Should I keep my Well tempered tonearm?

I have had this arm for years. I am currently in the middle of getting an oracle Delphi MKIII. My alexandria it was on has had it, and its not logical to repair what needs replacement.

I have always had mistracking issues with this tonearm and whatever cartridge. I just sold a Grado Sonata, which may have been a mistake. I have tried multiple cartridges (read 4 different known good units) and never seem to get it right.

I ordered the protractor from stanalog because I am concerned that its incorrectly set overhang causing mistracking. When I say mistracking I mean sibalence.

I have played with every possible setting and never had it setup to my satisfaction.

Honestly, I am sick of screwing around with this arm. I am about ready to get rid of it and get something different.

The manual isn't all that great as far as installation instructions either. It lists that you mount the cart and set overhang by twisting the arm mounting until the stylus lines up with the overhang circle. This makes no sense to set overhang with an arbitrary cartridge mounting arrangement.

Sorry if this seems like a rant, but I am very frustrated and annoyed with this arm. I just want to listen to good sounding clean music. Not dirty sibalence.

Thanks guys, your input would be appreciated. I would likely have to buy an arm that is priced close to what the WTT is worth used because I won't have a ton of money left over.


BTW, I put a 10x5 on a thorens turntable and could listen to that all day compared to my setup.
From what I know about this tonearm it should be used with a suspension-less turntable such as the welltempered models that it was designed for. The alexandria and the delphi that you are now thinking of mounting it on are both tables that use a spring sprung suspension system for their isolation. Please correct me if I am wrong or off track.
I bought my Well Tempered Record Player from Schipo during my Year In New York, and I believe he's correct. While I never tried the arm on a suspended table, I can't believe that it would be a good match. Any suspension movement would be counteracted by the tonearm damping; that can't be good.

I agree that the WT arm is more difficult to deal with than a conventional arm, and that the supplied instructions are cryptic at best. I tweaked and fussed and trialed and errored, but in the end I did have some success. Here are some things that worked for me.

1) I never got a low compliance cartridge to work correctly, no matter how much damping fluid I used. There was always some degree of sibilance with low compliance cartridges.

2) Medium and high cpmpliance cartidges worked pretty well, but as compliance rose I had to take more and more damping fluid out of the cup. With my Shure V15, the paddle was just barely touching the fluid. This combination got rid of almost all of the sibilance.

3) With a medium compliance cartridge it was important to have the cartridge mounting screws torqued pretty tight. My WTRP arm had the alloy finger lift that doubled as the cartridge mount, and the center hole that screws to the arm slot stripped out when I tried to get it to proper tightness. This was a blessing in disguise, as it forced me to use Firebaugh's alternative mounting, where one mounting screw goes through the arm slot and through the inside hole of the cartridge. This enables you to really crank on the mounting screw so that all the energy from the cartridge is transmitted through the arm back to the damping cup. With high compliance cartridges, the tight mounting didn't really seem to matter.

4) The last bit of sibilance was eliminated by decreasing the anti-skating to almost zero. You don't say what model WT arm you have; I had the WTRP arm which has no anti-skating adjustment. After long discussions with Dougdeacon and others about how most arms have too much anti-skating force applied, I thought about how to decrease it on the WTRP. My solution was to add an extra half twist to the tonearm suspension lines. It's hard to conceptualize, but if you do it and observe what happens you'll see that this greatly reduces the anti-skating force. After this tweak the friction of the lines makes it very much harder to adjust azimuth, but since that generally only has to be adjusted once, it's a small price to pay.

If you have one of the upper level WT arms that actually has an anti-skating adjustment, I'd try backing it off to the minimum before you try the above tweak. The minimum might be enough.

5) I fully realize that the $50 that Stanalog charges for the OEM belt is highway robbery, but I found no acceptable substitute. All the third party belts were too thick, too soft, and too stretchy to work properly with the ingenious WT bearing. The OEM belt is thin, strong and has hardly any stretch, all of which are needed to keep the platter steady in that loose bearing.

If you have questions about the arm setup, feel free to email me through Audiogon and we can chat offline. It's definitely possible to get decent playback. Good luck!

Okay, first you are correct that I have suspended tables. Just for fun, I have mounted this arm on a non-suspended table to see if results changes. Pretty much same scenario. You may be right about the arm not liking suspension though. Lets take that out of the equasion for now. Keep in mind, the tonearm is suspended as well on the same plane as the platter so they all move together.

Ill try to respond in numerical order as far as what you have told me. BTW, david, you have helped me with this arm in the past as well. I have a feeling I didn't understand it well enough at the time to really make it work. Maybe the case now too.

