History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby aztwang » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:39 pm

I was speaking to a owner of an audio store an the subject of VPI's unipivot came up. He commented with bias as he did not stock VPI that
VPI's Unipivot w/ VTA tower was a "Rip-off of another companies arm design"......So I was curious what is the history of the unipivot arm? Was it given birth at VPI
or????

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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Peer Gynt » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:50 pm

The usual troll BS.

I don’t think VPI has ever claimed that they invented the uni-pivot.

Uni-pivot arms have been around for a long time.

If you compare them, the VPI JMW design is the best, and their build quality is second to none.
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Peer Gynt » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:22 pm

Here’s a link to an article from 20 years ago to give some historical perspective.

https://www.stereophile.com/tonearms/401/index.html

The uni-pivot and gimbal style arm bearings both have proponents. I was firmly in the gimbal camp. I still prefer gimbal style. But I am really surprised at how many things the uni-pivot does well. I can see why listeners like them so well.

In addition to my interest in VPI, I’ve also built several Linn LP12s. The two are very different in nearly every way, but both can sound incredibly engaging if they’re set up right.

In the case of Linn, the company insists that their gimbal designs are superior.

But at least two aftermarket companies have marketed Linn compatible uni- pivots. The adopters swear by them. I have a dealer friend in Leicestershire who demonstrates both. His honest opinion is that the consumer should listen and decide for himself. Naim ARO, Tiger Paw Javelin, and Linn Ekos SE are all winners, depending on cartridge, program and taste.

VPI JMW is a great product line and a worthy memorial product.
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby aztwang » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:12 pm

Peer Gynt wrote:Here’s a link to an article from 20 years ago to give some historical perspective.

https://www.stereophile.com/tonearms/401/index.html

The uni-pivot and gimbal style arm bearings both have proponents. I was firmly in the gimbal camp. I still prefer gimbal style. But I am really surprised at how many things the uni-pivot does well. I can see why listeners like them so well.

In addition to my interest in VPI, I’ve also built several Linn LP12s. The two are very different in nearly every way, but both can sound incredibly engaging if they’re set up right.

In the case of Linn, the company insists that their gimbal designs are superior.

But at least two aftermarket companies have marketed Linn compatible uni- pivots. The adopters swear by them. I have a dealer friend in Leicestershire who demonstrates both. His honest opinion is that the consumer should listen and decide for himself. Naim ARO, Tiger Paw Javelin, and Linn Ekos SE are all winners, depending on cartridge, program and taste.

VPI JMW is a great product line and a worthy memorial product.


Peter,

As always you come with a great amount of knowledge...Thank you! Have you had the time to compare both versions of the new Fatboy? Im wondering how the new gimball design compares to the "Gimball world" as a whole??

Peter, I think the VTA tower and the availability to adjust VTA on the fly is big especially being so many records are now 180 and 200 gr pressings.It seems odd that nobody else has jumped on the bandwagon. I am very new to this world after a 35 year hiatus and maybe I'm making more to it than reality but having to hold my tongue just right and roughly guess where VTA adjustment should be so that my record sounds the best it can be on my $20K-$50K 2 channel system seems counter productive. So much is made about proper adjustment of turntable and cartridge but yet it seems as many manufacturers are having their customers "guess" or at best estimate their records VTA adjustment...Am I missing something??

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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Peer Gynt » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:54 pm

aztwang wrote:
Have you had the time to compare both versions of the new Fatboy? Im wondering how the new gimball design compares to the "Gimball world" as a whole??

Peter, I think the VTA tower and the availability to adjust VTA on the fly is big especially being so many records are now 180 and 200 gr pressings.It seems odd that nobody else has jumped on the bandwagon. I am very new to this world after a 35 year hiatus and maybe I'm making more to it than reality but having to hold my tongue just right and roughly guess where VTA adjustment should be so that my record sounds the best it can be on my $20K-$50K 2 channel system seems counter productive. So much is made about proper adjustment of turntable and cartridge but yet it seems as many manufacturers are having their customers "guess" or at best estimate their records VTA adjustment...Am I missing something??

Cheers


I think you’ve asked the $4000 question.

HW posted that he thought that the gimbal had better bass definition and the unipivot had a sweeter top end, at least for the Fatboy. He also posted some thoughts on cartridge matching to these arms.

His opinion is worth more than mine.

I can share my thoughts though. I like the idea of the VTA on the fly feature, but in the practical application, I really don’t hear it as a critical issue. To change VTA by even 1 degree, it takes a pretty big change at the arm’s pivot 10” away. If the arm is parallel to the disk, nearly all of the records I’ve ever played sound good. This is the official Linn position too. They offer no easy adjustment. At the same time Lyra, a respected high end cartridge manufacturer, insist that VTA adjustment is important to get the most out of their cartridges.

