the perfect tonearm

I know that it doesn't exist, but I'm looking for a tonearm retailing less than $2000 that has multiple virtues- easy to setup even for a clod like myself, flexibility eg, VTA on the fly, azimuth and easy anti-skating adjustments and also with a effective mass that allows it to be used with a wide range of cartridges. Oh, and I prefer the classic looking S shaped arms if possible.

Some that are intriguing are Graham 2.2, Jelco 750, SME 3012???
Hi Mike,there is,alas, a big gap between what we want and
what we can afford. But you can get for less:
1.Lustre 801
2.Micro MA-505 (S)

You will need a new (silver) phonocable for both as well
one new headshell,say,Orsonic with (Ikeda)silver 'tags'.
Those tonearms are not 'less' then the so called 'big guns'.
"the perfect tonearm" and retailing for "less than $2000 that has multiple virtues"

Ahum.., we'll see what Raul or DerTonarm have to say to that.
I understand they are on the -road to perfection- alas that also appears to include the price.
If you add one "0" to your number, they might even talk product to you?

Nothing for nothing, and perfection even less so :-)

Of course your 'request' is not illegitimate at all, just you won't get a 'stick on a string' for 2k these days --- (the name of the game as it seems).

So let's see how it goes,
I second the MA-505 or MA-505S (S stands for silver wire) if you can find one in good condition. It is an S sharp arm which allows you to change VTA, tracking force, and anti-skating on the fly.
The Jelco 750 doesn't have VTAF, but it's a great arm. I own one and use it on my vintage Thorens.
Dear Mickeyc8, get a Graham 2.2 on the used market and enjoy analog life. Its most universal (although I hate the term regarding tonearms...) and will give excellent results with almost all of todays better cartridges. Furthermore it is the one tonearm which is very precisely to align thanks to the remarkable tools Robert Graham provides with the tonearm package.
This can't be overestimated in its everyday importance for the avarage user who is not too much into tonearm geometry.
The Graham gives you an easy to align to precise results tool which is all in one package:
- easy to adjust to
- excellent sonics
- universal
- beautiful to the eye
- excellent craftmanship
- has well withstand all tests of time with flying colors.
An excellent tonearm and as a 2nd hand unit of outstanding value for the money.
If you do get the G2.2, just be aware that it is incompatible with the Grado cartridge line.

Of course if you have a budget of $2K for a used arm, with some patience you might find on older Triplanar, like a Mk6 or early Mk7, which seems to be a better arm overall. Not only will it play the Grados easily, but it also plays any of the cartridges that seemed to work fine in the G2.2.

The Graham Phantom is also a much better arm than the 2.2, if you can find one of those you will do quite well!

Good Luck!
Dear Atmasphere, very interesting. Would you please enlighten us all why the Graham is "incompatible with the Grado cartridge line" ?
I very much look forward to learn the technical background for this incompatibility.......
BTW - you should clarify that you - according to your own statements - have never actually listened to the Phantom and that you have friendship relationship with the distributor of Triplanar.
To Mikeyc8, you may have problems finding what you are looking for such a price in a new arm.

I concur with Dertonarm's recommendation for the Graham 2.2, which is easy to setup and sounds decent. The Triplanars also sound decent, and if you can find either one second-hand and in good condition, I'd go for it.

In a somewhat different direction, you could consider vintage heavyweight arms like the FR-64fx or an IT-245, both of which can sound quite good and don't need to cost a lot of money. Like this:

FWIW, the Triplanar and other tonearms that have drop-down headshell sides may have problems with wide-bodied cartridges like the Allearts Formula One. When I was using this particular pair, I had to machine a thick spacer to get the cartridge body to clear the headshell sides. hth
FYI - the Ikeda IT-245 was sold (in limited quantities however...) in the USA in the late 1980ies and very early 1990ies as the Rowland Research Complement tonearm (together with the Ikeda EMPL named as "Rowland Research Complement" too). As it is sometimes very difficult for most audiophiles outside Nippon to get any component from a seller listing on Japanese Yahoo it might be a suitable alternative to have a look on the home 2nd hand market for the OEM -Rowland version.
The effective moving mass of the IT-245 is however considerable higher than the Graham 2.2 or Phantom.

