Which Tonearm should you choose?

People often ask us which tonearm we recommend for a specific deck or cartridge. The following may help you decide.

Counterweight Position and Low Centre of Gravity

A common idea that should be questioned is whether a tonearm counterweight should be positioned as close as possible to the yoke for best performance. This minimises inertia and thus reduces “see / saw” effects over record warps.  A variation of this theme is that low slinging the weight drops the centre of gravity and thus stabilises the arm, reducing bearing chatter and vibrational rocking etc. We will address these two concepts in turn as the principles involved are entirely different.

Cartridge Alignment systems

Optimum cartridge alignment will always be a compromise. There will only be two points (null points) on the record where the cartridge is at a perfect right angle to the groove of the record. Opinion varies as to where these points should lie and there are at least 4 different specifications.

Baerwald, Loefgren A and B, Stevenson

Whichever is chosen means that one portion of the record will sound slightly better than another. Frankly we do not find this a critical area of performance - yes you can hear slight differences depending on which track you play but it's not the exact science that some make it out to be as its not just about geometry. Variable friction and side force all have a part to play, which influences matters somewhat.

For a full explanation on the various alignment systems, Vinyl Engine is excellent - see alignment systems

For historical reasons our alignment gauge uses the Lofgren A system (preferred by the majority) with an inner null point approximation of approx 65mm. If you wish to use a different alignment guage or system then it makes little difference to the arms performance.


Why do Origin Live arms not have the Yoke offset as other arms do?

In theory not having an offset of the Yoke yields slight azimuth errors on warped records - whether this is ever audible is doubtfull. Theory tends to sometimes focus on measuring and calculating what the ear cannot hear and not measuring what it can.

The reason we prefer a non-offset yoke is that it reduces bearing friction by reducing side force on gimball bearings and dual pivots.

Origin Live Warranty

We guarantee all our arms to be free from malfunction due to any fault in manufacture for a period of 2 Years from date of receipt.

Should any problem arise please contact us first and we can give instructions on how to return the arm. If you are posting from outside the EEC then it is important not to put a value of more than £30 on the customs form or we will be incorrectly charged for import duty. There is no other way round this.

What cartridges will match an Origin Live tonearm or turntable?

Despite talk of the need to system match and compliance issues we have found that in practice Origin Live arms work seriously well whatever they are put with. The reasons for this may slay a few sacred cows.

Why not use continuous rewiring cable with no joints in the tonearm?

If a continuous wire is used for a tonearm from the headshell tags to the Phono Stage or Amp, then it needs to be very thin to avoid restricting the freedom of movement of the tonearm. This means it is automatically a non optimal solution as wire characteristics are more influential on signal quality than solder joints.

Silver wire cable in a tonearm rewire?

Please don't be misled by specifications - we've tried PTFE, silver plate, solid silver etc. Getting Silver wire to sound right is not easy and there are many Silver wires that may sound transparent but also tend to be overly bright and incapable of producing low bass.

Silver is an important aspect but only one of many other aspects. On it's own, Silver wire is no guarantee of quality. for example, Silver is only 1.05 times more conductive than copper whereas the Harmony plugs we offer are 4 times as conductive as commonly used brass but nobody asks "what are the phono plugs made of?". The fact is that there are critical elements of cable design that are not talked about and which have 10 times the influence on the sound than say PTFE insulation.


Origin Live Ltd. Unit 5, 362B Spring Road Sholing, Southampton SO19 2PB, UK