Trans-Fi Terminator Tonearm: 2019 Update


In reading a few related posts on linear tracking tonearm, in general,  and Trans-Fi Terminator , in particular, I thought I would give a brief update of the Terminator.

I purchased the arm directly from Andrey in Moscow two months ago. From what I understand, Andrey has taken over production after Vic's retirement. What I received is the most up-to-date version of the arm with the carbon fibre wand and brass counterweights, the direct wire leads from cartridge to  phono amp, and a new brass manifold ( not evident from the main web-site). Both the wand and the new manifold are Andrey's contribution to the continued refinement of the Terminator.

Also,  please visit this site: https://darklanternforowen.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/terminator-tonearm-new-arm-mount/. This gentlemen from NZ has developed a new arm mount for the Terminator which advanced the arm's sonics even further. It was reading through the the development of this new arm mount that convinced me to order the Terminator after much prior research. I did not purchase the arm mount from NZ as it would not readily fit my Verdier La Platine, instead Andrey made a custom arm mount. It is in essence a two point support mount rather than a single point support rod that is commonly used. 

My previous arm was a SME V of 1990's vintage mounted with a ZYX airy. The Terminator is several notch above the SME V. All the accolades given to the Terminator seem justified. My main point in writing is that the new developments by Andrey, i.e. the carbon fibre wand and the newest brass manifold, seem to improve upon the Terminator even more ( see link above ). This is the news that I wanted to share with existing Terminator owners. I asked Andrey to start a blog on all the new stuff that is happening with the arm, but it seems that he is busy making 'things'!




ledoux1238
Thanks for the update. Tempting. 
I was the first client to use the new Terminator with brass/carbon fibre manifold, actually Terminator 2019 is a collaboration of ideas by Andrey and myself and it was initially my idea to use brass in manifold design. Then Andrey took his thinking hat and went further and simply added carbon fibre under brass to add stiffness and the new manifold was born.

Thank you Andrey !

It´s a lamination, so now a stiffer and thus stabler construction. We both agree on its affect on sound quality and the Terminator is better than ever. And the lighter yet stiff carbon fiber wand is also a great improvement to this extraordinary design. All in all, Trans-Fi Audio airbearing linear tracker is still the most ridiculous bargain in modern audio.
Well, I´ve been quite busy listening to my fav records again and been enjoying of a sound quality and quantity never experienced before. Brass/carbon fibre takes arm´s performance to another level.
I´m using a heavy brass column under the arm and on heavy deck, there seems to be great synergy in the system. Everything just falls in place.

Just get the new Terminator and enjoy the ride : )

Hi Harold,  Congrats on your contribution towards the improvement of the arm. The lamination of different materials helps eliminate resonance, as I understnd it, as well better machining of air holes in brass. Frankly, I did not know that carbon fiber was used in the manifold. Very cool!

I did some further fine tuning of the VTF today. Not having a Fozgometer is a problem. But the adjustement really helped in solidifying the entire soundsatge, better imaging (quite amazing, actually! ), better separation,.....better all around. The point is that fine adjustments are so easily achieved. 

I feel that I have inherited all the incremental improvements of the Terminator over the years in one simple purchase. Harold,  how significantin in your opinion, are the improvements  of this most recent iteration of changes? I have followed the arm's development with much interest. BTW, I would highly recommend using a two point support arm mount. Apparently, it improves the arm even further.

@noromance you have such a lovely collection of vintages gears. The Terminator would be a no-brainer addition as it would work well with either of your tables.  And as Horold has mentioned, the price of entry is so low ( in relative terms ) that you kind of have nothing to lose. 
Harold,  I just caught a glimpse of your turntable on the Trans-Fi web-site. It must be a couple of generations prior to your slate plinth version. But I totally understand part of your turntable now, a heavily modified Oracle. It certainly has come a long way with so much work put into it.

Also, I just noticed the substantial brass arm mount you made for the Terminator. You probably had a sense that a single point rod type mount is not as stable. 
Ledoux, thanks for your kind words. Glad you have the new arm too.

