A difficult LP reproduction question

I have a nice high end system and wish to add a second turntable (for fun!). The choices are likely Thorens TD124MK ll or Lenco L75. Both these are old technology and will spin 78 RPM and use idler drive.

Desire is to experiment with moving magnet cartridge, inexpensive phono stages and 78 RPM records to name but a few.

Here are but a few of the economy priced phono stages that I've been researching for the past three weeks. (Hope that explains my lack of posting lately).


EAR 834P Deluxe

Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE

Antique Soundlab Mini

Musical Fidelity X-LPSv3


Any Audiogon member that have direct experience with any combination of these, I would appreciate your comments.
78 reproduction needs different RIAA curves than 33 LP reprodution. Aren't there special phono pre pre's that have those special curves available in them?
Somewhere I was reading an advertisement for such a pre pre... but that was a few years ago...
I would think the Bottlehead KIT would be the best as the RIAA part could be modified??? to suite various 78 playback curves, as it is an open, descrete design. Perhaps even adding a selector, to choose instantly which curve you desire... (perhaps ask Bottlehead if they have any experience in adding this?)
True Elizabeth. I found an article at Mechanical Music Digest™ Archives and hope there is some truth in it.

Don't forget that for playing 78 RPM records you will need a spherical stylus, not the elliptical type normally used for 33-1/3 LP's. The old 78 RPM groove was cut wide and the modern elliptical will not make contact with both the outer groove walls. Stanton, ADC, Shure and some others still have spherical styli for use in their cartridges.

The Shure styluses for 78s are also elliptical, but bigger than the styluses for 33/45. The elliptical shape gives a better fit in the groove. If you have an equalizer in your system, you can get some pretty fair reproduction from the old 78's. The RIAA equalization curve did not come into play until the first LP's.

However, the only result of using RIAA is a bit of bass boost. Provided there is no bass feedback, I find most 78s sound fine played with the LP equalization.

I think reproduction will be adequate for the small quantity of 78's I'm likely to purchase. This entire project is intended to be an experiment to see what I can get in terms of sound.
I have heard favorable comment on a Radio Shack IC-based phono preamp kit costing about $10. It might do for your 78rpm adventure.
I actually heard that Rat Shack thing. Believe it or not, you can't go wrong trying it. It's $25, special order off the website. But remember, MM only.
Hi Albert, I find it interesting that you are also delving into 78rpm reproduction. A very close friend of mine (and music fanatic) initiated burning CD compilations of 78s that he has collected for 35 years. A lot of older opera recordings in particular.

He is extremely fussy about sound quality and has made quite a study of 78s. I know that this is not in your posted vein of interest, although it happens to be the piece my buddy is using for a phono pre. He chose this unit for exactly the reason that Elizabeth and yourself were discussing. I find it an unusual coincidence just having this discussion for the first time a couple of weeks ago.


It is my understanding that there were actually seven different equalization curves used through the course of about 60 years. He had found very wide deviations in sonic and frequency balance based on the actual record release period. He found the above unit to be a very thorough and complete solution.

I just thought you might find this interesting.

Also, I do have some experience with one phono pre on your list, the Black Cube. I used it until I began experimenting with the Monolithic pre and power supply. I found the Monolithic to be slightly more open and quiet, revealing marginally more detail than the Black Cube. I did like the adjustability of the Monolithic very much as loading and gain adjustments were quite diverse.

Regards & Happy listening, Ed.
I'm sorry Albert. When you click on the link, it brings you to the home page. On the top of the page click on "phono preamps", then scroll down to "KAB Souvenir Mk2" vintage signal processor. Ed.
Have any of you heard the Bottlehead Seduction? There are claims it is approaching state of the art and the kit is less than $300.00.

After completion you can add Stevens and Billington step ups and it will handle ultra low output moving coils cartridges such as Koetsu.

This increases my desire to experiment with rim drive turntables, moving magnet cartridges and older tonearms. I received my (NEW) factory packed Decca tonearm today from Holland and have yet to open the box.

Part of this desire is due to Jean Nantais thread here at Audiogon.


That thread combined with my early days in high end audio where I sold this type of gear makes me want to revisit rim drive turntables and see how much performance is there. It's not all about 78 RPM, although these old rim drives have that ability along with variable speed adjustment.

