Discuss The Viv Lab Rigid Arm

I am trying to do my due diligence about this arm. I am just having a hard time getting my head around this idea of zero overhang and no offset. Does this arm really work the way it is reported to do?


This is a fundamentally flawed arm. It will have way more tracking distortion than an offset/overhang arm. The geometrics of pivoted arms were investigated back in the 30's by researchers Rabinow and Codier. They proved that pivoted arms required overhang and angled offset to have lowest tracking distortion. 

All pivoted arms trace an arc across a disc/record. Rabinow and Codier calculated the lowest distortion arcs for a given tone arm length across a 12" disc. These required overhang and offset angle. To simply, the longer the arm the shorter the overhang and the converse. R. and C. published a table showing the different amounts of overhang and offset angle required for a given arm length/pivot distance. 

@jasonbourne52 1+,  The Viv arms extreme tracking angle error will be audible. It's argument that skating is worse is incorrect. Skating can be minimized so that it has no audible effect. If you want to get rid of skating and tracking angle error the right way to do it is with a Schroder LT or Reed 5T.

I have seen the numbers for tracking error and they are not pretty. Makes me wonder why some people report such positive experiences. Those owners used some nice associated gear. I still have difficulties correlating the math and what they report. Too expensive to take a flyer on just to know. I think I will pass. 

I see that the usual "open-minded" suspects are only too eager to support the status quo in favor of a very interesting departure. First, the Viv does not have "zero" overhang; it is UNDER hung; designed so the stylus tip is a certain distance short of the center of the spindle, and there is a reason for this. By being underhung, the single null point can be set to occur in the middle of the LP surface, or wherever one decides is optimal. Second,the only parameter that can be calculated "mathematically" is tracking angle error, and both Jason and Mijo are obviously correct in stating that the Viv will exhibit much more tracking angle error than a conventional overhung tonearm (but see below). Skating force: the Viv and other underhung tonearms of which there are very few will exhibit zero skating force at its single null point, unlike overhung tonearms with headshell offset, which never exhibit zero skating force, because even at their two achievable null points, there will still be skating force due to the headshell offset angle. Further, the skating force vector generated by the Viv will be a more or less straight line, starting with a force toward the spindle and diminishing to zero as it crosses the single null point and then changing direction as the stylus moves beyond the null point, when the force vector points toward the rim of the LP. (This is why you won’t see an underhung tonearm with an anti-skate device; it would have to change the direction of the pull by 180 degrees at exactly the right moment.) The skating force of an underhung tonearm follows a smooth nearly linear curve if plotted to show magnitude and direction. Overhung tonearms with headshell offset have a constant, constantly changing skating force vector (and tracking angle error), always pulling the stylus toward the spindle but by wildly different magnitudes across the surface of the LP. Is one more audible than the other? I have no idea, but I do know that my wierdly designed underhung tonearm, the RS Labs RS-A1 sounds very good, and if I had to characterize the SQ, I would say it sounds closer to a master tape than do conventional tonearms. Maybe this indicates that zero tracking angle error is not the Holy Grail some claim it to be. The Viv has some other design aspects that I wonder about, like the pivot floating in an oil bath and like the arm wand which looks prone to resonate. I also think it's a bit overpriced in the US market, much less costly in Japan. But it has received many accolades from reviewers who are not stupid. And then too, I admire my RS Labs for its SQ, although the only thing it has in common with the Viv is its underhung-ness.

One wonders what sort of record player Rabinow et all were contemplating when they did their math in the 1930s. Half the world was still using wind-up Victrolas in that era, and no one had stereo of course. Same goes for the sainted Baerwald and Lofgren, who published their papers in 1940, 41.

@neonknight If you want to talk to some people that have actual experience with this arm get in touch. I know a few, and can inquire on your behalf.


OK back to the bench racing :)

There are too many people who have heard this arm and say that it is terrific, to write off this arm.  Just as in electronics, the ultimate test is your ears and not some measurement.

