Reason for buying old/classic turntables

Could you please clarify why many people buy old/classic turntable from the 1960's or 1970's? Are those turntables better than the contemporary ones? Is it just emotion and nostalgia? I'm also asking because these classic turntables are often quite expensive (like vintage automobiles and wine). Recently I saw an advertisement for the Technics SP-10 Mk II for $3,000 and a Micro Seiki SX-111 for $6,000. You can also buy a modern turntable like an Avid, a Clearaudio or Raven for that kind of money. Or are these classic turntables still superior to the modern ones?

Yes, emotion and nostalgia, but also convenience. In addition to having a VPI Aries, with all the add on's, I have a number of Sony's and Denon's. The two units I use most are the Sony PS-X800 (Linear Arm) and the Denon DP-47F, mainly because they are fully automatic with a repeat feature. The Sony has a Grace Ruby Red, the Denon a 160. Sound wise, in my opinion, these vintage are almost the equal of the VPI, which has a Clearaudio $2K cartridge. My systems are all tubes. Old/Classic TT's that are fully operational and functional are hard to come by and even then, unless you can do a pick up, they are a crap shoot as the carriers punish the units. Often it takes 4 units to get 1. I suggest you never buy unless the seller has all the original packing materials and boxes.

Clssic superior to modern? Not really, at least sound wise. Modern is a lot of fuss, with no one making a fully auto/repeat table. To get friends and family interested in vinyl I always suggest old/classic with fully automatic features. If they get hooked on the 'vinyl' sound, I then tell them to get something modern and see if it is superior to old on a sound basis. I've given a couple of my kid's Denon 47's and they were quite satisfied, especially since the whole family could operate it without damage to the stylus. You just put the lp on and push the button. No one has 'moved' on to 'superior', at least not yet. Since they can compare a 'move up' on my system, they don't 'hear' superior.

My opinion:

Part familiarity/comfort level with older, proven designs and part value in that turntables are a niche item these days compared to then and prices are accordingly high for good build quality.

By the way, being a physical device that derives much of its performance from build quality, turntables ( and speakers as well for similar reasons) are two parts of the system that benefit the most from solid construction and build quality that tends to be expensive these days.
There's a lot of BS sorounding the improvements to turntables over the last thirty years. It is, after all, a wheel, and we've had that down for 3000 years or so. Advances in bearings and damping are real, but for most applications a table that was great thirty years ago is still going to be great. Witness the popularity of vintage Thorens TD-124s and the like. Having said that, I think the guy with the $3000 SP10 is crazy. Some people think that because it would cost XX if it were new today that thats how much they should charge for it even though its really old. Personally I use a twenty-year old Sota and it is competative with most of today's tables. Do a lot of research before you jump in with big dollars.
in the 60's, 70's and early 80's the largest consumer electronics companies in the world were spending their R&D money to perfect the tt technology.....particularly in Japan. especially in the area of direct drive systems. you see that Sony, Pioneer, Technics and a few others designed and built some drive systems mostly better than any modern tt drive system. to match or surpass these drive systems is pretty much (with a couple of exceptions) out of the question based on the economies of scale of today's tt makers. it is easier and cheaper to design a belt driven tt for small makers.

the problem with those 'vintage' tt's was their case design, arms, cartridges and phono stages. all those 'systems' had dramatic limitations which restricted performace.

if you take these superior drive systems; install them in a modern engineered plinth, add a state of the art arm, state of the art cartridge, and state of the art phono stage you have an overall design superior to all but the very top of the heap modern designs.

not every 'vintage' tt is a good candidate for all this attention. you need to research which one to go with.
"It is, after all, a wheel, and we've had that down for 3000 years or so."

That is true.

One thing I do not understand is the recent renewed attraction or romance with direct drive tables. What's wrong with a good belt drive that is well able to rotate the platter at a constant speed. Doesn't a belt design provide a more natural and cost efective means of isolating the platter from motor noise or vibration?

I'm sure DD tables can sound good as well but the design seems like it would be harder and more expensive to accomplish well than belt drive. Maybe that's part of the appeal?
My take is that the turntables of old can be good but not so much the tonearms and their old wiring. I would be happy with a Thorens TD125 cleaned up with isolation reinforcement and a good Rega arm. This could be done for well under $1K. If money is no object I will go all modern.

