SME 20/2 SME V or Triplanar VII?

I'm in the process of acquiring an SME 20/2 and I would like to know others' thoughts and experiences with deciding whether to arm it with the SME V or the Triplanar VII.
The SME is a great arm no question. I've had mine for 16 years, including a factory service and internal wire upgrade a couple of years ago. But I've upgraded my cartridges over the years to the point where now, I could enjoy the benefits of an arm with VTA on-the-fly and SME has yet to smell the coffee in that department. Get the Triplanar.
I think the SME is a pretty amazing arm, it sounds great on my friends SOTA and after all the arms he has had he cant sAy enough good things about it. FWIW
Dear Cipherjuris : I agree with Nsgarch and Chadnliz about the SME V: very good tonearm.
Other advantaga with the V is that match great with the 20/2 and this synergy is a plus that the Triplanar does not has.
Btw, if you add a Sumiko Celebration cartridge that makes a great match with that combo: you could be near audio heaven!!!!

+++++ " VTA on-the-fly ...? " +++++

I'm sorry but till today I don't know any single ( comercial. I read somewhere that Towhsend was in the development of something about ) tonearm with a real VTA on the fly. For we really can get one we will have to have a remote control over de tonearm. So, does not exist that " VTA on the fly ", at least not a useful one.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I think, good as the SME V is, the TriplanarVIIi betters it in every area (sonically, not from built quality).
But honestly, what I would do with this table, I would buy the 9" DaVinci Arm, this one uses the SME drill.
This is an amazing Arm.
I've lusted after the triplanar for some time. I found the sme 4 at a bargain. No doubt all things being equal I probably would have gone with the triplanar. The SME is so good that only a side by side comparison would cause me to replace it.
SME is not alone in thier beleif that on the fly vta compromises the integrity of the bearing stability.
You can't go wrong with either. The sme is probably a better synergistic match with that table.
You may wish to ring up Brooks Berdan in Monrovia, California. He sells the table and both arms and is a very experienced analog guy. I'm sure he'd have some worthwhile insights for you.
SME? I cannot directly address your question, but would like to relate an experience I had about 8 to 10 years ago. I thought it relevant because some have recently noted that there CD rigs outperform their TT setups. I too think that my Ayre CX-7 is outperforming my Linn LP12 based LP playback system quite easily, though I am having power supply and cartridge issues.

At any rate, the SME 30/2 with their IV.VI arm is easily the best vinyl playback system I have ever heard. This is not to say that it is the best, just the best demo I have heard. It was at a stereo shop trying to sell the used SME setup for a customer who had gone all digital (fool). The shop had purchased a BPS cartridge an inexpensive Creek (or something like that - green lettering on front) phono amp just to demo the TT. The electronics were Krell KRC-HR pre and I think KAS amps (though it may have been KAS IIs' or FPB-600).

For the demo they used a gold CD version and a MFSL pressing of Muddy Waters "Folk Singer." The CD was played on Krell and Theta's best digital rigs of the time and went first. But as soon as the LP was started, we could only look at each other - totally blew away the CD rigs. Certainly my Linn, at least as currently configured, nor any of the VPI's, etc., that I have heard have approached that, even with more expensive cartridges and phono amps. Was this a fluke?
Another vote for the TriPlanar. As Nsgarch said, today's top cartridges respond to very precise adjustments in every parameter. Few arms can match the TriPlanar in its ability to optimize every aspect of setup. The better and more resolving the system, the more this will matter.

Gregadd is right that VTA-on-the-fly can compromise rigidity, but of course every tonearm is a bundle of compromises. The question for each of us is, "Which of the available compromises will have the fewest and smallest sonic negatives for me?"

The TriPlanar's potential lack of rigidity does not translate into any significant loss of dynamics or bass as far as I can tell. Its microdynamics and speed are better than any other arm we've heard. Before we chose the TriPlanar we demoed the Basis Vector, Graham 2.2, all three Schroeders and the SME V.

The SME V lacks easy, repeatable height adjustment. Since this adjustment varies with each record it must be set by listening. Having to cue the arm up and down while trying to find the right setting wouldn't work for me. Nor would I want an arm where I couldn't instantly return to a height known to be good for a particular LP. YMMV of course. If you don't easily hear the differences that VTA/SRA make, this won't matter much to you.