This having been said, horizontal tracking angle error may be far less important than we have been led to believe.  As a corollary, we have all obsessed too much over this adjustment and spent more money on protractor devices than is called for.  The available $20 device, or free ones, may be all that is needed. 

There are far more important adjustments IMO, notably azimuth.

Since the short Viv arm seems to work very well, we may also have overestimated the benefit of long arms.

Nobody is going to build a "fundamentally flawed arm" and sell it for thousands of dollars.  I too have not heard of a single bad review of the arm from owners.  It's one of those things - unless you try it yourself, it'll just be speculation.


Happy owner here!

I have the carbon fiber version in 9" length. To me it sounds a lot like the SME 3012R I have on the same table--very laid back, even-tempered. Unlike say the FR 64S, which is more in your face.

Never noticed more distortion, like IGD, with the Viv.

I would have imagined it might outperform the 3012R. The 9-incher in CF would be my choice too. Last time I was in Tokyo, prices there were about 60% of US prices. Still, more than $3K for the above version.

@lewm  +1 👍

Maybe this indicates that zero tracking angle error is not the Holy Grail some claim it to be.

I only hear great things from VivLabs users describing tangential like performance, easily warranting a debate for anti-skating vs. tracking error.


Also interesting is how the geometry standards that are held on to with such fervor were all calculated when mono 78’s were the gold standard.

Things have move forward a bit since then. Would be interesting to do a proper A/B  comparison between this and a more traditional arm of equal merit.

I find anti skate distortions to be very audible when setting up a new cartridge and dialing it in. Again, would love to do a proper A/B test.

Not going to judge something I have not heard. Look forward to seeing other’s experiences with this arm.

There are some who think anything other than a stone wheel with a wooden axel is snake oil. Just ignore them.

Skating force may not be an important factor in tracking error. Joe Grado believed so and didn't use anti-skate on his wooden tone arm. So did Ikeda-san whose early arms lack anti-skate. I have two - an FR29 and an FR54. I presently have the Coral Sleeping Beauty mc on the FR29. It tracks fine from outer to inner grooves. I don't hear any distortion at a tracking force of 2 grams. My preference is for linear- track TT's. I have five:  B&O, Marantz SL7U, Mitsubishi, Rabco and Revox. These have their own peculiar quirks! 

Too bad we can't ask Ikeda-san his opinion of the Viv Lab arm! Why does it cost so much? My first good tonearm back in '77 was the SME Improved, for which I bought new for $175! That went on an Ariston RD11S ($280, which I still have!).

"Skating force may not be an important factor in tracking error."

To unpack your statement a little bit, skating force is in part directly proportional to tracking angle error. The term "in part" enters into it if you are using an offset headshell. With no headshell offset angle, then skating force is directly proportional to tracking angle error. Think about it.

Really, why would we care about Ikeda-san’s opinion of the Viv? Can’t we form our own opinions by listening to it? He could tell us about its technical "shortcomings", to the degree the design differs from that of any conventional overhung tonearm with a headshell offset angle, but those are obvious.

Why does exotic audio gear cost so much these days?  Probably because the sellers think enough of us will pay their prices to justify their costs and need for profit.  But this has nothing to do with good or bad performance, in my opinion.

I have the Viv Labs Rigid Float 9", it wiped the floor against a Kuzma 4point, Kuzma 313ref, SME V and SME V12.

So to all the naysayers don't spout off about something you have never heard.

Viv Labs accept the overhang is incorrect and there will be more distortion.  But they claim that other beneficial factors outweigh the effect of this disadvantage.

First that there is less resonance; but this does not seem to arise from the incorrect effective length; rather from the fact the arm base is not fixed to the turntable.

Second they claim there is benefit from reducing required anti-skating force.  Surely the best way of achieving this is a parallel tracking design (eliminates it).

My take on all this is the company is being different for the sake of being different.  They believe that by distinguishing themselves from all the other pivoted arm manufacturers they will garner more sales than they could be competing directly; that although their science is questionable (to say the least) enough buyers will ignore this..