Mapman, we are entering a new golden era of direct driven turntables! I must say that I liked the ads from Technics/Akai/Sony/Denon very much --> direct drive was for my generation the ultimate in drive technology (Technics SL-1200, Denon DP-60, wow!) and back then (during the seventies) it was a "politically correct" thing to have a DD turntable.

One thing I do not understand is the recent renewed attraction or romance with direct drive tables. What's wrong with a good belt drive that is well able to rotate the platter at a constant speed. Doesn't a belt design provide a more natural and cost efective means of isolating the platter from motor noise or vibration?

just listen to a top level direct drive tt and you will understand. my opinion is that belts have compromises, direct drive, properly exectuted, does not have compromises. the 'rub' is 'properly executed'. there are dozens of threads about belt verses direct drive. my viewpoint is not universally held.

I'm sure DD tables can sound good as well but the design seems like it would be harder and more expensive to accomplish well than belt drive. Maybe that's part of the appeal?

yes; the cost of designing a direct drive system from a clean sheet of paper and then selling it at a reasonable price could only be done with the economies of scale in the market place of the 60's and 70's. these days it takes a very very expensive tt to have an uncompromised direct drive system. that is the attraction of incorporating the direct drive system of these vintage tt's into a present day tt.
"my opinion is that belts have compromises, direct drive, properly exectuted, does not have compromises"

Ok, but what facts is your opinion based on?

The drive turns the table at a constant speed. Other than this, what else does it do to make the sound better?

I know it can make the sound worse if noise is introduced as a result of the operation of the drive system.

You may be right and I may be missing something...I am looking to be educated.

my opinion about DD verses belt drive is based more on my personal listening experience than on the technical merits, although there are many technical merits to support my listening experience conclusion.

i'm likely not enough of a technical guy to do any sort of comprehensive technical explaination of the 'facts'. but i will try to list a few of the areas where DD has clear advantages.

when i say DD i mean tt's such as my Rockport Sirius III, which do execute DD without compromise. there are many very very good tt's which use belts. my perspective is that any of these would sound better with DD.

belts (all of them to one degree or another) have the rubber band effect. the belts stretch and contract. motors have cogging effects. heavy platters compromise things in one way and light platters compromise things in other ways. heavy flywheels can solve certain issues but cause others. ultimately any belt system will allow for groove modulation....which is the speed altering affect of heavy groove friction at musical peaks.

again; there are many belt driven tt's which sound very good. it is not until you hear the same music with a top level direct drive system that you will hear what the 'absense' of these belt-sourced compromises sounds like.

way more space and foundation, ease and naturalness on musical peaks. piano's suddenly sound like real pianos. tonality is spot on and the music flows and soars that little bit extra. it is addicting.

there are many issues which effect tt performance; however getting the speed correct without any variance is one of the most important. belts simply have limitations in this area.

Peter Moncrief wrote a long but helpful article about why Direct Drive is better than Belts...

Direct Drive verses belts
Mike is right.

Belt driven turntables have issues to overcome due to inherent belt creep that belie their apparent simplicity. That is not to say that a good belt drive cannot be made, however. As you are aware, there are several exemplary ones out there that find ways around the obstacle. The better vintage ones tend to only go with high mass to get the desired sound, however.

Direct drives require fancier electronics to pull off great sound, but when done properly, the result can be very, very nice. As noted, the really good used ones tend to be pricey.

Then, there are the idlers. Almost all of them have an immediacy that is lacking in typical offerings of the other types. Still, vintage models require a certain amount of mechanical experience to put them into excellent working order. Carry through with that, however, and you have great sound without extreme expense.

Then again, strides have been made in all the drive areas with some recent offerings. In the end, the decision has to be made by the individual who is making the purchase.
Paranoia using a record brush made belt drive a non-hunter for me. A real drag, haha.
Belt drive is going to be impacted more by variables like platter mass. My Sota has a fifteen pound platter and so once it overcomes inertia it is very stable at speed. A lighter platter would be more susceptible variations in engine speed, belt imperfections,etc. An inexpensive belt drive could very well be bested by a quality DD, but like anything else its all in the quality of the execution. Theoretically DD might have advantages, but it seems belts have won out by trial and error as the better solution.

