Eminent Technology ET-2 Tonearm Owners

Where are you? What mods have you done ?

I have been using these ET2's for over 9 years now.
I am still figuring them out and learning from them. They can be modified in so many ways. Bruce Thigpen laid down the GENIUS behind this tonearm over 20 years ago. Some of you have owned them for over 20 years !

Tell us your secrets.

New owners – what questions do you have ?

We may even be able to coax Bruce to post here. :^)

There are so many modifications that can be done.

Dressing of the wire with this arm is critical to get optimum sonics along with proper counterweight setup.

Let me start it off.

Please tell us what you have found to be the best wire for the ET-2 tonearm ? One that is pliable/doesn’t crink or curl. Whats the best way of dressing it so it doesn’t impact the arm. Through the spindle - Over the manifold - Below manifold ? What have you come up with ?

Showing 50 responses by ct0517

Care to share your impressions of the different TT’s with the ET2 ? You mention the same cartridge/system. Were all those turntables in the same room too ?
The draft brothel post is complete !

Due to the sensitivity of the subject it has passed to Dorothy Click on me Darling for proofing.

An ET2 base model from France.

Mais Oui!

aucune affiliation à l'annonce

(no affiliation to the ad)
I volunteer to check and make sure those capillaries are not clogged

Frogman your enthusiasm is commendable ! Will the technique used to unclog the capillaries, be the same technique you use to remove dimples from speaker cone caps :^)
10-12-13: Flemke
What effect does the damping trough have on the arm?

Tim - I have tried to answer your question the best way I can in parts.


The graph and text below taken from the manual.

Damping Trough Results

Surface irregularities on the vinyl of the LP record are the primary cause of rumble or
random low frequency noise, which causes the tonearm/cartridge spring system to start
oscillating. This oscillation occurs continuously during playback. It is a primary cause of wow and flutter and FM distortion in phono playback. Surface irregularities occur not as a part of the record cutting process, but result from the molding process used in making the record.

You can see visually small ripples on the surface of an LP as it is turning. These continuously excite the tonearm resonance.



The ET-2 Damping Trough Owners Manual is available here for download for anyone from Bruce' site.


My personal experience has been.
The manual is very clear not to install the damping trough until you thoroughly understand how the ET2 works.
I error-ed and installed it very early on.
Then removed it for a number of years and re-installed earlier this year.
When experimenting with magnetic damping earlier I broke the audiophile rule - don't change more than one variable at a time. I tried it again later in isolation - inconclusive - meaning - magnetic damping doesn't do anything for me.

The trough was re-installed and is staying on my ET 2.5.
In three tries Manitunc didn't get one. I think they end up in a drawer somewhere and are forgotten?
So they are rare. If anyone has one guard it for later use. They can get messy and the tip from Bruce was use only 1cc of fluid.

As I am interested in a 2nd one for my ET 2.0 if RugyBoogie can convince Bruce to do a run with a group buy consider me in as well.

As far as sonically what I hear - I prefer Frogman or Slaw to give us impressions as they have been using the trough for a long time continuously. I will say the trough makes this linear tracking tonearm sound more "linear" in response to me. it does smooth out the bumps in the road especially on some of the nasty lps I own - those vinyl surface irregularities can sometimes imo lead to sibilance and harshness. The trough has made these lps very playable for me.


Had stiffer bracket that joins armtube to bearing tube manufactured
Replaced wire with van den hul silver - hello radio campus ( rf )
Replaced wire with copper litz from Sumiko tonearm box, hung below pivot and soldered directly into MIT cable approx 2' behind the bearing tube in the centre of the range of movement
Placed small cupboard door magnet under bearing tube - this provides electromagnetic dampening on eccentric records.

Hi Dover – I’d love to see a picture of the set up, wiring, magnet and remanufactured bracket. Is there any chance of posting or linking a pic ? You can’t leave us hanging like that. How long have you had your ET-2 ?

Ketchup – I had a look at your setup. You have done some really interesting stuff too in your system. You have gone in front of the manifold with the wiring. You were considering some new medical wire ? .003" in diameter with .001" thick teflon insulation. Do you have the details on it ?

Here is some general information.

All the ET-2 arms say "Eminent Technology Tonearm 2" regardless if they are ET 2.0 or 2.5 versions.

If anyone has a regular ET 2.0 you can get Bruce to upgrade it to a high pressure manifold to be able to use it at a higher pressure and its doesn’t cost a lot to do this. It doesn’t have to be a ET 2.5 to use the higher pressure.
Both mine are high pressure manifolds and use the same Timeter Aridyne 3000 medical pump at 19 psi.

So as upgrades go consider:

1) there are two spindle versions 2.0 and the 2.5 the later being visually larger in diameter – about 5/8 inch in diameter for 2.0 versus about 6/8 inch for the 2.5. Sorry could not find the tape measure with millimeters this morning.

2) Two manifolds – a) the original ET 2.0 that you see mostly being sold used now. Again this manifold can be changed over to a high pressure manifold and b) the newer larger manifold that goes with the 2.5 spindle which only comes in one version. You can still however run it at lower pressure if you don’t have space/facilities to run it with higher PSI.

In discussions with Bruce here is some info I got from him. REMEMBER THIS IS JUST A GUIDELINE.

Based on the cartridges you are using consider the smaller diameter ET 2.0 spindle resonates at 5-6 hz. The larger ET 2.5 spindle resonates at 3-4 hz.

Aluminum armtube – good all around performance.

Carbon Fibre armtube– Lower Compliance MM’s and medium MC’s

Magnesium armtube – Lowest Compliance MC’s

Again the above is just a guide.


I really like the wiring on my ET 2.0/high pressure manifold. It is black teflon coated braided wire. It came with the arm when I bought it used. But for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out the brand or if its still available.

My ET 2.5 is using Cardas wiring and although it sounds great, I don’t like the wire itself for this arm. I have been moving the arm between my direct drive, idler and thread drive tables comparing the sounds of them. It bends and curls too easy and it is not pliable enough for me. I will be replacing it and the reason I asked my question initially.

ET 2.5 wiring - Cardas 33 awg

Cheers Chris
Thx for the link Ketchup will read through - Olimanmojo, Rushton, Piedpiper, Frogman, a few others helped me to get my feet on the ground with my first ET2 years ago on a nice piano black VPI HW19 MkIV. I hope those guys see this and chime in here with their vast experience.

