"S" shaped tonearm ?

what is the reason a company ,such as denon for instance to put an "S" shaped tonearm on there table. ive had both straight and S . and while not high end , i currently have the denon dp500m table . ive heard nor seen an advantage to either, though my experience is very much amature audiophile.
Better geometry so that the tracking angle is improved over more of the record, I think.
One can get the proper geometry by just bending the head of the arm (like most tonearms), so that is not the reason for the S-shaped arm. I believe that the S-shape is an attempt to balance the mass of the arm about the axis drawn between the pivot and the stylus. Without the S-shape there is more mass on the "outside" of this axis. Why such static balance along that axis is important is not clear to me (aside from reducing torque in one direction at the pivot). The "cost" of such design is much more mass. For any given mass, other designers would favor increasing the rigidity of the arm instead of trying to achieve such balance.
The S shape arm is an inferior design.

It has been mathematically proven that the minimum tracking error of a pivoted arm is given by the Baerwald equations, which require a headshell offset angle.

There are 2 obvious ways to obtain a headshell offset angle:
1. Angle the headshell relative to the armtube
2. Bend the armtube into an "S".

In the field of Strength of Materials, which is the study of shapes and their response to stress (and has nothing to do with actual materials, so the name can be misleading to non-engineers), it is mathematically proven, and experiements back this up, that the deflection of a column is proportional to its length given other equal parameters. In Vibrational Analysis it is proven that longer beams of the same cross sectional area will suffer far greater vibrational deflection. Therefore, in both the static and dynamic conditions, a shorter armtube would be superior if one's goal is neutrality.

Since the S shaped armtube is inferior in both strength and vibrational analysis, with no other advantages, there is simply no reason to do this other than reasons of aesthetics, ease of fabrication, or nostalgia.

Anyone making a case for an "S" shaped armtube being superior is showing that either he has no technical understanding of the matters at hand or does not have a goal of neutrality for the tonearm.

The current "high end" tonearms i.e. Schroeder, Graham etc. are all straight and relatively short arms.
I think it was a combination of improved geometry and "sexiness" of the s-shaped arm. It was a way to stand out from many other mass market products (which of course got picked up by the mass marketers). Just MO.
I always thought that S shaped arms started disappearing around the time MCs became the rage and that it was discovered that you needed a more rigid arm tube for MCs than with light and compliant MM or moving iron designs, so that extra material to make it stiffer and extra material to keep the S shape just wouldnÂ’t do.

I remember the SME model that was S shaped with a titanium wand and I think it was no slouch teamed with a compatible cart.

I like the way you seem to think that everything made now is better than everything made then. I guess one does fall into that trap when one is a monger.
The genesis of "S", and for that matter "J", shaped arms is probably buried in the mists of time, though I think that Larryi has a pretty plausable explanation. The only reason that I can see to currently design one of these arms is that it becomes compatible with universal headshells, which are absolutely necessary in the DJ world and pretty convenient in the audiophile world, though as Bill stated, there will be a high sonic price to pay for such convenience. As always, sigh!
Pbb, I hope that you are not addressing me with your last comment. I enjoy older technology. For the record, my turntables are 1960 Gray ST-33 with ESL S-2000 tonearm, single speed table, no cueing or anti-skate on the arm, 1969 Thorens TD125AB MKll with TP13A tonearm, 1972 Micro Seiki MR711 with MA202L 10" tonearm, 1982 Logic Tempo E with Datum 2 tonearm. Happy to own both DD and belt drive tables and both "S",and "J" shaped and straight arms. As Bill would point out, all of this stuff is way off of the current pace. I will be buying a Hadcock from him for use with my Grado Signature, when I find a suitable table, and mostly, when I get some remodeling done on my house and have some cash to splash out with.

Well, here are my guesses - form followed function.

