VPI Announces "Dual Pivot" Modification For All 3D Printed Arms

VPI just announced a new, easy to accomplish modification for its full line of 3D printed arms that turns the unipivot into a dual pivot design. The modification creates a totally stable arm that fully eliminates "wobble".

The first dual pivot arm I ever encountered was on Judy Spotheim's LaLuce turntable. It was a unipivot design, with the arm sitting on a single point but with a second adjustable point added to the periphery of the main bearing housing. The second pivot glided on a nearly friction-free pad. The design produced horizontal stability and complete freedom from the usual unipivot horizontal "wobble".

Continuum took a somewhat similar approach with its Cobra and Copperhead arms but on those the second pivot rode on a sapphire ring attached to an ABEC7 ball bearing. BASIS also utilizes a dual pivot design. This is VPI's first design that is not a true unipivot.

The modification is relatively easy: a hole is drilled and tapped into the outer area of the cup housing. VPI supplies a pre-cut sheet of a friction-free 3M material that you apply to the platform that holds the main bearing. Simply put: to adjust azimuth all you have to do is screw the point in or out. On the original arm you had to rotate the counterweight, which caused the arm to tilt in one direction or the other.

The downsides there were that you could easily upset the vertical tracking force as you rotated the counterweight and the adjustment was rather coarse. The new design isn't without its adjustment issues, which are similar to those of the Cobra.

You still have to rotate the counterweight to get the arm to tilt in the direction of the second pivot point. The more you angle in that direction the greater the downforce on the second pivot. How far in that direction do you want to go? Enough for the second pivot to ride stably on the pad you've stuck to the platform but not so much that you've affected the downpressure on the main bearing!

No doubt by adding a second pivot you are unloading to some degree the main bearing but if set carefully it should have no negative effect on the arm's sonic or mechanical performance. Though when you're finished, check your vertical tracking force. (It's easy enough to unscrew the point and set azimuth on the unipivot the "old" way to compare performance if you must.)

Once you've got the counterweight rotated to provide sufficient downforce on the secondary pivot, setting azimuth is really easy. I used a Fozgometer and was in business in a few minutes. So much easier than the previous method!

The fully stable arm is certainly esthetically more pleasing and it means greater theoretical stability in the groove. "Theoretical" because the VPI arm's performance always sounded stable once the stylus was safely in the groove (that's true of the Spiral Groove Centroid arm as well, which also wobbles on its way down to the record surface), but it just feels more secure this way.

It sounded great with the previous arm, and it still does now, but using the arm is now that much more pleasant. VPI is still working on the mod's cost, which requires you to return it. Of course you could always order a second arm with the mod so you can run two cartridges and not miss a minute of music. When there's more information as to cost and turnaround time we'll let you know!

kimi imacman's picture

..but was there really an issue beforehand. I've used a Naim Aro Unipivot for many years and sure, it wobbles when handling but not when playing a record. My concern here is there appears to be constant friction on the 'thrust pad' but worse it's open to contaminates and dust unlike the 'hidden' pivot is it not?

HiFiMark's picture

This doesn't seem to address any real problem other than audiophile nervosa.
I have had a Classic Signature with 3D arm and SDS for 8 months now and couldn't be more thrilled with it all. Sheer delight, record after record.
Rather spend the money on jazz vinyl :-)

jiml's picture

Yes I agree. at first I was afraid of my Classic II with uni pivot. I always use the lift arm and have no issues whatsoever. What VPI should do is concentrate on the adjust ability issues for (Azimuth) of the classic II. with bolts loosened it does not adjust smoothly and is almost certain to cause stylus damage or breaking. Because of this I would never adjust the arm up or down while record is playing

tube dog's picture

about an increase in sound quality. On the VPI forum Harry is touting this as the greatest invention since the wheel. What about it?

azmoon's picture

is a virtue, so they say. This is happening in real time - how can you expect a review already. Man....

tube dog's picture

Where is your brain?

azmoon's picture

Thats not a review Einstein.

tube dog's picture

you're going to get out of Mikey. According to that famous seer, sage and soothsayer Alison Krauss: "You say it best when you say nothing at all."

stewart0722's picture

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen......There was nothing wrong
with the previous design and there is absolutely no way on earth that
a pointed bolt planted in some chewed gum is gonna give anyone an increase
in sound quality.......If VPI wants anything beyond a dollar for this upgrade, they
need to face plant themselves onto a fast moving truck......

mraudioguru's picture

...it was going to be around $100 to mod this? Not sure, but that's the rumor.

