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: 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'!


Showing 50 responses by ledoux1238

Regarding the use of surge tanks for high pressure / low flow type linear tracking tonearms, Eminent Technology, Air tangent..etc, surge tanks are indeed used. All linear tracking arms require regulated / smoothing air flow. I guess it's simple physics. However, most ET arms seem to use a tube type surge tanks, much like what you describe @simes . 

It seems what is critical in achieving stable air flow is the increase in surge tank volume. 
With all due respect to @terry9 , I feel a larger volume tank, preferably squarish with filler is still the more effective method. I only mentioned the PVC tube as it seems to be used in ET arms. If the goal is to smooth out unregulated pulsating air flow, then some form of impedance and disruption will be required.  A larger diameter tube is still directing air flow not disrupting it.

A squarish tank with inlet / outlet situated in a diagonal relationship and fillers in-between seems to offer the air path of most resistance. I liken the process to water filtration. You want the filtration tank to be large and the outlet to be small. Water flow then slows, with greater amount of sediment, and hence cleaner water out the other end. Anyway, that's my unscientific two cents worth :)

@spiritofmusic The Eheim seems to be the gold standard in the aquarium hobby. The Sera 275  that I am using has an output of min. 275 liter / hour. There are Eheim models with 200 l / h or 400 l / h. And it's the 'min.' in the Sera specs that is throwing me off. Are the Eheim specs min or max? I wondered if  your client could shed some light?
How ‘loosely’ in your experience? A couple of dozen balls for a 5 liter tank?
@sgunther  What is the size of your tank? 
I have  changed from a Rena 250 ( ? ) pump to a more powerful Enhiem 400 due to surge tanks mods. 20 liter and 25 liter tanks filled with cotton / paper balls are placed in sequence to a 5 liter empty tank. With this setup, the initial Rena pump had no problems running the Terminator with slight increase in output. However, inserting a 40cm long, 3” pvc pipe capped at both ends as a smoothing tank severely limited the output of the Rena pump, hence the switch to the Enhiem pump.

 @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. :)
@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. 
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!

@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.
  @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.
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.
@spiritofmusic It's interesting that the path to the Terminator began with the desire to move away from big branded audio razzamatazz dealer input. I live in a part of the world where cars and audio gears typically retails for twice their US counterparts. ( Yes, a base Macon retails for $ 88,000, and a Harbeth 40.2 Aniv. $40,000. ) The entire luxury audio ecosystem is a big turnoff. The way Vic brought his product to market through Andrey's  continued efforts speaks volumes. 

In reading your posts, past and present, our tastes and priorities in audio equipment may differ, other than the Terminator. However, I believe the the commonality is the pursuit of reproduced music that mirrors as closely  to our lived musical experiences. 

@bdp24 I have a suspended plinth in the La Platine which I was told would not be a good fit for linear tracking arms. Not the case at all.
The Townshend Rock 3 was my TT for ten years. 
So Ledoux, the benefits audibly of adding extra tanks outweighs the theoretical disadvantages of having to run a higher pressure/air flow
The  benefits are clearly audible, and not subtle. 

I just sent an email to Vic regarding increased pressure, awaiting his answer.....

Here's Vic's lightening fast response:

" Hi Albert 

Interesting with the surge tank cascade. I have had several people fallow this path & report back positive results.

Here is my test for air-flow:

Position the stylus above a stationary record. Turn the volume up. Drop the stylus gently on the record. When it touches the record, can you hear the air flowing through the manifold? If you can, the pressure is too high.



I'll try out his test and report back.

@sgunther The brass manifold is chrome or nickel plated with a satin finish, so no worries there. 
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. 
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. 
@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.

@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. 
@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?

@bdp24  Found this post from 2010,

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.
@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  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!

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.
@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!

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!
@terry9 I love your setup ritual: abstinence from caffeine and!
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: 

@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.
Over the weekend I added an additional 3" PVC pipe capped at both ends approximately 50 cm in length in series with the three surge tanks already in place. This was placed next to the Terminator with 1.5 m of  plastic, not silicone, tubing. The sonic effect is a tightening of the soundstage where the instruments snapped into place even more than before.

I experimented with removing the surge tanks and using the PVC pipe as a stand alone filter / surge tank. It is a far more effective modulator of air flow than I previously had imagined. Great suggestion from @jtsnead  and @terry9 .

@simes Thanks for the regulator link. 
I have been following a thread on azimuth and other cartridge adjustment issues. I would like to ask how do you set Vertical Tracking Force on the Terminator? According to the manual, you set VTF before turning on the air pump. However, when the air pump comes on, would the air pressure not provide a lift to the slider and thereby reduce the downward tracking force by a fraction?  
This is a follow up to my VTF set up query. There is a 0.03 g tracking force differential with the air pump turned on or off. I had assumed that the tracking force would be less with the pump on. However, it turns out to be the opposite case. After much adjustment,  the ZYX ultimate 1000 is playing at 2.00 g, exactly as manufacturer recommended, but measured with the pump on. I am now of the opinion that measuring with the pump on is more accurate.

