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 ?
Regarding Decca - indeed something special.The energy it puts into an arm through kind of a flimsy structure is challenging. This is predominantly in the vertical axis, which is much stiffer. The recommandation is probably "heavy arm" but maybe in this case mating is easier with more conventional arms. Kind of "low noise" bearing, like WTT or Schröder, or some of the better unipivots. I think the Hadcock worked well (with a bit added mass).With the ET 2, the long beam is probably quite optimal, but the horizontal resonance goes way loooww. And I had strange audible effects from that, kind of "drop outs" in the signal when the horizontal lf resonance was excited. Never saw this with MC cartridges.The fundamental quality is one of extreme agility and superb natural midrange timbre.

@pegasus, the Decca/London's are also incredibly dynamic. Think The Who with Keith Moon live! I liken the D/L sound in comparison to others as like the difference between a direct-to-disk LP and one pressed from a tape recording. They have that head-spinning SNAP!, that percussive attack, and a live music immediacy, that I have heard from no other cartridge..

For anyone considering a new London, get it with the optional Decapod, which replaces the standard, flimsy, plastic mount. Well worth the extra money.

@bdp24, the first "HighEnd" (of the 70’s) I heard was my oldest brothers Garrard Zero tt with a Decca London (Grey?) with a top Pioneer integrated amp feeding a pair of recently refurbished Infinity 1001A. I made many cassette tapes from this setup and from my brothers LP collection with music from Portugal and it’s recently "lost" colonies.
All these kept a cracking, mesmerising immediacy over all these dozends of years, besides sometimes a certain upper range "chatter".
The dynamics of the Decca London is what is always written about. But what kind of surprised me, when I reinstalled one, (refurbished by Reto Andreoli of Blue Electric) whas that this quality was even more one of microdynamics, a kind of grainless agility - besides the impact.
Superb dynamics can often be coupled to a certain relentless quality, something that goes at the expense of a heart-touching quality. Not in the case of the Decca London.In which tonearm do or did you listen to a Decca London?

OMG @pegasus, the Infinity 1001! That was my first pair of what I guess would be considered high end speakers. It’s price in 1971 was $139/ea, at that time about as much as I had the money for. It’s big brother, the 2000A (which contained the then-best tweeter in the world, the RTR Electrostatic, also used by Infinity in their Servo-Static I) was $299/ea, out of my reach.

The first Decca cartridge I heard was that of ARC’s Bill Johnson. Bill had flown out to Livermore, California (in his own plane---he was a pilot) to deliver a complete ARC system to his new dealer, Walter Davies. Walter is now known as the developer and owner of the Last Record Care products line, but in the Spring of 1972 had just opened a Hi-Fi shop, Audio Arts. Bill brought an SP-3 pre-amp, D-51 and D-75 power amps, a PC-1 passive x/o, and a pair of Magneplanar Tympani-I loudspeakers, of which ARC was the distributor. Bill also brought his own Thorens TD-125 Mk.2 turntable, a prototype ARC tonearm (which never went into production. It looked similar to the Grado arm of the 50’s/60’s---the arm "tube" a flat piece of what appeared to be walnut), onto which was mounted a Decca Blue.

I was a budding audiophile, having just discovered J. Gordon Holt and Stereophile. I listened as Bill and Walter discussed all things hi-fi, and got myself an invaluable education. The sound of that system was to me a revelation! The equipment available to hear in my area (San Jose and neighboring towns) was McIntosh, Dynaco (solid state), and SAE electronics, and Acoustic Research, Rectilinear, and JBL loudspeakers. And of course Bose 901’s. The common cartridges at the time were the Shure V15 and M91e, Stanton 681ee, and various Pickerings, ADC’s etc.