HiFiMark's picture

It's in there:

"It sounded great with the previous arm, and it still does now, but using the arm is now that much more pleasant."

Seems like a solution in search of a problem.

Mat Weisfeld's picture

Hi all, first I wanted to thank Mikey for putting the extra time in to scope out this modification by dad came up with. This was all unexpected and we were very surprised by the results. First the main question, cost! We are essentially going to charge the cost of shipping and the labor involved to do the modification. I've been a bit pre-disposed with upcoming nuptials so we haven't had a chance to home in the exact factory process and time it will take though I know it will all be reasonable.

Realistically the evolution of this modification happened very recently, fast, and jumped over the new VPI procedures I've put in place for product development. However, Harry put a few of them together, demonstrated the fact there was no longer any potential wobble during use, and was much easier to cue up a track so I had no argument when he wanted to send one over the Mikey before he finished with the Prime. I'll leave the sound discussion to our forum but to me, anything that potentially creates an easier and more enjoyable experience is an innovation in design.

This is solving an existing problem since we have had customers with medical problems making it near impossible for them to properly operate a univpot due to excess shaking. With the "dual pivot" this opens the accessibility to this arm to all users.

Either way, keeping spinning the record and we are all doing it right!

RCZero's picture

Yea, I can see this especially for someone that has a hard time controlling a unipivot arm, perhaps a hand that is a bit shaky. I personally don't have much issue with it, even when cueing up a specific song (one eventually anticipates how much the arm will move left or right as the tonearm lift descends), but this modification would definitely make sense for some people!

I wonder if the dual pivot would impact anti-skate settings at all? I know it is nearly friction-free, but maybe there is just a little bit of resistance there?

As a side note, I am always very thankful for the tonearm lift that VPI has on all their tables. This has definitely saved me a time or two from banging up a stylus when I was butterfingers! And, it's just so nice to use the lift lever at the end of a record instead of trying to grab the tonearm itself. Much less risk with a good tonearm lift installed.

jiml's picture

should not be a problem use the lift that was supplied with your turntable.

Ortofan's picture

... an asymmetrical version of the dual-pivot design used in the higher end tonearms from Origin Live.


Paul's picture

Perfect timing Will the mod be available on future shipping tables?

Paul's picture

Perfect timing for the mod as I'm currently in the market for a new table. I'm sure allot of potential buyers would like to know if this mod will be standard on new Prime tables going forward? I wonder what else VPI have on tap? Keep up the good work and we'll keep spinning.

Mat Weisfeld's picture

Nothing has been set in stone yet because of how recent it all is but more than likely yes. Overall this mod only costs us labor but if it is part of the initial build of the tonearm it gets absorbed into it. The nice part is if anyone isn't convinced or thinks this is too wacky they can easily remove it and toss it. Got my wedding on Saturday, so I figure I should have a solid plan on this moving forward by Monday ;)

Daniel Emerson's picture

Congratulations, Mat!

Assuming shotguns weren't involved, of course... ;)

AnalogJ's picture

I think we all appreciate the inveterate tweakers that you and Harry are.

Fsonicsmith's picture

Why is Mikey's review sample of the Prime sitting in some corner of his basement surrounded by a maze of apparently new copper plumbing? Is Mikey's standard rig so space-consuming that any table other than his beloved Continuum must be relegated to the water heater closet?
As to Harry's comments about sound improvement I have this observation to make; Harry has a marked tendency towards hyperbole and overstatement. He is one of those guys who throws around "you jaw will literally drop" as others say "you will like the difference". I think Harry means well and is a tremendous innovator, never resting with the status quo and always keeping an open mind towards improvement. So I don't mind but I think one has to read between the lines when he posts something. When Harry makes statements about objective principles like anti-skate and alignment and such, he can be trusted because he knows what he is talking about. When he makes subjective statements about sound improvements with tweaks or accessories or for that matter the advantage of circumventing a pre-amp, well you need to judge for yourself.

Anton D's picture

Those copper pipes are for the 'Sine Qua Non Steam Punk Turntable' Mike is reviewing.

It connects to your home's hot water heater and uses steam pressure to float the platter bearing and for rotating the platter. Using steam power for both makes for more coherent sound.

It's also great for a vinyl enthusiast's skin.