Both types of tables do still use round wheels though.
I can remember when DD was the main player, that Thorens prided itself on staying with belts, claiming that they could improve any direct-drive unit by adding a belt.
There is a quality to some of the older models, like a Thorens TD 124, a Garrard 301, a Dual 1229, a Rek O Kut 11, that just seems right. Properly set up, the deliverly of those older, idler wheel turntables is amazing, especially on solo piano. I abandoned my Linn LP12 with nearly 8k invested in mods, motors, arm etc, in favor of a Dual 1229 which I installed a Grace 747 arm on. My second choice would be to find a good Thorens TD-124. Belt drive, direct drive can both deliver good results, but their is just something about the pace, pitch and power of an idler driven table. Also, the build quality, and engineering is first rate. By far, the best listening experience I have ever had.
I replaced my Well-Tempered Reference Table with a Technics SP-10 MK II because the Technics is better. I wasn't being fashionable, cute or nostalgic.

As Mike suggested above, the Japanese DD tables of the late seventies and early eighties were statement products whose R&D was subsidized by the sale of millions of mass market tables. There is no such subsidy today and no investor could hope for a return on investment in sales of comparable products today.
The EPA 100 tonearm on that SL-1000 MK II table in the ad you guys are talking about, was Harry Pearson's reference arm for years and still competes favorably with much of what is for sale today. It is probably worth $1000 all by itself. It has 20 highly polished rubies in use as ball bearings and utilizes a very clever dynamic balance adjustment so that it can be used with any cartridge regardless of compliance.

The engineers who designed and built this stuff were every bit as capable as today's garage tinkerer's. They don't receive the same publicity, of course, because they are not being advertised in the review magazines and they cannot be stocked by high volume dealers.

The implicit superiority of modern product is mythology at its best.
Agree that $3000 for a Technics is just crazy, when you can get a good Thorens or Garrard for that. The build quality and sound of those tables is fantastic, better than anything I have heard so far being built nowadays.
FWIW, I find that the flagship direct-drive TTs of Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s are really quite good. I have one which I enjoy quite a bit. However, they are from being the same. Some of them were relatively light, with very high-torque motors - like the Technics SP-10 Mk2 (and in particular, one other which I will not yet name because I am trying to find one!). Others were lower torque but higher inertia-moment players like the Yamaha PX-1, the Onkyo PX-100M, and a few others (note that when I call these low-torque players, they were not slouches - they all had torque 30-100% higher than the Technics SL-1200 series - but they had half the torque of the Technics SP-10Mk2). Having heard the SP-10Mk2 in the at-the-time very expensive original plinth vs some of the others, I prefer some of the others in stock form. That said, every table in a super-heavy plinth that I have ever heard outdid the same table in the cheaper plinth which came with it.
Chris Brady took his Teres belt-drive turntable designs to the pinnacle of the industry by word of mouth with very little review assistance. They were that good. But Chris found that he had reached a plateau with belt-drive and that he could only move forward significantly by developing a state of the art direct drive design. His Certus turntable is arguably the best modern turntable currently available. Still there are those who could buy it and choose vintage tables instead. I think the original poster wants to know why.

And I think I know what other vintage table T-bone is seeking.
I have seen a lot of these old decks. IMHO the Garrad 301 and 401 are over priced and over rated. Thorens TD 124 and Lenco heavy platters are the best performing idler wheels that you can easily get. My pick is the Lenco because they outperform the Garrads and the gorgeous Papst motor in the TD 124 is almost impossible to replace. Lencos are superb performers and cheap if you know how to service them. Just bin the stock tonearm. Spares can still be found. The Technics SP 10 MK II is a good deck [be wary of flogged out ex broadcast examples] but I would only pay around $500 for a good one. The Micro Seiki top end turntables are as good as it gets with superb high tech designs and excellent performance and no they don't make em like that anymore. I think the price you quoted is way too high.My pick of modern decks is Acoustic Signature. I think the argument over belt or idler or direct drive is academic. Broadcast decks have used mainly idler and direct drive with the top direct drives made by EMT, Denon and Technics, idlers do generally exhibit more rumble and turntable noise. Finally I think that you are on to it. Old decks have been hyped out of all proportion to their actual performance. The reason most turntable manufacturers go for belt drive is ease of manufacture and continual income streams from replacement belts. A real high quality direct drive is expensive to manufacture and there is no after sales service or upgrade market to exploit.
Thanks to Mikelavigne for the super informative article. I never looked at a turntable like described in the article. Being an analog freak for the longest time, I can say that I have become a Direct Drive supporter. Playing a solo piano piece through a DD table is the easiest way tell the strengths of a DD table.

