SME V arm: dynamic VTF or straight weight

I am using an SME V arm and wonder if anyone has compared the sound using the dynamic VTF (i.e. setting the dial to 2.0g) versus setting the dial to 0.0g and simply using the counterweight and an accurate scale to set VTF at 2.0g. Is there a sonic difference and what is the theory behind one versus the other?

I would think that using the latter method moves the counterweight closer to the arm's pivot point and effects how the bearing is loaded and possibly also the moment of enertia of the arm.

I have briefly tried to hear a difference, but couldn't and plan to do a more controlled comparison. Anyone's own experience would be appreciated. Thanks.

I too am very interested in responses to this question, I was thinking about posting the same topic last week.

SME has the new V-12 tonearm, likely available in a few weeks. The current SME 312S is identical mass, identical construction (Magnesium) and identical bearings and internal wire.

The V-12 has the dynamic VTF Peter describes (above) and the 312S does not. I'm trying to decide how much if any this impacts performance.
I am using an SME V arm and wonder if anyone has compared the sound using the dynamic VTF (i.e. setting the dial to 2.0g) versus setting the dial to 0.0g and simply using the counterweight and an accurate scale to set VTF at 2.0g. Is there a sonic difference and what is the theory behind one versus the other?

I assume the arm uses a spring for the VTF. With the dial set at 0.0g isn't the spring stretched out and more likely to vibrate? I would think you would want to set the dial to the maximum VTF and then use the counterweight to set the VTF. At least that is the way it is done on Rega arms with the VTF spring, when using the Heavy Weight counterweight.
Dynamic balance graduated vertical tracking force (VTF) control applies 0-3g x 0.125g through resonance controlled spring.
The other difference between the two SME 12" arms is that the 312S has a detachable headshell for easy cartridge swapping and azimuth adjustment while the V-12 has a fixed headshell for greater rigidity. I don't know if this difference is audible per se, but the possiblilty of adjusting azimuth is certainly a benefit.
Jea48, interesting idea. I've read somewhere that best results with SME is splitting the difference. In other words, apply half the track force with spring and half with weight.

If I had one here I would do the experiment. My 312S has no spring so no choice with it.

The flaw I see with the new SME V-12 is the non detachable head shell does not provide for azimuth adjustment of the cartridge. I don't know if I can give that up to achieve the (supposedly) extra rigidity.
Dear Peter: IMHO and due to my V and IV experiences the cartridge that you mount in the V performs better if the V is working in full static way where the " springs " are totally by-passed ( it does not make sense to " split ". ), in the static balanced way the spring can't resonate/vibrate and can't affect the cartridge quality performance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I have read that the spring is damped so it should not vibrate much anyway. But Jea48 raises an interesting question. I had assumed that the spring would be compressed, not streched out at the 0.0g setting. I wonder which is which. I have set my dial to 0.0 and will listen for a few days and than switch back and report if I notice any improvement. My PC-1 is on the heavier side, so the counterweight does move significantly in toward the arm's pivot point now that it is balanced statically. And that must be better for the arm's enertia, even if it isn't audible.
Hi Peterayer,
I'm also a SME-V user (previously SME-309) on a SME 10 tt.

It was mentioned above, that the VTF spring is 'damped'. That is correct according to SME and you should feel that the dial moves VERY reluctantly -- a sure sign of the presents of heavy silicon damping.

Having said that, go feel the way the phono-plug connector at the bottom of the arm swivels. Also pretty reluctantly. The relevance?
I had to remove this connector some short while ago for some repair issue, so I could look inside ---- it is plug full loaded with silicone of the viscosity used for the damper trough. I understand the spring for VTA is filled with the same stuff.

As to your arm-weight issue, I'm familiar with this. I use a PW cart speced at 13g and actually reported to be 13.6g (I have not yet confirmed this with my own).
So, the PC 1 is ~13.5g to my recollection, which gives us a similar situation. You can get the heavier SME counter-weight at ~ 400$, or go to your local tire shop and ask for two 15g flat stick-on lead balancing weights for mag wheels (I have done this and it works fine). Stick them on the bottom of the tungsten weight (the screwed in incert), side by side the long way, so nothing will touch the arm post if you use a slightly lighter cart --- e.g. ~ 11g.

In my case the added 30g (as is the heavier SME weight) brings the counterweight into the middle of the adjustement range. I have also tried even heavier added weights to bring the counter weight just up to the pivot-post and can tell: IT MAKES ZERO in difference in my system, YMMV. So I stuck to the 2x 15g added weight, 'cause it looks more balanced to my eye. The old adage applies: What looks good, works well... YMMV.

I also have listened to a REGA 300 (with a Dorian) on a 1/2 & 1/2 static/dynamic setting ,and at least I could not hear a difference to a full dynamic setting, what so ever.

It seems a similar issue, as is with some SME arm owners encouraging to take off the arm post-bridge --- for yet more superior sound?
Tried that, been there, got the cap and the T-shirt --- it does sound slightly different but in no way any BETTER (in my system) i.e. a little bit less bass so you hear a bit more top end.

Dear all, does anyone like to answer and clarify the 2nd question raised by Peterayer's very interesting thread?

