Looking for thoughts from Nottingham Analog table owners
Really like the looks and the build quality of the Nottingham tables, and it does not hurt that I am originally from Nottingham, England to start with...lol But I have read a few reviews that claim they are pretty tricky to set up and some suffer 60hz hum fairly easily? Would like to hear from actual owners, your arms, carts etc Would be upgrading from a Funk Firm Vector with Grado Gold which is deathly quiet as far as hum and in its own right is very musical in my rig. Thank you
I have the Ace Spacedeck with Ace Space arm. Never had any problem with hum (in fact, first time I've heard that), and quite honestly, the overall setup is pretty simple and straightforward. Proper attention needs paid to what it sits on, but that can be said about most turntables. I've never heard your current 'table so can't comment on what sound differences would exist, but I love the way my Nott' brings across the music. Expressive, rythmic, dynamic, and gets the goosebumps popping and foot tapping. I've had a number of 'tables in my audio life -- some cheaper, some more expensive -- and like the Nott' the best. It just pushes all my buttons (which is a subjective, personal preference thing to be sure) Wide range of cartridges: Benz Lo2, Benz MC-SCHEU, Cartridge Man Music Maker, Grado Reference, an Elac and a Goldring I can't remember the models of, Zu modded Denon DL-103, and currently a Koetsu Black. The Ace Space arm is medium mass, so low compliance carts like the Zu and Koetsu need a little extra mass at the headshell to get the resonant frequency right.
A couple things I don't like, but live with and work around: there is no azimuth adjustment on the Ace-Space (or any of the Nott' arms, as far as I know). You can reportedly twist the headshell in the arm tube to change it, but I couldn't get mine to budge, and even if I could that's a ridiculous method for adjusting azimuth. But there's a workaround for that. I'm also not delighted with the way the arm post mates with the armboard. There's an outer collet that you snug in with setscrews to secure the arm in place, but with the tolerances involved it's easy to cock the arm out of perpendicular as you tighten the setscrews. Possible of course, just something that needs paid attention to. But all that said, I'm not sure there's any analog rig in this price bracket that has every aspect nailed to perfection, so it comes down to finding the sound you want and the tradeoffs you're willing to live with.
@bcowen Thank you for your insights, just the sort of info I need from actual owners Think it was a review in AbsoluteSound that had major problems with 60hz hum. They ended up preferring a Rega over the Nottingham Interspace. I am fairly happy with present deck but you know how that goes, grass is always greener on the other side.....
I hate to be the one, but I can't resist. I'm planning on hearing the Analogue Works table soon. The dealer I spoke with has experience with Nott's, and says the AW tables are a bit more lively sounding. I also like the fact the tables I will listen to are fitted with Ortofon (12") and Jelco arms. I think it's hard to do better than the latter for the price. As a bonus, I prefer the look of the AW tables, which remind me of the Palmer tables. I have no affiliation... just personal interest in the line. I'm sure they share certain qualities to the Nott's, since they are based on Mr. Fletcher's designs. As far as the livelier presentation, assuming that the Nott sound is darker, I'm sure that will be about taste, and system synergy. Cheers -Don
@uberwaltz Sorry, but I have no experience with any of the Nottingham cartridges.
@fjn04 There's also the Pear Audio 'tables that are very similar to the Nottingham(s). In fact, the Cornet 2 tonearm is nearly identical to the Ace-Space with what look like only minor aesthetic changes:
Before buying NAS, I had bought a Lynn Basic, because I thought the LP12 was not sufficiently better than the Basic to justify the price. Then I heard a NA Hyperspace, and was sold.
So I talked with Tom Fletcher (owner) at NA, and I ended up buying one of the last Mentor turntables (Dais bearing), with Mentor arm and Tracer 4 cartridge. Wow!!! Dead quiet, elegant, neutral sound. Wow.
The Tracer 4 was not misnamed - it's never mistracked anything. But that Mentor arm - solid but not in any sense adjustable. I moved to a Trans-Fi air bearing tonearm, sold straight from the factory for $1000. Now THAT's adjustable! Wow!!!