70/80's DD tables suffer a lot from their cheaply made plinths. Today is year 2008...soon 2009 and we have learnt a lot about damping, isolation, use of specific materials etc vs in the 70's. All the knowledge gathered in the past 30-40 years can easilly transform a good motor unit into a great sounding table.
Thermonicavenger, I have to disagree on why most TT mfrs go for belt drive - it certainly isn't to make it rich selling belts. And when Technics was selling its SP-10Mk2 in 1975 for 250k yen (the average monthly salary for the household head in the top-earning quintile of Japanese households in 1975), they certainly did not care about trying to squeeze out a few extra yen on the aftermarket (though they nicely provided with an upgrade path with the Mk3 a few years later).

Personally, I think most people who make TTs now are smaller shops who are built around working with materials rather than working with the electronics and/or motors, and frankly, I think it is because a lot of people got sucked into the 'smooth sound' of really good high-mass platter belt drives. Heck, I'm still a sucker for it.

The MicroSeiki designs are not terribly high-tech. They are simply very, very well-machined. And I agree, they don't make them like that anymore.

Are the old decks that over-hyped? People will argue that a good new Technics 1200 is better than the old decks any day of the week. Well, most of the tables (from the big mfrs) a rank or two down from the top in the late 70s and early 80s had better torque, AND better inertia moment. Some of the plinths stunk, but some were quite OK (though those decks are among the rarest). And you can get that technology now, with the original arm (which in some cases are really top notch) for not a lot of money. The trickle-down technology was ridiculously good (still is - most of the makers are still present in precision electronics (Technics = Matsushita/Panny, Aurex = Toshiba, Diatone = Mitsubishi Electric, Lo-D = Hitachi, Exclusive = Pioneer, and Kyocera and Sony are, well, Kyocera and Sony)) and as mikelavigne says, with a new phono stage, cart, plinth, etc, these compete with the best out there.

And Macrojack, I would be very surprised if you did... I don't think I've seen more than 2-3 people ever mention it :^)
Dear Chris: +++++ " Reason for buying old/classic turntables " +++++

I think that each one of us have a different answers about. In my case I buy my Micro Seiki because permit to mount four tonearms along is a good performer. My DD units (Denon/Technics ) are units that I own many years ago way back that I knew the belt drive option.

But IMHO if you don't have a very good reason ( other that the old TT's are less expensive/lower prices. ) then I don't see the necessity to buy a vintage TT ( specially BD ones ) because in its different price range levels and quality performance level the today units are really good ( some at the same level of the vintage ones but some others are better that the old ones. ) and have the advantage that you can have not only parts and service/support but a warranty from the dealer/manufacturer.

Now, this is something that I posted in other thread about DDvsBD:

+++++ " IMHO it is not write the last word on TTs: DD, BD or Idler ones, which one is the last word?, very very hard to say because no one is perfect and all of them have its own design advantages and disadvantages too. Of course that the design execution is a critical subject but everything the same it is a very hard and complex " call " for say the least. " +++++

I can think that if " price/money is no object " then my choice will be for today TT's.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I am guilty of falling in love with vintage tables and have 6 to prove the point - Micro-Seiki RX5000; Victor TT-101; SP10 Mk2; Lenco L75; Sony PS-X70; Micro-Seiki BL-51; oh and I have an old AR-XA waiting to be revived. Add to these a bunch of old tone-arms such as Lustre 801; Audiocraft 4400; Sony PUA-1600L and I come to the conclusion its a bit like buying old sports cars - performance OK, pride of ownership ...... priceless! BTW I am lusting after a Thorens TD-124, a Yamaha GT2000; Pioneer Exclusive P3; Sony PS-X9 etc. etc!