Firstly, I must point out that it´s an honour and a privilege to be a part of developing this extraordinary arm and I´m proud of my contribution but we must thank Andrey the Machinist for all this development come real. Indeed it has been a long way to getting to this point, for both of us.
  When I first saw Terminator and its unique design online in late Autumn 2008 I immediately emailed Vic and simply bought his arm and haven´t looked back. I have come thru all the improvements and now it´s time to enjoy the fruits of hard work and sit back and just listen to music.
The first time when sliding the saddle over a record before playing it I instantly noticed that the saddle moved more smoothly on air cushion. This means that less air pressure is needed and thus less resonances in the saddle. Well, this was Vic´s initial idea: only low pressure air flow will work just fine. Actually, I have never been exited about fancy and costly high pressure "solutions" and now they are totally futile.
And yes indeed all this is due to better machining of air holes in brass.  Brilliant.

As for Fozgometer and azimuth perfection, I have never tried but maybe I should because now we have reached a level where a minute adjustment may make a difference. The same with VTA. Small differences really, I think.
Yes even without help of meters I´m hearing minute but significant differences in sound quantity and quality. And the more capable the cartridge is the more nuances I hear.

But the first impression is bass response, more quantity and quality. Instant notice.
Secondly heard deeper space, also a bit wider too but not so much. Deeper space with more micro detail (nuances) in there.
And overall feel that music flows more freely, smoother than previously.

And you are right about the importance of the arm column, it needs be very stable and on my deck it MUST be very heavy. That´ll do the trick.

Harold, I can confirm all your listening impressions: pronounced quality and quantity of bass, deeper soundstage, more natural organic flow of music ( compared with my previous SME V ). What you are saying is that the new upgrades are not nuanced sonic improvements, but clearly audible from the previous version of the Terminator. I have been corresponding to another long time Terminator owner. He has very recently decided on upgrading, so he should be in for quite a nice surprise. 

Being such an early adopter of the Terminator without audition, there must something in the original Ladegaard Evolution , Vic's execution, ..etc that was more convincing than other linear arms. If you were to survey linear tracking arms, there is, dare I say, a 'simplicity' to the Terminator arm that even a novice like myself can comprend. I got it.

The barrier of entry for linear tracking arm has typically been quite high. The Eminent   2.5 and ClearAudio TT5 are the 'cheapest' ( MG1.1's are out of production ) and Airtangent is quite a bit higher. These are all 3x to 8x the price point of a Terminator. It is a testament to Vic, Andrey, and enthusiasts like yourself, that have pursued quality over price, and allow late comers like myself to enter the game. 
I've enjoyed reading here. This tonearm has been on my short list for years and now, reading of the latest refinements, it's very tempting. My only drawback is my decades long ownership of the ET-2.5 that I've been loyal to and have future plans for with Bruce's latest refinements. I've spent years and treasure acquiring the necessary components ( high-end compressor, etc....) We'll see..............
@slaw Finally, rumblings from across enemy lines! Hehe!

There are similarities between the Terminator and ET communities. It seems that we are buying into a ’project’ rather than a product per se. Tweeks, modification, experimentation....etc encouraged and assisted by the original designers seem the order of the day. Owners have invested much into the arms over the years, just like yourself.

Having said that, two main differences of the arms are the manifold and the wand. The inverted ’v’ shape slider and manifold requires constancy of air flow in one dimension, vertically. The tube and collar type requires 360 degree air flow constancy, a more difficult task. And the shorter arm wand of the Terminator reduces, in theory, resonances. Both differences allow the Terminator to work less against gravity. How that translate into superior sound quality, or not, is the question. It would be highly informative to hear from a long time ET owner about his/her thoughts on the Terminator. In fact, it would be fascinating.

After three months of use, there are two operational caveats of the Terminator. The manifold sits on top of the platter and does not slide aside like a Clearaudio arm. Placing records in and out will require some care. And the cartridge leads sometimes dangles the wand, causing the cartridge to skip. That will be avoided with more experience of use. But for now it still happens, albeit infrequently.

Please keep us posted if you do decide to switch.




What’s the air pump you use like for noise?
@parrotbee  I ordered the arm with  the Sera low pressure pump and surge tank. It’s placed in an adjoining closet as the hum is noticeable. However, the designer, Vic, placed the pump in a wooden enclosure next to his TT and stuffed it with insulating material. That seemed to work fine. 

I would say the noise from the pump is easily manageable. 
I was an early adopter of Vic's arm also loved the sound but ultimately got tired of messing with the pump etc., so I went back to pivoted and could not catch the sound I had before with multiple tables and arms. I got all the way up to the Triplanars top 10" arm and it was very close then I came across the Thales products and found a Simplicity II at a decent price and now I have the sound I remember albeit at more of cost vs the Terminator. Great news it is back in production.
@jtsnead  The Thales’ are arms that I really like, pivot arms that can maintain tangentiality. FYI, Michael Fremer recently uploaded a video of his factory visit to Thales.  The fit and finish of the parts and the assembly process are more akin to watch making. 