The real revelation for me was experimenting with surge tank. Due to Corvid 19, I have an empty 5 liter tank used for storing alcohol laying around. Just out of curiosity, the tank was converted with nozzles and inserted between the existing 1 liter tank and the Terminator. The pump used remains the original Sera. The increase in SQ is quite noticeable. The separation of instruments within the soundstage is shaper, the soundstage width increased beyond the speaker, and the soundstage depth is much more defined. The $5 I spent is comparable to a $1000 or more ( ?) cartridge upgrade. @terry9 had mentioned his upgrade in pump and surge tank. But this is just a simple addition of a larger surge tank for a great amount of sound improvement!! Highly recommended if your listening environment will allow it. The question for me is whether an additional say, 10 liter, tank will yield even greater improvement in sound?

In adding the 5 liter in series with the existing 1 liter, I noticed that a slight increase in pump pressure was needed to prevent the tonearm from mistracking. Any additional surge tank will probably result in further increase in pressure. I was actually contemplating a 30  liter tank in series with greater reduction in air fluctuation. And I think the Sera pump with a max output of .14 bar should be able to handle.  How does one go about  determining  the point of diminishing return  on reduced air fluctuation? 
I must apologize for my previous post regarding the size of the surge tanks used. I have a 1 gallon ( 4.4 Liter ) tank supplied with the tonearm. My recent addition was in fact a 25 liter ( not 5 liter as previously reported ) tank. The improvement in SQ was not subtle. Over the weekend I added an additional 20 liter tank in series. The improvement continued. 

I have been listening to a Wayne Shorter record, Adam's Apple, as a reference throughout this couple of weeks. It was recorded in 1966-67, the third album after Speak No Evil, and it contains the classic Shorter composition, Footprint. With each additional surge tank, the soundstage became more vivid,  Herbie Hancock's piano playing was more enveloped, more 3-dimensional. Jazz at the pawnshop, an album I have owned for decades finally came alive. The live venue in the background with broken glasses and shouting waiters, was recreated with increase micro-dynamics.

After two days of listening, I decided to add fillers in the surge tanks. While I did buy cotton balls, I actually used crumbled paper balls instead. I felt the crumbled paper balls are more irregular, thus better at disrupting air fluctuation and smoothing out the air flow.  What the added fillers did was to 'smoothed' out the sounstage even more , giving a more relaxed music presentation. On Shorter's Adam's Apple, Shorter's sax was always a bit forward. But with the addition of the filler balls, the sax blended more into the soundstage and the music emerged more from a single fabric. That's what I heard anyway.

I am going to leave it as is more now and enjoy the increased level of music playback. But I continued to be amazed by this humble tonearm, and this seemingly minor tweak yielding such enormous sonic benefit!
Thanks, Terry! Your surge tank foray was the inspiration.

I read recently a Terminator owner in Hong Kong who uses a 50 liter tank with a Hi Blow 20 series pump. And he uses a smaller, 5 liter, tank in series, before connecting to the tonearm. The total volume of his surge tanks is close to what I have, though I feel that breaking the tanks into smaller piece may help in smoothing out the air fluctuation more. 

As VTA / SRA adjustment can be done on the fly, I did a bit more study. I am finding that with almost all records, I am adjusting VTA within a 3.5 - 4 mm range. Given that the pivot to stylus length is approx. 85 mm, the height adjustments translate to a 2 - 2.5 degree angle difference. I am slowly getting a feel for the thickness of the records, and where the optimal VTA should fall for that perfectly dialed in sound. And no two record is dialed in with the same setting which means no two record is cut quite the same. I am of the opinion that there is no magic 92 degree rake angle that very cartridge should be tracking. 

Here’s the HK link
The thread is in Chinese, but the response with surge tank info is in English near the top of the thread.

The surge tanks  that I am using are generic plastic water containers. They are similar to  the gallon surge tank supplied by Andrey, just larger. Inlet / outlet holes are drilled and filled with chrome plated nozzles, inlet at bottom, outlet on top. 1/4” silicone tubes are used throughout.

Of the three tanks, I have filled the two larger tanks with a mix of crumbled paper balls and cotton balls, a little less than half full. @terry9 apparently fills his tank with cotton balls to within a few inches near full. 

A final word on VTA. Since my VTA setting ranges within 4 mm, I have made VTF measurements at the high and low VTA settings. The VTF differential between 4mm is around .03 g. My VTF is set at 2.0g in the middle of the VTA range. Moving the VTA up and down 2mm from the middle will result in a change of VTF of max. .015, so pretty negligible.

