Why Do 12" Tonearms Cost So Much More Than 9"?

For example, the Tri-Planar 12" arm is $3600 more than the 9" version.  SME tonearms are similarly priced.  
Is it really that much more costly to develop the longer tonearms?  
Why do tone arms cost so much in the first place? Because not many are made. A lot of special tooling that is not cheap is amortized over not very many units sold. With 12" its even worse. There really is no advantage worth that kind of money. For the difference in price you can get a much better 9" arm. But just try telling that to anyone who bought into the 12" narrative. They probably have some special alignment jig that cost a small fortune that they swear by as well. And so on it goes. 

Look on the bright side. At least its not bi-amping.
I never realized the 12" version is more expensive dis-proportionally. Miller, you're very correct about bi-amping! Similar to when stereo came out and a husband had to explain to his wife why "they" needed another amplifier and another Hartsfield in the living room!!
Post removed 
You can buy a "12 inch or "10.5 inch tonearm if you will ignore overpriced new items and will look for a used items that sells for less.   

And you can always buy classic Japanese vintage high-end tonearms for much less without any loss in quality (quite the opposite sometimes). 

There are many long tonearms that does not cost too much. 
In many cases the only difference between long and short is one part - the arm tube (which is longer and slightly different geometry), the rest is the same. 

There is no logic explanation why the same tonearm with longer arm tube sells for triple price (for example FR-64s and longer FR-66s) and not only $200 more as it should be. 

If they can sell you same tonearm with longer arm tube for double price then why not to sell? It's marketing. 

Small manufacturers like Thomas Schick in Germany will not charge you too much for his brand new "12 inch tonearm (it was about 1200 EUR if i remember correct). 

If you think the only good tonearm is the most expensive one then i can't help you.   

And with vintage SME tonearms the price differences are ridiculous between the 3009 and 3012 arms.
The most TT's are made for one single 9'' tonearm. Some like
SP 10 needs 10" arms. But for those who own an TT with
single 9'' or 10'' arm but want a second arm there is no other
option than 12'' arm on an armpod which can be only installed
next to the TT. 
Woops, Brain fart!

Hi guys. I bring greetings from French Guyana.

I'll side with Lewm on this one. Because the people who will go for a 12" arm will pay those prices. It is all about what the market will bare. I'm going to start a new thread on cartridges shortly which brings this into focus.

Is a 12 inch arm better? Overall with medium to low compliance cartridges, a little but it depends on the arm. In many cases not at all and in some, worse. The real jump is to arms that can stay tangent to the groove and are straight avoiding the skating problem altogether. There are several arms available that utilize Thales geometry and normally pivoted but straight arms my personal favorite being the Schroder LT.
The Reed 5T is another example. These arms stay tangent to the record, do not skate and totally avoid the problem of very high horizontal mass which plagues the vast majority of designs.  
Since SME was mentioned, when new the price difference 
between the more commonly sold 3009 and 3012
was not a multiple of its additional length.
As years passed the greed factor followed exponentially so
lets be honest.
It has been said that a tiny error in setting up a 12 inch arm has greater consequences for tonearm alignment error, than the same error made in setting up a 9 inch arm. I actually have never bothered to investigate the truth of this axiom, but it is worth noting. 
Being horrified by prices of 12" arms, and deciding, if I'm going long, I'm going LONG, JVC long arm 7082, terrific if rubber fixed, is actually only 11-1/8" Many 11-5/8" ...

After searching, I found a 12.5" arm, love the simple physics, looks, price. No returns, from Russia, no "yeah, good choice" from anyone, put myself thru the wringer for months, finally decided to risk it (along with Square Trade Warranty).

Not for the feint of heart, these guys don't believe in Din connectors, so you need to solder the tiny wires to the junction box they supply. The smallest delicate wires I have ever seen, Litz, silk coating, I thought a few strands, actually 37 strands, I still cannot believe it. I put it off, was going to find and pay someone, then "only thing we have to fear is fear itself", so I got my 30 power shop light and did it.

I learned here how much more important alignment is for long arms, so I upped my tools and inspected my work repeatedly like someone else did it.

I'm very glad I did it, only cost $850. plus tax and shipping, now they sell it for $950.


text was english, now Russian,

web site, english translation via Google


One thing about a long arm, for me, is that there is enough space between the arm base and the TT edge to locate this very nice auto-lift


no room for one for my 9" arm.
We all know the insane price difference between FR64S and 66S, but this is dictated by the collector’s market and has nothing to do with production cost. FR originally charged only 20% extra for the 12" 66S, around $500 versus $600 according to period price lists.

