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Positive Feedback ISSUE 10
october/november 2003


expressimo audio

Heavy Weight

as reviewed by Robert H. Levi and Dave Clark


weight.jpg (28088 bytes)





Avalon Eidolons and REL Stadium III subwoofer.

Marantz 17 tuner, Pass XONO and E.A.R. 324 phono preamplifier, E.A.R. 890 amplifier, Pass X1 preamplifier, Pass X600 monoblocks, and an Adcom 750 preamplifier for secondary sources.

VPI Scout/JMW 9 tonearm, VPI SDS Controller, and Benz Ruby2 H cartridge. Sony SCD-1 SACD player, Theta Gen. 5a DAC, Theta Jade transport, Alesis Masterlink, Theta Data II DAC, Marantz DV8400.

Kimber Select balanced, Kimber TAK phono AG, Kimber Hero balanced and single ended, Kimber KCAG/KCTG. Soundstrings Interconnects and speaker cables, and AC power cords.

Power Wing line conditioning,
Tice Power Block, Kimber Palladian power cables, Tara RSC and Decade power cables, Tiff power cables, Tice power cables, Tice Clock, and Audio Prism Quiet Line IIs.


one.jpg (6551 bytes)Just purchased a VPI Scout and VPI 9 arm? Me too. You love it, don’t you? Me too. Want to hear your valuable LP collection sound about 50% better for a 5% investment? I’m way ahead of you—I’ve installed the Heavy Weight on the VPI 9 arm and am living the dream. This is the first tweak for a VPI 9 that I’ve seen, and it works.

The Heavy Weight, designed originally for Rega arms, was recently redesigned for the VPI 10.5 tonearm. I may be the first on the planet to try it on the VPI 9. The stock counterweight rode way toward the back of the arm to balance my Benz Ruby 2. The larger, beautifully machined Heavy Weight rides just behind the fulcrum pivot, by about an eighth of an inch… perfect. The effective mass of the arm is reduced if any weight is moved closer to the center. By turning the Heavy Weight, you can adjust azimuth. I just centered it, set the tracking force, and tightened the setscrew with the provided tool.

duke.jpg (9704 bytes)In this unipivot design, the result was absolutely dramatic. Pace, weight, air, and tonality improved immediately. Musical colors were bolder and more realistic. The air around instruments increased, as did imaging and texturing. I tried new and vintage vinyl and marveled at the improvements. Blues in Orbit by Duke Ellington (Classic Records CS8241), stunned everyone who heard it. The Scout combo sounded like $10,000, not $1600, with the Heavy Weight! All softness around the edges of the musical notes vanished. Air around the horns increased markedly. The vividness of the instruments was enhanced and more realistic. Tracking, never a problem, appeared to improve. What a splendid tweak!

I recommend the Heavy Weight for the Scout setup, and you should try it on your 10.5, too. Revise, please! DO NOT BUY a Scout with a VPI 9 arm unless you purchase a Heavy Weight along with it. This is the most cost-effective tweak I’ve seen in the last forty years, and the best tweak so far in the 21st Century! Robert H. Levi

weight2.jpg (28392 bytes)
In all its basic, though disassembled parts
no assembly is required!





Reimer Speaker Systems Tetons (with the Hi-Vi Isodynamic Planar tweeters and series crossovers).

Clayton Audio M100 monoblock amplifiers. E.A.R. 834P phono stage. Blue Circle BC3000 preamplifier w/Tunsgram tubes and BCG3.1 power supply.

Cary 306/200 CD player or Sony 777ES SACD/CD player. Transrotor 25/25/60 Leonardo turntable with a Shelter 901 MC cartridge. Sony RCD-W1 and Magnum Dynalab MD-90 tuner. Sennheiser HD540 headphones and Audio Alchemy headphone amplifier.

JPS Superconductor+, Audio Magic Clairvoyant, or Silver Sonic Revelation interconnects, and JPS NC or Audio Magic Clairvoyant speaker cables. Sahuaro Slipstream XP (digital), Elrod EPS2 (preamp), Blue Circle BC63 (phonostage), and JPS Kaptovator AC cables (amps and Stealths).

