TERMINATOR tonearm (Pt 4) – new arm mount

We all know that the small things matter in hi-fi.  Especially at the front end of the audio system – eg. the pickup cartridge and tonearm.

The Trans-Fi Terminator tonearm is constructed with a 6mm aluminium ‘L’ Mounting Plate.  It’s machined shape and necessary slotted holes, no doubt reduce its structural and torsional rigidity.

Would there be energy loss?

In my real job, I think a lot about structural  and construction matters, so I’ve been wondering for a while about this tonearm support.

I’ve been thinking that it could be beneficial to provide as much support surface as possible underneath the Terminator’s Mounting Plate.

The whole tonearm assembly is typically fixed onto the turntable on a tonearm ‘board’ or on a column/pillar.  The standard mounting column is a Delrin (acetal) or sometimes an acrylic round pillar, 36mm diameter – however it does not support the entire bottom surface of the Mounting Plate.

Does this matter?


Terminator mounting plate


Delrin pillar (on a Trans-Fi Salvation turntable).

Below is the Trans-Fi Salvation turntable outline showing the experimental new Arm Mount base (shaded), to fit the Salvation’s curved slate plinth below and the irregular shape of the terminator Mounting Plate on top.




The Salvation Turntable’s slate plinth.

Armblock 2b

This was the initial concept for the new Arm Mount base.


The final engineering model – shown inverted and attached to a ‘fixture’ base ready for CNC milling.

My instinctive preference was to make this new Arm Mount base from hardwood.  However it is more practical to make accurate prototypes first in aluminium, when using a CNC mill in an engineering workshop.

I was fortunate to have access to some engineering assistance:


Raw aluminium material for the fixture base and for the new Arm Mount base.


Initial facing of the aluminium.


Firstly, the ‘fixture’ base is machined, complete with fixing bolt holes and a datum hole for the irregular shaped Arm Mount part.


2 x M6 threaded holes for the tonearm mounting screws and an M8 counter-bore recessed hole for bolt-fixing through the turntable slate plinth.


Because of the complex final shape, a Ruby probe is used to reference positioning from the datum hole.


The finished part (inverted), with smooth contoured ‘shoulder’ to support the tonearm base.



Bead-blasting surface treatment was done as an experiment.

However, this part is quite heavy (430gm) and I was concerned about the added eccentric loading on the Salvation’s magnetic-levitation feet.  So we decided to return to the workshop to remove some metal from the underside of the block.


After the ‘pocketing’ operation.


(Final weight 350gms.)


New Arm Mount and the original Delrin Arm Pillar (both 45mm height).


Main mounting bolt – new M8 stainless steel hex socket bolt with original Trans-Fi spacing washer.


New Arm Mount base installed on the Salvation turntable.


Mounting Plate fixing – 2 x M6 stainless steel hex head cap screws.

The sound:

I really was unsure if all this work would have any effect on the sound of an air-bearing / pivot-point bearing tonearm. (Note, nylon pivot-points were installed last September.)

However, I was shocked.  Such was the dramatic impact, that my first thought was to change the material to wood instead of aluminium.

This is a significant change.  Sound jumps out of the loudspeakers and initially seems to be more ‘forward’.

On 105dB/W horn speakers, this is confronting.  I immediately tape-marked the floor & moved my listening chair backwards.

Then, you notice stronger deep bass.  Substantially increased bass ‘punch’ and impact.  More power and energy throughout, more ‘attack’ – eg. pizzicatos & ‘plucks’, but especially bass frequencies.

There is a ‘fatter’ tone and ‘body’ to instruments and voice, more orchestral ‘density’.  Orchestral power and dynamic range is at an increased level. (I became concerned about the loudspeaker drivers!)

More energy seems to be preserved or generated from the grooves.

The upper range also, seems more ‘brilliant’, more detailed, there is more ‘sustain’ and decay.

I am noticing more front-to-back separation, depth and a larger scale ‘sound picture’.

After adjusting to the initial surprise, I am now liking the sound – a lot.  The listening chair has returned to it’s normal position.


Update 5 Oct 2018:

We have developed a new, shorter, 27mm height arm mount, for Terminator tonearms installed on non-Trans Fi Salvation turntables.

These are straight-sided but again ‘pocketed’ underneath to minimise weight for suspended turntables (approximately 213 grams) and bead-blast finished.


2 x M6 x 16mm SS cap screws (+ washers) are supplied, together with a M10 x100mm bolt/nut/washers if required.



45mm height arm mount compared to  the new 27mm height arm mount



52 thoughts on “TERMINATOR tonearm (Pt 4) – new arm mount

  1. Having owned the same tt/arm for three years or so I commend you in your pursuit. Being about ready to add some tweaks myself I wonder if you have run this by Vic as to making this available.

