 8 psi.

Dover I am looking forward to your pics.


Great tonearm. I have used one for many years and now sits on a VPI TNT6. High pressure manifold/Medo compressor (17psi), homemade surge tank, damping trough, and AudioNote silver wire in one continuous run from cartridge clips to preamp. I can't recommend this wire enough. In the years I have used this arm I have rewired it three times (Cardas, Discovery, AudioNote). The AN is by far m favorite with much more refined and transparent sound, although some might call it leaner than the Discovery or Cardas, but NOT harsh. My experience with the position of the counterweights is exactly the opposite of Slaw's. I have found that in my setup, further from the spindle is best. In fact, the best bass response and stability that I have achieved is with the weights about as far from the spindle as the cartridge is (in the opposite direction, of course). Coincidence? Tip: for best sound, do not over tighten the adjustment bolts!!!

More to come.
I have used an ET-2 since they first came out. It is now mounted on a TNT of early vintage (MK I, II??) which still has the spring suspension. I am about to convert it to the paddle ball suspension as soon as I can find some paddle balls and make up a few parts.

I recently plumbed it into my shop compressor so my tone arm is now driven by a 5hp compressor with a 50 gallon tank. I am running about 15psi but keep seeing 19psi as the sweet spot but I can't tell any difference. What is magical about 19psi?
On weight placement: whether you want the weights close to the arm tube or far away depends on the cartridge compliance. Bruce has a pretty good write up in the manual which is available on the ET website.
In fact, the best bass response and stability that I have achieved is with the weights about as far from the spindle as the cartridge is (in the opposite direction, of course).
More to come

Hi Frogman

Are we to take your words literally ? The cartridge is about 7 inches from the spindle ? Have you come up with ET 3.0, a longer I beam that I have only been thinking about, or are you talking about removing enough lead and having your weights positioned at number 6 on the I beam ?

Hi Apbiii - you said

“I am running about 15psi but keep seeing 19psi as the sweet spot but I can't tell any difference. What is magical about 19psi?”

Why 19 PSI ?

In discussions with Bruce above 20psi the normal hose will blow off and another hose type would need to be affixed to the nozzle. This is a conservative number from Bruce. I have used 24 and it did not blow off. But the bottleneck is not the hose – its the ET2 spindle itself - with more than 20 psi coming out of the manifold holes, the ET2 spindle itself starts to resonate/vibrate. When this happens music information is lost – described maybe as “air”, “space” and harmonics. Others can chime in with better words maybe ?

So 19psi is used as a number to indicate a threshold give or take a couple PSI. All our system /rooms are different. We will all therefore get varying results. Also the bigger factor IMO is the type of pump /air supply you are using, how clean, dry and stable your air delivery is and most important the condition of your actual tonearm manifold and air ports. I went from the original pump, to a MEDO AC110, to a shop compressor/surge tank, to the Medical pump I now use. Is your pump located in an area that has a similar temperature / humidity as the room your ET arm is in ? This is crucial IMO. Some owners I have talked to have kept these pumps in the garage - during winter or summer with 98 per cent humidity outside.

I have designed my setup so that a second ET2 regulator/filter is on the wall next to the ET2 arm.

Portable ET Regulator

The device normally rests in its holder which can be seen in the picture. I can and have taken this second regulator off the holder and kept it in my lap as the music is playing. I then turn the black valve both ways to instantly increase and decrease the air flow to the arm and listen to the effects.

There are also reports as Apbiii says where others have seen and read about these PSI numbers. In the past I have emailed with Arthur Salvatore and his members have confirmed 19 psi. With Arthur you can read about it at highendaudio.com and do a search on the ET2 arm.

At Audiogon – here are a couple of links that pertain to Dertonarm's ET2 testing.

ET2 PSI Link 1

ET2 PSI Link 2

Daniel if you see this please chime in as well with your extensive experience. We are all sponges here.

The truly great thing about this ET2 tonearm and this thread IMO is that all the opinions and recommendations that we are about to hear about can be experimented with very easily by each of us in our own systems. Whether we are talking about lowering or raising the PSI, or adding or removing lead weights and or changing their postioning. We are all talking apples to apples. I have this pent up feeling like I am at a place here where all of us are going to truly benefit immensely from discussions. New and experienced ET2 owners.

None of us are smarter than the whole of us here ?

Unless Frogman or someone else has come up with ET 3.0 ?