Now, with great reluctance the truth is:- that today, the best sounding rig is my Oracle Delphi V SE, Dynavector 507 II and Miyabi McBee. I love all my vintage stuff, and it all sounds great (my Yamaha CA2010 amp is sublime in my ski chalet) but let's be realistic we are not judging on quantitative measures alone but "perceived enjoyment" and it is really nice to connect with some of the vintage gear.

One phenomena we should consider is that the Linn Sondek LP 12 hijacked the reality of what sounded good - and I used to own one. The Linn had a less analytical presentation than the mainstream Japanese audio in the 70's and the press hyped to a point of evangelical proportions and DD became passe and belt drives were it all of a sudden. Interestingly, as a previous owner of an AR belt drive, followed by a Heybrook TT, the LP12 became the standard not by design, but by consistent implementation and good marketing. Then with Thorens also selling expensive belt drive tables, that sounded very nice, and the Japanese DD tables in consumer friendly lightweight plinths that sounded poor, we became aficionados of belt drives. Now 20 years later with better implementation of constrained mass plinths and so on, we get optimum performance of the older gear. - and it does not sound bad at all!

Reality is that there have been no substantial technology shifts in table design or , well engineered mechanics from 30 years ago are competitive with anything well engineered and designed today. For me, the vintage gear is competitive, but not necessarily better and visa-versa.

Folks like Teres have done an outstanding job of tweaking existing technology with better implementation (I have installed a Verus rim drive on my RX5000 and love it) but the technology has not changed significantly and therefore my conclusion is that vintage or modern, the performance will be defined by attention to detail, well executed design and tight manufacturing tolerances and there is no single platform that wins - and I can demo you DD, Idler, Belt and best implementation wins, not a specific technology platform.
Hi Radicalsteve, what do you think of the old ugly-as-sin but truly magnificent Thorens Reference turntable? This should be the best turntable ever made, together with the Rockport Sirius III and the Goldmund Reference of course. No vintage collection is complete without :)

>>I can think that if " price/money is no object " then my choice will be for today TT's.<<

Agree with Raul.

Much like classic cars, they are cool to look at; some but very few are high performers. However, today's tables thanks to the use of computers, superior materials, better manufacturing equipment, and modern engineering outperform most tables of yesteryear.
Chris, there is some serious "audiojewellery" out there - that Thorens would look quite nice in my rig and I bet it doesn't sound too shabby either! Great audio pieces are like great time pieces for me - aesthetics, performance, engineering and functionality all count. Of course it is always a matter of personal taste. One of the reasons that tipped my decision to unload my ARC Ref 3 was performance ..... good (but not the best), looks ...... ugly. Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I might have kept that piece if it looked gorgeous and I don't apologize for that because at the end of the day not only do I listen to my music, but I do have to look at the stuff as well - which could lead us into a different discussion altogether about whether we listen with our eyes when we make purchasing decisions on the big gear!

I recently added a near pristine Lenco 75 to my system. It is in it's stock form sans the arm. I removed the springs and bottom board from the stock plinth and put brass cones under it. I removed the rubber grommets from under the top plate. I have mounted one of Len's 9" wooden arms, as sold here. To this is mounted a SS DL-103. This setup bested my other tt with a SME III arm and Grado Sonata, lo version. Playing the latest Hi-Fi News Test LP, this setup almost played the #9 bias track.... Had a slight bit of right chsnnel distortion. Speed is dead on, and stable.........

So, some vintage tables are worth looking at.......

I'll add pics to my system page.
The classic car/classic turntable comparison doesn't really work. Statement products and R&D breakthroughs are always subsidized by the sales of mass market product or government funding. Automobiles have continued, until very recently, to benefit from high volume sales of mass market product. Turntables haven't enjoyed that, or any, subsidy since early in the 1980s.