Until sometime in the 50s, most arms were straight. Then, when the importance of offset angle became better known, arm manufacturers designed "S" or "J" arms to achieve this angle. Also, remember at this time it became common to have a removeable headshell, something easier to implement with a S or J arm if offset was to be maintained. Next, in the mid-70s high compliance cartridge designs became more popular, thus requiring low mass arms. It was easy to see a straight arm would have lower mass, all other things being equal, so many lower mass straight arms with offset headshells were introduced. Then by the late 70s/early 80s, MC cartridges became more popular. Being lower in compliance (on average) they required higher mass arms. This time, realizing straight armtubes were easier and cheaper to build, manufacturers continued with straight arm designs but with higher mass, a practice continued to the present.

If you read fellow 'goner Raul, you may see that sometimes straight arms work best, sometimes S or J arm are a better match. Similarly, a fixed headshell should not automatically be assumed to be superior. In reviewing Raul's comments, you'll see that sometimes the surprising arm/cartridge match is the one which works the best.
I think definitely the J and S-shaped arms evolved out of designing 9" arms (as opposed to straight 12" DJ arms) to work with a universal headshell. I remember the SME arm of the early '70s being J-shaped. The Japanese turntables of that era were almost all S-shaped, which looked real "technical" at the time. But even the early generation Linn and Rega TTs had S-shaped tonearms with detachable headshells.

Later, in the quest for improved weight/stiffness ratio, the high end industry scotched the detachable headshell and S-arm for a straight arm and integrated headshell. This was fine and dandy but it also created a couple of new problems: Mounting the cartridge was going to be a lot harder, and a straight cylindrical tube would have a stronger single resonant frequency.

So now, some--but definitely not all--cartridges have built-in threads to make cartridge-mounting easier. Still, this old sight-and-fine-motor-challenged guy wonders how I'd ever successfully mount a cartridge without my beloved detachable universal headshells. And many straight tonearms are now tapered--slightly conical--rather than cylindrical to reduce the resonant frequency. This would increase the mass a bit; I wonder how much mass it adds compared to stretching the tube into an S-shape?

One question I have to ask though, wouldn't an S-shaped arm be stiffer in the horizontal plane? Also, bending the arm cylinder into three dissimilar lengths could help control, reduce, and possibly even cancel resonances.

Then there's the matter of build quality, tolerances, and skill of execution vs. design theory. In theory, an integrated headshell and straight arm has an advantage in rigidity between the pivot and the stylus. But the Technics arm's bearings are finished to a tolerance of .5 micron and a specified bearing friction of < 7mg. Might that not offset some S-arm's other disadvantages?
great answers! it seems to me denon offered one of there older high end tables with interchangable arms both straight and S shaped.the 60L ? i dont recall but does anyone recall there thinking on this? also there latest table the dp500m has an S shaped , this being there topend table while the two other tables they offer have straight arms, just marketing? thanks
Pbb says
>> I guess one does fall into that trap when one is a monger.<<

Sir, I deliberately did not mention and/or endorse any of my products.

It's generally a good idea to look before you leap.

Dear Jrw40: The tonearm subject is a complex one. The geometry on a tonearm is only one parameter to make a judge about.
In the tonearm subject IMHO it does not exist " black " or " white " like Pryso posted there are many parameter invlove to make a choose.

I own several tonearms: straight, S and J shaped, all of them with the right cartridge performs great. In many ways the S/J shaped tonearms are better than the straight ones, as a fact ( not in theory ) there is no single advantage on the straight ones against the S/J shaped ones ( I don't want to argue about internal continuity wire. ) and these ones has some advantages.

At least two of my tonearms, Micro Seiki MAX 282 and Audiocraft AC-4400 come with both arm wand types: straight and S/J shaped, figure what?, I'm using the S/J shaped ( I already try it the straight ones and I prefer the S/J shaped ).

In my experience there are " old design " tonearms like Lustre GST-801, Technics EPA-100 and EPA 100MK2, Microseiki/Audiocraft, etc, etc, that overall outperform many of today top straight/linear tracking tonearms.

The supposition that the straight tonearms are better ones it is only one more myth/marketing, because the in theory advantages can't be looking in the real world.
In the same conditions and with the right cartridge ( IMHO and experience ) I can't find any advantage on a straight tonearm against S/J shaped one.

This tonearm subject is very interesting and there are several things to talk about and of course several different opinions but I think that more important than only an opinion is to talk about experiences on the subject because at the " end of the day " that's what it counts.