Thanks Ct, I seem to remember reading in past about the hose/ coupling limitation. I have read the comments and discussion on Salvatore's site and found them interesting.

I scanned the threads you linked and did not find anything about ET-2 or pressure. Perhaps I didn't look close enough.

I don't have my setup plumbed in a way that allows me to adjust it from the listening position but I should probably do that. From what I can tell so far I think at 19psi things seem to go a little dead but there seems to be a nice spot where things open up a bit at about 16psi.

I agree that filtration is an important part of the system and while my compressor is located a bit far away in a different environment I probably have more dedicated to filtration and drying than most as I also use the compressor for spraying finish so I have more traps and driers than most. I also have a regulator at the compressor for the turntable line and another filter and regulator at the turntable. The regulator at the turntable is a low pressure large diaphragm unit which may help a bit. I do not have a surge tank at the table however.

Also here in SoCal there is probably less difference between the indoor and outdoor environment than in many parts of the world.

Hi Apbiii – I would much rather be where you are in S. Cal. – it is 3 degrees Celsius here right now about 37 degrees F. :^(

In those previous links see Detonearm’s comments in the threads. In the second link is the turntable with air supply that was running an Air Tangent and ET2.

A picture is worth a thousand words. If there is anyone anywhere that has a picture of their setup they want to share but can't post for whatever reason - please send me an email. I have no problem creating a special ET2 section in my virtual system page so others can see your setup. I will keep it anonymous.

****Are we to take your words literally ? The cartridge is about 7 inches from the spindle ? Have you come up with ET 3.0, a longer I beam that I have only been thinking about, or are you talking about removing enough lead and having your weights positioned at number 6 on the I beam ? ****

I have constructed an I beam (balsa wood) that uses a leaf spring from one of the regular ET I beams which allows me to to move the counterweights up to 6 inches from the spindle; although not the 7 inches that I implied. With my cartridges which are either medium compliance Vandenhuls or high compliance MM's, the improvement in bass weight
and detail is significant. One other way to experiment with moving the weight further from the spindle is by using the threaded brass weights on the threaded rod that secures the regular lead weights to the counterweight holder. This allows the weight to be further back, and effectively "extending" the I beam.

Speaking of the I beams, no one has mentioned the importance of experimenting with leaf springs of different compliances. I have three ET (plastic) I beams, each of a different compliance. The lower the
compliance the more tightly focused the sound is. Higher compliance springs make the sound a little "bloomier", with an all around easier

The use of the higher pressure manifold and Medo compressor was a revelation for me. The improvements were very significant, but I found
that in my system higher than 17 psi was too much of a good thing. 17 psi gave me the desired tonal balance. More than that and the sound was too tightly controlled for my tastes.
Frogman, do you mean 19 was a little too much and ...

I think I agree that 16 - 17 seems to be the sweet spot in my system.

Ct, that was an amazing setup on the Chinese thread. Do I understand correctly that he had mounted the arm from the top on a micrometer controlled X/Y stage???

I just got a post back from Mike at VPI with some suggestions so my next move will be setting up a ball suspension to replace the springs in my TNT. Apparently this will make a significant difference.

I just realized I can set up a system with pictures so I will try to get something posted.
Apbii, yes 17 was the best in my system. But keep in mind that this had everything to do everything else in the system. I don't think it is a matter of the ET "working best" at 19 (or 17) psi. I think I can safely say, after working with this arm for many years, that the arm "works better" (tracks better) at somewhat higher psi than that achievable with the original stock or even the Wisa pumps, but after that point (+/- 9psi?), it is probably a matter of personal preference (system).
My account is all buggered up – cannot login – but able to now make a post.

Frogman – very interesting about the balsa wood I beam – would love to see a pic ? Of the 3 different compliance I Beams you have which one comes closest to the stock ET2 I Beam that I assume most of us are using ?

Regarding the PSI’s – here are my thoughts on this especially to those of you with TNT’s of which many ET2’s were mounted in the day. I own a TNT2.

Apbiii – Regarding your TNT. Do you have an SDS or are you using the old PLC controller ? if the old PLC I recommend acquiring an SDS first before doing any other upgrades if you are going to keep the TNT long lerm. It is very valuable and has high resale value as well. Many are looking for them used even non-vpi owners.

This applies to anyone else here that has a TNT or a table where the motor can moved and you have an accurate speed controller like an SDS and are still using belts. It only costs $1.50 and 5 minutes to try out.