My son begins college this year and if the commute becomes tiring he will move on campus, in which case this would become his music system. I want him to be part of this rebuild which is partially the reason for my interest in the phono stage kit.

There seems to be a number of people with this idea. Thorens rim drive table such as the TD 124 that went largely unnoticed a few years ago are fetching near $2000.00 on EBAY with twelve inch SME arms.

Lencos on EBAY have gone from about $35,00 to near $200.00 since Jean's thread began here at Audiogon.
The current fascination with "rim drive" (idler wheel) turntables is astonishing. We were so glad to be rid of that technology (and I use the word loosely). What will it be next...wind-up clockwork drive? (No EMI problems for sure).
Eldartford, you appear to not like old (inexpensive) technology yet you actively work to disprove the quality of modern (inexpensive) technology as well.

Cryo AC outlets being a perfect example, you have a rather long running thread:


What part of high end audio do you approve of? Perhaps only the most expensive, or absolutely free?
What cartridge are you considering? I have seen some special 78 version of the Denon DL103 at Phonophono.de for around 200.- Euro (the DL103/78, http://www.phonophono.de/english/html/denon_details_1.html). Might be something worth looking at....
Hi all

Fwiw I have enjoyed using a Lenco 75 with mono Goldring cartridge through an Armstrong 127 tuner amp. This is a valve unit with a normal (albeit old) riaa phono stage. Frank Sinatra never sounded better in that system. The typical 78 hiss was there but the music quality made it irrelevant. I did intend connecting in an old Leak pre-amp that had variable equalisation for 78s but the sound was so good as above, that can wait for another day.

Albertporter...Like wine, some old technology is superb, and other old technology has turned sour. I think the old idler wheel drive for turntables is an example of the latter.

In general I think your characterization of me is a bit off the mark.

I recon that digital power amps are a modern and inexpensive technology. I have three CarverPro ZR1600. (And a Panasonic SA-XR25 for the HT rig). But for my rear channels I am still using KenwoodLO7M monoblocks, a classic from the 80's.

I approve of Dynaco tube power amps, (which I once owned) and they were old technology and inexpensive (when I built them).

I most definitly do not approve of the "most expensive" of high end equipment, and I would put a $150 wall outlet in this category. My main speakers are a set of three Magneplanar MG1.6, which are neither expensive nor cheap. They fit exactly the type of equipment that you say I don't endorse.

As to the Cryo'd outlet test...I am not trying to convince anyone but myself. I have taken the trouble to seriously evaluate an idea that I am inclined (for scientific reasons) to disbelieve. It's been said by folk like you that one can't have an opinion without a listening test. OK... I am listening. What more do you want?
Well I find this discussion of cheap'n fun phono stages fascinating. I wasn't aware of the Rat Shack project, and now I am I think I'll have to give it a go! Thanks Joe and Eldartford! It seems to me that Gram Slee started by making a phono stage for 78s, you should look them up Albert, and see if it is still (or ever was) made. Unfortunately, my books are still all in boxes. I believe it was an early Hi Fi + that did the review of this 78 preamp (if it was a Gram Slee).

On the subject of the Mini Phono, however, I am certain of what's going on, as this is what I use when playing my Lencos. While my regular phono stage is quite good - which despite being a Pioneer Elite preamp from the '80s (avaunt Demon!) is of surprising quality (it surprised me), better than the NYAL I had used until I acquired it in fact (the surprise being I had bought the Pioneer as a stand-in until I could get the NYAL repaired) - it cannot handle the extreme dynamics of my Lencos (this is not hyperbole), so I use it strictly for my belt-drives (it has deeper bass than my Mini Phono): my Maplenoll, Ariston RD11S and Audiomeca, among others. The only cheap phono stage which will accomodate the Lenco's dynamics without distorting is the ASL Mini Phono, because it is tubed. This is a superb unit for the money, and has much fun tweak factor built in (as do all ASL units). It also has tube rolling potential for yet more future fun. I bought a pair of severely measured (specifically for the ASL's electrical characteristics) and matched Philips NOS tubes for mine and it is dead quiet. Not too much gain though, but not a problem, and I have the volume control on my preamp, which can go to 11! Given the Lenco's dynamics, the NAD and Musical Fidelity need not apply. The jump in price from the ASL to the other options is not subtle. And will they match the ASL's glorious tube midrange (truly, this is a giant-killer phono preamp, given matched tubes for quietness, which are absolutely necessary)?