Or, come to think of it, maybe those pipes are being used with his cold water supply for cooling his nuclear powered 'Eternal Motion Turntable' by Fukushima Sound Works. The platter spins indefinitely and, with special phono stage, connects directly to any speaker and powers it with up to 480,500 kilowatts of power. (They say it can even adequately power MBL speakers.) It comes with two lead lined listening suits and can power your entire neighborhood when not in use.

Yup, Mike has access to some ultra-ultra gear.

Michael Fremer's picture
The only way I can review for both Stereophile and Analogplanet is to have a third rack (fourth if you count the turntable) located in the room adjacent to my listening room, which happens to be the utility room. The stand in there is a Stillpoints ESS, which costs close to $10,000. I bought one (at a reviewer discount) and believe me it's quite good. Cables run from that rack to my main preamp so it's in the main system. The Prime with the "wobbly" arm produced stable images on a solid stage so I can't say the dual pivot arm was a "revelation". Nothing was revealed. It is just more pleasant and easy to use....and if it sounded better, I didn't have sufficient time to explore. I played a few records, made the switch and played again....
SLS's picture

ask the other "burning question"...

The ultimate (end) review...?

How do (we), the readers,.....How are we suppose to be able to, in any subjective way, begin to correlate MF's review with a ($10,000+ stand), and have any sort of standard in order to make it relevant to our systems?

IE: Now, with the info of a stabilization method for the 3D arm, the note of the "wobbly arm" somehow (now) becomes a reference/reason to make previous reviews obsolete....???

The debate goes forward...

jsh's picture

It seems this new bump will introduce horizontal drag to the tracking.

This reminds me a little of the Basis Vector 4 arm which is effectively a constrained unipivot, and an odd one at that.

Moonshine's picture

I've noticed that about Harry too. Lately everything he does no matter how trivial makes everything sound like master tape (even when it sounded like that before). I think if he put colored masking tape on the outside of the box (not the hardware variety, but special tape that only VPI has)it would make the device inside sound like master tape too.

How is this an innovation when it has been done before by the other manufacturers in Mikey's story?

cpp's picture

I wonder if this self made modification which appears to be VPI approved, hoses up your warranty in the event you need to have work performed on your TT.

Moonshine's picture

I think the bigger story here is that 3M has done the impossible and invented some sort of friction free material. This could replace room temp superconductors for mass transit, the trains gliding effortlessly along on this new wonder...the possibilities are endless!

Mikey- can you give us more details on this new polymer? I searched 3M's website but could not find anything like that. The closest visual match I could find was Kapton tape, but that is soft and viscous, certainly not friction free.

Eskisi's picture

Such a thing of course does not exist.

What is not clear from the review is whether the second support (cannot really call it a pivot) continues to be in contact with the arm or whether it separates at some point once the stylus is in the groove. That would make a lot of sense.

sefischer1's picture

I think you're on to the optimum way to take advantage of this enhancement. Retract the bearing and perform optimum setup as usual. Then extend the bearing point down to the point just before contact is made. This way, when the arm is lifted from the user side (not the spindle side) it will apply a rotation of the arm about the arm tube axis, which is immediately, or nearly so, halted by the bearing contacting the low friction pad. Lower the arm again, or release it, and the contact is just removed again. I don't believe there should be any contact while the arm is playing the record. This gives the original optimum performance while adding the desirable handling characteristics.

Michael Fremer's picture
But very slippery....
azmoon's picture

...always treat customers with respect and always try to do the right thing. I know this first hand. I love how Harry describes new things. And Matt has done a great job since he came on board. Anyway, I just bought a 2nd Classic 3 tonearm and am having fun with the cartridge swapping, etc. I respect the thought Matt expressed about people with shaky hands. We may all get to that point, so right on VPI!

HW's picture

Guys calm down, the arm is more stable, feels good when it is used by persons of all ages, and sounds more focused at all frequencies, but is really better in the low end. I have figured out how to make it a user doable upgrade and it will be very reasonable in cost and no cost when it comes from the factory. Mat and I could hear the difference in seconds on the Everest's and the Blades, voices are more focused, bass is tighter and cleaner, music jumps out of a blacker background it is a good 5% better.

SLS's picture

based upon a culmination of all of your tables that accept the 3D arm? I've had my Classic 3 Sig. SE for around a year now. I just noticed today that when I lift/move this arm w/ my finger under the finger lift, I can feel vibrations from the motor. These vibrations stop when I switch the motor off. On a table like mine w/an on-board motor, would this new feature be (more) likely to transmit even more vibration through the arm?

