Linear tracking tonearms.....

I have been using Clearaudio TT2 linear tracking tonearm couple of months(on a clearaudio tt). I may clearly say that, it is better in every way then Kuzma 4point. I am aware that tt2 is 10k, 4point 6-7k, also it is possible to mention both clearaudio synergy, but outcome is same linear tracking tonearm is better, at least in my situation. Maybe it differs in others systems.

Now i have a empty armboard waiting on my turntable. I am toying with the idea a to buy a tonearm, and i am thinking to buy a linear tracking one but i had no experience with another. Which linear tracking tonearms worth to consider ? I really like to share your opinions.
From what I know of them, I would take the Trans-fi Terminator Pro vs the Clearaudio, any day. The engineering appears to be superior. However, I've never heard either, so take my opinion with a large dose of salt. However, for sure the Trans-fi is about one-fifth the cost, if you must have a tangential linear tracker. For cost no object, I too am fascinated by the Schroeder LT, which is still less costly than the Clearaudio TT2. So that's 2 votes for the LT.
For me, the best Tonearm proved to be Trans-fi Terminator.
When I bought a couple years ago, I was very upset because I could not adjust it to have no distortion. But now I do not think I have any-time need another tonearm.
Now this tonearm gets along fantastic with Dynavector XX2 MKII.
The Kuzma Airline is very reliable, has no Design problems and is sonically much better than the 4P.
Let me second Lewm re the Trans Fi Audio Terminator T3Pro. I've been running it for over a year now, and compared to my previous SME V, it's better in EVERY respect, esp. lack of tracking artifacts, speed and transparency. Would NEVER go back to standard pivoted.
No experience of other LTs.
look at the kuzma airline. i also use a TT2, on the same table with the kuzma. the mechanics of the clearaudio make it more noisy than the kuzma. both great arms. i use an insider ref on the TT2 and a dyna XV1t on the kuzma. i tried swapping carts on the arms and the insider sounded awful on the kuzma.
the TT2 need a cart with very low compliance, where the kuzma isn't as critical of that. so your choice of carts should influence which arm you buy.
There's no question that a LT's ability to reduce tracking angle distortion to near zero produces superior sound, provided of course that all other things are held equal. The problem, of course, is that all other things are NEVER equal.

To take one example (borrowing from Syntax), I haven't heard the Kuzma 4P but the Airline was sonically bested by a Durand Talea (which is not a LT) in a comparison I attended a few years ago. We used Ortofon A90 and ZYX UNIverse, trying both cartridges on each arm. All five attendees agreed that the Talea reproduced dynamic and complex music significantly better than the Airline. The advantages of the Airline's lower tracking angle error were swamped by the Talea's greater clarity, micro-dynamics and lower sound floor.

In in a complex system like vinyl replay, focusing on one parameter while ignoring others can impair overall performance. What one wants is the benefit of LT without the mechanical complexities of air bearings, servo mechanisms and other contraptions. All of these, perhaps inevitably, raise an arm's noise floor and sound floor, impairing its ability to get out of the way of the music.

I've no doubt that Syntax is correct that the 4P is bested by the Airline. The 4P is also a complex assortment of contraptions. It probably has a higher noise and sound floor like the Airline (compared to the quietest arms) but without the benefit of LT.

This is - obviously - a long-winded, back-door vote for the brilliant concept behind Frank Schroeder's LT. I've not heard one, but it appears to address the above issues rather neatly. Frank's top tier arms have always had a superbly low sound floor (while being a bit soft on dynamics). His solution to the LT function doesn't seem likely to raise the sound floor by much, while its captured bearings should provide superior dynamics vs. his "string" bearing arms... the Schroeder LT may be the best arm I've never heard. ;-)
@ Secretguy, lol.

Or how about my HK/Rabco ST-8? It still runs great and the LT mechanism works as flawlessly as it ever did (wink).

Of course the signal path is noisy as hell, but hey...
Thanks for all the answers. Every tonearm mentioned will be searched extensively.

Lastly has anyone got an experience with bergmann magne tonearm ?
Corby, I am interested in your comment that the TT2 needed a cartridge with a very low compliance. Unless the TT2 is a complete re-design by Clearaudio, my mental image of it is as an update of the old Souther design, which used the shortest possible arm wand, almost a headshell hooked directly to the linear track. That would have very low effective mass, so I wonder why low compliance is an advantage. Perhaps because the mechanism of the tonearm puts some stress on the cantilever, as the cartridge body moves laterally??? I guess I need to Google that tonearm.

