Back into vinyl - part 1

About five years ago, while I was living nice, quiet, and boring vinyl-less life, I run across some very nice LPs while walking around my local flee market. I got rid of all my records years ago, almost immediately after Sony and Philips promised us all “Perfect Sound Forever”. My music life was easy and simple, few hundred of my CDs were complemented by couple hundred cassettes and only sometimes I was wondering how come some of my cassettes sounded very obviously better than CDs.
But I would not let these thoughts bother me – digital was better, period. Doesn’t every manufacturer of audio equipment say so for 20 years now?
Anyway, the albums I run across were so dear to me and so impossible to find on CDs that I bought them, without even thinking about the fact that I had absolutely no idea how to use them. Did they even sell turntables anymore?
Being a nerd I started searching the Net for information and to my surprise discovered that not only they still sell TTs, but there is a whole range of them, from 50 Presidents all the way to tens of thousands.
I was considering getting me some of those 78s, so three-speed machine was needed. I quickly found a site of KAB Electro-Acoustics, and called the guy.
Kevin was very helpful and knowledgeable. After hearing my pathetic story he very kindly described me current situation on the marked and few days later I was a proud owner of KAB Broadcast Standard, equipped with Shure V15VxMR.
The LPs that I bought sounded amazing. They were almost 40 years old, though in very good condition, but the sound was so real that no CD could even touch it.
Bare in mind, my system was nothing to write home about – middle-of-the-road ES Sony CD player, amplifier and cassette deck and Mission speakers.
And then I found audio forums.
OK, I have to admit – I am always questioning my knowledge. Even when I am 100% sure about something, there will always be a thought buried somewhere deep inside, saying “What If You Are Wrong?”
So I started asking questions and in return heard condolences about my TT and really stupid explanations about why direct drive is inferior to belt drive. Someone even quoted well-respected magazine reviewer stating that DD table is constantly changing speed at a rate of about 3500 times a second, which is quite audible.
I bought it.
I sold my KAB table (surprisingly very close to the original price), in my heart blaming Kevin for selling me this junk, and got myself a … well, I don’t think I should use any more names here – it is really irrelevant. Let’s just say that the table was listed at $750 and at that price point is considered to be a de facto standard in audiophile world.
Well, this is where my problems started. First, the damn thing was running fast. I was trying to get my dealer to fix it with no positive outcome. “The table is flawless” was the answer. Oh and did I mention “No Returns” policy?
Running fast, switching between speeds was a nightmare, and then in 2000 they released an updated motor in which was supposed to fix speed deviation problem (what problem?) which set me back another $150. With no positive outcome.
I had to let it go, losing a lot of money in the process.
What do you think I did next? Correct, I bought another belt-driven table from different manufacturer. It was about twice as expensive as my first one and was coming from the company that is even more respected in audiophile world.
The construction of the table was very unusual. Almost as unusual as one of the first models from this company, shown in one of Stanley Kubrick’s movies.
Built quality seemed to be better, but as I discovered, in order to achieve best results, I needed much better tonearm, special power supply etcetera, etcetera… Oh and did I mention that you can’t really clean the record on this table? Friction between the belt and the platter is too low for it…
I got back to the previous company and purchased their just-released top of the line model. Exotic materials used for platter, outboard power supply, fancy words used in its description… I was not as stupid as I used to be, so I purchased it from Canada, thus loosing my US warranty, but saving about 30%.
Well, what do you know? The table was running fast! The brilliantly engineered power supply did not allow for speed adjustments without knowing the schematics and friendly technical support staff of the manufacturer was too friendly to respond to my request.
Another bummer.
I was getting smarter. No more purchases, I said to myself, before I am sure I know what I am buying.
Very famous and very local manufacturer just released reasonably inexpensive model, which I borrowed from my local dealer. Build quality was so low that I still don’t understand how people can actually mention the word “quality” when talking about this table? Platter bearing was loose, table was running slow and besides the motor was running hot as hell. I called the company with my questions and they responded that bearing has to burn-in (oh really?) motor has high operating temperature and speed can be easily adjusted by using their power generator costing a mere $1000! Thanks!
I tried few more tables. The more expensive they were getting, the more I was shocked by their poor quality.
I got tired. My vinyl collection was several hundred LPs by now but I had no means of listening and enjoying.
Then I called Kevin.
I told him about my experience and my frustration and his simple and knowledgeable words got me back to real world.
I have a degree in electrical engineer for crying out loud, cant’ I do something?
And I did.
To be continued…
Interesting commentary. I'll be very interested in Part 2.
You are smart in not mentioning names. It appears that Agon has taken to censoring posts that are not complimentary or attack the reputation of any manufacturer, even if said information is valid and / or verifiable. As Twl stated, i too am interested in Part II. Quite honestly, i am even more interested in the names involved in Part I, but... Obviously, you did your best to give the identity away on one make, but folks would have to be familiar with who made the table in Clockwork Orange to know who that was : )Sean

