Experience With Linear Tracking Turntables

Ever since the advent of the Bang & Olufson linear tracking turntables of the 70's & 80's I have always wondered about their sound, function and longevity.  If you own a linear tracking turntable, I would appreciate your thoughts compared to standard pivot tonearm turntables.

Was looking at the Bergmann Magne Turntable & Tonearm "system".

Would appreciate some first hand experiences.  Do these turntables and associated tonearms function without many issues?  Does the arm track without friction?  And so on.

Your experiences would be appreciated.

Thanks and Happy Listening.
I used to own a VPI TNT 3 table with an ET2 tonearm.  I loved the arm, but wound up selling the TT/Arm combo years ago, and I'm sorry I did.  It could be a pain to set up, but with the right table and patience, it was capable of amazing things.

Bruce is still making and servicing them.  They come up occasionally on the used market for a reasonable price.
While theoretically better, I am not capable of hearing the difference of my carefully aligned pivoted arm and a linear arm. Features are often significantly different.

I had a Pioneer, programmable, stackable drawer type, like this


I have used 3 compact Technics Linear Tracking TT, here’s one


this one is programmable, great fun in the days of making cassettes from specific LP tracks


often the compact size/arm mechanism limits it to the P mount Cartridges. Adapters 1/2"/P mount exist but may not fit.

I lucked into this Vertical Linear TT which has conventional and removable headshell. You can use essentially any cartridge (within compliance guidelines)


A lot of these combine auto drop/auto lift/auto return.

If Direct Drive, verify it is the preferred 'Quartz Locked' version.

Hi, The Bergmann Galder is a very well put together unit. It has vacuum clamping a big plus and uses an air cushion thrust system like the TechDas turntables, also a plus. Unlike the TechDas tables it does not have an adequate isolating suspension. It has a DC motor. I personally prefer AC 3 phase motors and suspended tables. Air bearing arms are virtually frictionless and it is very spooky how they slide along. Unfortunately (here he goes again) they have a very high horizontal effective mass which in my opinion and the opinion of my oscilloscope causes havoc with every cartridge I have seen in such an arm. Air bearing arms are very sensitive to level. They have to be just right or they will favor one direction over the other. If you get the Galder I would put a pivoted arm on it. If you want a tangential tracker by all means get a Schroder LT or if you have money to spare a Reed 5T. Both arms are superior in design to the Bergmann arm and would look very sharp on that turntable. For this kind of money I think your should look at the Dohmann Helix. It has possibly the best suspension of any turntable available today, a great drive system and will soon have vacuum clamping.
I have an early 80's Pioneer PL-L800 that I found in a thrift shop for $15.  It had no cartridge, so they couldn't test it.  I took it home and to be cautious, I installed a simple Ortofon Omega ($36) cartridge.  It plays great and it's one of the best $50 I have ever spent!  Cool design and works perfect. 

Thanks for the responses thus far.  I understand the benefits of a linear tracking tonearm.  From a common sense standpoint coupled with high school geometry, it does make sense.  

But if is such a good thing, then why are there so few linear tracking turntables out there?  Is it merely economics & price points?  Stands to reason that it is more expensive to produce these arms.

There are so few because there are no benefits! Read your question again: 
But if is such a good thing

That is the question: IF! IF it is such a good thing then yes. But is it? Since when? It looks good on paper. That's it!

On paper a pivoted arm is never tracking except at two infinitesimally small points as it moves across the record. If tracking error was such a big deal then everyone would hear it, right? Right? So then there would be comments all over the place from people, "I hate records because the distortion is so high at the beginning, and in the middle, and at the end, and it only sounds good for like a fraction of a second."

So I ask you, where are all those comments? Where are there ANY comments from ANYONE saying ANYTHING about how this bothers them? Not the geometric theory part. The actual hearing part. I'll tell you: NOWHERE! Tangential arms are a solution looking for a problem that does not exist. Except maybe in the minds of people who bought into tangential tracking arms.
I own Mitsubishi LT-30. All 15 kg of it.

Having said that, belt became goo and, maybe, it will be replaced at some point. If I can clean the mess it left there.

As far as simplicity goes, it is not simple. Not just a motor, belt (or no belt), platter, and an inert arm with cartridge. This one also takes a regular headshell.

At this point in history, it is a nice novelty, but I do not see, or have heard, much advantage over an ordinary turntable.

