Need help and advice on a VPI 3D arm


I was wondering if anyone else has had this issue with the new 3D arm? I bought a new Prime table 4 months ago to try the new 3D arm I also have a Classic stainless steel arm to load another cart on to compare the two back and fourth, last night I was going to switch the cartridges on the two arms and could not set the azimuth on the 3D arm, to get the azimuth right I had to tilt the drop counter weight plus the Soundsmith intuitive way off of center and it is causing the side weights to rub against the adjustment column and is very tilted, after walking away from the setup 3 times I pulled the arm, pulled the side weights off so it would sit square on a level marble counter top and set it flat on the surface and eyeballed it, this thing has lost its shape, the barrel of the arm has a gradual bend downward and the cartridge shell portion of the arm is rolled down and in. This is really throwing off the geometry of the cart in the arm. I placed the stainless steel arm out in the same way and its barrel is perfectly straight and it's head shell is straight as well, it's only issue is that it is slightly off on the azimuth but that can be adjusted out easily. The fact that the barrel and the headshell on the 3D arm is so far off I certainly can not trust my setup to be accurate. I store whichever arm is not being used in a VPI holding case for the 10 inch arms and it has not been dropped or subjected to any drastic temperature changes. I am going to call VPI on Monday but if this is an issue with these arm wands I certainly don't want another one. Let me also add that I believe that this has been a gradual demise of the arm and that I do love the arms sonic signature so would hope VPI has an answer. Tooblue
tooblue
If something is wrong allow them to fix it.  They are good people who are more than willing to support their products. 
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+1. Send it back and get a replacement if necessary. It is defective from the sound of it. VPI will not do you wrong.
When you get the 3D repaired, you will be amazed at how much better it is than the 10.5.....  Let VPI do the repair...they are the only ones to do it correctly.  Those side weights should never come off...
Actually the side weights screw on and off  with no problem, they screw on so you can adjust the azimuth with them.
THE 3D ARM ON MY ARIES 3 WS MY FIRST UNIPIVOT ARM.  IT TOOK ME A NUMBER OF TRIES TO GET THE ARM SET UP CLOSE TO OPTIMUM.  I THEN USED A FEICKERT GAUGE AND A FOZGOMETER TO DIAL IT IN.  EVEN WITH THE CORRECT TOOLS IT TAKES TIME AND PATIENCE.  VPI WILL RIGHT THE WRONG.  i BELEIVE THEY HAD ISSUES WITH EARLY ON 3D ARMS DISTORTING THEIR SHAPE.
The truth is I can set these arms up with my eyes closed, I use a Mint Best Protractor made for the table/arm combo, then use index cards for azimuth and VTA and after that adjust by ear to dial in the last degree, but the fact remains if you have a saggy arm tube and a headshell that is out of wac all the tools and adjustments are not going to get you where you want to be. I have got a hold of VPI and am sending the arm wand back for inspection and replacement. But I have to say that I am a bit Leary and would really like to know the reason for the issue, don't want to get up the road and out of warranty and see this issue again. I own the stainless steel Classic 10.5 arm wand and love it also, it brings a bit of a livelier presentation to the mix versus the 3D arm and after going back and fourth decided to mount my DRY XV1s in the SS arm and my XYZ Universe in the 3D arm.
@tooblue , does your 3D arm have the finger lift molded to the tonearm?

I ask because I just received a VPI Prime from a VPI dealer (demo), and I noticed that the 3D arm I received did not look like the same arm as I see on the internet in many photos of the 3D arm. Mine has a separate metal clip that you attach to the headshell when you mount the cartridge to use as a finger-lift. The ones I've seen on the internet have the finger-lift molded to the arm as one piece, using the same material as the arm itself.

I contacted the VPI dealer and VPI about this. The VPI dealer said that he had a problem with the original arm, sent it back to VPI and that my arm was the new arm that VPI sent him.
VPI said that the one piece arm, that is in all the photos on the internet, was the 2014 version of the 3D arm, and that the version with the separate metal finger-lift clip is the 2015-2016 version of the 3D arm.

I didn't get anymore detail from my dealer about exactly what problem he was having with the older arm though. VPI made no mention of any problems, or why they changed the design.
THE METAL FINGER LIFT WAS ADDED WHEN ISSUES AROSE WITH THE MOLDED IN ONE - IT WOULD SNAP OFF.  YOU HAVE THE UP TO DATE ARM.
Miner42 is right that the arm with the molded in finger lift was the early version and was soon updated to the metal bolt on one but do not know the reason why, I do know that VPI stated there is no sonic difference in the two approaches. After going to the VPI forum I found there are other people with arms that have started to morf out of shape, the headshell seems to be where it shows itself. I love the 3D arm and am hoping for the best and am sure that VPI will take care of me on this issue.
I am sorry jmcgrogan2 started to ramble and did not answer your question. I do have the newer arm, table was bought new 7/2015, and it has the metal finger lift that bolts on with the cart.
Right...there is no difference in sound between the 2....the metal finger lift was added because the of shipping problems..otherwise they are the same.
Just sent the arm back to VPI today by FedEx, Marc looked at the pictures and asked me what happened but they seem to be willing to replace the arm. I am thinking this had something to do with the resin/material that is used to make the arm and maybe not cured or allowed to set in the ideal conditions, but what do I know, that's right I know I have a warped arm.
Poor QC!
Get a replacement.
 VPI has good customer support.
Already in the process. 