PS... Kevin / KAB are well worth doing business with. I may not agree with all of his views or share common experiences, but he is honest and a pleasure to work with. The same can't be said about a lot of other dealers / manufacturer's.

It's not hard to figure out the names.

Table 1 Rega

Table 2 Oracle

Table 3 VPI

At least those are my un-edumacated guesses.

happy with my Denon and Dual tables... Thankyou.
I feel your pain. Perfection is a hard road to hoe.
I am satisfied with my used Denon DP59-L TT and my Dual CS7000 'Golden One'. Maybe I'll try a few midprice carts, but no fumbling toward nirvana for me, I am happy to report.
But I still need some speakers.... and .... uhh ... I confess I am an Audioholic too! But a cheap one!!!
And behind door number 4 is TT manufacturer initals only, Oops I scrambled them by accident (M.A.J.)

Is there a boobie prize if you guess the TT in question?

Who made the tape deck in Clockwork Orange???
The 'table in Clockwork Orange was made by our friend John A. recently departed, I'm told :(

Curious about the tape deck myself.

Hmmm, could that first table have been a model spelled with the sixteenth letter of the alphabet, then three?

An interesting story (and a tough customer!). Curious to see how it works out...
Did you never get the 78's? I know those other machines wouldn't play 'em. I had Kevin mod my SL-1200 to play 78rpm (in addition to getting his fluid damper and outboard power supply), so even if I ever succumb to the siren song of some $$$K audiophile-approved belt-driver, I'll still have all the reason I need to hang on to my DD/DJ "piece'o'junk"... ;^)
Back to vinyl – Part 2.
I decided to go DIY way. I built quite few audio things in my life. Back in Russia I built several pairs of speakers from the ground up, which to be honest sounded like you know what. Later I realized that when I used drivers from actual speaker manufacturers the results were much better. I shall not mention power amps and all sorts of tweaks – they don’t count if you have a PhD in electronics.
So I decided to approach this as an engineer.
What is a turntable anyway?
Tonearm part is easy – though some people get exotic and build them, there is no need for that. Second hand market in the US is not as extensive as it is in good old Europe, but it does exist and one could buy a very decent arm for very little money.
Plinth (if any) has to be acoustically inert. Big deal! I live in New Jersey, kitchen remodellers are probably as common here as lawyers and realtors, no shortage of Korian and granite of any shape, form and color (I tried to write “colour” but my US edition word processor stopped me).
Motor – well, not that difficult. Very high quality 32 pole DC motor with adjustable power supply would cost you a mere 5-6 hundred bucks (and don’t listen to that BS you hear at CES!).
Bearing can be special-ordered from any reasonably good machine shop. Depending on the quality and materials it would cost anywhere from $10 for a decent one to $500 for something out of this world.
Platter can be made in the same machine shop using any material you want and the cost would be so low that is not even worth mentioning. If you are fan of acrylic, try calling a place that makes it and get a quote. You’ll never be able to look at one German turntable company without a smile…
I was almost ready to start ordering components when accidentally run across… Technics SP10MK3! Not Mark 2, but legendary Mark 3! The one that lots of people are talking about but almost no one actually saw!
I bought it from a guy in Australia for an incredibly small amount of money. Even with shipping it was still much less that you could expect paying for a piece if History.
I inspected it thoroughly when it arrived. It seemed to be in almost perfect condition, small scratches here and there, turning on and off, changing speed (and adjusting it).
I ordered a service manual for it and began working on a plinth and tonearm. Korian plinth with space for 3 (three!) armboards - 12” SME arm for my dear Kontrapunkt B, RB600 for Exact that I use as a test platform and one extra space for heavy arm with Grado Statement that plays female voices like no other cartridge I ever tried.
Is this Heaven or what?
Well, it was Hell. Two months into the project everything was assembled. Amplifier was warm, phono corrector just retubed with NOS Telefunkens, one of the last Frank Sinatra’s albums was ready to go out of the shelf when I heard terrible squeaking noise from the table that I turned on and that was spinning at exactly 33 1/3 RPM for the last hour…
The motor was gone. After I took it apart I realized that the table was probably very heavily used and before selling the owner put some really thick oil into its bearings so after you turn it on it would not be apparent that it is completely worn.
I tried to find new motor with no results and the quotes from machine shops to rebuild the motor were so high that it did not make any sense to try to resurrect it.
I sold SP10 in pieces and actually even made couple hundred vs. what I spend on it (including shipping from Oz), but once again I did not have a table!
And I called Kevin again…
To be continured…

