Are Bang and Olufsen turntables any good?

Hello all,

I've re-dedicated myself to 2 channel audio, tubes and everything.
Way way back I bought a B&O Beogram 1700 turntable.
Before I use it in my new system I'd like to know your thoughts.
Years ago I heard a malicious rumor that B&O turntables actually damage the vinyl played on them irreparably.
Any truth to this? If so I'm in BIG trouble.
Thanking you in advance.
PS: I've still got my original discwasher system complete with working Zerostat. Any good?
Whether or not B&O turntables are anywhere near state of the art, (and I think not, to be honest), remains to be seen. They were, IMHO, the best of the mid-fi turntables, as they had lots of features, but only decent sonics.

However, their cartridges were very nearly state of the art in terms of how light the cartridge was, and how small the stylus was. I used a B&O 3000 linear tracking turntable, with a MMT2 cartridge, for many years, (from about 1983-1990), before finally putting it away in favor of going digital. I got back into vinyl (2003-present), and I have played a good many of the old disks that I used back 20 years previously on my near reference analog system. They still sound great and almost like new. IMHO, the sound on those disks were not harmed in the slightest by using the B&O turntable.

My advice is if you really want to use this turntable, is to buy the best cartridge that you can, in order to get the absolute most you can out of the turntable. (By the way, most, if not all, B&O turntables used a proprietary cartridge, so you're kind of stuck with whatever you can find.) And then when you've gotten hooked on vinyl again, you can upgrade to something a bit more current, which will give you much more options in terms of tonearms, and more importantly, cartridges.

Good Luck!
Dear Rhanechak: Like you I heard a B&O TT sveral times but way way back for to have a today precise opinio on it.

What I can tell you about B&O products is that even today some of its cartridge models ( MI ) are very good quality performers, example: MMC1 and 2 and the MMC20CL.

If your B&O comes with either of those cartridges then you are lucky.

Regards and enjoy the music,
I've never heard anything about B&O tables damaging vinyl.

You can get new cartridges for the B&O mount from Soundsmith. The Soundsmith cartridges have been very well received.

Of course there are better tables, but I think it would be fine for getting back into vinyl. You should probably get yourself a strobe disc to check the speed, and may also need a new belt (about $30).
b&o put more r&d into their tables than many of todays so called high end models, and with anew cartridge, they sound great. they are not 'tall' however, so there are sceptics.
I'd put a good matching cartridge in the beast as indicated by others and go with it. I suspect it will do quite well.
I'm using a Beogram 4500 with built in phono preamp and MMC-2 cartridge. Like jaybo says not as tall as some of todays models, but can hold it's own sonically. Pretty well engineered. According to Peter at Soundsmith the phono preamp design was well executed within the context of what was available during that time period and having to fit within a small foot print.
I worked at a store that sold B&O and we had a linear tracking Beogram as one of our source components, along with a Marantz 6300 with Fidelity Research MC cart w/Supex step-up transformer.

The B&O was pretty good and presented the meat of the music pretty well, but it's a bit light in the bass extension and rhythmic slam department as I remember them, especially next to a good DD turntable of the day. Their cartridges and Soundsmith's recreations of them are very good, and they don't hurt the records.

If you got a new Soundsmith cart for your B&O and later decided to upgrade the TT, I would think you could get a Soundsmith adapter to enable mounting the B&O style cart in a standard 1/2" spaced headshell.
The very good news: The TT works perfectly.
The cartridge in the TT is a MMC 20EN, the big mamma jamma from what I read.
Being the obsessive I am I bought a spare cartridge with the TT when I bought it.
Also I examined the stylus using a Zeiss microscope and I cannot believe what excellent condition it is in.
I find it is a bit light on the bass, but the dynamics!
Thanks for all your input and Soundsmith seems a great resource.
Anything else?
Although your stylus condition is critical for good sound I have found that the suspension is more prone to failure with vintage cartridges. If things take a turn for the worse that is where I would look first.

For your situation as described, I wouldn't worry too much about the debate.

As for B&O damaging records, that was clearly a criticism and rumour started by a DEALER who did not carry the line.

The really good news - regardless of higher or lower fidelity - is that the B&O equipment was very sleek and beautiful.

So good luck and have fun.

My B&O 1700 works and sounds beautiful(ly) after 20+ years.
I was fortunate to buy two cartridges for it when I bought it.
I am still using the original though.
My first post here so be gentle...

I am in the process of matching a phono pre with my B&O Beogram RX... which supports a MMC2 cart. Yup, nice match, no? The story is that I bought the RX on ebay; more or less a local sale. The unit had a broken lid hing and came w/a MMC5 cart. $80. After getting a new belt at the local shop (Needledoctors) I was ready to play my first side. It sounded like I was dragging a nail across sandpaper.

The internet being the marvel that it is soon enlightened me to what had and was happening. 'My fault in not inspecting the stylus closely as it was obviously nonexistent, even to the naked eye. I felt so stupid.

