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Acoustical Systems Aquilar Tonearm

01.06.2016 // Dirk Sommer

The arm is guided by four nano-bearings in three sizes, so that the axes of the two planes respectively move in bearings of different sizes and with different resonance behaviour. The most important criterion for the selection of the bearings was an extremely low starting friction torque: With the Nano bearings of the Aquilar, it should lie in the low 2-digit Newton micron metre (µNm) range – which means nothing more than that the arm can be set in motion with very low force from the neutral position. Acoustical Systems considers it important that the nano bearings are manufactured in Germany, like all remaining components of the arm. A large part of the suppliers is even situated in the local region, which makes the personal contact easier. Serially, the tonearm can be ordered with continuously guided, aged, highly flexible pure silver strands ending in balanced or RCA termination, or with the classic male DIN-connector. But differing customer requirements are also served.

After loosening the thumbscrew on the right, the height of the arm. and hence the VTA. is regulated with the rotary knob on top during operation – on-the-fly
After loosening the thumbscrew on the right, the height of the arm. and hence the VTA. is regulated with the rotary knob on top during operation – on-the-fly

Finally, thanks to the design adopted from the arche-Headshell, the Auqilar offers a wealth of setting possibilities. Of course, there is the adjustment of the vertical tracing angle (VTA) and the antiskating force, here generated by magnets without contact, and customised to the tangential curve, can take place during operation. The overhang and the azimuth belong with the Aquilar, as with most arms to the variable parameters. In addition, also the bearing plane can be aligned precisely with the Acoustical Systems, independent of the arm board or the base on which it is mounted. Changes in the offset angle and the stylus rake angle (SRA) are also possible with the Aquilar – at the headshell. Because Dietrich Brakemeier has also extensive knowledge of analogue Hifi history, he knows that above all with Japanese models, even with gimbal bearings, a device for lateral balance was for a long time regarded as indispensable. With this, it is being made sure first of all that both horizontal bearings are evenly loaded, which is a prerequisite for the extremely low starting friction torque to unfold its effect. More important, however, is that in each arm with offset, the occurring breakdown torque is compensated, because otherwise the skating force clearly increases. If one does not have the luck that Dietrich Brakemeier has installed his design on the home turntable with the desired pickup – here the wonderful Lyra Etna, then with this fullness of setting possibilities one relies upon informative operating instructions. With the Aquiliar, one of these is enclosed, which, on account of its rich illustration, is also easy to understand. Thanks to Axinia Schäfer!

The counterweight can be comparatively petite, since it consists of a tungsten-nickel alloy with high specific weight
The counterweight can be comparatively petite, since it consists of a tungsten-nickel alloy with high specific weight

Now on to the special geometry of the Acoustical-Systems arms and how it has originated: For UNI-DIN the desired distortion profiles were defined first, and then the geometry was calculated from it. Here the distortion in the external range, where a longer route is completed for the same amount of information than inside, may be higher than with the tangential curves calculated by Baerwald and Loefgren already at the time of shellac and mono vinyl records. Consequently, the distortions do not increase as strongly towards the inner groove for UNI-DIN. While the intensity of the distortions rapidly increases with the usual arms after the 2nd null point, the UNI-DIN geometry is designed so that the increase in distortion towards the label is happening quite smoothly. Dietrich Brakemeier has selected this solution, because the human ear reacts very sensitively to fast and steep changes, but perceives gradual alterations less strongly. Therefore, the UNI-DIN was optimized not to achieve as low as possible average distortions over the entire groove, but to avoid a strong increase of the distortions above all towards the inner groove, which is more difficult to track because of the narrower radii – namely for acoustical-physiological reasons. After about the first 30 percent of the groove, the resulting distortions with UNI-DIN are claimed to be below the levels which are usual with the common standard geometries.

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