P.S. The reason why I did not mention any names in Part 1 was not political correctness. Coming from the former Soviet Union I am as far from being politically correct as it gets. I was just trying to be nice to people that own those tables and like them!
Don't worry about being nice to people who have the unmentioned turntables. The first thing you learn when you get into this hobby is that no matter what you get, 95 to 99% of other audiophiles will think you've got a piece of complete and total junk.
Hey Alex,
I'd love to read the end of this saga in part 3.
That is if there is an end to it.

Actually I'd really like to know of Kevins TT's are so good compared to all these "hifi" companies.
Back into vinyl – Part 3.
Interesting thing – Kevin (you know, gentleman behind KAB Electro-Acoustics?) never suggested me to buy 1200 again. He would talk about its benefits and quality and terrific price-performance ratio, but never actually tried to push me into buying it. This is so unlike one dealer that I use every once in a while. I’ll leave his name out of the picture. His showroom (which was just recently renovated) is just a few blocks away from my office (right in the middle of North East Philly), which makes it very convenient for me to visit him during lunchtime. Well, not anymore actually. After driving to my office for six years I finally gave up to road rage and started taking a train. Now I can at least read, and by the time I come to work I don’t use the “f” word in my mind few dozen times.
Anyway, this dealer humbly calls himself “Ultra High End Dealer”. He would not talk to you unless you promise to spend at least 5 Gs (plus cables) and his knowledge of electronics is pretty much limited to the names of the owners of high end companies. It was very interesting listening to his story about great owner-designer of one British company named after him, while I personally know the guy who designed pretty much everything that came out of that place in the last ten years. He finally left the place.
But just try to ask this dealer’s opinion about something – he would immediately tell you that he knows exactly what you need and he has it right here, or at least can special-order it for you… well, for extra 150 bucks, but what is 150 when you are spending 5 thousand?
When I came to him with my turntable problems, he proudly showed me his latest arrival. That thing had tonearm by major manufacturer specially built (actually, “specially” in this case meant covered with 24 Karat gold), cheapo AC motor, chrome-covered platter, all for mere price of well equipped Nissan Centra. Oh, and did I mention that the plinth is an individually picked stone slab?
Of course then I needed to replace my equipment rack, buy external power supply and probably run a separate line from my local power company. Same old story…
I was tired, frustrated and little angry with myself. The solution was always there, right in front of me, but I was too blind to see it.
I made a quick phone call and three days later a box was sitting on my porch.
It was brand spanking new Technics SL-1210MK2…

Maybe later I will tell you what I did to it to improve on this simple and already very capable design, but this is a completely different story…

Now I listen to my records every day, I change the speed to any one I want and I don’t need to hear anyone’s opinion on how bad direct drive sounds. This time the only one I listen to is myself. And maybe also my wife. Well, maybe also my son. He is 13. You know – the “MP3 generation”? He asked me few days ago – “Dad, can I have table like yours for Christmas?”
In my world it is too much for a Christmas present, but this time I think I’ll make an exception.

I’m playing Sinatra tonight. And you?
Alex: What is a 1210 as opposed to a 1200? And are we to assume that you got yours from KAB, replete with the fluid damper and outboard supply? [FYI: Mine is an early-80's 1200MKII (bought new at that time), to which I have added Kevin's mods, plus a Michell record clamp, Sorbothane mat (now in conjunction with a Technics thin rubber mat underneath it), Music Direct tonearm wrap, and placed atop a Symposium shelf resting on FoculPods Sorbothane pucks. It's presently got a B-M Glider M2 installed, and my perpetual 'next' upgrade is supposed to be installing better RCA jacks on the lead-out wires...]