As some of you know I'm on the tonearm design right now and I can tell you that this subject is really complex.

Regards and enjoy the music.
>The supposition that the straight tonearms are better ones it is only one more myth/marketing, because the in theory advantages can't be looking in the real world.<

That is incorrect. Science trumps opinion.

The information I posted previously is based on composite information from 3 tonearm engineers/designers, not a hobbyist proffering an opinion.

As I posted previously:

Since the S shaped armtube is inferior in both strength and vibrational analysis, with no other advantages, there is simply no reason to do this other than reasons of aesthetics, ease of fabrication, or nostalgia.

Thank you.
Feil sent me an email indicating that he mentioned present day arms he does not sell. I'll buy that, but not his argument that is based on the notion that if it is current practice it has, by definition, to be better than anything that was built before.

I don't want to leave the imnpression that Feil is shady in any way, although he does seem to push what is current and, to me at least, this seems to go against the current that I see favouring old and quite old analog equipment (Lenco, Thorens rebuilds come to mind).
>>this seems to go against the current that I see favouring old and quite old analog equipment (Lenco, Thorens rebuilds come to mind).<<

Classic cars are wildy popular today. Vintage Corvettes and Mustangs fetch big bucks. However, the newest Z06 Corvette and Shelby Mustangs will smoke their 1960 and 1970 counterparts. Why? Very simple, technology has improved. The cars are faster, more nimble, and do way better than 8 miles per gallon of gas.

So you stick with that antique S shaped tonearm and 1958 Edsel. They both look cool but that's where it ends.

I don't have nearly the technical knowledge of the vast majority posting here.Yet,I, truly, try to be as open minded as I can,especially on the subject of NOT rationalizing,to suit something I have or like.I still occassionally buckle in,and go for something that has demonstrated superiority,on enough occassions.
If I can add a "little" input on the "old" vs "new" subject.Basically from the fortunate ability to hear a load of quality systems......I had always been impressed with some of the latest really cool "stuff" the industry had to offer.Yet I have been "amazed too many times",with the abilities of some of the more experienced hobbyists,and their own particular approach to component choices/system voicing.New isn't consistently better,and old can still "sound" old!
The business of "oldness/no good-anymoreness" is absolutely silly.I have heard set-ups utilizing much equipment over two decades old,that are ABSOLUTELY competitive with todays best!The owner/hobbyist/thinking tweaker can have a HUGE imact on what he wants to accomplish,with a system.I believe many folks don't really know how they want a givin system to "sound",and simply "go" with each subtle improvement they hear.The system takes what ever form it desires,based on the changes.I have a few friends who go this way.They still sound fine though.....BUT....my "best set-up" friends actually KNOW "how" they want their music to "be presented" to them,from their music systems.To me,they have some of the finest sounding "music" systems I am fortunate to hear.On a regular basis!!AND there is a consistent "consistency" to these set-ups.Yet they have been involved with the hobby a LONG time,and have stopped being influenced by anything,other than their OWN tastes,a long time ago.
BTW:The best NOS tubes sure don't suck!!They are surely old though!!
Of course if there is a design benefit from something,and I do realize the inherent limitations of an "S" shaped arm(I think),then it will enhance the total "system" approach.
Alot of newer products are wonderful,and very desireable,and we all have new stuff somewhere in our systems,but the "GUY" who can rise above the non stop market influences,and "almost always" over reviewed products,who has good ears/experience/sensibilities/desire,will nine out of ten times have the better sounding set-up.New vs Old is absolutely meaningless to them.
At least that has been my experience,and only based on my own tastes.
I hope some of this makes sense.
'feil, I take your point about engineering principles, etc, but the audio hobby is replete with examples of real world experience running counter to science-based expectations. So, you must admit that, for a given individual with a given turntable and cartridge (and amplification and speakers), it is possible that an S or J shaped arm tube might "outperform" (in the opinions of listeners) a straight arm tube on the very same pivot, as per the report by Raul where he can change from S or J to straight on a Micro-Seiki. I have no axe to grind; I use only two tonearms, and they both have straight arm tubes. The auto analogy is a nice one, but it is not relevant to audio where subjective judgments are all we have to go on. Surely no one would argue that class D solid state amplifiers are not well ahead of tube amps in technology, but how many of us would want the former type of amp in our two channel stereo listening rooms in lieu of a great tube amp?
Audiofeil, if you think a '58 Edsel looks "cool", then you and I have VERY different tastes and senses of aesthetics. 8^)
Dear friends: I respect all opinions including that of persons that has not any knowledge about.