***Is there a sonic difference and what is the theory behind one versus the other?

I would think that using the latter method moves the counterweight closer to the arm's pivot point and effects how the bearing is loaded and possibly also the moment of enertia of the arm. ***

Because there is a very special dynamic behaviour involved here - one which goes far beyond counterweight vs. spring loaded VTF.

I just do not want to go ahead and being the "theoretical / math guy" again.

But there is a detail here, which has a very significant influence on the sound of the cartridge.........
I've talked with the SME people who say they cannot hear a difference. Maybe their hearing is not as acute as some on this forum........
Hi DerTonarm,
if you read my post you will find that I have addressed the point from a sound response point of view.

I have tried counter weight as close as can be, in the middle and pretty much at the extreme end of the weight adjustment.

There is NO difference in sound between the middle and very close up. Someone with 'bats-ears' MIGHT just make a case for not using the very outer end of the adjustment (I'm sure I have said as much i.e. what looks good works good...

Here again we run into an issue of maths vs hearing.
Let me hasten to mention, that I have just done another upgrade step on my crossover and I can hear VERY DEFINITAVELY a change from a 5R6 5watt Kiwame (carbon film) resistor to a Mills MRA5 5R6 (5watt) in the tweeter resonance compensation, which is NOT in the signal path as such. So, I guess my hearing is jolly good to be able to hear this (it was the right thing to change the R BTW :-)

So, I say NO discernable difference between dynamic and non-dynamic, and also no discernable difference between middle or close to the pivot post counterweight. The maths would surely come up with something other than my hearing, so be it.
Hi Axel, the difference between the dynamic balanced status and the static balanced (.... I will not bore you or anyone else with the maths here - promised!) status will not be heard on "first sight". However - if you play a record which is warped, you will notice the difference much sooner.

The sound is more relaxed and more stable (reason why so many people address the dynamic balanced status as being less dynamical, less lively). Opera-recordings with large soundstage and a lot of action on stage will give another good example. The "picture" is more stable there too. The focus of the individual voices is better and the timbre always stable.

In the static balanced tonearm the moving mass of the tonearm puts a very dynamic force on the cantilever/suspension system as soon as the stylus begins a hill-and-valley rally on a warped LP.

In other words: - in a static balanced tonearm the VTF is always changing if there are ANY vertical differences in the surface of the LP (and there are in EVERY LP - to a larger or lesser degree).
It may sound more dynamic to some - but is in fact just "unstable conditions".

This applies to a dynamic balanced tonearm to a MUCH lesser degree. Thats why a given cartridge/tonearm combination does always sound comparatively "quiet" and more "relaxed" in dynamically balanced status.

Thats the reason why most of the top-of-the-line tonearms from the "big" companies of the 1980ies did feature dynamically balanced designs.

From the pure technical point of view the working conditions for the cantilever/suspension (...VTF) are much better (read: more constant VTF) if mounted in a dynamically balanced pivot tonearm.

This must NOT mean however, that all audiophiles will find the sound in their specific set-up better with dynamic balanced status. Some may prefer static balanced.
Hi DerTonarm,
(I feel a bit silly to keep calling you that name --- is your first name a secret, if so, so may be it. I'm surely not talking to Juergen Eggers :-)

Back to the subject on hand. I do agree, whow! with EVERYTHING you state above (must be the maths that out of the way of hearing.

In a lesser, more affordable design e.g. RB300 there are possibly other factors at work also, that make a case for using it static as a preference --- never has one so i can't tell for certain. My friend has a Thorenz 'RB250' and a J. Raeke 'RB300' both ARE dynamic designs, and in his rig a Z-3 I can not make out any difference. That said, it is actually quicker (in general) to set-up a dynamic arm, if the scale can be trusted. I do trust SME, correct me if that is wrong.

One know exception to easy set-up is the new 12" Ortofon. I think a dynamic 12" tends to be more tricky in this respect in any event though. Furthermore, not my own experience and you might be able to comment on this some more, is the preference for 12" arms to run just static ---- it's got something to do with the maths? Not that I can see it, so it might just be the set-up issue and a subsequent variability due to the much longer lever compared to a 9".

Furthermore, I found that having used a Technics analogue VTF force gauge, that it was not as accurate as I would have liked it, and in particular when having to set-up 2.6g as is required according to spec. for a PW.

Dear Peter: Maybe the today SME dinamicaly balanced design already fix ( through damping ) that string vibration/self-resonance and this can be one of the reasons why some SME owners can't hear any differences even than the counterweight in the static way is close to the pivot and that in very tiny way that improves a better moving mass control and very tiny too change in the tonearm effective mass.

About the theory of dynamic against static way ( letting out the string resonance subject ) there are some interesting things: if the record is totally flat the cartridge performance is almost the same and certainly extremely difficult to say which is one, but the perfect world does not exist so in real conditions both tonearm designs suffer of almost the same " problem ": changes in VTF due to the gravity force, that's why between other things is so important/critical the bearing quality design in any tonearm.

It is almost imposible to make a bis a bis ( same tonearm/cartridge combination and same everything but the dynamic/static subject design. ) shoot-out in our own systems to find out what we like it ( that at the end is a subjective an unique opinion ) and even if we can/could do it there will be several different opinions.