Gurevise: Your question is the one that I wish I could answer but can't. Mr. Yakovlev has much more experience than I with other TT designs - I've had the same 1200 since I left college and nothing else (I've heard others, but not in my system or with the same carts I've had). My guess is that with the KAB and other mods mentioned above added, the basic design goodness of the 1200 should make it many ways competitive or superior to most belt-drive options in its moderate price range (my one major reservation about the design is that the aluminum platter's inherent resonance is not completely damped compared to most audiophile designs, although doubling-up on the mats as outlined above helps). It sounds good enough to me that I haven't felt the need to replace it (only tweaked it) during the period of time in which every other component in my system has been upgraded an average of twice, but this is not the same endorsement as if I were to verify my impressions by in-home auditioning some of the competition. Unfortunately, for me that seems too much of a hassle and expense when I'm already happy, so I can only wonder...
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for all your replies. Now I'll try to answer your questions.
Sean - I gave a lot of clues about the tables that I had. If you look for them, you should be able to identify them with no problems. :)
Zaikesman - I do not have 78 RPM yet, this is my next move.
Jc2000 - you are absolutely right, lots of people are trying to bite me still. The difference is that now I don't care.
Gurevise - when comparing tables from "High End" manufacturers with 1200 one has to understand the difference in production cost. If 1200 was built in one of these tiny places it would cost thousands. But even without taking price into concideration - I would put my modified MK2 against anything below 5-6 thousand, maybe even more.
Zaikesman - 1210 is black version of 1200, that's all. As for Kevin's table - no, engineer in me was too ambitious to let this happen. After my DIY project I was left with plenty of parts for three tables, so I built mine different from Kevin, with more radical approach to power (I removed all original power supply components) and replacing tonearm with RB600. Also, I got rid of pitch slider and strobe LEDs.
One of my guys modded the power supply in his 1200. He does not advocate the outboard power supply, though:

I have heavily reworked my 1200 and it's pretty insane. Don't pay too much for this power supply if that's what it is because there is little to it. The main (theoretical) advantage might be in getting the mains power transformer (very well shielded in the 1200) out of the chassis, although I notice zero 60 Hz hum with a Denon high gain moving coil pre-preamp with my 1200. 60 Hz hum would be transformer noise as opposed to 120 Hz "buzz" which is the sound of a noisy diode(s) in the bridge rectifier. Shottkys eliminate this. Also there is a major advantage to leaving the power supply inside. Because it is virtually riding on the motor coil windings, the impedance is practically zero and so minute current surges supplied to the motor by the power supply when speed corrections are called for (such as on the rise of a slight warp when the motor literally has to lift the arm) are instantaneous. If the power supply is too far away and or the impedance between it and the motor is higher than it should be for any reason (such as thin cabling), then the speed correction response time will be slowed and wow (especially) and perhaps flutter will increase dramatically. This could be audible on recordings such as piano or violin, depending upon the degree. This exact same thing happens in power amps where the power supply's load is now the output transistor/speaker interface instead of the motor. That's why McCormack and others place their filter caps directly beside the output transistors on the same pcb (less than an inch or two away) instead of running wires from ones placed somewhere else such as in the middle of the chassis.

I am following a combination of Kevin's and what my friend suggested. KAB's power supply responded very favorably to cryo'ed power cords and changing the DC cable from the stock 24 ga to 18 ga solid core was phenomenal. All the internal DC cabling in my 1200 will be rewired by Robert of Ridge Street Audio. Robert wants to use 12 ga solid core silver wire--cryo'ed, of course. he aslo wants to see if the power supply can be revved up further. I think it will be cost effective to send it to cryo treatment.

Anyway, the KAB modded MK2 is pound for pound THE best buy in analog reproduction. I have been aware of Alex's project and as time goes on more and more people are taking the plunge and going for the "creature on steroids".

