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  • The Wheaton Tri-Planar

    Through a series of recent trades I ended up with one. In all my years i've been in the hobby I never owned a Tri-Planar, its been at the back of my mind for the longest time. There was a running joke in some circles that the more shit you took off the 'arm the better it sounded. It always looked a little kludgy to me but since acquiring it and grasping one for the first time, I must say it all makes sense and is a well-thought-out tonearm. Anyways, its going on an Oracle Delphi MkV 'table (also a recent acquisition). My Tri-Planar was definitely built when Herb was at the helm, updated along the way by Tri Mai (somewhere between a Mk V and VII), in fact its going back to Tri for some adjustments and tweaks.

    anecdotes from current and previous Tri-planar owners is welcome, what carts did you use and where does the Tri-Planar stand in pantheon of arms you've owned/used? Until I get the Versa Dynamics up and running the Oracle/Tri-Planar will be my primary vinyl spinner for the time being.
    TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | Boulder | Magico

    "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

  • #2
    I had a new VII for a little while, on a Kuzma Reference. (Not the big XL, but the black "conventional" one that has a multi-layer plinth and self-isolates). I think I was using the Lyra Titan i at the time, hell I may have even tried my old Parnassus on it before I turned it in for magnet value- not sure that was the best match, but the arm was pretty easy to manage, well built. I think it is a conservative arm in the sense that it may not hit the button on all things, but my impression-- limited since I only owned that set up for a few months (maybe even less), was that there was nothing it did "wrong." I could see it on a table like the Oracle. Not sure what the best cartridge type is for it- it seems like it is a bit kludgy, compared to the Graham, but it has endured (as has the Oracle, for that matter, which i think is still one of the nicest looking tables ever made).

    Comment


    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      Bill, did you go straight from the Tr-planar to the kuzma airline and how different were they? i agree the Delphi is a looker.

    • Bill Hart
      Bill Hart commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep, I bought the Reference and Triplanar from an authorized dealer new. I wasn't particularly happy w/ the dealer, though I got the arm set up through the ministrations of Mike Trei.(I hadn't done one in a long while). Not long after I bought that rig, and got the Titan i by trading in my Parnassus (remember when Lyra was making a deal- they were offering to buy back the fancy magnets in the Parnassus to build the Olympus, I think it was?). Shortly after that, the same dealer called and offered me the XL and Airline in a swap. (I don't remember if there was additional cash involved). I did the deal, his guy dropped off what looked like a pallet's worth of boxes- the XL, the Airline and the Sil-Aire compressor in multiple boxes. I got Scot Markwell involved to help me, he in turn introduced me to Bill Parish. At the time, I had purchased the big Finite Elemente stand, but it didn't effectively isolate on my springy floor, so Bill P helped me, not only set up the table (i had done an OK job, but had no experience with that table and arm either) and we used the big old prayer table that the thing still sits on.
      The difference, once the XL was well isolated- dramatic- deep, bottomless bass (despite the neutral character of the linear v a pivoted arm) and a deadly quiet surrounding playback - what I call an - aura- of hearing a record playing was simply absent. The XL was also punchier, but that changed when I switched out the factory weight some years later for the Stillpoints LP 1.
      In the interval since, I've gotten very good at working on the XL/Airline/and associated gear. Not that it needs much. Most of the issues come from the air compressor- and that's where I got help from the Silentaire folks based in Houston- they are terrific, as is Franc, the maestro of Slovenia.

  • #3
    I have a current one, though at the moment it is not mounted. Great arm. It served my Orpheus well through its lifespan.

    And yes, some owners advocate removing the dampening trough if not used. I believe the manual describes how.

    There is a long running thread on Audiogon entitled Triplanar Tips; started by Doug Deacon. Worth a read for new owners. Of course there have been changes over the years so some of the tips no longer apply.

    Comment


    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      Tim, thanks for the link that thread is new to me.

  • #4
    I used to own this arm. It's very good. I did take off the damping trough (just 2 screws) and liked what I heard. Also experimented with taking off the anti skate mechanism, that wasn't as quick to been a benefit or detriment. I used a Lyra Skala and Atlas, along with a Allaerts MC2 Finish for cartridges. All were great.
    Speakers: Rockport Lyra
    Amps: Nagra HD Pre Amp & HD Amps
    Cables: Transparent Magnum Opus speaker and interconnects
    Power Transparent Opus Power Cords & Opus Isolators
    Digital dCS Vivaldi full stack w/ Transparent Reference XL Digital cables
    Phono: Grand Prix Monaco 2.0 TT, Spiral Groove Centroid, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Nagra Classic Phono & PSU
    Racks: Grand Prix Audio Silverstone F1 (x4)

    Comment


    • Rob
      Rob commented
      Editing a comment
      Now you have the Centroid, did that happen after the tri-planar and what struck you as the main sonic differences?

