Koetsu surprise

I have to hand it to my wife.  Like many of us, I have always plotted and schemed my own system upgrades based on my interests and perceived best bang for the buck.  I have been concentrating on the analog front end for the past 4 years and have been listening to a lot more music.  I had been enjoying a Lyra Delos for its detail and upper register energy, a SoundSmith Zephyr Star for its amazing instrumental separation and full frequency balance and an Ortofon MC A90, that I purchased used of Agon.  Thought I was done with cartridges for a long time.
So when on the eve of our 20th wedding anniversary I received a little square box from her, I had no clue that she would gift me something for the stereo.  But there in front of me is a pretty little Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum!  
Its hard to describe the disbelief.  I had never considered a Koetsu.  My impression of them was that they were rolled off, romantic, old school cartridges that had been bettered long ago by the likes of Ortofon, Lyra and SoundSmith.  Never really read up on their cartridges given that their cheapest models were about as much as I would ever consider spending.  
Fast forward one month and I have put about 40 hours on the RSP.  From the first needle drop I was very impressed with the midrange presence and the utter ease and extension into the very highest frequencies. The bass did sound a little soft in the first several hours but has tightened up considerably.  It sounded its best loaded with 100 Ohms and mounted on my Mørch DP-6 with heavy brass headshell screws from SoundSmith.  I currently have it on my Jelco 750D with a Jelco Rosewood headshell.  
I don't think any of these arms are the best match but the RSP does sound quite special on all of them.  Just purchased a 40 year old Fidelity Research FR-64S.  Can't wait to listen to the RSP on this arm.  Any recommendations on the FR-64S/RSP combo are welcome.

This whole experience has taught me an interesting lesson about assumptions in our little hobby.  You just have to listen before you judge.  This is a quantum leap in musical enjoyment that would never have happened if left to my own devices. Anyone else have this type of experience?  First time you heard something that changed your mind about what you thought you knew about audio?

I married up!

Nice. She's one in a million. Interesting info on the Koetsu. I wonder if you should try a harder headshell on the Jelco. 

That’s awesome! She did amazing choosing a Koetsu Platinum. I love my Platinums (Rosewood, Onyx, Jade, Coralstone); stuck with Koetsu ever since I discovered I had a hard time warming up to the upper range Ortofons (Windfeld, etc).

I’ve got a Fidelity Research FR64fx that sounds awesome with ’em; the F64S should be even nicer (and looks cooler too). Alignment can be tricky on these 10" FR arms; I really like my Mint LP protractor for that.

I also really like these carts on my Graham Phantom Supreme.

And I DEFINITELY remember first seeing Koetsu carts advertised in needledoctor / music direct around 2006 -- that $15K Coralstone, $8K Onxy. 3.8K Urushi Blue -- and thinking how stupid that pricing seemed, especially when the main differences seemed to be wood vs stones, paint colors, etc. I wondered why would anyone pay thee prices when carts like Ortofons are much higher tech. Years later I actually got to HEAR a Koetsu (I didn’t seek out the audition), and then it was all over for me.
Interesting story mulveling. Glad she bought it, I could never bring myself to do it... and I'm the crazy audiophile guy!

I am going to try to align using a custom Accutrak arc protractor which I have used for other arms.  Like the MINT LP, these are printed out for each tonearm based on the tonearm geometry.  The advantage of the MINT is surely the mirror.  I let you know how I fair. 

noromance, from what I see, the Rosewood Headshell is actually a hybrid with metal interfacing with the cartridge and rosewood and brass on the top.  The wire connections are supposed to be of a higher grade as well.  

Got to hand it to the ladies - my KRSP came the same way, but for a major birthday.

I use mine on a Trans-Fi air bearing tonearm, and a DIY air bearing turntable. What I like best about the Trans-Fi Terminator (don't blame me, I didn't name it) is the low cost / high quality, in which clever use of standard material is used instead of exotic machining. Second best, is tweakability. Third, it's a low pressure system using an aquarium pump, so none of the oil-filtering hassles. Fourth, you buy direct from the owner, who promptly goes on a mission to make the tonearm work for you.