This doesn't make the design right or better.  We will not be able to reach consensus because there will be those who think it sounds better and those who think it sounds worse.  This is the central problem of uncontrolled listening evaluations.


@alan60 I use a Tonearm design that as a end product is a not too common design encountered.

I have always sought out opportunities to experience devices in use, and have learnt over the years some devices are able to really impress.

Your very clearly made known liking for the the Viv Labs Tonearm, along with the  the assessment, being it has proven for yourself, to be a more attractive arm in use that the ones you have mentioned, is quite a parallel with my own experience of a different Tonearm.

I have no longer any real intention to use the owned Tonearm Brands such as SME IV, or AudioMods Series Five.

Additionally after demonstrations, I know others who have departed from much more valuable Tonearms than the ones I have owned to give the priority place in the system to the same arm I am now using.

There are on occasions, a discovery made, that are requiring a ' Sat in Front Off' experience only, no amount of discussion (non experience) is able to show how the extremely positive impression is able to be made, and is able to impact on a person, changing with immediacy their long held views on what is right devices for themselves.   

Clearthinker, once in a while you don’t live up to your chosen moniker. But disregarding clarity of your thinking, have you found a single negative review of the Viv?

 @lewms arguments are correct. What follows is just an opinion. As for what sounds better or as for the Viv arm sounding OK or any other arm sounding OK for that matter has more to do with the sensitivity of our hearing which relative to the best lab equipment, stinks. You could also argue that what sounds good has nothing to do with distortion measurements until they are patently ridiculous. At any rate, viewing equipment changes as a natural progression, the Viv arm, and arms like it are not a step in my natural progression. The next step for me would be either the Reed 5A or the Schroder LT (once I have a turntable they will fit on). I think they both represent a much better solution to the problem. The only design issue with these arms is the vertical bearing can not be lowered to the surface of the record as there is not enough room in the vertical axis of these arms. If you have a turntable with vacuum clamping this is not and issue because all records become perfectly flat except for the very rare one that is severely warped. The genius of these arms is that they use the force generated by friction in the groove to power their mechanisms just as skating is powered in offset arms. As the Reed is a surface mount arm I just might be able to mount it on my table sans dust cover but I lean towards the Schroder as I think it is a more elegant solution.  

As best I can make out from their website, the Viv breaks a fundamental rule of tonearm design (other than the tracking angle thing).

That rule is that there must be profound coupling between the surface of the platter and the mount of the cartridge. To this effect, there can be no slop in the platter bearings or arm bearings. In addition, the arm must be rigidly mounted to the plinth (and the plinth must be both dead and very rigid) such that any vibration that might occur at the platter will be in the same plane as that of the cartridge mount.

If there are any differences (or decoupling) between the plinth and the arm, it will be interpreted by the cartridge and perceived as a coloration.

The mechanical engineering problem here is very much like that of an automobile steering and suspension. Any slop that is present between the wheel and the steering wheel will result in obvious handling problems and can be dangerous. The stylus is doing much the same as the wheel on a car does as it is the interface between the mechanism and the media. It must be kept in perfect contact with the media and the arm can't be vibrating or moving in any way above the locus of the stylus, otherwise that motion will generate a signal.


The RS Labs is the same in that regard: it is not rigidly coupled to the bearing. I agree that’s another rule breaker. Now we have to listen to the Viv. In all the other respects in which underhung tonearms like these two are rule breakers, it is possible that the rules that they break ( minimize tracking angle error, etc) are themselves not as crucial to best performance as we have been taught to believe. I agree, the notion of coupling of the pivot to the bearing is a design element I would rather not forgo. But even there, there are many who use outboard arm pods with overhung tonearms, and there are several turntable/tonearm combinations that pay little attention to that coupling. We have gone over that idea more than enough by now.