"I lucked into this Vertical Linear TT which has conventional and removable headshell."

In fact, some of the linear tracking turntables were advertised as "it can play upright, too". Technics SL-7 (mentioned above) and SL-10 were that way, too.

Technics SL 7 turntable played vertically - YouTube
I own a Holbo air-bearing table. Linear tracking air-bearing arm, as well as air-bearing platter. An extremely great sounding table, relatively easy setup, and the thing doesn’t look like an oil rig. 

The air pump is extremely quiet in operation, no negatives on that point. Really, I have no negatives to report at all with this table. Every type of turntable has its compromises. 

Probably the biggest thing with this type of table is cleanliness, keep the arm bearing tube as clean as possible. I cover mine after I am done playing it, otherwise, play and enjoy. FWIW
Walker Proscenium, Rockport Sirius, Kuzma Airline, Forsell Air Reference, Air Tangent all represent top tier linear tracking tonearms. I know there are very good pivot arms too, but a good air bearing type linear arm is great. I happen to own the Maplenoll Apollo and Ariadne which are air bearing arms. I would not trade my turntable for any other table. 
I only recently came to appreciate the B&O MI cartridge, MMC1.  It weighs only a few grams, and tracks at 1.0g with very high compliance. On my Dynavector DV505 tonearm with a very light headshell on my Lenco, it sounded divine driving my Beveridge system.  Now on my Triplanar tonearm into my Sound Lab ESL system, it also sounds fantastic.  I purchased the MMC1 NOS several years ago, but it sat in its container for quite a few years before I decided to listen to it, rather than to sell it without having heard it.  Now I rank it among the top 3 or so that I have ever heard in either of my two systems.  So this makes me wonder how this cartridge might sound in one of the original B&O SL tonearms on a B&O turntable.  B&O made quality components but with a nod to interior design of that era, which probably is why they were largely ignored by true audiophile cognoscenti.  Too chic.
Also, I am now very favorably disposed to SoundSmith MI type cartridges, since Ledermann is a big fan of the B&O cartridges and started his business as a repairer of them.
If I recall, the B&O LT turntables moved the arm mechanically by detecting slight changes to the geometry of the arm.  In other words, they used tracking error measurements to correct the position of the arm.  

I remember hearing them back in the day.  I wasn't terribly impressed.  Especially with slightly off center records.

The Mitsubishi LT-20 (or LT-22) linear trackers are excellent. They allow VTA adjustment, and they accept a standard SME headshell. This table with a moving coil micro linear stylus will absolutely wipe the floor with 99.9% of the turntables on the used and new market. 

I owned a couple of the B&O tables with linear tracking arms in the past (3300 and 8002) as well as the Technics SL-10. While I was very happy with all 3 tables, I kept going back to my direct drive tables with pivot tonearms, but like @lewm I came to really appreciate the B&O cartridges of which I have the MMC1 and 2, as well as a Soundsmith Carmen II. Now I use a PTP Audio table with two pivot tonearms mounted on it, and while I am still intrigued with linear tracking options, I don't see the need to revisit them.

I've been using a Walker Proscenium Gold since '96. Everything is still original and works fine. Just pay extreme attention to levelling and the arm will track friction free.

I am a fan of the Mitsubishi LT-30 or Pioneer PL-L1000 variants.  If you find ones that operate correctly. The only issue I have ever seen with the LT-30 is the tiny arm lift belt  inside the tonearm housing.  Pain to get to.  But both arms use a standard removeable headshell.  There are so many others to choose from.  I own many!  One word of caution.  If you are interested in linear tracking because you think they are in anyway superior to pivoted arms.  Stay with pivoted arms.  Linear

tracking arms bring a whole bag of issues with them.  But the fun and cool factors are off the chart!!  


I have two Technics SL-10 Linear Tracking full auto machines. Both track well and always start and stop accurately. 


this mitsubishi is not in good shape, just to see what it looks like



I helped a friend find a near virgin one, helped set it up, align ... It has either manual or semi auto start, finish, return.

Sounds darn good, he loves it.





Had a Panasonic SL-n25 which,came as a package deal with the stand for the rx-c45


didnt use much, borrowed to a friend, never got back, took h im 30 years to admit he ran in his brothers room, and “CRUNCH/CRACK”


I miss it, 

Thought I would update you all on my original post from March 2021.