I have spent the last year focused on drive systems. Comparing DD, Idler and Belt. I have dismounted and mounted my ET2 arms probably 10 to 15 times during this comparison and testing moving from one table to another.

I have a TNT2 with upgraded bearing / SDS. I modified it and changed the drive to different threads and settled on UNWAXED dental floss. The differences were NOT subtle. For my TNT ownership - the higher pressure ET2, the SDS replacing that old PLC and the defeating the tri pulley belts for a straight shot of unwaxed floss all had equal benefits. Speed stability, blacker backgrounds, and detail all increased. The dental floss is transmitting far less motor noise into the platter and the SDS is earning its keep – making sure it stays accurate.

Thread knot

I highly recommend you try this $1.50 5 minute experiment. Don’t use the tri-pulleys they can only introduce more noise. Those with flywheels do not use them for this. Put the motor where the flywheel is and wrap the floss around the motor and the platter only. Just move the motor in a bit then out to tighten the floss. Listen to a few lps. Once you have it working start moving the motor out an inch at a time/tie a new thread. Each time you move it out the "energy of the music" for lack of better word multiplied in my system. Those with early TNT's like me to move the motor out further need to take out the motor/pulley frame and place it beside the table reversed so the motor is closest to the platter. Please try this. I had a lot of fun with it. Pls give impressions.

Chris, do you sill have the springs in your TNT? I have seen much discussion about different drive belt materials but I have not tried it yet. Perhaps it is time. From my perspective I don't see how the background is going to get much blacker as it is pretty much silent now if the record is good quality and clean. I gave up on the tripully setup years ago and don't miss it at all.

I am using the PLC drive and really should try a SDS. I think I may try to borrow one before I make the plunge. When you talk about speed stability are you talking short term or longterm, e.g. wow and flutter or pitch control?

I just splurged a bit on a new prepro so I'm not quite ready to invest more at the moment.
Apbii – You can see what I did to my TNT in my virtual system. I used a pneumatic suspension under the pillars - AT616’s.

I am talking about speed stability. I personally was not aware of how much wavering there was until I heard different tables next to one another in my room in direct comparison. That made it obvious.

Two ET2 arms / same cartridge. Two different tables at a time.

Recommend u take half an hour sometime and read through this.

Speed Stability

A little more about the ET2 High Pressure PSI factors as I was thinking about this. Opinions ?

The ET2 and ET 2.5 high pressure manifolds with the spindles have been already tested by a number of people including Bruce and they are stable to 20 psi.

If you are hitting plateaus at 15 – 16 -17 psi with the music there has to be something out – or someone explain to me how this can be based on the above statement. I am confused about this.

Some factors to consider.

1)It could be the arms manifold/ports/spindle. Clogged or blocked like a persons arteries when they get older. They are easily cleaned (I mean the ET2 not the actual person :^) – see the manual. Some over tighten as Frogman indicated this will warp parts of the arm. Not good. The good thing is you can loosen them up and they should go to form again if they have not been damaged. Many tighten down the bolts on either sides of the arm pillar/post to tight. I did this with my first ET2 arm years ago.

2) Air Supply system. Water/different temperatures/ quality of pressure.

3) Turntable affected by Structure Feedback – most likely and look to this first.

See my page for my sound pressure findings. It was a revelation to me.

If you think you are ok because your rack is on the concrete basement of your house - think again.
Concrete slabs are full of air pockets.


Any other reasons why the arm would not work and sound fabulous out to 19-20 psi ?

I am really looking forward to our cartridge discussions with the ET2.0 and ET 2.5 arms. Will let someone else start this off.

Great, informative thread that any airbearing tonearm user can benefit from. I do not have an ET arm but have the Maplenoll arm. Ketchup asked for me to share my experiences with the A-M systems silver wire. I chose several thickness of wire to see which worked better with the maplenoll airbearing arm. I had modified the original arm to install a carbon fiber arm with a yamamoto wood headshell. This allowed me to run the arm inside the armwand and through the end to tie directly into the phono amp. I mounted the phono amp directly below the maplenoll which allowed the wires to loosely dangle behind the table down to the phono amp. The wire is single strand, high purity silver and is coated with teflon. I used three different thickness from 0.015 to .005. The very fine wire is very difficult to solder(my experience as i am not great at this but works well because the limpness and weigh are so small that it does not interfere with the movement of the arm. The original arm had wire that terminated in a set of RCA jacks on the back of the table. The original wire was pretty stiff and had to be positioned well to minimize the drag on the arm. I do not know the exact gage of the original maplenoll wire but it was thicker than the 0.015 size. I ended up settling on the 0.01 thickness as i could get a good soldered connection. It did not have any appreciable increase in drag compared to the thinner wire. You can see my original ariadne table using the 0.01 wire on my system pics. As for as signal, i feel the silver wire does not cause any coloration or degradation to the signal from the cartridge. The A-M system wire is used in the medical industry for leads on some pretty sensitive instruments where signal degradation is important so that helped sway my opinion.