If you decide to go for the Thorens, be aware that this is a "quasi-idler-wheel-drive", and so the dynamics will not match the Lenco's dynamics (the Thorens was found to be less dynamic than the true idler-wheel drive big Garrards in published comparisons), which means that the NAD and MF preamps can again apply, though I don't think they will match the ASL anyway. Being tubed, the ASL also has much more "educational" potential.

While it is true that many idler-wheel drives did have problems with flat spots and rumble, the Lenco is so designed so that flat spots do not develop. The sprung suspension of the motor also does much to eradicate rumble. This, among other things, makes the Lenco an excellent way to delve into the potential glories of idler-wheel drives. Bravo for your experimental and fun spirit Albert!
Jean turned me on to the ASL Mini, which he loves, when I purchased an Ariston RD80 from him. While I am just getting back into Vinyl it seems to do a superb job and I found it better than the other compareable pre's in that price range.
Hard to go wrong at that price. You do need to upgrade the tubes to low noise matched sets though which adds a little to the price. The other downside is if you are in an area with a lot of RF it tends to pick that up.
Not sure about the RIAA cures though for 78's.
Eldartford. I don't need anything nor would I ask it of you. Just responding to your negative post.

As for idler wheel turntables, some make very nice music indeed. They are also among the very few tables ever built that can accomplish the (true) speed variations necessary for all 78 RPM pressings.

78 RPM records vary from mid 60 RPM to nearly 88 RPM. Traditional turntables are unable to play these back properly as they are locked at around 78 RPM (plus or minus 3 percent). Aside from that distinct advantage, I would also acquire a player that revisits my youth without much investment.

As for newer technology, the outlets your testing are not to my liking. I tested half a dozen on my system and made a decision based on quality of sound. The ones your testing did not make the cut, but I have stayed out of that discussion as it was your test and your results.

There are many opinions as to what sounds good and what does not. No doubt a great deal of this may be attributed to personal taste and (much) more than people would think, the equipment and the room.

The fact that your results do not match mine means just that. You are correct in your assessment with your equipment and in your environment. My equipment is very different, my room is totally different and my results are absolutely different.

I treasure any product that makes music "right," For me that means tubes and analog. I intensely dislike your digital amps yet agree with your assessment of Dynaco. So in spite of our differences, we can find some things to agree on.

As for turntables, it is damn hard to find a really great piece of reliable gear for $35.00 to $100.00. My goal is not to replace my state of the art Walker or my Io phono, but to see if some fun exists in revisiting the old Thorens and Lencos. Possibly even finding an original Jerry Lee Lewis or other rock and roll great on 78 and see how it sounds.

Along the way in this journey should I put something together that makes my son happy and that he can pack off to school, then mission accomplished two fold.

As for wall outlets, it's no secret that I have my own. They have sold here at Audiogon for a good while and I have only positive responses from buyers.

Considering a high quality Hubbell costs about $25.00 with tax, my $36.00 asking price is very fair. If the cryo treatment only improves one's system a tiny bit, it's $10.00 well spent. Many at this site have spent 200 times that amount on a single power cord.

I look for ways to add joy to my listening experience. An opportunity to improve my system in ways that puts me closer to the music. I have isolation devices in my system that cost $13.00 and in my opinion are the best available.

In other words, I consider equipment options at every price level, regardless if new or old technology. Price is important but only if it balances against how the music is delivered.
The Grado family of cartridge builders have been around for 50 years..I think John Grado took over from Joe who was in the first group to be inducted into the Audio Hall of Fame. Anyway the family has been around and doing cartridges since the earth cooled.In their combined library of experience they would give you the most profound advice..Tom
Albertporter...I guess I didn't grasp that your objective is to find a turntable with wow and flutter, rumble, and speed variation, to augment the 78 rpm surface noise, and recapture that nostalgic sound of your youth! In that context an idler wheel table fits the bill perfectly.