I adjust the mass of the wand with brass weights to accommodate different cartridges. For the KRSP, I use two 5 gram brass weights and one 2 gram weight on the front of the arm wand, and that seems to work well.

May I also suggest an ultrasonic record cleaner? My dealer could detect no wear whatsoever after 400 hours of use - which means that the increased sound quality is just about free.

Good luck!

The entire Koetsu line has a saturated, harmonically dense sound that is quite musical sounding.  If you want it slightly leaner and a little more like other top end cartridges, then the stone bodies Koetsu would do the trick.  The wood and lacquer cartridges are a little warmer sounding.  If there is any shortcoming with their line, it would be that they don't track quite so well with some of those freak records designed to torture test cartridges; but with regular music, they track perfectly.

There are not that many other cartridges that have the same sort of warm and relaxed sound that also manage to avoid sounding muffled or soggy.  Allaerte, comes to mind, but, some of those make Koetsu cartridges seem bargain priced.  Perhaps the Ortofon SPU models, but, they require arms designed for the integrated headshell.

It is said that the FR64S and 66S are great matches for the Koetsu cartridges.  It is also said that the FR headshells are not so great, so I would consider finding another headshell to use with the FR/Koetsu combo.  But high tonearm effective mass afforded by the FRs is good.  I own both a Koetsu Urushi and an FR64S, but I have never yet mated them.  (I use a Dynavector headshell on my FR64S.) You actually own two products that are both loved and hated by different factions among the cognoscenti: Koetsu and FR64S.
I didn't think I would be the type of listener to appreciate a saturated sound but I hear the differences in instruments so much better.  For example, the different sound of Cannonball Adderl's sax compared to Coltrane. More information? More body for sure.  Other than my tuner, the system is all solid state Pass so maybe that is why the RSP is complementing everything so nicely.

I was going to try out the Jelco HR-30 Rosewood headshell with the Koetsu/FR-64S.  Lew, why not put your Urushi on the FR64S and report back!  I don't know of any Koetsu haters but I know a certain "distortion" hater who has no love for the lack of damping on the FR-64S.  Its actually reading his comments on it that convinced me I should try it.  

My local dealer is a BIG Koetsu fan, particularly the wood and lacquer bodied versions.  He likes the top end Ortofon arms.  These are the arms with the square pivot assembly (e.g., AS-309S 12") that is available from Japan, but not commonly available in the US.
On the Ortofon website they mention a special Japanese geometry which does not directly fit the Baerwald alignment.  Is this true of the FR-64? I seem to recall a thread about the FR-66/64 that mentioned an alternative mounting distance.  It was a dertonearm recommendation.
Terry, I read a lot about the Trans-Fi arm and think it is brilliant. Interesting to know that it does well with low compliance cartridges. For whatever reason I have only used pivoted arms.  

I have an U/S cleaner, the cheaper one by CleanerVinyl.  Works great so far.  Makes a big difference on some of the used "VG+" records I buy.

Have you considered the Moerch DP-8?  I think that it is at least an interesting design.  The arm has weights on outriggers located right at the vertical pivot of the arm.  The weights substantially increase the horizontal effective mass of the arm, but, because they are located around the vertical pivot, they don't increase the vertical effective mass substantially.  What this is designed to do is to use the higher horizontal movement effective mass to resist movement of the arm from side to side in response to horizontal modulation of the groove. Very low bass is typically mastered in mono so that the groove motion is primarily side to side (if mastered as a stereo signal, the vertical depth change would be too much for the thickness of the record).  By the arm not moving in response to the bass modulation, the full measure of the bass is outputted by the cartridge.  By keeping the vertical effective mass reasonably low, the arm can still effectively handle warps. 

I have not heard the DP-8, but, those who have say the bass response is very strong with this arm.  It should be particularly effective with somewhat low compliance cartridges, like Koetsus.

While this purely speculation on my part, high effective horizontal mass of air bearing non-pivoting arms might also account for why they too have strong bass response.  I heard this with arms like the Mapenoll, Walker and Kuzma arms.
Hello Karl.