Alex, have you listened to the Teres? It seems to me that in the under $5K category that's the only other TT worth checking out.
A.Y. - Since you're obviously much more zealous and technically knowledgeable about this TT stuff than I am, I'm curious about your opinion of a few things regarding the 1200. Since you chose this platform to work with, I'm assuming that what you find indispensible are primarily the 1200's speed-control system and cast-aluminum plinth. What I want to know is, how would you rate your Rega replacement 'arm against the 1200's integral 'arm (especially with the KAB fluid damper added)? What is your opinion of the TT main bearing quality? How are you mechanically isolating your 'table? And do you, like me, have any issues with the platter damping, and if so, what approach do you or will you take for this?
Alex, that was a very interesting journey. Glad you are having alot of enjoyment from your table.
TWL, that's all you have to say? You can do better...
Your friend raises some very interesting issues and he is absolutely right about most of them. Supplying power to a device like 1200 is very tricky thing and there is a lot to it. I personally think that the approach Kevin is taking is the most safe and reasonable. However, being a DIYer and having access to very high quality regulated power supplies I chose more intrusive approach.
Having transformer inside the table is not good for a number of reasons, electric hum being only one of them. Every transformed vibrates, and there is absolutely no way to get rid of it completely. Also, even very well shielded transformer (and the one in 1200 is not) generates noticeable amount of EMI, which is also not good so close to the cartridge.
On the other hand, the issue of wire impedance can be solved fairly easy, simply by using high quality reasonably thick wire. Also, it is very important to have it shielded – there is a lot of digital transmission inside the table and we don’t need it interfering with clean power.
I was always a proponent of external well regulated power supplies – they can be as big as one needs them to be and it is much easier to deal with their issues, mechanical and electric.
Ultimate power solution for 1200 though is still going to happen – someone has to find a way to power digital section separate from motor cascades. If someone has done it already, I am not aware of it.
As for the Teres – it is a very decent table, but in my opinion while designing it people were more concerned with its looks rather than with its sonic qualities. I can never accept wood as a material used in acoustically dead environment.
Speed control system in MK2 is very well engineered and very precise. I don’t have any problem with both its concept and its implementation. In an ideal world I would probably design it slightly different, but unfortunately last time I checked the world outside my window was very far from being perfect.
Using 1200’s arm with Kevin’s fluid damper is absolutely and undoubtedly impossible to beat for the money. I used Rega because I already had it and because I like the looks of it. Sonically I doubt there are any benefits to doing this. Though some people think that Technics arm is not up to the task, I would not agree with it. If I was staying with the original arm though, I would definitely change the wiring and get rid of the tonearm PCB. Oh, and original cables are REALLY bad.
Technics’ main bearing is of better quality than bearings in 99% of TTs out there, no question about it. When I look at it and recall bearing in my P9…, well, I won’t go there. The only thing I was not happy with 1200 was the fact that its bearing directly sits on aluminum plinth. I fixed it by putting three small and thin separate Sorbothane sheets under it.
I did not replace the original feet yet, I want to see how it sound for an extended period of time and then maybe try a thing or two. Most likely will end up with Sorbothane. I like this material.
I don’t have any problem with aluminum platter, as long as record is isolated from it. Once again, I use Sormothane.
Well, I think I covered everything, did I?
To each his or her own with respect to the path taken, as long as the destination is enjoyable music.
The internal 'arm wiring does seem like a logical area to address, but maybe a difficult one, and I'm not sure how to go about it. I agree that the lead-out cabling is not great: Aside from the noisy molded-on jacks, I'm having occasional problems with AM radio pick-up at my current house, and playing with the wires seems to have an effect on its intensity. (Unfortunately, I'm also using a 'nude' cart - no shielding from a metal body - and I know from experimentation that this is also a contributing factor. The good news it doesn't occur but a small minority of the time, and is quite low in level.) The idea I'm toying with is to just cut off the stock wires very short and terminate them in female jacks, making the TT lead-outs into a sort of 'pig-tail' arrangement, and then use a set of appropriate 1/2 meter interconnects to get the signal to the phonostage. Your comments about eliminating a signal-wire junction on a circuit board are food for thought. Is a partially-decoupled main bearing a common design technique? Wouldn't abandoning a rigidly-fixed mounting invite some potential eccentricity?
If you are comfortable opening the table yourself, it is reasonably easy to unsolder original lead-out cable and solder new one on its place. If you'd rather not, doing what you describe could help also. You just have to remember that you will be adding another connector, so choose one of decent quality.
As for the bearing - though I did technically decouple it from the plinth, but it is still centered with the same three screwes, so it is exactly in place.
The famous table in "A Clockwork Orange" is a Michell model: Reference Hydraulic...though I don't know if it had the SME or Fluid tonearm.
Wasn't that table known as a Transcriptor at that time?
The "Creature on Steroids" is a world class performer. Now that I have placed an expensive (and very quiet) 9.5 ga power cord on my Monolithic's dual mono power supply it has become evident that the Creature is faster than my phonostage--and I have yet to rewire the tonearm and change ICs and use cryo'ed, shielded DC wire!!!