It is true that prices are a reflection of what the market can ’bear’, but thankfully there are still manufacturers in the current marketplace not just driven by greed. For example, the difference between the 10.5" and 12" version of the Reed 3P is only €100 on top of the €4000 list price.

Any tonearm manufacturer that has the audacity to charge $3600 extra for a 12" version should be avoided like the plague. They deserve neither your business nor your respect.

It probably depends a lot on the design of the arm, and the available tooling etc, whether a longer arm tube is very difficult for the manufacturer to make. Clearaudio Universal is an example where the price difference is reasonable - the 12” version is less than 10% more in msrp compared to the 9”. But the 9” is more versatile as it can also fit on the fixed arm board models like Ovation and Performance DC.

Graham Phanom is another arm with a reasonable/small price increase on the 12” version. 

The Triplanar price increase sounds sadistic.
Lewm it is just the opposite. A shorter arm setup is more critical as the offset is higher leading to higher skating forces and an error in overhang will lead to greater tracking angle errors. 
12 inch arms have less offset, so skating settings less critical--or use none at all (VPI).  They produces less distortion throughout the recording, though the difference is small, than shorter arms.  Once set for optimum SRA they change less than shorter arms for changing record thickness.  

On my 12" arm I use the same mirrored protractor I used on a shorter arm.  Modern version costs "the small fortune" of $20.

Your money; your choice.
Mijo, Your objection to the rumor I repeated is noted, but I need to see and/or do the math before you can convince me.  Some pretty obsessive tonearm alignment persons on the internet have claimed the opposite of what you say.  My guess is that it depends upon what kind of mounting error is made, as to the effect of that error on a short tonearm vs a long tonearm, but like I said, I haven't done the math.  And I don't want to do the math.  I am kind of an alignment nihilist in the first place.  I really don't give a hoot.
Forgot to say to Elliot, that Blackbird tonearm is "controversial" to say the least.  You might have asked here about it before taking the leap.  I think Chakster has some info.  I hope you'll be happy with it.
Schroder LT.
The Reed 5T is another example. These arms stay tangent to the record, do not skate and totally avoid the problem of very high horizontal mass which plagues the vast majority of designs.
Any pivoted arm is subject to skate, a force that is the result of both the pickup arm's pivot and its offset, if any. None of this is a mystery and an arm's skating force can be measured.

There have been a variety of "pantograph" type arms over the years, the infamous Garrard Zero100 being one especially unpleasant example. I don't have any experience with any of the newer tangential tracking efforts, which include the Nasotec Swing headshell and Klaudio arm. But in the past, a prime problem with these types of devices has been friction, so the cure was worth than the disease.
It's quite interesting on error in relation to arm length.

Simple math states that from a pivot point of A to a fixed point of B that the greater the length between A and B is then the greater the measured error will be at point B from a change at point A.

For example we install positioning lasers about 12 to 18 feet from a target so the laser is point A the target is point B.
At 12 feet for point B if I have an error of say 1/4" this grows to say 3/8" at 18 ft target distance or new point B.

However it really does not seem to be borne out in practice with tonearms.
Most interesting indeed.
Cleeds makes a good point that I’d never considered. Any of these fancy pivoted tone arms that incorporate a device to keep the stylus tangent to the groove at all points across the surface of the LP would nevertheless generate a skating force. In this case, the skating force would result from the constant fact that there is a head shell offset angle which is changing all throughout play.
Uberwaltz, The analogy you gave for why measuring errors are magnified in proportion to distance is exactly what I have in mind as a reason why errors made in mounting 12-inch tonearms might be more consequential than errors made in mounting 9-inch tonearms (and also mounting and aligning cartridges on either type).  But why do you conclude that this proposition "does not seem to be borne out in practice with tonearms"?
Simple math states that from a pivot point of A to a fixed point of B that the greater the length between A and B is then the greater the measured error will be at point B from a change at point A.
What "measured error" are you talking about?
If we’re talking about tracking error - deviation from tangency between stylus/cantilever and the record groove - the longer the arm, the less the error. That’s because the longer the arm, the greater the arc its pivot describes; the bigger the arc, the less the tracking error. It is simple geometry and the reason d’entre for a longer arm.
... the skating force would result from the constant fact that there is a head shell offset angle which is changing all throughout play.
Some of these pivoted arms have no offset. There’s still some skating force, by simple virtue it being a pivoted arm.
Show me a pivoted tonearm that has a fixed zero headshell offset at all points across the surface of an LP, and I will usually show you an underhung tonearm.  Underhung tonearms do generate a skating force, along with lots of tracking angle error, even though I like the ones I've heard a lot.
The pivoted tonearms that incorporate mechanisms of one kind or another to maintain tangency to the groove mostly do so by changing the headshell offset angle as the tonearm moves across the LP.  The headshell offset angle, so long as it is not zero, per se generates a skating force at all times.  That was my point. Now you mentioned it, I looked for photos of the Schroeder LT, which I know works by changing the pivot point rather than headshell offset, and indeed it does have a fixed zero headshell offset angle.  So therefore it would generate no skating force.  Maybe the Reed works similarly; I haven't googled a photo.  There was some momentary fuss about the Schroeder LT when it first appeared, but you don't hear much about it these days, maybe because Fremer didn't fall in love with it.  Pretty cool idea.