  • #5
    It did happen after the Tri Planar. Transparency, Resolution, and imaging improvements. They are both good. I loved the Tri Planar for how simple it was to tweak this or that. The Centroid has all the adjustments but usually takes a allen key for most everything (like VTA). On the Tri Planar I was religious about changing VTA for different record thicknesses, on the Centroid I just listen... go figure
    Speakers: Rockport Lyra
    Amps: Nagra HD Pre Amp & HD Amps
    Cables: Transparent Magnum Opus speaker and interconnects
    Power Transparent Opus Power Cords & Opus Isolators
    Digital dCS Vivaldi full stack w/ Transparent Reference XL Digital cables
    Phono: Grand Prix Monaco 2.0 TT, Spiral Groove Centroid, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Nagra Classic Phono & PSU
    Racks: Grand Prix Audio Silverstone F1 (x4)

    Comment


    • #6
      JFrech-You have a very nice system!
      Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

      Comment


      • #7
        Originally posted by Rob View Post
        Through a series of recent trades I ended up with one. In all my years i've been in the hobby I never owned a Tri-Planar, its been at the back of my mind for the longest time. There was a running joke in some circles that the more shit you took off the 'arm the better it sounded. It always looked a little kludgy to me but since acquiring it and grasping one for the first time, I must say it all makes sense and is a well-thought-out tonearm. Anyways, its going on an Oracle Delphi MkV 'table (also a recent acquisition). My Tri-Planar was definitely built when Herb was at the helm, updated along the way by Tri Mai (somewhere between a Mk V and VII), in fact its going back to Tri for some adjustments and tweaks.

        anecdotes from current and previous Tri-planar owners is welcome, what carts did you use and where does the Tri-Planar stand in pantheon of arms you've owned/used? Until I get the Versa Dynamics up and running the Oracle/Tri-Planar will be my primary vinyl spinner for the time being.
        I've always respected the arm but never owned one either. Herb was ahead of his time with the arm. And his arm inspired other tonearm manufacturers too like Harry Weisfeld. Especially the concept of two "columns" with the pivot on the separate piece. That reportedly played a big part in the arm's low end performance.
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
        -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
        -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
        -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

        Comment


        • #8
          The Triplanar is IMO the one of the very best if not the best arm made. It has the best bearings made- and if a new player were to try to get the same bearings they would have to get a security clearance, as the bearings are only made by one company and there is nothing on the commercial market that is as hard. Herb figured out a long time ago that most arm bearings eventually fail and to solve that he got the hardest bearings made. Triplanar got grandfathered in on that one after the security clearance became a requirement. They got investigated by the Department of Homeland Security because they were using more of the bearings than Boeing Aerospace. The result of this is when you make an adjustment on the arm its stays that way for years if not decades. If you have ever wondered why an arm can go out of adjustment the condition of the bearings is a reason why!

          The trackability of the arm and its adjustability, along with an armtube that does not resonate (editorialize) is otherwise what sets this arm apart. You have some ability to adjust the effective mass so a pretty wide range of cartridges can be accommodated. What I have found in working with this arm is that the ability of the arm to really get the cartridge to track correctly is far more important than what cartridge you actually use! (This is assuming that you also have the other parameters of input loading for unstable phono preamps or cartridge loading in the case of MM cartridges also sorted out.)

          What I find interesting is that the arm is capable of keeping the tracking error (due to its being a radial tracking arm) lower than many straight tracking arms on the market today. This is because many straight tracking arms have a lateral tracking mass much higher than the vertical tracking mass; when that is the case the tracking error of such arms is described by the the stylus cantilever itself as it advances the arm across the LP. The high lateral tracking mass means that the stylus cantilever is being constantly bent side to side by the mass of the arm, which takes the stylus out of tangential alignment.

          The Triplanar also has its bearings in the same plane as the LP surface. This works to keep tracking pressures constant with warp or bass modulation. Arms that have the bearings in the same plane as the arm tube have variable tracking pressure. Think about two people carrying a couch up a flight of stairs - the guy on the bottom is carrying more weight while on flat ground they both carry the same weight. This happens in tone arms where the bearing is in a plane different from that of the LP surface.