Replaced the plinth with an aluminum/plywood/aluminum sandwich. Wow!!!
Now I use my higher end Koetsu all the time, because that's what it takes to bring out the best of a really high end cartridge.
My modified Mentor was the best sounding TT I had ever heard, until I finished my DIY air bearing unit. So I really think highly of that brand. The Dais bearing is something else. I don't think you can go wrong at any price point, although I would try for a Dais if I were you.
Not hard to set up. Just make sure that you set up on a dead, non-resonant shelf, like Baltic Birch plywood, or better, panzerholst. And I would avoid the NAS arm unless they've improved adjustability a whole lot. But with the Trans-Fi air bearing arm at $1000, punching at 5x it's weight, why use anything else?
Consider the Trans-Fi turntable while you're at it.
bcowen- I am familiar with Pear Audio. I believe the Palmers also implement some of Mr. Fletchers designs in their tables. He must have been doing something right (-: I do like the look of the Palmer and AW in particular. I think AW also does a bamboo plinth along with their Baltic Birch Ply. I wold say Pear seems to be getting the most exposure at this point, even more than Nottingham. Analogue Works is a relatively new company though.
*Disclaimer: I am a dealer for Pear Audio Analogue products.
The Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas, Kid Punch and Kid Howard are the ONLY turntables that were actually designed by the late, great Tom Fletcher, other then the older Nottingham Audio models.
With all due respect to bcowan, the Pear Audio turntables and tonearms are quite different in construction, fit and finish than the old Nottingham products. I have owned a few Nottingham models in the past and I will say that the Pear Audio turntables surpass the Notts in virtually every way. For example, while the Pear Audio Cornet 2 tonearm resembles the old Space/Anna tonearms, it is quite improved in construction and sound.
I have taken Palmers in trade for Pear Audio models and I again must say that there is simply no comparison. Palmer copied some of Tom Fletcher's ideas but ruined the benefits by uselessly elevating the platter and tonearm (remember kids, low center of gravity is your friend) and sitting the motor unit inside the plinth with minimal damping. The first time I demo'd a Kid Thomas for a customer in his home, side by side with his Palmer, his wife (upstairs) yelled down to ask what he did to improve the sound. It was THAT noticeable.
Been a while but I finally found a super deal on a Nottingham Spacedeck cw Spacearm and a nearly new Shelter 501 mk3 cart. Setup was no harder than any other tt with the right tools so no worries there and there is zero noise, in fact its a very black background. A little odd though was the fact that the arm was wired with xlr connectors at the end, my phono (Dynavector p75 mk3) does not support xlr so had to buy a pair of xlr-rca adapters. The sound? Heaven! So much air and soul to the music even on less than stellar discs, somehow it manages to surpress the worst crackles and concentrate on the music.
I did a direct a/b to a digital file of a lp I was playing and it just sounded like a mp3 file even though it was a full wav file. Don't get me wrong I love the convenience of digital but this reminds me why I do not mind getting up every 20 minutes or so to change the side!
I have owned the Spacedeck and Space Arm for about 6 years now and am pretty happy with it, aside from the cueing mechanism needing to be replaced as I type this and wait for the new unit to arrive. I have a very slight 60hz hum at VERY high volume levels. I can move the connectors from the TT to the phonostage around a bit and get louder or softer hum, so I have compensated by arranging those in a configuration that results in the lowest hum possible. When I switch the input to a digital one, the hum instantly vanishes so I am reasonably sure the issue resides somewhere between my cartridge and the outputs on my phonostage.