So why did you disagree with Mijostyn in the first place?  Mijo did say that pivoted tonearms that maintain tangency to the groove generate no skating force, which we now can see is partly correct, for some examples but not others.
As regards your intimation that a pivoted tonearm per se generates a skating force, that is not really correct, if you consider that an underhung tonearm, at the one point on the surface of the LP where the stylus is tangent to the groove, generates no skating force, because no headshell offset angle.  It is also not correct for the class of overhung pivoted tonearms that maintain tangency to the groove by virtue of altering the position of the pivot, a la the Schroeder LT.  All other overhung pivoted tonearms do generate a skating force by virtue of their overhanging the spindle, combined with their having a headshell offset angle that is not zero.
What "measured error" are you talking about?
I gave you an example in my post.
I thought it was obvious my statements were just related to maths and I was not discussing any actual tonearms or tracking errors as related to turntables per se.


I say that it does not seem to be borne out in practice just from my own experience with 9", 10" and 12" tonearms.
I cannot prove it one way or the other and similar to yourself I truly do not care overmuch.....
Just to clarify my thoughts maybe a little better and to follow where I believe Lewm is heading.

Maths would seem to indicate that any INITIAL error in setup on a longer arm would result in a greater playback error.
So a basic change in vta by eye just looking at, say making the tonearm more tail down would result in more change at the stylus the longer the arm is.

But as I have said from practice this just does not seem to occur.

And this maybe because I am missing something ?
The Reed 5T and the Schroder LT are very similar arms. They work on the same principle which you can review here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIoHvCE9F0I
The Reed is animated while the Schroder is entirely passive. Both arms are pivoted. They do not suffer from horrendous horizontal effective mass. Both arms are dead straight and if set up correctly do not generate any skating force. They have to be right on the tangent, the turntable has to be dead level and the record has to be dead flat. All of these parameters are unlikely to be met so there will always be a little skating force one way or the other but magnitudes lower than any offset arm. 
The Schroder arm is brilliant. It uses groove friction to operate it's horizontal pivot platform and a magnet to maintain the correct position. It is very hard to describe but you can see the patent here   https://patents.google.com/patent/US8576687B1/en.
Lewm, both tonearms maintain tangency within 0.05 minutes which is pretty incredible. Both will easily out perform any offset arm not to mention any straight line tracker of any type because cartridges do not have to suffer under the high horizontal effective masses these arms have and are subject to very little skating force.
I am leaning towards the Schroder LT. It is 1/2 the price and just an elegant design. The Reed has one major advantage. It has removable arm wands like Graham arms and you can get them in a range of effective masses so you can tailor it to any cartridge. Switching from one cartridge to another is a breeze. Obviously the Schroder is going to be more durable in the long run. 
Uberwaltz, you are not missing anything. 12" arms are less critical of set up. We all agree they have less tracking error I hope. This means that if a cartridge is misaligned by 1 degree this will have less of an effect on a 12 inch arm relative to a 9 inch arm. Frankly, you either get the cartridge exactly where you want it or let someone else do the job who can. There is no magic here. Anyone with two functional hands and two functional eyes can do it. Just make sure the stylus guard is in place and save the beer for after the job is done unless you have an essential tremor than drink the beer first!  
The Reed 5T and the Schroder LT are very similar arms ... and if set up correctly do not generate any skating force. They have to be right on the tangent, the turntable has to be dead level and the record has to be dead flat. All of these parameters are unlikely to be met so there will always be a little skating force one way or the other but magnitudes lower than any offset arm.
I do not have firsthand experience with either of those arms and have not even seen them up close. However, any pivoted arm with a fixed horizontal pivot will generate some skating force, even though an underhung arm will show much less than any arm with an offset.