Hi Marc, 
This is similar to the tank I am using:

This is similar to the type of nozzle used :

Additionally, you need a drill and  fast drying clue. 

In re-reading the HK post, surge tanks have to be used in low pressure / high air flow applications, like the Terminator. I seem to understand that for high pressure/ low air flow applications, I.e. ET, Airtangent...etc, surge tanks are not required. The assumption is that surge tanks are used to disrupt high velocity / fluctuating air flow. This allows a smooth / regulated air flow to reach the manifold. I assume that the slider on the Terminator would probably oscillate too eradically to control the cartridge without any surge tank at all. ( Terminator without surge tank is one experiment I am not interested in performing. ) I have noticed that with the additional surge tanks, the slider glides along with almost no lateral swaying. This presumably allows more electrical information to be passed along to the cartridge. I am, however, fuzzy on the physics of it all. For instance, l am not sure if longer tube runs equals smoother air flow. What is certain is the improvement in the arm’s performance.

@terry9 I have been in and out of plastic shops, rubber tire shops, aquarium shops..etc. However, my reception in those places have been less than hospitable in general, often the receiving end of funny looks when the 'audio' is mentioned. 

I do have a serious query: Is anyone using an Eheim pump, if so, which model? Apparently, it has the lowest noise level of all the aquarium type pumps. 
@terry9  Perforated hose..... Brilliant! That I'll try. 
Where to source a precision regulator?

@jtsnead  In reading many of the comments from early adopters of the Terminator comparing its  recent performances with upgrades in manifold, arm ward..etc, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised as to how far it has come.  But given where you have landed in your tonearm quest, I probably would want to trade places with you :)0  The Thales Simplicity is a beautiful arm with such unique technology. I especially enjoyed the factory tour video by Fremer of HiFiction, the parent company of Thales. 

Can / Do you adjust VTA on the fly?
I am coming around to the idea of using a PVC type 'filter'. Perhaps as @dgarretson indicated, the silicone tubes may be in sync with the modulated air flow, and a stiffer material may break it up. This 'filter' should probably be used in tandem with other surge tanks, each performing a slightly different function in modulating air flow. And it be placed close to the arm as the last filtration piece before air enters the manifold. Nice!


I will give a shout out to @dgarretson he helped me with a custom brass base for my T3 which helped in getting a firm foundation for the arm see below

Please see link below. A fellow Terminator user's exploit into a better arm base, for Salvation TT and others. The key is a two point fastening connection.


Thanks for the info. I'll look into it.

Two more updates:

1. Having added the 3" PVC pipe surge tank, the pressure provided by the as-supplied Sera pump had to be increased to maximum level. I decided to switch pump to a Enhiem 400. Pressure is at half full level, but operating with much lower noise. 

2. A new phono stage was acquired recently, Channel D Lino C 2.0. It is a transimpedence type stage, battery operated. It accepts XLR input only, and required cabling to be twisted, shielded, and balanced. I asked Andrey to supply a new wire with XLR input. ( And waited three months for them to arrive from Moscow. )  As the wire for the Terminator is essentially bare with no shielding, it apparently does not allow the proprietary recharging mechanism of the Lino C to be triggered. For a few months now, I had to manually un-plug the cable after each listening session in order for the battery charger to kick in. 

A fellow audiophile came over this past weekend and provided a simple diagnosis to the problem. Using a single strain of Cardas 33 awg copper wire, and twisting it over the exposed tonearm cable provided the necessary shielding !!! Now the phono stage is operating with its battery charging mechanism as intended. Twisted copper wire is the shielding solution just in case Terminator users are having problems connecting to devices that required a battery charging trigger. 

BTW, Channel D Lino C 2.0 is a great phono stage with recent write up on TAS.
@spiritofmusic The additional 3” dia x 30 cm smoothing tank required ‘increased’ pressure. The original pump was almost maxed out. I switched to a higher output Enhiem pump. 

An additional surge tank idea is no tank at all. Using long run of copper piping coiled like radiators would be a very effective air modulator. The stiffness of copper, or PVC in the case of the smoothing tank, is the key, as was mentioned by @dgarretson
The pump that came with the Trans Fi was a Sera Air 275 R plus with output of 4.5 liters / min, or 270 liters / hr. I am assuming that 270 l / hr is max output. Until the smoothing tank was added, the vol dial on the Sera was at 50%, even with the 20 litre and 25 litre surge tanks in the loop. That means It had been operating at 270 / 2 = 135 liters / hr. However, with the PVC smoothing tank in place, I literally had to turn the pump to max, or at 270 liters / hr, and the arm still was a bit unstable, skipping / mistracking at times. That’s when I decided to increase the output, not knowing really Vic’ recommendation.

The Enhiem 400 output is 400 litre / hour. The volume dial is at 70%, so maybe 280 - 300 liters / hour. And yes, I am a bit over Vic’ recommended range. However, before this whole surge tank experiment the arm was running at 135 litres / hour, a bit less than Vic ‘s range.