          There are three other variables that affect the experience of a tone arm. They are speed stability, the rigidity of the plinth and the ability of the platter pad to absorb vibration from the LP without editorializing. These variables can be profound enough that consistent results might become impossible. So its important to keep them in mind!

          Speed stability often is not heard as a pitch variation but can be heard as a shimmer in the sound stage. People who have heard analog tape know what I'm talking about. If speed stability is present, skating forces are no longer variable so tracking pressures on the stereo groove stay constant. This causes the image to be rock solid.

          A rigid plinth is one where the platter surface is intimately coupled to the base of the arm and ultimately to the cartridge body. For this to happen there can be no bearing slop of any sort in the arm and this is one of the things at which the Triplanar excels. But to realize all the benefit of this the plinth has to be rigid enough such that any vibration in the platter bearing mount is exactly in the same plane as that of the base of the arm. In this way the arm and platter will have the same motion and thus it cannot be transduced as a coloration. Otherwise any differences between the two will be transduced (IOW will create a coloration).

          The platter pad has to have the same durameter as the vinyl itself so any vibration of the vinyl (caused by the tracking of the stylus) is absorbed by the platter pad and no frequency reflected back to the vinyl. Yet at the same time the platter pad has to have damping characteristics so the absorbed energy is converted to something else (a slight amount of heat), without being too soft or too hard. Too soft and the platter can depress beneath the vinyl (which itself depresses as the stylus tracks the surface); too hard and too much energy will be reflected back to the LP (usually higher frequencies- many platter pads that are too hard also sound bright).

          Sorry for the diatribe but there is a lot of myth out there and sometimes it needs some explanation.

          Comment


          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks Ralph. A lot to ruminate upon.

            Just my impression. I often heard speed stability represented as the size of the soundstage.

          • 1morerecord2clean
            1morerecord2clean commented
            Editing a comment
            Ralph, Tri, and I have had several long conversations at RMAF about the TriP. I have the newest version for 8 years and I have found that with the right mat, platform, rack, and cartridge set up it is a great sounding arm. Like all things analog set and forget will get you mediocre sound. The usual complaint I hear is that there's too much "lettuce" hanging from the arm meaning adjustment knobs getting in the way for good sound. Maybe they are partially correct. Don't know.

        • #9
          atmasphere Thanks for the detailed analysis of Triplanar design. Anybody in these parts made direct comparisons in terms of *sound* between the Triplanar(s) and a garden-variety VPI 10.5i tonearm? I guess in a way this is asking about listening differences between decent unipivot like the VPI versus top flight conventional-bearing tonearms such the Triplanar et al. Just trying to figure out what I'm missing by keeping that elite tonearm cash in my pocket . . .

          Lyra Kleos SL, Dynavector XX-2MKII, VPI JMW 10.5i, VPI Aries, VPI SDS, ModWright PH-150 Reference Phono, Sony HAP-Z1ES server, McIntosh MR80, McIntosh C2300, McIntosh MC352, Vandersteen 5A, PS Audio P10, Bright Star Audio Rack of Gibraltar. Cables: Shunyata Cobra Ztron IC, PS Audio Statement AC, Synergistic Research AC, Harmonic Tech Silver Phono, Cable Research Labs Silver IC, Audioquest Gibraltar bi-wire.

          Comment


          • #10
            Originally posted by Goheelz View Post
            atmasphere Thanks for the detailed analysis of Triplanar design. Anybody in these parts made direct comparisons in terms of *sound* between the Triplanar(s) and a garden-variety VPI 10.5i tonearm? I guess in a way this is asking about listening differences between decent unipivot like the VPI versus top flight conventional-bearing tonearms such the Triplanar et al. Just trying to figure out what I'm missing by keeping that elite tonearm cash in my pocket . . .
            Well it's not a fair comparison but my Triplanar and VPI arms were in two different zip codes!!! Also two different TT and cartridges, as I said not really fair... I can tell you this I would never go back!!!

            Comment


            • #11
              I've been using a Triplanar for over 15 years, starting with the IV and then upgrading it to a VII. Currently using a Lyra Etna which works very well - sounds great. In all these years, I haven't felt the need to try anything else. I second the Triplanar tips article on A'gon referenced above as it's filled with many helpful hints.

