I have owned a Maplenoll for about 1 yr. Sonics are very good but they are difficult to set up and you must be willing to tinker to get the best setup and sound possible. Lots of extra parts with a compressor, air lines, filters, etc. For me, I do not mind the tinkering and when it is right, its magic
Check out my "system" and my "threads" and you'll find quite a bit to chew on. I love these tables but the quality control was very funky. The Cleo replaced the Athena and is a step up. I would get the Signature Ariadne like I have if you could. I might be able to get you an Ariadne with some of the signature upgrades. You definitely need to be a bit more hands on than most. Good luck.
i had a maplenoll athena back when they were actually in business(the late eighties). it rivaled the sota and the goldmund studio of that day sonically, but needed constant care from the dealer. if the condition is great, having one as a collectible or 2nd table is cool, but a workhorse as a primary table would be the advised.
I have an Athena..agreed on the above comments.
It is a Tweeker' table...I have even tried double air pumps.
But the pumps are noisy!
The Athena was especially funky. If you go for a mid 90s upper end model that has been fixed up properly by someone who knows what they're doing, you won't have so much trouble. That said as someone who has been very hands on with my own and a dealer for 15 years. It ain't a Rega. If you can handle it, you'll get a taste of the magic of the Walker Procenium for 1/10 the price.
I had a Maplenoll which utilized a very cheap, double piston fish tank air pump to supply the air for the arm and the main platter bearing. The pump simply could not do the job. After less than an hour of operation, the air pressure would drop and the arm would freeze in place, causing the record to skip.
I could not live with the air pump problem. But, if you can get a model with a better pump or find a suitable alternative air pump, if you can locate the pump in another room (they are very noisy), if you can buy and/or build a proper dehydrator for the pressurized air, etc., it can be made to work.
The table/arm combination sounds quite good, it is just a big pain in the ass.
Sounds like your pump was not original. The so called "Super Quiet Pump" that came with the later upper end models is just about quiet enough to put in the same room although I never have. Typical air pressure on the arm is about 40psi once you have the platter pressure minimized appropriately.
The air pump issue is the main one with the maplenoll ariadne series. I do not have the full signature model but the table itself is built like a tank. Once set up properly, i have found I need to do very little with the table except play my records. I think I have found the solution to the pump issue and that is using a JunAir compressor for the arm (very quiet, very rugged air compressor) and a separate pump for the platter (actually an aquarium air pump). JunAir is used by Pluto audio on their signature table and is also widely used in the dental field. Since I have this setup, I have not really had to tinker with the air system at all.
I had an Athena a while back. When it was set up correctly it sounded quite good, but my biggest gripe, and there were many, was water oxidation in the tube that would make it all the way to the tone arm....I bought the plenum...that was supposed to solve the problem but no go. Basically, I decided it was a cheap application of generally expensive technology. I'm much happier with my Well Tempered Classic Table, silicone and all. Yah, I went and got another unusual turntable! They both sound really good. I think my Athena (a lot of lead) is collecting dust at my brothers house. Sorry I couldn't be more enthusiastic.
Amazing, but you are following the same path I have been on. I had a Mapenoll for about three months before I got rid of it. I got a Well Tempered too. It is pretty much a foolproof table, except, I had a few flying insects attracted to the dampening fluid that sank in the fluid and were preserved at the bottom of the cup (a mini La Brea tar pit). This is a very good table/arm combination.
I went on to a VPI HW-14 with a Graham arm (can't say it was an improvement), and I currently have a Basis Debut/Vector arm combination (best table I have ever owned).
As good sounding as the Athenas were, their build quality was more like a high school science project tahn a professional product. You haven't experienced what a Maplenoll can be like until you've seen the better/later models.
I'm really glad I posted this Question , or am I ? I find the Maplenoll a fascinating table . I even like very much the look's ( Athena ) . It is very highly regarded by Arthur Salvatore a master . But a lot of you seem to find the TT too much of a bother to keep using, for very long . I would like a vintage or used table really great and for the long run ( Classical Music about or under $1000 . A latter Maplenoll might be the answer ? There Is one other table I am fascinated with a Townshend cransfeild rock .
Thank you all ! and would love to hear more .
I have owned a Maplenoll Ariadne for over 17 years and I agree with oilman and piedpiper's comments.
Should you really have a burning interest to own one of these table's a few words of advice:
1. Build a library of information from paper and internet sources so the issues/problems encountered by others and for the most part resolved are readly available.
