See article in NY Times today about 3D printers. V interesting.
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So one piece tonearm, made out of composite material, a traditional VPI uni-pivot. I would think the race, or female portion of the pivot, which is in the arm would have to be the traditional stainless steel, not composite. I am speculating here, but I should think if you turn the tonearm over there would be a stainless still receiver for the pointed uni-pivot on the base of the VPI arm. I can't wait to hear some reviews about that arm. I tend to tighten things quite a bit, I should think with a composite head, consideration should be made not to tighten the cartridge screws too much as to not damage the head.
Wait until the reviews are in on this one.
Harry tries,and then dumps lots of "innovations ".
Rim drive, plastic platters, super platters, no anti-skate then anti-skate, etc.
Why is epoxy superior to aluminum or steel for an arm?
No damping is a mistake IMO. What is the effective mass? Too many???
His "only" demo did not compare the 3D to the JMW arm, "with the same cartridge", and as such was worthless!
Don....the difference between the 3D arm and others (aside from the increase in stability due to the brass fitments, is that the resonance signature is extremely low...(vanishingly low as was explained to me). All other arms of metal, wood, etc. have their resonances damped which really just moves the resonance signature to a different frequency. The 3D material self damps providing much less microscopical movements of the tube which affects the stylus in the groove. What Harry tried to demonstrate was that an inexpensive cartridge on a 3D arm can play in the neighborhood with a very expensive cartridge in a regular JMW arm (which is no slouch itself). I will get my 3D arm in a couple of weeks and will report what my take is on it. Harry said I will be so moved by the increase in performance "it will make me cry". One more point ....the upgraded JMW arms are wired with Nordost wire....I was told that the 3D arm is wired with a very new Discovery cable which is very much better than the Valhalla.
Stringreen you are a shill for VPI!
What is the meaning of "resonance signature" , but another BS buzzword?
Discovery wire "is" superior, to Nordost, and was used in the original JMW arm and the original VPI interconnect.
Harry switched to Nordost for recognition, not a sonic improvement, he is after "sales over sonics" the last decade.
The TNT !!!, JMW 10, SDS back in 2000 was the pinnacle of VPI IMO. However they only made 100 in that year.
The "dropped counterweight" on newer VPI arms is a PITA to adjust, and offers no improvement. Nobody else uses a dropped counterweight.
The new direct drive will be only be for the rich wanting status.
The upper High End "sonics" of most all big buck audio, is consistently demonstrated as "good but uninspired" sound, to those with experience and common sense. It can be beat with much less $$$.
What does this mean?
I thought all arms were 3D.......or is that just me?
Made without joints in one piece......?
Oh please....give me a break.
There are umpteen ways to create a 'one-piece arm without joints'.
Welding, brazing, casting, machining...and in the case of wood....turning.
With plastics, there are even a few more.
Continuum has had one piece hollow plastic resin arms (with no separate headshells) for over a decade.
Why is epoxy superior to aluminum or steel for an arm?Good question.....but I can guess that Harry wouldn't know...or care?
This 3D printing for a tonearm is a cynical grab for the technologically challenged audiophile impressed by gimmicks and 'buzz-words'.
3D printing does have....and will have many valuable uses for the world in general.
I doubt that advances in tonearm design will be one of them?
Don...why are you so angry?? Why are you writing at all?? You don't know what resonance is?? You don't know that a dropped counterweight lowers the center of gravity and makes the arm more stable? You probably don't know that the new Discovery cable is NEW and better sounding than Valhalla. You just don't know.
There are now 3 or 4 threads talking about VPI products. Good or bad impressions aside, I'm sure Harry is enjoying the active interest and discussion this is generating.
I personally don't know why there is so much hatred for VPI. I would personally think Wilson, ARC, VAC and others would generate more of that, since their "upgrade" policies have more or less swamped anything VPI has done, and at prices that are much further away from reality. Maybe it's just that Harry's prices are closer to what is affordable to a broader audiophile audience than theirs are, so we feel the itch to try it more but wonder if its just a change or an improvement.
From what I heard, the new ceramic platter is an improvement, at at little cost over his other platters. The 3D arm wand is also an improvement, and IMO will bring the JMW arms (which were always the weakest link for VPI) into competition with other top of the line arms on the market (whatever the marketing hype or manufacturing process).
Halcro and Don, you are right on target. 3-D printing captures the imagination of non-technical folks, confusing a new process that has no practical advantages for production items with the false concept that the final product made from the process might be better.
In marketing, buzz is always more important than reality, and in high-end audio it has gotten worse and worse.
Isn't/wasn't Valhalla Nordost's top of the line wire retailing for thousands of dollars as a speaker or interconnecting cable? How "very much better" can this Discovery cable be? This is getting ridiculous.