I dove into the deep end, getting my own ARC/Maggie/Decca system. I bought myself a Decca Blue, and mounted in on a Decca International arm and Thorens TD-125 Mk.2 table. The DI was at the time considered THE arm for Deccas, but with it learned that I didn’t care for unipivots. So I replaced it with an SME 3009 Series 2 Improved, and though the arm is a beautiful piece of engineering, it proved to be not a particularly good partner for the Decca. Perhaps because of the SME’s knife-edge bearing design?

Fast forward many years, after having long ago gotten out of hi-fi. I was now an older, wiser audiophile, and ready to jump back in. I bought myself a Decca Super Gold, and mounted it on a Mayware Formula 4. Yeah, it was a unipivot, but I wanted an arm with silicon damping for the Decca. The cartridge was too much for the Mayware, so I got myself the new Well tempered, and put them on a VPI HW-19. That was more like it!

I could have lived that way for years, but then learned of the Townshend Audio Rock Mk.2 Elite, a table particularly well suited for Deccas/Londons (in fact, Max Townshend used the Decca cartridge in his research and development of the Rock). The Well Tempered arm, on the other hand, was not (if you know about the Rock, with it’s trough of damping silicon, you understand why). Off it went, and in went a Rega RB300 with Cardas internal wire. I pretty good setup, but I knew I could do better.

Some further research informed me of the Zeta arm, long considered to be one of the couple of best partners for Deccas. And that it is! Nice stiff arm tube, excellent bearings, and a little on the higher end of medium mass arms. The Rock/Zeta/Decca is a real classic, like a Quad 57/25 watt tube or Class A amp combination. It’s getting buried with me!

There is a newish arm gaining a reputation amongst Decca/London aficionados, the Trans-Fi Terminator. The arm is a unique, passive air-bearing, linear-tracking design, made in the UK. T-F owner/designer Victor Patacchiola until very recently used the London Reference in his research and development of the arm, just as had Max Townshend with the Rock table. Some Decca/London owners are still using the Eminent Technology air-bearing, linear-tracking arm, too.

Robert Levi of Positive Feedback, Decca/London lover and Reference owner, recommends the outstanding Helius Omega arm. The current SME arms have their Decca/London proponents, as well. The common wisdom use to be that the cartridge was best served by a damped unipivot arm, but Grahams do not appear to be popular with Decca/London owners.

Here are two Decca/London related facts:

1- The Zesto Andros 1.2 Phono Stage has a mm cartridge impedance switch that includes a position of 15K Ohms, and provides 200pf of capacitance. Both of those figures are recommended by London for their cartridges. At the 2015 HiFi Show in Anaheim I asked Zesto designer/company President George Counnas if, as I suspected, those provisions were specifically for Londons, and he replied yes.

2- The Schitt Mani Phono Preamp offers four levels of gain, 30dB specifically for Deccas/Londons.

@bdp24 this feels like an opened well or a stream of audio experience opened!
Some of the landmarks I know too: My first acquisition (for my fathers audio system ;-) was a Decca International arm for a Decca, mounted on a TD 124. The self-made arm board was a bit flimsy, and there was always an amount of structure bourne vibration coupled into the cartridge. My Decca arm had a too heavy counterweight, go figure. So this was ca. the scond audio item getting modified...Then the Mayware Fomula IV as its replacement, which ended with a Grado Signature and an "encasing" in BluTak, which was amazing with my hotrodded ARC SP3A. Alternatively I had a quite good Lustre GST1 on a TD 126 (a very low noise, but very boring sounding turntable compared to a Rega 2 or my favoured Walker CJ 55).On the Walker the Formula IV was swapped finally with a Eminent Technology One, ca. 1985 (?), which i replaced with an ET 2 when it came out. The tt was swapped for ca. 4 years for a Merrill Heirloom - my first "last turntable", a very good turntable, though not optimal for the ET2.After that the second "last turntable" was a Well Tempered Signature.Which I re-replaced with an upgrade to the ET 2.5, placed on a considerably modded Technics SL1210. This is my third "last turntable", since ca. 5 years...