Stunning is the word I'd use... are correct...the table was actually designed and maunfactured by David Gammon who owned the Transcriptor company. After giving (free!) a TRANSCRIPTOR Reference Hydraulic table to Stanley Kubrick for his film "A Clockwork Orange" he relocated to Carlow, Ireland. A neighbouring company (in England) was granted a license to take over production of the RH model Transcriptor and that company (mostly engineering) was owned by J.A. Michell. Disputes ensued. Thus both entities can lay claim to be the source of Transcriptor / Michell Reference Hydraulics, but certainly Mr. Gammon was the creator and original maker. Thanks, 4yanx, for the opportunity to correct this story.
Alex certainly hits the nail on the head. I can count the number of times music in "high-end" shops forced me to stop and listen on the fingers of one hand, and have some fingers left over. Those pieces that stopped me I bought. As I wrote Psychicanimal, I'll have to give the Technics a go some day, but for the moment I'm happy with my idler-wheels, which provide another road in the fight against belts, and are infintely adjustable (at least those I use) with regard to speed. What's the total on a modded Technics, sans the beefed-up power supplies?
Zaikes, my first attempt at rewiring ended in having to buy a new tonearm. The clips have to be soldered back in the exact same position or else the spring loaded mechanism in the collar will not work properly at making contact with the headshell pins. I think the most cost effective (and sensible approach) is to desolder the tonearm leads from the circuit board and send the entire tube ( and/or the circuit board ) for cryo treatment. The wire leads could then be burned in with a cable cooker or a square wave generator function and a computer.

Johnmathias, there is a 1200 for sale in the classifieds. The 1200 has continuously variable pitch and an electric brake. Cool!
Hello Alex,

I have a Rega Planar 25 turntable and I have had the same problem than you with your Rega P3 an P9. It ran too fast. I resolved the problem with some electrical black tape around the sub-platter. In this case, I obtained the 33,333 rpm speed. I verified that with a strobdisc and a fluorescent lamp of 60 Hz. Whitout this problem, the design of my turntable is nice. I like my RB-600 tonearm. I like the glass platter. I like the rigid plinth. The motor is as good as the one on the venerable Linn sondek LP-12. The little power supply under the plinth is very efficient. We can trim manually the noise and the vibration from the motor. I verified by myself and it's truth. The only problem with my turntable was the speed but a serious problem! I don't understand why a serious turntable maker like Rega don't make turntable with the right speed. Is it serious? Rega can resolve the problem in two ways. Make a larger sub-platter or a smaller pulley, it's as simple as that, but they don't want! As a french-canadian sentence:"Ils sont têtes de cochon, ils ne veulent rien comprendre!" The frequency of the electric current is not the problem because it is warranty by my electrical supplier Hydro-québec. Maybe one of these days Rega will reckognise its error but it will take a miracle I think....
Good luck Alex!
Hello Alex,

I forgot a thing in my last text. You should read the british magazine Hi-Fi World with a review of a Technics SL-1200 with a Rega RB-250 tonearm. I don't remember which issue it was but the article was in 2003 or 2002. The magazine explains how to change the arm and why, it explains also the sound result of this improvement. I remember that the MDF (Medium density fIberboard) was used for the plinth of the arm. Good luck!
Hi Alex,

About the article for the technics SL-1200 with a Rega RB-250 tonearm, it was the issue in July 2002 of the british magazine Hi-Fi World.


Gino, quit teasing, how did the magazine rate the Technics SL-1200 with Rega arm? Were there an special characteristics they noted with respect to belt-drives, or was it simply a good 'table? I'm more interested in the alternatives to belt drives as engineering decisions, and wonder how this translates into sound. Gratitude.
Hello Johnnantais,

The Hi-Fi world rate the turntable by this way. "This modification reveal how good the turntable is and how bad the tonearm was. We have an improvement on all the frequency range." I don't remember all the details in this article because I read it 1 and half years ago. I will be able to give you tomorrrow more information about the sound improvement because I have this article. I have the internet at the office not at the house. It will be a pleasure to give you more information. Regards, Gino
The 1200's tonearm is not bad at all. It just needs some control ( it's heavier than its titanium predecessor ) and the fluid damper gives it just that. The tonearm has no ringing, it's bent at two unequal length to prevent standing waves and the counterweight is damped. The unit is a true gimbal design with high quality bearings w/ extremely low friction.