Automobile manufacturers are multi-billion dollar businesses, while a company like Teres is almost hobby in nature. Chris has a full time job and remarkably has brought Teres into existence in his spare time. Look at the comparison of resources demonstrated by this example and then bring in an industry giant like VPI. Both companies have accomplished a great deal in the way of innovation but neither one brings in enough money per annum to pay the utility bill for one month at any Ford plant.

There just isn't any comparison at all. If the turntable biz was as well funded as the auto biz, I'm sure the turntables of today would completely eclipse the vintage products we all love but the resources and incentives have not been sufficient to stimulate that kind of progress. For that reason, the oldies still hold their own nicely despite comments to the contrary by those who benefit from trafficking in new product and reviewing it.
Don't forget the Luxmans.

The PD 121, PD-444, PD-441 are excellent DD tables. They offer up the pace and rythmn of the DD Goldmunds and Rockports. But, you must be careful to properly platform them. I've found that a maple butcher block sitting on sorbothane helps with floating the image. The PD-555 is in a class of its own. It's a belt drive with a vacuum platter.

A properly set up PD-121 can run circles around many modern belt drives. Plus the fit and finish is Lexus like.

It's a great analogy i.e. old versus new.

You're overthinking, or at least trying to, a very simple concept.

Good effort though.
Macrojack, the car analogy to me was not that bad. Car companies have had plenty of cash to play with R&D (until recently), but due to the corporate climate that was the *last* thing they were going to do. The result is that there has been only incremental improvement over the years. The same is true of turntables.

If you take a good car or good turntable from the 1960s, and outfit it with newer tweaks (vibration damping for example), many of them will perform quite nicely against the current lineup. IMO in the case of cars it should not be that way, but it is because of poor management, else we'd all be driving electric cars with 4000 mile range on a single charge by now (BTW that is not pie in the sky either).

This is why the old Garrard 301, the Empire 208, the Lenco and the Technics SP-10 all have a following. You can tweak them, and they keep up with the state of the art, no worries.
I will frankly admit that I have become smitten with vintage tts only in the last year after acquiring a Lenco in a "giant direct-coupled" plinth. The Lenco was immediately perceived to sound better than my Notts Analog Hyperspace, so the Notts had to go. I then started to read the threads and the websites devoted to Garrard, Lenco, Technics, etc, with much more enthusiasm, thinking that if the Lenco is so excellent, what else am I missing? Vintage tts are a natural link to my lifelong hobby of collecting and restoring post WWII sports cars, mostly Porsches. Except in this case, I am wondering whether there is a real performance super bargain to be found out there. (An old Porsche will not ever be state of the art in perfomance per se.) Plus, the vintage tts are relatively cheap and are at the very least stable in value. So what do you have to lose? Now I've got a second Lenco, a Garrard 301, two Technics SP10s (a MkII and a IIA), and a Denon DP80. Once I decide on how to plinth each of these babies, I'm going to compare each one to my functional Lenco and decide for myself which one I like best. I'll probably discard the tts that fall short, but I expect to keep at least two up and running. If I could find an SP10 MkIII or a Pioneer P3 or P3a for reasonable prices, I would buy those too.
Sheesh Lew, the only thing you're missing is an Empire...

IMO/IME, none of the vintage turntables bring home the music like a new table does, unless they are updated/modified/tweaked/whatever. But then they do quite well.

I hope everyone is having a good set of holidays!
The analogy with vintage automobiles is restricted to cosmetics only. Contemporary cars are much more evolved than the old ones, or aren't they? Contemporary turntables are not better per se than the vintage ones. Of course classic cars are very very nice (more elegant cosmetics than the modern ones). I think my Mercedes-Benz 500E looks better than the W210 series (with the ridiculous oval headlights).

Some of the 60's/early 70's era cars are among the fastest automobiles ever built.

They oversteered, didn't handle worth a sh**, cornered terribly, and often needed repair.

But using massive amounts of torque, horsepower, and gasoline they went straight ahead very quickly.

From a technical perspective, they are dinosaurs.

My 1969 muscle car gets 6mpg (on a good day).
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there are a lot of audio companies that are putting more effort into building a good turntable than the Big Three put into building a good car. Have you driven a Dodge Stratus lately? Yeesh!