The current series of Clearaudio linear tonearms are NOT Souther design anymore. They are copied from the Opus3 Cantus tonearm using two rollers inside a glass tube so there's no need for bearings for the vertical movement. It's a simpler design than the Souther. The Clearaudio version seems to be higher mass than the original Cantus or maybe the ball bearings stick or dirty tube causing the lack of smoothness in horizontal movement.

Hiho, I forgot about the Cantus. Not bad looking. That glass tube looks like it has the potential to resonate allot. Especially since it is cantilevered out of the base, with no support on the other end. Some of the air bearing arms look like they have the same possible design issue.
Another design point in favor of the Trans-fi. (Once again I hasten to add that I have not auditioned any LT in my system.)

Hiho, I did Google the TT2. To the uninitiated (i.e., me) it could still be confused as a modification on the Souther, but I am sure you are correct that it is not. But possibly there is some kinship between Souther and Canthus. Anyway, you seem to concur that low compliance is an advantage in order to overcome some frictional issue.

I have nothing against Trans-Fi but I just personally prefer NOT to use any air-pump in audio and I'm sure I am not alone in this thinking. The Cantus and Clearaudio products provide alternatives to the air-bearing genre for people like me. I am glad the Schröder LT added one more option... if I can ever afford one. The Cantus is very reasonably priced -- from what I know, below 1000 clams -- and very diy-able.

I will fourth the recommendation of the TransFi arm. I have used it for about 4 years, first on Michell Gyro table and 2 years ago went to the Transfi Salvation. I am currently using the Ortofon PW cartridge. Both the Transfi arm and Salvation table sound fantastic and are one of the best deals in the industry.
I'll be the fifth on the Trans-Fi T3Pro and agree whole heartedly with Steve. I've had my Trans-Fi Salvation and T3Pro for quite some time and both are the real deal. The T3Pro is surprisingly simple and easy to work with, not finicky at all. The reasonable price allowed me to go all out with a Soundsmith Hyperion II from Peter and I'm extremely satisfied with this combination. I recently installed the magnetic bearing upgrade on the Salvation, so will look forward to what improvements that may bring as well.
If only these linear tracking arms looked beautiful on a turntable.....?
The Schroeder LT however......yum :-)
lewm, the TT2 does put a mechanical lateral stress on the cantilever. i have tried carts at extreme ends of the compliance spectrum. the stiffer cart tracks consistently. i had a VDH colibri XGP, which has a compliance int the 30's if i remember correctly. the cantilever was being skewed so much that it scared the crap out of me. i thought it was going to snap off. i ust the clearaudio insider ref on it now. there's little to no lateral movement of the cantilever. a koetsue rosewood signature performed similarly.
the lateral transport tube is noisy. i have it wrapped in blue-tac. i will be replacing the bearings with teflon bearings in the next few months. the resonation comes from the metal bearings moving the quartz tube. seems to be an obvious design flaw to me.
As someone who is very fortunate to have had the Schroeder LT arm in my system now for about 7 weeks, I can attest to its elegantly simple good looks. But more importantly, it has worked flawlessly since I have had it and its sonic performance is as advertised.

Doug, you are quite correct about the dynamics with the Schroeder LT arm - they are explosive and the arm has startling good bass punch and impact.

I've got a Thales Simplicity, a parallel tracker not a linear tracker. It tracks brilliantly, much better than my Kuzma Stogi Refence, itself no mean tracker, with fantastic dynamics, great soundstage and a very low noise floor. No inner groove distortion. Advantages are same as linear trackers but with a conventional 9" arm footprint and no need for pumps. Quite simple to set up too.

No sign of the strange experiences Fremer had on what much have been a damaged Simplicity in his Stereophile review.

Thanks for confirming my supposition. It seemed self-evident from the differences between Schroeder's traditional bearing and the bearings on the LT, but an ears-on report is always best.

Another advantage is that with the old bearing, arm height would vary slightly as the arm arced across the record. This in turn affected VTA, VTF and overhang. That won't happen on the LT.

Tms, I'm about to go for the Salvation magnetic bearing upgrade. What'r you're impressions?

Unfortunately I only had a very brief listen as I'm in the process of moving, so all my gear is packed up for a while. I definitely liked what I heard, maintaining the strengths of the Salvation (great bass, dynamic impact, black background), and building further upon those.

I'll have more impressions once I'm settled in the my new room, probably sometime later in the spring. It's a very simple upgrade to do and is reversible if you choose to go back.