HW's picture

It is hard to actually put a numerical finger on these things but 5% sounds fair and roughly that much better than the average 3D arm setup.

Contact me at hw@hwsworkshop.com for any warrantee or mechanical issues,


SLS's picture

imply I may have mechanical issues?

SLS's picture

would it not be in your customer's best interest to give more info in this forum as to what may be causing my issue?

HW's picture

VPI has a forum where we discuss with our customers the problems with setup, warrantee issues, and upgrades customers may want. Analog Planet is not it.

SLS's picture

Understood! I found and fixed my problem. (Around 1 year of heavy use = the motor needed some lube) problem solved.

HW's picture

What Michael received is representative of the sound and use of this upgrade, the actual upgrade will include a hard polished surface that sticks to the arm base, a small "C" clamp type outrigger that bolts to the azimuth ring, and an adjustable polished tip set screw. This will be user doable in the house and easy to adjust. And for all those getting there dander up, this is the good old USA, no one makes you do it!!!

AnalogJ's picture

Harry, again, most of us love that you're always moving forward, looking for better and better music reproduction. That many of the improvements can be added to an existing VPI turntable makes them terrific investments, in addition to sounding great at their respective price points.

In any event, mozeltov on the upcoming wedding. Enjoy. You did well.

SLS's picture

this leads me to (still) wonder why, VPI's registered customer base only hears about any new product second hand? Would it not be in their best interest to use that (base) to send out any new product info first???

In this day and time, this seems to be a "given".

SLS's picture

Harry's comment earlier regarding people being too (questioning)... to say the least... well????

This would NOT be an issue if VPI would take control of their own (customer base) info and use it to their advantage!

Don't (WE) deserve that???

(questioning)... I don't think so.

Mat Weisfeld's picture

SLS, the main answer to that question is because myself and my staff have been a bit distracted by me marrying my office manager. This will all be a straight forward easy to use DIY modification and there will be more information coming from VPI within the next week.

SLS's picture

Thank you for what seems to be an honest answer. I can work around my frustration as long as someone acknowledges there "might be a problem".


dcbingaman's picture

So....if a two-legged unipivot, (actually a bi-pivot), sounds the same as a pure unipivot but is more stable, why not just go to a gimbaled two-bearing arm ? In my experience, a gimbaled arm will always have better bass response, because at low frequency, the cartridge can't rotate the arm about the unipivot pin. This is a problem with every unipivot since the Magnatrac, but is much worse with today's low compliance phono cartridges, (I.e, Koetsu, Miyajima, Air Tight, etc.)

Tullman's picture

I realize that we don't have to get this thing, but to say this is DIY is not true for all. I am not willing to make this modification to a $5,000. turntable myself, not to mention having to adjust the tonearm settings. This will cost me money.

anonymous's picture

Saw a 3D tonearm on a VPI Classic with "wobble" eliminated when using two (2) turntable belts instead of the normal one (1).

HarryOOOO's picture

Well I Did the second pivot myself and it is my mind a significant upgrade. The sound as Harry says is more stable the bass is a bit more extended. Now I know everyone is not up for drilling into a $2k arm but I did and the only difference between what Harry describes and my bearing iteration is that I used a set screw with a ruby ball and a heavy polished stainless steel washer. In my mind the uni-pivot arm owes much of its sound to its low friction bearing and the ruby/stainless steel bearing does as little harm as possible to that. I would say a portion of the sound is due to the second pivot allowing the arm to be more stable and the remaining is due to the users ability to set the azimuth more accurately. The mod is a winner it will be well worth installing it does no harm and makes the arm function better i.e. cue and setup. If you go to the forum and look at my post in Harry's (HARRYOOOO)you can see what I did and the beautiful ruby tipped set screws used. Stay tuned I have a very neat device that I just finished that every VPI owner will find extremely useful

GoldenEar5Percenters's picture

I have heard all sorts of complaints about some of their tables. I'm sure some are great but I have no confidence in them. If it does wobble can you hear it in the azimuth? I am very sensitive to changes in the soundstage.

GoldenEar5Percenters's picture

So its not really fair for me to say anything negative. I give every idea a chance if people say it works.

georgeincanada's picture

What exactly are you talking about Michael Fremer? How much of a wobble is there on most good, functional turntables with a counter weight for Tracking Force adjustable tonearm; and ANTI-SKATING adjustment? Also why does VPI not have an anti-skating dial, or device to adjust for anti-skating, by the way? Thank you for your consideration.