So it seems that the consensus is that the 3D arm is junk without anyone here having auditioned the new VPI product.No.....we're saying that 3D printing of a tonearm.....using the resin that is required for a 3D printer (regardless of its suitability or acoustic properties).....is a cynical exercise in marketing hype.
Actureus....you are correct....Valhalla WAS top of the line wiring for VPI arms..however the new Discovery wire that is used in the 3D arm is better...especially in the mids (is what Harry tells me..I'll report on it when I get my arm wired with the new Discovery) VPI will wire any of his arms with any wire you wish.
I didn't say Valhalla was the top of line wiring for VPI arms; I said it was Nordost's top of the line wire that retails/retailed for an exorbitant amount of money (for most people), and has been generally considered one of the very best wires the money could buy. So I find your (or VPI's) statement that the Discovery wire, now apparently used for the new VPI tonearm, is "very much better" than the Valhalla wire absurd. Do you and VPI propose to tell me there has been some sort of a ground-breaking break-through and advance in tonearm wires in the past year that rendered all top wires thus far on the market inferior and obsolete? Or is a more plausible explanation that that it is all marketing bs meant to sell more product? I myself have owned several VPI products, including my current Classic turntable which I love it, but this is getting really annoying.
Actusreus, I think it's at least plausible that the Discovery wire could be 'better' sounding in the VPI arm. Without comparing the two, how would you know? One presumes Harry did this comparison before going with the Discovery(?).
FWIW, the Discovery tonearm wire is highly regarded - it is used in both the Triplanar and Durand Talea arms. The designers of those 2 arms are notable for being obsessive over the details of their designs.
Sure. So then how about going with an "improvement" rather than such sweeping statements as "very much better"? It is also plausible that Harry is jumping on the Discovery bandwagon to align his product with the top products in the same category. I don't have a problem with manufacturers seeking to improve their products, but I do have a problem with making dramatic statements such as this. Having been at this for some years now, it irks me to see anyone making such sweeping claims. Something "the best" is now much worse. In high-end where improvements are rather quite incremental at certain levels, it does not inspire confidence and smells of a marketing ploy.
Another point is that considering how much wire the signal has to go through in any given system, a claim that the Discovery wire in the tonearm only will make a sudden leaping improvement in any system is rather absurd, at least to me.
Discovery tone arm wire can make a quite significant improvement in my experience. Get some wire, solder on some clips and good RCA connectors, tape it to the tone arm and give it a preliminary listen. Even configured like this it sounds noticeably better than the stock wire on most tone arms that I have tried it on.
None or nearly none of the companies that market "wires" actually make any of their wires. They buy wire from foundries. After that, it's a matter of solid core vs stranded vs Litz, grounding, shielding, single-ended vs balanced connection, silver vs copper, purity of the metals used, etc, etc. Brand names mean nothing.
So, tell me what is a Discovery wire and what is a Valhalla tonearm wire? The Nordost wires I have personally auditioned in my home system have all made my ears bleed, but I never tried Valhalla. I wired a preamp with Discovery, found it to be "OK", but the earth did not move for me. I like solid core, thin gauge or thin ribbon, silver wire of high purity, insulated with teflon or cloth. Pure copper of the same description is OK too. The idea of using a DC voltage to apply a bias on the shield is interesting to me, but I've never tried it. Beyond choosing one's own preferences from among the long list of alternatives, the boutique audio wire idea is rubbish.
Goertz wire, which may no longer exist, always seemed to me to give the most bang for the buck. But arguing in free space about Valhalla vs Discovery is a waste of energy.
Halcro, you seem to know something about 3D printing. My machinist friend says it is "old news", only new to audio but still at a very expensive stage of development. Seems to me that 3D printing might be a very cost-effective way to generate complex shapes that would otherwise require prohibitively expensive machining to achieve starting from one solid piece of material. It also seems to me possible that epoxy could be an excellent material for making a tonearm. It might also not be any good. You mentioned "welding" as an alternative method to generate complexity, but that would be cheating. In welding you join two different pieces together permanently. At the junction is the weld material that forms an interface of source. That is likely NOT analogous to 3D printing.
The only thing I care about is how it sounds. I have been using a 10.5i wired with Valhalla, and I am expecting my new 3D arm wired with Discovery any day. Harry said both wires are excellent, however, he likes the Discovery because in his estimation, it has better mids, though the Valhalla might have a more extended high end (maybe because it is silver??) ....we shall see. I have never felt my 10.5i/Valhalla was amiss in the mids, but I took Harry's advice and asked him to wire the 3D with the Discovery wire. I will post when I get my arm in position. Harry said that most striking about the 3D arm is its lack of resonance....that I will understand when i hear it in my system.