This whole dynamic/static tonearm design subject is something like the one " geometry tracking distortions that we all analize through other hreads " that when some ask about the threshold where the tracking distortions could be hear/heard and we can't had an absolute and precise answer.
If we make the distortion measures ( in a scientific way ) and kind of it and where happen and translate those measures to what we hear this could be great but IMHO even if we can do it it will be extremely dificult to co-relate those single distortions with what we heard because it is almost impossible to have over control all the factors that are involve in the record playing exercise.

I think that in the tonearm case a critical factor is the quality execution ( between others. ) of the tonearm design it is here in the quality excecution where there are more important differences between different tonearms than in the dynamic/static subject. IMHO both approaches/designs could and can work with exeptional precision and great results even with its each differences/trade-offs.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Axel, 12" to 9" in dynamic balanced status - well, there a a few points to be taken into account. First of all the 12" tonearm is - due to his higher mass and to the longer lever - more stable (= his tendency to leave balanced mode is slower.....). One the other hand the counterweight has either to be heavier or has to be moved further away from the bearing. I have compared my FR-64s, MAX-282, MAX-237 and FR-66s for their behaviour in static vs. dynamic balanced mode. All were used with 3 different FR-cartridges (FR-702, FR-7f and FR-7fz). All were aligned with the Denessen tractor which does result in more effective length on all 4 tonearms and the 2 zeros fairly wide spread and the 2nd zero close to run-out-grooves.

I personally do prefer the dynamic balanced mode due to a more relaxed sound and a more stable soundstage. The sound has a kind of "inner ease" compared to the static balanced mode. The static balanced mode gives however - on brief listening - a sense of more excitement, more dynamic sound. This is uncovered after a few record sides rather as "exaltation" and "over nervous". In a system with rather low efficiency speakers this may however be desired and will add some "life" to the sound of the system.

If your music-system is already rather on the "fast side of life" (= high efficiency speakers etc.) the dynamically balanced mode will show its sonic virtues.

To my ears the sound of the dynamic balanced mode does support the theoretical background.

Have a nice evening,

Daniel H. Kurt
Dear Daniel: Like I posted: different persons/systems different opinions.

I made the same with the Micro Seiki ( with out damping ), FR, Ikeda, Dynavector, SME and Lustre tonearms and with several cartridges ( one cartridge at the time ) and I prefer the static way, but like your opinion mine is not an absolute one only an additional one. All tests in different times but with the same recording tracks.

What I find, overall, were a more natural and balanced tone with less " spark " over the high frequencies and less/lower distortion " feeling ". In the Micro Seiki the differences were at minimum along the Lustre. Different tonearms different level/range results.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear friends: I wonder why Daniel, I and some other people ( there are posts elsewhere on Dyna and SME owners where they state that hear differences. ) can hear differences and some of you did not.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Raul, guess it is rather a matter of how deep you dive into the subject (here: how much time and effort (you can..) spend to really evaluate the differences) and whether the comparisms are really done in a strigend way (only one variable - all others constant (which is VERY hard to maintain...the tracking force for instance, behaves different in static vs. dynamic balanced mode)).

I made my comparism in a 2 day run on one table, in one system and each of the 3 cartridges went through all 4 tonearms in both modi.
The tendency was clear and in all 4 tonearms it went in the same direction. Also the tendency was more obvious in the MAX compared to the FR. It was NOT a matter of tonearm length. Wheter 10" or 12" - it showed the same tendency. (2 other people joined the sessions - we all 3 agreed on the results)

There are differences between the two modes - whether you judge them positive or negative is a matter of point of view and the surrounding system and its sonic tendency. The theoretical advantage is clear, but the practical conclusion is a matter of taste and personal sonic preferences.

So Raul, - we agree on the topic.

Hope these comments are of any help to others. But I think everyone has to evaluate this for himself. And should again do so, after any significant change in any other part of his high-end chain. Results once evaluated are void if the circumstances under which they were found do change in a significant way (in simpler words: new speakers? new preamp? new amplifier? new TT? new cartridge? - try again - the results under new conditions may surprise you.....).

I have just completed a careful comparison of dynamic VTF versus static VTF on my SME V with Air Tight PC-1 cartridge.
I can notice a very subtle difference in my system. I hear more micro details, better sense of air and room sounds with dynamic VTF. Bass notes are slightly fuller and more rich. This comes at the cost of slightly crisper, snappier transients, leading edge sounds on cymbals and piano as heard with static VTF.

I would not describe the sound as more relaxed. It is a bit more 3-D and involving for me with dynamic VTF. It is slightly drier, but more exciting with static VTF. Both sound good and the difference is extremely small to my ears in my system. Without doing an A-B-A intense listening test, I probably would never have noticed a difference. The ease of adjusting VTF with the dial is so much more convenient, that for some, this may be the deciding factor, but I don't adjust VTF once it is set. My records are all pretty flat, so perhaps I would notice a bigger differnce with warped LPs as Daniel suggests.