    • Hi tomturnerdds – thanks for looking in & I trust you are enjoying the Salvation + Terminator combo. Happy to advise with anything – if I can.

      I haven’t yet had a chance to discuss this one with Vic but will do so soon.
      With the CNC machining, the hard computer work is done so multiple copies can be executed relatively easily. However, this part is quite complex & my engineer advises that a small batch of 2 or 3 would be most efficient.
      Cheers, Owen

      • I’m the proud owner of Salvation/Terminator in UK, and would be v interested in this upgrade.
        How do we go about this?

  2. I have a different kind of plinth and I made my arm base of brass, it´s 7 cm tall and 9 cm wide and very heavy. Nails the sound. Highly recommended up-grade. Cheers, Hente

  3. Owen,
    I have used the Transfi arm for about 5 years and Salvation TT for about 3 years and have enjoyed emmensely. I have added all Vic’s upgrades, mag bearing and feet and nylon points. I am also interested in your mounting base. I have an earlier version of the arm that has a square base instead of the cut out around the platter. I do not think it will make a difference but worth mentioning. I also live in the US
    Steve Gunther

  4. I too would be interested and I also live in the US. I have a TransFi arm sitting around waiting to be installed on a project.

  5. Hi Owen,
    just read your article and would be interested in getting one to fit my TransFi arm fitted to a Notts Analogue spacedeck. Great work.

  6. Hello Owen,

    I too would be interested when you put a small batch together. I have an earlier incarnation of the Salvation but the plinth is exactly the same so your arm mount base should work.
    I’m in the US as well.


    • Hi Alan – thanks for visiting.
      It looks like we may have enough interest for a small batch of 3 or 4.
      That would make the machining economical, bearing in mind also postage.
      I can email to discuss in more detail.

      Cheers, Owen

  7. Pingback: Ultrasonic record cleaning Pt 1 | D a r k L a n t e r n

  8. Hello Owen,

    Great post. I acquired my salvation and terminator last year. I am also interested in the first batch.
    I am in hong kong.


  9. Hi Alfred – thanks for the interest.

    It looks like we may proceed with a batch of 3 or 4pcs.
    Firstly we must confirm correct fit.
    I will email check dimensions etc.

    Cheers, Owen

  10. Very elegant pillar. You’re oviously happy with the set up, and I wonder about sound differences between your plynth material and (say) hardwood?

    • Hi John,
      Apologies about delay responding.
      Yes hardwood could be a good option, but the machining lends it self to metal material & the availability & many varieties of wood would demand some experimentation. Additionally this version has stood up to auditioning to date.

      Also awaiting some feedback from others too, before finally deciding.
      Cheers, Owen

      • Owen, can you add me to the list?
        Salvation/Terminator owner.
        May I ask what is Vic’s opinion on yr idea?

  11. Pingback: Terminator – Linear Tracking tonearm (Pt I) | D a r k L a n t e r n

  12. Hi Marc – yes & thanks for your message.
    To all who have expressed interest to date – my apologies for delay in getting this underway – there have been quite a number of variations dimensionally with tonearms on the Salvation & with Terminators on other TTs.
    So I have been gathering info from everyone, so that we can see if we can run a batch of identically dimensioned arm mounts, in order to avoid additional costs with the CNC machine work.
    My son (who arranges the engineering work) has also been away on work in USA (CA & IN) recently.
    I will also be out of town myself soon for a fortnight but I will update everyone soon.
    Thanks for your patience.

  13. I’m late to this party, but count me in! Vic just finished my arm, and will be shipping it Monday, the 6th of November. I’m on the west coast of the U.S., and will be putting the Terminator on a VPI HW-19. Is this project still a “go”? Thanks—Eric.

    • Hi Eric – good timing!
      A batch of arm mounts has been machined & finished. However, some delay in packaging for shipping them last week due to urgent family matters. I will email to you pics, the latest information & costs, to consider.
      Also some Qs about your arm-board, arm-mount base, bolt length, etc… to ensure that you have good fit & fixing.
      Thanks for dropping by this page – Owen

      • Great, thanks Owen. The arm board on my VPI is 1/2″ thick, but I don’t know anything about the arm-mount base that is coming with my Transformer. Every pic of the arm seems to have a different one! I can provide more details when the arm arrives. Vic makes each one to order, to the specs provided by the purchaser on the order form, correct? I didn’t see—what did the price of your mount end up being? Thanks—Eric.

  14. Owen, the distance between my arm mounting board and the top surface of my table’s platter is 44mm, if that’s a spec you need—Eric.