Records were made at various speeds, but those which are not 78rpm aren't properly called "78s". The 78rpm standard was established to end the speed inconsistencies, just as the RIAA equalization standard was established to end the need for multiple equalization curves in preamps. The speed range that you cite agrees with what I remember, and does exceed the range of adjustment for most turntables that provide for speed adjustment. Can you explain why an idler wheel drive permits more adjustment than some other form of drive? Or is it just that when turntables were made with a wide range of speed adjustment, idler wheel drive was the only show in town.
I can help you there, Eldartford. The Lenco can play over a wide variety of speeds because the spindle against which the idler wheel turns is gradually machined from "fat" to "skinny", the idler wheel itself is carried on a sliding support to transport the wheel to any point along the spindle in infinitely variable increments, much like analogue itself versus the chopped-up digital version of music. Quite ingenious, and the reason why the Lencos are the darlings of the 78 crowd.

As to wow, flutter, rumble and speed variations, these are problems which affect belt drives as well, which is why these figures are given out even today. As well, belt-drive motors (cogging 150-300 rpm motors) often exhibit problems, as they are not nearly as well-built as the smoothly-spinning cogless, 4-pole, 1800-rpm idler-wheel motors of yore; belts are rubber bands which constantly react to "stylus drag" every time the needle hits heavily modulated passages (which is why so many belt-drives - even high-end ones - lose it when things get complicated)...all problems which do not affect properly set up idler-wheel drives. Probably why Sugano used a Garrard 301 in designing his Koetsu cartridges. Here I will quote from a very knowledgeable and logical man of open and working mind, Rudolf A. Bruil: "In order to achieve a perfect and steady turning of the record an EMT, a Thorens TD124 and a Garrard 301 and 401 (and also the early Goldring/Lenco) each have a heavy platter, a strong motor and an idler wheel which make the platter turn in a steady fashion, without a trace of slowing down when loud and complex passages suddenly occur. The isolation of the motor should be maximal. The rubber of the idler wheel should be durable and should not transmit motor vibrations to the platter at the same time. The circumference of the idler wheel needs to be impeccable. If this is not the case then rumble, wow and flutter will be the result...In the nineteen seventies several firms started using a heavy platter (6 to 20 kg) with the bulk of its mass concentrated on the periphery in order to achieve extraordinary values for wow, flutter and speed accuracy. If the shaft (spindle) and the bearing are engeneered from the best materials and to close tolerances, the playback of an Lp can give stunning results if arm and cartridge are also of high quality." Lencos with the rubber-covered aluminum idler wheels never have flat spots or other irregularities, the motors and platters are hand-balanced in labs, the platter has much o fits mass concentrated on the periphery, the motors themselves have their own three-point true spring suspension, and the main bearings are excellent. It's all in the execution.

Here is a quote from one of the few comparisons ever made between a modern high-end 'table, a Michell Gyrodec, and a rebuilt idler-wheel drive, the Garrard 401, in Hi Fi World: "I also strongly suspect, after listening to the very clean transient starts and stops supported by this turntable, that its high torque drive system suffers less from dynamic slowing than belt drives. That's why it not only sounds dynamic, but has a very good sense of pace and rhythmic control. The rumble demon has been banished completely by Martin Bastin's new bearing and plinth. Previously it measured around -25dB at 25Hz, relative to the DIN rumble test tone. Now, the spectrum analyser shows 25Hz level measures -60dB, looking like ordinary disc surface noise rather than a discrete rumble component. The smoothness of the rumble spectrum indicates there is no rumble as such."

So, if by recapturing the sound of our youth you mean music played with the proper authority and spot-on timing, which is absolutely crucial to proper reproduction of music and hence musical thrills, then yes, I agree with you entirely.
Johnnantais...Thanks for the good writeup about idler wheel turntable technology. The ones that I had, including the ubiquitous Garrards, never worked that well, and were easily surpassed by early belt drive tables like the Empire 598 that I used. Perhaps the belt drive is just harder to screw up, and doesn't require the precision engineering and construction needed to make the idler wheel effective.