I invested in a Bergmann Galder Air Bearing Turntable with an Odin Liner Tracking Tone Arm.  Simply an amazing turntable and arm.  So black, so quiet.  I put a Sumiko Palo Santos Cartridge. The speed is Amazing and Constant. 33.33 to 33.34 rpms consistently.  45 RPM is the same.

This is an amazing machine.  It sounds amazing.  The soundstage, space and nuances are unbelievable.  Even my high school LPs and other cheap pressings from the 80’s are sounding sweet.

I’m sold.  I don’t know about any of the others mentioned above, but the Bergmann is hard to beat.  I did see a SOTA at Axpona that looked good, but didn’t get a change to listen to it.

This Bergmann is not a solution is search of a problem.  Only the initiated would say such a thing.  I find it hard to imagine any turntable in its price range sounding better.  Maybe a $500K Tech Das.  I find it difficult to believe, though, that is could sound better than the Galder.  

Need to decide what my next cartridge will be.  That will be a tough decision.

"I invested in a Bergmann Galder Air Bearing Turntable with an Odin Liner Tracking Tone Arm.  Simply an amazing turntable and arm."

I've heard one with a couple of my best pressings. Lucky you.


Need to decide what my next cartridge will be.  That will be a tough decision

Lyra, Audio Technica ART1000 or upper end Soundsmith would be on my short list.


@pgaulke60 - enjoy your new table and arm. I’ve been running a linear tracking arm (Kuzma Airline) since around 2006-7. The arm itself is pretty bulletproof-- I’ve had issues with compressor oil leaking and eventually switched to an oilless compressor which is noisier, but I have it installed in a custom silencer box in another room.

There is something special about a good table with a linear arm. I don’t know your table/arm--I’m kind of out of it on the latest and greatest-- but I found that there is less sense of a turntable spinning (I use a very high mass table with the arm) and what I call the "halo" effect of the sound of the disc spinning.

Levelling is pretty critical but it isn’t that difficult. I wound up buying a big MinusK isolation table, not so much to "improve" sound, but to avoid footfalls in an old Victorian era house.

Cartridges- I know that there are people very devoted to the sound of one brand or another- Lyra, Van den Hul, etc. I’ve been through quite a few hi-line cartridges and found that the cartridge that gave me what my system needed-- more tonality and gravitas in the lower octaves, was a Koetsu stone. It seems to really like the linear arm- maybe because it is not a high compliance cartridge. This could be very system dependent. That is, I’m not necessarily recommending a Koetsu cartridge, but that change (from an Airtight Supreme), the isolation platform and the addition of more subwoofers (which I DSP’d) ameliorated the biggest weakness of my system- the discontinuity between the horn mid and tweets and the conventional integrated woofers.

It is so hard to trial this stuff. And given the price of high end cartridges today, it’s a commitment. I’m not sure I’d recommend any particular cartridge other than to make a few observations:

the lower compliance cartridges seem to work better in the linear arms- they do have high horizontal mass even though the theory is they are frictionless if set up properly;

What is the voicing you want? I had great mids with the Avantgarde horns -comparable to my old Quad ESL system (still running since around 1973 with updates, fresh glass, etc.) but far more dynamic, and anemic bass- tune the bass to have some punch and the coherence was lost. Tune them to blend- anemic. The combo of Koetsu, plus DSP’d additional subs and the isolation platform brought this system up several notches. Is it perfect? Of course not. My goal isn't perfection- it is to play back regular older vinyl records (I'm a buff for early '70s post bop jazz, which is not exactly a high point for vinyl in the States) in a way that sounds real. 

The best option, short of buying a bunch of expensive cartridges, is to see if you can hear them via comparisons on another system. I know that won’t tell you what a given cartridge will sound like in your system but ....

in visiting the lovely, knowledgeable and funny Albert Porter a few weeks ago, we compared his Airtight Opus and a Koetsu Blue Lace on the same table with two identical arms (Kuzma 4 Pt. 14"- aka John Holmes edition). The Airtight was more linear sounding and neutral, the Koetsu added something-- more "wood’ on the sticks.

I know the objective is always supposed to be neutral but I have yet to hear a system that is truly neutral. And I’ve heard a lot of good systems over the years. You can always hear the man behind the curtain. So, take your time on the cartridge. I listened to a crazy expensive system here in Austin a few years ago with kilobuck cartridges mounted on three identical arms. One of the cartridges was an Audio Technica that retailed for less than $500. and it did not suck.

