With the new TT5, German analogue masters Clearaudio offer vinyl fans a more affordable entry point into tangential tonearm technology.
The first tangential tonearm (also known as ‘linear tracking’, ‘parallel tracking’ or ‘straight line’) was reportedly devised by Thomas Edison and featured on the Edison Phonograph from 1877. But the technique of parallel tracking was abandoned with Emil Berliner’s Gramophone, and remained so until almost a century later when its benefits were finally rediscovered and a small number of manufacturers began again to design arms that would open up the full potential of the LP record.
Why go tangential?
In a word, fidelity. To achieve the most faithful music reproduction, the playback of a record should mimic the original cutting of the vinyl as closely as possible. During the cutting process, the cutter diamond maintains a consistent angle of 90 degrees from the beginning of the groove to its end. Therefore the optimum way to extract the purest information from that groove without distortion is with an arm that reads the groove in precisely the same way as it was cut.
Clearaudio ‘TT’ range
In a conventional pivoted tonearm, the arm is ‘pulled’ across the record’s surface by the stylus following the record groove. A similar motion occurs in Clearaudio’s ‘TT’ range of tangential tonearms, however the arm moves tangentially, with the stylus propelling the tonearm along a linear bearing. This bearing comprises a carriage running on highly precise rollers along a meticulously polished glass rail.
The cartridge therefore remains parrallel to the record groove at all times, following the exact same path that the cutting head did when it made the record and thus elminating any lateral tracking error. And since the record groove, stylus, cantilever and tonearm are perfectly aligned, no side forces are generated and so no anti-skating compensation is needed.
With the new TT5, Clearaudio offers vinyl fans a more affordable entry point into tangential tonearm technology. The TT5’s excellent value for money is down to eschewing one or two of the features of its ‘big brothers’, the covetable TT2 and TT3.
For example, the TT5 adopts a new, fully rigid design. However, for those who still crave the convenience of the bigger arms’ ability to swing out of the way when loading records, Clearaudio have created the optional TT5 swing base which, as it’s name suggests, allows the entire arm assembly to be swung out of the way when swapping one album for the next.
Tracking force and azimuth are easily and finely adjustable so that the cartridge and stylus are always in the perfect position to faithfully read the musical information in the record groove.
Pricing and availability
The Clearaudio TT5 tangential tonearm is available now priced at £1,750 (including VAT): The optional swing base is priced at an additional £250.
Handcrafted in Erlangen, Germany, Clearaudio products are widely regarded as truly innovative and standard-setting by audiophiles and top class engineers alike. With a solid presence in more than 70 countries worldwide, and with a fully comprehensive range of high-end turntables, tonearms, phono cartridges, phonostages, amplifiers, accessories and even audiophile vinyl records, Clearaudio has established itself as a world leader in audio design. Still very much family-run, the company remains as dedicated to “taking the best and making it better” as it was when first launched back in 1978.