My findings correspond fairly closely to the descriptions from Raul and Daniel mentioned above, but I have strained to reach these conclusions. They certainly have more experience and perhaps their systems are more resolving, so these differences may be more important in their systems and to their individual preferences. I agree with both Raul and Daniel that it comes down to personal opinions as to which is better in a given system and to a certain set of ears. Interestingly, when I started this thread, I thought there would be a more definitive answer.
Dear Peter: Good. The interesting point is that you already try it in a " serious " way and you learn ( like any one of us. ) on the subject.

I think that it will be a good thing to you that you can give at either set-up way a little more time with your reference records. This could help you to understand in a more precise manner what/where is happening to confirm your thoughts about.

Other recomendation that could help to be more precise is to use your V with out damping.

Obviously I asume that the whole cartridge/tonearm set-up is right on target including load impedance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Peter, Raul is right and I just want to add, that indeed you should work without damping. A tonearm which does need damping is mated with the "wrong" cartridge. Damping is used to solve resonance problems which have their roots in resonance frequency missmatch in cartridge compliance with tonearm effective moving mass.

Tonearm manufacturers too often use fluid damping devices to make their tonearms "universal".

Kind of adapting a SUV to all kinds of terrain (and claiming it will be top-class on every......) - from Indianapolis Speedway to rough off-road terrain in Alaska- by just changing the tires.
A tonearm mated with a cartridge with suitable compliance will NEVER need additional damping - and will always perform better without.
Hallo Dertonarm,
you have a point I guess, so that said --- I use damping and had arms that had no facility for damping, so how to prove the point?
What I can say, in my current set-up when I use damping, it is WITH GREAT CAUTION, lest you kill the top end 'air'. In my experience, and corroborated by some reviewer's findings (not in your highest esteem) it is often LESS than 1/8 turn that can 'make it, or break it'.
Personally I like to have an option. Lift the pin out of the fluid, or ever so little place it in the silicone will tell you with a reasonably resolved system what works best for your arm cart combination.

There are some marvellous carts that will just sound more 'right' by using a little damping with a given arm. If you like such a cart e.g. AirTight PC-1, Windfeld, and then some, then according to your take, you would have to purchase a different arm or not listen to this type of cart?

In my experience it is the heavier carts (~13g) that become a bit 'mismatched' as you would call it i.e. in need of some damping with a midium mass arm 10~11g.
The funny thing is, that they are in no way mismatched according to the maths!
How about that now?! Wasn't it the maths that tells it all? If your cart/arm is in a resonance-band between 8Hz to 12Hz all is fine --- according to the maths, right?
Some like a more tight a tolerance of 8.5Hz to 10Hz, so if that still works, AND the cart still likes a little damping?
Still going to buy another arm or chuck your cart form some other item?
As for myself, I don't think so.
(If the tires on your car don’t work for you, get other tires first and don’t buy another car, I say)

Dear Axel, damping is always used to minimize the (always negative...) effects of unwanted vibrations sourced by resonance or torsion. Cartridge sourced vibrations are the result of too low compliance for the given effective mass of the tonearm. A hard (= low compliance ) cartridge can cause the tonearm and its bearings to vibrate to a degree which will have very pronounced effects on the sound. Damping is always used to reduce these unwanted vibrations (better: - to minimize their sound degrading effects).
But - these vibrations are the of a missmatch to begin with. Its not only a matter of the resonance frequency - its a matter of energy handling abilities and too small tires on a car with lots of torque and power......... now you ask the motor-management to reduce from 300 PS to 135 so that you can keep the car on the road.

The heavier carts do add another problem, as they do enlarge the effective moving mass quite considerably (as they are located at the farest point of the stylus-bearing distance) - a big problem with many of todays top-priced cartridges (good example: Koetsu's w/ stone bodies) which do feature too high "body mass" with comparatively high compliance. Thats why so many of the old Koetsu Black are cherished and still fetch new sale prices - they have by far the lowest compliance of all Koetsus and a "normal" weight. They do perform very well in almost all tonearms.

Damping may and will better the sound if your tonearm is matched with a cartridge which is not really ideal suited to be mounted in that particular tonearm.
But still - this particular cartridge would perform better in other tonearms, more suited to match its technical parameters.

In other words - damping is never needed and the sound will never benefit from its use IF cartridge and tonearm do mate well with each other.

We sometimes need damping, if you want to use a specific cartridge in a specific tonearm........ but it is never a happy wedding and not an ideal marriage.

Hi DerTonarm,

cart compliance is a major input parameter in the calculation of arm / cart resonance, yes?

So, I'm trying to figure were we are regards the maths part of it.
Unless you are saying, a medium mass arm with a higher weight cart becomes a (sort of) higher mass arm. If that is so, then we are actually making things better, considering a medium compliance (12 ~ 16CU), or?

If, as you suggest the cart is heavy (stone body etc.) and the compliance is high (24 ~ 36CU) than the maths should again show, that resonance is out of the acceptable band as mentioned earlier (7.5Hz ~ 12Hz). Or do we have here the first case were the maths/facts do not tell the full story?

Interesting is, to my current understanding and assuming a 'reasonable' cart weight (5.5 ~ 8.5g), a high compliance cart with a light-mass arm, such as was the rave was in the 80s for a while, actually creates lesser IGD issues, YMMV.

