Wood armwand vs Metal armwand

I figure someone has to start a thread on this topic.

Let's start the discussion!

I think if two were to duel with these weapons, the metal arm would be less likely to break.

But the wood arm can give you splinters!

Single crystal sapphire tonearm.
Jump on both!!
The trick here is you want to control resonance in the arm wand, such that it does not talk back or editorialize.

Most wood arm wands I have seen do not appear to be treated for resonance issues. Some might argue that they don't need that; they would be wrong. The better metal arm wands are indeed treated- less expensive ones are not and so seem to have more coloration.

Resonance is not the only issue. Effective mass with the cartridge also plays a role, which is part of mechanical resonance which is a different issue. I point this out to reduce confusion.

A metal arm wand can improve shielding, which may result in lower noise.

Here in Minnesota there can be another concern- humidity, which will not affect a metal arm wand, but will certainly affect a wooden one! I'd hate to have an expensive arm wand crack in dry humidity, or have it change dimension or warp. That seems like a problem not worth having to me.
Very good points Atmasphere! I live in Wisconsin and deal with the same weather related problems/obstacles with my cello as you would with a wooden tone arm.
There are techniques to make wood stable. Such as immersing it in a stablizing product, and applying a vacuum to draw the water out and the stablizer in. This replaces the water in the wood with a resin that will not be effected by humidity. Certain woods are much more stable than others as well.

Though I don't live in a very dry climate, the humidity indoors does get pretty low in the winter. I have had no issues with my Reed tonearms.
Wouldn't predictability, consistency and repeatability across a manufacturing process and across the wide gamut of environments it is to be used in make metal a better material?

I suppose one could infuse the wood structure with epoxy to attain this, but then we aren't really talking about wood anymore, rather some plastic composite material.

I'm not arguing that wood is not better, I just don't see how one can predict it's performance given its inherent variability. If you do choose to infuse it with epoxy, why not skip the wood and go with carbon fiber instead?
^^ this.
Geoffkait, Sapphire would be interesting but extremely expensive. Not to mention heavy and very fragile. If you could make a tapered tube from sapphire that was not too heavy, It would probably cost $100k retail. That would be a very expensive experiment if it did not work out.
It all about the sound. I have not found the sound to vary noticeably between different samples of wood armed tonearms of the same model, material, and manufacture. At least of the three I have heard enough to make that statement. Which are the Reed, Durand, and Schroder.
I also do not find the sound to vary from day to day, with my Reed tonearms. When rechecking my settings they are not different either. So at least IME stability is a non issue.

I think too many people pass up wood tonearms because they fear these issues. I can't say all wood tonearms are free of these issues, but the ones I have experience with are.
I can't say I've been too impressed with the wood tonearms I have heard, for such a precise instrument wood is one of the last materials I would think of using.
Dnath, What wood tonearms have you heard? What are you impressed with?
Sarcher30 I would prefer not to name manufacturers since I don't think they are individually deserving of the bad press. As for what I am impressed with the Phantom II Supreme is my reference baseline.

Consider a wood bodied instrument such as a violin. The wood type, vintage, varnish, etc will all have an effect on its signature sound and tone. A hifi instruments duty is not to add more resonance or "tone" of its own, but to most faithfully reproduce the sound of that original violin. By adding its own colorations the violin no longer sounds like the original instrument.
I also do not find the sound to vary from day to day, with my Reed tonearms. When rechecking my settings they are not different either. So at least IME stability is a non issue.

How about year to year? You may not notice a very minor change from one day to the next but over a year or two it might be quite audible.
Well, Ralph I've had one of my Reed's for over 2 years, and the other about a year now. No problems.
Dnath, I was just trying to get a feel for what arms you have listened to. The Phantom is a good arm, but not it's not everyone's favorite. Metal adds it's own coloration's as well. Nothing is perfect. You have to pick your poison.

Kind of like all metal speakers. I'm not a fan.
Sarcher30, Good! I've had my Triplanar about 9 years. No problems with it either.

I don't think its realistic to compare speakers and tonearms. That's a bit of a stretch. But I agree- in the case of speakers, I much prefer wood products (paper) for speaker cones to metal...
How about carbon fiber? This is used by many manufactures.

Or better yet composites such a metal wood laminates or other combinations. I believe these would provide the best solution for resonances while allowing the designer to maintain an optimal mass.

I have also seen lexan used. Scheu has one that is truss shaped.

"But the wood arm can give you splinters!"
When carbon fiber breaks it splinters a whole lot more than wood. Fibers in the eyes and lungs is not very pleasant.
Ralph, that is true. It is kind of a stretch to compare tonearms to speakers. Just trying to point out the differences in the sound of materials.

I should have been more specific about the speakers, even though it is a bit off topic. I meant the crop of speakers using all metal enclosures. The ones I have heard are missing the body of the sound. Just not natural sounding to me. I have heard a few speakers with metal cones sound good with the right surrounding eq. I've been told the trick with metal drivers is to cross them over well before their break up point. The only metal tweeters I care for are ribbons.
With speakers, the good ones usually try to make the fact they use wood a non-factor; try to make the enclosures inert. And not have the wood try to be part of the signature of the speaker, that is adding its own resonances to color the sound.