Other key points to the tonearm performance is levelness, Proper air pressure and air cleanliness. One item that is discussed on other threads is the absolute mass of the cartridge and tone arm system. The lighter, the better. I know my carbon fiber arm upgrade improved the performance of my table as compared to the original aluminum arm. I use the ZYX universe on the airbearing arm. It is lighter than some of the other cartridges and IMO a great fit for the airbearing arms
Re compliance of the I beam springs: my ET2 came with two I beams of different compliances. The lower compliance is achieved by using two (instead of one) leaf springs glued together. It is possible to lower the compliance further (which is what I did with my third I beam) by super-gluing a thin piece of metal to the existing double spring thus further stiffening it. Ct, when you refer to the stock I beam, I don't know wether what you have is the version with the single or double leaf spring. BTW, I believe Bruce Thigpen makes reference to the different I beams in the manual.

Re the ideal PSI issue: the arm can indeed sound fabulous at 19 or higher psi. But, the result may not be ideal in every system. In mine, the slightly warmer and rounder sound a15-17 psi was preferable.

Re what cartridges to use, I have had success with both Mm and MC types. The best (my favorite) combination was the Monster AG2000. In general, and contrary to the opinion of some, lowish compliance carts seem to work best with this arm; although I have gotten good results with MM's, particularly the Empire D4000.
In brief summary - don't want to get too much involved here - my experiences with the ET 2 and 2.5:

- air pressure (and by chance pulse frequency on the air stream) can have a huge effect on the sound quality. Above a certain pressure the arm can display problems. Up to this "break-point" the sound gets ever more precise and bass gains in "attack" and air.
While the air bearing and tangential principle allow the ET2/2.5 to shine in soundstage and separation, it too sets the limits of it's ability to present authority and attack in the lower bass. This is not a problem of the ET however, but a problem - IMHO - of air bearings in tonearm.

- I always had best results with cartridges with low compliance, rigid internal construction and low body weight. Early ZYX (Monster's AG2000 was an OEM ZYX) and FR-1 MK3F in particular.

- In summary and IMHO, the ET2/2.5 can still give any other tangential tonearm a very hard time and real competition - no matter the price tag.
I modified mine quite a lot and tweaked it to what I think are the limits of it's design.
I loved that tonearm and always will.
To me the best price performance ratio in tangential tonearms and for opera-lovers maybe THE tonearm to go for.

Dertonarm's observations are spot on, and mirror mine. His comment about the ET being THE tonearm for opera lovers may raise some eyebrows, but is particularly insightful. For me, the two greatest attributes of this tonearm are it's correct and midrange-complete tonal balance (what some would describe, incorrectly, as too soft), and it's ability to realistically separate individual instruments and groups of instruments. With opera, and how it is typically recorded, it's reproduction of voices (with correct tonal fullness and dimensionality), and the spatial relationship between those voices and the orchestra in the pit is wonderful.
I wanted to back up here a bit in regards to my system and my viewpoints. I realize that my system is not as revealing as most of yours are, but my comments are from my system's perspective. (I've owned my arm for over 20 years, just in the past year have gone with a high pressure compressor). I use 3 moisture separators and as a last line of defense, use a descicant dryer on the outlet side of the final regulator/moisture separator, that is about 3' from the tonearm. My compressor is in the same environment as is the rest of the system, although in a different room.
A note, these arms are awesome! From a tweaker's perspective, guys or gals with a mechanical apptitude, and from anyone with a drive to seek excellence from their stereo system, this arm will always surprise and deliver but only with the love and care you put into it.
I thought from the beginning of this post that wire type would be a major source of discussion and it turns out the couterweight bolt mod is up for grabs. I personally am satisfied with my tonearm wire set-up and won't be seeking further improvements in that area anytime soon. The counterweight issue: I can only speak as to what I hear in my system and it's limitations. From a logical perspective, having the weights extending further out on the scale, to me, isn't a smart way to go because the further out you go, the more of the teeter-totter effect or see-saw effect (as Chris stated) there will be. (This is of coarse with the stock scale, not with a custom made Balsa wood item). (Frogman, I would love to see your set-up). I too, feel that arm/cartridge compatibility would be an issue here as well as is the TT type of suspension, if any, and getting really technical, the room construction and isolation systems that each one of us has deemed right for their own system. I personnally didn't know that the 2 counterweight beams provided with an arm were different in any way. Dover, we're waiting for your pictures.
This discussion is great! Maybe we should form a once a year ET owner's annual get-together? Of coarse it needs to be hosted by Bruce himself.
..... I posted my "virtual system" only for the sole purpose of sharing my tonearm wire/routing set-up. I thought it could be useful for others....... Admittedly, I could have done a better job.

