Arm / Cartridge: How to pick the best combo ?

This is a three part question.

Are there any good sources that really explain how to match arm mass with cartridge compliance ?

What are your preferences in terms of straight vs "S" or "J" shaped arms and why ? For sake of clarity, i'm talking about "straight" pivoted arms and not "straight-line" aka "linear tracking" arms.

What are your thoughts on arms with integral vs removable headshells ? Preferences ?

I am probably going to purchase a pivoted arm or two for TT's that i'll be setting up and giving as gifts. As such, i'd like to do some research before spending any money. Sean
You ask some interesting, difficult questions Sean - witness no responses in 24 hours! Well, I'll put something up for others to shoot down.

I have never seen a specific "book" on arm mass/cartridge compliance. I can recall brief references in various reviews of arms and/or cartridges that have made a passing comment, but nothing that I would call definitive. High with low and the inverse is about as detailed as I've seen it.

Over many years of playing with countless combos I frankly just experiment and see what works best. My two favorite cartridges are the Koetsu Onyx and the Lyra Helikon SL. My Graham 2.2 didn't marry up with the Koetsu well, which may have had to do with the mass of the cartridge and the fact that the Graham is a fairly low mass unipivot. My SME V handles the Koetsu very well and the Graham/Helikon is magic. Wish I could tell you why.

Both the Graham and the SME are straight arms. I've probably used about every shape imaginable over years of buying and trading. Among my remaining collection of arms is an Audiocraft AC-300C, a high mass, damped unipivot with what I would describe as a gentle "S", almost a "J". Can be a little tricky to get the azimith just right, which might be something that's generic with "S" and perhaps "J" arms. I also have a Lustre GST-801, which is a bit more of an "S" but with gimbal pivot. A bit easier to setup than the Audiocraft, at least as I recall - I haven't used them for years. By the way, if you've never heard of the last two it may be because they're probably older than you are!

Your headshell question is probably the easiest. Integral headshells provide a much better structural rigidity, and eliminates the connection points of a removable which enables continuous wiring, had therefore signal path. The only problem is, if you constantly switch cartridges, and there are some who actually match different cartridges with different music, the removable is clearly more convenient.

Hope this helps. Not as precise as your's usually are in response to other posters requests for help. But I'm sure there are other "vinylheads" who can address your questions more definitively. SdCampbell-help?!
Hi Sean-
If you are looking for an affordable arm/cartidge combo - since they're going to be gifts I can't imaging your budget stretching to a couple of Koetsus :-) - I would highly recommend the Rega 250 or 300 tonearms with the Rega Bias or Elys cartridges. The cartridges are very musical, and the arms are considered to be bargains. I've used all four in various combinations in smaller systems, and they are very phono-section friendly, and make wonderful music. They're easy to set up, match together perfectly, and will last their owners well into their upgrade path, if they choose that route.
Good Luck!
I have found, through experimentation, that the primary low frequency resonance of the cartridge/arm system as defined by the moving mass of the arm and the compliance of the moving system of the cartridge to be much less an issue than higher frequency resonances in the arm exciting similar resonances in the cartridge body or moving system of the cartridge. MC cartridges, in particular can have resonances within the audible range or within the range of being excited by record scratches, which have considerable high freqency energy at the top of, and beyond, the audio band; if these are excited by resonances in the arm or the cartridge body/headshell interface the results can be as extreme as mistracking. Unfortunately, I also believe that determining the compatiability of arm and cartridge is still largely an issue of trial and error.