A friend who is also considering the Terminator related his experience with the Thales ( not sure which model ). He was having compatibility problems btwn arm and cartridge, couldn’t stay tangential. We were musing if the EMT cartridges which Thales now produces  are a better fit. What cartridge are you using? No operational problems from your end then? My friend has since moved on to a Schroeder Reference which he is very happy with. And if you feel that a Terminator is comparable sonically  to a Thales Simplicity II, then not need for him to change to a Terminator.

For my part, the pump and surge tank as supplied are maintenance free so far.  I have read that different pumps affect sound quality. Although with a low pressure pump, I assume that was less an issue. What pump were you using back in the day?






@ledoux1238 the Simplicity arm likes heavier cartridges it did not like much Ortofon Cadenza Bronze so I got a Air Tight PC7 and it works very well with the arm, constant sound quality for the entire record. I can here how a pivoted arm affects the sound on different areas of a record.
I was using a good quality fish tank air pump I dont think that was the issue I feel the capalaries  might of needed to be cleaned but I never investigated it and just moved on
My interest in the Terminator was piqued by the fact that designer/builder Vic showed on his website a London Reference cartridge mounted on the arm. Now THERE'S a fearless man, an outside-the-box thinker! 
@bdp24 There aren’t many professional reviews of both the Terminator and Salvation TT. But the few that I have read seemed all to feature the Decca cartridge. Apparently when Michael Fremer reviewed the cartrigde, it was prone to mis-tracking and he recommended it highly...... as a back up cartridge! The truth may be that, as Vic demonstrated, It is a very good match with the Terminator, not fearless all.

Now that you have pointed this out, It has piqued my interest in matching the London Reference next with the Terminator!!

@slaw As a total aside, your mentioning the ET arm and Eminent Technology led me to something unexpected. In my other post, I had sought advice on electrostatic speakers. However, the planar LFT-8b may have been what I was looking for all along.
@bdp24  Found this post from 2010,

dgarretson
2,438 posts
06-06-2010 1:05am
If you are open to something different you might contact Vic at Trans-Fi. He mentioned to me that the London Reference is his favorite cartridge on Terminator Pro. To eliminate hum problems with this cartridge he developed a screened 4N silver IC that runs uninterrupted from cartridge to phono stage.
@ledoux,

I recently re-read the Stereophile review of the LFT-8b and now have renewed interest.

@ledoux1238 and @slaw, two more excellent reviews (both raves) of the ET LFT-8b are those in The Absolute Sound (by Robert E. Greene) and Hi-Fi World (Noel Keywood). VPI’s Harry Weisfeld has sung the speaker’s praises as well, saying it has the best midrange of any he has ever heard, regardless of price. I have been mentioning the loudspeaker here for a few years (I have a pair), that mention apparently falling on deaf ears. More than that, Harry’s statement has elicited outraged indignation from some. Very few seem to be interested in the speaker, though it is a ridiculous bargain. Not "trendy" enough for fickle audiophiles? ;-)

Though the midrange drivers (an identical pair) are magnetic-planars similar in some respects to and inspired by Magnepan’s, they are unique (and patented) in a number of others. For one (an important one to me), there is no x/o in the passband of the LFT drivers---180Hz to 10kHz, with no x/o! A ribbon tweeter above that, an 8" sealed woofer below, with 1st order-filters. ET’s Bruce Thigpen is another outside-the-box thinker. Check out his TRW-17 Rotary Woofer---flat to 1Hz! A true "sub" woofer, designed for the bottom octave (20-40 Hz). And below!!

@bdp24  The review by R Greene is excellent, lengthy and detailed. He insisted that reversing the polarity on the woofer wire leads yielded better sound. Can you confirm?

BTW, it turns out that your post on the LFT-8b was the one that lead me onto these speakers. Thanks! 

And going totally sideways on this post, I have to mention that Harry Weisfeld's recent favorite speakers are the Pure Audio Project, a DIYish open baffle system from Israel. That was a speaker system that sidetracked my electrostatic / planar quest. With the LTF-8b, I'm back on track.