The SME V also lacks azimuth adjustment. This would be another non-starter for me. Cartridges are never perfect. Fine tuning azimuth for a cartridge is essential for achieving good stereo separation.

IIRC, the SME also lacks any real ability to adjust cartridge alignment angle. Again, cartridges aren't always perfect. Headshell holes instead of slots confer no sonic advantage, but they do make aligning an imperfect cartridge difficult or impossible.

The suggestion that an SME V might be more synergistic with an SME table sounds plausible, but what exactly does that mean? The only thing an armboard and plinth can do for a tonearm is provide a pathway for draining resonances. If the arm's design is such that few resonances reach the mounting plate, then this pathway is of little use. Perhaps the SME's one-piece armtube needs such a pathway. But the TriPlanar's armtube is thrice-decoupled from the mounting plate. Once by the azimuth yoke, once by the bearing tube yoke and once by the VTA tower. Resonances from the arm simply won't reach the armboard, so what "synergy" is there?

I'm not sure why Raul thinks a VTA mechanism needs a remote control to be useful. Mine works just fine, and I don't have to stop listening to music to use it! :-)

Thomasheisig's suggestion of the DaVinci was intriguing. I've never seen one, but the photos look very interesting.
Dear Doug: +++++ " I'm not sure why Raul thinks a VTA mechanism needs a remote control to be useful. Mine works just fine, and I don't have to stop listening to music to use it! :-) " +++++

Well, you have to stand-up and have to go where the tonearm is for you can change the VTA. A real VTA-on the fly is with a remote control where you ´can compare minute VTA changes in " real-time ": that's my approach.

Any one can do azymuth changes in the SME V, problem is that you don't know in deep those tonearms.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks, everyone for your help. I am now leaning toward either the Triplanar or the Graham Phantom. Can anyone tell me where I might obtain an armboard for the 20/2 with Triplanar or alternatively the Phantom?

Dear Ed: Before you buy any tonearm my advise is that at the same time choose the phono cartridge, both items: tonearm/cartridge depend one each other and the better you matched the better the quality sound reproduction.

What do you have on mind about?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Hi Ed,
I saw on the Graham Website, that the Phantom is also offered with SME System. Maybe that's an easy way. Triplanar is also a good choice.
Raul, my cartridge choice would be either Zyx Universe or Dynavector XV1s.

Thomas, I checked the Website and noticed the same thing. I will call on Wednesday and ask about that.

Thanks all. Have a happy and safe 4th.

Hi Ed,

I think you're heading in the right direction. I have heard both of those cartridges on a TriPlanar and they are wonderful. To borrow a comment I once heard, the XV1s gets you close to the Universe for a lot less money. At the time I was plunking down for table, cart, phono and pre so I decided to get the Dynavector. I can always add the Universe latter. I would say that the Universe is more tonally neutral. Still, they are both great cartridges.

I do not have hands-on experience with the SME or Phantom arms, but here again I think you're going in the right direction by considering the TriPlanar and Phantom over the SME. I have owned a 2.2 for the last couple of years so I'm familiar with the ease of adjustment both of these arms provide. The TriPlanar does have the advantage with VTA adjustments as you listen. The 2.2 (and I assume the Phantom is similar) could do this if the set screw that locks vta was replaced with a thumb or knurled screw instead of having to get in there with a hex wrench. How much of an issue this is going to be on a suspended table? Do you think you will be able to adjust VTA with a record playing without loading the suspension? I know it was not possible on a Basis suspended table, but I don't know the SME 20/2.
The SME V also lacks azimuth adjustment. This would be another non-starter for me. Cartridges are never perfect. Fine tuning azimuth for a cartridge is essential for achieving good stereo separation.

Fwiw: the SME Vd supports azimuth adjustment via a detachable headshell. One might claim this joint compromises structural rigidity although testing by SME engineers indicate the connection between the headshell and armtube is significantly stronger than that between cartridge and non-detachable headshell. Comparison suggests no sonic difference between V and Vd.

IIRC, the SME also lacks any real ability to adjust cartridge alignment angle. Again, cartridges aren't always perfect. Headshell holes instead of slots confer no sonic advantage, but they do make aligning an imperfect cartridge difficult or impossible.

