townsend rock reference mkv

one of the most regrettable things i EVER did was sell my origional rock reference tt
for about 5 years i have tried to replace that tt only to find they sell used like hotcakes.
finally there is A new mk5 version availiable
has anybody tried this yet?
I heard one today and was shell shocked as to how good this deck actually is
a home demo has been booked
this is without doubt the quietest tt i have ever heard
and yet it delivers!!!!
my wife is going to kill me!
all the best

I had the Mk-III Rock and liked it very much. The arm-damping trough was too cool and worked very well.

But I can't find any info on the model you're talking about. How much does it cost, and is there a website that gives the specs and other details? Congrats on your purchase.
But I can't find any info on the model you're talking about.
Here's the Townsend webpage for the new Rock V. Here's just the picture.
How much does it cost
$4,500 Euro($6,200US) for the turntable and $2,400 Euro($3,300US)for the Excalibur tonearm. $10k+ total is a big step up from the Scheu and Phantom. But, man does that rig look awesome.

Here's the Townsend pricelist(.pdf)

Gotta love Uktel's enthusiasm, he's going for the reference level system.
Wow fabulous looking TT, ok at 10grand total with arm I would expect something outstanding but compared to many tables costing much more this alone just in the looks dept is down right beautiful,to my eyes of course.
thanks victor
ill tell that to my wife just before she chops off my head!
Yes, it looks dandy, but it's a little out of my price range. I'm surprised they don't make a less expensive model anymore.
Actually that currency mark is British Pound Sterling.

That means the turntable is $8975.00 US Dollars and the arm is another $4787.00. A total of $13762.00 at today's conversion rate.
Silly me!

Lordy, I thought it was six "K", nine puts it a whole 'nother stratosphere. There is some seriously sick competition in that range - Galibier Gavia w/ Gavia platter, Redpoint Model A, Amazon Reference, Verdier Platine, Nottingham Dais, etc.

No wonder he's worried about his wife finding out.
hi all
just had the home demo
this deck is absolutely AWESOME!
It is more master tape like in its musical presentation than any other deck i have experienced
I am impressed and have ordered one
all the best
my wife is going to kill me!
Buy her some nice shoes ....
My girlfriend has stated that if I ever really screw up, and screw up BIG(cheating, crime, etc.), there's is only one thing likely to help her get past it - Manolo Blahnik, and LOTS of it, regularly.
wise words indeed
will take your advice on that one
God help you if you do screw up
Should be a good deterrent!
God help you if you do screw up
Should be a good deterrent!

Add on to that, she's a lawyer, and a damn good one, too.
Keeps me on my toes!

Actually, I'm constantly amazed that she puts up with my obsession with audio - moving speakers around, new amps, isolation transformers, cables everywhere, late night listening sessions, etc. I guess it's better than when I used live in bars.

I just sold my house, escrow closes in 21 days. Time for me to start thinking about upgrades.
you already have a lovely system
what upgrades do you have in mind?
just curious
Oh, the usual audio envy type of insanity!

Actually, I haven't found a place to rent yet(until this housing bubble pops), so I have no idea how much I will have. I currently live in a 4 bedroom, 2,600 sq. ft house with a living room that is 15'x20', but all the rental houses I've been looking are half that size, especially the rooms.

So, the IM-Bens with dual subwoofers will probably be way too much for where I'm going live the next year or two. I can't imagine selling them now that Terry Cain has passed away, there's simply too much of his soul in them. But, I may gets some coaxial cornerhorns for the meantime.

But, if I am able to find something of suitable size, in my price range, then I'd love to buy the Art Audio PX-25 monoblocks that Audiofeil had up for sale last week. The stereo version i have is incredible and the monos would be sublime.

In the more realistic realm, I'd like to try out a used SME Phantom, Triplanar, Schroeder, etc. Also, a tubed phono pre like a used Wright Sound AG, Thor 2000, or Art Audio Vinyl One. I also badly need an equipment rack, but have to wait and see what type of room I am going to end up in - concrete slab or suspend wood.

Crazy hobby were in - make money, then spend it just as fast.
I was for a short while Max Townsend's distributor for the USA. His revolutionary new turntables (in 1985/6/7) were the Rock and Elite Rock turntables. I still have 2 of these models, one with the Excalibur tonearm and one with a couple of mounting boards for whatever tonearms I happen to feel is well-matched to a currently favored cartridge. Max didn't actually sell me the 3 turntables I got from him, he traded the turntables to me for loudspeakers I designed for him.