There are of course other factors why compliance 'generally' has moved back from that dizzy height (very soft) of e.g. 36CU, to something in between to the other extreme, the VERY stiff (low compliance SPU, DECCA, EMT, etc.) of the 60s.

Now, will the maths tell it, or not?
If not, we all would be relinquished to try lots of different arms, or as I also said, not be able to listen to some marvellous carts.
Makes you think, doesn't it?

Well said, Daniel. As some have said on this forum, the arm and the cartridge and their 'marriage' are often more important than the platform they sit on.
Hi Axel, well - usually I did not get very sympathic comments here whenever I refered to math/geometry in analog playback set-up.

Maths would tell the story here too, but I will put it in more general words:

- the heavy cartridge body does add to the effective mass of the moving system (tonearm + cartridge + generator - NOT stylus) in a very special way. The body mass of a heavy cartridge can - and will - alter the effective moving mass extremely. Thats why the "regular" calculations (middle-mass tonearm + medium to high compliance cartridge ) are all a sudden null and void. One of the reasons why so many audiophiles aren't thrilled with the sonic performance of the high-priced (and heavy....) stone-bodied Koetsu's.
These cartridges are almost impossible to mate well with ANY tonearm.

High compliance - low compliance - medium compliance - these are are results of special requirements in the design of a given cartridge. This has to do with interaction between magnetic force, suspension material, cantilever stiffness, moving mass of cantilever/stylus and several other factors.

Jonathan Carr could write you a 2 pages post about these.

Coming back to this topic here, - and to concentrate the output.... - the cartridge bodies weight has such a big influence (if of considerable mass) on the behaviour of the tonearm and on its effective moving mass, that it can make it impossible to mate a particular cartridge with ANY tonearm.

A stone-bodied Koetsu will perform well in a very few tonearms. In these tonearm it does so, because these arms do feature outstanding energy transfer abilities and are extreme stiff and rigid. But even in these tonearms it is still a missmatch because the combination of high compliance PLUS high body mass is a NO GO for any tonearm. (God, - the Koetsu-lovers will kill me..... hey there! I like Koetsu's too, but would always go for the RSP....).

IGD - has nothing to do with compliance or mass alone.

Usually you are better off, if your cartridge is a good "tracker".
IGD can most likely be avoided, if your alignment goes for the 2 zero widely spread and the 2nd close to the run-out grooves.
IGD is a question of geometry and trackability. Many high compliance MMs do feature extreme trackability - but this alone does not mean low IGD.
Align a Shure V15VMR with IEC-geometry and play a DECCA SXL with Ravel Daphnis & Chloe conducted by Monteux:

You will get IGD even with the 100µm+ trackability of the Shure.
Because your Shure's stylus will already be close to its maximum error with the big crecsendi on the sides end.

An ultra hard 5-6 compliance FR-7 will easily go through those inner grooves without any distortion if mounted in a FR-60-series and aligned with a Denessen tractor.

Hi Daniel,
let me get used to this now --- and welcome once again "In der Loewengrube"

>>> A stone-bodied Koetsu <<<
Yes, I hope you'll survive that one. I get your point, and if only for one reason: the other end of that spectrum the DL-103 i.e. a light body with a very low compliance.
This will need some heavy mass arm, end of story.
But now go to the resonance calculation it will confirm this (I bloody well hope so!)
Daniel do us a favour, go check:
and let us know if you're findings will be different. And if so - why?

>>> Usually you are better off, if your cartridge is a good "tracker". <<<
Well, right on the money I say --- BUT trackability was the very reason why folks like vdH went to the extreme of 36CU, right? And the Shure V15's (I owned one ages ago) also. Yet again a BUT, the problem I recall was, the EXTREMLY low VTF used in order not to bottom it out in the first place!

Now lets look at some of the low compliance carts. There is not a single ONE, that can claim better than 60µm, yes? Which is a pretty poor showing --- just looking at the maths :-)
Now one more BUT, they also use humongous VTF! 4g and more! If that needle (almost all had a round type, conical stylus then) dropped on the vinyl it made some sizeable pit mark. So it didn't track too badly because it used VTF like a ton of bricks.

So let’s have your take on that resonance-calculator's findings please. And we'll watch out for those lions not get us chewed up over Koetsu and Denon...


Hi Axel,

the resonance calculator is fine and will work fine AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT DEAL with cartridges of extra heavy weight and/or on tonearms with extra long (10 - 12" ) effective length.


Because the extra heavy body is on the extreme end of the lever and therefor its add up to effective MOVING mass is very high. To calculate this you need more than just that 3-way calculator - you would need the effective length of the tonearm too and the added mass of the cartridge taken into account in relation to its distance to the pivot/bearing point.

As for the trackability of low compliance cartridges.
Most better samples SPU's and almost all FR-7-series cartridges I have heard (about 4 dozens so far) do easily reach the 70 µm and beyond if aligned and balanced perfectly in a well-matched tonearm. The FR-7-series performs usually around 2.5 to 2.7 grams VTF. EMTs the same. The SPUs do range from anywhere between 2.5 the lowest and up to 5 for some of the older style samples.