Again - I won't stress this point too far, but it is a VERY important aspect worth mentioning again - keep in mind the very easy alignment of the Graham which allows even the inexperienced user to obtain very precise adjustment in a minute and thus excellent results much harder to achieve with other designs.

JCarr, You wrote, "the Triplanar and other tonearms that have drop-down headshell sides may have problems with wide-bodied cartridges like the Allearts Formula One." What model of Triplanar have you used that has such a headshell? I have owned mine for more than 15 years, and, altho it is not sitting in front of me at the moment, I could swear that the under-surface of the headshell is a flat plane with no "sides" to it. Moreover, to my knowledge there has been no change to the headshell design in the entire long history of the product. Your warning would still apply to tonearms that DO sport such headshells, to be sure. Anyway, the Allaerts cartridges are unusually wide-bodied.
Jcarr, yes the FR 64fx does sound and look interesting. I haven't decided on a cart yet, but I'm interested in the Soundsmith Aida which is low compliance. Would it work well with low compliance carts? Is the IT245 comparable to the 64fx in terms of quality and price?

The Micro 505 is also interesting, as it has VTA on the fly I believe.

To clarify, I would buy it used, I realize that $2K for a new tonearm offers very limited choices.
Perfection on a budget? Hmmm...

The alignment jig provided with a Graham does let inexperienced users set things up easily and quickly, but it hardly approaches "perfection". I wouldn't call it "precise" either. Anyone who's aligned a Graham using a mirrored arc protractor will testify to improvements vs. the jig. If cost-effective "perfection" is the goal, the $110 Mint protractor will get you audibly closer with any (pivoting) tonearm, including a Graham.

As to sonics, friends and I A/B'd a 2.2 with a TriPlanar VII, Basis Vector I and all three Schroeders. This was on a two-arm table with Shelter, ZYX and Koetsu cartridges (same cart on each arm).

The 2.2 is among the very best for convenience, repeatability of setup and BQ, but with the above carts its sonic performance was lackluster when compared to those other arms.


Jcarr mentioned headshells with drop down sides. I don't believe any TriPlanar has had those since at least 1983. The Mk III did not, nor did the Mk IV, VI or any version of the current Mk VII.


A used TriPlanar Mk VII would be above the OP's $2K budget, but a Mk VI (if he can find one) might go for that or a bit less. It can even be upgraded to Mk VII by that friend of Ralph's when funds permit. Of course by the time a VI shows up, he may have saved enough for a used VII! :-)

A used Basis Vector should fit the budget. VTA on the fly is a challenge and VTF/azimuth adjustment interact, making fine tuning a chore. Solid, good sounding arm though.

Depending on the turntable, Chris Brady's add-on VTA adjuster is very well built, easy to use if you have access beneath the armboard and provides precise, on-the-fly height adjustment and repeatability. It could make many tonearms lacking this feature eligible for consideration under the OP's criteria.

Friendship disclaimers (so Dertonarm won't yell at me):
Dung Tri Mai
Frank Schroeder
Not Bob Graham or A. J. Conti, but only because we've never met except online. Otherwise I'd disclose them too!
Hi Lew:

>What model of Triplanar have you used that has such a headshell?

For sure mine is not the latest version. My memory is that I started using it around 2000~2001, and had it paired with the Allearts around 2002.

>I have owned mine for more than 15 years, and, altho it is not sitting in front of me at the moment, I could swear that the under-surface of the headshell is a flat plane with no "sides" to it. Moreover, to my knowledge there has been no change to the headshell design in the entire long history of the product.

I'd have to search for where my Triplanar is right now to check the construction details. You may be right that the headshell has no sides. But there was something in my particular Triplanar's headshell structure that impaired its compatibility with the Allearts - that was one of the very, very few times where I was forced to design and machine a part specifically to allow a cartridge to work properly in a tonearm.