I think there is a logic to the turn of discussion from Trans-Fi's Terminator to Eminent Technology, both arm  and speakers. Certainly it has to do with the respective designers, thinking out side of the box. But I think more importantly it is their, for a lack of a better phrase, business model. The pursuit of quality, the incremental advancements through continual modifications ( in the case of the Terminator ), and R&D being performed right in front of our eyes, without the associated exponential increase in price and/or hype. There is not a whiff of cynicism or arrogance. Having gone through the process of acquiring a Terminator, I can now say for certain that quality in 'high-end' audio can be gotten by producers of, dare I say, integrity. I certainly lust after a Airtangle arm, or a Dohmann Helix TT, or some other, to me, exotica ( and I am not implying a lack of integrity here ). But on the other price / hype  spectrum, serious designers / hobbyists are selling quality.  They do exist. And all the better for us!


Great post, @ledoux1238! I completely agree about the nature of the Eminent Technology and Trans-Fi business models (along with those of EAR-Yoshino, Music Reference, Pass, Herron, K & K Audio, Magnepan, Townshend, Kuzma, and a few others), and the nature of their designers/company owners.

Funny you should make a connection between the LFT-8 (particularly it’s woofer) and an open baffle loudspeaker. I don’t use the LFT’s woofer; in it’s place I have a pair of.....Rythmik/GR Research OB/Dipole Subwoofers ;-). There are a couple of very good reason for using a dipole sub with a planar loudspeaker, one of which Duke of 4-sub "swarm" fame has acknowledged. The rate of SPL "fall-off" as you move further away from a dipole is different than it is from a monopole. The balance established between a dipole speaker and a "normal" sub will be so at only one listening distance. Change that distance, and the balance changes.

The OB/Dipole sub has other, inherent advantages over normal subs, which is why Siegfried Linkwitz included them in all his designs. They sound ’leaner" than sealed and ported subs, less fat and "plump". Some hear that as lacking in bass weight, while others find it closer to the sound of bass in real life. I am intimately familiar with the sound of acoustic drums, guitar, and piano, upright and electric bass, and I count myself as among the latter. Each to his own!

I also am a proponent of having the wiring in a tonearm being an uninterrupted run from cartridge tags to RCA (or XLR) plugs, which, as you mentioned, Vic offered on the Terminator. I got his last length of the silver wire. Sorry, mates!

@bdp24 

"Sorry, mates!"  Well at least you're willing to share brother!
Au contraire, @slaw! Vic made a run with the longest silver assembly he had left, but it's just long enough to reach from the table to the phono anp, which I place bassackwards right behind the table. A sent him a pair of KLEI Absolute Harmony RCA's to put on the ends.
Yeah, and I only have the regular copper run...  :(

@ bdp24 As for the LFT 8b’s, I’m gonna take it slow. Exploring OB subs would be the next phase, though your input is much appreciated. 

Of the audio companies you mentioned above some are unfamiliar to me, so more research.  But Townsend audio I’m quite intimate with. I owned a Rock V TT for many years, purchased based on, among other considerations, a review by Robert Greene ( again ). Innovative, good sounding, and not very expensive were some of attributes, kinda like the the Terminator.
I've been using the Terminator for 5 years now, for the last 3 on an air bearing TT. Interesting about the brass manifold - though I've never had a problem with the aluminum. I use a HighBlow air pump with a cotton buffered surge tank, precision regulated to 30 mm of mercury, which is about 1/25 atm or just over 1/2 psi. The saddle skims beautifully over the manifold just like any other high class surface over a high class air bearing.

It tracks fine at 10 mmHg, but sounds livelier at 30. Above 30, no improvement.

For the record, if you increase the mass of the wand with brass weights, you can run very low compliance cartridges, e.g. higher end Koetsu. Don't really know if silver cables are better, but you can't have mine!
@slaw 

About your appliances - if you do decide to move, let me know if you want to sell your compressor. I've been thinking of upgrading mine.
@harold-not-the-barrel 
@ledoux

I have a Fozgometer, but don't use it. For me, it's both easier and more effective to set azimuth by ear. YMMV 

@terry9   Pray tell which air bearing TT?

The Terminator seems more sensitive to all the adjustment variables, VTA, azimuth..etc,  to a degree that is previously unknown to me. I seem to be adjusting  VTA much more frequently. Different records really do sound differently without fine adjustments. It is certainly more sensitive than my previous SME V, to a point that I question if I had ever set up the SME correctly!