I bought a Trans-Fi for my modified Nottingham Analogue Mentor, with the Dais bearing, new motor, and matched power supply. Great improvement.

Only with time did I realize just how good the Trans-Fi really is. Every adjustment possible, all of them intuitive, but only VTA easy and on the fly. VTF fiddly (remove wand, slide a counterweight and tighten) but positive. Azimuth fiddly (remove wand and rotate set screws) but very high precision (repeatable 7 minutes of arc, IIRC), and highly stable. The wand assembly has the highest integrity and stiffness.

The wand has holes machined into it to reduce mass. But these are ideal for adding brass weights to increase mass as needed. The wand is flat, so that anti-resonance material can be laid upon it. Air pressure can be manipulated to change damping. Versatile - the thing should be called the Versatile. Just by tweaking you can significantly change the characteristics of the sound to suit your mood - high precision, or soft and romantic.

So I bought another one for my DIY turntable with aerospace air bearing and 45kg composite platter. I doubt if a significantly better tonearm is available at any price, if you are willing to put in some time setting it up. But I've got more time than money these days. So it's Trans-Fi for me. Times two.

Should mention that my KRSP has the diamond cantilever - can't imagine a much lower compliance than that.

Wow, Terry, that is a really interesting sounding DIY table.  The platter is about 100 lbs!  With that kind of weight, an air or magnetic bearing is the way to go.  NICE!!

By the way, the material for your cantilever does not have much bearing on the compliance of the cartridge.  The amount of force needed to deflect the stylus to a specified distance (compliance) is really determined by the cartridge suspension.   

Mulveling, it must be great having three different Koetsu cartridges, including the top stone cartridge.  Do you have any other cartridges?  I have sometimes been tempted to get something radically different just to mix things up.  Have you been tempted to get something like a Colibri, just for something completely different?  (I like spending your money for you).

Mulveling, may I ask you about the characteristics of your stone bodies? I am toying with the idea, you see.


Nobody in this hobby is a tabula rasa . We all have ''some beliefs''

or prejudice at least. My was based on Raul's influnce because

I believe in his ears but not in his theories. He invested much money

in those ''carts of the month'' so we were able to profit this way

fom him. My prejudice against ''Koetsu'' was confirmed by one

of the (many) models or versions: the Rosewood . But this

''confirmation'' was refuted by the Blue Sky which I like very much.

So , obviously, we can't judge about ''Koetsu'' in general.

Nothing particularly exciting to report on the stone body differences -- I find them all to be very close to each other; all excellent. I got the Coralstone brand new last year, and right out of the box it blew me away. Got my busted Onyx Platinum rebuilt by Koetsu shortly afterwards, and the Coralstone was definitely better from hour 1 -- it sounds denser and more lifelike from top to bottom, with a slightly lusher and more organic midrange. Definitely more of a music lover’s cartridge, but also very detailed.

That said, after only 30 or so hours on the Coralstone, I switched to the newly rebuilt Onyx for run-in. And now, with some hours and a amp tube change (to a warmer/lusher phase splitter), I’m enjoying it about as much as I was the Coralstone. I’ll have to switch back again and see where that takes me.

I originally bought the Jade and Onyx used (~300 hours each) several years ago. they were extremely similar sounding. You really had to split hairs to say maybe the Jade was a bit airier on top and the Onyx had a bit more warmth down low. The Jade shell is thinner and lighter than the Onyx; who knows if that contributes. Now that the rebuilt Onyx is run-in, it does seem that it's retained a lot of its original sonic nuances...but cleaner and more detailed.

I also have a supposed original Sugano-Sr. RSP with 500 hours (never rebuilt). It’s also very very good but I like the stone bodies a bit better; they have more powerful bass response, which makes them more musically complete and accurate to my ears. And I certainly don’t hear anything syrupy, overly warm, or slow about the RSP (as some have tagged it in the past). Perhaps the character of the RSP has changed quite a bit over the years. I also have an even older non-platinum Onyx that definitely fits the old Koetsu stereotype - warm and technicolor (not so accurate, but beautiful sounding in some ways), lol.