>Anyway, the Allaerts cartridges are unusually wide-bodied.

Agreed. But the question is not only how wide, also where the width is located. On some tonearms, towards the rear of the headshell, the connection between the headshell top and rear is reinforced with triangular or curved pieces. A cartridge that is wide-bodied in this area could cause problems, while the same width farther forward may not cause any difficulties.

Hi Mikeyc8: Ikeda's tonearms, like the FR's and IT's mostly veer in the direction of high mass, and should work far better with low-compliance cartridges than high-compliance. I'd say that the IT-245 is at least comparable the 64fx, and probably somewhat better. But you do lose the convenience of universal-type headshells. In a universal headshell tonearm, the IT-345 is a more sophisticated design than the 64fx and sounds better, but I don't think you will have much luck finding a second-hand one for sale (which is why I didn't mention it earlier).

>The Micro 505 is also interesting, as it has VTA on the fly I believe.

Note that the 505 was made in straight-tube as well as S-tube variants. I've owned the 505, and I'd say that it has a midrange-oriented, forgiving personality that is quite likeable. But in terms of frequency extension, dynamic range and resolution, it isn't as capable as the 64fx or IT-245. FWIW, FR made an on-the-fly VTA adjustment piece for the 64 and 66 family, which was called the "Arm Elevation Base".

Good luck with your search!
Dertonarm, the G2.2 and the Grado cartridges are well-known for something that is sometimes called the 'Grado dance', although it is certainly not the fault of the cartridge! It is merely that the effective mass of the system is incorrect for the compliance of that cartridge. I have seen the combination oscillate mechanically from groove modulation (and not anything else) to the point that it would skip out of the groove. The combination of the two is also unable to track complex passages.

Tri Mai of Triplanar has nothing but complements for the Phantom, and there have been quite a few threads here on the 'gon regarding its qualities. IME it is a transformation over the 2.2!

Its no secret that I show with Triplanar at shows. I am grateful because the Triplanar has consistently been one of the top tonearms ever made; the best I have heard in comparison to master tapes. One would be quite lucky to be able to pick up a used Triplanar Mk7 or Phantom for only $2K! I hope you do not fault me for making friends with people in the industry...
You must give a listen to an RS Labs RS A1 tonearm. It has a rotating headshell and is one of the (if not best) arms I have ever heard. I think new is $2,900 (maybe $3900-can't remember) but used should be in your budget-if you can find one. Only downside is no armlift but the sound (and incredible ease of set up as no geometyrical cartridge setup is required due to pivot) is soo worth it. Pure bliss. Soundstage, depth, detail, articulation of instruments in thier own space, musicality, prat-I could keep going.
Dear Dougdeacon, dear Ralph Karsten, I appreciate you two being open in your realation with the Triplanar distributor.
I had personally 4 versions of the Wheaton/Triplanar.
While I do not agree with your comments that it belongs to the very best toenarms on the market, it is a nice tonearm with several good ideas but a few shortcomings too.
Its shortcoming mays not apparent in all set-ups and with all cartridges.
About precision in tonearm set-up and cartridge alignment..... well, frankly - as I have learned in various threads and discussions in the past 3 months here on Audiogon, my ideas about precise alignment are VERY different from almost everybody else here.
I have constantly been critizsed for being TOO demanding about geometry or alignment issues.
Knowing this only too well I did with good intention and good resaon recommend the Graham alignment tool. I may not be the ultimate, but it is a hell of a lot better then most other "alignment tools" and allows the novice to set-up the Graham with a fairly good geometry in no time and with prooven results.
I know that the Phantom is better - the Phantom II by a good margin as I learned from Syntax.
Look at the inital price frame - the question was for $2k or under..........
You want to sell Mikeyc8 a Triplanar VII or VIII for under $2k ...?
No ?
But he can get a almost mint Graham 2.2 ceramic for about $1500 to $1600 and will be amazed by the results.
Later he can maybe upgrade one day to a Triplanar or Phantom - we'll see.
But he will get good results (I will try a G 2.2 with the Grado - even if this strange osccilation is "widely known", I want to see it and then I will find out why.) and will be hard pressed finding anything the par in terms of versality and ease of set-up.
And no - I am not associated with Robert Graham.
This is just one of the VERY few audio components on the market that gets my respect.