The speed changes that you cite as a result of groove modulation is something that I have never actually seen (with LPs) using a strobe on either my belt drive or direct drive tables. Probably it happens more with 78s, and perhaps the phono pickup and downforce play a role. I have long used Shure V15 at about 1 gram.
Eldartford, the speed variations caused by belt reaction falls beneath the radar, so to speak, happening too fast to be captured by a strobe. This is why certain 'tables measure superbly averaged over a minute, yet don't hold up sonically (audibly) under pressure. But it is audible as confusion, loss of focus, orchestra melding into a single monstrous violin, loss of attack, and so on. And yes, it is far more difficult to design and properly set up an idler wheel drive than a belt drive, which is why belt drives won the war: a matter of price and profit margins. Fortunately there are the Lencos, whose simplicity in execution and design (a closed system of silent high-torque motor, perfect idler wheel and high-mass flywheel/balanced platter in which groove modulations have no effect) makes optimization much easier. The models I recommend were built from the late '60s to the mid-'70s, when many of the problems you cited were identified, understood and eliminated. I had never actually thought about the effect of stylus pressure, and you're right, lower tracking force would go some way towards mitigating this effect in belt drives, but with the Shure stylus profile (which digs deeply) the problem is increased, probably balancing out in the end. Yet one more thing I will have to experiment with!
Johnnatais has answered the variable speed questions about the Lenco.

As for why this is necessary, here is a section from a page on 78 RPM disc playback.

      By no means all 78s were actually recorded at 78 RPM. Even in the late 1920s English Columbia was still using 80 RPM, and prior to about 1921 speeds were widely variable. Some of the audio tracks included in the Music hall section of this site were transferred at speeds as low as 74 RPM, and I have come across records where the speed was as low as 68 or as high as 84 RPM.

As to a turntable capable of coping with these speeds, that is yet another problem. Few turntables have more than a tiny variation (usually 2 or 3 per cent, which is nowhere near enough); but electronically controlled turntables may be modifiable. You need a speed range of 72 to 82 to cover most records. I'm using a Goldring-Lenco turntable which has a mechanical system for continuously varying the speed from about 32 to about 84 RPM, but it's not available any more - indeed I have had mine since 1963

Exactly why I think it's a valid choice for 78 RPM playback and still deliver good performance on modern LP.
Another deck, unfortunately more rare (particularly outside UK) that would be excellent for 78rpm replay is the Strathclyde Transcription Developments Ltd STD305D. This, sadly no longer available, deck is belt drive (using a DC motor) and has an electronic speed control unit complete with digital readout which can be varied electronically over quite a wide range. Check it out on my STD site:


Johnnantais...A massive turntable will prevent high frequency speed variations. If you know the stylus drag force variation, and the angular inertia of the platter you can calculate speed variation, even neglecting any tendency of the motor to smooth things out.

I think that the stylus drag probably correlates with "Trackability", a parameter where Shure pickups excel. What do you use nowadays for stylus downforce for 78's? In the old days, when 78's were new, downforce of 5 to 10 grams was used, and this would certainly cause a lot more drag.
Eldartford, do you know I never actually tried to play 78s on my Lencos? I stumbled on them entirely by accident one day, and that particular model being defective, I simply threw out everything which was not directly connected to the drive system, thus accidentally modding it and being blown away by the sound. From there, hooked, I pursued the idler wheel grail. But from perusal of various 78 and mono stylii, I believe these can be tracked today from as low as 2 grams and up to 5. Others with hands-on experience will know more.

While it's true that high mass platters overcome belt reaction to a certain degree, what is actually happening, since physics cannnot simply be banished, is that this mass lowers the frequency of the reaction, as the belt reaction must overcome greater mass/inertia, thus reacting continually, but at a slower pace. This is why high-mass decks sound less lively than lower-mass decks (their bass rhythms messed up by low-frequency reaction), which major in PRaT, versus the information retrieval of high-mass decks which overcomes high-frequency belt reactions. I used to have one of the highest mass platters in the business on my Maplenoll, a 40-pound lead platter. Yes, there was greater retrieval of information, but it also sacrificed the famed Maplenoll liveliness. I eventually went back to the lower-mass Maplenoll Athena, which is far more musical. Thus is the high-mass/low-mass phenomenon exposed, as the human ear is still the best measuring instrument we have, with respect to music. Once I had a good idler wheel properly set-up, I was forced to seek the causes of the great increase in detail, attack, bass, imaging, and so on. So, having experience of both high-mass (Maplenoll Ariadne) and low-mass (Ariston, AR-XA modded, Maplenoll Athena) belt-drive 'tables, I came up with the above theory, which seems to fit the facts. A recent review of the Origin Live Aurora Gold turntable in Stereo Times had the following to say: "The heart of music is time and timing: music unfolds in its own created universe of time, divided into smaller sections placed within that fluid time scheme, divided further down to the individual note. Each individual note begins with silence, rises to its intended volume and then decays. Identifying that note, the instrument playing it and the physical location of it are all based on an exact sequence in time. It wouldn’t be too false a metaphor to understand music as an emotional language based on intervals of tone and time."