Enjoy~ and apologies for the length of this comment.

@lewm interesting ur experience with a B and O cartridge. I understand from

speaking to the Classic HiFi writer at Hi News Tim Jarman that the cartridges were designed to be in the linear tracking B&O turntables and turntables. As such the styli was very small and it was properly thought out as a whole system. I have a 4002 awaiting a rebuild. B&O have some incredible designers who apply their art and knowledge more for a luxury than audiophile market but dismiss their savour faire at your peril. Their top end speakers that manipulate sound around a room are exceptionally clever and sound pretty good too. 
@mijostyn speaks about the problem with lateral compliance which I’m sure is right as it makes sense - but it puzzles me that Kuzma released a silly money arm which is unusually heavy and apparently it throws the whole compliance thing out of the window - that being said the weight (being a pivoted arm) has the weight in all directions.

@lohanimal , you have to be very careful about things making "sense." Just because they make sense does not mean they are right. The whole climate hoax is a perfect example. The best thing to do is delineate the proven facts and go from there. You can also look at what the "experts" prefer but in many instances they are being paid to prefer whatever. That is where us plain folks who never get paid for anything come in. I can use and buy any tonearm currently on the market. I could spend $100,000 on a tonearm if that particular arm blew everything else away. I just spent that much on a RAM TRX because Ford pissed me off. They wanted to charge me a $25,000 market adjustment on an FN pickup truck. You will never catch me even looking at an airbearing tangential tracker for all the reasons I have previously elucidated. Mass is mass. Compliance is compliance. The two interact in very specific ways. These are irrefutable facts. People who argue otherwise are just like those who think they can change their sex. There are XX's and there are XY's. You can't change sex, you can only corrupt it. The doctors who take peoples money promising they can are evil bastards. I just had one such person commit suicide. Please pardon me for venting. I guess it is a fragile moment. 

So now we know that Mijostyn is wrong on lateral trackers and on climate. At least consider my argument for higher effective mass in the horizontal plane vs in the vertical plane. Low bass frequencies require horizontal motion of the stylus tip, which is to say that as frequency goes up, the motion of the stylus tip necessary to produce them goes from horizontal to vertical. Then where is the benefit associated with equalizing horizontal and vertical effective mass? Instead, one can argue that horizontal effective mass ought to be greater than vertical effective mass so as to prevent the tail (the stylus tip) from wagging the dog (the pivot) which would waste potential bass energy. You want the lateral resonant frequency to be lower than the vertical resonant frequency (the one we all talk about and calculate based on vertical compliance and etc.) That is what you get if lateral effective mass is greater than vertical effective mass. There is no special danger in that arrangement as the events likely to trigger very low frequency resonance are all most likely to perturb the vertical motion of the cantilever (footfalls, trucks, warps, etc), where the resonant frequency will be higher to protect against those events. I have no data to prove my thesis, nor does Mijostyn have data to prove his. Among audio engineers, there are both opinions. I urge you to at least think about it.


@mijostyn speaks about the problem with lateral compliance which I’m sure is right as it makes sense - but it puzzles me that Kuzma released a silly money arm which is unusually heavy and apparently it throws the whole compliance thing out of the window -

I'm not a fan of super heavy arms, but I can tell you that I ran a high compliance Shure V15vxmr in a linear tracker ( Eminent Technology ET2 modded ) for 10 years with the stabiliser brush removed and without changing the stylus for those 10 years.

I sold the Shure for the full original price after 10 years use - the cantilever was still dead straight and stylus wear negligible.

I've seen more bent cantilevers from incorrect anti skate than I have ever seen on Linear trackers properly set up.

Not all Linear trackers are as heavy as claimed by some - the ET2 has a lower horizontal effective mass than the FR's, Dynavector and many others highly regarded arms of today.

@mijostyn and @dover 

I get the mass is mass - likewise I also get the issue with reviewers - many a culprit there - too many to mention - a lot of Emperors New Clothes.

The Derrenger (at least i think that's the name) does a very sophisticated 'active' lateral movement - that makes sense.

The old B and O has a hybrid mechanical lateral insofar as it pivots and upon getting to a point shuffles along actively. remember - it had a very light arm and was properly thought out - in fact i liked thee engineering approach of thinking out of the box - shame there is no affordable modern alternative that can be fitted to other decks.