I was for a while in the 80s the chief loudspeaker engineer and a system designer for Buena Vista during the design and/or building of EPCOT, Tokyo Disneyland, the MGM Studio Tour and EuroDisneyland. My development as an audio engineer started during a time when I made my first acquaintance with Ed Meitner, while Ed worked for the Celestron distributor in Montreal and I worked with Al Leccese (now of Audio Analyst). Along the road I learned from people like Nelson Pass (still have 2 of his terrific electronic crossovers), Poul Ladegaard of B&K Instruments and John Beyer of B&K Components (who I still regard as a friend, though we can't seem to get a good time to play golf arranged). Other turntable makers loaned me their products, but none seemed to sound as musical as the Rock.

Max was/is very fussy about making exceptional turntables and in comparisons with every other turntable using a non-tangential arm, the Rocks always sounded best. I always liked the EMT 927 and 950 turntables, Goldmunds, a few of the Japanese tangential arm turntables, and the Micro Seikis but if you have the chance to audition and/or buy a Rock from either the first few years Max made them or one of the last 2 series, don't worry about what you are spending, just buy it and marvel at the music. If you ever need money at a later date you'll usually recover your initial investment by selling (sadly) your Rock. Models like the MkII and MkIII are also very good, but cost should be measured vs performance.

It's difficult to describe the "sound" of the Rocks since the cartridge is always going to be much more variable and most loudspeakers are not the audio microscopes they should be (ruthlessly revealing the flaws of the "front end" while transmitting all of the beauty in the source that is possible). Amplifiers can be "less than transparent" also. Sadly each new post-WWII development in sources has seemed to be a step down. Quality commercially made 7 1/2 IPS 1:1 2 track tape copies of masters were better than vinyl, and vinyl was better than cassettes and cassettes were better than CDs (except for SACDs which are as good as vinyl), which are all vastly superior to even the best MP3s.

Almost no digitally recorded music sounds good to me (I'm a million years old but last year I still max'd out the 19khz audiology tests previous to neck surgery) and once studios decided that a sampling rate of less than 100Khz was acceptable (there were 3M digital recorders in 1983 that would record at more than 110khz, but they weren't "economical" enough for the industry), post-1990s musical recordings went downhill pretty fast. I can listen to music recorded after 1990 the same way I listen to 78s. Quality music might be there if I listen through all the distortion and noises, but I'd rather the distortions and noises weren't there.

Home theater has ruined what was once a progressive audio industry. I applaud the continuing efforts of Martin Logan, John Beyer, Dan D'Agostino, Nelson Pass, Max Townsend, Dynavector, Ortofon, VdH and a few others to produce high quality transducers and playback equipment needed to get exceptional music out to consumers.

I'm lucky that I have a library full of the safety back-up tapes made when 2 track masters were produced from final mixdowns, as well as a number of live recordings made off the mixing console during concert tours. This gives me a reasonable standard of reference. It is Possible to put together a decent playback system now-a-days. But great source material is harder to come by as vinyl becomes more scarce. Considering how costly used records are, and their limited availability, I'm surprised people still try to build record collections at all.

Good luck to all of you building vinyl record collections and especially to those of you who have the sense to invest in a Rock turntable. I haven't spoken to Max Townsend in 20 years and I have no affiliation to him or his current enterprise, but from my own experience and the experiences of a few friends who have auditioned his latest products, a Rock turntable is still an investment for a lifetime. The 2 I have are about 20 years old and still work very well.
Dale Pitcher of Essence speaker fame, sent me the original Rock plus Excalibur tonearm back before you were the distributor. The exact year is not clear in my mind but it seems like 1982 or a bit later.

I remember the sound was exceptional and the top plate got very hot from the AC motor, still it was a fantastic table.

Steve McCormack represented Oracle back then and I was (and still am) a friend of his. The Rock was moved out and the Oracle moved in. The thing that saved the Oracle was my new Breuer arm and cartridge that I picked up in Switzerland.

Good stuff, thanks for jogging my memory.
Thank you for chiming in with a truly great post
one of the main improvements is in the isolation
max says that the origional suffered because the suspension and trougth were tuned at the same frequency
now the suspension [for want of a better word] is tuned to 2hz
the platter is also a new material.
this i do hope will be my final turntable
How many times have I said that before?
all the best
Uktel, one of the great things about the early Elite Rock was that the brass accordian isolators could be tuned by the owner (it wasn't simple but Max showed me how). I don't know if he just didn't want people fussing with the dampers but he didn't retain that feature.