              Comment


              • #12
                Originally posted by Goheelz View Post
                atmasphere Thanks for the detailed analysis of Triplanar design. Anybody in these parts made direct comparisons in terms of *sound* between the Triplanar(s) and a garden-variety VPI 10.5i tonearm? I guess in a way this is asking about listening differences between decent unipivot like the VPI versus top flight conventional-bearing tonearms such the Triplanar et al. Just trying to figure out what I'm missing by keeping that elite tonearm cash in my pocket . . .
                What an 'elite' tonearm brings to the table: no hint of strain in any LP passage. The least amount of wear on the LP. The most impact on the bottom end. Because of proper tracking, less surface noise (although the choice of phono section can affect the perception of surface noise quite dramatically). The best return on your cartridge investment dollar. Carefree playback day in and day out- no worries that the arm might have gone out of adjustment.



                Comment


                • #13
                  Originally posted by atmasphere View Post

                  What an 'elite' tonearm brings to the table: no hint of strain in any LP passage. The least amount of wear on the LP. The most impact on the bottom end. Because of proper tracking, less surface noise (although the choice of phono section can affect the perception of surface noise quite dramatically). The best return on your cartridge investment dollar. Carefree playback day in and day out- no worries that the arm might have gone out of adjustment.


                  Me thinks that's true of any high-end component from speakers to electronics to turntables. The ability to maintain linearity regardless of volume and dynamics.

                  I think I raised the subject of whether tonearms are the forgotten step sister to tables and cartridges in another thread. Face it. Arms just aren't as sexy. But you are answering the question I raised in that earlier thread. That is whether one is better off installing a good cartridge in a great arm or vice versa. Of course, much will also depend on the design on the cartridge and how much energy is puts back into the arm. So that's one of the big reasons for going with a better arm eg. freedom from resonances.
                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                  -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                  -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                  -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                  -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                  -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                  -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                  -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                  -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                  -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                    Me thinks that's true of any high-end component from speakers to electronics to turntables. The ability to maintain linearity regardless of volume and dynamics.

                    I think I raised the subject of whether tonearms are the forgotten step sister to tables and cartridges in another thread. Face it. Arms just aren't as sexy. But you are answering the question I raised in that earlier thread. That is whether one is better off installing a good cartridge in a great arm or vice versa. Of course, much will also depend on the design on the cartridge and how much energy is puts back into the arm. So that's one of the big reasons for going with a better arm eg. freedom from resonances.
                    I beginning to think so. With this new Thales Simplicity II , my TW Raven , Atlas and tube phono stage have never sounded so good. I am just imagining how much better the Thales/Atlas would sound on a AF1 or similar?

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                      Me thinks that's true of any high-end component from speakers to electronics to turntables. The ability to maintain linearity regardless of volume and dynamics.

                      I think I raised the subject of whether tonearms are the forgotten step sister to tables and cartridges in another thread. Face it. Arms just aren't as sexy. But you are answering the question I raised in that earlier thread. That is whether one is better off installing a good cartridge in a great arm or vice versa. Of course, much will also depend on the design on the cartridge and how much energy is puts back into the arm. So that's one of the big reasons for going with a better arm eg. freedom from resonances.
                      There's a complete madman--who I dig--goes under the moniker of "Syntax" on Audiogon. We have corresponded periodically over the years. Syn (I'm not using his real name here, though some may be familiar with him) has had an embarrassingly rich assortment of top arms including vintage and first tier cartridges in his system over the years. He is strongly of the view that the better the arm, the more latitude one has to use a "lesser" cartridge. (I think this issue came up in the thread talking about that 32k dollar arm you tried, Myles, sorry I forget the brand).
                      The problem is, there is no practical or easy way to compare arms without having them long term and swapping out the arms and cartridges--also not something that is amenable to a quick A/B comparison.
                      Tone arms not sexy? I guess we have different perspectives! One of the things that people visiting my room are inevitably drawn to is the table/arm set up, perhaps because it is unconventional looking. I have one friend who could care less about purist hi-fi but is a fanatic about vintage racing cars, and knows good machining and finely crafted metal parts. He is always fascinated by the turntable/tonearm.

                      Comment


                      • MylesBAstor
                        MylesBAstor commented
                        Editing a comment
                        There have been on rare occasion instances where a cartridge manufacturer would lend a second cartridge so didn't have to swap. And with some of today's tables equipped to handle multiple arms, reviewing is made that much simpler. Actually I was for instance debating borrowing Harry Weisfeld's A95 so would have two cartridges to review two arms. Of course, do I know the two cartridges are identical? Are any two identical? But it was the best solution I could come up with.
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