Tri-Planar & Customer Service Excellence

Hi All, in July, 2017, I purchased a turntable package consisting of a used VPI Aries I, a Tri-Planar MK VII UII tone arm and a Lyra Skala cartridge as an entry point to the world of vinyl. The seller was a very reputable local dealer who had taken the table in trade. Everything was in perfect, like new condition. 

Once home, I leveled the table and adjusted the VTF and contacted Tri Mai to purchase some silicone damping fluid. After explaining the table’s history to Tri he asked me to measure the distance from the spindle to the tonearm’s pivot point. To my disappointment, it was off by a considerable amount. Tri gave me some suggestions on how I might adjust the tone arm’s positioning on the arm board to reduce the geometry error caused by the arm’s positioning problem. 

Over the following month, I became familiar with the table’s sound and its operational peculiarities such as periodic inner groove mistracking. Overall, I wasn’t totally pleased with the table’s performance. In subsequent discussions with Tri we discussed how he could readjust the arm on his workshop jig to correct the geometry issue without my needing a new arm board and remounting. I also learned that my arm is now called the “MK VII UII Classic” and that since 2015 there has been available, an additional uprated version, the “MK VII U2 SE”. The SE version uses a new damped carbon fiber arm wand and new silver wiring along with other upgrades. 

I sent my arm to Tri for the SE update. His turnaround time of two weeks was very prompt and his communications were very prompt and complete. His pricing for the upgrade was also very fair. What I received from Tri was essentially a new arm. Everything had been totally disassembled, cleaned, polished and reassembled to current specs. It arrived in a new box with the latest mounting jig, a very easy to use cartridge alignment/overhang gauge, new tools, new anti skate weights, new tools and revised mounting and set up instructions. 

Unfortunately, during my remounting of the arm, I overtigtened the azimuth adjustor so that it became solidly stuck. Tri advised me as to how I might free it or, I could simply return it to him, and he’d fix WHATEVER problems I’d caused for FREE. His concern was that I be totally happy. When is the last time you’ve enjoyed such a completely delightful customer service experience?  

I returned the arm to him and a week later I received the “repaired” arm. With Tri’s guidance I then mounted and adjusted the arm. This time, everything went perfectly. 

Tri has advised me that the arm’s new silver cabling takes a long time to break in. Nonethless, the sonic improvements of the SE arm and the correct geometry are a revelation. Further, the arm now tracks record grooves as if it were on rails. I am totally pleased with the results of Tri’s work and I am especially appreciative of his outstanding customer service attitude. He’s the consummate gentleman and a pleasure to do business with. I place a very high value on business ethics, dependability as well as product performance. In this regard, Tri and Tri-Planar are #1 in my estimation. 

Happy holidays to all. 

Nice report Mike.  I bought a Triplanar VII UII over 10 years ago and I still love it.  The Triplanar is an excellent design with a high standard of build quality.  While I have never needed service or advice from Tri Mai, it's good to know he goes above and beyond in that department as well.
Hi brf and salectric. Thanks for your comments. I find that the orientation of too many of today’s audio businesses tends to be “profits first and everything else second”.  Imagine my surprise at my very positive Tri-Planar experience.

Here, I had purchased a used TP arm from an unaffiliated dealer yet, Tri’s ONLY concern was that I be completely satisfied!  From my dealings with him, I’ve concluded that Tri is very talented, honest and sincere. He views his product’s quality and performance as a personal reflection on him. 

This kind of personal and business philosophy is very rare and very welcome in today’s “buyer beware” marketplace.  It’s a shame that more audio manufacturers aren’t similarly inclined. I wish Tri and TP much future success and expect that I will remain their loyal customer for many years to come. 

Some years ago Tri Mai upgraded my IV to a VII for a very fair price with quick turnaround too. 

Oh, if you can find someone with a cable cooker you can burn in the tonearm wires much faster. The signal level is so low otherwise they never get completely broken in. That reminds me I should redo mine.
Just saw this.  I bought my Triplanar from the inventor, Herb Papier, about 15-20 years ago.  I actually met Tri when he visited Herb in order to learn how to build the tonearm, after Herb sold him the company.  (Herb hand built every single tonearm, one at a time, in his basement in suburban Maryland. I'm sure Tri does the same to this day.) Tri is indeed a fine person.  Now you've got me interested in this SE upgrade.  Are the particulars mentioned on the Triplanar website?  Thx.
Hi barrysandy and lewm, the idea of a cable cooker is quite appealing. I did a bit of research and see that Audiodharma offers a cooker that seems to be quite good, but unfortunately, is a bit pricey. Does anyone have a cable cooker recommendation, preferably a lower cost one?

i went to the Tri-Planar website, but didn’t find the specs for the SE arm. I did find some basic SE info on however. Probably the best thing is to contact Tri Mai directly. His phone number is 612-693-0922. 


I have one of the original cable cookers I’m the market. Will do speaker, IC and tonearm wires.

PM me; $50 plus USPS shipping and its yours. Very good condition.
Hi Norbert, your offer seems very generous, I’m quite interested.  What brand is the cooker and is there an adapter required to do phono cables?

The only purchases I’ve made have been via the Agon system and that’s the extent of my knowledge. How would I arrange for payment in this instance?

Thanks, Mike

I have only bought items on audiogon. You can look at my feedback.
Where are you located? I am in Chicago.

When I used it on my tonearm, I used pure copper wire with alligator clips attached to the clips after removing from cartridge and din connect. Nothing fancy, but is fairly easy.
Believe the brand was Duo Tech. It is sitting at a Dealer’s used shelf on consignment.
Hi Norbert, I’d like to buy it. Please pm me regarding payment info and I’ll pay you this afternoon & give  give you my shipment info. Thanks a lot. 
By the way. The alligator clips that I had were small pure copper that I obtained in Juneau, Alaska. Would include them, but misplaced/ lost them at some point.
Mike, PM me your email and we can do this. When you click on feedback, there is a box Send Message. Click on it and you can send me your email privately.

It is a very cold Saturday in Chicago. Will not go to dealer until Tursday to get it.
Hi Norbert, after much wasted effort, I finally figured out how to send you a message. I’ve just send you my email address.  

Tuesday shipping is fine. I’m in Florida, it’s been cold here, but nothing like Chicago!

lewm: As to upgrading the arm to a VII from the IV, this was done back in 2009 so there are likely new offerings. Tri rebuilt the arm with new tighter-tolerance bearings, changed the wiring harness to Discovery cable if I recollect, and added the finer adjusting counterweights, etc. I think he also updated the headshell. He also checked everything out. Think it was about < 1 month turnaround although that might not be today’s timing. You can see a pic on my system (I kept the older brass counterweights although newer ones were provided with the rebuild). Total price back then was $1.3K. hope this helps.
Somebody asked me about a cable cooker.  I happen to have one only because I think someone gave it to me.  But there are simple schematics for building such a device on line, and I use my home-made one most often, which is to say not very often.