I suspect that if I were to place a gauge at the arm, it probably is receiving an output within Vic’s range. But with all the air mudulators added to disrupt air flow, the pump has to work harder at the front end. 
Hi Terry, where are you putting the pressure gauge ? 0.5psi right before air enters the manifold?

It seems a gauge is really required for me now. I’ll look into you recommendation. 
Regarding long run of horse acting as surge tank. I spoke to a friend and he seem to think that the ideal situation is to use stiffer tubing material than plastic, more like copper, and coiling the copper tube radiator style. Not sure if purely running long plastic tubes would create an effective surge tank ? 

@spiritofmusicI tried Vic’s air pressure test, and I am fine for now. There doesn’t seem to be air pressure coming from the manifold at my present level. Though with a gauge I will be able to give a more precise.
@dgarretson Thanks for the Fabco info. I was a bit lost  as to what to look for. Correct me if I’m wrong. It looks like a three-way valve. The turn knob is opposite to a open valve where a future Weiss gauge could be inserted, and the tubing passes through the other two holes.  
Given the addition of surge tanks, and a clear difference in pressure input, at the pump end, and output, at the manifold, I am inclined to place the gauge before the manifold as you have done. This way one reads the actual pressure going directly into the arm. 

One last question regarding the gauge. Most of the Weiss gauge I’ve  been able to find has a calibration from 0-10 PSI. As the arm is seeing pressure in the low single digits, is there a specific model gauge that you were using? @terry9 is setting his arm at 0.5 PSI at the pump end. 

@terry9  The stiffness of material was mentioned in the context of a different surge tank. Instead of using plastic barrels or PVC tubes, my friend suggested using coiled copper tubing, like radiators, as another form of air modulator. For this type of ‘surge tank’ to be effective, the tubing material has to be stiff, at least stiffer than the plastic tubing that air is traveling in. 
The only question in my mind is whether simply using long runs of plastic / silicone, i.e. soft, tubing modulates air flow. It doesn’t seem to disrupt or otherwise ‘ modulates’ the behavior of the air flow. In anycase, my total length of tubing used is probably 5 m, so l cannot test the benefits of long tube runs. It’s purely speculation on my part.
I’d like to start a different line of inquiry into the Trans Fi arm ——cartridge compatibility. For a few months now, I have been researching my next cartridge purchase. Right now a ZYX Ulitmate 100 is in service. And with all the help and input from y’ all, the arm - cartridge - phono stage is very well optimized for a entry level set up. The typical arm mass vs cartridge compliance criteria does not readily apply to a linear tracker. What do you look to in determining which cartridge will work with the Terminator? What are the best cartridges that have graced the arm? And more importantly, what have not worked so well? 
I’d appreciate any input.
Andrey's email :

website :

Be warned: shipment from Moscow could take up to 1.5 month or longer. XLR cables I ordered from Andrey took 3 months to get to   East Asia. Pay extra and have him ship Fedex.
@sgunther  There are plenty of testimonies from long time Terminator adopters here, especially the early threads. @spiritofmusic gives a succinct reply. 

I came to the fully updated Terminator from a SME V arm. And the improvements in vinyl playback are across the board. 

@simes and @spiritofmusic , thank you for the cartridge selection inputs. My apologies for the late reply. My amp malfunctioned, and I am now in limbo land.
It seems that cartridge weights of + 15 g would be workable. I am also using a trans-impedance phono amp, so low impedance becomes an additional requirement for my search. And I am looking into the   Audio Machina V8. 

I do have a question regarding setting VTF.  The carbon fiber wand comes with brass discs as counter-weights. However, they require very delicate maneuvering, and I cannot repeat my setting with any consistency. How do you go about setting VTF with the Terminator? How do you get repeatable results?  What special tools are involved?
A question on setting VTF :

 In a recent adjustment to the wire harness, I decided to pull it closer to the cartridge. The wire harness rests on the front face of the slider. Small adjustment to the harness is necessary as we play records.
The problem I am encountering is setting VTF in this configuration. The slightest tuck on the harness will yield a different reading on the VTF gauge. Measuring VTF at different positions on the platter will yield different readings as well. This presumably is caused by the harness acting on the wand, and thereby changing the weight of the wand + cartridge. The changes in VTF reading can vary from 0.1g to 0.4 g!! And that is a serious problem. 
I then pulled the harness to the back which is the more typical position. And even in this position a slight tuck on the harness chances the VTF. Now the variations is in the 0.05 g range. But it is still changing.

I always understood that the harness was acting on the wand, and then the effect is negligible. However, given these measurements, my questions are :  As the wand travels across the platter, it seems that the VTF is constantly changing? Is that right? Am I doing something wrong?