Dear TooBlue,

So, their first instinct was to ask YOU what happened???

That was helpful! :(


Good to hear they've taken steps to rectify it.

Hope this solves your problem.


Can you post your pic of arm here for other 3D arm owners to compare?  I know I would like to see it.  Feel free to send to my contact info.
Yeah I will post some pics, please be patient with me and I will get that done shortly. I am of the old school, literally and fumble around on computers but have been getting better lately.

TooBlue...Lol! .That should speed up the manufacturers response time ;^)


Personally, if I get a problem like this I tend to keep it low profile lest it affect the resale value of the item.  ;^) :D

...Not to mention the value of the Company. ;^)

..But, like Miner42, I'm still curious... :)

Yeah I am of the same mind, don't rock the boat an all, they have already said they will be sending me a new one and that they are going to cut into the damaged arm to test and diagnose. Do bear in mind I have been working with them since 9/2015 on the issue of this arm losing its azimuth settings and having to be reset about every two weeks the issue just got so severe that it could not be adjusted out and really obvious visually.
the issue of this arm losing its azimuth settings and having to be reset about every two weeks the issue just got so severe that it could not be adjusted out and really obvious visually.
This raises the question of whether both the stylus and your records have been damaged - not good. For example - if a cartridge miss-tracks once, the record is permanently damaged.

You know Dover you are absolutely right, that is a possibility but I was on top of it and the system is so resolved that it was detectable by ear as the cart would lose it's adjustment. Both the carts used with the bad arm have been dialed in and played on my Classic arm and am sure they are fine, I know them both very well and they are gorgeous.
Make sure that the arm is installed correctly on the table.  I have dislodged mine accidentally from the pivot needle and the arm will obviously be off balance. It took me a few seconds to realize that I had dislodged it. 

Dover said :
"This raises the question of whether both the stylus and your records have been damaged - not good. For example - if a cartridge miss-tracks once, the record is permanently damaged."

Reply :

You're probably right about minor damage occurring but once the arm & cart are properly set up or e.g. the cleanliness issue is removed by deep cleaning, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to hear any signs of damage. (As long as it's a one-off playback and not persistently exposed to the same mistake.)

I could be wrong of course but I've had situations like this and the LP has come up smelling of roses afterwards - as if the mistracking never happened. It's always easy to pick out those moments for "analysis" during replay because it invariably happens on peaks.

My 3D arm is functioning perfectly.  Everyone...even VPI is awarded a screw up from time to time...  This however, could have been done from shipping....VPI will support you.
This was not a shipping issue. 

I personally have 10 3D arms in all lengths and will tell you the armtube has a 1/4" copper tube running through it so it cannot bent or twist.  The headshell is the only part that can bend when confronted with heat, cold, or sun.  Under normal conditions they do not move at all.  If yours twisted you will get a new one even if you bought it years ago because we stand behind everything we make.  Make sure Marc sends you a new one.

HW

I will Harry and if you would please view the pics I sent to Marc they are quite revealing. My arm should be back at VPI so you can look at it as well. Thanks for your response.
Thank you Harry for responding.

Copper is very malleable, Harry... ;^)

This is why they always attached toilet cistern ballcocks with copper rods because they were easily bent with bare hands to alter the trigger threshold for the overflow...  ;^)

Not all copper is.  Speak to your plumber.
So if we use a tonearm for toilet linkage it may or may not bend, check with your plumber:).  Sorry I couldn't resist!
Just received my new arm from VPI and it is quite a bit thicker at the headshell portion of the arm, the counter weight stem is also without any groves and flat spots that the original arm had. Have not mounted a cart on it yet because the Soundsmith knurled mounting screws that I used with the XYZ Universe are not long enough now that the arm is much thicker at the mount. I will shave some of the knurled cap of the screws down on the underside to lengthen the screw portion and mount it this weekend. 

Have not mounted a cart on it yet because the Soundsmith knurled mounting screws that I used with the XYZ Universe are not long enough now that the arm is much thicker at the mount.