VTF alone doesn't tell you any story about trackability. High compliance can not go with high VTF - for obvious reasons. But low compliance doesn't nessecarily needs extra high VTF either.
So your general assumptions on the trackability of low compliance carts is wrong.
However - most if not all high ultra-compliance carts are MMs. They are - viewed as a group - better "trackers" than the MC anyway. But for different reasons than compliance.

So - the calculator mentioned is fine, as long as you deal with moderate weight cartridges in 9" tonearms. When the total length and/or the cartridge mass do increase considerably, it is a different story and the calculation is enhanced by a VERY dynamic factor. Thats why all these calculations fail as soon as you deal with say a Koetsu Onyx or similar.

The crux is the added mass so far away from the bearing point and its immense effect on the effective (NOT static !!) moving mass.

Hope this helps to clarify the point.

Thanks Daniel,

now what about that D-103 I mentioned?

Lightweight body 4.8g , Low compliance ~5CU in a 'modern' medium-mass arm?

Daniel and Raul,
Regarding your advice about damping: I have not used damping on my SME V since I got the Air Tight PC-1. In fact I removed the damping trough and cleaned out any silicone residue. I used the resonance calculator and my cartridge/tonearm combination seems pretty good at 10.5 Hz.

SME V eff. mass = 10-11g
PC-1 weight = 12g
PC-1 compliance = 10cu
Resonance = 10.5 Hz

Settings: no damping, 1.0g antiskate, 2.1g VTF, VTA level with 150g LP, loading at 22ohm with Pass Labs XOno phono amp. Cartridge aligned using MINT Tractor made for specific arm/cartridge combo. Azimuth, zenith and null points all correct.

The PC-1 is a fairly heavy cartridge with low/medium compliance. The math seems to work and it sounds wonderful. Is this because the arm is quite rigid with good internal damping?
Dear Peter, the SME V is VERY rigid and has good energy transmission. The PC-1 is not that heavy and the SME V is a 9" tonearm with fairly loss mass at the end of the lever (the armtube widens towards the bearing - very good to lower effective moving mass and enhance rigidity).

Your settings seems fine to me - especially the antiskating being only 1/2 value of the VTF.

Enjoy your music,
Dear Axel, the DL-103 is a very simple cartridge with a lousy body. There have been a number of body modifications in the past 30 years - some by Denon, some by others. There even are several lead-body DL-103 around.

The compliance of the DL-103 is sometimes mentioned with 5 dyne, but it is usually 7-9. It is definitively "softer" compared to SPU or FR-7 cartridges. Todays DL-103 are ever increasing in compliance.

The DL-103 ws usually used in radio stations with fairly heavy and unsophisticated headshells. They added the mass missing in the DL-103's body. The DL-103 was once designed by Denon for their broadcast division and severed in japanese radio stations for over 30 years. It was mounted in those fairly heavy headshells and fitted to Denon tonearms with headshell adapter. The low body mass had no influence, as the headshell used was so heavy.
thanks great information, all make a lot of sense to me.
Dear Peter: Now that you already try both VTF " ways " you have the opportunity ( on both ) to make a very fine tunning with the VTF set-up you like it more and through tiny VTA changes try to be near on the other sound characteristics that you like in the other VTF set-up, as a fact you can do it in both VTF ways.

Almost always exist a threshold ( very tiny but exist. ) where ( in some frequency range ) tiny VTA changes does not alter the main sound characteristics and through these VTA very tiny changes you can achieve an important improvement.

Btw, I don't own the PC-1 but I already have it in my system ( from a friend ) and I loaded at 100 Ohms with very good results.
In two other systems where I heard the PC-1 were loaded at 100-150 ohms ( no SUT, active gain. ). I understand that your Pass is an active gaing design, right?. Do you already try to eun your PC-1 at 100-150 ohms? and with no AS or only 0.5? . These are interesting alternatives and person/system dependents on its result levels.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Peter: That threshold that I'm speaking is : through our each one ear/brain perception.

Raul and Daniel,
Thank you very much for your comments and thoughtful advice. Raul, I did try loading the PC-1 with 100 ohms just like my old Sumiko Celebration, but something was missing. With the help of a friend, I went up to roughly 120, 140, 200, 249 and 452 and down to 75, 47, 22, and 10. As you may know the XOno has about 230 possible settings and has an active initial gain stage. I agree that the 22ohm setting seems low, but for me there is a good balance between bass definition and weight and good upper end extension without stridence. But more importantly, at 22ohm everything suddenly sounded right with air and presence. At 22 ohms, the "gestahlt" hit me and everything just sounded right.

Regarding tiny VTA adjustments: The biggest problem with the SME V design is the difficulty of adjusting height. Every time I try it, the arm column moves slightly out of vertical because the VTA screw is off center and I have to recheck azimuth. This is a big problem with the SME arm. So I tend to make very tiny VTA adjustments by altering VTF. And unless I bought the TriPlanar or Phantom, I would not consider changing VTA for each different LP thickness like some people do.
Regarding tiny VTA adjustments: The biggest problem with the SME V design is the difficulty of adjusting height. Every time I try it, the arm column moves slightly out of vertical because the VTA screw is off center and I have to recheck azimuth.

