Audio Anthropology

    Something for Everyone

    Issue 159

    Make that more than 100 years. 1975 ad for the imaginatively-named Garrard Zero Tracking Error Tonearm. When it comes to vinyl playback, everyone’s got an angle.


    Ken Kessler: in your dreams! Scotch magnetic tape ad, 1958. Courtesy of Martin Theophilus/the Museum of Magnetic Sound Recording.


    It’s safe to say that every one of us of a certain age had a receiver like this at some point. Sansui 2000X, circa early-to-mid 1970s.


    And you thought only vintage Marantz receivers had cool front-panel fonts! Photos courtesy of Howard Kneller; taken at Angry Mom Records, Ithaca, New York.


    We’d love to know what those unusual techniques in sound recording were, and more about this whole rig, for that matter. Radio Electronics, May 1950.


    Howard Kneller’s audio and art photography can be found on Instagram (@howardkneller@howardkneller.photog) and Facebook (@howardkneller).

    2 comments on “Something for Everyone”

    1. The Garrard advert shows probably the first attempt at producing a pivoted tonearm that tracks tangentially across the whole record surface. However, the way it is set up, the stylus will not actually track tangentiality across the whole record. According to Thales theorem, the diameter of a circle always subtends a right angle to any point on the circle. In this Garrard set-up, the pivot of the guiding rod is close to the center of the circle (the tonearm pivot). The tonearm pivot should be equidistant from the spindle and the pivot of the guiding rod, with all three points in a straight line forming the diameter of the circle. Pivoted tonearms that track tangentially using Thales Theorem are currently produced by Thales, KL Audio, Reed and Schröder. The problem with arms that pivot the headshell to produce the right angle is the challenge of maintaining mechanical integrity with a pivoted headshell, and the need for anti-skating force due to the angle between the headshell and the tonearm shaft. Reed uses a sophisticated laser tracking mechanism that slides the tonearm base as the arm tracks across the record to maintain tangentiality. This relies on an electromechanical system that needs to be finely calibrated. The Schröder uses a second pivot for the tonearm base and a magnetic guiding system, instead of a mechanical guiding rod, to slide the tonearm base that is extremely elegant and ingenious. Since the headshell is fixed and in line with the tonearm shaft, there is no issue with mechanical integrity or the need for anti-skating. I have not had the good fortune to audition this wonder, which is out of my price range. It will be interesting to hear whether the elimination of the minute tracking error associated with a well set-up 12″ tonearm makes enough of a difference to warrant the considerable expense associated with these tangentially tracking tonearms.

    2. Frank – Not related to this article, but as Editor of Copper I have a question for you. I don’t recall seeing any contributions from Roy Hall in some time, hope he’s well and that he will be resuming a more active role in Copper. The life stories he shared were always engaging and his style is definitely unique. Keep up the good work Frank!

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