I only live 70 miles from Vic, so I'll get the upgrade done at his place. Good to hear it's initially positive.
Amazing, Salvation tt/Terminator are the greatest bang for buck in analog/audio. And now, even more so.
Tms, I know you're busy with your move, but when things settle down, can you please post your thoughts on the magnetic bearing for the Salvation on my dedicated thread "Trans Fi Audio Salvation Direct Rim Drive Turntable". The thread has gone quiet of late, and I can't be seen to be the only one contributing to it, LOL!
Btw, I believe there is a brand new platter for the Salvation (check out the "Art Of Sound" forum, "Analogue Art" board, "Salvation Upgrades").
Does anyone know how changes in SRA/VTA effect overhang with the Schroeder LT arm? Overhang should be zero with linear tracking tonearms because they precisely trace the LP radius to the spindle. (I think the Schroeder traces many different radii toward the spindle, always maintaining tangency).

But changes in SRA/VTA effects overhang on pivoting arms and if the linear arms have no way to adjust overhang, then if it changes, the stylus would be tracing a line parallel to the LP radius but offset slightly which should produce tracking distortion.

I ask because I do not fully understand the mechanics of linear tracking arms.

Overhang has little to do with SRA/VTA. Linear arm can adjust overhang/underhang to zero too.

Peterayer, awhile back I queried AA on this point w/r to my Trans-Fi linear arm. Bottom line is that with a linear arm small shifts off zenith are audible at degrees of error that are well below a conventional pivot arm across the arc of an LP.

In this thread John Elison posts graphic representations of errors induced by minute variations off perfect zenith. Any good linear arm should allow readjustment of overhang after a change in VTA.
Peter, Most linear tracking arms I've seen have slotted head shells. So they can be adjusted to compensate mis-alignment by other adjustments, like VTA, and VTF. Most have a protractor with a straight line (instead of an arc), with lines that are 90 degrees off the main line to line up the cantilever (zenith).

One exception is the Thales Simplicity. With the design of the Simplicity you would have to take the head shell off, to align it, in it's jig. This is not ideal because you can not align the stylus with a load on the suspension. Since we know that different VTF will change the alignment (overhang), there is no way to know for sure if it's perfect or not.

As said above, if the alignment is off on a linear tracker the zenith will be off a little all the way across the record. Not sure how audible that is but I will look at Dgarretson's link about that.

Even though the Thales Simplicity is a pivoting tangential tracker with its own idiosyncrasy, you can still align it using traditional methods. You can use a typical paper template or protractor to confirm alignment. Since there's no overhang and supposed to be tangent, then wherever the stylus on the template the cantilever should be 90 degree pointing to the spindle. Typical template has two points on the arc, inner groove and outer groove. Draw additional lines on the template to confirm you have more than just two points are tangent.

You can draw your own template: find the effective length (Thales published a nondescript "9 inch") which should be the distance between the left armwand's headshell pivot to armbase pivot, and draw an arc from base pivot to spindle and draw multiple lines intersect with the arc and then draw perpendicular lines double distance all the way back to the Thales triangle. Voila, you have yourself a template you can use to confirm alignment. This way, you don't have to blindly follow the headshell alignment jig.

Bottom line is to have the cantilever always perpendicular (90°) to the radius or pointing to the spindle. In a traditional pivot arm, you only have two tangent points but the Simplicity is tangent on every point.

See GIF so you get an idea.

Hiho, that's true. You still have to take the head shell off to make an adjustment, because you can't get to the cartridge screws with it on the arm. That's allot more awkward, and will take much more time to dial in.
The ET2.5 or latest generation or Kuzma airline offer some of the best of the separate linear trackers that you can buy outright. I have only experience with the Maplenoll (ET2 are similar) arms and have been very pleased. I have not experience the cantilever deflection stated earlier but my custom design mods have significantly lowered the mass of the original arm, I ran a UNIverse for 5 years before i dropped it (argghh) with no ill effects. I have been highly interested in the Kuzma but just can't seeing dropping 5000 grand on an arm when i have one that really suits my table well. I really dont have experience with the high end pivot arms so i cannot make a fair comparison. But the Linear arms are easy to set up and consistently perform well for me
I agree, my Air Tangent is easy to set up and consistently performs well for me. I've never understood those who think they are hard to set up. I personally find pivoting arms much more of a challenge to set up and get them just right.
Ditto Trans-Fi Terminator. I have three pivot arms in the drawer(MS-505, EPA-100, Kenwood L07D), but given the steller performance and ease of set-up of Terminator, there is scant motivation to tinker.
Peter--on the linear arms, vta will effect vtf and overhang. Small adjustments I don't recalibrate overhang. I don't have a lot of real thin records so don't have to adjust much but if I listen too a lot of the thin ones, I do adjust overhand as my vta changes a lot. My arm is real easy to adjust vta and overhang. Vtf is a little harder.
Peter -- on the linear arms, vta will effect vtf and overhang.