Oh man, you nailed it perfectly bcowen, the two things that irritate me most about this system are those you mentioned.....azimuth adjustment (or lack thereof) and the collet around the armpost!!! While I AM able, unlike you, to twist the headshell on the end of the arm (a very suspect process as it imparts a lot of torque to the graphite arm which is very concerning), it is HIGHLY unlikely that you will get an accurate result unless you are just plain lucky. Having a friend with a Fozgometer, we worked for quite a while before getting a setting that the meter showed to be proper, and then it was close, not perfect but I'll live with that. The second thing, tightening the collet around the armpost, just makes no sense to me at all because, if you hold the tonearm with your left hand while tightening the collet, you can FEEL the arm moving out of the original position as you tighten the grub screws! So, reflecting on what Mr. Fletcher has said on many occasions, "the meaning of tight," I have found that by just a VERY light snugging of first one, then the other, then back again to the first, repeating this at least 3-4 times whilst holding the tonearm in the other hand has resulted in not much, if any motion imparted by the tightening to the position of the arm. That's how I do it anyway, and I only tighten it enough to keep it from moving when I use the cueing mechanism. This you will need to experiment with but with GREAT CAUTION as one that is too loose can result in the tonearm moving across your record as you try to lift it up with the cueing mechanism and that has obvious undesirable consequences.
Hope that helps you out some in your contemplations.
Meanwhile, my effort at restoring the old lift mechanism (see my earlier post this week) resulted in failure. Couldn't find the proper lube here locally and was just about to order some of the Kyosho 500,000 cSt stuff online when under close inspection, found that the end of the piston where it engages with the cam was worn to some extent so decided to pop for a new one from the US distributor in Florida, Hollywood Sound, who by the way are very good to work with and offer a very personalized level of service, taking time to talk with me about the issue I was having and providing some excellent guidance without which I would still be trying to figure out how to get the old one off! No affiliation, rest assured, just a happy customer who does not hesitate to pass on good recommendations to my friends where they are warranted. Talked with "Marc," by the way, and he's a gentleman......
Uberwaltz, I tend to agree with you about the comparisons between digital and analog but found that if I use a higher resolution in recording, in my case 96/24, the A/B comparison yields results that are far less distinguishable. Further, recordings in SACD 256 are even better and may really be the way to go if one intends to archive an entire collection. That said, it all starts with the source and if you have a lousy recording in the studio, no medium nor format is going to make it sound any better than the original. Just my 2 cents.
A very respectable recording and not surprised it is your goto....I have the original 1974 A&M release, the 1980 Mobile Fidelity, the 2008 180gr. release and they all sound different, however slightly, but different and of the bunch I'd nod towards the Mobile Fidelity on my system with the Spacedeck/Spacearm/Sumiko Blackbird.
You're right, all DACs are not created equal and that can make a huge difference! Just the other day a friend brought over his PS Audio DAC and it blew my Oppo clean out of the proverbial water! And the Oppo was an improvement over the one in my Rotel which for a long time I thought was no slouch.
Good for you, uberwalz, cleaning, as has been said, "is a ritual" and that holds true for us vinyl-lovers. Once you start and perfect the process, it can indeed yield grand rewards. I'm about 60% through my collection. My procedure now is to find an album I haven't cleaned yet that I want to hear, clean it, wait until sunset (which is a magical listening time for me) and give it a spin. I have found countless new titles in my uncleaned section this way by artists that I otherwise would not likely have discovered and had huge enjoyment!
Let us know over time what your impressions on the Spacedeck are, and enjoy!
”Crime of the Century” Certainly one of my favs; Highly recommend that you find a MFSL/UHQR. No better recording of it that I have heard. Sure it might be a bit Spendy but it will certainly become your go to copy.
I follow vinyl cleaning methods as outlined by “Rushton” My prized recordings take 20 minutes per side if I stay focused. If / when my audiodesk bites the dust; I will go the DIY route. But US cleaning is a must with any method/system.
Sumiko Blackbird HO, SAE 1000 LC, Benz Micro MC20E2, Micro Acoustic 630, even a Shure High Track M91E. All sound good, some I believe a little better like the Blackbird which is what I am using at the moment. I'd also be interested in what others have used. Must not be that many Notts owners on this forum?
I believe inna is Nottingham fan. He could give you more advice concerning cartridges. I once considered them until the dealer and I believe Music Direct sold them at one time and then they disappeared. No local support killed it for me.