1) Noted, I am currently trying a Shure M97xe loaner from a buddy. Very low hours. Still breaking in honestly. Same sibalence as I had with my Grado Sonata.

2) Before work today, I raised the paddle totally out of the goo. I figure it should have all dripped off before I get home so I can get a more accurate starting point. I had the paddle submerged 100%, which could have been the entire problem.

3)You gave me the alternative mounting method at least a year and a half ago, which I did do! Seemed to at least seem more stable.

4)Anti skate is set to 0, mine IS adjustable but it seems like there is still too much. I actually looped the wires over the bars so they physically touch in the center without binding etc..

I think this may be the crux of the problem. I am wondering what the story is with anti-skate as it never seemed to be quite right. I could never truely have NO anti skate.

I would prefer to keep this thread rolling just for the info of the next poor guy who is having trouble.

Now, I have a couple questions for you about the arm.

As you are looking at the arm from the top, how are the screws on the paddle in the goo oriented to the arm tube? Are they on either side forming a perfect T, or are they turned to one side or another? I am talking about the screws that hold the monofilament.

Next, which side of the monofilament goes through which hole in the towers? is it right side of the mono goes through the bar furthers to the rear?

I am trying to start at square 1 here. I know this arm has potential but god knows who has messed with it in the past.

Thanks everyone - Evan

I always had the screws exactly perpendicular to the arm tube. That was the way it was pictured in the instructions I had. I considered turning it a bit to alter the anti-skating, but decided that the extra half twist in the lines made more sense. Also, you're limited by the vertical holes in the paddle; if you got the square piece of the arm that the paddle screws to over those holes, it would probably make the paddle unstable.

Making the twist go in the correct direction is critical, as getting it backwards will apply anti-skating force in the wrong direction. When I first started messing with the arm I got it backwards, and it was immediately apparent. Just remember that the lines need to untwisting toward the outside of the record, and everything becomes pretty clear. This means with the normal setup, if you're facing the front of the turntable, the outside line goes to the top hole of the arm hangar (the hole farthest away from you) and the inside line goes to the bottom hole. In this situation the lines never touch. If you add the extra half twist to reduce the anti-skating, then the outside line will be in the bottom hole. The lines will be touching, and this is where it gets more critical, due to the friction of the lines, and the difficulty of seeing which way the twist goes when the lines are touching. That's how I got fooled when I got it wrong.

If you're still getting sibilance with the Shure M97, you might want to check the rest of your system. I've used an M97, and found it to have a very smooth and not very extended high end, so it wouldn't be very subject to causing sibilance. It could be your phono preamp getting overloaded (the Shure has pretty high output) or even farther downstream. Do your other sources produce sibilance?

240z4u said

I would prefer to keep this thread rolling just for the info of the next poor guy who is having trouble.

Good thought, thanks for that! (From a reader who is considering a WT setup.)
Tobias, your welcome.

David. Thank you for your thoughts. Ill check to make sure the screws are perpendicular to the arm tube first. Then ill do the rest of that good stuff. I am also going to remeasure my mounting point from the spindle to the arm mounting stud to make sure that is dead on.

Glad you tried the 97, so I know thats not the issue. I have no idea if i am overloading inputs. Worst case, I can plug everything into my marantz 2226b to make sure thats not it. I have about 50db of gain.

The rest of my system sounds great, so thats not the issue.

Just for the record, here is what the rest of the food chain looks like.

PSE studio SL preamp
Welborne compleat phono stage
Tweaked/rebuilt dynaco MKIIIs.
Mordaunt short performance 860s.
Audioquest quartz interconnects on the TT stuff.
Arm rewired with cardas cryoed wire.
Monster biwire speaker cables.

I am sure this won't really help diagnosis but I am also sure someone will be curious enough to ask!

Thanks, ill be in touch after I play a bit tonight. I really need to get overhang just right too, which I cannot do without the dang protractor that I ordered last night.

Thanks guys! - Evan
Sorry forgot to mention I have had about 5 different carts on this arm as well, so I am somewhat sure thats not the problemo.

For what it's worth, I used a Well Tempered Arm, for a couple of years, on a suspended Sonographe SG-3, with a Koetsu Black cartridge, and had great sound and no issues at all as far as ergonomics or sound quality was concerned. BTW, I think that Schipo is incorrect, the arm was not designed for their unsuspended turntables, in fact, the arm came first, and the turntables were designed for the arm. Kind of puts that one to bed.
Viridian, if the wtt arm works well on your Sonographe SG-3
then I stand corrected. I am just going by what the designer Firebaugh said,that the arm was best with a non suspension table design. I relize that there are exceptions to every rule. And I like to say hello to Armstrod. I remmember when he came to pick up the table a real gentlemen.
Thanks for the reassurance that I am not barking up the wrong tree with this on a suspended table!