I think the new Koetsus and rebuilds are fantastic. Dead-on channel balance, too. If anything, they’re getting better at making these.
Dear @karl_desch : I owned the KRSP and is a clear positive departure for the terrible quality performance of Koetsu cartridges before it. With this Platinum model Koetsu improved both frequency extremes range. Now we have good highs and better bass range but that's all, it's a departure from but that's all because it's not has excellence level quality.

So you own a very good cartridge in that KRSP.

That you touted it over the A-90 just tell me your preferences that's clear that you only like what you hear and have not as your main target to reproduce in your system what's in the recording where the A-90 is way superior to.

Differences in between audiophiles are mainly the differences on each one system listening main targets.

Mine is to mimic what's in the recording and to achieve it ( at least and just to begin with. ) any one has to stay far away from tubes electronics and away from undamped tonearms, period.

Your main target is way different from mine, no problem enjoy your added distortions and be happy. Sooner or latter all of us learn about.

Regards and enjoy Music Not Distortions.
All Koetsu owners,

By implication from the post above, you should all throw your cartridges in the trash because they are high in distortion.  I don't know if that really is the case, and even if this were an objective fact, clearly, this supposed distortion doesn't matter much.  If it did, one can do even more to avoid it by avoiding analogue altogether and by buying a cheap CD player instead--by objective measurement, even a cheap player is vastly superior.
Raul, even if that remark were incontrovertibly true, which it certainly is not, it was churlish.
That's the thing.  I'm enjoying the music more with the Koetsu. The A90 is fantastic too, does everything right but the Koetsu is informative. Have you guys listened to Herbie Hancock's Headhunter's Analog Productions release?  Those bass lines kill me!
Hey Karl when I cut you the arm board for the FR I’ll put an on the fly spindle to pivot adjustment on it. Well get that beautiful cart dialed in perfect!

What a lovely lady you have there Karl and a fantastic cartridge.

Unashamedly have been a Koetsu fan for 37 years and have had the opportunity to listen to many cartridges in my system along with a few of the Koetsu models since the original MC1 wood. I spent a lot of time with the RS, Koetsu Urushi Wajima, Onyx and Onyx Platinum. The Urushi's in general have been some of the best value Koetsus, in particular the Wajima, Black and the Vermilion. I did also hear the Sky Blue but wasn't so enamoured by it. It sounded very much like the Absolute Sound test report where the highs were rolled off. Not sure what was going on with that! The non platinum Onyx was a great cartridge too and of course the Onyx Platinum better still. As others have hinted, the stone bodied Koetsus are cooler sounding but resolve better.

I've not yet had the pleasure of trying a RSP, but if I may say, having tried the others in an FR64S, while working well, the highish mass of the arm started to cause some pickup of record warp etc. In this respect, the 64FX was a better match with its lower effective mass. I will be interested to know how you get on with the RSP in your 64S.

Other arms tried successfully with my Koetsus have been SME V, Graham Phantom Supreme, Goldmund T3B, Jelco 750, Koetsu 1100D mk2, VPI JMW 10.5i and the original JMW 10. I admit to being a bit shocked hearing the Wajima Urushi in the JMW 10, very open and dynamic!!! Have also heard the Urushi Black in an Origin Live Conquerer in a friends system and it was great.

I've been searching for alternatives to the Koetsus but haven't succeeded. Too many of today's high end cartridges sound like hifi and not a believable event. But as usual, just my opinion of course, and we all have one! Happy listening to all.

FWIW, I find that the Urushi works very well with a moderate, rather than light tonearm (i.e. 10 g +). I use an SME V and am pleased with the results. I have heard that the cartridge works even better with higher mass arms, but I haven't got around to sticking some blutack on my arm and rebalancing to see.

I should think than an  FR-64S or  FR-66S would be a good match.
Dear @terry9 : """   even if that remark were incontrovertibly true, which it certainly is not, it was churlish . """

Please don't feel ofended because a true and real fact can't ofend any one by the contrary: a lie is an ofense always.

