Do you use variable speed on your turntable?

My turntables JVC TT101 and TT81 both have elaborate speed controls which allow quartz controlled accuracy when the speed is changed in small controlled increments, faster or slower than the selected 33 1/3, or 45 rpm speed.

Many turntables allow this controlled speed variance but besides dj's looking to match beats, who ever uses this very expensive feature? When my tables were made no one was beat matching as far as I know so dj's needs didn't drive this design. I can understand this on 78's because of inaccurate recording technology, but there isn't a 78 speed on these turntables and modern records are probably 99.9% accurate so that wasn't the consideration either.

So what is the point?
I've had this feature on many tables but only used it to lock in the correct speed as best as possible visually using the typical complementary strobe light visual speed indicator features, not to tweak the speed otherwise.

If the records did not sound "right" when the proper speed was indicated, then there was a problem with the table and I would either have it fixed or replace it.
I never had a TT with a speed control.
I do have one with a separate power supply which has microswitches to adjust the spped, so i siply adjusted it to match the other TT speed.
I am not worried about the spped. If i don't hear a problem.. why go looking for one?
If you download the Service Manual of the Victor TT-101 from Vinyl Engine, you will read the following:-1 hz pitch control
The pitch, ‘A’ is standardized at 440Hz according to international standards, and is the standard for all western musical instruments. In other words, the tuning of all instruments of the orchestra is based on this pitch. But in reality, the basic tuning pitch of each orchestra differs due to the instrumentation and individual characteristics of each orchestra, as well as the personality of the conductor. The diagram shows such differences by orchestra. Most of the pitches rtange within +-6Hz of 440Hz. To reproduce these subtly different pitches, a quality turntable with highly accurate rotation is required. Another important requirement is the possibility of minute speed adjustment. If the speed of a turntable could be adjusted to the individual pitch used by an orchestra while at the same time remaining controlled by a quartz-locked servo system, the benefits of flexibility and precision would be significant from a musicological viewpoint. For this reason the TT-101 is equipped with built-in speed-control facilities which can adjust the pitch in 1Hz steps within a range of +-6Hz of 440Hz. The difference of pitches between master tape recorders and disc record cutting machines has been intentionally ignored before but now the speed of a record can be adjusted to match the original pitch of the orchestra, even if the master was recorded differently from the original performance. For example, a performance of the NHK Symphony Orchestra on one record can be adjusted to match the pitch of the same performance on a record by the London Symphony Orchestra for the enjoyment of a critical comparison.
The ‘A’ key of a piano in your home is usually tuned to 440Hz. When you practice the piano while playing back a record, you can adjust the pitch of the record to be in perfect tune with your piano.

Having tried with various 'Blues' records to play along with my blues harmonicas in various different keys.....I can attest to the fact that you can hardly ever get the pitch spot on with ANY of the records.
I now can :-)
Pretty limited use though for such high-priced complexity?
What is the point...are you serious? Records aren't cut at approximate speeds, they're cut at 33 1/3 RPM. But, what if they're not? Without a speed/pitch control you're stuck with the sound you hear. Using the control, you can vary the speed which minutely changes the sound to what was originally recorded, or what you prefer. Also as belts stretch, platters can run slightly slow so it gives you an ability to compensate for that as well. If I had a choice to have it or not, I'd have it!

P.S. Yes, I know that not all records are 33 1/3 RPM.
If I really like a particular song I will slow it down to make it last longer!
It depends on my mood, sometimes when I want to get back to the good old times where Turntable from Radio Stations were adjusted with higher speed (more dynamic for Garrads, EMT etc.) I do it for a few minutes. But then I go back to correct speed. I like chamber music the way it should be...
I installed a 5 speed gearbox on my Technics SP-25.

Next are positraction and wide ovals.