I had the chance to listen to the 7” version of the Viv as well as the SME 3012 on a friends all Audio Tekne system (table was a TechDas AFV).  I will just support that the Viv arms sounded fantastic in this system, nothing to make me think that it is fundamentally flawed.  I have had so much musical pleasure with Kuzma and FR-64S arms at home that I am not motivated to change to a Viv, but I can understand why people really like these arms despite the “design rules” they violate.

Dear @melm : " the ultimate test is your ears and not some measurement. "


That depends on the kind of sound you want to listen: the one you " like it " even if is wrong or the one that’s rigth and like it.


Almost always when distortions goes a little higher we like it because we are listening to something different to what for 20-30 years we are accustom to and we really don’t care if distortions levels are higher because we are discovering a " new " kind of sound.

Normally those higher distortions comes as atransparent or very vivid at HF and as if those frequencies have no limit. There are other characteristics about.


In my case if my common sense says something is wrong then I don’t need to herad it: why should I if its wrong?useless but to each his own.

The reality is that those happy owners are wrong but as I said just don’t care because what they listen in their system just like it the more. Such is life but the really critical issue with all those owners is not that they like it listened sound but that they can't be aware or discern on those higher distortions and that could says that they really have not a tests proccess about and just don't know what to look for or even if some of them can discern on the higher distortions levels and as I said just don't care maybe because they already spend their money on it.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


@atmasphere Your Statement makes the claim,

That rule is that there must be profound coupling between the surface of the platter and the mount of the cartridge. To this effect, there can be no slop in the platter bearings or arm bearings. In addition, the arm must be rigidly mounted to the plinth (and the plinth must be both dead and very rigid) such that any vibration that might occur at the platter will be in the same plane as that of the cartridge mount. "

In my view there are points made by yourself that are believed to having been addressed by many, but in a analysis of a variety of designs, there are to be discovered elements in the designs seen that veer away from this.

I have made it known in previous posts, I am a follower of a Design that is in place to offer a version of being a Rigidly Coupled Interface or as you have stated (no slop).

I have gone to the lengths of achieving this through having adopted various measures. Such measures have evolved over a period of time, where opportunities have been discovered to capitalise on the Philosophy.

Today, I work with a Hard System, (non yielding) not any soft materials unless the Cart's Damper is to be classed as a soft material in use.

The Plinth in use is produced from Panzerholz, the Chassis is mounted on the Plinth with a 0.1mm Tolerance for the fastenings. ( A design is very soon to be put to use where the TT's Chassis will removed and the P'holz Chassis will be the Plinth).

The Platter Bearing has been re-designed and new parts are used produced from a modern material, with clearance tolerances of 0.05mm on the machining of a Bush. There is another ream process required to complete the fitting of the Spindle.

With Lubricant in the Spindle /Bush Interface, the Run Off for the Platter when measured is seen in the very low microns and is extremely quiet in operation. There is a new design being produced, where it is expected that a Run Off showing 0.009mm and lower is able to be achieved, along with even further decreased noise being produced.

The Tonearm design has adopted the use of a different Modern Material, as used in the Bearing Housing, this material has proven to be very valuable for the design, and has enabled extremely tight tolerances (I can't say more on this).

The Spindle to Pillar Distance is set to a distance that is within 0.01 of the Manufacturers Dimension. The Tonearm is set into the Plinth (no arm board) with retaining fastenings centred to the same tolerances.

The producer assures these Tolerances survive Transit once set.

In relation to the Mechanical Interface, this is the best I am able to get access to, for the monies I am very comfortable spending. With what is already realised and the the upcoming Bearing Upgrade, it is not possible for me to imaging I will be needing more from a Mechanical Interface on a TT.

There is also work done to the Signal Path, that has been carried out so that there is possibly zero impedance on the function of the Tonearm due to the Internal Wiring configuration. A not so common seen Wire is in use as well, but that is a different subject.

I intend on adopting these principles to all the TT's I own and intend on interfacing with the Tonearm Design. 

