VPI Tonearm connector wire and record tracking

I have found that the bend in the connector wire from the tonearm to the junction box has a MAJOR influence on the trackability of the tonearm. it has tons to do with how the stylus tracks or SKATES across the record. If this BEND is not in an optimum position (that changes all the time as the tonearm tracks across the record), it will dramatically affect how the arm/stylus tracks the record especially on the inner grooves. I find myself bending this wire back towards the platter as it will bend away away from the platter in time. Has anyone else made this observation? Is their anywhere else this wire could have been located to have lass impact on tracking? It is my observation that the arm would sound much better if this wire were located someplace else.
I have both the 9 incher and the 10.5i, and haven't found the wire to negatively influence the sound on either arm. I supposed the best possible connection is no connection at all (bluetooth?), but I am very satisfied with the sound I get from my arms. ...just thinking about it, they are both Valhalla wired, and perhaps the copper wire would have an influence...something I can't comment upon.
I don't share your observation. Have you try floating your arm and then play around with the connector wire i.e. twisting and untwisting the wire to observe how much influence the wire actually has on the arm movement? I have no problem with the tracking of my JMW.
The manual for the 9" VPI tonearm states:

"VPI has a unique solution to anti-skating: the coiled wire of the JMW Memorial Tonearm acts as a spring and pushes the arm back without affecting the sound quality. You now have the option of installing a mechanical anti-skate for those that want it.

-Adjust the counterweight so there is no down force on the cartridge.

-Swing the tonearm toward the spindle and release it. The arm should swing out toward the outer edge of the turntable.

If you try adjusting the anti-skate with a groove less record, you will ruin the twist in the tonearm wire and void your warranty. Do this with the mechanical anti-skate if you want that much anti-skate.

If additional anti-skate is needed you can go to the mechanical anti-skate available from your dealer."

The new manual for the 10" and 12" adds this:

"As mentioned earlier, the arm wire applies the anti-skating force. The degree of force applied can be adjusted, to increase anti-skating force give the connector a counterclockwise twist, unwinding the wires natural twist. Likewise, to decrease the force, give the connector a clockwise twist, winding the wires natural twist. Remember, the Lemo connector can only be 'adjusted' in increments of whole turns. If it is not, its key will not line up with the groove in the receptacle.

If you try adjusting the anti-skate with a grooveless record you will ruin the twist in the wire and void your warrantee.

This is all you need for anti-skating."

So, the wire definitely will affect tracking. It is interesting that the manual for the 9" warns against using a grooveless record to adjust anti-skating, but never says anything about about twisting the wire to adjust anti-skating.

Furthermore, though the manuals basically say to do nothing, it says to twist the wire to adjust anti-skating and that's all you need, but VPI makes and sells a mechanical anti-skate device ($100). I have the mechanical device. It is a kludge, but it works for me better than adjusting the wire.
Like Strngreen, I own a Classic 3 JMW 10.5i arm. Mike at VPI has mentioned on several occassions that VPI doesn't really buy in to the mechanical AS device. As far as the tone arm wire is concerned, I would put a very small twist on it when connecting the Lenco connector to the connection block. Less is more.

In my particular case, my cartridge is a VPI Zephyr. Peter Ledermann believe in the mechanical AS device; Mike says VPI doesn't. However, Mike did advise me that as a "rough justice" test, if you see the cantilever assembly deflecting, you may need the AS mechanical device.

The OP makes the following statement about the tone arm wire:

"If this BEND is not in an optimum position (that changes all the time as the tonearm tracks across the record), it will dramatically affect how the arm/stylus tracks the record especially on the inner grooves. I find myself bending this wire back towards the platter as it will bend away away from the platter in time."

I have the following responses: First, there is no such thing as an "optimal position" for AS. The amount of AS force on a record and stylus varies all the time. I am not aware of any device that compensates for these variations. Also, as the VPI manual states, VPI does not believe that AS forces dramatically affect the sound of vinyl pkayback. Second, I am concerned that if you keep fiddling with the tone arm wire, either one or both of two things will happen: (1) you will damage the tone arm wire; and/or (2) you will go blind.

OK, seriously, I have a couple of suggestions. Double check the alignment, VTF, VTA and azimuth of your set up.

It is possible that if your cartridge/stylus combo is not compatible with the JMW arm, you may have trackability problems. Pay particular attention to VTF and azimuth!

You don't mention the type of cartridge you are using. Does it match well to the effective mass of the arm?

Also, in my experience, I found that certain cartridges just don't do very well with the unstabilized azimuth configuration of a uni-pivot.

If after checking the set up, you still have a problem, call Mike at VPI. He is incredibly helpful.

Good luck.

I think the I am just realizing the limitations of my table. I am getting used to listening to a friends which does no such thing. It is an amazing tracking table with a Mission Mechanic tonearm. I have not used my new cartridge on my current table as I am worried about it not tracking properly. Maybe my stylus is getting worn. It was tacking decent but I am afraid to put the Lyra on this arm. I find it hard to believe that I am just wearing out styluses this quickly. I put the glider on this spring, it sounded great, still does, just does not track the inner grooves like it used to. I am getting sibilance and tracking error on the extreme inner grooves. Maybe I need a gimbal arm
Tzh21y, if you checked all the specs I mentioned above, I would call Mike at VPI before throwing the towel in. The uni-pivot set-up can be a PITA, but when it works, it's great!! If you check my OPs, you will see that I suffered with the set up for quite a bit of time. I went through 3 different cartridges before settling on the Sound Smith VPI Zephyr. Another cartridge that works well is the Dynavector 20X2 M (specially designd for the VPI table). I'm sure there are many others.

