Tri-Planar officially came into being when the Wheaton Decoupled Arm was initially introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, 1981. The design of that first arm was the result of years of research and development by Tri-Planar founder, Herb Papier.

In 1999 Tri-Planar was purchased by Herb’s handpicked successor, Tri Mai, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Herb passed away in 2003 at the age of 83, just as Tri was introducing the current incarnation of Tri-Planar, the Mk. VII, which fittingly includes many of Herb’s final thoughts on the design.

The meticulously handcrafted Tri-Planar Ultimate continues to be rated among the world’s best. It is an ultra-precision tonearm offering maximum adjustability and watch-like precision. And, just as Herb Papier had envisioned, the arm’s unique dual-pivot design provides unrivaled tracking, transparency, and resolution.


Tri-Planar U12


  • Carbon fiber wand with coaxial damping  NEW
  • 12″ (308.80mm) effective length  NEW
  • Hand-polished components – rounded for resonance control  NEW
  • Larger silicone-fluid trough  NEW
  • Tonearm rest integrated with damping trough for resonance reduction  NEW
  • Pure silver internal tonearm wiring  NEW
  • Avionic bearings
  • Damped head-shell
  • Clamping yoke design that firmly couples the arm-tube to the bearing tube
  • Bearings with hand-crafted, hardened and polished needle cones
  • Bearings at record height
  • Progressive anti-skating design
  • Sophisticated system of decoupled conterweights
  • Available in black or silver

Technical Specifications

  • Type: Gimbal avionic bearings
  • Effective length: 308.80mm
  • Pivot-to-spindle distance: 295.6mm
  • Overhang: 13.2mm
  • Offset angle: 17.6°
  • Effective mass: 15 gr
  • Bearing offset angle: 17.6°

The new U-12 provides a significant 27% angular error reduction over smaller tonearms.

Tri-Planar mkVII


The unique dual-pivot design of this precision tonearm provides unrivaled tracking, transparency, and resolution.

  • Black or silver finish
  • Damped headshell
  • Annealed-aluminum coaxial damped armtube
  • Clamping yoke design that firmly couples the headshell tube to the bearing tube, making for a single unit yet allowing azimuth rotation of the headshell
  • Silicone-fluid trough tonearm damping
  • Bearings featuring hand-crafted, hardened and polished needle cones
  • Progressive anti-skating design
  • Sophisticated system of decoupled counterweights, allowing proper stylus force for any cartridge without altering effective mass
  • Easy 3-screw installation, with no large VTA hole

Technical Specifications

  • Type: gimbal-bearing tonearm
  • Effective length: 250 mm
  • Pivot-to-spindle distance: 233.5 mm
  • Overhang: 16.5 mm
  • Offset angle: 22°
  • Effective mass: 11 gr
  • Bearing offset angle: 22°

The arm creates a musical sound stage unmatched by any other. It has been described as powerful and dynamic, solid yet expressive, delicate and tactile. The outstanding quality of this arm, commented on time and again, is that it is invisible, lacking the colorations that plague so many of our competitors.

Your choice of wire termination:

5-pin Din connector
10″ RCA box
RCA connector
XLR connector


Counter weight shaft
Mounting hardware
Mounting jig
Allen wrench drivers
Silicon syringe
Alignment template
Ultimate 12
AUDIOPHILIA – Henry Wilkenson – 05 / 2013:   – Read the Review
dagogo – Ray Seda – 02 / 2014:   – Read the Review
stereophile – Brian Damkroger – 06 / 2010:   – Read the Review
soundstage – Marc Mickelson – 09 / 2008:   – Read the Review
TNT audio – Geoff Husband – 04 / 2004:   – Read the Review


As a young man, Herb Papier played trumpet in amateur Big Bands and, later in life, owned a music store. In World War II, he received official recognition from the U.S. Navy for his expertise in chronometer calibration, a skill he continued to hone throughout his civilian career as a watchmaker. Eventually, Herb settled in Wheaton, Maryland, where he combined his talent for fine mechanisms with his love of music by creating one of the best tonearms the world has ever known.

Between 1967 and 1980, Herb experimented with tackling the three major problems of tonearm design — adjustable azimuth, adjustable vertical tracking angle (VTA), and bearing at record height. The arms he produced for he and his friends are generally referred to as Mk. I (picture on the left). By 1981, Herb found a design he liked and premiered the Mk. II (picture on the center) at the Consumer Electronics Show. He later renamed the arm Tri-Planar, a name that reflects the three planes of tonearm geometry.

Still, Herb found room for improvement and continued perfecting his design. In 1983, the Tri-Planar Mk. III (picture on the right) was given International Audio Review’s prestigious Engineering Achievement Award, the first of many such accolades.