Linear tracking turntables, whatever happened?


Curious as to the demise and downfall of the seemingly short lived linear tracking TT.
Just from a geometry point of view I would have thought a linear arm should be superior to one with a fixed pivot that sweeps through an arc.
Obviously there is much more to it than that, sort of the reason for this thread.
I am genuinely interested in trying one out for myself as well.
6db47fb2 f8db 415d a4f7 49a7b6ed12b0Ag insider logo xs@2xuberwaltz

@whipsaw

Great to see and hear from another 4002 fan. Granted, they are complicated machines but once sorted they are fantastic and trouble free. Really nothing to go "wrong" except the belts.

They sound good enough that clients have hired me to find and restore one for them. Their beauty is also a tremendous "hook".... Such an elegant design....

I'll continue to bring them back to life whenever they come my way.

I still use my Phase Linear 8000 table from time to time, works great (over 30 years old). After Phase Linear stopped making them, Pioneer marked the same table under their name. The dealer had it set up to A/B with a $10,000.00 setup. Did the $10,000.00 system sound better? Yes. Was it over $9000.00 better? Not to me (the Phase Linear was $750.00 at the time). It still sounds great to me.
https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7842/31760371087_a1d3b7c7d8_b.jpg
The Universal looks like a fairly conventional pivoted arm. What mechanism does it have that makes it tangential?

@cleeds My bad. I mistyped and meant pivoted.
Very happy 20 yrs + user of a linear tracker, the great ET2, here.

First, while he has mentioned his thread, I think it should be stressed what a great resource ct0517’s thread is; not just for users of the ET2 to learn about proper setup and to get “outside the box” practical tips, but for anyone contemplating “going linear”.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/eminent-technology-et-2-tonearm-owners


By the time that I acquired my ET2 I had owned and lived with several pivoting arms including the SME V, Grado Sig, Sumiko The Arm, Premier MMT, Alphason and Syrinx PU3 (only one I still have). I have used more different cartridges than I can remember of both the MM and MC type and I consider myself fairly adept at tonearm setup, but far from a perfectionist in that respect. I still own several of those cartridges from way back and none have suffered cantilever or suspension issues due to use on the ET2.

There is no question that living with a linear tracker is more complicated than using a pivoting arm for the reasons already mentioned. However, once set up, I did not experience at all the need for constant fiddling and one of the beauties of this arm is that it makes the rare need for relevelling so easy. Which brings up what I feel is one great advantage of an arm like the ET2; I can’t speak for any other linear tracker as I have never owned any other. The ease with which the various setup parameters can be adjusted makes getting the best out of a cartridge infinitely easier in my experience. VTA on the fly is a miracle and I think many would be shocked at just how much just this one feature of the arm helps.

For me, the most important advantage of the arm is that, compared to all the pivoting arms that I have used, there is a fundamental difference in its sonic presentation that I find to be more realistic both tonally and in the way it portrays the soundstage. All those pivoting arms always left me with the impression that the shape of the soundstage and it’s boundaries were dictated by the arm and not necessarily what was recorded. None of them came close to conveying the sense of wide open ambience and stable layering of instruments that the ET2 is capable of conveying. The size of intruments and voices relative to each other always seemed distorted to one degree or another by the pivoting arms compared to the ET2 which tended to sound more realistic in that regard.  I also experienced far fewer instances of having a cartridge which had a tonal flaw that I could not live with which I could not make livable by adjusting setup parameters; adjustments which were typically far more difficult or impossible with the pivoting arms.

A very condensed account of my experiences only and I have no interest in presenting them as definitive; just one more bit of support for linear trackers. Happy New Year to all.


Fully understand what Frogman means by "... fundamental difference in sonic presentation ... more realistic both tonally and ... in ... soundstage ... wide open ambience and stable layering of instruments ... sounded more realistic ..." Well said.
IMO in short, the best linear trackers produce less artificial sounds and more music. They are not perfect yet but very close.