I still remember once I got it setup I could not figure out why it could not get through the last track. Turned out the original old pump was down 1/2 psi to about 3.0 psi. It was enough to affect it. The ET2 needs at least 3.5 psi if I recall to work properly. A Medo AC110 fixed the problem for $50 on ebay and helped raised the PSI to 7 or 8 psi.

Dover I am looking forward to your pics.


I wish we started this thread when I was off work last week. Steve - congrats on getting the virtual system up. yes the counterweight bolt mod. A significant upgrade for me was changing the horizontal/vertical ratio of the arm and how it affects the sound.

See the link to the ET2 parts blowout in Ketchup’s first post. I like to call the I-Beam the “plank”. You don't want to be near the end of this plank.

Have a look at your “I beam” and where your lead weights are positioned. What number does the lead start at?

For the newer owners:
Think of this arm as a simple teeter- totter. Physics says the lighter the cartridge will have these weights positioned in closer to the spindle. The heavier cartridges force you to move that lead out on the I-Beam to get the proper VTF. Its really that simple. Teeter-Totter .

If you put a heavier person on the teeter totter with you they need to sit closer in to balance things out – remember that? Well if you are the cartridge side this discusses putting a heavier person on the I Beam and changing the horizontal/vertical ratio of the arm which is normally 6 - 1 according to discussions with Bruce.

I personally never liked moving that weight so far out on this I-Beam for heavier MC’s. So I ended up replacing the counterweight bolt with a longer stainless steel one. (.75 cents). Also try a brass one or other non-magnetic bolt to see what happens. These details when dealing with stylus vibrations affect things greatly so pick a few different ones and try them out.

Counterweight Bolt Mod

The one on the right is the original ET2 one. The one on the left is my modified one. It can hold more lead weights. On some older arms this bolt may not screw off. You can get a new original lead piece that slides into the holder from Bruce.
This now allowed me to use more lead and bring that whole lead assembly closer to the spindle closer to the number 3 with heavy cartrdiges where I think things are more stable.

Now this is the fun part. Order even more lead weights from Bruce or make some – you can get them for free from car shops (wheel rim weights) – the lead is easily cut into shape and drilled). You need the longer bolt to allow room for the extra lead and to allow the aluminum rod to be tightened onto it to hold the lead rigidly.

Go ahead start adding lead to get even closer to the spindle. Those of you that try this please tell us what you think of the sound.

Before I tried this mod I discussed this with Bruce – this was his response.

Adding weight in this direction causes an asymmetric load on the air bearing so there will be a point where the bearing may bottom at the end of play position.
The other thing to consider is the suspension system of the turntable, you are adding moving mass, this weight moving laterally may cause the suspension to deflect and change the state of level of the tonearm. Increasing the horizontal inertia can cause increased rumble.
As long as you understand these potential problems it does not hurt to experiment and have fun. Thanks


Give it a try.

BTW – how many of you are using the brass rings as counterweights ? Read page 32 of your manual - they are for leveling only but thats another subject I really want to talk about too later.
You want to be absolutely rigid with this arm. The brass could move on the arm as it is raised and lowered and resonate. If you need to use the brass rings to get your proper VTF get more lead and a longer bolt.

Sorry for the long post and any errors ahead of time.

Cheers Chris
Hi Ketchup –
That phoenix wire looks interesting – is anyone using it ?

"the four individual wires are separated from each other where they are exposed in the loop. This arrangement had the least effect on tonearm movement."

You can see this in your system pic. So you tested it out both ways braided and separated ?

Is anyone else using the wires this way ?

LEVELING – heres how I do it. Can it be improved ?

Do not even attempt this if your platter/tonearm basic support are not already level. You guys with suspended tables – I feel for you. You are asking for trouble with this arm.

I don’t use the brass weights for leveling. It takes too long and you are also messing with the most fragile “I think” part of the arm. The Plank. (I Beam). I use Blue Tac and I add it to the top of the lead. If the VTF is 2.0 grams I make up a quick blob of the blue tac and add a touch more weight say 2.2 gms. Leave it next to the platform when not using it along with your level balances.

As the manual says you want the arm to free float.
Blue Tac in place. I position the arm above the lead in groove first and I start touching/tugging/poking the exposed wire with my finger. Lowering the cue lever a bit to see if I can induce movement. I try to see how much effort it takes to make the arm move. When u think ur good bring the arm to the end of the lp position. Repeat. This is where it gets frustrating because of counter forces. If your wires have “little” effect on the arm it should not move. In either position.

Now take the Blue Tac off – and try lowering the arm again at the start and end of the lp positions. Is it coming down straight ? If yes you should be good to go.
The wire effect is ALWAYS there you can’t eliminate it. What we are trying to do is reduce it. How detailed (anal) you are in doing this is the difference I feel between making this arm sound like nothing else out there or just a fabulous arm.

If your platter/arm setup is not level before you attempt the above you WILL pull out your hair doing this. Something could have gone out of level. Like the guys with the suspended tables. This is the main reason I feel most “previous” owners sold these arms. They are probably better off with pivot arms.

Can the above be tweaked better ? Is there a better technique for doing this ?

Recommendation – buy a test MM Cartridge whose tracking range is in the low say .3 – 1 gram range. Set this one up first. It will test your setup. I feel if you can make this one work well, your 2.0 – 2.5 gm MC will have no problem and will sound like it has never sounded before.

Hi TheKong
Welcome to the ET2 ET 2.5 Music Lover Fraternity :^) - look forward to hearing about your coupling ideas.

I have an I Beam and 3 separated springs coming to me. I am going to try 2 then 3 springs. I quick look through the manual showed me no mention of multiple springs or trying them. Just the single spring - it it buried somewhere.

Frogman my two current I beams are not the same. They both have one spring but someone has added another what appears to be (folded aluminum type shim) to one of them.

From the Et2 manual - Page – 28 “By changing the weights used and the effective mass of the arm. You can change the low frequency performance of the tonearm.”

This tells me we can play around with it.

In my discussions with Bruce and it states it in the manual he has designed this arm to be neutral down to 5 hz with a medium compliance cartridge. For this is reason it is my opinion that the instructions in the manual reflect and support this.

We all have different gear/rooms listening preferences – you need to experiment here. There is no free lunch / silver bullet in audio. I have learned in the last 18 months comparing turntables that this is a vibration hobby and a black hole. My two ET2 and ET 2.5 were my best tools during this. We need to try things and use your ears and nothing else IMO to decide for yourself. BTW - I do not use the VTA scale on the arm. I use my ears. It can introduce resonances. I removed it.

Has anyone tried a brass or other material counterweight bolt and heard the effects in your room ?

