Soundsmith's makes a very good alternative.
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Dear BRF, I was aware of the Sound Smith's product before I purchased the XTCW. The difference is that the XTCW lowers the counter weight below the horizontal line of the cartridge, thereby, providing greater, potential, counter-force of those produced by the grooves acting on the stylus. The physics made sense and the improved sonics (musical reproduction) validated the science.
I suspect, also, that the resonant characteristics of the brass would help cancel out the resonant frequencies of the stainless steel. It sure sounds great, and maybe it does help cancel out some of the induced resonance.
So, the XTCW facilitated setup of VTA and azimuth, and it improved the music reproduction. Not bad for $80.
Yes, I have really tried the XTCW counter weight on the VPI 12.5 arm. I too was very pleased with the 12.5, as it was. However, I experienced the benefits of the XTCW on a Hadcock and figured it should do the same on the 12.5. It did just that.
The 12.5 is a great sounding tonearm. However, the XTCW brought up the performance. Like so much of high end equipment, it is exceptional. Periodically, you find something that augments a great product. This is what I discovered.
Sarcher30: On Ebay, search under XTCW. Click on one of the products, then click on the sellers other items. It should appear on the second page XTCW VPI JMW12.5 tonearm UPGRADE COUNTERWEIGHT - NON EU & EXPORT PRICE.
I agree, I didn't think it was aesthetically appealing. However, once in place and I experienced the sonic improvement I appreciated the engineering simplicity.
I would interested in results from any A-goners using an Alphason Hr100s arm and the XTC 133gm counterweight. From a design and engineering perspective the lower design of the counterweight does make sense. I have a hunch the results may be along the same lines, however have not had a chance to see any reviews or feedback regarding this combination.
Myles and Tuded1, the Ebay vendor is JCLOVESMUSIC. He has a listing for XTC VARIABLE MASS 85-146gm COUNTERWEIGHT REGA, NAD, FUNK FIRM F.XR etc. TONEARMS. This seems to replace the many customized models that he used to list.
Give JC an email through Ebay and specify your model tone arm and he will provide the appropriate model.
I had used the XTCW on a Hadcock and asked JC to fashion the model for my JMW12.5. He was very responsive and professional in his dealings.