To an SME headshell, applying a sharp 2.8mm (~ 7/64") bit *by hand* yields enough accomodation on the holes for any cartridge alignment I felt the need to make.

Wrt 'synergy', is this the sort of thing one can talk a table/arm out of or into? I suppose there is no harm in the trying. ;-) Yet when the makers of an arm and table are the same, the possibility may not be so remote as one might reason. Those who have heard seem to think there may be something to the combination of an SME table with an SME arm.

Are you getting the new SME 20/12 that has just been released or the older version?
I have owned two SME model V's,and the Triplanar.For what it's worth,when installing my Triplanar,I was quite impressed with it's "amazing" bearing rigidity/smootheness upon installation.This probably seems silly and redundant,but the arm's movement in free space,when mounted on the armboard,and being moved into place,"blew me away".Of course,it had moved "out" of the arm lock,to notice this.I guess you had to see this to understand,otherwise it seems like a stupid point.
The SME,obviously has great bearings,yet there was "something" about the Triplanar that stated...."this is hand made,and tweaked to the max"!!
I,also,found the SME bass to be a bit over-ripe,in my older COSMOS.
My friend had a SME-V on a VPI TNT,at the time,and felt bass response was a bit over done.Of course synergy has everything to do with it,but if I were to choose either arm today(assuming my table could accommodate them equally well)it would be the Triplanar.Warts and all Doug!-:)
Sirspeedy is correct - synergy of arm and table is everything. Given that you are getting a 20/2, I would get an SME V - with MCS 150 silver internal wiring, not the stock wiring; and a good phono cable, not the stock one. Unless I am mistaken, no one posting on this thread has compared the SME V and Triplanar arms on an SME table.

Excellent question/suggestion re: arm/cartridge matching. We should have asked that earlier.


Thanks for the update on the SME Vd with azimuth-adjustable headshell. That seems like an excellent solution, which I was unaware of. (The two SME V's I am familiar with, from friend's systems, do not have this.)

Drilling out the headshell holes (by hand) is a reasonable accommodation, though I'd prefer to use a hole-sized bit and expand them *only* longitudinally and not laterally. If TriPlanar owners can fiddle with sandpaper and O-rings (per my "Tips" thread) I don't know why SME owners can't fiddle with a drill bit!

Perfect sound forever, anyone? ;-)

P.S. SirSpeedy is right about the "free" feeling of the TP while hand cueing. It feels like I imagine how zero G would feel. There's so little resistance in any direction it's kind of scary at first.
Wow! Polishing with emery paper and sliding on some O-ring vs. expanding holes, even by hand. Regardless of tonearms, that's quite a bit of difference in tweaks. And there is still the question of VTA. Brings to mind the Vector, but then there is VTA, and soon VTF, from Basis.

So, how does one measure synergy?
Dear Ed: In the case of SME the TT and tonearm complemented each other. No body knows how great is the SME V till heard along with the SME 20/30. Some people here post that the Triplanar ( that is a very good tonearm ) hands down not only the SME V but other very good tonearms too, the problem was that the SME V was not on a SME 20/30 and this makes a huge difference on any SME V test.

The synergy exist, not only on the SME subject but onother audio devices too, it is not only to drain resonances like Doug ( very simple point of view. Btw, the one-piece arm tube like you say is tappered that help a lot with resonances ) post, no the synergy exist for many other subjects: SME design the V not only thinking on the tonearm itself but thinking too on their own TTs.

The V is not for every single TT out there, there are TTs like the Linn ones where the V is really working against it, but there are some other TTs where the V is a must: AVID, Oracle, Sota and of course the SME ones. You already
have the SME 20, why don't ask directly to SME ( are very honest people ) about the V against other tonearms in your SME 20 and with those cartridges?

I really like the SME products not only for the great design and great research around but for the quality build that is second to none.

Now, the V is very good match for the XV-1, btw this cartridge is really hard to beat, certainly not for the ZYX ( that is a very good one too ), the one that came to my mind that is a step higher is the Allaerts MC2 Finish
that works very well with the V too.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Well, guys, now that the issue of the cartridge has been introduced into the equation - as well it should at this point - my cartridge shortlist is only 2: the Zyx Universe or the Dynavector XV1S.