  15. After 3 weeks of sheer Hell on bedding in changes, not just Owen’s remarkable arm mount, but also the Terminator nylon unipivot points, bespoke psus to Salvation motor and Straingauge cartridge energiser, new Symposium isolation pad under Salvation motor pod, and Klei Silver Harmony RCA plugs to Terminator tonearm wire, I’m finally getting a sound that’s not only excellent, but taking Vic’s Salvation/Terminator (w Soundsmith Straingauge cartridge) to absolutely stratospheric heights.
    Owen is to be commended for such a good job w the arm mount.

  16. I was also fortunate to get one of Owen’s arm mounts and it has indeed brought Vic’s Salvation/Terminator to another level. These type of upgrades from fellow audiophiles make this hobby all the better. Thank you Owen.
    Steve Gunther

    • Howdy Steve – thanks for the feedback, great news! That’s gratifying for us.
      Yes, the small things matter in this game & the Vic’s Terminator just keeps on giving.
      A pic or 2 please (email) would be lovely, when you are ready.

      PS – we’ve made a lower height, straight-sided variation of the mount now, for regular non-Salvation TTs – will post an update soon. Cheers, Owen.

  17. Marc
    I saw your post regarding symposium pads under salvation motor. I got three but can’t find a good way to get them under motor. I put one on top and it helped with vibration. So how did you get them under?
    Steve Gunther

    • Steve, I replaced the sorbothane/neoprene pad under the rim drive pod with the Symposium.
      Just a case of ordering exact thickness, 9mm, and big enough to allow whole rim pod to sit fully on it.

  18. 100 hours plus of burn in to new psus to Salvation motor and Straingauge cart, cart energiser itself, and opening up of effects of Owen’s fantastic Terminator arm mount, upgraded nylon unipivot points, new RCA plugs to tonearm wire, and Symposium Svelte pad under rim drive motor pod.
    After a VERY testing first 6 weeks, the last month has been by far the best analog at home, and an absolute step up from stock Salvation/Terminator I bought from Vic in 2012, and beyond my initial upgrades of mag lev feet, mag bearing, Reso Mat, and Terminator armwand impvts (esp re counterweight).
    I can’t praise Owen enough for the arm mount, and if he’s ok w the idea, I’ll post the email address of my U.K. contact who designed my bespoke Salvation motor psu.

    • Hi again Marc – thanks for feedback, pleased to hear that analogue playback is giving satisfaction again. Happy to hear about your PSU designer – I’d like to know about how it works in principle, myself. Cheers.

  19. The psu is purely a beefed up version of the stock psu Vic supplies. It doesn’t replace the speed controller that sits under the tt. From what I gather it uses a very high quality transformer and oversized chokes.
    Peter Downs the designer can be contacted at:

  20. Any way to get in one of these still? I’ll be getting one if Vic’s tonearms soon, and will need to have a complete outboard tonearm pod.

    • Hi Henri – no problem, we have had a 2nd batch made & have some available.
      Some Qs:
      1) The Terminator will be on a separate pod but what TT is being used (just out of interest)?
      2) Will Vic be supplying you with a mounting pillar & if so, do you know what height?
      3) What will be the height of the top of the tonearm pod top, below the platter top?

      Please let me know that latter in particular & I will confirm cost incl postage by email.
      (We have 2 height options, to suit different TTs.)
      Cheers, Owen

      • Hi,

        The table is a plinthless Technics SP10 MK2.

        No mounting pillar from Vic.

        I’m not sure as to the height of the pod yet, as I’m not sure what I’ll be using as footers yet for the table. But the pod will be short enough to allow for adjustments of height with feet.

      • Hi Tom – nice to hear again, we’ve done a 2nd batch & have some ‘stock’.
        I still have your yahoo.com email so will get back to you in detail.
        Price is still US$130-140 (will need to check exch rate) + postage.
        Cheers, Owen

    • Hi Henri – I have an SP10 mk2 myself here.
      The Terminator mount will need to be very close to the edge of the SP10 rectangular base. I will check dimensions on my own SP10 & confirm soon.
      Cheers, Owen

    • You will see an SP10 on Vic’s client’s page here – http://www.trans-fi.com/clientscorner.htm
      The arm & mount (& your arm pod) will need to be v close to the SP10 rectang. base. Your pod will probably need to be straight-sided (on that side at least) – is that how you see it?
      I think we can modify our 27mm Terminator mount with a straight LHS to suit – will email you a drawing.
      The mount will allow you to have ample VTA adjustment – what cartridge likely to be used?
      Cheers, Owen

      • Yes, in my mind I pictured it as being straight on the side that faces the turntable.

        Not sure which cartridge yet, but thinking it will be a Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC.

        Thank you.

  21. Pingback: London Decca cartridge | D a r k L a n t e r n

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s