I also don't have a Fozgometer. But through a few simple adjustment of the twin pivot bearing at the wand, you could hear distinctly the altering of  channel separation , sound-staging, and imaging. I am in effect setting azimuth by ear. However, I would like eventually to get a hold of a Fozgometer  just to verify.

The way the pump affects the sound is something I will have more questions on in the future. But thanks for sharing!

Regarding the Fozgometer: I found it useful with the ET arm as it’s nearly impossible get repeatable and dead on  settings because of the nature of the arm. With my Funk Firm or Vpi arms, I just set by ear.
If I remember correctly, the Fozgometer helps to equalize channel separation. This is helpful on cartridges which do have equal channel separation, but not on higher end cartridges which might be quite different. Peter of SoundSmith writes about this, and points out that it is better to have 40dB on the left and 45 on the right than 35 and 35.

Since the Fozgometer helps to set for equal channel separation, you can seriously mis-align a higher end cartridge. At least, I did.

Bottom line is that I would not assume that the Fozgometer will give you a better azimuth setting than your ears.

My procedure is to start dead level, with three screw threads visible on each side of the wand. Then play a record which distorts badly in one channel. Reduce this distortion to almost nothing by adjusting azimuth. Play a record which distorts on the other channel. Adjust as above. Repeat.

It helps to adjust by using only the screw nearest the spindle, as this is most accessible, and it's harder to get confused. Once you've done this, you have a very fine level of adjustment which is stable and repeatable, and amenable to really fine adjustments when you get around to it. I get about 2 minutes of arc.

Good luck!
@ledoux, my air bearing TT is DIY. New Way thrust bushing, custom spindle, 45kg platter.
A Fozgometer is a passive measuring device. When paired with an appropriate test LP and on the correct tracks, the device can take the measurements of the left and right channel output of the cartridge. With the read out, one adjust the azimuth accordingly. If Ledermann of SoundSmith recommends that his cartridge be used with a 5db left / right differential, then a Fozgometer is a much. I certainly don’t know what a 5db differential sounds like. And I couldn’t find info on why SoundSmith’s cartridges would sound best that way. Weird Science? Might need to be enlightened.

@terry9 Thanks for explaining your azimuth adjustment procedure. Adjusting the pivot on the spindle side makes a lot of sense. Do you do it with the wand in-situ? You must be a watchmaker! But then again, you measure your pump pressure to within 20 mm Mercury, way ahead of the game than me. Kudos!
Sorry Ledoux, I seem to have misled you about the Fozgometer. Ledermann suggests that matching L and R output may not be appropriate for all cartridges. This mirrors my experience. That's all.

Yes, wand in situ. No watchmaker, but I abstain from caffeine and alcohol for a few days before attempting a setup. It's easy to measure pump pressure with a sphygmomanometer, used to measure blood pressure. I use a Fairchild precision regulator and set to within 2 mm Hg. Nothing to it.

@terry9 I love your setup ritual: abstinence from caffeine and alcohol.......wow!
If not a watchmaker, then surely a zen master.

Wondering @slaw if the ET 2.5 is as responsive to VTA and azimuth adjustments?
I am now looking at the ET arm through a very different set of lenses having acquired a linear tracking arm myself. A lot of the fear factor is gone. I am better able to understand the workings of the arm, though still unsure of the ease, or not,  in maintaining a high pressure pumps? Are there condensations in the tube to contend with? Is it always left on?

With the low pressure pump of the Terminator, condensation is not an issue as humidity is a real problem where I live. And I switch it off when not in use. All good, so far.




There is a mini-review from a long time UK user of the Terminator who recently upgraded to the latest version which appeared in  a NZ forum. 

What is most interesting is that Vic chimed in towards the end of the  thread, and seemed to indicate that Andrey may down the road work on the Salvation TT !!!!

See discussion here:

https://darklanternforowen.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/terminator-tonearm-new-arm-mount/ 

@ledoux1238,

Regarding condensation: Yes, that is an issue and there are several different ways to contend with it. Which way is best? I don’t know, but it may have something to do with how much money one is willing to throw at it.