If your phono preamp is set at 50dB, you may be overloading your system. The Shure has a 4mv output, so the KAB gain calculator says 38dB gain is optimal. Depending on the gain in the rest of your system, 50dB could be too high. If your phono preamp is adjustable, you might want to dial it down some.

Viridian's experience with the WT arm and the Sonographe is just proof that seemingly unlikely combinations can work great. I would never have guessed that, but guessing is frequently wrong. Audio is often maddeningly, or maybe refreshingly, non-linear.
Schipo, I never made the claim that the arm was superior on suspended tables, simply that it functioned well on one suspended table with one cartridge. You, and Bill, may be very well correct that the arm sounds best on non-suspended tables. At the time that I bought the arm, they did not even make a table - see my remarks about the genesis of the table above. As for Evan's comment, "Thanks for the assurance that I am not barking up the wrong tree with this on a suspended table!", that is his inference, not mine. I would never draw this conclusion based on the arm sounding good on one suspended table, and one cartridge, even though the rig was my own. It is possible that he is not even in the right forrest, never mind the right tree. When I said, "Kind of puts that one to bed.", I was not speaking about the arm working better with non-suspended turntables, I was talking about the incorrect assumption that the arm was designed for the Well Tempered Table. My appologies if this caused confusion.
I guess what I meant to say was that my tonearm had been used on suspended tables before.

In my own (not the most educated) opinion, I don't see why it would not work on a suspended table.

Its besides the point though right now, because its on an unsuspended turntable.

Interesting thought on overload. I have run the following cartridges with pretty much the same problems

Denon DL110
Sumiko BP
Grado sonata
Current shure
Audio technica cheapo

They are all pretty high output wise.

Non-linear? Yeah thats a gross understatement. I guess its part of the fun/frustration. I just happen to be in the frustration part right now!

Guys, once again, thank you SO much for your insight. It is VERY helpful.

I actually have a shinon red with a missing cantilever that I was going to have redone by sound-smith. Its .9mv and would be a better match for my phono stage from what I saw on the KAB calculator (which I didn't know existed till today).

I was going off recommendations from music direct.

I have no idea if my Welborne has adjustable output. I know loading and capacitance is adjustable but I have not played with it.

This discussion is actually very encouraging, thank you!


I had a buddy offer me a basically new Sumiko FT-3 for 200 bucks. I may just buy it to try it.
Well, I made some progress yesterday.

I reset the overhang after finding the dimension in some paperwork that I had long forgotten about. .63" is the overhang for anyone who needs to know.

I reset the arm completely, azimuth/vta/etc...

Sound is getting much better. I need to find a good way to remove some silicone from my damping trough though. I may still have the cart overdamped.

Most of the sibalence is gone, and I think I can eliminate the rest.

Looks like there is hope for this thing yet!

Thanks everyone, especially David!

Use Q-tips.

Dip the Q-tip and raise it with a glob of stuff and turn until it doesn't drip, then discard. Do another and another.
Good call.
In my experience trying to make the WT Reference tonearm work well on a WT Reference turntable, I found the arm to be almost inevitably overdamped. Even when I got it to work properly (on behalf of a dear friend who owns the set-up) the sound was dull dull dull, compared to what can be had from vinyl. That was the best case scenario. Worst case, it would not track at all. Azimuth was ever changing across the surface of the LP from outer to inner grooves. So, I am not crazy about this tonearm. Novel ideas are not always good ideas. Would not own one myself. No meanness or insult is intended.
Wow Lewm,

Resurrecting an old thread. That said, this concern with the original tonearm design overdamping was what led me to pass on a used table with the original arm and go for the new golfball design found on the Amadeus and Simplex. Well worth checking out. Once dialed in I don't find this table overdamped at all.
Old indeed, but useful. The original arm will track perfectly and not be overdamped... If setup properly. Because Lewm couldn't do it on his own shows no flaw in the arm, only setup. Roscoe, drop your ball farther down into the damping fluid/cup, and you'll find out just how damped and dead you can sound, and probably mirror Lewm's experience.
I've owned the WTA arm for about 15 + years. Mine is the Black version with the dual weighting system. I use this arm on a Linn LP12 and it works like a charm.
I think the key with the arm is to set it up with about 2/3rds of the cup filled with silicone and let the paddle float just below the surface. OTOH, the azimuth adjustment is basically worthless! It will float through time and you can never get it set accurately. I re-adjust my azimuth frequently, the process is NOT fun and it's not repeatable. However, I do think this arm can and does shoot way above its rep. I have AB'ed it against an SME 1V and it was not discredited at all!
So, while the arm will work on suspended tables and does need to be set up correctly, it is like most gear out there.....great in some areas and poor in others..:0( However,you will need to spend a LOT more money to significantly better it though, IMO.
Try STP with the WT arm… I've used it for almost 20 years.