You said that that fact " certainly it's not " but you give no single facts as foundation for your statement.

In the other side in many many threads I posted several facts ( I'm sure you read it at least one of my posts about. ), that no one and I'm meaning it repeat no one posted true facts that proved that  what I posted is totally wrong, why tubes and non-damped tonearms can't honor what's in the recording. If nyou have those facts please share with us, every single day is a leraning day and I'm always willing to.

As I said every one has his own audio system reproduction quality level targets and mine is to mimic what's in the recording that you can't have it with your system.

Yes you like what you listen but is far away from what's in the recording and the same for all users of non-damped tonearms.
We can't close the sun with a finger.

You like ( as many other gentlemans. ) what for many years you learnend through the corrupted AHEE ( where we all belongs. ) that still today push you and to all audiophiles to live listening as if you were living and listening a 40's audio system. You are in that jail and the AHEE has not the key to let you out, only you can do it changing your targets.

Btw, the KRSP is not a low compliance cartridge but belong to the medium range compliance.

@karl_desch , everything the same what defines that a cartridge can pick up more information ( tha's what you think against the A90. ), only one characteristic: cartridge tracking abilities and in this regards the A90 is superior to the KRSP.
Sometimes that " added information " ,  you posted , is only added distortions and not necessary true recorded information. A lower tracking level means higher distortions and less recorded information.

That we like it the sound with added distortions is a totally different issue.

As I posted, everything depends on each one of us targets.

Regards and enjoy the Music Not Distortions,

Thanks Bruce looking forward to listening with you!

As far as distortions...Since there is no way of knowing what is actually on the recording, I will go with what I hear as more realistic, more information about the tone and timbre of an instrument.  This is informed by my years as a musician before I went to medical school and my continued enjoyment of live music.  The KRSP sounds a lot like real music in my system.  This was unexpected given what I assumed about Koetsu being romantic. Not a matter of true and false or enjoyable distortions or not.  This is simply opinion based on listening.  

Enjoy the music not the recording.

Just curious Raul, what equipment have you found meets your criteria?  Is there a particular piece you own that you are very fond of?  Not baiting you, just wondering .
I bought a Koetsu Urishi Black a few years ago. I mounted it on a Pioneer PL-71, I had bought, back in ’74. At first, it sound very tinny and I was very disappointed in it’s performance. I spoke with Koetsu and they informed me my tonearm, may not have enough mass. I experimented and finally got excellent results, by adding a very thin strip of Dynamat to the full length of the tonearm. Man-the difference was like day and night. I had only been back into vinyl a short time and was still "Living In The Past." The Dynamat, not only gave me the mass I needed, but also acts as a vibration absorber too. I find the Urishi Black, plays my older LPs better, such as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely... The White Album and LPs like that. Anyway, to get the sound you’re looking for, try, as stated in the responses above, to increase the tonearm’s mass. It really does not have to be complicated, as I found out using the dynamat. I know-sounds ghetto, but it worked!
Dear @terry9 : """ Yes you like what you listen but is far away from what’s in the recording ... """

""" You like ( as many other gentlemans. ) what for many years you learnend through the corrupted AHEE ( where we all belongs. ) that still today push you and to all audiophiles to live listening as if you were living and listening a 40’s audio system. You are in that jail and the AHEE has not the key to let you out, only you can do it changing your targets. """

Please accept my sincere apologies to you when I posted  both statements addressed to you.
Was a terrible mistake because those statements were not addressed to you. I’m sorry I don’t know what I was thinking in that moment. My " stupid " fault/mistake.

What was addressed to you was:

""" no one posted true facts that proved that what I posted is totally wrong: that tubes and non-damped tonearms can’t honor what’s in the recording. If you have those facts please share with us, every single day is a leraning day and I’m always willing to. "

Non-damped tonearms means higher resonances against well damped tonearms and tube electronics has severe limitations because that technology is truly limited to use with top quality audio targets as : truer to the recording. Tha’s all.

