Loricraft Garrard 301 to Dobbins Sp10 Mk3 - What can I expect ?


Folks,
I have been using a nicely modded Loricraft Garrard 301 for the last couple of years. Found a good deal on a Steve Dobbins Sp10 Mk3 and pulled the trigger on it. It will be arriving in a week or so. I am curious what can I expect from this change ? The Sp10 Mk2 didnt cut it for me nor the new SL-1200G. Mk3 that too coming from Dobbins seems to be on a much higher plane. However I would love to hear from you guys if you have heard the Mk3 vs 301.
pani
I own a SP10mk3 and it is an amazing turntable. 
Pani, You contacted me privately.  I have heard a Dobbins SP10 Mk3, sitting in the room with Steve Dobbins himself at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, back in 2011, I think.  I listened for more than an hour to music of different types. The tonearm was a Reed and the cartridge may have been an Ortofon A90 or a Lyra top of the line.  I think the Dobbins table will outperform your Garrard, mainly due to the fact that it is completely neutral, does not emphasize any part of the musical spectrum.  Anyway, you bought it, so you will be the final and only important judge.  You can re-sell the one of the two that you like the least, if you feel you only need one turntable. (Everyone needs two, in my opinion, at minimum.)
I have not heard an SP10 Mk III but I bet it sounds closer to the new SL 1000R which is the best turntable I have heard period.  I have heard a SP10MK II and it was very nice.  The good part is you can put whatever arms you want on it.  Thats the one drawback with the 1200G.  The arm on the 1200G is very good, but many will want to upgrade the arm.
I want to remind averyone about Kondo The Beat turntable designed by Steve Dobbins. The motor is SP-10mk3 if i remember correct. I like design of this plinth for two tonearms. Also i love Reed and own one, Steve was a US distributor of Reed tonearms few years ago.

Pani, your SP-10mk3 is just a classic Technics in Dobbins plinth? Any pictures of it available?

I was thinking about his plinth for my ex SP-10mkII, but it was too expensive for me.
Chakster, "Kondo the Beat" is likely to be the turntable that Pani bought. Dobbins took the motor assembly out of a Mk3 chassis and sank it into his plinth, which is made of some non-resonant material, but I don’t remember what it is. Thus Steve got rid of the superficial escutcheon and the surround underneath that is part of a Mk3 chassis. It was in vogue to do this, back when the Mk3 was being re-discovered and you could still find them for sale at "reasonable" prices.
The Beat is also the turntable I listened to extensively at the RMAF in either 2010 or 2011.  Just Steve and me in the room late at night.

No, I am not buying the Beat. I am buying a mk3 in Dobbins plinth. Dobbins takes away the mk3 top plate and installs the entire motor in the plinth. For Beat I think he does more to the power supply and such. 
Ok.  But you're getting the main benefit: removing the motor from the OEM chassis and installing it directly into a non-resonant support structure.  I guess the Beat has a modified or brand new platter, as well. I don't know how much benefit that provides, since the OEM Mk3 platter is already a beauty and massive.  It was the Beat that I heard at RMAF.
Post removed 
pani

Kind sir, curious, for the sake of comparison was the Garrard 301 Loricraft model you previously owned also using the "hollow box frame" style stock plinth with the rest stock? Any modifications?  Curious as to which era ie. version the used Mk.3 Dobbins you purchased, there were a couple slight variations if memory serves. In any event, I believe you will really enjoy your Sp10Mk.3 based drive front end. When they are well implemented, these direct drives are musical powerhouses. I adore mine!

Lewm
Agree on your post above with regards to musical neutrality ~ transparency, as these traits the Mk.3 excels in. On a friendly side note, Kodo the Beat actually does not use a Mk.3 motor or Technics platter.
Hi, I still use the Loricraft Garrard 301. It uses a stacked birch ply plinth. There are few modifications to it too

1.Kokomo Mk2 bearing
2. Woodsong Audio magnetic brake disc
3. AudioSilente idler wheels
4. Funkfirm Achromat
Ferrari, thank you for the correction. After I wrote what I wrote, I started questioning myself also as to the identity of the motor used in the Kondo the Beat turntable. One glance will tell you that the platter is different from that of a Mark 3.Steve used to post here on Audiogon , but I have not seen anything from him in a few years. Also, I wonder what has happened to that product (Kondo the Beat). One does not see it mentioned these days. If out of production, it would surely be a highly desirable collectors item.Do you know any further details of its construction? For example, what motor did it use? Was it quartz controlled?
Kodo The Beat is still in production. In fact Steve told me that now he has the Beat SE version which he has demoed at RMAF this year. The SE version is quite a bit more expensive though
Just realized it's Kodo, not Kondo 
I have to ask this question, you purchased an sp10 MKIII that is coming up on 40 years old.  They are expensive, much more so than a SP10 MkII.  What happens if something breaks?  Are parts available for all repairs?  I mean it has to be over 10K.  Thats a lot to spend on something 40 years old.  I mean, I know its a great table but its pretty old.
I have to ask this question, you purchased an sp10 MKIII that is coming up on 40 years old.  They are expensive, much more so than a SP10 MkII.  What happens if something breaks?  Are parts available for all repairs?  I mean it has to be over 10K.  Thats a lot to spend on something 40 years old.  I mean, I know its a great table but its pretty old.
Every heard of vintage exotic sports cars enthusiasts?  Vintage Cafe Motorcycles? Vintage wristwatches?  Same idea kind sir,......nothing to be concerned about.   

