Linear Tracker ...I was wondering


Is there a not too expensive (less than $¹⁰⁰⁰) and good linear tracking tonearm that I could mount on my SL1200MK5? 


0082de0a 09de 4362 abf8 a92d41db266cjagjag
Look into the Trans Fi Terminator. Not sure if you'll gain the benefit you seek on that turntable.
Be hard to find anything new for less than $1000. Unless you wish to take a chance on some designs from the UK?
Like this......
https://www.airprodigy.co.uk/

You may find a used ET arm for that price though.
Is there a not too expensive (less than $¹⁰⁰⁰) and good linear tracking tonearm that I could mount on my SL1200MK5?

Depends on what you mean by "good". If you mean one that works reliably and fits on the table then maybe, yes, you can probably find one. If you mean good compared to what the same $1k will buy you in a normal pivoted arm then sorry, no, but thanks for making me laugh.

Post removed 
Your best bet might be to find a used table with a linear tracking arm and salvage the arm off it.
That's a fair point Jon.
Seen a number of old tables here on Audiogon with ET arms that might need a bit of love but well under a grand.

With ET still in business should be able to get any parts needed.
You may be trading one problem for another. And who can maintain these?
Thank you for the guidance and input y'all. Should I just stick to my full Technics set up and just banish the thought of a linear tracker? Or is it a worthwhile endeavour?
Or is it a worthwhile endeavour?
An excellent question that I have been trying to answer in my head for some time myself.

I am of the belief that done right it should be very good but done badly....
Well , done badly is probably the same as trying to do it on the cheap in this instance.
Using a Souther SLA-3 on a SOTA. Happy with it.
Why dontcha buy the new Trans-Fi Audio T3Pro, now with stiffer carbon fiber/brass manifold, the best bargain in analog audio already since 2008
https://www.musicfromvinyl.shop/
  No maintain needed, as long as cheap aquarium pumps are available.
Thank you. Have emailed them. Definitely a fantastic option. 
jag, linear tracking arms are a waste of time and money. The technology to do it correctly has not yet been developed. The problem is that the horizontal effective mass of these arms is too high creating a very low horizontal resonance point. All you have to do is watch the cantilever closely and you will see it oscillate slowly back and forth. This creates more tracking error than a good pivoted tonearm not to mention oscillating skating force. In order to do this right the tonearm has to be driven in the horizontal plane by a servo mechanism. Little switches are too inaccurate and fragile for this. You would have to have a laser reading the groove right in front of the stylus. It can be done but at this point would be very expensive. If you are concerned with tracking error get a 12" tonearm.  
Post removed 
Thank you for sharing your perspective  @mijostyn. 
It had crossed my mind too. 
@jagjag, don't take everything you read as Gospel. Different linear trackers have differing amounts of horizontal effective mass. Do look into the current Trans-Fi Terrminator.
So true.
Mijo forgot to add "IMHO" ..... Again......
Is there a not too expensive (less than $¹⁰⁰⁰) and good linear tracking tonearm that I could mount on my SL1200MK5?

Strange choice for this Sl1200 mk5 turntable
Remember Technics SL-M3 with Linear Tracking ? There are some nice images of that old beast. Looks better than MK5 for sure ... 

You can buy a whole SL-M3 turntable with Linear Tracking for something like $1200 (i just checked on ebay).

Chakster
That's quite a beast!

Just for a taste of linear tracking on a beer budget there is the much simpler SL-10.
An example of which I own.
Pretty affordable, very well built and managed to hold its own pretty well in the sonics department.
Sure it's not upper echelon but for under $400 not a bad way to dip ones toes into the water.
@chaksterThat is indeed the table I would go for, the SLM3. But it looks like it's designed for a Pmount cartridge. Would you know if it accepts more current standard cartridges? 

The solid build of the SL1200 makes it a keeper. Thus, I was thinking of keeping the unit and just changing the arm. If the SLM3 can accomodate a normal cartridge, I would be a definite option. Great suggestion. 👍🏼
I do not believe ANY of the crop of vintage Japanese linear trackers accept anything but a p mount Cart.
Which yes does limit the choices somewhat.
Also don't forget the slm3 was/ is a very complex piece of gear that you may find difficulty in anybody being able to service or repair.
Of special concern is that computer controled arm.