I have been experimenting with the weights closest to the spindle. I have removed enough weight from one of my ET2 arms and positioned it at the end to compare. Frogman and others, have you found the very end to be best or to be just a tad in on the IBeam ?

Early impressions some aspects improved others not so sure. The multiple springs and the IBeam may tell the story for me. It appears from Frogmans experience that we need multiple IBeams for matching up cartridge compliance ?I see this as an advantage in Bruce' design that we can do this. It takes only a few minutes to change an Ibeam out with another one. I have been using this high compliance MM for comparisons. I got involved with Rauls MM thread this past year. It provided me with the means $$ to buy two very good cartridges to do my comparisons. I am familiar with the sound of it so will leave it on for this comparison before I switch back to an MC cartridge. The sound definitely got a tad brighter in my system with less weights out to the end. But other aspects improved. To early to say anything. Any opinions on this ?

I have received emails since the thread started. Some prefer more weight closer to the spindle. The manual supports them being out to the end as Frogman made clear.

I understand why when I ask Bruce about weights – adding/removing/ positioning he is smart to say – IT DEPENDS ON THE CARTRIDGE and compliance. He then said to have fun and experiment.

BTW this thread is at 1500 views. I can see this through the old web page. I cannot however see or access my virtual system page yet when I try to get in from the new web page. Any one else with this problem?
In fact, the best bass response and stability that I have achieved is with the weights about as far from the spindle as the cartridge is (in the opposite direction, of course).
More to come

Hi Frogman

Are we to take your words literally ? The cartridge is about 7 inches from the spindle ? Have you come up with ET 3.0, a longer I beam that I have only been thinking about, or are you talking about removing enough lead and having your weights positioned at number 6 on the I beam ?

Hi Apbiii - you said

“I am running about 15psi but keep seeing 19psi as the sweet spot but I can't tell any difference. What is magical about 19psi?”

Why 19 PSI ?

In discussions with Bruce above 20psi the normal hose will blow off and another hose type would need to be affixed to the nozzle. This is a conservative number from Bruce. I have used 24 and it did not blow off. But the bottleneck is not the hose – its the ET2 spindle itself - with more than 20 psi coming out of the manifold holes, the ET2 spindle itself starts to resonate/vibrate. When this happens music information is lost – described maybe as “air”, “space” and harmonics. Others can chime in with better words maybe ?

So 19psi is used as a number to indicate a threshold give or take a couple PSI. All our system /rooms are different. We will all therefore get varying results. Also the bigger factor IMO is the type of pump /air supply you are using, how clean, dry and stable your air delivery is and most important the condition of your actual tonearm manifold and air ports. I went from the original pump, to a MEDO AC110, to a shop compressor/surge tank, to the Medical pump I now use. Is your pump located in an area that has a similar temperature / humidity as the room your ET arm is in ? This is crucial IMO. Some owners I have talked to have kept these pumps in the garage - during winter or summer with 98 per cent humidity outside.

I have designed my setup so that a second ET2 regulator/filter is on the wall next to the ET2 arm.

Portable ET Regulator

The device normally rests in its holder which can be seen in the picture. I can and have taken this second regulator off the holder and kept it in my lap as the music is playing. I then turn the black valve both ways to instantly increase and decrease the air flow to the arm and listen to the effects.

There are also reports as Apbiii says where others have seen and read about these PSI numbers. In the past I have emailed with Arthur Salvatore and his members have confirmed 19 psi. With Arthur you can read about it at highendaudio.com and do a search on the ET2 arm.

At Audiogon – here are a couple of links that pertain to Dertonarm's ET2 testing.

ET2 PSI Link 1

ET2 PSI Link 2

Daniel if you see this please chime in as well with your extensive experience. We are all sponges here.

The truly great thing about this ET2 tonearm and this thread IMO is that all the opinions and recommendations that we are about to hear about can be experimented with very easily by each of us in our own systems. Whether we are talking about lowering or raising the PSI, or adding or removing lead weights and or changing their postioning. We are all talking apples to apples. I have this pent up feeling like I am at a place here where all of us are going to truly benefit immensely from discussions. New and experienced ET2 owners.

None of us are smarter than the whole of us here ?

Unless Frogman or someone else has come up with ET 3.0 ?

My account is all buggered up – cannot login – but able to now make a post.

Frogman – very interesting about the balsa wood I beam – would love to see a pic ? Of the 3 different compliance I Beams you have which one comes closest to the stock ET2 I Beam that I assume most of us are using ?

Regarding the PSI’s – here are my thoughts on this especially to those of you with TNT’s of which many ET2’s were mounted in the day. I own a TNT2.

Apbiii – Regarding your TNT. Do you have an SDS or are you using the old PLC controller ? if the old PLC I recommend acquiring an SDS first before doing any other upgrades if you are going to keep the TNT long lerm. It is very valuable and has high resale value as well. Many are looking for them used even non-vpi owners.

This applies to anyone else here that has a TNT or a table where the motor can moved and you have an accurate speed controller like an SDS and are still using belts. It only costs $1.50 and 5 minutes to try out.

I have spent the last year focused on drive systems. Comparing DD, Idler and Belt. I have dismounted and mounted my ET2 arms probably 10 to 15 times during this comparison and testing moving from one table to another.

I have a TNT2 with upgraded bearing / SDS. I modified it and changed the drive to different threads and settled on UNWAXED dental floss. The differences were NOT subtle. For my TNT ownership - the higher pressure ET2, the SDS replacing that old PLC and the defeating the tri pulley belts for a straight shot of unwaxed floss all had equal benefits. Speed stability, blacker backgrounds, and detail all increased. The dental floss is transmitting far less motor noise into the platter and the SDS is earning its keep – making sure it stays accurate.

Thread knot

I highly recommend you try this $1.50 5 minute experiment. Don’t use the tri-pulleys they can only introduce more noise. Those with flywheels do not use them for this. Put the motor where the flywheel is and wrap the floss around the motor and the platter only. Just move the motor in a bit then out to tighten the floss. Listen to a few lps. Once you have it working start moving the motor out an inch at a time/tie a new thread. Each time you move it out the "energy of the music" for lack of better word multiplied in my system. Those with early TNT's like me to move the motor out further need to take out the motor/pulley frame and place it beside the table reversed so the motor is closest to the platter. Please try this. I had a lot of fun with it. Pls give impressions.

Frogman - thx - yes I agree - I will contact Bruce and get this less compliant double spring before I do anything next.