With the extremely low friction design for the Tonearm Function and Platter Bearing Function, the search becomes what other influences can add friction.

The Tonearm Designer is using the Ultra Fine Polished Styli as a measure to further benefit the mechanical interfaces produced on both Tonearm and Platter Bearings.    



I don’t have a Viv arm, but I think it’s very interesting and positive that sometimes someone  « rethink » something we all thought the right way to do things (tonearm and tonearm’s geometry) for achieving our ultimate goal.

In a way Viv seems to be a nonsense but we have to accept many people for many years have some and all of them are more than satisfied with what they hear.

All these people are not subject to hallucinations of stupid or bad hearing. 
Apart from that they are ugly and do not allow you to use our audiophile toys for fine tuning.🛠🪛🔬😓

but in a analysis of a variety of designs, there are to be discovered elements in the designs seen that veer away from this.

Certainly. I see that as a mistake on their part, nothing more. The physics is inescapable.

I don’t disagree with Atma; the physics that suggest you need to tightly couple the tonearm pivot to the TT bearing is inescapable. However, there are many other "rules" that govern modern tonearm design, any one or several of which might be violated if one were to do a close analysis of any single design. The question then is what is the order of importance of these rules with respect to ultimate sound quality with a reasonable variety of cartridges. And what are the negative consequences of violating one or more of those principles? I think you then have to listen to the tonearm in action to determine its goodness. I have already stated that I wonder about the floating bearing (is the pivot well fixed in space? That’s another imperative.) and the skinny undamped arm wand (Will it resonate?) Yet the Viv float has been reviewed many times, and I don’t know of any reviews that were less than enthusiastic. We have already heard from two users of the Viv that they like it quite a bit. So it may be a "bad design", but it sounds good to most who have auditioned it. Certainly one does not want to dismiss such a product out of hand.

I might add that the Viv has a weighted base, and it is designed to be placed on the surface of the plinth, adjacent to the platter.  Thus it IS to some degree physically coupled to the bearing, to the degree that the plinth and bearing are tightly coupled, and the plinth will move if the bearing is disturbed.  So maybe the coupling between arm and bearing are tight "enough".

@neonknight everyone can develop a theory and the more you read, the less you can choose or decide on arguments. Now that you have heard all arguments do you know what to do ?
What if you just decided to try it ?The truth is in the listening don’t you think ?


I go regularly to concerts of un-amplified music.  I don't regard that a home music system is good because "I like it."  I regard it as good only to the extent that it reproduces acoustic music in real space as close as possible to what I hear at an acoustic musical event.

You obviously listen to a great deal of home music through an analog system or systems.  Compared to others therefore you. like me, are listening to a great deal of measurable distortion (certainly more than in good digital) and yet we may very well find that the analog music we hear at home is our best possible representation of an actual musical event, clicks and pops notwithstanding.  I, for one, am not concerned at all if some alleged "scientist" measures or does not measure a great deal of distortion in my system.

So it may be with the Viv.  If it makes records sound like the real thing, I would be unconcerned with anyone's measurements of it.  That may make owners of conventional arms uneasy.  I have a conventional arm.  I am not uneasy.

@lewm     Have you ever read a negative review of ANYTHING?  Most publications rely on advertising revenue.  If an item doesn't cut it on review, it simply doesn't get published.  By the way, if you re-read my post you will see I am not bad-mouthing this product.  All I am saying is that like nearly all components, some will like the sound and some won't.

@atmasphere   I agree with your endorsement of the usual criterion that there must be a tightly engineered connection between platter and stylus.  I think the issue with the Viv is not the freestanding base - it weighs 2kg and if the underside is of a suitable material that does not slip, it is not going to move around on the top-plate of the turntable.  I think the slop problem arises because the liquid pivot allows too much movement.  Just a few microns will allow the stylus to change location relative to the platter and read signals that are not imparted by the groove.  I sometimes wonder whether conventional gimbal bearings are really good enough to give zero slop.