One of their technical tour de force for sure though.
Uber that SOTA ad was what made me think of buying a used table. I also kind if want that table so thanks for the reminder I couldn't remember where I saw that ad. :)
Jond
A member with a lot more knowledge of ET arms than myself took a look and said it's an ET1.0 arm, an early piece so more of a collector piece than SOTA ( sorry I just HAD to!).

Still the table itself might be a good buy at the right price of course.....
That is indeed the table I would go for, the SLM3. But it looks like it’s designed for a Pmount cartridge. Would you know if it accepts more current standard cartridges?


Cool. Nothing wrong with a P-Mount cartridges if you don’t mind to buy some of the best from the golden era. I bought my first P-Mount cartridge this year for use with pivoted tonearms. And i’ve seen many great p-mount versions from Technics, Stanton, Pickering, Audio-Technica ...

The solid build of the SL1200 makes it a keeper. Thus, I was thinking of keeping the unit and just changing the arm. If the SLM3 can accomodate a normal cartridge, I would be a definite option.

I have two SL1210mkII (not in the main system), they are upgraded, but still with stock tonearms. Using many vintage tonearms in another system i’ve noticed some of them could be great for Technics. Linear tracking tonearms are normally monsters, i never thought about them for any turntable. Conventional pivoted tonearms are great and there are many within your price range that can be used on SL1200mk5


Uber thanks for the heads up Linear Trackers scare the hell out of me anyway! :)
Jond.

I have been on the fence for a long while and can't seem to persuade myself to take the plunge.

I am assured it really is not hard work but when you grown up on a life time of pivot arms it takes some getting used to it.

Maybe one day......
It has absolutely nothing to do with IMHO. Everything that I said is a fact of life. The best linear tracker available today is the Walker and it still has an unacceptably high horizontal effective mass. I will say this again. The horizontal axis has to be servo driven and the arm has to have a horizontal pivot just like a normal pivoted tonearm. Some older linear arms worked by tripping a switch which activated the drive but the arm had to deviate from tangent to trip the switch negating the benefit and the systems tended to be unreliable. When some one develops a reasonably priced system that reads the groove right in front or behind the stylus driving the horizontal axis I am all in. Otherwise you are much better off with a good pivoted arm. How many reviewers use a linear tracker as their reference? Air bearings can create very low friction systems but do nothing to reduce horizontal effective mass. Mass is mass, friction or not and these systems are extremely sensitive to level. Keeping a turntable exactly level under all circumstances is very difficult. Just differences in record weight can change the level of a turntable unless it is extremely rigidly mounted. Then you have all that air rushing around (making noise) and the complexity of using a compressor. With a servo driven horizontal axis level does not mater as much and there is no wind noise. Put your ear next to the bearing and listen. 
Again, don't believe me watch for yourself. The cantilever should appear dead straight at all times. With any linear tracker you chose you will be able to see the cantilever drift back and forth. I can understand the draw but when it comes down to reality these arms are just not ready for prime time.
Had a Pioneer PL 1000 with a Denon 103 D that was killer. Wish I still had it.Wish they still made it.
If you can find an Technics SL-10 in good shape, go for it.
It came with a MC cart, and was a square foot of Simplicity.

*sigh*  I had to part with mine awhile back....and I still regret that move...
Technics SL-10 is hard to find "in a good shape", over 5 years of research almost every unit i've seen for sale required service, and most functions does not work. Belt replacement requires, lubrication, cleaning etc. There are some nice units already serviced, but the price is crazy nowadays, especially if there is a Technics P205c mk4 cartridge instead of mk3 (or some cheap junk p-mount).  
Post removed 
I have owned the Pioneer PL 1000 and I prefer my Yamaha PX2.  They both sport a removable 1/2 headshell.  There is easily a half dozen or more vintage Linear Tracking/Tangential Turntables that utilizes an 1/2 headshell still available.
I have two Trans-Fi Terminator tonearms. One on a modified Nottingham Analogue Mentor (Dais bearing, aluminum sandwich plinth, and premium power supply), the other a DIY air bearing job using aerospace components. Cartridges are Miyajima Zero and higher end Koetsu.