Tom Fletcher designed the Spacedeck/Spacearm with MM cartridges in mind. The Nottingham cartidges, no longer made I guess, were based on Goldring MM. That's what I use, Goldring 1042. There is a lot of a sound in that cartridge if your components and cables are up to it. That said, I heard that many other cartridges, including not too heavy or/and too low compliance cartridges work quite well in the Spacedeck arm. Some really like Lyra Delos and Kiseki Purpleheart, both quite expensive. I myself am going to keep the Goldring until I upgrade the Acoustech phono to a high level tube phono stage. Then I will see and think. Others would suggest trying some great vintage cartridges. Yeah, this could be interesting, maybe. You don't really need local support with Nottinghams. Larry from Hollywood Sound, the only dealer in the US, would assist you. By the way, using adapters degrades the sound to unknown degree, it is better to have the cable rewired with RCAs unless of course you are thinking of a phono stage with XLR inputs. There are not many of them, though.
I have a 294, no hum. Switching from 33 to 45 is nowhere as difficult as some would have you believe. I bought a pre owned trade in from a dealer so I didn't have to install the arm but setting up at home was no big deal.
Only cart I've used on my 294 is the clearaudio concept MC and it sounds really good actually but looking to upgrade so I'd be interested in suggestions too. Hwdsound recommended the kiseki blue ns and I've heard the purpleheart sounds great on a nott.
I bought a used Spacedeck one year ago in perfect condition, although it was already 25 years old! Was a great deal, ready to play with a Denon DL103 (MC). Talking with miss Penny Jones from Nottingham Analogue, she told me that their turntables are better matched with MM carts and she suggested the ones from Nagaoka. This is kind of the "official " recommendation from Nottingham Analogue. Meanwhile I got a nice deal on a Goldring 1042 that I'm planning to install soon.
Recently purchased a new Ace Spacedeck and 10" Ace Anna arm fitted with a Kiseki Purpleheart NS cartridge. Replaced a 15 year old original Spacedeck/Spacearm fitted with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge which I donated to a good buddy in need of a quality vinyl outfit. Love both cartridges with a nod towards the Kiseki in that it provides more detail and a bigger soundstage than the Ortofon. Both are sweet, highly engaging, and musical sounding cartridges which in my experience work well with the Nott tonearms. From a practical standpoint though, the nod goes to the Ortofon. Two items of note re: the Kiseki; 1) the cantilever's low angle and proximity to the long and flat bottom of the wooden cartridge body creates issues with warped records which I never experienced with the Cadenza Bronze. The architecture of the Ortofon allows for warped records to pass underneath without touching the cartridge body, unlike the Kiseki. I've invested in a couple Vinyl Flat record flatteners and am much more careful when spinning records, being careful to check in advance if an album is warped. As far as reported 'hum' issues, I've never experienced that with either Nott. As far as set up issues? Not a problem! I have my very experienced dealer do that for me, way beyond my pay grade! As far as the Nott tables sounding 'dark', I can't really relate to that either, neutral maybe, but not dark. That said, my preference is towards neutrality, I don't like a tipped up top end because of the etched and bright sound often associated with it on certain recordings. I'll sacrifice the last "n'th" of detail if it means the remaining 99.999% sounds like music. The Notts paired with either of the above mentioned cartridges provide plenty of detail for my tastes.
I have to say my brief ownership so far leaves me with a very warm fuzzy glow! The level of detail and soul extracted by this simple Spacearm and shelter cart is a huge leap ahead from my previous clearaudio tt. Years of enjoyment to follow. I would say my setup appears to be very neutral with solid organic bass and female vocals excell. Start of a long live affair hopefully!
The 2nd point I meant to make was that the Kiseki took at least 40 - 50 hours to shake the bulk of the zip out of it (my experience) - way too hot for my tastes to begin with; that's somewhere between 60 and 70 albums, then it begins to settle in. Both Upscale and Hollywood tell me that at 100 hours I can consider it 'broken in'. I also have a Walker Audio motor controller that the Nott motor is plugged into. I believe the motor controller helps with the overall analog presentation as well.