It seems that without regular/annual use, the MMC5 stylus simply oxidizes away to nothing, which is what had happened in the seller's closet over ten years. Normal and somewhat regular play of a MMC5 "dusts off" the micro sized oxidized particles of the titanium-bonded elliptical diamond. You eventually have to replace it but you won't be surprised when it comes to that.

I got him to give me the table for $20 and found a dealer selling off old stock MMC1 & 2 carts so I jumped at a MMC2 for I think $189 or some silly number like that. It has a nude multi-radial Contact Line diamond stylus and apparently is not subject to the ravages of air and time.

So if the story is based on a MMC5's tendency to oxidize and disappear, then yes, I'd say a B&O setup is capable of damaging a nice vinyl side.

As others have said, it's not the best system around any longer, but it ain't the worst, and matched with the appropriate cart should do fine by you till your ears start controlling your spending money.

Now I need to find a not too expensive phono pre to make a decent match for the MMC2 and my HK AVR 135. Anyone have any thoughts?
Dear Dpaulku: I own the MMC2 and can say that is truly a very top performer but to achieve the best on it you need a phono stage not only " decent " but the best you can get and with facilities to make capacitive and impedance changes, better if that phono stage permit to use 100K on load impedance where that MI cartridge shows at its best.

Regards and enjoy the music,

Thanks for that vote of support for the MMC2. I'm afraid that if I spend top dollar on a proper grade preamp, that the short comings of the RX will simply be amplified. Might you have a recommendation that would be a best fit, indeed a compromise? I'm in no position to start rebuilding a system around this cart and it's quality level as I'm just back to work. Any reasonable solution would be gratefully considered.

Indeed, enjoy the music!

They are excellent turntables. With proper care and maintenance they will last a lifetime. I bought a B&O 4002 turntable, new, in 1978 and it performs like new. They need periodic servicing performed by an expert technician. They have a very sophisticated and unique pendulum suspension that isolates the platter and tone arm more effectively than conventional designs. The tangential tracking versions are marvels of engineering excellence and design. The B&O moving cross phonograph cartridges it uses have lower mass than MM or MC designs. For best results it needs a high quality phonograph amplifier.
It has problems with bass. It is kind of a lightweight. If you have it now, don't fear for your records, it will not harm them. It just won't be terrific. If you are a bass-head then dump it and try others.
NO not really!!
If they are light in the bass, I remember their "state of the art" speakers were heavy in the bass....good combination.
Dpaulku, If the seller told you that the (diamond) tip of the MMC5 "oxidized away" in his closet, he was selling you a bill of goods. That's pure hogwash. The MMC5 is not as good as what you have now, the MMC2, but diamond is diamond. It's as stable in air as any material on this planet.
Years ago I heard a malicious rumor that B&O turntables actually damage the vinyl played on them irreparably.
Any truth to this? If so I'm in BIG trouble.
A great deal of vinyl was damaged in the 70s and 80s (when B&O was big), but it wasn't due to any particular turntable. It was caused caused by the fad (pushed by B&O and many others) to play with the lightest possible VTF (downforce). This was terrible advice, and millions of records were ruined by it.

It sounds so intuitive: playing with lighter VTF reduces friction and record wear, right? Wrong. Inadequate downforce allows the stylus to momentarily be thrown out of contact with the groovewalls, typically by more dynamic passages in the music. When the stylus slams back down onto the vinyl, well, you can guess what happens when a very sharp diamond chisel rattles around between two plastic walls. You may not hear this happening in a less resolving system, but when the LP is played back in a more resolving system the damage is obvious, and irreparable.

The solution is simple, do NOT try to play near the bottom of your cartridge's recommended VTF range. If anything, play near the top of it. This will assure constant stylus/groove contact and reduce the chances of damage to either.

BTW, this will also enhance bass response.

I'm afraid that if I spend top dollar on a proper grade preamp, that the short comings of the RX will simply be amplified.
Not true IME. Putting a very high end cartridge on a cheap TT or tonearm can have this effect, but having a very good phono stage only makes things better.

The difference is that a very revealing cartridge will respond to (reproduce) vibrations and noise in an inadequate arm or table, thus ADDING mud to the signal. OTOH, a phono stage simply amplifies and equalizes whatever signal is coming in. Better phono stages do this with less distortion, less noise and a lower sound floor than lesser phono stages.

Buy the best phono stage for your needs that you can afford. You won't regret it.
What may have oxidized is the suspension in the cartridge and/or the glue that held the stylus. Either one is possible, likely even, over a long period of time.