Any one of you can take an Ikeda tonearm/Audiocraft/Micro Seiki/Lustre/Technics/Grace G940/Satin/Mission/MDC800/Dynavector,etc, etc, and test against say: VPI, Triplanar, Basis, Schoroeder, Transrotor, SME, Graham, Kuzma, etc, etc and in the same conditions you will see that the new ones have no any single advantage not only that but that the S/J shaped ones beats the straight ones ( it does not matters what the theory say about. )

There are so many parameters that are inside/influence in the quality performance of a tonearm/cartridge that it is almost impossible to say that the straight tonearms are better because in practice it is not.

Here are some of those parameters: type of bearings, bearing material, bearing tolerances, statical or dynamic balance way, position of the counterweight in reference to the cartridge stylus, counterweight isolotation, counterweight material, effective tonearm mass, tonearm material used, internal tonearm damping, external bearing damping, internal wiring quality, tonearm geometry, lenght of the tonearm, headshell design, headshell wire quality, headshell material, antiskating design, connectors type to the phono interconnect cable, tonearm base design and material used, etc, etc. These are only some of those tonearm parameters and we have to add all the cartridge parameters that are critical on the quality performance.

As any one can see it is very complex and that famous theory does not help here to say ( only for that theory ): this is better, no it can't period.

Now, old vs new. IMHO this is a controversial subject and depends of on what kind of audio items we are talking about because our opinion/experiences could change if we talk about amplifiers than if we talk about tonearms or TTs.
If we take tonearms/TTs I can say that the " old " ones not only are competitive with today gear but some times beat them.
It could be interesting to analyse tonearm/TTs designs like Technics ( EPA 100/501, SP10 MK2-3. ) ) that are great ones. Mi first question about is to ask who is Technics?, well Technics was/is a Panasonic division that belongs to Matushita corporation, could you imagine the research resources that the Technics designers ( yes a designer/research group not a single designer person with limited resources. )group had/have?
Thechnics EPA-100MK2 tonearm was designed/build in 1982 ( 25 years ago, still running and unbeatble!!!!!!), was the first tonearm made of Boron/Titanium material ( still today is the only one and no one use this material, wonder why?. ) that has the lowest bearing friction of any pivoted tonearm in the world, the on the fly VTA and damping adjustment is unique even to today standards, the quality construction is almost unsurpassed for any today tonearm, etc, etc, if in the future any one of you have the opportunity to work with this Technics Gem you could understand everything I'm talking about.
Technics?, take its TT motors, till today the direct drive motor specs are unsurpassed on the SP-10MK3 and Do you know which motor use the famous Micro Seiki TTs? well: Panasonic!!!!!!

It is a sad that these kind of professional people with no limit resources stay away from high end.

Old vs new ?, cartridges: Air Tight, Myabi, XV-1, Allaerts, Magic Diamond, ZYX, Transfiguration, Titan, name it. Well there are at least two " very old " MM ( yes you read well: MM!!! ) cartridges that ovearall beats almost any of today MC cartridges: Audio Technica ATML 180OCC and AKG P8ES Supernova VDHII and at least other ten more that are a challenge to any today MC cartridge design.

Yes IMHO some times the old designs are still a reference standard for today designs, at least on tonearm/TT/cartridges.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Well it seems quite simple. You can believe:

1. The guys who design and build the tonearms. They have degrees in mechanical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, and acoustic sciences.

2. The amateur hobbyist with a bunch of toys.

I know where to place my bet.

Note to Pryso, actually IMO the Edsels are some of the homeliest cars Ford ever built but cool is in the eyes of the beholder. I grant you it was a poor example.

I'll leave S and J shaped arms to the folks who buy clocks, rocks, and teleportation tweaks.