You posted it’s not true and that’s why I ask you for facts that could tell us that a non-damped tonearm ( vintage or today comercial designs. ) works better than a well damped design to approach in nearer way: truer to the recording.

Again accept my apologies and I hope you can give those facts. ( everything the same. )

Regards and enjoy the Music Not Distortions,
Dear @13blm: """   what equipment have you found meets your criteria? """

Truer to the recording is a concept. A concept based to reduce and achieve/approach MINIMUM distortions at each single linl in the whole audio system chain.

Everything the same a non-damped tonearm generates higher distortions than a well damped design. It's in the tonearm/ cartridge  where we need to damp every kind of distortions/resonances that get dirty the musical recorded information. That " dirty " is something that is not in the recording and just add very very high distortions/colorations.
Due to severe tube electronics technology limitations it happens the same.

But we have to take care about at each single link in the audio system chain, at least if we want to stay nearer to that: truer to the recording.

Btw, @karl_desch  when your system is truer to the recording ALWAYS will enjoy the MUSIC as ever before in your audio life. No doubt about.

Regards and enjoy the Music Not Distortions,
So Raul, what brands are you currently running to help you achieve this goal?
Dear @13blm: You can read about through my Agon virtual system..

Btw, of course that when I'm talking of non-damped tonearm design I'm refering to those all metal undamped designs where the FR are the worst of the worst.
You can add to the FR its intrinsic resonances that develop the FR tonearm balanced VTF mechanism design, terrible.

There are other vintage balanced design tonearms with different mechanism that does not develops resonances " per se ", two examples are the Lustre GST 801 and the Micro Seiki MAX 237.

IMHO when FR designes those 66/64 models they had no single idea of the cartridge needs and LP needs.

Remember, that I'm not taling here of what we like it that's irrelevant on the " truer to the recording " subject. What any one likes is another matters and does not changes what I'm talking about for years!

Regards and enjoy the Music Not Distortions,
@13blm -- Raul has a full description of his system and preferences here ... nothing imaginary about it

Hey, he was the one who said "virtual". Nice system. I like that Micro Seiki .  
Dear friends: It's really " curious " that every time I mention that tubes or undamped metal tonearms design  can't honor MUSIC and puts every one far away from what's in the LP recording " all " gentlemans ( like in this thread. ) post and posted that I'm " wrong " but , till today , no single of " you " audiophiles posted incontrovertible facts as:

tubes has: wider frequency response range than today SS electronics and wider dynamic range and lower noise levels and lower overall colorations or lower distortions levels than SS.

No one posted incontrovertible facts why metal non-damped tonearms are better than a well damped design.

Or facts that can prove that analog is truer to the recording than today digital experience.

All make and post that I'm " crazy " or something like that or like @terry9  post:

"""  even if that remark were incontrovertibly true, which it certainly is not.  """

but do not tell us why " is not ".Don't you think that in this century year 2017 is not a good time to be liberated by your self of those heavy metal chains that hold you and makes you can't move it?

What or whom really stopped/impede that you do it to really start to enjoy what is in the recording? for the first time in your audio life !

Regards and enjoy the Music Not Distortions,
@karl_desch @mulveling @larryi 

Gentlemen, I want to share a new discovery (to me) with you.

After posting, I was considering the advantages of the linear tracker, when I wondered just how accurately my cartridge was placed on the arm wand, so I measured it: within 0.004 inches, or about 15 minutes of arc.

Being anal, I naturally tried to make it better, even though I expected the manufacturing tolerances on the KRSP to swamp such a small amount. But I persevered, and got it to about 0.0005 inches, about 2 minutes of arc.

Surprise. More clarity, tighter and stronger bass, more sweetness, less distortion. Not subtle. Not just me - the lady was suitably impressed and said much the same.

I leave it to you to decide whether or not an anally set up linear tracker is likely to have any competition from anything, regardless of price.
After further consideration, I wonder if I might not have stumbled on the correct torque (for the mounting screws) instead. I will be getting a precision torque driver to sort it out, and will report back.
It will be interesting to compare the FR-64S to the damped metal tonearm Jelco 750D.  I plan to use my ears. 