In my tonearm I am using Marigo discs in strategic locations with great succes.
Hello Johnnantais and Psychicanimal,

I have the extract from the article in Hi-Fi world magazine: "When recently asked by family Tree (a northern-based group of DJs) to improve their turntables, he didn't have to think too long how to do it. The standard S-shape arm was to be junked and an Origin Live modded Rega RB250 ( A RB250 with a different counterweight)fitted in lieu. "It can't be done," was the cry from the manufacturer. "we don't recommend replacing the pickup arm supplied with any other type." However, being an obstreperous sort he duly carried on regardless, and got down to work. The results are astounding. There's a vast improvement in sound quality - the stereo image gains tremendous width, height and depth with better clarity and detail, while the bass end gets far tauter and better extended and the treble becomes silkier and more atmospheric."

If you need more details about the article you can reach Mr David Price to the website of the magazine:

Kind regards,

Gino Lavoie
Gino, Thank You very much, as I am an inveterate record-deck tinkerer! As I've written Psychicanimal, I'll have to give these Technics 'tables a whirl someday.
Johnmathias, you are waiting too long! Gino, did the people who installed the Rega arm use the same tonearm wire and phono IC's as the 1200? If the answer is no, then the comparison is not valid. The 1200's stock wiring leaves a lot to be desired and that's my next step in modding the Creature...
For those not inclined to tinker, Origin Live has done the hard work for you with their d.j. version of the Rega arm They also sell an Technics armboard cut for the Rega so you can mount your own arm.
Hello Psychicanimal and Belyin,

Firstly, for Psychicanimal, if you buy the original RB250 from REGA, the plugs and the wire are like from japanese sources. I had one on my ex-turntable a Mission 775S. The structural integrity on a RB250 is better than S-Shape tonearm on the Technics. The tube is moulded in one piece from the headsheld until the bearing. Usually, the japanese arms are too bright in the high frequencies. The REGA is more neutral musically. You're right when you say that the friction is very low in the bearings of the technics. That is truth. Another quality of the technics, it's very easy to adjust the VTA. With the REGA it's more difficult because we have to use spacers. Nervertheless, I prefer the REGA RB250.

Finally for Belyin, thank you for your recommendation, I visited the website of Origin Live. It's trusth that an armboard for the REGA arm versus Technics turntable is available. Thanks again.

Best regards,

I personally don't like OL armboard. I used it initially, but then made several ones myself using different materials to find out which one is better.
Although I don't doubt that the Rega 'arm must be more rigid, I will continue to use the Technics original because I have the KAB 78rpm mod and like the interchangable headshells. On my 'arm I use the KAB fluid damper plus the Music Direct tonearm wrap, but am still curious about upgrading the internal wire. A.J. Van Den Hul simply recommends bypassing internal 'arm wire by wrapping the upgrade wires around the 'arm exterior and not bothering to try and extract or replace the old internal wires. Only problem for me is that this would defeat the quick headshell interchangability. I have not detected any consequential shortcomings from the stock 'arm bearings, and the massive and silky-smooth locking, guaged helacoid VTA adjust is probably just as good or better than other available techniques going.