Daniel - do you recall which I-Beam version you were using in your testing.

Hi Frogman - both my I-Beams have a single spring in them.
Thank you for the wire info Daniel.
I havent figured out how to convert a bitmap to text. Need to download some program. Quicker to type it out :^(
Adjusting the Arms Mass.
From the manual page 9

Adjustable effective mass

The effective mass of the tonearm is adjustable both vertically and horizontally. The arm has low-medium mass vertically and medium to high mass horizontally. Four counterweights allow the vertical/horizontal mass to be changed. For example: if the user decreases the amount of counterweights used ,and moved this position back (higher on the scale number) the horizontal inertia of the tonearm would go down and the vertical inertia would go up.

Decoupled Counterweights

The effective mass of the arm horizontally is equal to to the sum of its component parts (It does not pivot) it needs to be as light as possible for low mass, however, making the arm too light sacrifices rigidity.


By decoupling the counterweight system horizontally, but not vertically, the mass is of the counterweight is not seen by the cartridge above a certain frequency.
Now what I am hearing.
See first sentence under decoupled counterweights again.

In my system when I replaced the counterweight bolt with a longer one and added a “little” more weight closer to the spindle there was noticeable bass change and overall presentation. I made the arm I believe more rigid by doing this. You can hear it in the sound. Based on the music you listen to and more importantly "the cartridge" you may prefer this or not. How much weight you add is a variable. The extreme limiter is bottoming of the spindle - but you will "hear" sonic problems “rumble” long before that according to Bruce - I have so far added just a bit more lead with no issues. I am not done with this yet.

I have discussed this with Bruce and he told me as the manual says that by doing this I am increasing the horizontal inertia but also he said that I am “increasing the vertical weight”.


Don’t try this until you have figured out how to properly setup the arm. Level platter/level Spindle/Cartridge setup properly..
Bruce also told me that the effect will be different by cartridge/compliance. So I cannot say that you will get more or less bass attack or solid/leaner overall sound by doing this because -I don’t know what cartridge you are using and the compliance. I am basing what I am hearing on two test Empire 4000DIII MM cartridges 30 x 10(-6)cm/dyne that were mounted on an ET-2 and ET 2.5 at 19 PSI that I did my comparisons with in 2011.
This is a mod I feel u need to try for your own system/room / music preference because it costs nothing to do. Bolt was .75 cents. Lead weights are free from auto shops or order some from Bruce.
" Ain't this fun "

Makes me feel like a little kid that wants to play :^)

But I have a job and other committments. :^(

Frogman I did the little piece of material next to the spring with my ET 2.0 that is mounted on the brass armpod and it changed the sound considerably. Dampened it. It had more effect than the damping trough for me that I used years ago. Do you use the damping trough?

HI Phil – I ended up finding a decent magnet for damping on the fridge. One of those appointment holders for pieces of paper. I placed it immediately to the left of the manifold on the platform where the spindle comes out so it is under it. Some blue tac secured it.

Some interesting info

Eminent Technology Patent Info
Not seeing the forest for the trees. Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.
Both of my ET2 arms are currently mounted on pedestals/pods where the braided wires come down vertically at least 6 inches before they touch the plinth. I had experimented with the newer Cardas wire and it was causing some frustration in me this past year as I moved the arms around many times between pods, pedestals and full plinths. That Cardas wire just seemed to twist and curl, go into loops when braided and was not user friendly.

Well from pictures and suggestions here I unbraided about 8 inches of the wire into separate strands starting where it exits the arm tube. Much better results. With each strand separated it no longer twists and curls into loops -it can be tugged at with little effect on the arm, when it is raised and balanced with the extra blue tac on the couhterweights making it delicate. Just passing this on.
How much weight can the ET-2, ET-2.5 designs carry on the I Beam ?

I hope that this will help to clear up ALOT of questions with some of you. It did for me.

The high pressure manifolds are not all the same. The ET 2 and ET 2.5 high pressure manifolds were built based on customer specifications for the pumps they were planning on using. So there are different versions. The higher pressure versions of these will handle more PSI and will also handle more weight. How much weight ?

On January 3rd - I posted this information from Bruce regarding adding more weight.

Adding weight in this direction causes an asymmetric load on the air bearing so there will be a point where the bearing may bottom at the end of play position.
The other thing to consider is the suspension system of the turntable, you are adding moving mass, this weight moving laterally may cause the suspension to deflect and change the state of level of the tonearm. Increasing the horizontal inertia can cause increased rumble.
As long as you understand these potential problems it does not hurt to experiment and have fun. Thanks


In Support of this.

Here is an email trail from “today” to help as well. Understand that the ET-2 Design and the existing ET2.0 manual is based on the original design running at 3 – 3.5 psi from years ago

On 1/17/2012 7:35 AM, wrote:
Hi Bruce

The ET-2 is provided with counterweights for 15 grams.

The use of less weight with lighter cartridges as the manual discusses is preferred - and the goal is to keep the weight at the end of the IBeam (higher number).

The manual says we can add more weights up to 20 grams.

Is the 20 gram a threshold number where after that, the weight affects the arm in a negative way?

What did your studies show will happen to the arm with more weight than 20 gms?

Thank u.




Use the minimum amount of weight far back on the beam meaning beyond scale number 4. The only limitation is air bearing binding at the extremes of travel due to the asymmetric load. If your air bearing will carry the load you can put any amount of weight on it. I hope this helps.



Thx Bruce - in your opinion does a higher air pressure 20 psi coming out of the manifold allow for more weight to be placed on the I Beam than say 6 psi.

Does the higher 20 PSI support the air bearing better for more weight than say 6 PSI or does it have nothing to do with it.




Yes, higher pressure should allow you to carry more weight. – brucet


I then called Bruce.

I found out that all these ET 2.5’s manifolds are designed based on the pumps that were to be used with them by the customers ordering them. They will not all do 20 psi at the arm. If you bought a new ET 2.5 the manifold has been built for the pump you are using or told Bruce you were going to use.

If you bought it used what was the previous pressure the owner was using? If you don’t know there is an easy answer – bump up the pressure and listen to what happens. When does it hit the brick wall? It sounds like for some here it is 15 psi – 17 psi. For others 20 psi is not an issue and maybe beyond.

My ET 2.5 manifold was designed for 20 + psi. How do I know? I had Bruce do the update from a ET 2.0 last year and told him I was running 20 psi on it and above. It still works at 10 and 15 psi but I can also go to 20 psi + with no issues and I now intend to try 25 -30 PSI with a different hose and see what happens.