I use a Jun-Air 6.25 compressor. This has it’s own tank. It has a low decibel operating rating of 45 db which is pretty darn quiet. I added an external 7 gal. tank. This runs through my Motor Guard (toilet paper) filter which serves to trap all moisture and to buffer any pulsing. I use the Montronix - like regulator which releases any built up pressure automatically ( based upon one’s setting) and a water trap for good measure at/near the source for visual peace of mind. I find with my arm running at around 19psi, the compressor cycles on every 35-40 mins. And that cycle lasts for around 3 - 4 mins.
@slaw The condensation caused by high pressure pumps was a real concern when I was looking into a LT arm. The problem can be remedied as you have described. But where I am located, 80%-90% humidity for long stretches of time is very common. Your filter tank will have to work extra. Walker turntable sold here in the late 90’s was rendered inoperable due to constant clogging of air tubes. The newer models apparently has solved the problem. I believe Terminator is the rare LT arm that utilizes a low pressure pump.

FYI I ordered a pair of LFT 8b’s last week from Bruce. With shipping time added, I probably won’t have them installed  for Christmas. But I will report back on a different forum.
Gentlemen, I've been running the Andrey 2019 version Terminator for a few months.
Progressed from Vic's original in 2013, via Owen's Al arm mount, Andrey's carbon fibre armwand, to the whole new arm. 
Will soon install my new tonearm wire comprising Kondo age-annealed silver/Cardas tags/Bocchino RCAs.
Tbh, I'd been so happy w Vic's original, I wasn't bothered to change. But Andrey's carbon fibre armwand was such a risk-free proposition, I thought I'd give it a try. And when it proved way more positive than I could have imagined, I took a punt on the whole kit and kaboodle, ordering the whole new arm.
And am I glad I did.
The new arm is a total triumph.
It both solidifies and clarifies the low end, streamlines the mids, and frees up the top end. And critically in my triodes/Zus based system which doesn't major on soundstaging, the new arm locks images in space, really making the soundstage way more tangible and precise.
My description is that it takes away some "fluttering" or wavering in the image, and imparts a real carved-from-stone quality.
I would say "like digital"...but digital can't get close to the palpable texture and natural warmth thru accurately rendered mids and upper bass that the best analog is superior at...and make no mistake, Andrey's Terminator is amongst the best analog components out there.
It's fascinating to read the listening experiences of early adopters who have traded up to a brand new Terminator. It seems that the improvement over the earlier version is anything but subtle!

While we all have different supporting players to the Terminator, I can confirm  a much more tangible and precise soundstage over my previous SME V. I am, however, not quite there yet regarding image stability. This has led to my trying to optimize my La Platine's motor/thread drive ( reported on another thread ). And perhaps with a future upgrade in cartridge will get me there. 

The VTA adjustment through the Terminator had given me a new perspective on the differences in recordings. I find myself fiddling with the VTA, which can be done on the fly, more in order to 'dial in ' the sound. This convenience has added to my appreciation of the complex interplay between stylus, tonearm, table and recording. It is  the elevated resolution achieved through this arm that has allowed me to hear more into the music. Even digitally remastered Columbia recordings of Miles and Monk from the 80's ( och! ) has revealed new insights!

Marc, Please report back on the Bocchino upgrade. Together with your SS Strain Gauge, I am learning quite a-lot from your adventures. Thanks!


@bdp24 I just wanted to mention that I have been running a ET LFT-8b since late January. The addition of the new speakers, a new pair of tube amps and the improved vinyl front end with the Terminator has really elevated the listening experience. The GR Research OB sub's would be a most welcomed addition, though not at all necessary for my room for now. 

Very cool, @ledoux1238. Looks like we have similar tastes in gear! There is a local longtime audiophile (Harry Z) I have been talking to lately, who owned LFT-8b's in the past, and has a set on order with ET right now. He has been waiting 8-9 weeks for them, so prospective buyers need to have patience. The same is true of those wanting a set of Magnepan LRS.

Unlike Maggies, which greatly benefit from a high-power current-source amp good into 4 ohm loads, the LFT-8b is fine with a medium-powered tube amp. The entire speaker presents an easy 8 ohm load, the m/t panels alone 11 ohms, great for bi-amping with a tube amp on top, a ss on bottom.