Johnnantais, the 1200 cannot be considered really high end until you have upgraded to an external power supply, based on my experience owning the KAB unit. My suspicion is that it is this area, rather than any comparitive shortcomings of the 'arm, that is the crucial limiting factor to deal with in order to unlock the deck's inherent potential. I think improved platter damping/mat selection, 'arm damping, clamping, support tweaking, and 'arm wire upgrading are all likely secondary to the PS, though all must ultimately be addressed (plus the lead-out cabling and jacks, my next order of business) in order to squeeze everything possible out of the basic goodness of the plinth and motor/controller fundamentals.
I have to agree with you here. Recently I decided to do some comparison between the 1200 arm and RB600 and modified second MK2 to exact condition short of replacing the arm.
From the very first try it became obvious that there is an easy distinguished difference.
Then I replaced phono cable on second MK2, and most of the difference was gone.
Besides, comparing the two side-by-side it was immediately obvious that... built quality of MK2 arm is simply better than the one of Rega.
So my next step would be to replace internal wiring on 1200 - it can be done fairly easy.
Alex, replacing internal wiring is simple but not easy. I already lost a tonearm on my first attempt.
Psychicanimal, what were the problems? I would appreciate any input before I ruin mine! :)
Ha! I was under the impression that AY had already done this and knew it was 'easy'...I was gonna ask him how it should be done!...Maybe the way to go is to simply buy a spare 1200 'arm (thanks to mass production and an R&D and tooling amortization that had probably paid for itself while I was still in elementary school, I understand they're not very expensive) and experiment on it...
The toneram rewiring requires to make a spacing jig. The distance from the collar to the clips must be EXACTLY equal to the originals or the spring loaded gold plated pins will not work properly. Also, the soldering temperature must be exact and the technique flawless otherwise the plastic will melt. Technics does not sell arm tubes--only the complete arm but it's only $65-70. I can look around and find if I still have the messed up tube.

So far the #1 candidate for tonearm wire is the Van Den Hul solid core silver. I am also thinking of the new Cardas ($11.50 ft), but am wary of copper "warmth" being introduced in my system as I use Ridge Street Audio silver interconnects and military surplus silver plated copper for speaker wire.

What cartridge and stylus do you have on your technics? I have a Technics SL-1301 and need new cart. and stylus.
Hi I read the article on these turntables. I am seriously considering the Technics SL-1200 turntable from KAB electronics (with audiophile modifications). I just want a table that's a bit simpler, less finicky, yet still accurate and durable, too. I presently own a Linn Sondek LP12 which seems to be excellent as far as sound and speed accuracy goes(in comparison to the "R", "T", "JAM", or even the "V" brand from the US). Even though my early motor/early platter 60hz LP12 runs perfectly 33.3rpm at 60hz, I do have mine plugged into the VPI Synchronous Drive System (which happens to work nicely, btw). There is a speed accuracy issue regarding some Linn LP12s(early vs late - fixable though depending on route taken -read on). The earlier LP12 tables had a slightly larger inner platter than later production units (Linn seemed to not acknowledge this problem, even denying it when asked). -reason unknown but my guess (NOTE: my guess only, may not be fact) is that someone goofed slightly on a batch of motor's pulley size and the "cheapest short term solution" for Linn was to match all "present and future" inner platters to the "newer" spec motors. Their "long term solution" however seemed to be "change the story" or "cover up" (tell dealers that early Linns may have "bearing problems" if speed is too slow with the "later motor" installed, thus requiring platter and bearing replacement as a set per Linn). The ONLY time the speed problem isn't fixable is if one chooses to either upgrade an earlier stock LP12 deck to current "Cirkus" standards with the original motor installed OR if someone wishes to install an earlier (or any?) 60hz motor in a later LP12 (I'm not sure, but it's been said that all Linn 60hz "LP12 Basik" motors, even the latest 60hz have been machined to the early spec .689 inch, thus making them run slightly fast when installed on later decks). However, the later Valhalla and Lingo decks (50hz motor) are all correct in regards to speed and machining of their pulleys. Just wanted to share my thoughts.
note: When first auditioning Linns in 1992, I noticed their "mid-fi" Axis deck, while sounding ok, played a bit fast(I could tell just by hearing it -and I think the dealer had said something about speed adjustments). It wasn't until recently that I confirmed that the Axis has an internal "fine tune" adjustment for the 33 and 45 speeds (50 and 67.5hz). If only those "R" brand decks had such an adjustment, they might be halfway worth something (my thoughts), I own three cartridges - Grado Statement, Ortofon Kontrapunkt B and Rega Exact. Because of using RB600 I was only playing Grado, but now that I am looking into switching to Technics arm, I will be using all three of them, which was my goal initially.
I am hearing very good things (from people I do trust) about Denon 103, will give it a try.
Paul, I think you are going in the right direction. Kevin is your best sourse, if I was in your shoes I would probably get his Audiophile table with PSU and damper.
PA - How are you contemplating attacking the 'arm-wire problem again?
Zaikes, I'm going to let Yakovlev figure it out for me!