I hope this clears up questions.

BTW – If it is not obvious from the Jan 3rd post Bruce does not know how much weight a high pressure spindle designed for 20 psi can carry. He did tell me definitely more than 20 gms. Too many factors involved including the turntable – like if is suspended, and other considerations ….

This is why he says experiment and have fun.


I hate these long posts - sorry for any errors.
Hi Sam - Welcome to the thread. The one where tonearm owners need life support for their straight lines; all in the name of no tracking distortion and natural sounds. Heh, heh

Two Bruce’s in HI FI eh ?

Sam - Don’t you have a leaky original pump ?

There is probably an ET2 owner near you - otherwise it is 0 degrees Celsius here – about 32F – what if I get a work assignment there for a week ?

I’m sure Slaw can provide many tips for that VPI HW19 MKIV.

APBiii good information - I will respond with my 2 cents worth. I have been doing some experimenting.

Frogman - can I ask what you think of this Empire 4000 DIII on the ET2 ? Don’t you also have one? Did u use it long enough to form an opinion? How does it compare to the many cartridges you have had on this tonearm?

Hi Frogman – With all the cartridges you must have heard over the years on the ET2, thanx for confirming what am hearing with this Empire 4000 DIII cartridge . Thanks also for retrieving all those comments from that MM thread. Fantastic info.

For the the $350 -400 that I paid for each of these Empires they deliver alot of performance. I bought one on whim from following the MM thread. Having then heard it I figured what the hell this could work for what I had planned so I bought another. So two ET tonearms and 2 Empires helping me with my playing around with these TT's.

3 leaf springs and IBeam are still in mail and have not arrived yet. Will be keeping the Empire on and trying with a double spring as you suggest as soon as they come in. Looking forward to that. Then will be switching back to my favourite MC - in this case it happens to be a Benz Micro MC 3 which is SS Ruby Retip.
I have an old XV1 being rebuilt by Axel in Germany per the MM thread. Am anxious to get it back but very patient as he is hopefully bringing it back from the dead.

Currently listening with lead weights positioned as far back as possible on the I- Beam.

Cheers Chris
Gotta love these mods that don't cost anything to try. WTH - honey what happened to all the magnets that used to be on the kitchen cupboards ?

Thx Dover - sounds like the our single, double metal strip IBeams are another way to accomplish this ?

Frogman - I am going to super glue the shaft of the older empire I have and connect to the body. I agree it could be alot more rigid. Will let u know how it works out.

Slaw - I should have got it in an email from Bruce.

Hi Frogman –The drop of superglue on the Empire shaft worked like magic. The cartridge has been used alot. The last couple weeks I had noticed on really eccentric records the odd skip with the Empire. I attributed some of it to learning curve with the string drive TT. But I had a better look - the actual shaft had some play. Its always been flawless in tracking. I put one drop of superglue and the shaft where it butts up against the body. Let it set and no problems now with those records. I paid $350 for the whole thing and the stylus’ are $250 I think? so I considered it disposable as I have a second empire ?

Does anyone know if its possible separate superglue from two metal surfaces? Just curious.

ET2 MAGNET MOD - Who has tried Dover’s Magnet mod? I found a magnet I tried it. I’d like to hear someone else’s impressions first.
Frogman thank u so much for turning me on to this.
For the small amount of $ we are talking about here I can’t stop myself from telling you guys that you should have Bruce send you:

Two I beams with the factory single leaf spring on them. They are around $15 each.

Plus three leaf springs on the side(loose).

From this you can make one double and one triple leaf spring I Beam to try out.

You probably have a single spring version already.

Have a look at what kind of condition your existing I beam /Spring is in. You may just want to replace it as well. If you have a single spring you should see damping material on the one side that was put on at the factory. This is a folded aluminum shim with inert material similar to silly putty according to Bruce.

I have just assembled a straight double leaf spring super glued together, started listening and really like what I am hearing. Bruce said no damping material is needed with the double spring and he has not tried the triple spring.

Frogman - 3 I beams in the waiting ? Single, double, triple spring versions based on the type of cartridge you want to put on ? Is this a silver bullet or one of them with this tonearm ?

Using the minimal amount of weights as far out to the end of the IBeam as possible.

Magnet in place for damping (thank u Dover)

Hi Philcoffino – welcome to the thread. Interesting point about the smaller circle and built up energy ? I need to give that some thought. The smaller circle is what caused the most problems for me when I tried to convert a belt drive designed TT to thread drive. Pitch stability suffered when longer thread was used.

I will say “again” any one with an ET-2 on a suspended TT needs to pay extra attention to detail. Here are 3 additional leveling tips based on taking down and remounting the ET 2.0 / 2.5 over 20 times in the last year. 4 different tables plinths / no plinths and also 4 armpods.

These 3 techniques saved me a lot time and frustration.

I went to one of those neat hardware stores and bought a level that is as close to the same length/size as the ET2 Straightline Jig.

1) Place it on the platter in the EXACT line that your ET-2 straight line alignment jig would go – levelling this way ENSURES your platter is level in the path the arm will take.

2) The tonearm air bearing spindle is not IMO in the same exact level plane as the tonearm armpost it attaches to. It a physical connection with bolts – DON’T TRUST IT. Some of these arms are old now. Many people level the arm post. IMO - this is a mistake.

Use Blue Tac (Fun Tac) a little heavier than the cartridge on the counterweights to raise the Arm Tube and Cartridge and have the Bearing Spindle float with gravity. Adjust armpost vertical screws until it does not move either way.

3) While arm is floating (in 2) move wires around with pencil or your finger – Fix/dress the wires so they don’t affect the arm. Do this with the arm raised at the START and END of the record.

If the above three points are done the stylus "run-in" and "run-out" should be the same.

Apbiii – interesting, well the cartridge will always be the decider on the settings we use. With my higher compliance cartridge moving the lead weights from #5 on the IBeam to the end of the Ibeam changes the sound, as well as making changes to the VTA.

You’ve got me curious - are you able to get the VTF you need with two small weights – one less and stay on the IBeam ? If possible pls try this for me. I'd like to see if it makes a difference with the lower compliance cartridge. Remember those pirate movies with the plank they put people on? My weights are sitting on the end of that plank right now.

My fraternal twins killed my singing/playing career . But now I have the pleasure of hearing my daughter sing in her school jazz band, play piano and my son plays acoustic guitar. I do however play tapes at 15 ips for reference in my room. The sound is not lean/hard. It is very analog.