Sota in the hi-fi. Honda in the garage.
I know what you mean Lew. My stock plinthed Lenco beat my other table hands down. True, nothing like what you had, but still. I'm not 100% convinced that one has to mount the Lenco in a "giant direct coupled" plinth. After cleaning, lubing and bolting the top plate directly to the stock plinth, I used my GF's stethoscope to listen. It was dead quiet, except for one area on the left side of the plinth, closest to the motor. And then, it wasn't very noisey. No noise on the top plate anywhere. I do have some ideas about making some mods to the stock plinth to add more mass. I'm not going to cut on the top plate of this deck. It is literally a strong 8 or 9/10 AG rating, and it would just be wrong to do so. Who knows, years down the road, I may have the only non-cut Lenco...

Kinda like cutting on a '59 vette. Just ain't right...... Now, there's a vintage car I would love to be able to afford.
There are moments, when driving a late 50's Porsche at 9/10ths, when you're in the groove, that really can't be equalled and certainly not beaten by any modern sports car, even a modern Porsche. Something has been lost, just like in the LP vs CD comparison. Modern cars are heavier and have those big fat tires which give a less pleasant ride quality than the old dangerous skinny tires on old sports cars. In my Spyder at 90 mph in a drift you almost felt like you were floating on air in the best fun ride possible. Can an idler or a dd table from yesteryear provide an analogous unique experience that gets you closer to the music? I think maybe yes, with the generous application of modern ideas on plinths, tonearms, cartridges thrown into the mix.
Wow! My analogy to vintage cars was purely from the pride of ownership perspective. Nevertheless since a couple of folks have responded, let me develop the analogy further, just for fun.

Vintage sports cars for the consumer had significant trickle down technology from the R&D that went into race cars, just think of Aston Martin, Jaguar, MG, Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes, even Renault and even Honda, Subaru and so on. Of course today F1 relies on technology adaptation and the only thing that trickles down is brand positioning.

If you think about the first real consumer Hi-Fi, most of the offerings were adapted from broadcast and professional requirements to spin records in a consistent fashion in studios and radio stations. The rational for developing the Technics / Matsushita, Sony, Victor, EMT, Garrard consumer decks etc. came from a new market demand. Many of these offerings were rebranded for the newly emerging high end retail market.Consumer Audio developed quickly as the need for high quality home record players developed and some companies such as Dual, AR and later Linn became were really pure play consumer brands (the Dual company history is particularly interesting, but I can't think of a Dual deck that is iconic today) because the price of entry was low, very little Intellectual Property protection, no regulatory requirements / standards and hence no real barriers to entry. Today that whole business model remains alive and well in consumer audio! Most of us have little insight to the PRO business, but some of the best stuff available today for the consumer comes from audio companies supplying the PRO market, such as VTl. Spectron etc. So I don't argue with the previous post that there is trickle down technology coming into retail products.

However, in vintage audio, the trickle down technology for those rim drive and DD decks came from broadcast requirements, not mass consumer product development (which would be trickle up I guess). Tape would be an even better example. So I reject the notion that high end turntables were developed as a by product of mass consumer R&D budgets. Now, today there may exceptions, such as Marantz, but you can't argue with the reality that these vintage tables garnering so much attention here are all iterations of broadcast products. The specialty esoteric products from such companies as Micro-Seiki, Kenwood, Nakamichi, Luxman, and even Pioneer were purely developed for consumer markets and relied on high tolerance engineering and smart circuit design that was very specific to the turntable platform for esoteric products. No different to the fine engineering that went into the real sports cars, Alpha, Allards, Jensen, Austin-Healeys, Studebaker, Triumph, TVR, etc etc.

Now frankly, the sports car market was not a lot different, many brands, no barriers to entry other than money, not sustainable, but still highly desirable to own today. I don't think high end audio is a lot different. Some brands come and go in the night and others such as Linn, Naim, ARC, B&W, Spendor, Quad, Manaplanar, VTL, Martin Logan, McIntosh remain (and some changed hands and got refinanced a couple of times) and lets not forget the Accuphase type of companies - another lust of mine.

