I thought that the Kenwood KP-5022A Direct Drive Semi-auto turtable was pretty cool!
28 responses Add your response
The Linn Sondek is certainly the most important turntable of the '70s and, arguably, the most seminal product of the modern high end movement. It was based on Thorens first belt drive the TD150 and the AR turntable, both of which came out in the same year, 1965 if I remember correctly, and, more closely, the Ariston RD11, all being classics. I have seen a lot of Mac tube systems that were sold with Dual tables, simply because, before Linn, the prevailing logic was that all turntables sounded the same. Kind of a let down, but I used to collect Mac tube gear and that's what usually showed up with it. Certainly, the Technics SP10, in it's various revisions was an object of desire, and started the whole direct-drive movement, and the Thorens TD124 was another lusted after piece of analog gear. Many found the Micro Seiki DDX-1000 to be a stunner and the capacity for housing three tonearms was way out for the time. For sheer looks, the Transcriptor tables were the cats meow and one can be seen in Kubrick's great film, "A Clockwork Orange".
Rabco belt-drive linear-tracking tonearm, either the Rabco or Harman-Kardon version
Marantz SLT-12 linear tracker
For home use, Garrard SL-95B (with teak insert on tonearm for damping), or Zero-100 with pivoting headshell for "zero" tracking angle distortion.
The Thorens 'tables of the day (not sure of model numbers)
AR suspended belt drive (spiritual ancestor to the Linns)
Along with the Garrard 301/401 pro line, the Rek-o-Kuts were highly regarded for pro use.
And of course there was the Technics SL-10 and all that followed.
Next, we'll be talking about Weathers cartridges.
I have both a completely restored Dual 1219 and 1229. They sound quite nice even today.
They actually have RCA plug inputs underneath. Most turntables back then had a built in lamp cord RCA cable. So with modern cables they sound better than they did back in the 1960s. Also with the better phono preamps today.
I'd say that the Empire turntable was probably considered the state of the art in the early to mid '70s. The important thing to remember about that pre - Ivor Tiefenbrun time was that most audiophiles didn't think that turntables had any inherent sound, provided that the wow and flutter and rumble specs were good. It wasn't unusual to see pricey systems with relatively cheap turntables.
I had most of these turntables at one time. I strongly discourage buying an Empire. Pretty and well made, but terrible sound. Way too massive an arm. I also had a Oracle and found it again pretty but not much competition for a well done Linn LP12. I have since discovered the benefits sonically of rim drive machines, such as the Garrard 301. I only wish I had kept my old Garrard from the 70s rather than wasting my time with other tt.
I had a Lux after my first Garrard. See a very interesting thread at http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=32003&an=0&page=0#Post32003
Of course, Linn was around then. I might have bought one except Igor, Ivan whatever his name is made such outrageous claims and I couldn't get a good demo. (Thank goodness I missed that tweakdom).
I don't see Micro Seiki mentioned. They were big.
I wouldn't exactly call it the "golden age." Finding good vinyl was a BIG problem. Just like double-compressed mp3 today, the masses were fed really crappy software. The major labels could care less about quality. There were a few great D2D albums, but most were "audiophile" in the worst sense of the word. (Good sound but no talent).
Oracle certainly did not rule. Thorens probably enjoyed the largest market share of the high quality tables. AR was a big player also. Empire was considered really high end.
Tbg, I too owned an Empire (598III) and I found that while the stock version was somewhat underwhelming, it could GREATLY improved. I drilled the base and installed three 1/4"x20 threaded inserts so I could experiment with various footers and then sited the table on a thick maple platform. The improvements were quite startling. While I'd never try to bs anyone about the modded 598 being some sort of real competitor with a good modern table, it could perform at a respectable level with attention to vibration/isolation issues.
Visiting my parents for Christmas, I found my old Philips 212 up in a closet. I loved those speed switches with the lights underneath. The Philips 212 was originally my parents' TT before they switched to a larger Thorens. When they had the Philips, I had a Dual 1225 and a 1229.
These days, I actually use two 70s TTs at home - a Micro Seiki and a Yamaha linear tracking TT.
My dad owned a Gerard 301 in the 60's. It was his initial stab at seperates from our Grundig console. He later bought a Benjamin Miracord ELAC with a Sure Cartridge. This table had an optional long spindle to accommodate record stacking which no one would do now and it also was automatic with a repeat play set for 7" or 12". Of course it played all 3 speeds. As of this writing it is still fully functional.
I recently sold my sota nova with sme-v arm. No real need to but just wanted to go simpler. And it doesn't get much simpler than the old, early 70s Philips ga-212. A very uncomplicated belt-drive with perfect speed control and good suspension. I use a micro-acoustics 2002e cartridge although the oem stylii are getting hard to come by!