Thanks for the info especially the comparisons between the kiseki and the ortofon. Though I was more inclined to get a blue NS due to price, the ortofon's less finicky nature seems better to me and every review makes it sound like just my kind of cart. I'm also interested in charisma carts and the audio Technica art9 and the clearaudio Charisma v2 MM if anyone has any thoughts on those.
Nottingham is by no means a dark sounding table, but it is on a warmer side of neutral. My Goldring 1042 fully opened up after 100 hours, I think it was 110 or 120. I am not surprised with the official Nottingham recommendation of Nagaoka. Nagaoka 500 is probably more refined than Goldring 1042, should be excellent choice. Yes, Larry of Hollywood Sound really likes Spacedeck and he's been dealing with Nottinghams forever.
I’m beginning to believe that another reason that components I own and enjoy which others claim to sound dark, veiled, imprecise, or short on detail, and which I find sound opposite those descriptions, has to do with the extremely low noise floor I enjoy in my system. Both my Nottingham turntable and my Sonus Faber Olympica III speakers have often been described by contributors on A-gon forums in terms I’ve listed above. Consider upfront components which are part of my system: a First Sound PD III linestage with dual mono construction, S upgrade, dual power supplies and NOS GE 5670 triodes; a Cary Audio PH-302 mk II phono stage with 4 NOS 1950’s RCA 6SL7’s and external power supply I had Cary build, a Core Power Technologies EquiCore 1800 power conditioner, plus a Pass X250.8, and I believe you have the makings for a very quiet, low noise floor system. First Sound’s Mr. Emmanual Go makes frequent reference to lowering the noise floor when discussing his products and upgrade paths; low noise floor is one of his primary objectives. My interpretation? Lower the noise floor and more music is presented. The music doesn’t ’compete’ with noise when signal meets speakers. At the loudness levels I listen to, (rarely an ’eleven’, sometimes just loud enough to clear the room, but usually just loud enough to allow for slightly elevated conversation in a fairly big room), now that I think of it, I’m not aware of noise in between cuts on albums. There’s lead-in noise when initially cueing albums, but after cut 1, I just don’t hear anything but music, and if there is surface noise, it is so quiet it draws no attention to itself. I’m certain this is not a new topic and much has been written about it, just thought I’d mention it given the comments re: Nottingham turntables’ sonic signatures.
Good point mark, I listen a bit louder than you most of the time but at night when the kids are sleeping I turn it down and notice what you are hearing. The combo of the notts 294 and the Nova 2 are lowered the noise floor exponentially. Also, I don't think the Nottingham is dull or overly warm at all.
The most unfortunate part of this entire hobby is we are limited by the quality of every source recording, no matter what the medium. We can ramp up the $, the technology, the expertise, the materials, the designs, the manufacturing, but in the end, if a mediocre source recording is our beginning, we can make it listenable, but rarely excellent. I’ve found both Sonus Faber and Nottingham products very adept at excellent reproduction of high quality sources, and at the same time able to make poor source recordings more than ‘listenable’. As is often said: it’s all about the music. I think Franco Serblin and Tom Fletcher are of similar philosophies; strip away what gets in the way, leaving only the music; much like sculptors - just remove the unnecessary material and leave the masterpiece.
Having heard a noticeable improvement with the Boston audio mat1 I am definitely convinced that this table is the perfect platform for letting you hear improvements with tweaks and other upgrades. I definitely will be improving my cart and really want to try a Wave mechanic or similar external power supply, but I will be looking used as the new price is a bit too much to ask imo.
I'd love to try a moerch 12" arm when the timing is right financially and a used one pops up. For all the love the tables get, the arms seem to be constantly dumped on. They are pretty but seems very stable and for the price I'm not sure how much better you could do for sound quality.
Found a used falcon psu. It had a c13 female power connection with which to connect to connect with the 294 so I had to get an adapter. Using an inexpensive strobe disc purchased from amazon I found that the The shapes were well defined at 33.3 and 45 but would move slowly around the platter. With a few adjustments I got them to remain in place. Haven't had the chance to really listen yet. Will report back when I can.