IMO the Trans-Fi is the best bargain in high end, maybe all of audio. I suspect that it outperforms anything costing less than a new car. Advantages: cost, adjustability, stability, tweekability (if there is such a word). It is the tonearm which registers the stylus to the record surface, and that must be both adjustable and stable, or that high end cartridge is worth no more than a mid-level MM.

Disadvantages: azimuth adjustment is intuitive but fiddly, and definitely not-on-the-fly. Badly warped records must be flattened. The beam of the tonearm must be perfectly horizontal (it is adjustable). Putting a record on the spindle requires attention. The compressor really should be in another room - but the tonearm is silent. Other disadvantages seem to me to be figments of the imagination from people who haven’t even seen one, let alone modified one for their own situation. But then YMMV. For me, the only ’side grade’ which I would consider would be a Durand. And that’s after the Hyperion cartridge.
I setup and sold a lot of SOTA Sapphires with Souther back in the day... most w Dynavector Ruby or Diamond.
And of course a lot of pivoted arms as well.

the Souther, Transfi and ET-2 are all quite good but fussy in own way. The only way to really understand the setup, quirks and sonic +\- is long term ownership. I am betting few have been there.

advice on older SOTA or one you cannot inspect prior to sale - have it drop shipped to Donna at factory! Inspection, tune up.
jagjag,

I have to disagree with the Debbie Downers that automatically bash the linear trackers.  I owned a Maplenoll Ariadne air bearing TT/arm combo with straight line tracking and it is right at the top of any analog setup I've had.  I also own a Trans-Fi Terminator with Tomahawk wand and all the best upgrades Trans-Fi had prior to selling the company to the current maker.  I used it with a super Lenco rebuild and the sound was very good.  I've had several good pivoted arms and it sounds better than all of them by a little bit.  I would be willing to sell my TF if you wanted to try it.  It is in very good shape and comes with all you would need to make it sing.  You could PM me if interested.  I had 2 full systems and am cleaning out the second one.

Bob
One small thing that I have picked up in all the very good advice given. There is a small difference in sound (pick up-ability) quality between  a good pivoted arm and a linear tracker. But, there IS a difference.

I have recently smallified (downsized)  my system to an integrated (built in phono stage) and a nice pair of speakers. I use a simple Yamaha CD player with built in internet radio and streaming capabilities for Spotify and Tidal. So, serious downsizing and simplifying. I have no issues with my current KAB modifed SL1200MK5. It is easy to use, and does the job well. A simple set up. 

I dont notice much distortion. Maybe my hearing and tinitus cancel that. Maybe the arm and cartridge are well set up. 

Terminator dude says he can supply the armboard for the turntable.

Now I have to decide if the gain in sound quality is worth the effort and reversing the simplifying of my system. I do t want to fiddle and tweak. I just want to.listen. My primary source is my turntable. Time to meditate (with food of course)  and think. You guys have all been amazing and I can't thank you all enough.




mijo, stop spreading bad information.
As far as electronic driven LT having to "trip a limit switch" and being so far out of tangent as to not make them worth while, here are some facts.

I'll use my Yamaha PX-3 as an example. There are no mechanical limit switches, they use a light beam and curtains to activate the tonearm drive. No mechanical limit switches.
The out of tangent spec before a correction is made is 0.15 degree, not any where close to what a conventional tonearm goes out of tangent. A magnitude of difference!
There are several LT turntables that use a conventional 1/2" mount cart. The Yamaha PX-2/3, Pioneer PL-L1000 and a few Mitsubishi models come to mind.
mijo, it's clear that you don't like LT tables and have never owned one yourself.
Did you know a properly working LT table will show even wear on both sides of the diamond stylus unlike a swing arm tonearm? So much for "the horizontal mass is to high" scare tactic.

BillWojo

JagJag One small thing that I have picked up in all the very good advice given. There is a small difference in sound (pick up-ability) quality between a good pivoted arm and a linear tracker. But, there IS a difference.


JagJag - IMO - You can't make generalizations like that.
The reality is every linear tracker, unlike pivot arms, is very, very, different in design and execution. 

How big of a difference there is, is directly proportional to ....at the top of my head.

1) tonearm quality/design/capability,
2) setup-capability,
3) the turntable it is going on (this is fixed), (cartridges are exchangeable variables)
4) how resolving a person's room is. Do you listen in near field or is it a shared family space ? 