By way of real-world example, consider the lowly Garrard Zero100. Its zero-tracking-error "pantograph"- type pickup arm included an antiskate mechanism. Even then, it was understood that skating force was a byproduct of both offset and the pivoted arm itself.

I continue to be surprised at the level of confusion that exists here regarding pickup arm geometry, because all the math has already been calculated. Here’s a fair treatment on skating force that includes some excellent references.
Cleeds, The Reed 5T and the Schroder LT do not have fixed horizontal bearings. Both arms are free to move horizontally just like any pivoted tonearm. I'm not sure how the Reed is set up but I do know all about the Schroder which I am itching to buy. It comes with all the tools necessary for set up including a special very flat blank record. Once you have the turntable level and the tonearm set on tangent you play the blank record. There is an adjustment to the pivot platform that slightly changes the radius of the Thales circle. You adjust it until the arm does not skate at all. This does not account for the irregularities that most records have, warps and such. So, there will still be slight skating forces one way or the other but this is true of any straight line tracker. The main advantage of these arms besides virtually no skating as we normally think of it, is the stylus does not have to drag a very heavy carriage along.
The Schroder design is an example of brilliant lateral thinking. Check out the patent I linked to above.  
... The Reed 5T and the Schroder LT do not have fixed horizontal bearings. Both arms are free to move horizontally just like any pivoted tonearm.
That’s pretty obvious. But if the horizontal pivot itself is fixed, then the arm will generate some skating force. That’s explained in the link I provided you. Skating force is the product of both offset and the pivot itself, which is something you seem to overlook.

Skating force is dynamic. That the Shroder arm can be set so that it has zero skating force at one point in its arc of rotation does not mean it has zero skating force across the entire arc, especially because skating force is affected by other forces such as VTF, which will also vary across the record. Again, this force can be measured, so its silly to dispute it. And more information is in the link I provided.

Cleeds, I just finished reading your link. It is a very lucid explanation of how skating force is generated. It also mentions both Reed and Schroder.
I miss understood what you meant by fixed horizontal bearing. Both the Reed 5T and Schroder LT do not have fixed horizontal bearings. The platforms that the horizontal bearings are mounted too are hinged at the right radius so that the pivot point of the bearing follows an arc as dictated by Thales thus the arms remain tangent to the groove at all points. This is shown by your author.
Your author relates the skating force should be 10 to 12% of VTF. 
Wally Tools says 9-11%. Some say the Wally Skater is the most accurate way of adjusting skating  https://www.wallyanalog.com/wallyskater
I have not tried one. It costs $260.00. It does however reliably gauge anti skate as a percentage of VTF. I use the Hi Fi News Analog Test Record and use the lowest velocity band to set anti skating. It coincides with Frank Schroder's method of using the run out groove area which Peter Ledermann also endorses. 
At any rate anti skating is a ball park measurement. There is no exact right figure and many opinions as which side of the ballpark you want to be in. I'm happy just to get in the ball park. 
Cleeds, before you suggest that I am silly I suggest you carefully review Schroder's patent so you know what you are talking about.
Cleeds, I am not sure what you are thinking, but just to be as anal as possible, I need to say that pivoting per se is not the cause of the skating force.  The skating force is first of all due to the friction between stylus and groove; I am sure we agree on that.  The friction is in a direction away from the stylus tip; the friction force wants to pull the stylus and cantilever away from the cartridge body and tonearm.  To resist that force, a counter-force is exerted by the cartridge/tonearm in an equal magnitude and opposite direction. The skating force is a vector generated as a result of that force resisting friction, because of the fixed headshell offset angle and also because of lack of tangency of the stylus to the groove. When a straight line can be drawn through the longitudinal axis of the headshell to the pivot point, and when the cartridge in that headshell is tangent to the groove walls, there is no skating force.  Among "conventional" pivoted tonearms, only underhung types, which all have zero headshell offset, ever meet that criterion in actual practice.  For such tonearms, that condition applies for the brief moment when the stylus is tangent to the groove.  For pivoted tonearms that work like the Schroeder LT or apparently the Reed 5T, that condition is constantly met across the surface of the LP, if they are perfectly set up. So, ideally (given diligence in set-up), those latter two tonearms would not generate a skating force.
Thanks for all the information on the Schroeder LT arm Mijo.
It looks and sounds like a near endgame proposition.
But.....$15 large?
Unless the right numbers come up on the lottery I doubt I will ever be giving one a test drive unfortunately.
I think they are somewhat less. I have a relationship abroad who say I can get one for $10,000 (wink wink). I'll have to pay VAT tax up front but I'll get it back in several months.
The dealer in the States is Xact Audio  https://www.xactaudio.com/analog/
He sells it with or without his own turntable but he modifies the arm replacing the wood for a magnesium arm tube which I am really not crazy about.  He has some kind of relationship with Schroder apparently he can sell them here in Magnesium and Frank can sell them in Europe with wood. As for his turntable there is too much mystery about it for me to be sure. I think if I could afford to today I would get a Dohmann Helix 2 and put an LT on it. That would certainly be a last stop turntable.
Not to worry Uberwaltz. This type of design will work it's way down market. Reed is working on a less expensive version now called the 5A.
It is another passive design energized by groove friction but it uses a dizzying series of arms and bearings to do the job. The Schroder is certainly a more elegant design. You have to love the magnetic track trick. One magnet + one bearing vs a bunch of arms and bearings.
The 5T is however a beautiful arm and boy does it work. It is $20K and very complicated but still a grand exercise of applied technology. 
And Uberwaltz, Franks other arm are also genius. Check out the CB. You can get one for $5000 and it could easily run for best pivotal tonearm made. 