After reading all your posts, thinking about it and discussing the matter with the the guy I'm buying the 20/2 from and the guys at SRA (split decision between them), I am still leaning toward the Triplanar over the SME V.

How does the choice of cartridge influence your thoughts?
C'mon!!You dropped the hint,that you are leaning to the Triplanar(I can hear the applause,from Conn.).It will accommodate either "fabulous" cartridge choice.Just "go for one",and enjoy the music!!You'll not look back,and that's a promise!!
BTW,Dougy.....I still await my amp!!4.5 months down!!I am told the newer power supply will be more advanced,and reliable,though I had no sonic complaints regarding the older one,and because I am "one of the handful" of "two chassis" owners(8t),it is taking time to source a circuit up to Rowlands standards.He does not want these power supplies to come back in the future.Pleeeeease feel a "little" sorry for me.Hey,I've been supportive of your beloved Triplanar.Haven't I?
Not to worry.I'll be my old self sometime down the road.I'm thinking around Halloween.If I'm lucky.
My appologies to all,not in on my dilemma.Not that it should affect the "lucky" 'philes who can actually power up a system,and play music!!!Sheeesh,I even got some great NOS vinyl at the Pnctn Rec Exch last week!And my tennis game "sucks",to boot!!Considering packing it in,like Agassi!At least he can afford multiple amps.Maybe even two arms,as well!

Sorry for my rant!!

So, how does one measure synergy?

With your ears? :-)

I have heard both the UNIverse and XV1-s in my system on the same arm on the same weekend with the same music. I clearly prefer the UNIverse to the XV-1s with no slight to the XV-1s (a great cartridge and great value).
The XV-1s is a bit more dynamic and more punchy in the bass, but for me the UNIverse is clearly preferable.
The UNIverse does it all and is heavenly musical. The only cartridge I would prefer over the UNIverse would be the Lyra / Olympus ($ 10,000.00), but I have not heard the Koetsu Tiger Eye. I greatly prefer the UNIverse to the Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum (which I own).
Let us know which way you go and how it turns out for you.
Cipherjuris, it's all about how the table/arm/cart work together. These are all excellent components and the challenge is to select the combination that gives you the sonic presentation that best suits your preference.

I have considered all of the components you are considering and my observations are:

The SME V does sound stodgy in the bass when mounted on turntables of other makes (especially non-suspended designs). The stock wiring/cable are not the best and restrict the tonal palette somewhat.

So if the SME V has a tendency to emphasize bass somewhat then the SME table is compensating by sinking that energy away because the arm/table are not tonally imbalanced.

The impression I get when listening with the SME is that it's a bit like looking at a finished jigsaw - the whole picture is there but I'm more aware of the individual pieces. Somehow all the detail doesn't quite add up to a convincing illusion of a musical performance. Ymmv.

The XV-1s is more dynamic than the Zyx (I chose to build my rig around the XV-1s) and seems to work particularly well in the Triplanar. My hypothesis is that the SME V and Universe would be a good match because the emphasized bass of the arm would compensate for the somewhat less dynamic Zyx in that area. Likewise the Triplanar/Dynavector ought to be really good on the SME table. SME V/XV-1s might be a bit overblown and Triplanar/Universe a little leaner in comparison. Of course if you like emphasized bass, etc. then select alternate options!

And Doug, before you flame me, my observations on the Tri/Universe relate exclusively to how they might work in tandem with the SME20 - I acknowledge that they are a match made in heaven on your Teres! :)
Any Way you go, it is a good one. The Tonearms you think about, are all very good. I think, one advantage from the Triplar is, you don't need a drill hole for the Arm (like Graham,SME), it is screwed on top of the Armboard.
Cartridges is a special chapter. No matter what you will do, the following Phono Stage will do the Result, average Phono Stage, average Sound, even with an expensive Cartridge (but you need some time to find out, because you normally believe in the Cartridge).
Well, the pricing of a cartridge is good for dreaming of, but in the end, it says nothing. these guys, who build them, do it cheap. Believe me. The following is Marketing.
When I will give you a piece of paper and will tell you, that his one is worth 4 Million dollars, because of whatever ( more white than white=ultra white), and you believe in it (or better, you WANT to believe it), then you will tell everybody, that this piece of paper is "whiter than white" and based on that, you love it.
I bet, the most expensive piece from the Coral is the looking for that stone and drill it. Well, who cares....
Let's start dreaming .....