Lewm is right of course about the diamond stylus itself not oxidizing. Anyone who passed HS Chemistry should know that's impossible. Carbon in its pure crystalline form has no openings in its electron shell for an oxygen atom (or any atom) to bond with. Of course whoever said that may well have oxidized their brain. ;-)
I have owned several B&O turntables over the years. The best was a 4002 (or was it a 4004) with a 20CL cartridge. I remember it sounding as good as some very high end tables with medium priced MC cartridges. I had compared it to Dynavector Karat 23R. That particular 20CL cartridge was really really good sounding and the tonearm and cartridge mass combo was very light. Combining that with linear tracking made it one of my favorites.
I have a Beogram RX2 and just pulled the MMC2 cartridge out and bought adapter for standard mount.I don't like the cueing and the way the arm works on that table at all.I have several Dual 1200's and a Rotel I'd like mount the MMC2 on.I'm not dismantling my Clear audio virtuoso wood off my Rega to hear what it sounds like on the Rega.The MMC2 sounded like it needed a better table than on the RX2.The Rega Clearaudio combo sounds much better.Any thoughts on the quality of RX2 to the Dual's or Rotel with the MMC2?I just got the adapter and haven't mounted it yet.
As others have brought up...the limited use only using B&O carts on B&O tables kind of takes the fun out of it...iI always felt B&O was overpriced related to performace...but if your table functions and the cart is clean...go for it!
they are not great compared to what can be had some similar prices. Technics 1200, Thorens, Rega...

Not a fan of the cartridige mount either, it narrows selection.
I really like B&O turntables, have owned many, and currently have two - a modified Beogram 4004 with an MMC20CL, and a stock Beogram 8002 with an MMC1. They are terrifically out-of-vogue in audiophile circles . . . but every "hot-ticket" vintage turntable that people swoon over on these fora have also been spurned at one time or another.

One problem is that the very newest B&O turntables are over twenty years old now, and most of the more collectable ones are 35-40 years old. Like any machine, performance varies WILDLY with condition, and it's hard to anecdotally assess the difference between a top-notch restored turntable, and one that's simply been twiddled-with on somebody's kitchen table. But this no different from the Thorens TD-124, Garrard 401, or Micro RX-5000 . . . I've owned all of these as well, when they out-of-vogue. They were just like the B&Os in the sense that they sounded pretty wretched when they weren't in good working order.

But here are some classic B&O disadvantages:
- Arm, cartridge, and turntable are engineered as a unit, so you can't twiddle with different combinations or setups.
- They're largely automatic, and not really designed for hands-on cueing.
- Most of them have DIN output plugs, with both sides of the cartridge sharing a common ground connection (but chassis is still separate, to the DIN shell). Many phono preamps don't like this, and can have weird noise/RF issues as a result.
- Many people feel that they're a bit bass-light, even though they generally measure very flat through the lower bass. If you're looking for your LPs to sound "warm" as compared to digital sources, you'll be disappointed.

And some of their classic advantages:
- Arm, cartridge, and turntable are engineered as a unit, so they are extremely well matched without having to twiddle. Their tonearm/cartridge resonance envelope is pretty flat and well-controlled . . . "woofer-pumping" is extremely rare even with warped records.
- They're largely automatic, so if you enjoy intoxicants with your music-listening, there's far less chance of damage. Not to mention that most of them since 1977 can support remote-control operation with a B&O system (or a bit of PIC programming)
- B&O cartridges offer exceptional performance at their original price points, and the Sound-Smith versions are pretty damn good too.
- Tracking performance is generally outstanding at all points on the record, even on the pivoted tonearms.
- If you combine the attributes of acoustic isolation, resistance from foot-fall issues, and consistency of performance regardless versus the shelf/stand on which they're placed . . . B&O had arguably the best suspension system of any turntable, at any price, period.

People sometimes criticize B&O for "value", but many of these turntables weren't very expensive, and can be had pretty cheap today. The last was the Beogram 7000, which sold for about $600 new in the early-1990s, with a built-in phono preamp - then one would add an MMC2 cartridge for $225. I've owned this setup, and it completely embarrasses any of the more entry-level offerings from Rega, Pro-ject, Clearaudio, Music Hall, etc. No twiddling, no special shelves or racks, and absolutely no mistracking or acoustic feedback. Made in Denmark, too . . . every one.
I inherited a Beogram RX2 some years ago. It sat in storage for years. About 2 years ago, when I set up a second system, I got it out and tried it. It sounded horrible! I discovered that the stylus was gone. Epoxy probably degraded. As I recall it is a MMC4. I found out that the only place to get a replacement was Soundsmith and it would cost me over $200. The Beogram went back into storage.

Things have changes a lot since then. My second system has become my best and includes an Oracle Alexandria which makes me very happy. Except for casual listening, when I don't want to be forced to get to it before the stylus hits the label. So I've been looking for a used Dual 1229 or something like that as a second table. Then I remembered the RX2.!

So I am researching the sound quality of the the RX2/MMC4 or 3 combo. Is the table worth an investment of $200 to $300, or would it be better to get a used DD or Idler wheel  (for a different flavor) for the same cost? Please don't say 'trust your ears', because my ears can't offer an opinion until the money is spent. Think more like 'what would I do.'