I'll make that vinyl smoke.
Hmmm . . . does no one here remember back in the 70's when cassettes were the reigning personal music format (Nakamichi-to-Alpine-to-Walkman) and everyone made their own personal mix tapes? My friends and I considered TT's with variable speed control extra-special because they enabled us to fit a selection, or group of songs, onto one side of a 30 or 60 min. cassette -- plus no 'dead air' when you were driving along, and the auto-reverse kicked in!

Doesn't anyone remember those times? I'm getting sooo depressed ;~(
I have a Technics SL1210M5G and I *do* use the speed control once in awhile. I have the rare, out-of-print and normally expensive 2-LP Classic Records release of "Kind of Blue." It has the original incorrect speed version of side one and the speed corrected version on the other side of the first LP. I got it for $5 at a record swap meet because the corrected version of side 1 is crackly and noisy. The uncorrected side is quiet and perfect. So I play that side and use the speed control to correct it.

I also practice bass by playing along with records. Many records are not recorded at A440 pitch. In some cases the musician may alter the tuning or it may be that the mixdown or mastering speed was altered. Anyway, I don't want to retune my bass every time a song is off-pitch, so I correct it with the speed control instead.
Audiofiel...thanks for the chuckles..very good.
Also, a lot of DJs at radio stations play the music a lot faster that normal. This way, they could fit more ads in during the day. This has been done for years, and probably at the request of the owners and managers.
To add to Halcro's post - most American orchestras are actually playing at 442, many of them stating this to their applicants when they have openings. The San Francisco Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony are two current examples. In Europe, the average is usually a little higher yet nowadays. My orchestra is one that does still try to keep the pitch down at 440. Almost never will you hear an orchestra below that anymore; most orchestras around the world will be somewhere between 440 and 444.
One of my tables is an older Rek-o-Kut CVS-12 circa 1950s, mounted in solid ply base. The only way to engage the motor to the idler and platter is through a variable speed lever. Sometimes, I adjust the speed slightly to match the pitch of the instrument in the recording (music in key of A should match my tone generator tuner set to A. There is some variablilty in LPs--especially with older recordings. Of course, we don't always know if the musicians were perfectly tuned to a stable reference or if they used a cold brasswind horn-- but many classical musicians have perfect pitch, or at least good relative pitch and would want accurate tuning. This is a better method than a visual strobe representation of 33.3, in my opinion.
Cocoabaroque, I'm not sure I understand you clearly when you say
This is a better method than a visual strobe representation of 33.3, in my opinion.
If I DO understand you, you are saying to adjust the TT speed until an "A" on the recording matches a tone generated "A", which makes perfect sense to me. But then I have a few questions:
Do I need a tone generator? (Suggestions for a cheapie?) Or even better, is there a website that provides accurate tones through your PC's speakers? (wouldn't that be great?!)
Second, finding a sustained "A" in most recorded material doesn't seem all that easy. Any tips?

Nsgarch, any inexpensive tone generator used for musical instruments would be fine-- also I googled and found a few free online websites under "free tone generator" or audio frequency generator".