my first thread here was asking about long arms


then I asked specifically about the Blackbird 12.5


and about the 9" arm I found

chakster was involved,

as I said, no one said 'good idea', chakster said NO, the only thing they make in Russia is military weapons. That definitely slowed me down. Next, Vlad, the Russian in Canada that sold me and Bill our large JVC Plinths, said he never recommends anything he is not personally familiar with. 

Months, nothing else excited me, finally I had to risk it. I discussed the specifics with Square Trade before I bought it and their 3 year warranty.

Those tiny wires were quite a trial, now quite an accomplishment. If they would pre-wire to a din or mini-din connector, they would sell a lot more of them. Stubborn, they say they tried several, but like the sound without a din connector. 

I love this arm, very glad I risked it.
Thank you Mijo again.

The CB also looks very interesting especially in the CB-L version.
I also see there is a collaboration between Frank and Peter at Soundsmith to produce an arm called the Alto at $6k although information seems to be a little sketchy on that?
In my opinion, having heard a few of them, the Schroeder tonearms are indeed very good and very competitive at their price points, but not necessarily better than all of the competitors at those price points.  The LT is desirable for someone like me just because of the clever design and brilliant execution, although I cannot imagine that moving the whole pivot as the cartridge traverses the LP is done without adding friction that must be overcome.  On the other hand, I am a cheapskate so won't be buying one.
. On the other hand, I am a cheapskate so won't be buying one.
Thanks Lewm!
Gave me a good chuckle there👍😂
Lewm, The brilliance of the LT is that it is using the energy from groove friction to drive the arm! Friction pulls the horizontal bearing platform forward and a magnet underneath makes sure it maintains the right position. 
Uberwaltz, I am not entirely sure but I think the alto is a version of the CB.
The CB is as good as a pivotal arm can get for several important reasons. 1st is the vertical bearing is at the level of the record which limits warp wow. 2nd is it is a neutral balance arm. You can draw a line from the center of the counterbalance through the vertical bearing right through the center of the cartridge. Most other arms are static balance arms which always try to fine one level whereas a neutral balance arm will stay where you put it and won't start bouncing. 3rd. It has a brilliant magnetic anti skating device. No friction. 4th it is not a unipivot and has excellent bearings. Need I say more?
Is it wrong to just relax and listen,to your system....just Cill out.9" arms =12 " arms...Why spend so much money as still not be happy.At least you can afford  it. DO Worry Be Happy....
Lingo, Yes, it is wrong for a true audiophile to be happy, ever.  Now you've figured that out, you can become a member of the club.  We meet with Dr. Kevorkian once a month.
If you look at Ikeda tonearms the premium for a 12 inch tonearm is less than 10% of the price

9 inch arm (chrome) $6,900
IT-407CR1 12 inch arm (chrome) $7,400

Ikeda long only +10%, True, not much more at all compared to others in the thread. If you think the 9" is worth 7K.

I love the look/design of the Ikeda arm, just have no way I can part with $7,500. I am thinking, wed is my 72nd birthday, in 3 years I will be 75, that would be quite a prize, let's see if I inherit some money I don't know about!

Even then, found money, $7,500?