I assume you've made a significant investment in your TT. Call Mike and see if he can help you.

Good luck
I agree completely with Bifwynne. As for MY setup, I do use a bit of anti-skate with the mechanical gizmo. I found the wire twisting technique not for me, since the springiness of the wire diminishes over time. Cartridge setup is a huge pain in the mule, but if carefully done correctly, the VPI is really a good arm. I found Benz, Dynas, and Soundsmith cartridges have the least problems with the arm, however, almost any cartridge can be accommodated. Mike at VPI is the go to guy to help with any problems. I am using a Benz LP-S which is one extraordinary cartridge. I hear things on my 40 year old records, I never heard before. For those that are interested, I had a Benz LP (original - not an S) that I traded into Musical Surroundings for the LP-S. The upgrade is HUGE.
I have tried the twist, its a pain in the ass and a bit cheesy IMO.
I prefer the twist, am using a Zephyr on a 10.5i armtube that does incorporate the kludgy AS mechanism (which I don't use, didn't know Peter recommended it).

An easier way to adjust wire tension I've used for a while is to get all parameters set (VTA, VTF, azimuth, overhang). Then ball up a wad of Mortite (plumber's putty) that is just heavy enough to float the arm when it is stuck onto the back end of the armtube, and adjust the connector to the point where the arm is just drifting toward the outside of the record. Works for me.

BTW, I love that Zephyr cartridge and really appreciated its built in stylus guard when our earthquake struck while I was playing a record. Caught it on the third bounce and expected the worst, but it was fine.
Sorry if this is heretical, but when I picked up my VPI Zephyr, I did a quick alignment, VTF was a snap, checked azimuth and VTA -- all in 15 minutes. Didn't need a laser or oscilliscope or any other crazy jigs or whatever. The VPI jig is based on Baerwald geometry and works just fine. AS, as I said above, is just a light twist of the tone arm wire. I did a quick and dirty check for cantilever deflectiion, of which there was none that I could see, and away I went. Tracks great; sounds great; channel balance is great.

Tzh21y, I don't recall if you mentioned your cartridge, but as Stringreen, Dopogue and I have said, why suffer. Go with what VPI recommends, albeit the Zephyr, DV or whatever. I believe that Stringreen had great results with his Benz LP-S. But I say again, you are not the first person to have this problem. Call Mike at VPI and he can get you where you need to be.


I have looked at a pic of the arm. Does the wire at the top of the arm come out of a hole directly above the pivot? Or is it offset? It is hard to see exactly.

If it is offset, then it will affect the arm in some way as it appears to be quite substantial. The fact that they say it can be used as antiskate would suggest this, as well as the fact it is able to maintain a loop.

I designed a couple of arms many years ago with similar arrangements in order to try and avoid the complication and expense of other solutions, and found that it was difficult to avoid some effect from the wire even though it was much finer than that of the VPI. It was not just on the lateral plane, affecting imaging and solidity, especially in the centre and towards the inner grooves, but also in terms of downforce variations which led to a generally imprecise quality, an uneasiness or edginess.

Those designs were rejected in favour of wiring that went through the bearings to give the minimum torque.

Recently, a friend of mine used some original old bits from one of the arms, a unipivot, and also found that the wiring was problematic. He started off by having the wire exit from the armtube, as in this pic,

Fernando's 1st version

and eventually ended up by running to the centre of the bearing housing and then straight up for a distance before looping it round the wire support.

The wire he used was very soft, but still not as fine as the original wire I used.

So maybe you could try routing the wire so that its axis of rotation is directly above the point of rotation of the arm. This will reduce the lateral torque, but the wire will still be prone to affecting the vertical movement. as it acts at a distance from the actual pivot point.

Using a longer arm will reduce any effects, as will higher VTF, so cartridges play a part, or using an "inner groove friendly" alignment.

I'll say nothing here about anti skate, as it is a contentious subject.

Hope this is of use or interest.


The VPI arm's wire exits from the front of the unipivot bearing housing and thus has a built in side thrust compensation factor even without the twist of the cable. As the arm travels across the record, the loop is condensed so the natual spring of the cable will push the arm toward the beginning of the record. I imagine the effect is slight however.
I run a Lyra Delos on a VPI 10.5i arm. When I first hooked it up and got it dialed in, it tracked great. After pulling the arm off and disconnecting the Lemco a few times, and tying the Lemco to the arm to keep it from pulling the wires while I worked on it, it needed just a tad of anti-skate. So I hooked the fishing line up with the bare minimum force it would deliver (line and weights close to the pivot) and it's back to tracking perfectly.

I think it's about what Stringreen mentioned, my wire lost its "set" from me fiddling with it too much.

I might be able to fiddle with the wire and make it work, but it's really great as it is. No IGD or sibilance, no jumping grooves, stylus remains clean, VTF on the recommended weight, etc.

I REALLY like this table/arm/cartridge combo, but it was my first uni-pivot. I got used to adjusting it with an inexpensive MM cart with stylus guard (AT440MLa) before installing the Delos. Made setting the Delos up a snap, but undoubtedly flexed the wire many unnecesary cycles.

I sure wouldn't write it off as "limitations of the table" just yet. If you still have any hair you haven't pulled out, then you need to adjust your tonearm until you have pulled out all of your hair. That will get you close.
Tzh21y, last post on this thread. If you're still not pleased with your cartridge/arm performance, I would call Mike at VPI. He knows the JMW uni-pivot arm like the back of his hand. I mentioned above that if you keep fiddling with the arm and wire, you may affect the AS attributes of the wire. That same point was made by Jr w above. So . . . last time -- call Mike!