This is true for every tonearm (linear or pivoted) except for one - the older ET 2.0, and the current ET 2.5. The reason is the ET tonearm has been designed to optimize the VTA/SRA tracking angle of the cartridge.

To get a picture of the physics involved, imagine a table with a piece of paper on top. Place you hand sideways and holding a pencil marker with your first three fingers lower the marker onto the paper so it makes a mark. Note your hands inner position. Now place a book on the table, Place your hand on top of the book this time and repeat the exercise with the pencil marker. You will see that coming down from a higher point places the overhang closer to your hand. If you could weigh both attempts the vtf in the first - lower try would be heavier.

The ET 2.0 and 2.5 have a worm gear mechanism utilizing a cylinder. As you raise and lower the VTA the whole air bearing spindle moves up and down along the true center line over an accurate path to maintain position. Only the position of the stylus tip with respect to its position in the groove changes. Bruce Thigpen has this mechanism patented.

Oilman - your Maplenoll tonearm is very similar to the ET 1 as Bruce Thigpen used to be the project engineer there before he formed Eminent Technology.
Its an interesting history.

can be read here

03-02-15: Dgarretson
Ditto Trans-Fi Terminator. I have three pivot arms in the drawer(MS-505, EPA-100, Kenwood L07D), but given the steller performance and ease of set-up of Terminator, there is scant motivation to tinker.

I don't recall seeing your comparo of them DG ?

Analog stuff keeps going up in price. Digital keeps coming down. Leave them in the drawer. They will be probably be worth the same if not more next year this time.

I did not realize this about the et-2 arms. The maplenoll arm, though similar to the ET, are not quite as advanced or elegant
I am very familiar with the maplenoll arms and thigpen contribution having 3 different versions of the maplenolls. The original ariadne and ariadne signature arm was pretty difficult and very high mass. It worked but the adjustments were "crude". I modified my first maplenoll with an on the fly VTA and carbon fiber spindle and armwand. It really improved the float on the arm and less drag or force on the cantilever due to the large mass reduction.
My apollo was already modified by lloyd and had a ceramic tonearm that was pretty low mass, but i recently changed it out to carbon fiber. Its VTA works similar to the current et2 and has a much less effect on overhang.
Thanks for the info on the history, i had not seen this article.
Hello ct0517, I briefly heard the L07D arm with a Lyra Titan before swapping in the more satisfying Terminator. I earlier compared Terminator to SME IV and Graham 1.5tc. The current plan is to host Terminator, EPA-100, and MA-505 on a shared skeletally-plinthed SP-10 MkII-- hopefully later this year.

Agreed, I think it's more likely to lose time than money with these vintage tables and arms.
I'm looking for a second linear tracking arm and considered the Trans-Fi Terminator but it really isn't the right size for my setup.
Unfortunately the Bergmann Magne won't work with my table because it requires a minimum distance of 45mm between the plinth and the surface of the platter and I only have 30mm. The Kuzma Air Line is essentially out because it is simply beyond my budget.
I'm curious to know what my other options are in new arms. (though I would consider used ones like the Air Tangent, and Forsell)
New ET 2.5 is $4500 American and that does not include the pump system.
Finding a used current 2.5 is very rare.

You will find used ET 2.0 (some over 20 + years Old ) with VTA Blocks and mounting plates in varying states of condition.
They need to be scrutinized before purchase as these parts can not be bought separately.

2.5 is optimized for MC cartridges . 2.0 came out in the heyday of MM's but can still be used with a CF or Magnesium armtube for MC's.
But if MC's is your deal stick with the 2.5. In the end the best results will be with it if using MC.

The other caveat here is that the ET tonearm is probaby the most tweakable tonearm out there period.
Owners had them set up for varying PSI levels with Bruce Thigpen.
It is important if someone finds a used one to determine what PSI it was set up for.
You can find these answers and tips for buying on the ET2 thread and by contacting Bruce Thigpen directly.

Thank you. I will look into it. My two cartridges are not mc though. (Decca and grado)