There is one simple fact that everyone seems to ignore out of politeness. I would rather rely on the physics of a mechanical situation than what anybody thinks they hear and I include myself in the anybody. The only accurate thing you can say about the Viv is that it is a silly design on several accounts and anybody who buys one has a poor understanding of the situation. Try this, intentionally twist your cartridge 5 degrees in the head shell and listen to what happens. If you hear nothing wrong either your system or your head does not image. It is the rare system that does image at the state of the art. It is the easiest aspect of HiFi performance to corrupt. 

@senza Well I am considering it. One thing I need to find is the arm mass for the various lengths. My goal is to find an arm I can use with my Ortofon MC2000 cartridges, and while my Dynavector can do it, I am a bit uneasy about all the mass that is located in the horizontal plane. Perhaps that is not a practical issue, but my mind would be more at ease if I could find what I think is a more appropriate match. 

If I was playing more conventional mid compliance cartridges exclusively, then the Dynavector is just fine for my needs. 

I think the slop problem arises because the liquid pivot allows too much movement.  Just a few microns will allow the stylus to change location relative to the platter and read signals that are not imparted by the groove.  I sometimes wonder whether conventional gimbal bearings are really good enough to give zero slop.

@clearthinker I was thinking the same thing. FWIW Triplanar uses the hardest metal bearings made worldwide to achieve 'zero slop'. To that end to my understanding they have a security clearance to obtain the bearings. 

@atmasphere    The hardness of the metal in the bearing is not the only issue.  The fineness of the machining is fundamental.

Another one I have thought about is my Simon Yorke Aeroarm.  This is a parallel tracking design, very lightweight with a distance from pivot centre to stylus of about 3 inches.  The arm has a round aperture sliding along a steel bar separated by an air bearing.  The clearance of the air bearing is 5mu centimetres.  The air pressure is 1.4 bar, held steady by a hospital grade compressor and control valving.  I have wondered what movement this might allow (if any) and noted such is likely to be in line with the arm and therefore the groove so not affecting azimuth.  I have never heard distortion of any kind on this rig which is my forever player and sounds simply wonderful with low-mass cartridges.

The hardness of the metal in the bearing is not the only issue. The fineness of the machining is fundamental.


Yes. The bearings in the Triplanar are tiny.

The problem you have with any arm with a short arm section is any record warp will be audible as a speed variation and will affect the bass impact since the tracking force changes with warp and bass modulation. To get around that the bearing must be in the plane of the LP. Think about two people carrying a couch upstairs. Who is carrying the most weight?

@mijostyn   The tracking error of the Viv varies as the effective length chosen. I f I wanted the Viv I would instinctively go for the 9 inch version, although quite a number of commentators have said they prefer the 7 inch (6 inch anyone?).  But whichever you choose I rather doubt the tracking error would be as gross as the 5 degrees you postulate.  Nevertheless I am curious that a quite a number of listeners say they cannot hear the resultant distortion on the 7 inch Viv.  I think it would be interesting to play sine waves on that and a conventional 9 inch arm using a line contact or similarly radical stylus and see if there is audible distortion.  It may be easier to perceive it on a steady state signal than with music.

To more realistically mimic the tracking geometry of the Viv, you would also have set your cartridge to the correct underhang.  Might actually be a fun experiment...

@mijostyn   Warped records are a menace.  I have very few as I have rejected them unless the programme is very desirable and the disc very rare.  But in fact the Aeroarm plays severely warped records better than bigger and heavier arms.  Typically a bad warp throws the pickup into the air, particularly on 45 or 78 rpm.  Because its moving mass is around a quarter of a light 9 inch arm and the moment of inertia much less because the effective length is only one third, every warped record I have stays in contact with the record.  I concede it doesn't sound very nice, but it does keep playing!  Not really a virtue I am inclined to crow about.