Specialist technicians and electronics engineers exist all over the world who are qualified and can readily service the famous vintage decks, including the Sp10Mk.3's and Garrard's, EMT and so forth.  Remember, the best vintage tables (with few exceptions - ex. Micro) were first and foremost commercial devices built like tanks, not disposable, dainty audiophile toys, and made to be used daily and serviced.  They will last a lifetime if properly maintained. 
Lewm
Do you know any further details of its construction? For example, what motor did it use? Was it quartz controlled?
If I recall correctly, it was first designed and made by Teres.  
I am just curious because there is value in these tables, just not sure if it breaks if they are serviceable.  I know someone who has a sp 10 MkII but he is the original owner.  
@pani what did you settle on, Garrard 301 or Sp10 mk3?  How do you describe their differences?
@ljgm, I preferred the 301.

Before talking about 301, I will talk about the 3 technics I had the fortunate opportunity to try. 1200G, Sp10 Mk2, Sp10Mk3.

All of them sound surprisingly similar! All of them had similar flow of music, similar tonality, similar feel/PRAT, similar quietness. 

1200G - Very detailed and clean sound. Sounded very complete with its own plinth. I had the special analog PSU from Time-Step. 

Sp10 Mk2 - Never build a complete plinth for it because I didnt know if I would keep it. I used it as a naked player with some good isolation footers. It sounded grander and a bit warmer than 1200G. 

Sp10 Mk3 - I had the Steve Dobbins version, with his amazingly inert heavy plinth. It was supplied with Stillpoint footers. PSU had all the old caps replaced with new Panasonic ones. Overall a mint piece.
It had everything that the smaller brothers had but it also had the explosive dynamics that approached the Garrard. It was more colorful than the other 2 technics tables. I tried with and without stillpoints. While with stillpoints sounded quieter and tighter, I preferred the slightly noisy but more natural sound with a regular steel cone.

Finally the Garrard 301: None of the Technics had the flow and emotion of 301. They all exhibited a certain electronically controlled, tight sound. Everything was just forced to put in place with the Technics. The flamboyance and natural presence, the aura was not just there. Technics was academic while Garrard was a flowing stream of music. It is not quiet but it makes you sing along. All the arguments around how much cleaner and more transparent a window Technics presents goes out of the window when you find yourself simply nodding and bobbing your head with the garrard. Its because, 301 was telling you more about the mood of the song, the tension of the band. 

It was a very educating experience. I am not a DD guy. 
You might want to audition a Kenwood L07D, before you conclude you don’t like DD. Like other turntable drive systems, not all DD turntables exhibit the same SQ coloration, or lack thereof. Because you’re really saying here that you prefer a certain coloration of the 301. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Hi lewm, I like the 301, Lenco L75, EMT 930, Rega, Nottingham Analogue, Dr.Feickert, Bergmann (latest model), Avid, Well setup LP12 and many more record players. All of them sound different but none of them exhibit the kind of electronically controlled flow I hear from Technics or even the EMT DDs. Whether Kenwood would cure it, I dont know. I will wait for a time when I get to hear it.

Having said that, I would agree that Garrard is not tonally studio neutral. My 301 is highly updated with some good tweaks. Yet it is not dead neutral. Lenco is better in that aspect. 
There are families of DD turntables, just as there are families of belt-drive and idler-drive types.  You auditioned only one "brand": Technics.  First of all, I find it hard to believe that you didn't hear substantial differences between the 1200G and the other two and between the Mk3-based Dobbins turntable and the Mk2 with no plinth.  The 1200G uses a coreless motor, which makes it fundamentally different from its forebears.  The Mk3 in any iteration should blow away the Mk2, let alone a Mk2 with no plinth.  I easily heard big differences between Mk2 and Mk3 in similar slate plinths, in my system. However, it's possible that all 3 take the Technics approach to servo control, which is very tight.  I don't like to think so, but perhaps you are "hearing" that tight control of platter speed that results.  There are other DD's with coreless motors and "looser" servo feedback mechanisms, like the Kenwood and maybe the Victor TT101 (which would have to be re-plinthed or the plinth modified) that you might find more like your 301, but better.  And there's also the Luxman PD444 and the Yamaha GT2000X.  So, you have DD's with iron core motors vs coreless motors, DD's with heavy vs light platters, and DD's with varying tightness of the servo control mechanism.  Each of these design choices makes a difference to SQ.  Not to mention the effects of plinth, tonearm, cartridge.  Generalizations are hazardous, because they make you stop thinking.
One important difference I missed out is, from 1200G to Sp10 Mk2 there was a marked increase in slam factor. 
Interesting. I run 2 different AudioGrail 401s. One is in a slate plinth with new 3rd party platter and idler. The other with original platter and new idler in a birch ply plinth with walnut top. Both sound great. Extremly musical and every record sounds great. The slate version is faster and to my ears, more neutral and transparent. The benefit of speed is critical in preserving the clarity in a way that mere detail does not. I heard the new SP tables in New York and prefer my Garrards. Obviously, there were many other factors but what was missing was a musical rightness that you have expressed.
one thing that I found that really made the 1200G sound better was to adjust the torque to its lowest setting. The factory setting was not right and made the player sound as you described.  I find the 1200G to have plenty of slam.  I actually like it better than the sp10 mk 2. 
I tried the 1200G with lower torque, default torque and also higher torque. The sound did change a bit. The thing is when you want to “fine tune” these things matter. When you are looking for a more fundamental change in sound these things don’t help or doesn’t matter. I am not saying someone liking the Technics is less critical. I think it is all about how the ears have gotten trained over the period. After listening to the flow and uncompressed dynamics of idler the DD sounded too controlled. I can imagine exactly the opposite if I was a long term DD user and listening to idlers. I would probably complain about the noise, control and less organized presentation of idler.