I experienced the same issue, though not with Soundsmith mounting screws. The 3D arm has a very thick headshell, and none of my mounting screws for a Ortofon cartridge were long enough. I ordered some more hardware, crisis averted.
My 3D arm began bending too. I sent pictures to them and they sent me the new one with the thicker head shell. Now I too need longer screws.
How long has VPI been making pickup arms? And they still can't make a headshell correctly?
Yeah the heashell is thicker and the tube itself seems just a tad beefier, I say that because it is a very firm fit when I slip it into the arm rest. Just set the ZYX Universe up in the 3D arm and my Dynavector DRT XV1S in the stainless steel Classic arm wand with a Mint Protractor, have about 20 hours on the new arm and seems to have burnt in, no complaints, the 3 D arm is the better sounding arm overall so I will wait a year or so, sell the Classic arm and start looking for another 3D arm as long as this one maintains it's shape.

Nice that HW chimed in, but you are all too generous. The 3D twists like a Takata airbag.
VPI has fantastic customer support.
We now have 3200 3D arms made and shipped with a twisting rate of roughly 1% (almost all in the first year) so Mr. dgarretson you have no clue what you are talking about.

When you deal with new technology, in areas never used before, you will always have a learning curve but the quality of the customer care is what separates a poor company from a good one.  We stand behind everything we make and routinely repair and replace parts on tables 35 years old.

Let's try to keep the BS down to a low roar and the back biting to your partners.  VPI is one of the few companies still around and still supporting its customers.  BTW, in the next business crash we will still be here supporting our customers.

If you need longer screws tell Marc to send you some!!!!!

HW
HW, sorry if I over-reached.  Assuming that there have been continuous improvements that eliminate the problem, I would think owners would want more information on the range of serial numbers affected. Also, heat, cold, and sun can be "normal conditions" during shipping and sometimes even in listening rooms during winter or summer.  If I owned one from an older production run that is at risk, I would be looking for a pre-emptive replacement.   
I will say that the new jmw 9 is a fantastic arm.  Sounds and tracks extremely well.  I am very impressed with it.  Much better than the original with more effective mass.  I am very impressed with this arm.  Not to change the subject or anything like that.
I guess I'm one of the 1%!  I had a VPI 3D tonearm that warped at the headshell.  I sent it back to VPI and they replaced it immediately, no hassle. I have found in a short time of dealing with VPI that their customer support is more than fair, so if you're interested in a 3D tonearm I wouldn't let the "Takata twist" get in the way.  


HW-

Thanks for weighing in and clarifying the situation. I’m a Prime owner (w/3D arm) and have a few questions:

Quote: "We now have 3200 3D arms made and shipped with a twisting rate of roughly 1% (almost all in the first year)".

This would seem to imply that it is a manufacturing defect rather than a design problem. If it is a defect, then can you tell us at which serial number and/or date of mfr you made the correction? Also, what was the cause of the defect and how was it cured?

If it is not a manufacturing defect, then wouldn’t all of the tone arms potentially have this problem? Maybe the rate is higher than 1%, they just haven’t been discovered as of yet (mine does not have this problem, but I also haven’t exposed it to direct sunlight or heat).

Are the tone arms made by VPI or by WM Manufacturing like your other components?

Any follow up would be greatly appreciated.
This topic caused me to carefully look at my 3D arm - my arm was produced prior to the newer design.  I use a Ortofon cadenza Black with my 3D arm - a heavy cartridge at 10.7g which causes me to use a heavy counter weight.  The heavy CtW caused my stub to bend downward and therefore would affect my VTF.  I checked weekly and would get a different reading and now I know why.  I contacted my dealer who then worked closely with VPI CS (Mat) and I now have a newly designed arm n the way to replace my current 3D arm.  My arm was less than a year old.  Great service by VPI and in this day of expensive audio gear it is refreshing to know a company stands behind its product - a legacy left behind by Harry etal.
My question would be if the table is only four months why does it still have the older arm? I was considering this table as an upgrade from my ScoutMaster II and would like conformation that it will come with the updated arm.

fc911c, these 3D arms have gone thru 3 or 4 different iterations, three that I know of. The first being the one with the arm lift molded in the second one going with the metal arm lift that bolts on with the cart and the third with the thicker headshell, a work in progress you might say. I to came from a Scoutmaster with SDS, perifial ring and BDR record clamp and loved it but always wanted to try the 10.5 arm versus the 9 arm and as good as the 9 is the 10.5s are sooooo much better and when you add the perifial ring, SDS and a good record clamp it is really sweet.

Thanks tooblue for the information. Could you post some pictures of your new arm? I too have the ring and the hrx  clamp no SDS though. I would like to get an SDS can you explain what it did to improve your setup?
fc911c, bear with me I am waiting on my headphone amp to be shipped from Yamamoto in Japan and I will post my system in it's entirety when that arrives because system will be complete at that point. Also bear in mind that as good as the 10.5 arms are the 3D is the premium arm and even with the issues I have had VPI has shown nothing but great customer support.

The SDS is kind of hard to pigeon hold to what it adds, it is suttle but still an upgrade and does give you the peace of mind that the speed is firm and the power is clean although expensive, in my mind worth it plus it gives you 45 rpm without moving the belt. The HRX pulley with two belts was a very cost effective upgrade upgrade that was not shuttle at all.