I prefer to listen.
I use the UNIverse.
But the XV-1s looks so coooool.
Touche' Tim! :)
I have not heard the SME V / UNIverse combination, but I have heard the Tri-Planar / UNIverse on my Teres table and it is a wonderful match and not lacking anything in dynamics, leading edge attack, detail, as well as tuneful,/focused bass.
I don't see how you could go wrong with either the Dynavector/Tri-Planar or Dynavector/ UNIverse (copper version with SB weight), but again, I would clearly prefer the UNIverse.
Guys, what can I say? I truly am learning from each post!

Like any good story, some twists near the end elevate the story.

I have lusted after the SME 20/2 for the past 2 years, but had despaired of ever getting one since the price of a new one was not acceptable in my budget range. Recently, I was nearing a decision to order a Galibier Gavia when an almost new 20/2 became available at an acceptable price and I bought it.

I am scheduled to audition a Galibier Gavia with a Triplanar/Zyx Universe/Dynavector XV1S later this month. My reasoning is that if I get the Triplanar or the Phantom and the Universe or XV1S, I will have a reference to help me decide whether to keep the 20/2 or sell it and order the Galibier. If I told this part of the story to anyone other than other audiophiles, they might want to have me committed.

Does this twist change things for any of you?

Thanks for your patience.

Ed, it changes everything! I checked out the SME (plus many others) and was not convinced before beating a path to Colorado and the Gavia is significantly the best turntable I heard at its price point.

The SME is a fine table (for some) however the outstanding feature of the Galibier is that you will never find yourself saying "It ruthlessly reveals bad recordings" - it has the ability to make even the most mundane cuts sound enchanting. The SMEs can sound a bit leaden-footed on genres other than classical.
Tim summarized the synergy topic nicely and Flyingred provided some excellent details. (See, no flames!)

Give us details and a name and address. We'll all post letters to Rowland, inquiring about power supply upgrades. Maybe that will get them moving! We were without a playable rig for 5 months and Dan_Ed has been without one even longer. It ain't fun.

Hearing different gear is VERY helpful. Chatting like this can be, but nothing substitutes for carefully considered listening experiences. Your insane plan makes perfect sense to me.
Thanks, Doug for validating my insane plan. And thanks Flyingred for your take on the SME and Galibier Gavia. A new Gavia BTW is much less costly than a new 20/2. The reasons for that are (1) Thom Mackris's tables would have to sell for about double their current prices if he sold through dealers because of his added marketing and dealer support cost and the dealer's markup and (2) the fact that the Bush administration has trashed the value of the dollar so badly that the exchange rate against the British pound or the Euro has made things from the countries about 40% more costly for us over the last 4 years (this is not political commentary, just a statement of fact).

Anyway, I think your comments support my mad scientist approach that if I get the either the Triplanar or the Phantom (either of which I'm sure would be happy with on the Galibier) and either the Dynavector or the Zyx cartridge (also either of which I'd be happy with on the Galibier) I can easily move to the Galibier if it kicks the SME's butt. However, with the SME V, I would want to sell that too because I would not want to put it on the Galibier.

Thanks guys. This has been fun. I will post back when I've got the the SME up and running with the Triplanar or the Phantom and the XV1S or the Universe.

Have a great and safe 4th.

I'm betting you're going to settle on the Gavia!

(Please, leave the political musings for elsewhere. Most consider it bad manors.)
Ed - enjoy your time auditioning. I don't know if we're in the Golden Age of High End Turntables, but it sure is a heckuva lot of fun! We are blessed to have so many knowledgeable people - from all over the world - from whom to draw and with whom to share. While various parts of a system each play their role, turntables have their own special magic.

Sorry Dan, but I just returned from a trip to Ireland and Wales. The decline in the value of the dollar against other currencies during the last 5 years is rather shocking and is an economic fact not an opinion and not politics. It is also responsible for the remarkable run up in the cost of the SME.

I have a sneaking suspicion you are right, which is one reason why I jumped on the 20/2 when it became available. I think each of the SME's at their respective price points are probably the best of the suspended TTs, so with the same tonearms and cartridges, it will be a real face off that will leave me in a position to go either way without too much net cost for the comparo.

