WILSON BENESCH A.C.T. 25 TONEARM
To celebrate the company’s 25th Silver Anniversary, Wilson Benesch introduce the Circle 25 Turntable and A.C.T. 25 Tonearm to one of its longest established product lines; The Analogue Collection.
The History of the Analogue Collection design at Wilson Benesch
Since the company’s inception in 1989, Wilson Benesch has had a firm commitment to the development of analogue replay systems.
Central to our design ethos from the outset has been the concept that synergy must exist between tonearm and turntable design and that they should in fact be regarded as one system. Many reading this article will appreciate the crucial importance of finding synergy in audio components and many will also appreciate that combining some of the best components, for example amplifiers and loudspeakers, does not guarantee an excellent HiFi system. It follows that components conceived and designed as one synergistic system is the optimum process through which harmony and true excellence can be achieved.
The Architects of Carbon Fibre Audio; Building the world’s finest analogue components with the most advanced engineering materials known to man
When Wilson Benesch introduced carbon fibre into high end audio design 25 years ago, carbon fibre was seldom seen or used in commercial products. The material was almost exclusively the preserve of the aerospace industry. However, the profile of carbon fibre was beginning to rise following the widespread application of carbon fibre technology in F1 racing.
Owing to the vast amount of materials research completed at the inception of the original Wilson Benesch business plan, our strap line, “The Future is Carbon”, recognised the potential for carbon fibre to change the way high performance systems would be manufactured and in doing so change the world as we know it, just as steel did before it. Today, as we foresaw, the application of carbon fibre has become widespread and it is reshaping some of the largest industries around the globe. Examples can be found in the aviation industry, which became the single biggest consumer of carbon fibre when the Boeing A380 went into production. We can also observe changes in the automotive industry, as the drive for cleaner, environmentally friendly hybrid and electric vehicles gathers pace, so automotive designers are turning to carbon composites. In each industry, the designers are seeking to reduce the weight, without compromising the strength and safety of the finished product. However, it is the unique stiffness and damping properties of carbon composites which Wilson Benesch exploit within audio engineering.
Wilson Benesch pioneered the use of carbon fibre in high end audio design with the original Wilson Benesch Turntable and the A.C.T. One Tonearm. Today we remain the industry leaders in the application of this wonder material. Carbon fibre is incredibly expensive to manufacture and it requires an artisan approach in order to process / fabricate / produce consistently. These are skills which have been fostered within the company over more than two decades. In competitors’ designs, the application of carbon fibre can be recognised as a veneer to convey the ‘high-tech’ appearance a hi-tech aesthetic, but there are actually very few designs which utilise highly engineered, geometrically optimised carbon composite structures. This includes the increasingly common single diameter carbon fibre tonearm tubes.
As in all good design, the science of thoughtful geometry is the key to unlocking the full potential of this fantastic material. As the architects of carbon fibre audio, we are very proud to be associated with the analogue medium that inspired the foundation of Wilson Benesch 25 years ago. For more information about the history of the Analogue Collection please read our White Paper.
The A.C.T. 25 Tonearm
The new A.C.T. 25 builds upon a Wilson Benesch’s the illustrious history of the Analogue Collection.
With the exception of Wilson Benesch’s own reference level, Nanotube One – the new A.C.T. 25 Tonearm is the world’s lightest, stiffest and most highly optimised tonearm. Torsionally 10x stiffer than titanium, half the mass of aluminium, 5x the specific stiffness of steel and with a damping coefficient an order of magnitude greater than any conventional engineering material.
Thanks to a high-grade pre-preg carbon fibre, the A.C.T. 25 Tonearm is 15% lighter than the A.C.T. 0.5 Tonearm, with no loss in stiffness or damping. The quality of the finish is exemplary, meanwhile the A.C.T. 25 Tonearm draws directly from the reference level Nanotube One Tonearm with an all the carbon fibre bias plate.
The A.C.T. 25 Tonearm Bearing
The A.C.T. 25 tonearm bearing features the same highly innovative kinematic bearing that was used in the original A.C.T. One tonearm in 1989. It has been in all subsequent Wilson Benesch tonearms since.
The kinematic bearing features, three x 1mm carbon-chrome ball bearings, which are held captive in a brass ball cap located at the end of the arm stem. A fourth ball is retained by a brass mount located in the egg shaped housing at the end of the tonearm. The shape of the eggshell derives stiffness and strength through its geometric form. When mated the fourth ball is held in a high pressure triangulated frame of reference ensuring that the centre of movement can never change regardless of the age of the system or the ambient temperature. In theory the contact surface is a single molecule. It is a beautifully simple, yet stable and high precision design.
British Built and Manufactured
Of the 50+ individual components that form the A.C.T. 25 Tonearm and the Circle 25, a staggering 90% are manufactured in-house at Wilson Benesch from raw materials. Built from a broad range of alloys, polymers and aerospace carbon fibre, the result is a quintessentially British, hand-built tonearm.
The A.C.T. 25 Tonearm offers assured, reference level performance at a fraction of the cost of competing designs. Combined with the Circle 25 Turntable and the Ply cartridge; The A.C.T. 25 Tonearm is an elegant component in a complete system approach to high-end analogue sound reproduction.