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Thread: Linear-tracking Turntables!

  1. #1
    WBF Founding Member/Member Sponsor Johnny Vinyl's Avatar
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    Linear-tracking Turntables!

    It seems to me that these TT's provide the best tracing of a groove (not tracking as that's another issue) possible and I'm somewhat confused as to why they aren't more popular. I am no tech-guru (as you all well know), but on the surface this method seems to be a no-brainer.

    Why aren't more companies producing such tables?
    I love the smell of vinyl in the morning!
    John Adrian Spijkers - "Live Life! Leave A Legacy!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by John72953 View Post
    It seems to me that these TT's provide the best tracing of a groove (not tracking as that's another issue) possible and I'm somewhat confused as to why they aren't more popular. I am no tech-guru (as you all well know), but on the surface this method seems to be a no-brainer.

    Why aren't more companies producing such tables?
    Well, to put it simply, its not easy to do correctly. It took big outfits to do it right, back in the day when technology from Japan primarily was pushing for perfection in playback.

    Now, the cutter head is driven that way but it is a easier implementation than playback.

    You basically have to have sensors to detect the yaw (sideways forces) coming back from the needle that are not music and then move the tonearm assembly with servo motors to stay just ahead of the goove as it spirals toward the center. No easy thing to do unless you can bring serious technical talent to bear electrically and mechanically.

    My TT is linear tracking and still works fine after three decades of use. Yamaha PX-3

    Nice fully automatic deck but still one step below their top of the line unit, which is primarily a bit heavier and slightly better specs.

    Tom

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    Because the arms are “fussier” to set up and maintain than their pivoted brethren. Pivoted arms are almost the analog equivalent of digital’s “look ma, no hands” approach in comparison to linear tracking arms.

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    Member Sponsor puroagave's Avatar
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    if you're talking servo controlled linear tracking arms the Goldmund was the only true high-ender, the Rabco and myriad of mid-fi servo-controlled japanese arms wouldnt hold a candle to good pivoted arm. the vast majority of linear trackers are airbearing, the souther/clearaudio not withstanding.

    some of the greats were the versa dynamics 1.0 & 2.0, rockport, airtangent, kuzma, walker, eminent technology, clearaudio and mapleknoll of those only the rockport, kuzma, walker, clearaudio and ET are still made. I've seen a few new entries like the bergmann, one-offs and obscure low-volume producers from all over.

    Ive owned a VD 1.0 and two tables with the ET II arms in addition to serveral other pivoted arm/'table combinations The VD 1.0 was the best by a wide margin.
    Rob

    "I don't have a crystal ball, but I'm willing to bet one of my arms right now that as long as there's electricity, Ramones music is going to be relevant." - Henry Rollins

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    WBF Founding Member/Member Sponsor Johnny Vinyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Because the arms are “fussier” to set up and maintain than their pivoted brethren. Pivoted arms are almost the analog equivalent of digital’s “look ma, no hands” approach in comparison to linear tracking arms.
    Why are they harder to setup Mark? I've never owned one.
    I love the smell of vinyl in the morning!
    John Adrian Spijkers - "Live Life! Leave A Legacy!"
    AudioQuest - Genesis - Jolida - McIntosh - Nitty Gritty - Nottingham - Ortofon - PS Audio - Rega - Valab/King - Wave Acoustic

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    I didn't want to hurt Tom's feelings and tell him he owned a mid-fi Japanese arm/table, but I guess you let the cat out of the bag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John72953 View Post
    Why are they harder to setup Mark? I've never owned one.
    I can speak of the ET-2 arm since I have owned one since the 1980s. The setup skills required (in my opinion) are significantly higher than a pivoted arm. The table has to be perfectly level and the arm has to be perfectly level, otherwise Gus won't get on the bus. You need to have the room outside of your room to install the air pump(s) or a compressor and the surge tank. You have to have an in-line air filter. You have to keep the bearing and spindle clean or again, Gus won't get on the bus.

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    WBF Founding Member/Member Sponsor Johnny Vinyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    I can speak of the ET-2 arm since I have owned one since the 1980s. The setup skills required (in my opinion) are significantly higher than a pivoted arm. The table has to be perfectly level and the arm has to be perfectly level, otherwise Gus won't get on the bus. You need to have the room outside of your room to install the air pump(s) or a compressor and the surge tank. You have to have an in-line air filter. You have to keep the bearing and spindle clean or again, Gus won't get on the bus.
    Ok. Forgive my ignorance, but can't a Linear Tracker be made without an air-supply? I forget now who it was, but someone bought a Mitsu linear and I didn't see any air supply.
    I love the smell of vinyl in the morning!
    John Adrian Spijkers - "Live Life! Leave A Legacy!"
    AudioQuest - Genesis - Jolida - McIntosh - Nitty Gritty - Nottingham - Ortofon - PS Audio - Rega - Valab/King - Wave Acoustic

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    Sure, any non-air bearing linear tracking arm fits that bill. I just wouldn't own one though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John72953 View Post
    It seems to me that these TT's provide the best tracing of a groove (not tracking as that's another issue) possible and I'm somewhat confused as to why they aren't more popular. I am no tech-guru (as you all well know), but on the surface this method seems to be a no-brainer.

    Why aren't more companies producing such tables?
    i owned the Rockport Sirius III for 8 years; it's generally considered the ultimate implimentation of a linear tracking turntable.

    over time i had a number of tt's and arms sitting next to the Rockport to compare; and eventually it became clear that the linear tracking arm was a limitation when faced with the very very best pivoted arm. up to that point, the Rockport and it's linear tracker repelled all comers in an overall sense.

    and the Rockport was a very expensive tt and arm to produce, and every part of it was engineered and built to the nth degree.

    the question could be posed; if enough resorces were committed could a linear tracking arm surpass the best pivoted arm? my SWAG would be no; that the physics involved ultimately give an arm completely free to wiggle an advantage in ultimate resolution......and any linear tracker has limitations in getting leverage for ultimate bass performance to some degree by whatever arm-shaft interface is used.

    all that said, linear trackers do bring certain wonderful characterisitics to the presentation in terms of scale, image size and stability, which only the very best pivoted arms can achieve.

    the bottom line is that there are lots of people trying to improve pivoted arms so things have moved forward, whereas almost no one is throwing money and time at making better linear trackers.

    now; speaking about vintage linear trackers we have a multitude of issues to throw out. chief among them is that any mechanical linear tracker will crab accross the record however you slice it. it does take quite a bit of refinement just to deal with smooth tracking along the arm shaft. whether it's an air bearing or not. then you have different approaches to air bearings and their trade-offs.

    lots of variables.

    personally i would love for more efforts to happen regarding linear trackers. who knows what might be possible?

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