@terry9 I love that feeling when a little adjustment work seems to pay off. How difficult is the trans-fi to adjust?
VTA is very easy. The rest is fiddly - then again, it costs $1k instead of $10k.

I wondered about whether something else, like the torque on the mounting screws, had also changed.  I have my doubts about whether a small improvement in overhang would result in a big change in sound.  Also a change in overhang would make the sound better for certain parts of the record and worse for others rather than provide a uniformly superior sound.

As for the advantages of linear tracking arms, there are MANY theoretical pros and cons.  Some tone arm makers think that most linear tracking arms are actually worse at maintaining perfect tangency.  That is because as the stylus/cantilever move inward the arm resists moving more than would a pivoted arm.  The arm resists moving laterally more than conventional arms because they tend to have high mass in that plane of movement and because of the loss of the mechanical advantage of a pivot (it is easy to move something around a pivot, much harder to move the entire arm laterally along the air bearing tube, even if friction is minimal).  This resistance means that the cantilever is more inclined to being forced out of position (bending inward) with linear arms.  Obviously, the short arms on linear trackers can be made very rigid and less prone to ringing, but, there are arguments as to whether the lack of a conventional pivot prevents vibrational energy from being drained away and dissipated properly.  I don't know if these theoretical claims are true or not; I've heard nice reproduction from linear arms as well as conventional arms and cannot attribute differences to particular design elements.  To me, having noticed how small VTA changes affect sound, I am also concerned that the short arms on most linear trackers would result in larger shifts in VTA for different record thickness than is the case with a longer arm.

There are pivoting arms that take advantage of the "Thales" circle geometry to maintain tangency (also no skating), but, these are expensive, complex, and most require additional arm pivots and parts (added friction).  Some examples are the Thales arm, Schoeder LT, Funk Firm AK-1, and the Reed 5P (the Reed avoids extra pivots that the stylus/cantilever must move by using a motor controlled by a light sensor to pivot the tonearm base to maintain the tangential geometry). 

Quite correct, Larry. I later realized that the effect might be caused by torque. When I get my precision torque driver I'll sort it out.

My posting was ambiguous. I was not adjusting overhang, but offset angle - which, of course, should be 0 for a linear tracker. Overhang is not really the issue with a linear tracker; one is after tangentiality, which can be set very precisely, even for a cartridge like the KRSP, with its invisible stylus.
My newest arm boards have on the fly spindle to pivot adjustment. I have noticed an occasional improvement in sibilance and focus when dialing back and forth.  My guess is that some tonearm manufacturers geometry is possibly just a hair off and the adjustment makes for easy correction. 
Dear @larryi : Till today there is no perfect tonearms. Always exist trade-offs.

I owned some linear tracking tonearms as : Denessen, Southern and ET. I hears many more as Foprsell, Kuzma, the one in Walker Procenium, the one in Rockport and the Transfi, all these not in my system.

I decided to use only pivot tonearm designs because ( even inside its trade-offs. ) makes something no LT design does it and this characteristic is a way better deep bass quality level performance. LT just can't give us the weigth and tigth deep bass as a pivoted ones and maybe can be because are " grounded " mechanically and not float in the air. I can't say why.

Maybe many audiophiles do not cares about deep bass quality levels but it's here where MUSIC starts in a home audio system and the frequency range more critic an important in a room/audio system quality levels. We have to remember here that that bass range gebnerates harmonics and distortions too that affects in sevre way the other frequency range quality levels.

If we have not a real/true full range response in the audio system we just can't enjoy MUSIC and the worst and harder frequency range to handle is precisely the bass range, it's what ( everything the same. ) determines the quality level performance on any room/audio system.

It's easy to check if in our full range system the bass range is rigth or not really rigth and to test this we only need a decent digital source playing same tracks than the analog rig and compare in between and you will know with out doubts..

In any tonearm/cartridge/TT, pivoted or not, ACCURACY in the whole set up is the real name of the game.

A good pivot tonearm design with accurate overall set up has nothing to " envy " to any of those LT designs I named.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC Not Distortions,