Empire 598 and 698 turntables, complete with arm, were good solid performers, and would satisfy most people today. New in the box unused is a plus for any piece of mechanical equipment, where wear could be an issue.
I wouldn't put much value on a decades-old cartridge. The stylus elastomer mounting is probably hardened up.
I beleive there is am a maufacturer who could have any turntable he wants and uses a modified empire. Maybe someone else has run across it an remembers who it is.
Gregadd, Ralph Karsten of Atma-sphere heavily modifies an Empire 208 or similar earlier Empire model. This is the turntable that he uses at the CES.
Here is the link: modded 208
Now *that* is a belt drive...
I am puzzled by the way that the spring-suspended table and arm is criticised vs the hard-mounted design. When I bought an Empire 598 it replaced a hard-mounted Rec-O-Cut and pretty good arm (of a brand that I don't remember). The Rec-O-Cut and arm were secured to a massive bluestone base. The improvement with the Empire was very great. I think the reasons were:
1. Suspended design. I could bump the platter/arm assembly so that it bounced up and down, and the LP would play on with no problem, because they moved together.
2. Movement did not affect the arm because it was staticly balanced. Downforce was applied by a clock spring.
3. I think the belt drive was better than the idler wheel.
4. The magnetic device to pick up the arm at the end was neat.
My recollection of Empire tables was that the arm was not as
good as the table. I believe the arms were spring loaded for
dialing in stylus pressures and were somewhat inaccurate and
variable after set. But, they look nice. .... CEM
firstname.lastname@example.org...Application of VTF by a spring was one of the BEST features! It meant that the arm was not unbalanced, and so was quite insensitive to vibration. (Will two audiophiles ever agree?)
Eldartford, I would have to agree with you about spring loading. I bet you never thought you would hear that. After abandoning a Garrard 301 in the '70s, I am back with one again. I have an adaptator of the old Ortofon 12" arm which use spring loading.
Since I have never heard such good vinyl sound, I would have to partially attribute it to the spring loading. I did have friends with Empire turntables in the 70s, however, and must say I was never tempted to buy one.
I am interested in an Empire 598 that is being sold by audio junkie that builds his own amps and speakers. He is going through it to make sure that it is working properly. What concerns do I have to be aware of and what would be a good asking price?
Thanks for your help.
The two main things to watch out for are availability of drive belts and a poor condition phono cable. The phono cable mates to the arm with a funky and unique connector I was never able to find anywhere else. If that craps out, I think you'd have to directly connect the tone arm harness to a cable. Belts are also hard to find. I was able to find a couple of them in a small stereo repair stores old inventory. Oh yeah, another thing. Make sure the headshell cartridge mounting plate is there and in good shape.
I would take a 208 (or 398 and throw away the arm). It is a basic belt-drive TT with an excellent bearing, platter and motor. Belts can always be obtained or made.
Get two and I will make sure OUR TTs are tiptop. ;-)
I just got a 398. A 398 is the same as a 208, except it comes with the spring-loaded 980 arm. There are two versions of the 980 arm - the original one, and a later arm that had anti-skating.
All Empire models that I'm aware of are belt drive.
Some prefer the early models, which had a much heavier platter than the later models.
Gregjcastro...Out of nostalga, I bid on one recently on EBay. I quit at $300...don't know what it finally went for.
The thing is very simple, and the belt and possibly the arm wiring are about all that can be a problem. Make sure that the arm bearings have not been damaged. (No looseness).
I replaced mine for two reasons. I wanted a linear tracking arm, and I wanted automatic set down as well as pickup of the arm. (I bought a Sony PS-X800).