ETs are hard to setup properly but are consistently praised as very very very good....
ET arms require a pump as the arm rides along a bearing of air. In addition it requires a tank and has about a 100 ft, hose which allows you to put the pump far enough away from the listening area as to not be disturbed by the sound of the pump. had enough yet? It also happens to be a great sounding arm when properly set up
The ET-2 is a very good tonearm, and a great combination with any of the VPI turntables. I've used an ET-2 on my VPI-19 MkIII for years with great success, and am currently riding a Grado Reference in it. I've found this tonearm to be extremely reliable and very low maintenance. (Being able to adjust VTA while a record is playing is something I will never do without after being able to do so with the ET-2.) As people point out, it needs to be set-up correctly first. Doing so is not quite as difficult as is often alleged, but it can be daunting due to all the possible adjustments. Once properly set-up, the arm has not been the least problematic in my experience, and it stays solidly in adjustment. And the sound is terrific.
All that said, the JMW 12.5 is very likely to be a better sounding tonearm from all I've heard, and so is the 10.5. A friend who had the same VPI/ET-2 set-up as mine recently switched to the JMW 10.5, and he claims the JMW made a tremendous improvement in his system over the ET-2. YMMV.
I used an ET2 for over 10 years and was very happy with the performance. I agree that it takes a good deal of patience and skill to set it up properly but it is quite stable. The most critical adjustment is the front to back level of the table. If it is not perfect the arm will tend to skate one way or the other. This is why the ET is not suitable on tables with soft suspensions. The arm moving across the record will change the the level of the suspension enough to create an imbalance. I found the best way to set this is to put the large knurled brass weight on the post behind the arm to balance it so it floats over the table. You can also use a blank disc such as the Cardas Test Record. Just make sure the table is on a very stable surface.
I've been using the ET2 for the last 12 yrs.and it's a very good arm.Once properly set,and one should use the jig for that,it's done, forget about it Tony....It's impossible to find an arm this good especially on the used market say around 800 or so....Give Bruce T. a call, he's very helpfull......Good luck.....................