Well Dertonearm, first there is no Mk8 of the Triplanar...

The Mk6 was out about 4-5 years ago. You might well see one for about $2K. FWIW, I don't sell them :) Your respect notwithstanding, the Mk6 ran/runs circles around the G2.2 and does it in a way that instantly obvious. It can also be set to more precise geometrical settings than the 2.2.

Occam's Razor suggests that your dissing of the Triplanar has to do with something other than tone arm performance.
So - ********* it (the Triplanar) can also be set up to more precise geometrical settings than the 2.2...*********

Very interesting.
Both tonearms can be aligned for overhang, vta, azimuth, mounting distance.
Hmmmm - do you want to start telling people that the geometrical calculation of the Triplanar is "better" and therefor more "precise".
I'd love to see that technical explanation displayed here.
But I suggest you get some more back-up before starting that.

Well Atmasphere...... there were so many modifications to the "perfect" Triplanar tonearm (many by Herb Papier - not sure who did the last ones) over its almost 25 years of existance now (talking about an "oldskool tonearm"...) , that not only I lost track about what "offical" or "silent" version is on sale right now.

The Triplanar may run "circles" around the G 2.2 if you set-up both tonearms.
I can't dispute that.
In fact I am sure it is that way if you set-up both.
And it may instantly obvious to you.
I can't dispute that either - and I won't.
In fact I am pretty sure it is that way.

As you will have little to none knowledge about the true roots of "novacula occami" aside from what you can read on Wikipedia or what is on the internet (which is neither all nor the true concept and spiritual idea.......) - because if you had, you wouldn't use it in this context at all.

Your simplified way of concept and view brings up beautiful memories of G.W. Bush view of the world.
You miss him - don't you?
Dear Mikeyc8, Nandric was right in his suggestions of the Lustre/Koshin GST-801 and the MA-505 (s or x).
Adding the recommended headshell and fine tuned with the Ikeda S-50 headshell wires and an AQ Leopard dbs or similar pure silver tonearm cable will give you a very good tonearm/cable combination too - for well below $1500.
The Lustre is the slightly "better" tonearm, but is less versatile.
Both do offer your prefered "S"-shape and the Lustre is very similar in handling, built quality and rigidy to the old Ikeda tonearms of the early 1980ies.
You can't do wrong with either.
If you shopuld decide to go for the classic MA-505, make sure you get either an "S" or an "X" suffix.
Both do feature pure silver inside leads.
Dertonarm, obfuscations aside, the reason the Triplanar is more precise is because when you set it up, it stays set up and does not require fiddling to keep the azimuth correct. This is a problem for the G2.2 when the LP thickness is varied or if there are warps of any size.

The design of the Phantom seems to be aimed at addressing this issue in particular.

I owned the G2.2 for years and showed with it at shows- my comments come from direct experience. I liked his setup device a lot BTW. It forced you to go out of your way to set the arm up wrong. You only hope that his calculations were correct, but IME they had to be quite close.

The Triplanar has a provision to set azimuth exactly, and it will not vary nor oscillate as is often seen in the G2.2. In addition, the Triplanar has and had the first VTA tower that allows for precise VTA adjustment on the fly, and done in such a manner that it does not interact with other adjustments on the arm.
Dear Mickeyc8: The Lustre GST-801 that Nandric suggest isa very good and versatile one for what you asking:

VTA on the fly, easy ( magnetic ) anti-skate device, easy VTF setting ( magnetic too. ), classic looking not a straight tonearm, comes with different counterweights to try different cartridges, Azymuth set-up, with easy carridge/tonearm effective mass handling due that you can use different headshells that weight different too.

Iuse this tonearm for many years with very good results with cartridges ranging from 3grs to 30 grs and with cartridge compliance ranging from 4cu to 40cu.