As to carrying a couch upstairs, indeed.  Although that is much less of a strain than a heavy large speaker, such as my ML CLX Anniversaries that I recently had re-furbished and where at 72 years of age I had to help the carrier at the low end; we had one corner each.  The guy at the high end had a much easier time.  There was no room on the stair to fit more than two at the bottom.

Dear @melm : You are rigth, I as any one else are listening to many different levels of any kind of distortions developed at each one system link and each one of us #" like " the kind of distortions that let to enjoy the MUSIC the nearer it can to what comes in the recording grooves and nearer to live event.


When I said that that tonearm is " wrong " that certainly does not says sounds bad. As a fact several times with out know about we are listening to " wrong " things that sounds really good. So wrong is not sinonimous of bad.


Many years ago I had an experience with my SAEC straigth WE 8000 tonearm and my Dynavector XV-1, let me explain you: I try to listen this tonearm/cartridge combination using the SAEC protractor and due to the unique aligment characteristics determined by SAEC was almost imposible to align perfectly because the Dyna must be all the way back in the ceramic small headshell and the cartridge/tonearm wires " impeded " to mount it at satisfactory mind of. So I decided to use the SAEC 506 tonearm straigth ceramic headshell, no offset. Was aligned " a la VIV " and the result was that sounds very good but after a couple of hours i change it and mount it in the 506 and then in the 8000 again and even that sounds good what I detected was a " trouble " with the tonal balance that I try to fix it but with out success. The cartridge return to the 506. I don’t own those SAEC arms that are beautiful made with very high quality bu overall are bad performers ( no pun intented. )

In many threads many times I posted that: differences between any price level room/system quality level performanc e belongs to its higher or lower kind of distortions, so is clear for me what you stated.

From some time now my common sense takes my audio decisions and if something is wrong as the VIV I don't care that could sounds good I don't want it. I already posted: why should I have something that I already know is wrong?.


Raul, when you align an OVERhung tonearm and set headshell offset angle to zero, as you did out of necessity, that is the worst possible scenario, so it’s no wonder the SQ was poor. For an overhung tonearm, there can be no null points on the surface of an LP unless the headshell is offset at an angle, as determined from any of the standard algorithms. You can prove this with reference to the Pythagorean Theorem that we all learned in high school. That situation is not comparable to using an UNDERhung tonearm and zero headshell offset angle. I seem to be coming off as a defender of the Viv; I am not necessarily taking that position. I only have concluded there may be some good things about underhang and zero headshell offset and the resulting pattern of the skating force. I am urging an open mind. Even the "distortions" that you consistently preach against may be worse with the standard pivoted tonearms than with an underhung tonearm assuming the latter is properly set up. I only wish there was an underhung tonearm that does not also have other unusual features. For example, my RS Labs has many issues that may affect its SQ and have nothing to do with its being underhung (raised unipivot way above the LP surface, dangling counterweight that is free to swing back and forth, decoupled headshell). The Viv has its pivot floating in an oil bath and an arm wand that looks prone to resonate, albeit the oil bath might provide some damping. I have never heard the Viv, but I can report that despite its craziness, the RS Labs can sound very colorless.

Yamaha has recently introduced a new turntable, built to look like the GT2000 but with belt drive, I think. It comes standard with an underhung tonearm with a zero offset headshell. From photos, this appears to be a nicely built tonearm that is otherwise in keeping with modern concepts of tonearm design (i.e., lacking other features of questionable merit). If Yamaha would market that tonearm as a separate product, I would be most interested,

By the way, Neon, your fears of using the MC2000 in your DV tonearm are groundless.  I've mounted the MC2000 in my DV505, and the results were excellent.  Right now, it is mounted on my Triplanar, but not because I was unhappy with the DV505. 

@lewm , you are talking about the GT5000 for $8K. It has a straight underhung arm, a 10 lb platter and a 2 phase AC synchronous motor. They brag about no feedback control but do not mention what the motor is driven with. The arm looks very stiff but it's vertical bearing in above the record surface and it is stable balance. No suspension. Not my cup of tea.