Ahoy Captain.... right now, the entire arm is gone, awaiting the 3D. I imagine the tower will be (at least) similar to the 10.5 but for cosmetic changes. The tower works so well, I can't see VPI changing it for something else. The real pain in the neck is the anti-skate. If you use it, the arm tube is not readily changed since the whole arm has to be adjusted again. I haven't been using it on the 10.5i, and Harry is not a proponent of anti-skate, but I would like to have all options available. I understand the anti-skate gizmo is included with the 3D...we'll see.
Could you explain why this is a 'cynical exercise in marketing hype'?I thought I had in my first post above?
But here goes again...........
3D printing is perfect for complex shapes or one-off prototypes for testing or limited production items.
It is extraordinarily useful in the medical field whereby entire internal human organs may be re-created from CT Scans and/or MRIs to allow for EXACT replacement parts to be fabricated for surgical transplant BEFORE the patient is even admitted to the operating theatre.
At present...the range of materials able to be used in 3D printers consist of ABS plastic, PLA, polyamide (nylon), glass filled polyamide, stereolithography materials (epoxy resins), silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers and polycarbonate.
This leaves out a large selection of materials such as copper, brass, bronze, wood, stone, concrete etc but this may change in the future?
The point is.....that the VPI 3D tonearm is NOT complex in any way.....and could have been produced by traditional fabrication methods used for over 100 years.....and in virtually every material available on earth.
In plastic.......this arm could be fabricated in mass quantities using Injection Moulding or Compression Moulding or Vacuum Forming or Blow Moulding or Rotational Moulding or Continuous Extrusion.
The choices for the combination and formulae of the plastic selected using these methods......is vastly greater than for those used for 3D printing and thus testing for the 'acoustic' properties of the selected material would become the important criteria instead of the resultant 'accident'?
Finally....the costs involved in 3D printing of simple multiple identical objects is vastly greater than for those produced by 'mass production'.
If this VPI 3D tonearm turns out to sound 'wonderful' as some here are eager to conclude........be aware that you could have been listening to EXACTLY the same tonearm, manufactured by 20th century methods 25 years ago!?
If that doesn't strike you as 'cynical'.......then join the queue and enjoy :-)
When 3d printing became economical enough for home users, I opinied that a tonearm would be a likely first audio use for 3d printing. the shapes and thicknesses are finely controlled, much more so than is available with casting or CNC machining and they could be built in one piece, except for the joint and base. Plus, they could be much more economical, in that a manufacturer didnt have to expend enormous sums on molds and stampers. Rega was able to expense that cost over hundreds of thousands of arms. SME has done so through both high cost and numerous units. But most others are a collection of machined parts, each of which creates a joint, whether bolted or welded. 3D printing at home uses polymers, but the same CAD program can be used on industrial 3D printers using metals.
3d's advantage is that is can be economically used for complex parts made at low volumes and the fact that changes to the design can be easily made without throwing out existing molds and tooling. Also, there is no change in tolerance due to worn tooling. Cartridge bodies are another prime use in the audio field, which Ortofon is already doing
If this VPI 3D tonearm turns out to sound 'wonderful' as some here are eager to conclude........be aware that you could have been listening to EXACTLY the same tonearm, manufactured by 20th century methods 25 years ago!?The same could be said about every new tonearm and turntable.
Sweating, brazing, threading parts do not make a one piece tonearm.
I still don't see it as anymore cynical than when Corvette went to plastic bodies.
Thanks for the 3d primer, very informative.
I am perfectly happy with my current tonearms and have zero interest in purchasing this one.
I heard a description of this VPI arm at the NYC show in April. Harry explained that there are some complex shapes and sectional changes in the arm tube interior that are not possible to produce by other methods. Apparently this arm tube is very good at controlling/damping vibrations. The lack of joints/seams also was discussed as an advantage.
I don't know how different the VPI 3D is from my SME V-12 arm tube, but the latter is also one piece with a varying cross section, and it is made of magnesium.
I was also told the 3D takes one day to make in the printer.
Dear Henry, You obviously have a vast knowledge of esoteric manufacturing processes. Thanks for the input on that subject. However, I would take issue with your last sentence:
"But casting, welding, machining and gluing do." This was written in reference to what makes a one-piece construct. Welding and gluing do NOT make a one-piece construct, by my strict definition. Welding and gluing can fuse two constructs that are separately one piece each. In both techniques there will be an interface even between two items machined from identical materials, where the foreign material in the joint (glue or weld) could act to reflect energy and create spurious resonances. Casting and machining have their limitations, as well. Could you admit that it is remotely possible that there could be some advantage to the use of 3D printing to make a tonearm that is "more" of a single piece than was heretofore achieved (by technologies with which the rest of us are somewhat familiar)?
I have no idea whether the VPI tonearm is good, bad, or indifferent, but the project seems novel and interesting. It's possible that the 3D printing is ground-breaking but that epoxy sucks for a tonearm. We'll find out.
You might better say that introducing a Classic 4 so soon after the Classic 3 is an example of something not so admirable.