With most generators, you can choose the pitch, so if the music is in key of D, then you can select your generator to D. It may take a bit getting used to (musicians are more familiar with pitch recognition), but with a little practice, you can match the pitch of the tone generator (any frequency) to the key or pitch of the recording. It really only takes a few seconds when you get used to it. When your skills improve, you can tune to a tone generated "A" even though the music is in key of D. Most of the notes in a musical passage are "centered" around the key. Hope this helps!
Here's a perfect example of HYPE and GOUGE, praying on those of us, concerned with TT speed accuracy: ( This is NOT a, "strobe" at all, but- a simple LASER tachometer, that has been rebranded. They act as though it were something new. LASER tachs have been around for DECADES. Tell me the difference between it and any of these(outside of PRICE and appearance): ( ( ( I own the last one, as it resolves out to hundred thousands, and is a tad bit more accurate(+/- .04%). The ONLY thing you DON'T get with these, is the small disc, with the reflective strip already on it. HARDLY worth $100.00, for something I can make for free(and completely non-essential). The reflective strip, on my record clamp, works just fine(as would a strip on the platter edge). The great thing about this method, is one can measure speed, with the record playing.
Something that got me thinking more about speed accuracy lately, as both of my tables are equipped with AC synchronous motors: ( ( If you are using a strobe disc, that depends on your house lighting's 60Hz flicker, or your table has a motor, dependent on your AC's 60Hz for speed regulation; take note. This may soon become a concern.
If all their planning on doing is eliminating the error correction every night, I don't think anyone will notice except those who still use synchronous clocks. If this is the case, we have that error every day now.
Pardon the grammar.
Ummm... Boys.... How is one to tune one's turntable to A440 or some variant thereof without an LP that bears a recorded A440 tone? A tone generator is only half of what one needs. I know of no test LP that has such a band on it, but possibly one exists. And even if one has both the necessary pieces of equipment, one is still dependent on a good sense of pitch. It might be better to run the tonearm cable directly into a calibrated oscilloscope, assuming you have the needed test LP. That would eliminate subjective judgement of pitch. (I ain't doin' any of this; I'm just sayin')

The beauty of the KAB strobe is that it runs on batteries and so gives a constant frequency regardless of what's coming out of your wall socket. It's very accurate, and I doubt a laser record weight is much better, just more spectacular and easier to monitor from your listening chair.
It's very accurate, and I doubt a laser record weight is much better, just more spectacular and easier to monitor from your listening chair.
Written by a man who has not understood what he has witnessed in the Timeline in action.
The Kab strobe (and I have one) is NOT.......and I repeat.....NOT accurate nor able enough to detect instantaneous stylus drag.
The Timeline is.
If the need be, I would use my trusty guitar tuner which consists of a simple @ tuning fork. "BINGGGgggggg..."
Halcro, When you made your observation with the laser, did you then actually do the experiment of seeing whether you could observe the phenomenon of wandering speed with the Raven, using your KAB strobe and disc? And did the KAB fail to detect the problem? If so, I stand corrected. If not, how can you argue? In principle, the strobe and disc should be quite sensitive to changes in speed due to stylus drag. I am quite sure that the KAB would have picked up the speed variability I observed in my neighbor's home using his Timeline. But we did not do the experiment. Fortunately, he has cured the problem, so we cannot do the expt now.
Yes Lew, I have done the experiment with the KAB strobe.
The problem is that stylus drag is instantaneous and not consistent so whilst the KAB may waver at quickly settles back to a constant speed thus depriving one of any quantification of the drag?
With the Timeline.......the stylus drag has a permanent effect thereby 'shifting' the laser line for all future revolutions.......and additional drag just keeps shifting some more so that you have a permanent view of the graphics of this phenomenon.

I think the Timeline amplifies the speed error visually because it shoots out the laser very far away from the spindle all the way to the nearby wall so it's like having a 6 foot diameter strobe disc! The KAB after all is only 10 inch wide and microscopic error will be hard to detect by eyeball. The KAB is good at detecting speed drift over a longer period of time and is much more accurate than some digital tachometer but the instantaneous error is very hard to detect visually, make worse if you have an eccentric spindle hole. I think the Timeline is a great tool and I want to get one eventually.

I think the lack of torque to plow through the stylus drag is what contributes to the lack of dynamic range and will give a kind of pleasing compression. I can live with a little bit of dynamic compression caused by stylus drag but I can't live with analog jitter caused by cogging in the motor. Unfortunately cogging and torque don't like to work with each other. In the mid-priced turntable arena, I found the lower torque DD tables with coreless motor and heavier platter to be more pleasing to my ears than some popular high torque models with complicated electronics. Just an observation....

The JVC TT-101 appears to be a phenomenal turntable according to Halcro. I really wish Lewm can try the Timeline on his Kenwood L-07D. :-)