Ledoux, will do. Covid lockdown means the wait for the Kondo/Bocchinos tonearm wire will have to wait a little longer.
The Straingauge cart is really quite something. I've run a few carts in my time, Roksan Shiraz, Zu Denon 103, Lyra Skala and Parnassus, Transfiguration Temper Supreme and Orpheus...and now, Soundsmith Straingauge SG w different stylus profiles, and currently w LPS.
The SG is a real chameleon, getting right out of the way of the music, not enhancing any part of the frequency band, and allowing each lp to sound very different from the next. 
I always had a tendency to some homogeneity btwn lps, and that was fine when I liked the tonality of the cart (Parnassus, Transfigurations, Zu 103), not so much when I didn't (Skala, Shiraz).
And critically, once I "got" this tonal discrimination thing, each lp absolutely having it's own tonal and timbral character, despite many lps being revealed as sonically challenging, so many become absolutely compelling, with amazing levels of bloom and low level detail revealed, w the SG over all my other carts, I can't go back to homogeneity (even if that homogeneity is pleasantly euphonic).
The reason I'm stressing this so much on this Terminator 2019 thread, is that at first glance, you might easily give kudos to the arm but say it's gonna hit it's upper limit of performance only w cheaper, less discriminating carts on less ambitious tts/systems.
However my experience of this £1k arm hosting a range of £6k-15k cart/phono combinations, shows that it's absolutely not embarassed, and the better the cart, the better Terminator 2019 performs.
Totally stellar.
Guys, I have threads devoted to it and Trans Fi Salvation tt in the Analog sections of Whats Best Forum.
Under "New Terminator" rather than Teminator 2019.
@spiritofmusic very interesting read, your recent and past exploits with the Terminator. It's quite a treat to be able to audition at Vic's.

Your description of the chameleon quality of the Strain Gauge / Terminator combo is much appreciated. Isn't that what a playback instrument should do, revealing the nature of each recording ?

Through videos lectures and interviews, there is quite a bit of information from Ledermann on the Strain Gauge. However, I was under the  impression that it possesses a ' distinct sound' which a minority of listeners would not enjoy. This is according to Ledermann. He claims that a few days out of the month he could go back to a 'magnetic' cartridge. What you are experiencing is quite different. It's obviously more appealing to listen to as much of the recording as possible. On many recordings, with my current Terminator / ZYX combo, I am able to make out the different avenues where the recordings are made. Small recording studio vs larger auditoriums are easy to discern, which was not the case before the Terminator.

I would also agree that while the Terminator is an inexpensive arm, it is most definitely not the limiting factor in the playback chain. I am using the Terminator with a lesser cartridge in the ZYX lineup compared to my previous SME V / ZYX Airy 3 setup. But the SQ is way superior. A future upgrade in the cartridge department, I have no doubt, will only reap more sonic benefits. In so far as I am concern, this is the true brilliance of the Terminator. 

I realize that the users of the Eminent Technology linear tracking arm is a group that is loyal with tweaks and experimentation galore. But I wonder if a ET user who have heard or played with the Terminator might contribute some thoughts on the two arms? Or visa versa, if a user of the Terminator arm might have some experiences with the ET arm. I'll be grateful for any information on this front.
Ledoux, there are two criticisms of the Straingauge SG, one I don't hear, the other could be valid.
One is that it reproduces vocals "unnaturally". Something in the tone or timbre of voices not being right. Why that wouldn't apply to a trumpet, I'm not sure, but the voices criticism is on the record, to do w SG not applying the RIAA curve.
All I can say here is that vocals sound fantastic. I guess none of us really "know" what Frank Sinatra, or Nina Simone, or Peter Gabriel etc, "really" sound like, so this criticism seems a purely intellectual one.
More relevantly, all our choices are coloured in one way or another. SG is likely to sound VERY different from a Koetsu, I could see how one could say the SG wasn't "correct" in comparison.

The more valid criticism is that the SG lacks that last iota of bloom or harmonic development. It "could" sound dry or pinched or, heaven forbid Lol, "digital".

Many things are at play here. So much analog is a bit exuberant in the lower mids and bass, with a level of euphonic warmth and lack of control, that the comparison with a way tighter and more neutral cart like SG is gonna be jarring. MFremer suggests the SG maybe trades swell and bloom for speed and precision...I can't deny that conclusion.

But imho, I think that's too simplistic. I've heard, and owned, many carts, that do the speed/detail thing over warmth, and they sound just as coloured and unnatural as ones that do the opposite...a Lyra Skala or Zu Denon 103 or Roksan Shiraz cool/ascerbic sound versus a Lyra Parnassus warm/plump sound.

The SG is the king of speed, but its tone is not dessicated in any way. I just feel like live acoustic music, it's organised, even handed, tonally and timbrally discriminating. And what could be called lack of bloom/harmonic development is indeed other carts being overly colourful and lacking last degree of control in lower frequencies.