Thanks again,

Tim, I sure do agree. This discussion has been great fun as well practical and informative for me. I'm much more comfortable with the decisions I'm about to make. And for that I'm really thankful to you all.


How are you arranging the audition with Galibier?

Yes, Ed, anyone who has purchased vinyl from Europe lately knows how the dollar has dropped in value. Economies do cycle regardless of politics, the Fed Bank policy is another matter. But that's for another discussion.
Doug,please NO letters to Rowland!It's a matter of them getting availability of acceptable Power Supply.Not sitting on hands.I truly understand their dilemma,and they did offer a loaner amp,which I stupidly(you can see a pattern with me,here)declined.So,I have no gripes with them,at all.

Getting back on topic,I must say that after carefully viewing the Galiber web-site,it seems that "there lies a guy" who is from the "old school" when it comes to product developement and customer COMMUNICATION!!
Not a common thing anymore........As to the Galiber designs,and loving too many alternative tables/arms/cartridges,for me to be considered "normal" I must admit to really loving that "dang" new GAVIA!The site beautifully lays out the design parameters,and potential performance objectives.GAD,I love this kinda stuff.Nothing does NOT make sense,on that site.Thom is even honest enough to admit to the disadvantage of a ring clamp,when I have no doubt he could have easily offered one,and made some extra cash.Does this manufacturer care about his customer base??I don't have to answer that one.Kudos!!
Seemingly very well thought out,and eluding to a world class performance,in design,too.When I take a look at MUCH of it's competition I believe it is incredibly well priced.Sensible too!!Not that you all don't know there are other very worthy designs,to lust after.I've been boning up on the increased interest in designs like the old/modded Garrard 301/401(my pal Sid is kicking himself for throwing out his flawless 301).That "idler wheel" system really makes sense.HEY,I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO.Remember my system will be down until "trick or treat season",most likely.So why not ascribe towards the "knowledge is power" way of garnishing information.
This can be dangerous,for me,because I am now either paranoid(due to the lack any forseeable ability to enjoy the hobby,already knowing I'm nutz),or have learned enough to doubt my current component choices.
Sadly,there are many who would opt to spend more,elsewhere,for that certain "cache" product, that the industry does such a good job of marketing(I'm guilty too).
Look closely at the GORGEOUS new Metronome Gaia,as an example!Definitely looks like a stunning design,but I'm willing to bet it does not outpoint the Gavia.Enough to justify the multi-thousand dollar difference.Same goes for the Grand Prix Audio 20,000 dollar direct drive "beauty".
Here is one area where I don't need to compare each to get a bit sceptical as to where the money is better spent!One can "do" a Gavia/Schroeder Ref/"nice cartridge",for the asking price of the above "lovely" designs.

BTW....Do love the new SME-20/12!Looks like a winner,like so many designs today.I could go on,but am beginning to think I've overstayed any welcome.
Wish I could hear an lp or two,these days!!I'd even take my 390's,spinning a nice John Zorn cd.Oh,to dream!!

Best,and sorry for the length,I have nothing better to do,these days.
Thom has an owner in Sanibel who has a Gavia with Triplanar and if memory serves both an XV1S & a Universe. Its a drive of just about 2 hours. I'm really looking forward to it.

Dear Ed: I assume that the price of an audio device is almost no price object to you.

I one of my posts here I speak about the great match ( synergy ) between the SME 20/V with the Sumiko Celebration cartridge ( you can read about on the Stereophile reviews of the 20 and the 30 SME TTs ). The Celebration, in this scene, compete with the Dynavector/ZYX cartridges for a fraction of price, it is that good.
I use it in the SME tonearm with out the stainless steel nuts on the headshel and running the tonearm in a static balanced way instead of the own V dynamically balanced way. Why don't try it?, it is " unexpensive ": 1,500.00 at retail and 1K second hand, you always could sale it if you don't like it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Flyingred: +++++ " The SME V does sound stodgy in the bass when mounted on turntables of other makes (especially non-suspended designs). " +++++

I agree, because I hear it in my RX-5000 and others one but there is one exception about: Acoustic Signature TTs, when I mounted in my AS TT every thing is fine: no stodgy bass!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks Raul. Could you explain what you mean by static balance rather than dynamic balance? I know the difference in wheel balancing in the auto world, but I'm not sure what you mean with respect to tonearms.