Bill Firebaugh says the arm already has some anti-skate built in so I always set my original WTT arm to zero. Even with my LP Labs Carbon Fiber arm upgrade, its Discovery cable wires are more thickly coated than the original Litz wiring and can influence the arm if not placed properly. I had some tracking error for a while until I noticed that the arm wires were flexing and causing too much anti-skate on the arm themselves.

Love these arms. I modded an original WT arm to the WT Simplex design esthetic and mounted it on a Neat Shield MO-19 idler. Fantastic sound. I'm now building a 12" carbon fiber WT version for the same table.
You perhaps need to replace your set screw… my azimuth also wavered until I got a replacement from Mike Pranka at Dynavector. He has a small cache of original WT small parts. Great guy.

It seems you have built up a prejudice for this tonearm (understandably so) I would sell it and get something else like a Jelco 750D and have no hassles. Then you can just enjoy the music
Thanks Gvoth. However, I don't see how replacing the set screw...which I believe adjusts the VTA only and NOT the azimuth will help here. The basic problem that the WTA has is that the monofilament line can can adjust as the float changes position in the silicone fluid. Although, since I had my arm professionally set up by a great tech at the end of last year, I haven't touched the azimuth adjustment and it seems to be still spot on.
On the original black arm with calipers, there is a nylon set screw that is accessed from the rear of the table, behind the black azimuth knob. On my WTT, this screw needed replacement after the azimuth began wandering often. Once replaced, the azimuth is again rock solid.

While the WTRP seems to not offer a to skate, you can rotate the paddle to add or remove anti skate influence. I did this on the WT arm tube I adapted to the Simplex esthetic.

I completed my12" WT arm clone, again adapting the Simplex suspension design, put a full twist in the fishing line and am running the arm in underhand with the Sumiko BP parallel to the arm. It sounds really quite good. I hear no distortion and the arm to very dynamic.

Admittedly, with my clone, there is an issue with running a partial twist and in overhang that I think is due to the 3/8" grommet I used spreading the fishing line too widely, adding too much anti skate. I've seen other clones using the same-sized grommet on a 3/8" d suspension arm - most seem to add the full twist in the line, which negates most of the inherent anti skate force. I will add a 1/4" d arm to the pillar and a smaller grommet to confirm my suspicion.

After reading reviews of the Viv Rigid Float arm, I tried running in underhang with the cartridge mounted parallel to the arm tube and love what I hear. I believe Firebaugh himself said the WT arm runs somewhat in underhang and might not conform to other alignment protractors.
I have had a Well Tempered Turntable since 1990 - now sporting the clamp and LP Labs arm - adapted a WT arm tube to Simplex esthetic with golf ball, grommet, etc, built another clone of the arm and just bought a WTRP off eBay being sold for parts that I'm getting a DC thread belt motor built for. You might say I like the Well Tempered design! While there are issues that crop up from time to time, I love the music I hear.
I've had my original WTT & arm since they first came out. For you WTT owners, when you replace your belt next time, try the custom belt from Got mine a few months ago and it was quite an ear opener.
Gvoth, You wrote, "I believe Firebaugh himself said the WT arm runs somewhat in underhang and might not conform to other alignment protractors." The only WT tonearm with which I am directly familiar is the WT Reference. That one has a fixed headshell offset angle and when mounted on the WT Reference turntable, as it comes from the makers, the stylus tip definitely overhangs the spindle, There is no way the cartridge could be mounted with stylus underhang, because there is not enough adjustability provided for that. Like you inferred, mounting a tonearm with underhang goes hand in hand with eliminating the headshell offset angle, too. So, I cannot imagine what Firebaugh might have meant by that statement, if indeed he made such a statement. To say a tonearm is "somewhat" in underhang is even more ambiguous.
New WTL ltd tonearm abailable as a separate unit now for any turntable:

Much better than old (a bit ugly) version.
The price is ok
Take a look around the web for interviews with Firebaugh. I couldn't quote him exactly (which is why I said 'somewhat'), but he has noted that many of the protractors we depend on do not conform with his WT protractor positions and this gives a clue. I understand your criticism of my saying 'somewhat.' I run arms in overhang and one in underhang. I get it.

I'll find it and post it here.