This is not the case with any of the (5) SME 312S tonearms I own or have set up. Wonder what the difference is?
Hi Albert,
That is interesting. When I loosen the set-screws at the base of the arm, I can tilt the cylindrical arm post slightly to the left or right. I had thought this was a way to adjust azimuth before tightening the screws again. Then a read a post by dougdeacon that this was not a good idea because the bearing would then not be level if the arm post were not vertical or plumb. That got me thinking that if the arm post is not truely vertical, or plumb, then all the rest of the geometry as the arm swings toward the LP center is not correct either. So now I check for level with a bubble level placed on the flat surface to the arm lock which I assume is perpendicular to the arm post. When it is level, I then retighten the setscrews. Is this slight play in the arm post not normal?

The issue with the VTA screw is that it is off-center from the pivot point so as it is turned clockwise to raise the arm, it exerts a force which tilts the arm slightly to the right as viewed from the front. I then tilt it back by pushing the bottom of the post to the right, moving the top back to the left and making it true vertical again. I thought all SME arms had this slight play at the base.

I now agree with all of those people who say that azimuth is not adjustable on the SME arms because the post has to remain truely vertical or plumb. Fortunately, my PC-1 cantilever is "perfectly" straight and centered in the vertical plane.

This thread is getting off the topic of dynamic vs. static VTF and becoming more about adjusting the SME V arm. Perhaps a topic for another thread. Sorry.

The SME 312S has removable head shell, so the collet may be loosened and the head shell twisted to obtain proper azimuth. Once set I've loosened the post in the rear to change VTA and never experienced any "shift" in azimuth after raising or lowering the arm.
Hi Peterayer

>>> The biggest problem with the SME V design is the difficulty of adjusting height. Every time I try it, the arm column moves slightly out of vertical because the VTA screw is off centre and I have to recheck azimuth <<<

My solution:
Make some hardwood spacers (small oblong blocks) fit between armrest and clamping assembly, loosen the bolts press down on the pivot bearing-bridge. The arm will ALWAYS be level with the spacer block. I have made these according to VTA requirement. I started somewhere from 1/2" which fits for a Windfeld. If the PC-1 is by X taller this must be added.
You can achieve quite easily the small differences Raul is talking about --- AND HE IS RIGHT THERE --- a 0.3mm difference can just make that difference to be more pleasing.

Thank you for that suggestion. It makes sense.
Hi all,
one thing came to mind when reading about silicone damping being considered a 'crutch' to make up for lack of arm to cart matching ---- but wait, there are arms that use 'damping' a their required part of operation!
Well Tempered (now a golf ball! in silicon), Schroeder uses a magnet, just to mention two. Others consider it an 'option' but actually seem to sound more 'right' with juice in their various bowls, I'm thinking of uni-pivoted designs.

Are these all aberrations to some 'true teaching' , I can not see that, honestly.

Back to the V damping trough, (an option with the less expensive IV,, and 300 series). If you have a V, and feel like some purists, and want to remove it --- it leaves the arm with a rather unbalanced looking uncovered left side horizontal pivot bearing...
I listened with that 'hard wear' on and off --- ZERO difference.
I might mention it is not quite that easy to take it off in the first place, since it it VERY solidly bolted on, with some part catching under some other cover. Just before you get the idea.

I agree with you about removing the SME V damping trough. I removed it for cleaning as per the SME instructions and then reinstalled it for aesthetic reasons. I can't imagine there being any sonic difference one way or the other. I don't think that "some purists" are using their arms with the trough removed, or at least I have'nt read of any. I think they just don't fill it with silicone. My silicon had become somewhat hard and I simply wanted to clean it out.

It seems to me that SME designed the damping trough for some sonic reason. They do not mention that it should be used when there is a cartridge/arm mismatch but this is territory that I know nothing about. Daniel's point about it being used to dampen resonances created by a cartridge/arm mismatch does make sense. I have not done a careful listening test. I wonder if this is about relative catilever movement between low versus high compliance cartridges and the stability of the arm moving across the LP.
Hi Peterayer
:-) nice to hear you are not A -purist- :-)

I think you got it pretty well down, in my estimate, by your comment:
>>> I wonder if this is about relative cantilever movement between low versus high compliance cartridges and the stability of the arm moving across the LP. <<<

Some notion I will share:
Look what your stylus is doing when being lowered into the start groove ---- pop - and wiggle, sometimes jumping quite nastily into the first music groove, ever had that?
Well, I do. Now the lower the compliance the less this seems to be the case. Why? Well, that another subject I guess.
Your PC-1 has 10CU compliance, I had a Dorian (now my son's) with 12CU, but I also had a Jubilee, and now Windfeld both 16CU.
The higher the compliance the more wiggle and jump, at least so far as to my experience.
Now, use just the smallest amount of damping you will find that this sort of disturbing effect is much reduced.

But now what about the sound?
Well, with a higher compliance cart it seems to be beneficial preventing some treble 'overshoot'. Do too much, the cart will very quickly sound kind of dull. The difference in my (and other's experience) is often not more than 1/8 turn up or down.
Want to call that a fix for a mismatch, fine by me. But I think it's just an additional tuning facility you either decide works for a cart or not, so you just deactivate it.

Same as to the varying levels of anti-skate.
So go ahead, tell me, that if I need anti-skate it's due to a arm/cart mismatch?! well I'm honestly not on that side, I simply use it, BUT with discretion.