I'm done.
Being that my daughter never stops reminding me how old I am getting,I'll have to state that OLD is ALWAYS better!! -:)
Professional designers are also beholden to the prevailing design theories and manufacturing methods currently available. Tonearm manufacture can only tolerate a few design types and remain cost-effective and competitive, so designs that don't fit the business model are rejected before they can even get started.

I've been in audio for 40 years and have watched the high end throw one dogma over for another about every decade or two. I remember when horns ruled in the heydey of JBL, Altec, and Klipsch; and then were repudiated in favor of silk domes. For a long time high end dogma dictated that a horn speaker could not be high end. Oops! Along comes Avante Garde of Germany. There was a time when no self-respecting high end speaker design was ported; now most of them are. Most speakers today have to be bi-wire capable, even if there is no benefit to designs with 1st order crossover. If it lacks the features that are in currently style, it won't sell.

Right now in tonearms it's the straight, one-piece armtube, preferably with integral headshell, with a unipivot bearing. A straight, one-piece arm w/integrated headshell is the cheapest to manufacture and may have advantages in rigidity vs. weight. It's also an absolute bit** for mounting a cartridge. Still, current turntable/tonearm dogma dictates that nothing but a belt-drive with straight arm w/unipivot is going to succeed in the marketplace.

The once-ubiquitous dual-gimbal fulcrum has largely given way to the unipivot design. The unipivot bearing is cheap and simple, but has little to no ability to stabilize or control azimuth. A dual-gimbal design allows free movement in the x and y planes while limiting movement in the z plane to bearing play.

And here's an alternate automobile analogy to the 1958 Edsel. Prevailing leading edge engine design dictates an alloy block, double overhead cams, and 4 valves per cylinder. But then there's the Corvette Z06 with a cast iron 2-valve pushrod engine, which at $70K, can beat or stay even with any supercar up to around $250K. And if that isn't enough to push the envelope, the Steve Saleen S7 $400K supercar has a 2-valve pushrod engine as well, yet puts out 550 to 750 HP. The SR-7 racing version has had much success on the competition circuit (e.g., Sebring, Le Mans).
Johnnyb, I couldn't have said it better.
Its a long way from the original question which was why were tone arms s shaped (paraphrasing). However, what this has evolved into is a discussion of one of the hobby's basic questions:
Is design X better than design Y. Tubes better than SS, etc, etc. The answer is almost always, it depends. Depends on what?
1. How you define better?
2. How is the design implemented?
3. Is cost, convenience and/or durability a factor (see #1).
4. What associated equipment is involved?
5. What design decisions were made in the development of the associated equipment?

These factors (at least 2-5, I'm sure there are more) are especially relevant with an LP playback system, since it consists of several different "modules", often sourced separately, that must work together. Cartridge, headshell (perhaps), wiring (perhaps), tonearm, platter, motor etc. In the real world it is very difficult to separate these factors out. And of course many of us define #1 very differently. This is endemic to any artform (I'm talking music, but perhaps that word also applies to TT design). The weight each individual places on each factor (and even the name and number of factors) varies and it is highly unlikely that any two persons would "evaluate" a musical experience identically. In the end, tho, I would argue that design implementation, manufacturing, quality control, and the other elements in the analog chain are more important than whether the arm is straight or curved. As several others have pointed out, not all carts will "work" in every arm and not every arm is right for every kind of table. However, its lots of fun to read and talk about this, so blog on!!!
what is the reason a company ,such as denon for instance to put an "S" shaped tonearm on there table. ive had both straight and S . and while not high end , i currently have the denon dp500m table . ive heard nor seen an advantage to either, though my experience is very much amature audiophile.
Now that this thread has beat tonearm design theory to death without answering your question, I'll make a stab at it.

The two main turntables (that I can think of) that are using an S-shaped arm are the Denon 500M and the Technics SL12x0 variants. I can think of several reasons they might do this.

* We've already established that to use a detachable Universal headshell on a 9" tonearm, there has to be a bend in it for better tracking angle. This means the wand will be a J or S shape.