The above could make the difference you hear larger than you assume. This could be good and bad. It could make things worse by amplifying the weaknesses in you chain, setting you down extra rabbit holes. 

A pivot arm set up well, will out perform a linear tracker that has not been optimized.

***********************************************

IMO - The best advice you have received on this thread is from Tom.

The only way to really understand the setup, quirks and sonic +\- is long term ownership. I am betting few have been there.


And I Loved the thread comments aimed at Debbie Downer - 8^0

Cheers Chris 

Notice not one mention of why  you would want to go to a linear tracker in the the 1st place.  In the the OP case maybe A little more work than the rest of his systems needs.  But as anyone SHOULD know, you would have to know what he is looking for sound wise and listen to it in his system with want ever cart he wants to run.  

The variables in tone arms are endless.  To take one of the variables and make it the absolute deal breaker is insane. I could go on and on but I am starting to bore myself!!!  But I guess if you sleep better at night knowing your antiskate and null points are set properly, what else could one ask for???

Enjoy the ride
Tom
To Bill’s point about symmetrical stylus wear - a photomicrograph from a scanning electron microscope demonstrated minimal, nearly perfectly symmetrical stylus wear at just under 1000 hours. At Koetsu rebuild costs ... draw your own conclusions.

That may not be wholly attributable to the Trans-Fi, though. Being fanatical about record cleanliness (ultrasound) may have had something to do with the minimal wear.
Bill, I have owned two of them and played with God knows how many. It is nice that your Yamaha uses light beams as a limit switch.  As I said above, when somebody does it right without compromise I am all in. It is great that you have kept your table alive so long and I love your dust cover. Yamaha was certainly headed in the right direction.  But, a Sota Sapphire with a Kuzma 4 point 9 on it is going to sound better. Why? First it is suspended. The Kuzma is a very stiff arm with excellent bearings and it has no automation gizmos hanging off of it. It is also rigidly attached to the same platform as the platter fixing that relationship. When you increase the complexity of a rather simple but sensitive device you take risks and you have to spend a lot of money controlling all these variables.
It is just much harder to make a complicated device like a linear tracker work as well as a simple passive device. It is also bound to be less reliable and less durable. 
Dork, if your Terminator is so hot why are you selling it? Rube Goldberg could not have come up with that arm. But my absolute favorite was the Harmon Kardboard design with the rubber wheel that tracked a revolving drum! I won one in a raffle! Used it for 6 months or so. It worked! Sort of, as long as you did not listen to it. The revolving drum and rubber wheel rumbled and I could not figure out a way to dampen it out. Subwoofers were not all the rage back then but I was using two RH Labs subs and I guess HK didn't figure that into their design. It was so bad I bought another Linn. Sucker born every minute. 
Pivoted arms just involve a different set of compromises—- what I would suggest is pick a cartridge and table that can work for both: imo SOTA and Dynavector and then buy X pivot arm and an ET2 ( why ET2 ? Cause if you buy it reasonable you can resell at zero loss )

fixate on proper setup and listen to both...
^^^^
The ET2 came out the same year as CD debuted - 1982. If it wasn’t such bad timing who knows. As it is there are over 2500 out there and originally cost $800. Good condition samples of the original 2.0 can be had for $800-1000. And resell again same price. So yes I agree on that.

however.

Tom - I feel it is the wrong candidate for a cold comparison because there is a learning curve to setup, and to learn what is possible. It is unique in design and requires time to learn how to set up for best performance. Even dealers/reviewers only ever figured out maybe 6 out of 10 on what was possible.

Cheers

Technics SL-10 is hard to find "in a good shape", over 5 years of research almost every unit i've seen for sale required service, and most functions does not work. Belt replacement requires, lubrication, cleaning etc. There are some nice units already serviced, but the price is crazy nowadays, especially if there is a Technics P205c mk4 cartridge instead of mk3 (or some cheap junk p-mount).  
I must have struck lucky then Chakster and I will count my blessings!
Picked mine up of eBay few years back, working perfectly but no cartridge.
Got three different p mounts now ( no NOT cheap junk p mount ones).
Sure it does not have quite the same SQ as my 401/505 combo but for the price it does not embarrass itself in my main system at all.

A precursor of what might come next I may add......

You can't stop the signal!