It's a bit like the down-haul tension on a sail. There is no one tension fits all, now is there, ever?

So far my thoughts on the subject.
Dear Axel: +++++ " Look what your stylus is doing when being lowered into the start groove ---- pop - and wiggle, sometimes jumping quite nastily into the first music groove, ever had that? " +++++

+++++ " The higher the compliance the more wiggle and jump... " +++++

well, there are other factors than compliance ( btw, my experiences with high compliance cartridges are different from what you posted. ) to that " wiggle&jump " cartridge event: the angle deviation from flat of that outer LP rim, a cartridge/tonearm mis-match ( resonance frequency ), how much " space " are between those un-modulate " grooves " on that rim, how much AS we are apply to, VTF, VTA/SRA, etc, etc..

so IMHO that " event " is not ( only ) because of compliance.
Usually when the cartridge does not " wiggle&jump " that cartridge/tonearm set-up performs extremely well.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Hi Raul,
>>> Usually when the cartridge does not " wiggle&jump " that cartridge/tonearm set-up performs extremely well. <<<

I couldn't agree more!

What I describe is just my finding, and agreed like always --- there's yet something else...

Ockham Razor "The explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory"
:-) Ah, so...

PS: Mine doesn't 'wiggle&jump' currently ---- most all of the time
Well, it's been about a year and a half since I started this thread and I think I shall add a recent observation:

I have been researching new arms and am intrigued by the two SME 12" arms, the 312S and the V-12. Besides the detachable headshell on the 312S, the main difference seems to be static versus dynamic VTF. So I was checking the alignment of my SME V and thought I would retest my earlier observations about VTF. My system has changed in the past year, and with the addition of new monitor speakers, it is considerably more revealing than it was. I did an A-B-A test or dynamic-static-dynamic. I listened to Beethoven's Violin Concerto and some female vocals. In static mode at 2.1g VTF, the sound was flat, lacked subtle detail and was generally not involving, and these were LPs that I love and listen to often. Massed strings lacked the sense of individual musicians playing as a group. There was little or no hall information. It sounded 2-D. When I switched back to dynamic mode I noticed the change immediately. The sound was more full, had more weight, better air and sense of space, music filled the room rather than just the plane of the speakers. Massed strings sounded like many individual musicians playing together. Sounds reverberated in the hall. Voices were fleshy, not dry. In short, the experience was much more real and involving. I quickly forgot about listening for details and just got lost in the music.

The difference was not nearly as subtle as I found it to be a year ago. I immediately noticed the improvement. Perhaps it is because I have another year of listening experience, perhaps my system is just more revealing now. Whatever the reason, I now much prefer dynamic VTF with the SME V arm in my system.

Now, on to trying to compare my SME V to the V-12 and a few other arms.
I just ran across this thread (with all the usual suspects! ;--) so excuse my late arrival to the party ;--( I read all the posts and still have some questions (maybe I didn't read carefully enough?) But I'll try and keep it simple:

1.) With my SME-V (and a decent digital VTF scale) it's quite easy to create a 'composite' VTF which is comprised partly of static VTF and partly of dynamic VTF. I just recently ran across the idea on some forum or other, but haven't tried it yet. Any comments as to the possible benefits of having perhaps mostly one kind, with a little of the other kind? And which of which?

2.) I've always used the SME headshell spacer (1/8" thick, 3 grams) because the platter height of my TT necessitates raising up the whole arm assembly slighty. However, there are other ways to increase the height of the arm assembly without using the headshell spacer; and I'd like to know what you all think about doing it by (basically) adding the 'spacer' to the tonearm base rather than at the headshell? The particulars:
a.) My MC cart. has a dynamic compliance of 15.
b.) With the spacer, the 'effective' cart. weight = 7.6g (cart) + 3g (spacer) + 1.5g (mounting bolts) = ~ total of 12g.
b.) SME advises also adding the 3g spacer weight to the effective mass of the arm, thus increasing it to 13.5 g (+/--). Note: I question SME's 'math' however, because the entire 3g (spacer) is being added right at the headshell and NOT evenly distributed over the whole armtube? Whatever; maybe an approximation is good enough?
c.) Using the VinylEngine's resonance calculator, and entering the numbers associated WITH using the spacer, I get a clear result of 8Hz for the resonant frequency.
c.) WITHOUT using the spacer, the resonant frequency increases to 9.5Hz.
So which way would be preferred, and why?

3.) RE the horizontal (damping trough) issue: The SME-V arm at 10.5g (+/--) would I guess be considered a medium mass TA. And at 13.5g (+/--) (if I use the spacer) it would definitely fall into that category. Most people advise against using the fluid trough for damping horizontal motion under ANY circumstances! Or MAYBE with the exception of some VERY low compliance and relatively LIGHT WEIGHT cartridges? I know this was discussed above, but I wonder if there's an absolute resonant frequency (like around 12Hz) AT or ABOVE which, it becomes advisable to apply SOME amount of fluid damping to control horizontal motion and (artificially?) lower the resonant frequency?

Thanks for ANY real thoughts, and ALL unreal opinions ;--)