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 ?
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Great, informative thread that any airbearing tonearm user can benefit from. I do not have an ET arm but have the Maplenoll arm. Ketchup asked for me to share my experiences with the A-M systems silver wire. I chose several thickness of wire to see which worked better with the maplenoll airbearing arm. I had modified the original arm to install a carbon fiber arm with a yamamoto wood headshell. This allowed me to run the arm inside the armwand and through the end to tie directly into the phono amp. I mounted the phono amp directly below the maplenoll which allowed the wires to loosely dangle behind the table down to the phono amp. The wire is single strand, high purity silver and is coated with teflon. I used three different thickness from 0.015 to .005. The very fine wire is very difficult to solder(my experience as i am not great at this but works well because the limpness and weigh are so small that it does not interfere with the movement of the arm. The original arm had wire that terminated in a set of RCA jacks on the back of the table. The original wire was pretty stiff and had to be positioned well to minimize the drag on the arm. I do not know the exact gage of the original maplenoll wire but it was thicker than the 0.015 size. I ended up settling on the 0.01 thickness as i could get a good soldered connection. It did not have any appreciable increase in drag compared to the thinner wire. You can see my original ariadne table using the 0.01 wire on my system pics. As for as signal, i feel the silver wire does not cause any coloration or degradation to the signal from the cartridge. The A-M system wire is used in the medical industry for leads on some pretty sensitive instruments where signal degradation is important so that helped sway my opinion.

Other key points to the tonearm performance is levelness, Proper air pressure and air cleanliness. One item that is discussed on other threads is the absolute mass of the cartridge and tone arm system. The lighter, the better. I know my carbon fiber arm upgrade improved the performance of my table as compared to the original aluminum arm. I use the ZYX universe on the airbearing arm. It is lighter than some of the other cartridges and IMO a great fit for the airbearing arms
Re compliance of the I beam springs: my ET2 came with two I beams of different compliances. The lower compliance is achieved by using two (instead of one) leaf springs glued together. It is possible to lower the compliance further (which is what I did with my third I beam) by super-gluing a thin piece of metal to the existing double spring thus further stiffening it. Ct, when you refer to the stock I beam, I don't know wether what you have is the version with the single or double leaf spring. BTW, I believe Bruce Thigpen makes reference to the different I beams in the manual.

Re the ideal PSI issue: the arm can indeed sound fabulous at 19 or higher psi. But, the result may not be ideal in every system. In mine, the slightly warmer and rounder sound a15-17 psi was preferable.

Re what cartridges to use, I have had success with both Mm and MC types. The best (my favorite) combination was the Monster AG2000. In general, and contrary to the opinion of some, lowish compliance carts seem to work best with this arm; although I have gotten good results with MM's, particularly the Empire D4000.
In brief summary - don't want to get too much involved here - my experiences with the ET 2 and 2.5:

- air pressure (and by chance pulse frequency on the air stream) can have a huge effect on the sound quality. Above a certain pressure the arm can display problems. Up to this "break-point" the sound gets ever more precise and bass gains in "attack" and air.
While the air bearing and tangential principle allow the ET2/2.5 to shine in soundstage and separation, it too sets the limits of it's ability to present authority and attack in the lower bass. This is not a problem of the ET however, but a problem - IMHO - of air bearings in tonearm.

- I always had best results with cartridges with low compliance, rigid internal construction and low body weight. Early ZYX (Monster's AG2000 was an OEM ZYX) and FR-1 MK3F in particular.

- In summary and IMHO, the ET2/2.5 can still give any other tangential tonearm a very hard time and real competition - no matter the price tag.
I modified mine quite a lot and tweaked it to what I think are the limits of it's design.
I loved that tonearm and always will.
To me the best price performance ratio in tangential tonearms and for opera-lovers maybe THE tonearm to go for.

Dertonarm's observations are spot on, and mirror mine. His comment about the ET being THE tonearm for opera lovers may raise some eyebrows, but is particularly insightful. For me, the two greatest attributes of this tonearm are it's correct and midrange-complete tonal balance (what some would describe, incorrectly, as too soft), and it's ability to realistically separate individual instruments and groups of instruments. With opera, and how it is typically recorded, it's reproduction of voices (with correct tonal fullness and dimensionality), and the spatial relationship between those voices and the orchestra in the pit is wonderful.
I wanted to back up here a bit in regards to my system and my viewpoints. I realize that my system is not as revealing as most of yours are, but my comments are from my system's perspective. (I've owned my arm for over 20 years, just in the past year have gone with a high pressure compressor). I use 3 moisture separators and as a last line of defense, use a descicant dryer on the outlet side of the final regulator/moisture separator, that is about 3' from the tonearm. My compressor is in the same environment as is the rest of the system, although in a different room.
A note, these arms are awesome! From a tweaker's perspective, guys or gals with a mechanical apptitude, and from anyone with a drive to seek excellence from their stereo system, this arm will always surprise and deliver but only with the love and care you put into it.
I thought from the beginning of this post that wire type would be a major source of discussion and it turns out the couterweight bolt mod is up for grabs. I personally am satisfied with my tonearm wire set-up and won't be seeking further improvements in that area anytime soon. The counterweight issue: I can only speak as to what I hear in my system and it's limitations. From a logical perspective, having the weights extending further out on the scale, to me, isn't a smart way to go because the further out you go, the more of the teeter-totter effect or see-saw effect (as Chris stated) there will be. (This is of coarse with the stock scale, not with a custom made Balsa wood item). (Frogman, I would love to see your set-up). I too, feel that arm/cartridge compatibility would be an issue here as well as is the TT type of suspension, if any, and getting really technical, the room construction and isolation systems that each one of us has deemed right for their own system. I personnally didn't know that the 2 counterweight beams provided with an arm were different in any way. Dover, we're waiting for your pictures.
This discussion is great! Maybe we should form a once a year ET owner's annual get-together? Of coarse it needs to be hosted by Bruce himself.