And what has better speed stability than an idler-wheel drive with perfect wheel, incredible cogless 4-pole 1800-rpm motor, and massive balanced flywheel platter which creates a closed system (groove modulations and stylus drag? what's that?) in which the platter smooths out the motor's revolutions while the motor carries the platter relentlessly? And yes, you're right, this extemely high-torque design is an accident of being designed for high stylus pressures - 5 to 10 grams - in the old days. But properly designed and implemented (a heavy, non-resonant plinth), the extreme speed stability regardless of groove modulations and stylus pressure is entirely audible at 33 1/3 rpm, even compared to the best of belt-drives. Again from the same review: "Since accurate tracking of the timing of a note - it’s loudness, attack, flowering and decay is also the perceptual mechanism behind reproducing a coherent stereo image, it’s no surprise that the I/AG is as adept at reproducing the stereo illusion as it is with the music unfolding within that illusion." And here speed stability must be the reason my Lenco with Rega arm clearly out-images and out-soundstages my parallel-tracking Maplenoll (the precursor of the E-T tonearms, the Maplenoll having been designed in part by Bruce Thigpen). To conlude, it's not for nothing that I flipped over the Lencos. A series of accidents beginning with a 'table which was designed to combat extreme stylus drag in the days of 78s, and ending with a lad who already owned a Maplenoll Ariadne and Audiomeca turntable, but in a foreign land needing a table cheap and picking an idler-wheel 'table he had never heard of at a flea market.
Where did the information above come from about "mass lowers the frequency of reaction"? I am very curious, and would like to read more.

Richard, the information came from nowhere but simple physics, my own experiments and experience with my own large collection of record decks, and the almost universally-noticed phenomenon that high-mass record decks simply don't have the "boogie factor" that low-mass decks like the Linn LP12 (and other similar decks) have. Rubber belts react, being rubber bands or springs, if you will. As the belt stretches on one side due to the braking action of groove modulations (the greater the modulations the greater the braking action) and the continuing pull of the motor, it must eventually contract. The lighter the platter, the more quickly it will contract. The heavier the platter, the greater the energy required to drag it (mass/inertia), and the slower the reaction, which affects the bass frequencies and thus the rhythm.

As I wrote up above, this is my theory to account for what I and others have heard and continue to hear. Take for instance this discussion on this forum of the strengths of various designs in "VPI Scout or Michell Technodec?": "But I would say that I'm now a believer in the 'theory' that high mass decks rob music of the life/prat/essence of music on vinyl. I don't see that teres does anything to handle resonance other than throwing lots of mass at it and this results in a dull presentation that I personally find boring and takes away one of the important reasons I love vinyl." Add to this the HiFi World review of the Garrard: "I also strongly suspect, after listening to the very clean transient starts and stops supported by this turntable, that its high torque drive system suffers less from dynamic slowing than belt drives." Simply a theory drawn from a series of sources and personal experience.

Once again I resort to the most recent consideration of this phenomenon (which I have followed avidly ever since discovering idler-wheel drives) from a Stereo Times review of the Origin Live turntable: "I must admit to severe disappointment with the musical delivery of most of the High End turntables and tonearms beloved of US audiophiles. This was as true in 1973 as it is today. Consequently I ran Duals and AR’s instead of the Thorens and Japanese direct-drives that were the rage in the mid-70’s; a Connoisseur when everyone lusted for a Technics SP 10, Kenwood KD 500 or Denon direct drive. Similarly, I owned Regas and Linns when Goldmunds, Well-Tempereds, SOTA’s and VPI’s were the High End darlings. The overall pre-occupation with stereoscopy and with sonic special effects of most High End record players pays too little attention to the core values of musical communication. (One prominent designer even admits that he was no idea of how to design a turntable with that sine qua non of the UK design school: articulating rhythm, phrasing, tempo and drive.) Consequently I find these tables turgid, dissecting, prosaic and unable to dance: you hear everything about the sonic event except what the music means."