THis Lustre kind of " friendly " device is something that I can say is a versatile tonearm and you can find it second hand for no more than 500-600 and the other 1.5K you can use for a good tonearm cable, LP's and even a new cartridge!!!

Good luck.

Regards and enjoy the music,

so lots of good choices here it seems....
FR 64fx, Lustre GST 801, Micro Seiki 505, Graham 2.2, Triplanar and IT245.

Raul, I noticed you posted in in earlier thread about the Lustre with a XV1s, to clarify did you say it sounded good with the XV1s?
Dear Mikeyc8:Yes, it makes a good match with the own magnesium lustre headshell.

Btw, If you choose for the Ikeda headshell wires be carefully to choose the right ones for the cartridge you have because the S-50 are a little short and not works with every cartridge out there, maybe is a better and secure choice the S-40 that are a little longer.

Regards and enjoy the music,
To my experience all headshell leads by Ikeda ( I have them all - S-30 to S-50 ) are of identical length.
It may be however that there are shorter length samples around.
Usually the problem is the other way round and you have problems squeezing the leads in between the pins of headshell bajonett and cartridge leadout pins.
In most cases there is little distance left to be bridged by the headshell leads.
Dear Raul and Dertonarm,thanks mainly to you both our
community is best informed on earth regarding tonearms,turntables and carts.
In some sence it is (much) easyer to have just one authority but I prefer two of more. I will elaborate on this later but I will start with Dertonarms methafor about the old- and the young leon in the same territory.
When asked why he so much dislikes M.Gorky the 'old Leon'
Tolstoj used this 'argument':' My dogs also dislike Gorky'.
The same kind of 'argument-weight' I attribute to the
'commercial intentions' arguments used by both 'Dramatis
personae'. Getting rich by producing tonearm?? You must be
So both of our beloved Dramatis personae illustrate two different,say,human 'propertys':
1.The human weakness;
2.The 'homo faber' story (Bergson,Frisch)

Regarding the human weakness Raul is (much) more sensitive
then Dertonarm. He always underlines the individual preferences. In this context I am on the side of Raul because to me the empathy is one of the most important
human quality. Dertonarm SEEMS to 'hate' human weakness
probable because he is follower of the 'absolute theory
of truth' and hates eny compromise.But in Sweden he was not
looking for,say,the richest- but for the most beautiful
lady. So perhaps he is not as 'hard' as he thinks.

2. The 'homo faber'
Because of the division of labor most of us have lost the
skills to make things. I have no idea how to 'produce' even
a stone-knife. So,I ques, the most of us will regard those
two as 'lucky bastards' because thy can combine their hobby
with their work.
So this 'part' is that envy both at most.
Dertonarm mentioned somwehere this 'unity of theory and practice' in.say,'general terms'.
I am familiar with the,say,Marxian one,because I am from
eastern Europa. Thanks to Poppers 'Conjecures and Refutantions' we can use suitable terms to describe the
'experiment' with the 'scientific socialism'. While social
scientist were producing evidence that Marx was right;mainly by quoting from Marx work,some 'regular' person,without eny academic education refuted the theory.
When asked:'And how are we today Sergej?' His answer was:
'Well it is worst then yesterday but better then tomorrow'.

There are also the so called 'American pragmatist'(from
Dewey till Quine) with the similar programme but I am not
familiar with the possible results there.
But I am with Dertonarm for the 'individual cases'.I.e.:
Raul produced 'the' tonearm by the 'unity of theory and
practice' and
Dertonarm (also)produced 'the' tonearm ,etc.

