New VPI 3D Arm
At last I have the arm in place and set up - though I think the tweak adjustments are still far from done. I had in place a VPI 10.5i arm with a Benz LPS, on a Superscoutmaster/Rim Drive with Bearpaws in place of the original VPI mini feet. The rest of the system is an Ayre K1xe preamp with their phono board in place, an Ayre V1xe amp, and Vandersteen 5A speakers. I set the new 3D arm with a MINT protractor, and a Fozgometer. The arm was sent to me with a standard rear counterweight of 120 grams that included a Soundsmith Counterintuitive to ease the setup. How Nice I said to myself, however, Harry himself recommended a 200 gram counterweight because my cartridge was so heavy. The new weight was sent to me, without the Counterintuitive...when I inquired why not, it seems that the C/I wouldn't fit the larger, heavier counterweight that was needed for my cartridge. So..off I go to set up the new arm. Let me tell you the setup is the clunkiest, most time consuming, most exasperating work, I have ever tried. I just gave up after many hours, and contacted VPI to vent. Harry told me that if I oiled the inside grommets of the rear counterweight, it would move much easier/smoother....and so it did, however, I would grade it as a D+...better than the F before, but not good at all. When moving the counterweight it still gripped the tonearm make any kind of precise movement a matter of luck. Harry told me he was working on (almost done - ready to market in about a month) a new counterweight system that would permit easy fine tuning with no problems. I suggest anyone who is about to get a 3D arm to insist that the new counterweight be included with your purchase. Harry promised me one of these, and I will report on these pages when I get it and how well it works. Anyway...probably most of you want to know how the new arm sounds. I must remind you that the arm is still new and really not tweaked to the nth degree. My first album told me immediately that this arm was completely different than the 10.5i (which I think is a great arm when set up correctly). The music from the speakers with this arm is completely relaxed....that hits you in face immediately. I'm not sure I can explain it further then "relaxed". When playing Paul Simon's new album with the 10.5i, I had to strain to hear the words to the tunes....which was odd to me since Paul's prowess as a poet is hard to criticize. With the 3D arm, the words and Paul's talent is completely exposed. Instruments are much more rounded and in their own space - individually...as in real instruments playing. Right now, I would describe the low end as a bit weak, however, the cables are not broken in yet, and back end of the arm just may be too high. After all of the aggravation and hours of setup, I'm not ready to adjust anything yet...just want to rediscover my vinyl. This is a work in process, and I will post again.