While this phenomenon has been noted for as long as I have been paying attention (mid-'80s), the only theory so far to account for it is that mass absorbs energy and releases it over time, the greater the mass, the slower and more drawn-out the release. I submit that it is not this (heavy idler-wheel 'tables for instance and heavy direct drives do not suffer this problem with PRaT...all dance clubs use direct drives), but simple belt reaction, the heavier the platter, the slower the reaction. Of course, anyone can react to this theory in a number of ways: 1) deny that high-mass belt-drive 'tables have any problem with PRaT; 2) PRaT is an illusion; 3) high-mass aborbs energy and releases it over time; 4) disagree with all of the above and wait for a better theory; 5) agree with the theory. There are probably other reactions, and I'm sure at some point I will discover them. I read all record player reviews I can uncover (it is a sickness with me), as I find the whole "design's impact on the music" thing fascinating. I experiment extensively at home, and listen to various decks when I can in other systems. It's that "magic" factor that I find supremely important in music, and I believe this comes down to timing, or PRaT, as does the above reviewer and Art Dudley, among many others. The pursuit of high mass in record player design is a runaway train with no musical (PRaT) foundation.
I opened my new Decca arm today and it is BEAUTIFUL. Unbelievable it sat sealed and unused all these years! I picked it up for $50.00. (Thanks for the tip Jean.)

My Lenco 75 should be here Thursday. I plan on going through it and determine if condition is as advertised. Then I will test Jean's theory with some music.

This is a chance for people to have fun without risk, something high end audio needs. I hope my son doesn't take it away from me before I can check it out.

For an explanation? of the 'belt stretch/speed anomalies' see -



Apologies - this is the correct link

Excellent site, Bornin, it's added to my vinyl file!
Still not hearing from Audiogon members as to which phono stage is best in this price range. Has no one compared EAR 834 to Sound Lab Mini or Seduction kit?

Other suggestions? Tom Lyon says I should consider Goldring 1042 Moving magnet for the Decca-Lenco rig when I get it assembled.
Dear Albert & others: two links, one for multicurveriaa, and another for a downloadable strobe. The latter also offers riaas and other equip for 78rpm. While you probably know these links, I'm mentioning them just-in-case...
Albert, the EAR is nowhere near the Mini Phono in terms of price, and I would venture to guess it is better. The Seduction kit I know nothing about, but eventually would like to try. For fun factor, then the Mini Phono and Seduction kit have it. The Lenco/Decca pairing works with many cartridges, I have even tried it with an Audio Technica OC9 low-output MC with great success. My personal favourite combinations are with Shure V15VxMR (PRaT), and Grado Platinum (glorious midrange). The Decca isn't picky, and your choices are therefore large. Probably the Godlring would sound good too. Happy to muddy the waters!
What about the GSL Jazz Club phonostage, which is designed specifically for the 78 rpm record.

If you don't need one specifically for 78 then the EAR 834P is certainly a very nice phonostage but when bought new its the most expensive one on your list. I have not heard the ASL but a local dealer has one and he says it is a little noisy but as someone said low noise tubes reduces/eleminates that issue. Two other phono amps I am considering (along with most on your list) right now as replacements for a modified 834P are kits. The Hagerman Coronet and the DIY HiFi Cole. Luckily I have tracked down someone in the city with a Cornet and will be comparing it to the modified 834P so I get a chance to make a good decision based on first hand experience for once. There is also a local dealer with the ASL mini and I just might bring it home for the weekend and see how it ranks in its stock form compared to the EAR and Cornet.
Bmckenney, that would be perfect. I hope you make that listening session and post results.

Johnnantais. I was considering the Seduction kit new and the EAR used. I was thinking the EAR used for $500.00.

The Seduction kit is $225.00 plus the recent upgrade board which raises the total gain to 40 DB is an additional $125.00. That puts the price of the two close enough to go with the EAR if it were clearly superior.

Gregm, thanks for the links. Wish I could justify that high end 78 EQ phono. Likely I will live with RIAA for the 78's I purchase.

Will you be listening to the 78's in true mono? Probably too late now, but I'd put together a separate vintage tube mono system on the cheap (it could even be an early stereo amp with a mono switch).