So, when you jump into a 1960's E-Type, DB7, Corvette, or 911 it does not really matter if the specs don't meet that latest turbo - it is the whole experience that counts - and that was the point of my analogy and I rest my case.

I might not be as experienced as others posting in this thread by here is my 2c on the subject.

*The best yesterday's v.s SOTA today (in stock form)*
IMO/IME Vintage is inferior. Today's knowledge, technology, new composite materials implementation and innovative techniques used to accomplish remarkable results in analog reproduction are 'LY' ahead of what was considered state of the art in 60's or 70's.

However ( from my recent experience ), it is possible to rebuild and tweak the vintage turntable to perform astonishingly well. It takes time, effort and patience, but can be rewarding.

As to my personal reasons...................I guess its was the curiosity and satisfaction from DIY-er/tweaker point of view.
Of coarse there is also the pride of ownership as the icing on the cake.

Regards and
Marry Christmas to all



What's your 69?
Mrjstark, It's really a question of whether the highest forms of modern technology are being applied to tt development at all. Perhaps the Monaco Grand Prix tt is an example that would tend to answer the question in the affirmative, but there are not too many others in the same ballpark. I guess I would add the Raven and Brinkmann products from Germany and the Saskia, the Walker and the Teres/Galibier efforts in this country. Possibly Transrotor and maybe a few others (Caliburn) could be included. These are all megabuck products. But the majority of the formulaic tts that are being churned out today by the gazillions certainly do not stretch the envelope in any way and are not technically any better, if as good, as the oldies. (Think platter resting on a ball bearing in an MDF plinth powered by a tiny outboard motor via a stretchy belt; for 50% more dough you get a platter that is 50% thicker and heavier but is not technically any different in any way from the base model.) Certainly CAD-controlled processes are capable of generating parts that are way lower in tolerance than what was possible back in the 70s or 80s, but I don't see where that technology is being applied other than among the makers I cited and a few more I may have missed. I was very skeptical myself about idlers and dd tables, until I heard the Lenco in my system and read the testimony of others I trust as regards upgraded dd tts.
Well said Lew. I remember test driving some Triumph's, after working on them. Used to be a mechanic. Those thing's would just drift/float the curves.

Fun times, as well as analog is.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Enjoy, both the holidays, and the music.
It's really a question of whether the highest forms of modern technology are being applied to tt development at all. Perhaps the Monaco Grand Prix tt is an example that would tend to answer the question in the affirmative, but there are not too many others in the same ballpark. I guess I would add the Raven and Brinkmann products from Germany and the Saskia, the Walker and the Teres/Galibier efforts in this country. Possibly Transrotor and maybe a few others (Caliburn) could be included. These are all megabuck products.

Megabuck doesn't mean the best performance. There are two examples realized right here on Audiogon... A Brinkmann that was smoked by a Garrard 301 and a Walker Proscenium that was outdone by a Technics.
1969 1/2 Roadrunner 440+6
I concur with Lewm regarding the Lenco, it can be a tweakers dream as well - just like those old Triumph's - OK enough Steve!

Best wishes and Happy Holidays to all Audiogoners and Vinylphiles
I am not or will not try to debate this issue since my knowledge is limited I'll leave it to others.
My message however was plain & simple:
best of 60's or 70's can not compare with today's SOTA turntables.

Lenco is wonderful turntable but far from engeneering marvels in the stock form.

At the moment, I own three TTs from which two are belt drives and one is vintage idler. All modified, tweaked and replinthed using different techniques.
Simply because I can not afford megabuck dream analog rig.
Besides, I am tweaker in heart and love what I do.

Happy Holidays to all
"Lenco is wonderful turntable but far from engeneering marvels in the stock form."

Don't know of any table that's an "engineering marvel". After all, its a platter that spins.........

Guess I got lucky, and mine works.

Happy holidays everyone...
I think it's funny how some people think that the engineers of (for instance) Garrard 301s, 401s, and Lencos were greater at engineering turntables than anyone, and that the quality of those machines can't be touched. If those engineers knew so damn much about turntable engineering, don't you think they would have figured out that they would have worked so much better in a properly designed plinth, for crying out loud? They simply got lucky.