Hi Guys – I tried my highest compliant cartridge tonight on the SP10MKII w/ET2.0 HP Manifold with a triple leaf I-Beam.

A Sonus Blue Gold Cartridge.

Frequency Response - 20Hz - 45kHz
Tracking Force - 1.0-1.5g
Mass - 5.5g
Stylus Tip - special modified line contact
Dynamic Compliance 50x10-6cm/Dyne

This was the first cartridge I bought off the MM thread. A nice enough cartridge but not in the same league as the Empire 4000 Diii. A very smooth presentation overall but not near as dynamic. I call it the Swedish Skidoo.

The triple leaf I beam with lower VTA transformed it into a very dynamic performer. I do not remember it being this lively / open.

Hi TheKong.

I was wondering if you made any progress with your direct couple ET 2.5 counterweight project ?

01-09-12: Thekong
Hi everyone, very interesting topic! I have obtained a used ET2 with Bruce’s upgrade 2.5 bearing, but have yet to set it up.

I am very interested in the discussion on the I-beam compliance. As far as I can tell, the arm on the Walker Proscenium turntable (which is of similar design to the ET2) has a direct couple counterweight. Since the Walker is being regarded as one of the best, I was thinking of modifying the ET2 in such manner.
I wonder what are the pros and cons to the 2 different approaches.

I have had on hand one, two ,and three leaf I beams now for a few months. I am having a lot of fun interchanging them and listening to the changes that occur with same and different cartridges. The flexibility for tuning in each of our rooms/gear that this provides is a very nice option. Thx to Frogman for turning me on to it. I would not want to give up this feature now for myself – but I am curious about making different compliant versions of a more rigid I beam - with the adjustable counterweight that just bolts on/off the spindle? This reminded me of your post back in Jan.

I keep coming back to this one. Does anyone know who the owner is ?

ET 3.0 ?

Cheers Chris
Well Frogman – I wasn’t “multi-springing” wth the ET2 back when listening to the 420str last year.
So am looking forward to your tweaking recommendations on it once you have had a chance to spend more time with it. Chris
Steve - I must have posted just after your last post. I think an LP list for reference is an excellent idea.
Dgarretson glad your enjoying it. The only adjustment I had to make in my system after listening to the tape was to lighten up on the VTA a bit as there was a touch too much bass in my room.
Mine has quite a few hours on it. I can tell you it just keeps smoothing out the more hours I put on it.
I am a little nervous about putting my MC on to compare for fear this piece of plastic that looks like it came out of a cracker jack box might kick its ass.

Hi Steve, welcome back. where have you been ?
We all go through stuff ….. this hobby and forum is one way that helps me to deal with it.
Look forward to hearing about your system updates.

In follow up with Frogmans comments on the 420str, I am totally enjoying the Acutex 420str the last few weeks.

Could this be Linear arm heaven for cheap ?

Dgarretson (Dave) if you see this post please let us know how it sounds on your Terminator Linear arm. I understand that the inventor of the arm purchased multiple samples from Nandric (Nikola) after hearing it the first time.


Pivot arm owners reading this - beware – this cartridge which is a little piece of nothing and costs as much as a good lunch, will give you mind and back spasms if properly set up - be assured. Most with no patience will give up on it and say it is too harsh - as I read on the MM thread.

A belated Happy Canada Day and hope my US friends here have a great 4th of July.

Cheers Chris
Hi Frogman – I just compared the 420str against the 15 IPS tape for the first time. The 420str so far for an MM comes closest to the tape in my room. Both LP and tape are started together. The input source is then switched between the two. The 420 str is more open at both ends, less compressed sounding then the Empire in my room. Now I haven’t compared my SS retipped Virtuoso to tape, but from a stock cartridge point of view, the 420str so far for me is very good. Its been on there for a while so I am going a bit by memory, but have no desire yet to put on the Empire 4000 DIII gold to compare to be sure.

Definitely for me, without question, nothing else comes close for the $$, or Euros in this case. But breakin time is required. I don't keep track of the hours.
Myself - I was hoping to get a list of lps from this to compare our thoughts and have fun listening to music. I think each of us have 1) a number of lps we really like listening to just for music – and then 2) the go to lps we use to check if all is ok in our own setups according to our preferences ? If those same LP’s fall under 1 and 2 - for me that is ideal. I am 50 so I grew up with a certain type of music but I like to listen to all music. There is no boundary. Over the years I have really enjoyed all of them lps referred to me directly or through a forum like this.
BTW - You will not see a nice review from me as Frogman just did with the Donald Fagen lp. For one I am just not good with words smithing describing music for some reason. But I can tell you why I think the ET2 tonearm is genius in a thousand words if you want. So if someone wants to describe KOB – please do !
I can also listen for specific things if pointed out to me by someone (like Frogman did), that would allow me to know if I had things set up and dialed in properly. This is valuable to me.
I have a Donald Fagen “Nightfly” in the mail. One Paul Simon “There goes Rhyming Simon” coming up.
“The 412s response is similar to the 420 but with more apparency in the mids”

In a moment of weakness last night I decided to buy another crack jack box and see if a prize existed inside. I picked up a 412. I am curious how it will react with my other ET2 being set up to feed WPK Quad 57’s. One midrange apparent cartridge feeding very midrange apparent speakers ? Is it too much of a good thing ? I could not resist giving it a try for $49 euros.

Timeltel – I always enjoy and value your posts on the MM thread. Thx for contributing here.
08-19-13: Dover
Interesting comments on the Terminator linear tracking arm from Dgarretson on the MM thread who has fabricated a lightweight carriage from carbon finer instead of aluminium....
The wand has dual front and rear counterweights for continuously adjustable vertical effective mass.
Total horizontal mass of arm, cradle, and carbon fiber sled is 45gm, and can be increased by weighting the air sled.
I've tried it with as little as 35gm horizontal mass and as much as 100gm-- approximating the range of horizontal effective mass from ET to Kuzma airline. So far less horizontal mass sounds better in all instances. This does not hold true for vertical mass.

Interesting comments from DG as they relate to the Terminator arm. I have only seen pictures of it.

imo - it is not valid comparing the ET2, 2.5 and Kuzma Airline in this manner because although the later Kuzma resembles the ET2 in appearance their design objectives are as different as apples and oranges. This has been discussed here.

Some facts

The Kuzma Airline requires the wires and air tube for damping of the cantilever.
Through private Kuzma owner emails I have learned the Kuzma has difficulty with lower VTF and higher compliant cartridges.
Requires a heavier cartridge with a stiff cantilever. Any Airline owners disagree with this comment? I don't own it and the reason I ask.