Amps of the appropriate vintage will have the various curves noted on their tone controls (my old Pilot does). I'd go with an integrated amp to keep things simple.

You would just have to find a spot for a single vintage speaker, or maybe an old victrola type cabinet which could hold the entire system (including the speaker/driver).

I'm getting ready to auction a few of my vintage mono speakers by George Gott and Reproducer & Amplifier (cleaning out the guest room), but feel that you should go with a larger driver/cabinet considering the size of your room.

Something like a 15" Stephens coaxial, a K-Horn, or the model just below it that does not require corner loading (forget the name) would be nice in a large room.
Cool idea Dekay. If I take over another room my wife will have no place to sleep.

I'm going to have to push it through the current rig. Maybe get a second head shell for the Decca and a true mono cartridge for those old 78's.
Don't be a spoil sport Albert. Your wife may just be interested in an old/nice Victrola cabinet (perhaps enough to ask that you replace the rest of the setup with it:-).
Then we would have to get one of those dogs like RCA used in the ads.

I can see him now, sitting in the living room listening to that old horn coming off the Victrola and ignoring my Soundlabs.

I talked to a buddy of mine who built the newest version Seduction. He loves it. From what he says, you CAN NOT go wrong for the money. I wanted to try it, but he would not swap for my Microgroove! He was going to let me use the Ear when I built my Teres. Then the SOB sold it. But he most definitely liked the Seduction better. He's a "suspended" table man, and into tubes. Kind of an odd duck, but knows his s@#t. I'd like to hear a report of how it sounds in a system as nice as yours.

The other thing you may want to look at is the Ming-Da (sp?) tubed phono stage. I think I saw it here and on ebay for a little over $500. Some on AA seem to be impressed by the new wave of Chinese audiophile equiptment making the rounds. Having no first hand experience, and not knowing anyone who has, I must say I'd be hard pressed to recommend it. But it does present another option.

Gotta tell ya, this thread is interesting. In my family, who never gts rid of anything, there must be 2000 78's between all of my relatives. All bought new. I was already planning on building the next TT with two arms. I wonder if I can get Chris to do a motor with 33 & 78.....

Oh, BTW, check this out:


Shure M78S for $49.
Thanks for the link Jphii.

Good news too as this is a true mono cartridge according to Shure web site. All I would need is a second head shell and I can spin every everything from 16 to 78 RPM.

I wish I had access to the 2000 78 RPM discs you mention. I would love to find some old rock and roll or blues or maybe Ella Fitzgerald or other great artists that released tunes on 78 that never made it to long play.

As for Chris doing a motor with 33 and 78. All that is required is a larger pulley.
I just wrote an email to the MingDa people, asking about the MC767-RD Phono Tube Pre-Amplifier.

It looks very nice. Wish I had someone who has compared it to any of the others discussed here. There seems to be a wealth of new inexpensive tube phono's appearing on the market. Someone needs to do a test.
Mingda and chineese tube gear.....

I was considering that one too, but I am worried about service and reliability of any attractive 'affordable' gear from China. I believe that some of this stuff can be serviced in north america, but....

As for doing a test.... that someone could be you, no?

There are some US dealers who will do a 30 day on the MingDa, just for guys like yourself to check it out. I'd do it myself, but I live in Canada and its more of a hassle for me.
To do this right, someone would need a sample of five or six of these pieces and do a shoot off.

Even then it would be necessary to have more than one cartridge and tonearm so there was no unfair synergy with a certain piece.

Unfortunately this is beyond me, I don't have funds or power to bring that many pieces together. Audiogon member posting results (with nothing to gain) have great value. One of the best things about this site and probably as close as I will get to hands on experience.
As for cartridges, you might take a look at Grado. There is the risk of hum, but it seems like many 78 fans are now using Grado cartridges--mainly, I think, because they make a variety of stylus sizes. They also make a special mono LP cartridge.

The Shure, however, has a lower price. However, I'm under the impression that they don't make a mono LP stylus that fits that body.

I've been doing research on 78s recently, too, and there seems to be some information on Audio Asylum.
I was thinking two head shells and two cartridges. 78's are supposed to be wired mono and Shure makes a true mono cartridge. Not certain how each wires to the head shell or how that effects the run to the phono stage. More research yet to do.