VPI JMW 12 Others

JMW 12

User Reviews (1)

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Evan Trent   Audio Enthusiast [May 10, 2000]

Very long arm, low tracking angle, works with a variety of cartridges (mid mass arm), exceptional tracking ability, cool lookin'


Unipivot design means it's scary as hell to use for the first few days... but that's part of what makes it sound so good.

This tonearm is really something. It has received reviews in magazines which praise it as being superior to tangential tonearms. I had trouble believing such a statement but I can certainly understand how it's possible given my experiences with this arm.

This arm comes in both a 10 and 12" model. I have the 12 because it came recommended to me by the dealer from which I purchased my TNT III. The arm is so long it just about hangs over the end of the TNT so it helps to take care when walking by the table or reaching over it... but the extra length of the 12" arm is no doubt one of the reasons it sounds so great.

The arm has a vertical tracking adjustment. For those of who unfamiliar with that setting it basically raises and lowers the arm relative to the tonearm board. What's nice about the JMW is that you can adjust this setting while playing a record. Slick. I have mine set with a Grado Reference such that the arm is roughly 2 degrees less than parallel with the platter. Grado suggests this and claims that the needle will sit in the groove better when the arm is set as such. I agree, it sounds and tracks better like this.

The JMW has no anti-skating mechanism or adjustment. VPI claims the low tracking angle means it doesn't really need one. I'm not sure if I buy that because it appears to me that skating is an inevitable side effect of physics but... I did test the skating using a test LP and the arm sailed through all the tests (ok yes at +18 db there was some humming on the test track but that's a touch much to ask). In any event some people encourage you to coil the tonearm cable such that the arm moves out slightly away from the center of the platter. I haven't tried this but I suppose it could work.

The arm is unipivot in design. It's a bit scary the first few times you try to plop the needle down. The are is very delicate but it can really retrieve an amazing amount of information from a record. Due in large part to its unipivot design you can lift the arm off its base in one foul sweep, unplug the tonearm cable and then pop another arm on in place. Some folks will like this for cartridge swaps I bet.

A variety of cartridges work nicely with this arm, I personally use a Grado Reference but you can use just about anything I imagine...

Most importantly... this arm can track like no other. I am amazed at how tolerant this arm is of warped records and how accurate and compliant it is in general.

I have to attribute a lot of the sonic improvement in my new system (VPI TNT III, JMW 12, Grado Reference, Cary PH301 phono stage) to the JMW. Yes of course the table and cartridge influence the sound tremendously but the arm enables the cartridge to work its magic and the arm and table cooperate nicely in resisting vibration, providing for an exceptionally low noise floor and generating amazing bass and low midrange.

This arm is the perfect companion to a VPI TNT, TNT Jr. or Aries of course, but it is a great arm for all tables. It's a substantial investment, but many feel that it's one of the best arms on the market.


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