3. The authority

Aristoteles dominated western culture for 2000 years.
The easy 'part' of this fact was:one needed only to read
Aristoteles and nothing else and one was sure about the
'real truth'.I.e. no dillemas then.
So till Galileo in physics and Frege in logic 'we' had just
one authority.
So I have no problem at all with the 'number' in our forum:
I enjoy reading Raul as well as Dertonarm.
huh?? now back to our regular programming.
Nandric, great !
Even if my romantic mood and believe in the ability of man's mind is still underrated.
Frege seems to haunt me forever......
Still - great, even if my picture of the two lions was inappropriate.
I am rather the seasoned Tiger who always hunts alone.
Back from the jungle to the streets.
How about the Fidelity Research Arms specifically the FR64fx, and it is a good medium mass tonearm that has outstanding bearings, adjustable VTA, anti-skate, etc.
Great construction and vintage yes
Hi Musicfile, I still own the German magazine 'Das Ohr'
from April 1984 with the first review in Europe of both
tonearms: FR-64s and FR-64fx. Dertonarm mentioned somwhere
the same magazine and stated (if I am right)that the reviwers ware very competent.According to them the FR-64s
was superior in eny 'parameter'. I am familiar with FR-64s,the best 'tracker' I ever owned but not with FR-64fx.
So I hope you can value this information.
My response is based on the OP requirements
The fx is lighter and more suitable across a wide array of carts -both arms are very good which is superior is strictly subjective
Musicfile, yes the FR64fx is definitely on my list. If you ever see one available, please let me know!
Thanks Pat.
The first - super detailed and spiced up with many technical aspects and calculations - test of the FR-64s in Germany was in the 1st edition of HIFi-Exlusive issue 9 september 1980.
This was the one most comprehensive and extensive test ever performed on that tonearm.
I have had all FR-60 tonearms during the last 25 years, have re-wired several and still do use mainly the FR-66s.
But my ongoing love-affair with the FR-64s/66s is well known by now and I am certainly no longer objective.....
Dear Dertonarm.I am 'disturbed' by the statement of Musicfile: 'wich is superior is strictly subjective'.
I assume you know K.Renner and G.Wilimzig ,the reviewers
by 'Das Ohr'. Are both of them 'subjective reviewers'? BTW you can provide 'objective information' by
quoting from your magazine. According to Renner the effective mass of FR-64 (without the headshell) is 15 gr.
and FR-fx 6 gr. My question is: when using Orsonic AV-1 (10gr.?I used this one) how 'universal' is the FR-64 ?
I had no problem at all then with Ortofon 30 mk2.
Dear Nandric, I was associated with DAS OHR for a short while 25 years back.
Götz Wilimzig was/is highly subjective in his reviews - Klaus never was and had a much wider knowledge regarding reproduced sound and its interrelations in an audio chain.
The effective moving mass of the FR-64s san headshell is about 14.5 gr.
With an Orsonic the FR-64s is pretty "universal".
It outperforms the FR-64fx buy a good margin providing clearer and more solid bass and - most important - the impression of "true physical weight" in the reproduced sound (something I am missing EVERYWHERE except in FR-7x/FR-64/66s-combos and good reel-to-reel machines with 2-track tapes).
Others may prefer the FR-64fx above the FR-64s in certain set-ups or with certain cartridges - fine, a great opportunity to buy the FR-64s from them.
I have never heard the FR-64fx with any cartridge bettering the stainless steel brother.
You will even get outstanding sonic results with a Shure V15mk4 - 5 or MR mounted on the FR-64s in an Orsonic.
In my point of view the FR-64s would still be today a contender for the very top-end in tonearm design.
I have heard pretty much all - precisely set-up according to the geometry I have laid out in earlier threads I have heard no better (safe for its big brother in 2 areas).
I know that many others have - good for them, fine with me.
What other headshell are there that are good, the Orsonic doesnt seem to be easy to find?
Dear Perrew, 'the Orsonic difficult to get'?
I see Orsonic headshells regular on eBay for $100-18o.
There is the 'B' and the 'S' kind with diff. weight.
But you can try the 'Sumiko AS-12'( for 30
GBP. The same headshell is offered under diff. names for
more (+/-12 gr). Fantastic 'tags',azimuth provision and
magnesium construction. I purchased two of them even if
I have no idea what to do with them;I dont need a headshell.Greedy I assume. I also keep my Orsonic 'B' as
kind of treasure for more then 10 years. But I use the
Triplanar VII and Reed L with 'fast headshells'.
So I am obviously crazy but my advise is ,I hope,sound?
Dear Nandric, thanks for the tip. It looked like the last Orsonic sold in 2008 but I saw a Orsonic AV101 available, any experience with this one?
Dear Perrew, There is AV-101 B (+/- 10 gr.) and AV-101S
(16 gr.). I used the 'B' in all of my earlier tonearms:
FR-64S;Lustre 801 and Micro MA-505(S).To me:the best headshell there is. But Sumiko AS-12 looks very impressive and I think you should try this one first. I.e. if the money is of eny importance.But to be honest I have no experience with this headshell even if I own 2 of them.
There is no way I can put one other tonearm on my Kuzma
S.R. because the 'base' is drilled for the Triplanar.
Besides: chenging carts and tonearms is like a 'horror'to
me.I.e.I am not a consistent hifi 'nuts'.
Perrew, There is AV-101 B (+/- 10 gr.) and AV-101S
(16 gr.). I used the 'B' in all of my earlier tonearms