This (ET) thread was that important to me.

Thanks a lot for posting about your tonearm wire. I just want to get something straight, though. You said you bought 0.015", 0.010", 0.005" diameter wire from A-M Systems. In your system page, you mentioned using 0.003" wire in your tonearm tube. Did you also use 0.003" wire? That must have been even more difficult to solder than the 0.005" wire.
Another important factor as far as my limited experience is concerned (with regards in making your own tonearm wire), the cartridge ends, (the ones I used are great!), they are extremely solid(silver,of coarse), with a hole made for the exit of any air/gases when soldering to ensure a extremely tight/worry-free joint.
Oilmanmojo, Daniel thanks for chiming in here with your experiences.

Daniel –

I modified mine quite a lot and tweaked it to what I think are the limits of it's design.

I already posted the thread link to your table from 1993. Do you happen to have the picture with the ET-2 on it :^) by chance. Some eye candy for us. Can you at least tell us if you replaced the I-Beam and what brand of wire you preferred.

Frogman – I was not aware of multiple I-beams and those mods with the springs. My ET-2 arms were both bought used and came with just one I Beam each. One of them was a high pressure manifold. The other one I sent to Bruce to replace to the high pressure one.

Cheers Chris
Slaw, I will post a picture of my ET on my TNT6 next time my son comes over with his digital camera; being a bit of a Luddite, I don't own one.

No, no relation to R Vandersteen. Curious, why do you ask?

Ct, look closely at the leaf spring on your I beam. Is it a single spring, or are there two spring glued together for lower compliance?
Dear Chris,
I preferred the IKEDA silver litz - here in particular because it features extremely soft Teflon-foil insulation - resulting in extremely low reset force.
Very important IMHO with an air bearing tangential tonearm.
Besides that mechanical advantage it sounds very open and has become my tonearm inner wiring of choice due to some other mechanical advantages as well as no sonic shortcomings whatsoever.
I used the high pressure manifold as soon as it became available.
Furthermore I used a very large surge tank to smooth air flow.
Compressor was the old venerable Jun-air "Troll".
Still in my experience, the ET 2/2.5 developed problems at 19-22 psi and higher.
Extremely important too, to bring surface of platter AND ET2/2.5 in perfect level - but that's mandatory anyway .. ;-) ...
From the ET2 manual:

*****It is desirable in most cases (low to medium compliance cartridges 5x10 dynes/cm-10x20 dynes/cm) to use the minimum number of counterweights, far out on the counterweight stem. This decreases the horizontal inertia of the tonearm while increasing the vertical inertia....
....the weights should end up close to the end of the I-beam*****

Speaking of the manual, I have not seen a better or more informative manual with any other piece of equipment that I have owned.
Hi Frogman - both my I-Beams have a single spring in them.
Thank you for the wire info Daniel.
I havent figured out how to convert a bitmap to text. Need to download some program. Quicker to type it out :^(
Adjusting the Arms Mass.
From the manual page 9

Adjustable effective mass

The effective mass of the tonearm is adjustable both vertically and horizontally. The arm has low-medium mass vertically and medium to high mass horizontally. Four counterweights allow the vertical/horizontal mass to be changed. For example: if the user decreases the amount of counterweights used ,and moved this position back (higher on the scale number) the horizontal inertia of the tonearm would go down and the vertical inertia would go up.

Decoupled Counterweights

The effective mass of the arm horizontally is equal to to the sum of its component parts (It does not pivot) it needs to be as light as possible for low mass, however, making the arm too light sacrifices rigidity.


By decoupling the counterweight system horizontally, but not vertically, the mass is of the counterweight is not seen by the cartridge above a certain frequency.
Now what I am hearing.
See first sentence under decoupled counterweights again.