2. The Maplenoll has only about 21 parts but for your sanity learn the mechanics of the table. If you can't make that kind of commitment don't buy the 'Nolls --They can drive you crazy. You will be surprized how a slight adjustment can turn the sound from muck to beauty.
3. Besides the proper setup , building a air control system is essential. Keep in mind that a quite air pump is costly and they all require some maintance. For lots more information/advice check out "New Maplenoll Ariadne Owner Needing Advice".
4. Do all the above and more and for a fraction of the cost you will be a owner of one of the finest playback systems in Analog. If all of this sounds too much buy a "plug 'an play" -- Lots to choose from.
Wish you all the best.
Threaders : Following years of owning a Maplenoll and collecting information on the 'Noll line, I feel compelled to offer a warning to newbies who have seen several NOS Maplenolls offered for sale on the Web.
From the pictures and descriptions I have viewed I am greatly concerned that the average Mary or John may fail to understand that while these tables are occassionly associated with the name of LLoyd Walker, they in no way should be considered bargain basement versions of his $$$$$$ turntable. The only fair comparison is that they are air bearing and that is where all similarities end.
Many of the so called NOS tables, at least in my opinion, appear to a mis-match of parts from different era's in the evolution of the turntable. I am suspicious that they could have been packaged recently, regardless of the condition of the box. Only someone with years of experience with the 'Noll line could view differences not even the seller. I may be mistaken but recently I viewed a NOS table that appeared to have been manufactured in the 1980's but included improvements made years later.
Also , keep in mind that no one has published a master index of the Noll serial numbers; #1689 could stand for the total number of tables manufactured to that time , or perhaps January 1st, 6th made that day, 1989 or have no meaning .
All the Maplenoll tables I have viewed for sale in the recent past I believe have been offered for sale with air pumps manufactured for different tables but not suited as exact matches for that table they are paired with . For instance, the Ariadne turntable was initially manufactured with a 10 pound platter; therefore, PSI pressure @ 10-13 PSI was considered acceptable. However, as the weight of the platter increased it was understood that the air pumps needed to produce more air to smooth out the movement of the arm that were always designed as a match with a high pressure manifold. The quiet air pumps produce 40+ PSI, yet all recently sold Ariadnes do not have the hi-pressure pump. These hi-pressure pumps are EXPENSIVE. Be prepared to shell out $$$-$$$$ in addition to the cost of the table. The early air pumps are very noisey, be prepared to build quiet housings , expect potental pump issues and perhaps the arm "hanging-up" during play.
My greatest concern is that newbies are going to be in for kilo-buck shock when they learn that these tables demand significant investment of time and money before they will approach what any Pro-Ject or Rega table can produce plug 'n play. I mean what I say. I have learned over the years that you must have SOTA air control system and speed controllers,as well as a near complete re-build to approach the playing abilty some of these tables have been claimed to perform out-of-the-box. I believe the suspended tables have finite limits to what can be expected no matter how much money one spends to buy them. Be aware !! The money you lose may be your own.
Readers: I continue to review the Maplenoll's for sale via the internet. I feel that fewer than ever have been offered for sale. That is understandable when one recognizes the Maplenoll's were manufactured between 1982'ish to 1996. No actual production records have been published for public viewing but from what I understand approximately 2,500 Maplenoll's (all types) were produced and I believe perhaps less than 60% are currently in any sort of operating condition. Of that number I believe fewer than 1,300(just a guess) are in V++ to Mint condition and most are here in the US and Canada. What all this means is that"you are on your own" when it comes to parts replacement. The pumps continue to be a issue. Maplenoll sold 3 or 4 types (10,20&40PSI). Getting the right match , or understanding the post-buy expense is a must for any newbie. I shall continue to observe and post what I have learned from time to time.
Readers: Thanks for the email. The reason the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) is so critical to over-all tonearm performace relates to the design of the air bearing manifold and its inner-sleeve insert. Those parts were the brain child of Dr. Lew Eckhart. Dr. Eckhart invented the air bearing manifold long before Bob Dilger's development of the Maplenoll Record Player line . Dr. Eckharts air bearing manifold was intergrated into the design of each Maplenolls air bearing tonearm design. So, no matter what the outward appearence, the heart of the tonearm was the same; Dr. Eckharts manifold and inner sleeve . That manifold in total was developed for hi-pressure applications and while adapted to the air bearing record player, it always required an air pressure of 35-40+ PSI to perform as designed. The tangental tonearm's spindle slips into the manifold's sleeve. The amount of air pressure available to the tonearm dictates the over-all performace , particularity, whether the tonearm would run out of pressure during playback, therby "hanging up" somewhere in playback. The costs associated with a hi-pressure pump are prohibitive when one is attempting to release unique turntable product fully manufactured and available to the public for under $800. It is my opinion Maplenoll resorted to lo-powered pumps for cost reasons and later began selling 20-40 PSI pumps to increase performace under a rash of criticism from consumers and dealers that stopped supporting the line due to incessent quality control issues. The hi-pressure pumps were expensive then and they are now. I have rarely viewed a air pump that is perfectly matched to the Maplenoll Record Player offered for sale for who knows what reasons. But I know this without the proper pump your in for big problems.