* In Japan, the home market for these manufacturers, the S-shaped tonearm and universal headshell are both still popular. E.g., Audio Technica still makes a J-shaped tonearm with detachable headshell for $1900. It's at AudioCubes II here. The detachable headshell thing is popular enough over there that ZYX offers a universal headshell at about $550. See it here.

Technics and Denon have probably determined that offering a manual turntable with detachable headshell still has market viability. Being able to use a tonearm design from the '70s on a direct drive transport enables them to maintain a presence in the turntable market, offer higher build quality for a lower purchase price, and avoid R&D expenses on a market that currently can't generate the numbers they require to invest in new R&D.
Dear friends: IMHO, the ignorance is the worst " illness " in our audio world and at some levels it has no healing.

Unfortunatelly we can't do nothing against/help to in-deep ignorance: Vive le ignorance!!!!!!


Regards and enjoy the music.
wow, you guys have covered alot of ground. though very intresting reading. i think johnnyb53 probably has it right.thanks to eveyone for there input.
Audiofeil is spot on. Probably unpopular, but he, or the engineers are right. The S-Form was done lots of years ago but today there is no advantage anymore. the most solid construction is straight.
Can you hear the difference between a S-Arm and a straight one? Probably ...
Dear Thomasheisig: " +++++ the most solid construction is straight. " +++++

So what, that is only one of more than 30 different parameters that affect the tonearm performance and is the equilibrium of all those parameters what makes a difference in a quality tonearm performance.

" +++++ but today there is no advantage anymore " +++++

Sorry but IMHO this kind of statement ( with all my respect ) only reveal non know-how on the subject.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Hi Raul, both we know that nothing is final. there are always different point of views, for good designs and average ones.
But some of these "S" Arms have their "Birth" only from Design reasons. It is true, that there are more parameters which are important, but which have the priority?
I wonder, why nobody designed a "S" shaped Air Line Arm... Could be the next big adventure....

But some of these "S" Arms have their "Birth" only from Design reasons.
Or marketing reasons. For the last 20 years, a new arm wouldn't be taken seriously unless it has a straight shaft and integrated headshell. But back in the '60s and '70s when high end turntables descended from professional radio gear, it wasn't considered a serious tonearm (and therefore wouldn't find a market) unless it had a detachable universal headshell. And on a 9" arm, that meant the wand had to curve.

One could say that--*all things being equal*--a straight arm with integrated shell has an advantage. But "all things" are seldom equal. The Rega RB300 is a highly regarded tonearm, especially for the money. Its strongest point is probably its straight, tapered tonearm shaft with integrated headshell. But it has other vulnerabilities such as unadjustable VTA, a VTF spring that's prone to resonate according to some users, and iffy azimuth.

Compare it to an old-school S-shaped tonearm such as a Technics EPA-100, and the Technics has advantages in lower bearing friction, a double gimbal design that maintains azimuth alignment better, a titanium wand that cheats conventional rigidity-to-weight expectations, and perhaps most wonderful of all, dial-in damping to accommodate a wider range of effective mass/compliance ratios.

Economy of scale comes into play, too. That's one reason an RB300 can be considered so good at $400. But if a company found the market potential to scale up to make 3 times as many per year, they could afford to make a better tonearm from better materials, closer tolerances, and more features at the same price.

Is the RB300 a better arm *simply* because it has a straight arm and integrated shell? In this case, probably no. Would an EPA-100 be better with a straight wand with integrated shell? Probably. Enough to tell the difference? Who knows?

Then there's the issue that "different" isn't always "better." At a given price point, a straight arm might have better imaging and leading edge transients; another design might have deeper bass or richer timbres. If you're only listening for imaging and treble, you'd conclude that the straight arm is "better." But someone else listening for the body of the tone might prefer a different tonearm for sounding more timbrally accurate.
Dear Thomas: Yes, I agree with you: nothing is final.

" +++++ It is true, that there are more parameters which are important, but which have the priority? " +++++

Well IMHO to achieve the best equilibrium between all those tonearm parameters in the tonearm design/build could mean to choose those mix parameters trade-offs that do less harm to the quality sound. This is very easy to say but extremely hard work to make, but this is what we are looking for. Obviously that all those parameters have a different priority levels but at the end all are important ones, example: what advantage do you have with a straight/integral headshell tonearm that has mediocre bearings? or that the material choossed to build was the wrong one?: equilibrium/synergy is the name of the game.