Two Audio Magic Stealth Power Purifiers (one for analog, except BC3000 preamp, and a Digital unit for the digital sources), Blue Circle BC86 Noise Hound (amplifier circuit) and Audio Prism QuietLines (throughout the house). Dedicated 20 (amps) and 15 (everything else) AC circuits. Tons of Shakti Stones and On-Lines and Original Cable Jackets (frig's AC and on DSL phone line). Various Marigo VTS Dots used extensively throughout the system and room (window behind listening seat). Echo Buster acoustical treatments and Shakti Hallographs. BDR cones and board, Blue Circle Cones, DH Jumbo cones, Vibrapods, Mondo racks and stands, and Townshend Audio 2D (speakers) and 3D Seismic Sinks (CD player and preamp). Walker Audio Ultimate High Definition Links. Various hard woods placed here and there along with numerous Peter Belt treatments.


two.jpg (6646 bytes)Recently upgrading my Clearaudio Virtuous Wood MM cartridge to the Shelter 901 MC resulted in some serious thinking on my part. The Shelter is one heavy cartridge compared to the Clearaudio (9.1 grams compared to 4.5), meaning that to get the arm (a modified Rega RB250 from Transrotor) to balance just right, the counterweight ended up at the far end of the arm tube. Problem is, you want to keep the counterweight as close as possible to the pivot point so the cantilever sees a greater degree of control. If the weight is too far back, the result is loose and wooly bass with an overall loss of coherence. What to do? Expressimo Audio came to the rescue, in the form of their Heavy Weight.

weight3.jpg (31316 bytes)
The older Transrotor weight.

Removing the threaded insert to substitute the requisite HeX-Treme End Stub for the Heavy Weight was not an easy task, and resulted in the standard Transrotor threaded insert being thoroughly trashed. A word of advice: Remove the arm from the table before trying to back out the insert, or you may tweak the arm. Once removed from the table, grab a pair of vice grips and go at it. A little elbow grease is needed, and out it comes. On the other hand if destroying the threads is not what you are after (not that you would want to go back to the older unit anyhow, esepcially after hearing the Heavy Weight.) try two nuts snugged up against each other to back the insert out.

The supplied stub from Expressimo Audio is a work of genius. It easily inserts into the arm, allowing plenty of space to move the Heavy Weight to the desired balance point. Since the Heavy Weight is, well, heavy, it ends up rather close to the pivot point, meaning that the cantilever is masterfully controlled as it tracks the grooves in your cherished LPs. If, in your setup, you find the Weight too heavy, there is a large (10 grams) stainless set screw on the bottom that can be removed to lower its mass. In my case it worked fine as supplied, but if your cartridge is not quite as heavy, this is an excellent option.

weight4.jpg (36706 bytes)
With the new Heavy Weight and Insert.

lasweell.jpg (17347 bytes)So what was the sonic result with the Heavy Weight? Bass is much cleaner, with considerably more slam, definition, texture, etc. Heck if doesn’t go deeper, too. On some Bill Laswell cuts (check out Book of Exit, Dub Vol. 3), the floor was literally vibrating in sync with his dub-bass stylings. Before, the floor would just rumble, but now I can actually feel the notes. The entire musical presentation is cleaned up, revealing greater pace and coherence. The results are simply mind-blowing. I thought that my turntable setup was good before, but the Expressimo Heavy Weight elevates it to a whole ‘nother level. Talk about control and getting the information out of the grooves! This is a no-brainer.

Anyone who has a Rega-type arm has not heard what it can really do. I know that some Rega arms come with an interpretation of the Heavy Weight, so you may already be getting similar results. I also don’t want to start a war with the other manufactures of like products by suggesting that Sal at Expressimo came up with the idea first, though he is adamant that he was the originator way back in 1998 (and has a patent to boot)—so who am I to say otherwise—and that the others are possibly poor knockoffs (hey they do look it!), but I do know that Sal has refined the original Heavy Weight, adding a level of damping by means of two O-rings running around its circumference. I can only surmise that the damping of arm resonances is of benefit, and this, along with the option of removing the threaded insert to make the Heavy Weight a touch lighter, is really cool. I can’t say whether the Heavy Weight when compared to any of the others on the market is a better deal as I have not heard or tried them, but this Heavy Weight is recommended as all get out. Dave Clark

Heavy Weight
Retail: $99.95

HeX-Treme End Stub
Retails: $37.95

Expressimo Machining
TEL: 707. 445. 4660
email address:
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