Strong agreement with Crem on this subject. I do believe once you solve the air supply issue, the maplenoll product performance approaches levels equal to the best in this industry. There are some good products that meet or exceed the high pressure requirement but as Crem said, they are pricey!
I would just add that if you do get it all ironed out, it can then be a relatively set and forget assuming your floor/wall support is stable through the weather changes. If not, the only adjustment required is a simple check of the horizontal balance, which takes a moment. That and emptying the water from the plenum periodically and you're good to go. Personally, I have no resistance to being hands on, but not everyone enjoys that.
FYI: The air bearing is the heart of the Maplenoll Line. The bearing plates are 8" in diameter and are the same in construction, alloy and design for all models. The bearing plates are incredibly simple in operation: The top plate spins supported by air pressure(PSI). The bearing consists of 3 parts; the two circular plates(top & bottom) and one plastic center pin located in the center of the bottom plate that aligns that plate to the top plate. The bottom plate is afixed to plith and does not spin. Should these parts be damaged ,the Maplenoll Record Player can not operate.
In my opinion never buy a damaged maplenoll, except for parts. Before purchasing a Maplenoll make sure the air bearings are not damaged, out of round or lacking a center pin. Be aware,the center pin's are made plastic and they are ageing. The center pin is the weakest-link of the Maplenoll Record Player and is the actually "inner-heart" of the table. Without it regardless of the condition of the plates , the table will not operate. The air bearing uses between 3-5 PSI to fuction(all models), thereby leaving the rest of the air pumps output for the hi-pressure manifold that operates the tonearm.
The costs associated with the remaking of the bearings is probably more than the cost of the table; the center pin will cost hundreds for a shop to manufacture due to set-up time, the material is relatively cheap to the other associated costs. What ever one does as a owner treat these parts with respect, without them nothing works and you investment could be lost.
In light of the fact these tables are approaching 30+ years old, I want the buyer to appreciate what's important before the cash outlay. Please keep this in mind : Given a lot of TLC and patience , most Maplenoll's even basket cases can have a new lease on life, provided all the parts are included at sale. And for those 'Nolls in excellent condition , they could operate forever. All Maplenolls require some hands-on work but generally operate well after set-up.
Alexthe: All Maplenoll record platters sit a top the air bearing. The platters vary from model to model and were a experiment-in-residence for the Maplenoll Line. The early Maplenoll Line used a 3 LB. platter made of cork and alumunium. The early platters followed a succession of weights (10,20,25,30,50,60 & 70 LB.) and evolved from cork layered with lead , iron center encased in lead, to solid lead. Most were offered as options/upgrades for additional cost and Maplenoll promoted the platter upgrades as having significant playback advantages. In truth , the upgrades offered some advantage to the latter unsuspended tables but a mixed bag to the Maplenoll Line of suspended tables. The reason : Maplenoll had only one source for the under carriage springs. Adding weight to the platter altered the suspension creating a litiany of platter spining problems for unfortunate buyers and dealers. Many of these tables were eventually "traded in" and how many currently exist is unknown. For the person considering a Maplenoll it's is most important the platter spins without obstruction. Nearly all Maplenoll's require a slight hand assist at start-up, that's normal.
For variety reasons some Maplenoll Reord Players do not spin exactly @ 33 1/3 or 45 RPM . The easiest way to resolve this is to invest in a speed controller. A speed controller is just that, it regulates the A/C current that in-turn causes the motor to spin at the required speed. I highly recommend that a Maplenoll owner check the speed of the table and add a speed controller should one be benificial.
This post and others like it have been contributed to this thread to give the prospective Maplenoll owner a "short cut" to understanding the inner workings of a air bearing table and some challenges that could face a new owner or someone wanting to improve performace. In my opinion,other posters such as pidepiper and oilmanmojo are also travelling the same path and their comments here and on other threads are highly recommended to anybody interested in the 'Noll air bearing table line.