Someone posted the other day that changing VTA is like a tone control. Others say it is like a knob that snaps the image into focus. My own experience as a listener leans toward the latter.

If I buy a Fatboy, I will probably go for the gimbal. I really like well defined bass. And I still maintain that a gimbal is easier to set up right than a unipivot, at least for me. I will say that the gimbaled Printed 10” vta on the fly adjustable Levinson arm, designed and built by VPI, has really impressed me. Assuming the VPI version of the gimbal is like what they delivered for Levinson, it will be very competitive with the Linn Ekos/SE.

As for the vta, I set it so that the arm is parallel to the disk, and I forget about it. If I change record mats or cartridges, I adjust it. But I don’t bother for standard or heavy vinyl.

FWIW, I have had many decent systems and listening spaces over the last 45 years, but have downsized to two at the present time. Both are dedicated spaces. One has a value of approximately $80k. The other approximately $45k.

It is frustrating that so many options can’t be evaluated until you buy them. This is what keeps Audiogon in business.
YMMV
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Dorian » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:04 pm

FWIW I am am listening to the new Guns N’ Roses AFD remaster as I type this. Sounds incredible! But I am wanting for a little more bass punch. So based on experience I lowered the VTA tower one full revolution. I didn’t get more bass, I got less air and soundstage. I have had this experience on multiple albums. I definitely hear a one revolution difference on the VTA tower. YMMV, of course.
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Peer Gynt » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:05 pm

On the VTA, I know this is a subject where personal preference is the guiding principle.

However, if you're like me and you would rather not take extensive notes on every one of your album, cartridge, and mat combinations, but rather would prefer to just enjoy playing music, either of the following will be a good method for setting VTA.

Either take a normal (standard vinyl) record and set the arm height so it is just a bit higher at the arm pivot than at the head shell, but still very close to parallel, and then when you put on a heavy vinyl record you will be going from slightly high at the pivot to something more parallel. Or take a heavy vinyl record, set it parallel, and then when you put a thinner record on the deck, the arm will be slightly high at the rear. Most people prefer either parallel or slightly high at the rear compared to slightly high at the head shell.

I will say this about the VTA on the fly tower. It does make setting arm height easier than the method Linn uses. With the LP12s, you set the arm height by sliding the arm pillar up or down, and when you have it where you want it, you set the lock screw. I can do this without thinking about it after many years with Linns. But if I wanted to change it, it certainly can't be done on the fly. And it is not repeatably precise as the VPI VTA on the fly tower is.
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Peer Gynt » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:08 pm

Dorian wrote:FWIW I am am listening to the new Guns N’ Roses AFD remaster as I type this. Sounds incredible! But I am wanting for a little more bass punch. So based on experience I lowered the VTA tower one full revolution. I didn’t get more bass, I got less air and soundstage. I have had this experience on multiple albums. I definitely hear a one revolution difference on the VTA tower. YMMV, of course.


That is exactly the focus effect I've talked about.

In my experience, some albums exhibit a fairly narrow sweet spot, and one turn will give it that last little to really match up with the cutting head.

But on many albums, and with many cartridges, looking for this sweet spot is just a disappointment.

If a twist one way or the other offers a reward, it's a nice bonus for the VPI base's other nice features.
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Golear » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:02 pm

I fully agree that the "on the fly" VTA adjust is a fantastic thing which makes VPI arms really stand out. It's the 21st Century, how can we NOT have VTA adjust on the fly - and even via remote control? What are we.... savages?

I don't think the right VTA is only about more/less bass. I feel that "everything is better" at the right VTA. The bass is strong and forceful, the treble is extended and decays beautifully, finer details come through, less distortion. Also, I feel that I get the right perspective into the soundstage. Vocals are more 3D - Tracy Chapman's voice clearly stands out from the echo in the room. It might be reverb but one can hear more separation and less of the primary sound being smeared by the echo/reverb.

I also think one full turn is quite a lot! I dial my VTA to about.... 1/4 turn. I usually start by getting the cartridge level (using my laser method). Then I play Side B, and adjust. With my cartridge, It's usually within a 1/4 turn up or down from there. Once I have it, I flip the LP over to side A, and sit back and enjoy. (This allows the vinyl on Side B to relax before I play it.)

I guess it depends on the arm length. I have a 10" arm.

There might be one way to train your ear.... Apparently, when you're at the correct VTA, the intermodulation distortion is lowest. This is something that can be measured. You'll need a test LP and an oscilloscope, I think. Once you have the right VTA, play a music track on the same LP. If there's no music, there will surely to be a 1 kHz tone. Listen to that, then adjust the VTA higher or lower, and listen again. (I've not done this but a friend said that he would come over one day with his oscilloscope and test LPs. I'll post an update if this happens soon.)
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Re: History of Unipivot w/ VTA tower

Postby Stringreen » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:36 am

I think that a unipivot with 2nd pivot option is a great compromise.
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