The ET2 (2.5) in contrast can play a light high compliant (how about a sonus blue gold at .2gm) or an Acutex 4 series then turn around and play a stiff cantilever on a heavy MC.
The ET2, 2.5 requires neither the tubing or wiring for damping and tracks best with no wiring.

I know this because I use it this way (no wiring) now to level it and have had it track the record this way - once.
I say once because I haven't figured out how to get any sound when I run it this way.

again I ask - how do we make it wireless ?

Johnathan Carr, Peter Ledermann or another cartridge designer if you see this - this thread is at over 150,000 views.

Does anyone have any plans for a wireless cartridge ?
I will buy your beta cartridge even if it means putting in some kind of computer chip in my preamp.

C'mon Nobody likes wires anyway. They just get in the way.

Unless you can set the wires up like Frogman.


Then we can call it Art.

I have no problem with that.

Remember when phones needed wires. My kids don't - they laugh when I tell them.

The ET2 also has VTA on the fly that doesn't change parameters like VTF.
Set your Airline at the highest and lowest setting and you'll notice your VTF has been altered.
This is an owner confirmed comment.

Does "any" other arm exist that does vta on the fly?
Same thickness records have included cut angles that are random from the different record plants.
How do you guys deal with this?

The ET2 can also be tuned for different compliance cartridges MC and MM.
Hi Lew – I didnt expect to see u here based on your aversion to tonearms with pumps, tubing , etc… Welcome to the thread.

As an aficionado of Direct Drive turntables that you are, I present this ET2 setup just for you.

BTW-This setup looks familiar to me :^) ?

I agree with Frogman and say go ahead and put the the Acutex 420 on your….. DV505.

But be patient, do setup one day, take a rest on 2nd day, on the third day find maybe something nice. It was a difficult cartridge to set up on a pivot arm for me. It required a lot of patience. Now I realize for some with 50+ MM cartridges “patience” represents an eternity. Some of you I have learned very recently go through multiple headshell / cartridge changes - per LP side !

BTW - I have tried the 420 in a JMW 12, DV505 and FR64s. To me the 420 being a very "undamped" cartridge is a good test of wires, grounding, as well as energy transfer. I said on the MM thread to also put it on a tall aluminium pole in your backyard. You may be able to pickup some Balkan radio with it ?

Dover – do you know who the Kharma fellow is ? – would love for him to join here.

I share his thoughts on antiskate, but definitely not his experience level - just on Post #101.

Kharma on WBF re: Dover's previous link.

"Please note that I have not mentioned skating forces. But, I should because skating force summarizes the problems with a pivoted design. I have owned and operated professional audio repair shops for 13 years. During this time I examined thousands of styli under a purpose designed stylus microscope. I examined every stylus that came into my shop. Without exception I could identify if the stylus was used on a pivoted arm or on a linear arm. The stylus wear on those used on pivoted arms was always non-symmetrical due to poorly compensated skating force. And skating force is ALWAYS poorly compensated because there is no single value that works due to the fact that skating force is constantly changing because of friction due to groove modulation. OTH, the wear on styli that have spent their lives on linear arms, even cheap ones, is always symmetrical. This is obvious under the microscope. My customers were always amazed when I showed them these results.”

This is fascinating info. An eye opener. What knowledge this fellow must have. If he sees this please share your knowledge here.

The other fellow seemed to be apparently be trying to run high pressure on an original regular manifold ET2 - from just the info available on the thread anyway. A big no no…
I thought this would be of interest regarding power hits and LP playing.

We have been enduring the hottest summer I can remember. There have been a few power hits due to demand and storms.

We had a power hit on a beautiful but very hot day this past Saturday. I happened to be playing LP's.

I always knew I had some time with the air bearing tonearm due to the pump design but never tested or actually experienced it going out before.

The Timeter pump lets out PSI gradually. Like a balloon letting its air out slowly. I have about 12 seconds to lift the arm before it reaches a low enough PSI to actually start skipping (just under 2-3 psi).

The Verdier will continue to spin for about 25 seconds when the motor is shut off. The JN Lenco spins for just under 20 seconds. The SP10 MKII is dead on power out :^(


Otherwise I would be able to demand from Chris to lend me his beloved ET2 for a month or two.

Nikola – Be careful what you wish for. You are a very witty and brilliant minded person. I get that just from reading your posts here and emails. I am no match for you. Now if you read my OP you will see that I am on my 10th year now with this tonearm and I am “still figuring it out”. So what makes you think you can figure it all out in 2 months ? That’s pretty bold I must say.

Now understand “figuring it out” to me means making it as best as possible. Oh sure just setting it up and getting it working is no problem and even on a boring old aquarium pump. I even have one that you can barely hear that can even stay in the same room next to it with a filter for moisture. But there is so much that can be done here to optimize sonics and customize it. Imagine being able to change your wiring out in 10 minutes for copper, silver, whatever, tuning the arm for different cartridge compliances. magnetic damping, etc….

I take the important clues from our friend Geoch, that when buying an audio product look for those that give you access to the critical areas that can be improved. Those are the genius designs. BTW Geoch put out a couple of really good posts recently here (I thought) on how to optimize a pivot arm and very few on the thread seemed to show any interest :^( yet….


Here’s my deal for you only as I recognize these arms were not common there. JC Verdier as I said had no clue what tonearm I was using on his table. I will send you my second ET2 tonearm – the 2.0 HP Version to use for a couple of months. If you commit to two things.

1) Read the manual. If you can get through the manual you will know you are a candidate for this tonearm.

2) Commit to getting a proper air supply system that will give her the air quality she needs to run a good race.

The Olympics are on TV. I run everyday so the running events I am more interested in.
BTW tell me this is not cool. Just for today however, Google's Aug 7th homepage.


The ET2 tonearm is like a long distance runner. The tonearm itself is the body and lungs. The Pump is the heart with the tubing being the veins. Success and optimization with this tonearm for me has been 40 % proper setup and 60 % air delivery system. Improve the condition of the heart (pump) and just like the runner the ET2 improves.

BTW - There are some out there that have custom 50 PSI ET2 models. The problem as I see it is that Bruce is a really low profile guy. He is the type of guy that never felt the need to put words like “Supreme” on his tonearms. In fact unless you measure the spindle or are familiar with the tonearm to notice the larger spindle, you will not know which model you have. Those with 50 PSI models if they sold them, the new owners probably don’t know what they have.
Have you seen his subwoofer Nikola. Did you realize that Bruce made the first true subwoofer.