Both are identical from weight

101 B=Black color
101 S=Silver color
as fate would have it, I have an Orsonic Headshell on my Audiocraft AC300 arm. I guess this would mate nicely with a FR arm eh?
Dear Syntax,You are right:both AV -101 are 16 gr.and AV-1
is 10 gr. My is AV-1 but the lettering is fadeaway.
Sorry Perrew.
Mike,for the FR-64 you need AV-1 (10gr.);for the FR-64fx
you can use both.
Thanks for that info Nandric.

Does anyone have any thoughts on SME, specifically the 3012R.
Used Dynavector 597 MKII, is a good choise!
I recently bought a Clearaudio Innovation Compact with a Clarify tonearm. The Clarify (with its magnetically floating pivot) did not track well: it jumped from the empty grooves at the beginning of records into those with music and at the end of records jumped around too. In any case, I returned the Clarify tonearm and am now in the same position as was Mikeyc8 at the beginning of this thread.

What do you think of the Clearaudio Satisfy Carbon Fiber tonearm and of Clearaudio tonearms in general? I can get the Satisfy CF from the dealer for a reduced price. But there is a MA 505s available on Ebay for $1080, and the Jelco 750LB 12” there goes for $670? How do you think the Satisfy CF compares with these?

I will probably be using MM cartridges since my system does not seem to have enough power to play MC cartridges without enormous hum. I tried it with a Shelter 501 II. I have an old NAD 3155 amp with a new PS Audio GCPH preamp. I get the hum with all settings of the GCPH. I think the NAD amp is the problem.
For this amount of money you can get second hand an 0L conqueror mkII.Read the reviews (10 audio, stereo times).It's a fantastic arm,since i have it ,around 8 months i listen vinyl intensively.
Check out the Terminator T-3 from Trans-Fi. Fits most turntable without worrying about P to S distance. Easy as pie to set-up. VTA on the fly, azimuth is adjustable, no anti-skate to worry about. Many, many cartridges are compatible. Around $1000 US dollars NEW! Great technical support. Downside, not classic S-shaped. I'm digging' mine!
In the under $2000 class, there is only one non linear tonearm that equals the higher priced models and that is the Audiomods IV. It has all the features you are looking for and is built to a very exacting level. I have directly compared it to an SME 309 and 345, Linn Ittok II and Roksan Tabriz and it is superior on every level. I have not compared to a phantom or Triplanar.
Dear Franz, Unless the bearing of the Clarify CF is radically different from that of the Clarify, I don't know why you would even consider it, given your experience with the latter (and assuming you correctly assessed the cause of the problem). The M-S 505 is an excellent tonearm but overpriced at $1080, IMO. With patience I think you can find one for less. In the under $1000 vintage Japanese tonearm category, consider also the Lustre and Victor tonearms. Sometimes you can find an SAEC 308N for that kind of money as well. The GCPH should have enough gain for a mid-output MC, I think. And can you say why you think the NAD amp is causing hum in that system? Phono hum is caused by a long list of grounding issues that usually occur upstream from the input of a linestage.
If I were to spend $2000 on a tone arm I would buy the Balance Audio Aeris.