All the tonearm names ( and several others ) that I already mentioned are very good ( not average ones ) designs by any today standards, in the future try to test one of them in your lovely audio system you own.

Now, there are advantages on a S/J shaped tonearms let me explain one or two of them:

when we have a removable universal headshell we can really match the cartridge to the tonearm in an easy way that with a non-removable headshell. The removable universal headshell give us the great/huge opportunity to change/choose for different headshells: with different build material ( aluminum, composite aluminum, magnesium, composite magnesium, ceramic, wood, carbon fiber, etc, etc ) that have different self damping conditions and different kind of resonance and these factors works along the ones in the cartridge and change the cartridge sound, not only the material headshell parameter help to us to match the cartridge to the tonearm but the headshell shape too and the headshell different weight ( that help to change the effective mass ).

All these factors/parameters on the headshell give us an almost infinity chances to obtain the best of the best for any cartridge, something that you can't do it with any of the tonearms that you own. For you can obtain the best of a single cartridge you have to have several different tonearm and test in which one you obtain the best sound, in the other side with only one S/J shaped tonearm you can do it trying different headshells ( that are inexpensive: 40-120 dollars ).
Now this not something that I read somewhere or that some one told me NO! I have almost all the experiences about. Right now I have more than 60 cartridges, many tonearms ( S/J/Straight ) and a lot of different headshell/wires ones, all these arsenal give me the opportunity to obtain the best quality sound for almost any cartridge ( including yours ) something that almost all analog audio people ( including you ) only can approach/dream but very difficult to achieve if not impossible.

Well, when you own a S/J shaped tonearm you own not one tonearm but several ones due to the universal removable headshell. There are other advantages, as a fact we can write a book about.

Now, I'm not against the straight non-removable headshell tonearm designs ( I own several ones ), these tonearm have advantages too and can give you a different kind of sound, which one is for you or other person?, that's depend of what we are looking for and which ones are the trade-offs that we choose.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Johnnyb53: " +++++ Would an EPA-100 be better with a straight wand with integrated shell? "+++++

Well as you know Technics had the 501 that share many design parameters with the EPA 100, the 501 ( that I own too ) is a trsight non-removable hedshell tonearms that comes with 4 different effective mass arm wands, it is a great tonearm too but its quality performance it is not better than the EPA 100 or the EPA 100-MK2.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dare I say it?....I think the earlier post by Audiofeil makes the most sense.The scientific theory,and overall arguement just seem to make the most sense to me.
Based on personal usage,I could probably make a case for a "straight" arm linear tracker being the ONLY way to go,as the ones I have heard were clearly superior to any arms in my experience.This is not the topic here,but it's a fun thought,as the "pondering" aspect of this thread hs brought out alot of conjecture.
Best to all.
Dear Sirspeedy: IMHO you need to re-read some posts in the thread, now if you already make it then I have to say that it is not possible to " talk " with people with out know-how on the subject.

Your statement: +++++ " a "straight" arm linear tracker being the ONLY way to go.... " +++++, confirm that non know-how.

Everything ( choices/alternatives )in this life like in the audio subjects are surrounded of trade-offs. Your " ONLY way to go " tell us ONLY your mis-understanding about.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raulwith all due respect I think you did not truly understand my point.
BTW Raul,I was being a bit sarcastic.Just in case you misinterpreted me,which seems to be the case.
As to the subject of you mentioning,why should I "talk with people without hnow how on the subject",I am anxiously awaiting your arm design.
Best regards
Dear Sirspeedy: I'm sorry for my misunderstanding.

+++++ " awaiting your arm design ..." +++++

Well, I'm awaiting too. Build/design a tonearm is more or less an easy task but build/design " the arm " is a hard task, very complex and time consuming. We are working in and if we achieve our targets then that tonearm will appear at the " audio world " but if we can't reach those targets then there will be no tonearm at all.

Regards and enjoy the music.