@clearthinker, OK, 3 degrees then. The problem is with signal imaged to the center. One channel becomes out of phase with the other at high frequencies which will hinder the formation of the image. The higher the frequency the worse this gets. It is even worse with modern line contact styluses. I am sure you could see this with synchronized sine waves and a scope.

Then problem with warps is the pitch variation that they cause. Any good modern arm should be able to track most warped records fine. I will never use a turntable w/o vacuum clamping. The lack of pitch variation gives the music a solidity of presentation and makes the effect more realistic. With a clean record one could easily confuse it with a digital file.

IMHO the CLXs are the best speaker ML ever produced. 

Mijo, I am talking about underhung tonearms as a separate subject relative to the Viv tonearm.  Whether the GT5000 is totally to your liking or not is not the point, but I did notice that the tonearm design on the GT5000 does have the technical flaws you mention.  As previously discussed, the placing of the pivot at the level of the LP surface, or lack thereof in this case, has relevance only with warped LPs.  To which you may reply all LPs are warped to one degree or another.  To which I would reply that really tiny or minimal warps are also really tiny and minimal problems in terms of altering VTF.  Anyway, neither of us is going to buy the whole turntable just to get an underhung tonearm.  All that said, I would be very curious to hear the GT5000 in a good system.

@clearthinker @atmasphere 

The hardness of the metal in the bearing is not the only issue.  The fineness of the machining is fundamental.

And let’s not forget materials such as the yoke etc. as some materials reflect energy while others may absorb.


twist your cartridge 5 degrees in the head shell and listen to what happens. If you hear nothing wrong either your system or your head does not image.

For purposes of discovery, I’m curious what the result would be with a spherical/conical styli without skating forces acting upon it ? ? ?


As the saying goes, “maybe we’re measuring the wrong thing” if the numbers don’t justify the sonic results.

Is it possible that an established priority of setup parameters could be threatened  &/or reshuffled?

Booth, Not sure what you mean.  A spherical tip still generates a skating force, if that is what you're suggesting.

lewm, I guess I’m curious to discuss if the more linear (skating) underhung/zero offset variety behaves more like a tangential (no skating) scenario.

There is only a single null-point of tangency with the Viv, but the firsthand reports I’ve received indicate the sound is “in the window” or locked-in throughout it’s entire arc.

I greatly appreciate your insight and objective approach, just trying to quantify the positive of what’s occurring with this tonearm which I understand is rather successful in its homeland.

The interest of a conical profile is to nullify zenith issues.

@boothroyd , the problem is the same although the conical styluses inferior high frequency performance might make the problem less severe, so won't presbycusis. 

Sound quality is a relative thing and depends on what a person is sensitive to or is use to hearing. The Viv arms errors change quite dramatically across the record and will be minimal somewhere in the middle of the record where it should sound fine. It also skates as @lewm related, outward at the beginning of the record to neutral near tangency back to outward at the end. The Reed 5A and the Schroder LT very near tangency across the entire record and very near zero skating across the entire record. The trade off is an elevated vertical bearing and an additional horizontal bearing for the Schroder and several additional bearings for the Reed which is why I favor the Schroder. One has to admit that a properly designed offset pivoted arm is a brilliant solution to the problem as it minimizes all the errors and can eliminate some of them. 

In short if the Viv arm sounds OK these other arms are going to sound even better. Some very smart men like those at SME, AJ Conte, Edgar Villchur , Frank Kuzma, Frank Schroder, Mark Gomez and others would never design an arm like the Viv.


The Viv and its unique design qualities have nothing whatever to do with the Schroeder or Reed pivoted tangential trackers. Why do you constantly choose to compare the Viv to those specialty items? It’s more interesting and on point to compare the Viv and any other underhung tonearms to conventional overhung pivoted tonearms. I take it as a given that the Reed and Schroeder are likely to outperform the Viv, but the former two are very expensive. And a listening test would be most informative. Results might surprise all of us.