In my system when I replaced the counterweight bolt with a longer one and added a “little” more weight closer to the spindle there was noticeable bass change and overall presentation. I made the arm I believe more rigid by doing this. You can hear it in the sound. Based on the music you listen to and more importantly "the cartridge" you may prefer this or not. How much weight you add is a variable. The extreme limiter is bottoming of the spindle - but you will "hear" sonic problems “rumble” long before that according to Bruce - I have so far added just a bit more lead with no issues. I am not done with this yet.

I have discussed this with Bruce and he told me as the manual says that by doing this I am increasing the horizontal inertia but also he said that I am “increasing the vertical weight”.


Don’t try this until you have figured out how to properly setup the arm. Level platter/level Spindle/Cartridge setup properly..
Bruce also told me that the effect will be different by cartridge/compliance. So I cannot say that you will get more or less bass attack or solid/leaner overall sound by doing this because -I don’t know what cartridge you are using and the compliance. I am basing what I am hearing on two test Empire 4000DIII MM cartridges 30 x 10(-6)cm/dyne that were mounted on an ET-2 and ET 2.5 at 19 PSI that I did my comparisons with in 2011.
This is a mod I feel u need to try for your own system/room / music preference because it costs nothing to do. Bolt was .75 cents. Lead weights are free from auto shops or order some from Bruce.
it needs to be as light as possible for low mass, however, making the arm too light sacrifices rigidity.

I think what he's talking about here is the construction of the arm itself. If you make the arm too light by making the spindle wall thinner and the arm wand thinner, for example, the arm will loose rigidity. I do not believe the comment has anything to do with the position and number of counterweights, but I need to read the manual again to fully understand what is discussed in that section.

Are any of you able to update your virtual system now? I want to add my new air compressor, but when I log in to my account it says there is no system saved, even though I can view the thread.
The whole paragraph from page 9 of the manual:

"The effective mass of the arm horizontally is equal to the sum of its component parts. (It does not pivot) It needs to be as light as possible for low mass, however, making the arm too light sacrifices rigidity. By decoupling the counterweight system horizontally, but not vertically, the mass of the counterweight is not seen by the cartridge above a certain frequency and is lowered. This allows the use of heavier (more rigid) components in the tonearm design without increasing the effective mass."

He is, indeed, talking about the rigidity of the tonearm parts. Throwing weight at the I-beam near the spindle pivot does not increase the arms rigidity.
Ct, as I quoted before, moving the weight further out on the I-beam improved (in my set-up) the bass performance. By "improved" I mean better control, and weight; two things that don't always go hand in hand. I will say that the best results where always with the less compliant (double leaf spring) I-beam. I think the manual is clear about the benefits of doing this, and my results bear that out. I suspect that with the higher compliance spring (and a higher compliance cartridge/Empire) which you are using the results could be different. I strongly urge you to contact Bruce and get an I-beam with the less compliant double spring. In my set-up the difference is anything but subtle with much better air, detail and refinement.
Frogman - thx - yes I agree - I will contact Bruce and get this less compliant double spring before I do anything next.

Daniel - do you recall which I-Beam version you were using in your testing.

****Throwing weight at the I-beam near the spindle pivot does not increase the arms rigidity.****


BTW, there is a (not particularly elegant) way to experiment with lowering the I-beam compliance without use of the double spring. You can wedge (carefully, of course) a very thin piece of some very rigid material cut to fit that space, into the cavity between the spring and outer end of the counterweight cap/clamp. This will effectively allow LESS horizontal movement of the I-beam. I think you will all be very surprised at the
difference in sound.

Ain't this fun?
Frogman... this was just a humorous ( I guess to me only ) attempt at linking the use of Balsa wood in audio applications. Vandersteen uses it in his driver cones on the model 7 with carbon fiber. I believe I have read that he has aeronautical training/hobby interests. Thinking about this type of wood for a counterweight beam/scale is interesting.
You can also buy shim stock in just about any thickness to make your own. I have bought it from Mcmaster-Carr in the past to use for other things. Search for "shim stock".
" Ain't this fun "

Makes me feel like a little kid that wants to play :^)

But I have a job and other committments. :^(

Frogman I did the little piece of material next to the spring with my ET 2.0 that is mounted on the brass armpod and it changed the sound considerably. Dampened it. It had more effect than the damping trough for me that I used years ago. Do you use the damping trough?