Dreams Come True

DSCF1087-01DSCF1065-01Going for vintage tonearms is not an easy decision. There are two camps regarding the disput on the tube and cable wiring following the philosophy to keep everything in its original condition or not! C. from whom I got the only “SpJ Pick Up Arm” of Judith Spotheim which was made of Titanium – also the tonearm tube -,  went with the first one since 15 years. I am doing so too with my old Ortofon arms, but not here today.

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While we do not know where the Dutch Lady who created such fantastic turntable monuments as the SpJ La Luce is living today -maybe in Israel – with the “SpJ Pick Up Arm” Judith Spotheim developed a double pivot design which seems to have been be a little ahead of its time. On the other side it’s appearance may look quite complex but in fact it is not.


As the ravages of time left their tribute to “my SpJ” we had to refurbish it completely. Acoustical System disassembled the SpJ and put all parts 2 times into a heated ultrasonic bath. I additionally did some intensive polishings on the aluminium parts by a steel cleaner. AS once again lubricated the bearings and exchanged the old Cardas tube wiring. Should have been quite a job with all the terrible grease around the wire. A new 40 litz silver wiring AS uses with their Aquilar and Axiom tonearms was put into place.


I had to build up a new bases on one of the three tripod arms of my Caeles table. I wrote here already about the basic principles of isolation and dampening efforts being done with the black aluminium aerogel bases. On top of it I mounted an Alu AW 6082 block of four layers thus improving the anti-vibration efforts again and also enabling taking up the SpJ in a proper and stable way. The cartridge used is an AS Palladian, my absolute favourite at the moment. As this special SpJ is carrying after all a Titanium arm it should be very happy with screws on the headshell which are family 🙂






After careful adjustments of the SpJ Pick Up Arm on the lateral balance, the exact positioning to UNI Din curve by the UNI Din protractor, then setting the proper weight of 1,75 for the Palladian cartridge – I started a test run with the Opus 1 disc adjusting the Azimuth by the second pivot knob at the far right seen from behind the arm. You can do this while the record is playing. It allows a very precise adjusting. I know the concept of two pivots from my Continuum Cobra arm but here you are able to adjust more precisely. We all know the pros and cons of a dual pivoted design which aims to substitute the antiskating device in a better way. Despite of an additional friction area the SpJ’s Side-Thrust Bias controller does not present the arm and the pivot with an added lateral mass, nor does it tie or connect the arm wand to any external fixed point.



fullsizerender-07The Palladian/SpJ  was connected to my Tango SUT (10 Ohm) and via the Kondo KSL phono stage the signal ran to my ARC 40 Anni preamp.

Oh Lord, may I tell you that this is a wonderful sound coming from the combo. The sound is such black, no background noise, Nils Lofgren is playing “Keith Don’t Go” from “Acoustic Live” as he would stay in the room. Unbelievable! Such a warm big sound with great resolution bringing me into movement…what a tonearm! I am pretty sure that the new wiring and the careful refurbishment as well as the installation/ adjustment plays a role too. I am really thrilled…
Maybe one day C. will hear a “new arm” whith some remembrance.

A very happy man went to bed after an exciting day.



11 thoughts on “Dreams Come True

  1. Thanks Halcroman.
    You do understand all the efforts taken to bring up this baby out of its marginal existance.
    I am pretty sure you will listen to it and most properly touch it this year 🙌

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eckart,
    I first learned of Judy Spotheim’s LaLuce turntable and Spj tonearm when reading about it in the 1997 Stereophile. It was an astonishing $16,000 (less arm) and also the personal turntable of George Cardas. I have never seen one other that internet searches, as the initial cost kept production numbers low.

    I am sure that we are all curious to know now if this is the best arm in your system? It looks like a little jewel sitting there with that delicate thin arm tube and headshell (made of titanium of course!). I love all the articulations and fine adjustments. Congratulations on such a wonderful find!

    Halcroman is correct, although jealous my not be strong enough a word. =)



  3. Norman,
    I had the same history with SpJ as you. Her table and arm were one of the exotic designs of the 90ies. I never have listened to a LaLuce table. Wasn’t really fond of the acrylic design but critics were overwhelming, because of the arm? 😆
    Just listening to Rush – 2112, new 3 LP edition. Wow!


  4. Nice arm and the design is ahead of its time. The Continuum Cobra and Copperhead operate in the same principle: unipivot with a secondary bearing to stabilize azimuth movement. The Continuum arms use a “swash-plate” on a ball bearing wrap around the main pivot spike. The Durand Telos is even closer to the SPJ with an outrigger rod sliding a horizontal beam. And the Basis Vector is another version of it with ball bearing. And of course the Graham Phantom uses magnet to follow horizontal movement. I am sure I have missed some other arms doing similar things but all the above mentioned arms put a spin of their own on the good old single point bearing design. I am pleased to see people are putting creativity into stabilizing azimuth movement, the Achilles heel of unipivot. Well done!


  5. Hi,

    I just came upon this post. I’m probably the only other person in the world who owns – and uses – the SpJ tonearm! I edited and printed for Judy the manual that you have. I would very much like to chat with you about the arm.



    • Frank,
      In case you have no special SPJ acrylic disk (I don ´t have one) you may do the following: Play a not heavy modulated passage from a stereo record. Choose a record which is not off-center. Watch the record head on, using a magnifying glass. The cantilever should be dead straight most of the time. If the cartridge moves inward, decrease the antiskating by moving the weight on the threaded rod ( close to the end of the tonearm) towards the counterbalance center. If it deflects to the outer edge of the record increase the antiskating (just into the other direction).
      Beware of dirt under the stylus tip; it can cause the cartridge to drift inward.

      Since cartridge azimuth and antiskating on all pivoted tonearms are interrelated, it is advisable to re-check azimuth fine tuning.

      I do not use the above e-Mail address anymore.



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