These attributes of course highlighted to the max in poorly chosen ancilliary gear or poor analog installs. So yes, put the SG in a Class D/diamond tweeters/glass and concrete dungeon, and yr analog will sound bright and dry. Get the VTA and azimuth wrong, and it'll sound aggressive.

But as in my system, install the SG correctly on a revealing but evenhanded Terminator, thru a system suited to a large room (80W SETs into 101dB spkrs into an 800 sq ft/5500 cub ft room, acoustically very benign), and it's a revelation. It doesn't reveal itself as a fat, cuddly, sweet tooth sounding Koetsu or Lyra Parnassus, nor a ruler flat but ultimately unengaging sounding Clearaudio or Transfiguration, nor a seat of yr pants but ultimately shrill sounding Lyra Skala or Roksan Shiraz or Zu 103.

It really reveals the music, and as such is a killer combination w the Terminator.
  @spiritofmusic, excellent summary of the Strain Gauge! I Just wanted to clarify, of the many cartridges, which ones were used with the Terminator prior to the Strain Gauge? What would you recommend as an intermediate cartridge that is neutral on the Terminator before I go full hog Strain Gauge? 

I think Vic had a London Reference which he highly recommended, although I remember reading that he is running a Audio Technica ( forgot which model ) now. I have been very tempted to go this route.
I'm not a great fan of Vic's cart choices. The Decca was a bit too hot for my liking...and shreds vinyl. And his Audio Technicas were a little bland thru the mids.
I ran both a Zu Denon 103 and Transfiguration Orpheus on the Terminator prior to the SG...both fine carts. The Zu 103 in particular had a certain magic, if a little rough around the sides.
 @spiritofmusic Thanks for the Transfiguration recommendation. I’m looking into it.

What kind of sonic benefits are gained through a more controlled air supply ?  Could you describe a bit more? I had thought that the Terminator being a low flow system, any garden variety pump and a 1 liter serge tank would do. What it is quite obvious that there are quite a few users with rather elaborate air supplies. 

Btw, Marc, we’ve crossed path on Owen’s forum. This is Albert. :)
Hi Albert!
I don't know the benefits...that's the temptation Lol
My guess is any turbulence or irregular flow will create some ripples that will lessen performance of Terminator
A totally smooth, (near) silent flow should only be an advantage.
And at the level of performance I'm getting, these last %age points can make the biggest differences.

The proof is in Andrey's 2019 Terminator design. The smaller better engineered air holes make a massive difference. So should a smoother quieter ripple-free pump.
Hi Marc, I ‘m sure you’re right on optimizing the air flow.  

This is a bit of a history lesson for me. Do you recall how you came to the Terminator? Did you audition at Vic’s before you acquired it? Being in the same town, I would imagine that it must have been a word of mouth thing. Just curious how it started.
Albert, not quite in the same town. I was in London, him 100 miles away.
As I moved away from the main dealer/big magazines input on gear choice to more online searches, I first found my Zus, and then the whole world of idlers. LT arms were, and still are, a real niche product.
Having heard a few modded 301s, 401s, L70s, mainly w 12" pivoted arms, on a variety of plinths, I more and more considered this my future (back to the future, circa 1964 lol).
In 2011, I ended up buying a slate plinth 401 w Terminator arm from Vic, but for a variety of reasons, it didn't work for me, and returned it. However, I'd been vaccinated now w the whole concept, and Vic was bringing out his rim drive Salvation.
Well, I loved the concept, the likely synergy of tt/arm design, and kept contact w Vic.
Demo in 2013 was slam dunk, and Vic installed it, getting by my original 401 poor setup killer.
And here I am today, 7 yrs later with the tt heavily modded (LPS to motor/Stacore isolation), and Andrey's 2019 Terminator/Owen's aluminium arm mount/transformer to pump.
Albert, the arm has snuck up on me. I kind of bought into the concept before I knew what it could really bring to the (turn)table (Lol).
From a vague impression of improved speed, stability, bass, over my SME V, and zero null point tracking issues, 7 years of 1000 lp plays/yr, getting setup right, and now the move to Andrey's 2019 Terminator/Owen's aluminium arm mount, I can absolutely see this arm as a landmark product in analog, audio history full stop. It is THAT impressive.

So, awareness of idlers online, and random catching of this Ebay ad from Vic...that's how close I was to never going down this path.
Spirit, as I have a slate plinth 401, and yours didn't work out, should I remove the TFT from my shortlist of possible future tonearms? Thanks.