Ok so the offer is out with everyone here as a witness. The manual can be found here Nikola in two parts.
Again be careful what you wish for.


Ready, set , go …

Just a fan, and this tonearm is just a tool in an overall system.
Thx Geoch for seeing my email :^) and providing input.

With an air bearing arm like the ET2 my personal experience has told me that 1) Arm/Table Design and 2)Execution, are of equal importance. I have and do run low and high compliance / VTF cartridges. The cartridge that can be seen on my SP10 in my virtual page is a Sonus Blue Gold. 50 x 10-6cm/Dyne with a triple leaf spring. Likewise I was running an XV1 for many years as well.

I am sure Frogman/Dover can add their more vast cartridge experiences than mine to my observation.

Hmmm.. since Nikola is a bit linear arm gun shy maybe I should extend the ET2 offer to you.... Just kidding I know you are very busy with family .... if interested let me know.


Hi Geoch – You are always candid, honest and passionate based on your personal experiences/observations. I can appreciate that. We are all big boys here.

But let me be candid and honest too. My personal detailed TT impressions are on my page however just briefly. The VPI TNT was originally designed for the ET2. There are many out there. I owned one for many years and can say that when you say:

Probably because of a faulty air pressure or wrong alignment, or even because the DP80 is a hell of a TT while the TNT was a lousy plastic sucker.

I would put my money personally on a faulty pump and the wrong alignment part. You now have me wondering if Nikola considers his big Kuzma to be a big plastic sucker?

My old TNT modified with thread, became a new TT far surpassing the belt version in my own setup. The TNT/ET2 you heard if it was an early TNT version with a basic ET2/pump and the POS PLC controller as mine was originally – well I rate it “2 out of 10” compared to the threaded TNT/SDS version with ET2 HP arm and pump mods later. In thread form it surpassed my SP10 mkII set up and forced me to look for the next version. But it became a little higher maintenance in this form. Just like that special girlfriend. I remember our discussion on what material I should use to fill the leg cavities as I was resting them on the excellent AT 616 pneumatic footers instead of the sprung feet.


Your reply back to me was to used beeswax and leadshot in the cavity. Ingenious I thought at the time but it would be really messy. I ended up filling all four of them with blue tac at one point. But it produced a sound like it was coming from the dead. Unlike death itself this was easily reversible. So we have our personal experiences. The Verdier btw took this little tonearm to unimaginable heights for me personally. The JN Lenco however I am keeping safe for when I have more time to explore it properly.

“I'm not convinced for the maturity of what the industry has to offer on this subject as yet and the clinical environmental conditions of handling them regarding dust or smoking is another disturbing thing to consider.”

You are absolutely right. IMO - The demand for these tonearms has come from what I can tell from word of mouth and forums such as this. Just look at the upgrades discussed on this forum alone. Many here now have turnkey systems. One button turns everything on. When people buy these ET2 tonearms used they do not realize that the price being paid is not the price of admission. Significant investment and more importantly time needs to be made in a proper pump system. A new ET 2.5 is not cheap, and then the pump is not included. Bruce Thigpen makes it clear on his website, that sourcing of the pump system is not included but they will offer advice and help to source one. For someone inquiring into a ET2.5 and maybe getting to the next step of ownership – this is not appealing. But there are so many pump options available with it that Bruce has no choice but to leave this option open. Unfortunately most into analog want plug and play I have found and are not willing to do their homework here.
To any owners of linear air bearing arms that use significant psi to work.

We were born with two hands. I don’t know about the others here but one of my hands is more sensitive than the other to touch and feel. I am right handed but my left hand is more sensitive.

Turn on your setup and take your more sensitive hand if you have one, and hold the air tube going into your arm with your thumb and index finger - a few inches from where it enters. Do you feel any pulsations, vibrations at all ? If you do your air delivery is not optimized and you are not hearing what your arm can do.
Likewise if when placing your ear anywhere near the ET2 tonearm you should not hear any air escaping.
To new owners of an ET2
NEVER change a cartridge with the pump running.
Else probably risk a fate to your cartridge - similar to trying to walk down slimy, slippery, wood deck steps in the pouring rain in summer – without a handrail.
Remember this turntable link I posted a little while back.

Nakamichi ET 2.5

Well its up for sale :^)

Just having my morning coffee and I came across it. No affiliation with this at all. Just thought it was kinda cool to come cross it.
I have no doubt that if the ET2 manual ever got updated by Bruce, there would be a separate chapter on matching the tonearm with the compliance of the cartridge. Newly bought tonearms really should come with a single, double and triple leaf spring I beam.
Maybe they do ?
Both my ET2 tonearms were bought used.
Slaw – fwiw - here are my thoughts on the ET2 loom so far for me.

When this thread started I had many questions about the wire loom. The options seems daunting. I had mounted the arm multiple times on different TT setups and found the full plinths to always be the biggest PITA for this tonearm. On the old stock HW19MKIV and TNT the wire used to go down through a hole in the plinth !

What I have found personally since is that on an arm pod / pillar or tower, its good to get the “SMILE” half circle loop where the wire exits the arm. There seems to be minimal wire movement this way with this tonearm when leveled properly. I find with this half loop I can add enough blue tac to the counterweight to make the arm free float – then I can touch the wire in the loop around with my finger and the armtube does not move, regardless of its position over the record.
So for a full plinth this setup is more difficult to do. Frogman has his set up this way. I hope he doesn’t mind me posting his pic again. With a smile :^)


If I ever put my ET2 arm on a full plinth again I would do something similar so the wires comes out of structure like a bridge pillar to form that half circle - smile.
Now with an arm tower/pillar or armpod it can just hang off the end of the armtube to create that loop the other end connecting directly to the phono stage. It makes it really easy.

Is there a better way ? Thoughts ?

My looms are naked and I have no noise with MM and MC. I attribute that to the place I got them from and the fact the preamps are right next to the tonearms.

BTW - If you want to know if your wire loom/TT/Preamp is up to par mount that 420str on a direct drive or idler where the motor is inches away from that cartridge. It will tell you right away if your setup is ok or has issues. Wires, TT motor related, other. Its a great test cartridge in this respect.

Slaw - had a look at your virtual page setup – your loom seems to mimic the Kuzma Airline arm ? Up and over as you say. How is it working ? In the pic it looks more rigid this way ?
I also saw the motor mount for your VPI table. Did you make that ? It looks gorgeous. The thread drive is working out well ?