Dear Ed: Static balance: you set the VTF using only the counterweight leaving the VTF V device out of work in this manner you by-pass this mechanism that tend to resonate and that put distortions/colorations in the sound reproduction.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, re using only static balance: Are you saying that with an SME V, for instance, you should set the spring balance dial to zero, and then set the VTF using only the counterweight? That's very interesting. Does the spring really cause so much resonance around the bearing? Can you hear it, or is that simply a theory? Using the counterweight alone to set VTF would be quite tedious, but not impossible, I suppose.

While on this subject, I wanted to mention here that supposedly, the SME IV.V is designed more with MC cartridges in mind. It has ONLY counterweight VTF adjustment, and the internal tonearm wiring uses coated ribbons (a la Magnan) which supposedly allow even smoother bearing operation and better electrical performance than the silver litz van den Hul wiring.
I challenge anyone to actually 'hear' a difference between a statically or dynamically balanced V. Dynamic balancing was introduced by SME for use on very warped records. From what I understand, the IV.V is specially produced by SME for Sumiko alone and the people at SME do not think it measures up to the V with MCS150 internal wiring.
SirSpeedy: On what basis do you make your judgment of the Grand Prix?
Hi Ed,

I haven't been on the forum in about a week, and someone pointed me to this thread. The owner you'll be visiting is running a couple of cartridges - a Van den Hul and one other (Denon DL-103R?) riding on a Micro Seiki MA-505 Mk III tonearm.

The Micro is serving him until his Schröder Reference arrives. I'd rank the Micro in the general area you'd slot the Moerch DP-6, but being perhaps a bit more rolled off in the upper frequencies - especially when compared with the newer Moerchs.

A note to Dan_ed ... I've been playing with the loading on the XV-1s - dropping it from the 110 ohms you heard it with, down to 35 ohms. It loses some of that "edgy" quality at this loading while still having all of the speed you'd ever want.

While Raul's advice about choosing the phono cartridge makes sense from the perspective of compatibility, I'd turn this problem around - to try to audition a tonearm for compatibility with a range of cartridges. I look at a cartridge as a "consumable" item - hopefully one that gets "consumed" very slowly (grin). You will ideally own your tonearm for the rest of your life, and for this reason, I'd bias the purchase toward the tonearm.

Now, as far as compatibility issues are concerned, you're always at the mercy of the demo, and I sympathize with your plight.

You should walk away from any demo experience knowing that if it sounds good, that you have some sort of synergy going on. Pinpointing the exact synergy can be a problem of course. Alternatively, if it sounds bad, it may lie in a suboptimal setup and not flawed compatibility. I realize this last bit of information doesn't help you much - other than to leave you open to additional information.

You will hopefully walk away from auditions having heard a few working combinations.

I can tell you that my most extensive experience with the Triplanar has been with:

(1) ZYX - Universe and Airy-3
(2) Benz LP
(3) Dynavector XV-1s
(4) Denon DL-103R

All five of these cartridges have had an inherent charm and I was left with the impression that I was hearing the cartridge's characteristics shine through - that the arm did not color what they were doing.

As far as Cello's preference for both the Lyra and the Universe over the XV-1s, I am a bit puzzled.

I'm very familiar with all three cartridges and well aware that my buddy Frank Schröder ranks the Lyra and the Universe above the XV-1s. This Fall, I plan on showing Frank what my several month long experiment with the XV-1s has turned up.

In a strange way, I consider both the XV-1s and the Universe to be far closer to each other than the Lyra in one very critical respect - their ability to convey the emotional content of the music. This is not insignificant

Now, the Lyra and the XV-1s are kissin' cousins in one respect - their blazing speed. I can envision a continuum - with the Universe at one extreme, the XV-1s in the middle, and the Olympos at the other. Realize that in my saying this that all three are very fine cartridges and I can envision someone choosing any one of them in the right system.

Of course, I have no commercial interest in saying the following, but the Benz LP should not be ignored in comparison with the above 3 cartridges.

Thom @ Galibier
"Please, leave the political musings for elsewhere. Most consider it bad manors."
Maybe most consider it bad manners (not me, but I'm notoriously uncouth), however only those still waiting for the Republicans to fully repeal the estate tax consider it "bad manors" ;^)