This Rock TT may be your last (I've had mine for 20 years), but since every cartridge "step-up" is audible on these TTs you can keep upgrading there. I have found that while some of my linear arm TTs get superior results out of certain cartridges, the more a cartridge design is aimed at having higher compliance, the better it can sound on a Rock. Also there are some cartridges with what I call "resonant tonearm interaction" and the Rock eliminates that. So some cartridges that don't perform well in any other circumstance, can sound stupendous on the Rocks.

The Rocks are so neutral sounding that they make a great test reference TT. While you might find another TT - Arm combo that serendipitously sounds slightly better, 95% of the time, the sound you will get out of a well set-up Rock will be the best a cartridge and arm are able to produce. Rocks are messy (especially if your house is dusty or has allot of natural air from the outside circulating through), but a Rock TT can reduce the brittleness of most MC cartridges and it will eliminate the excessive bass of a MM cartridge. Matched to any high quality, Line Contact Stylus cartridge the results will be jaw dropping. AND the "steady hand" provided by the silicone bath, will make all your styli and records last longer. It's a win - win - win situation.
Have you ever tried a unipivot on your rock?
I will be using a graham phantom with jan allaerts or koetsu onyx.
I am quite confident that this combo will work if i dont use the damping on the graham bearing.
I dont feel that double damping will be desireable
I am an avid tweaker so who knows?
Ill have to answer my own question on this one because
I now have the deck up and running
The graham arm works a treat on the rock v.
This deck is just jaw droppingly awesome!
I listened to it today for eight hours!
And i still think i can optimise the setup for even better results!
Uktel I have tried the Decca International Unipivot and the Ultracraft unipivot arms on my Rocks with mixed results. They seem to require tweaking with every single record.

The Decca is the worst because since each record is a hair's thickness different in thickness, the arm tilts over a bit on each different size. The tilt is not consistant, it either goes one way or the other. Also the arm-lift is useless. I have tried to use a variety of relatively high tracking force cartridges in this arm (Deccas, Dynavector 20A & 20B, Fidelity Research FR 1, Linn Klyde) because these were the only ones I could play at all in the Decca arm. When they did line up straight, the sound was incredibly good and super smooth. I just wasn't sure I wanted to spend 25 minutes setting up a cartridge/tonearm every time I wanted to play a 20 minute album.

The Ultracraft was different. A few lifts up and down by hand and it would eventually track straight up-and-down. But the heavy tracking cartridges all sounded average in the arm. I used it only for very compliant cartridges and for these it sounded like heaven. The bass stopped being boomy, and got very clear and extended. The highs got greater clarity and more extension sparkle. The problem here is that we have effectively eliminated being able to use any MC or Decca cartridge with the Ultracraft arm.

I did have some remarkable success with a Dynavector 10x (the original one) when Max visited my house to help me set up a Rock Elite for a Consumer Electronics Show. I also put a Fidelity Research FR 44 into it and it was so pure and dreamy that I never wanted to take it out, but I had to take it out to set up a Madrigal Carnegie (which didn't sound any better than in one of my straight line tonearms) and I never got around to putting the Fidelity Research cartridge back because I had changed tonearms by then. I only have a few tonearm mount boards for my Rock that can use any arm. The other Rock I have is dedicated to an Excalibur arm.

So it's a mixed bag of results. I gave up when unipivots only worked about 30% of the time in the Rock system. I did find that extra heavy rear pivot damping worked best to counterbalance the extremely high damping at the cartridge end. Otherwise the tonearms just seem to ooze over towards one side or the other although I've seen some tweakers who have rigged up outboard offset balance weights they can tweak for each lift-and-drop of their tonearms, but now we are getting way too involved for me. I like a tonearm I can play through records 20 or 30 times before it needs any tweaking, but that's just me.

Uktel, maybe the offset mini-counterweight idea is work-able for you. I've never tried a Graham arm on the Rocks I have so I didn't have an immediate comment but I checked my notebook and made another post about this subject. What cartridge is working so well in your current Graham/Rock set-up and what tracking force are you using? Good luck
Hi Desktop
The graham phantom is quite unlike any other unipivot arm i have used including previous graham arms.
In fact I do tend to find that in use i actually forget it is a unipivot at all!
To mount it on the rock was no simple task either.
I ended up having to use 4 spacers under the armmount because the vta pillar was fouling the plinth.
At the moment i am using a heavily modded koetsu onyx and also have a jan allaerts mc1b mk2.
The results i am getting are IMHO spectacular and i have not had to do any meddling with setup for different records other than vta [if you have it why not use it?].
I track the koetsu at 1.85 grams.
I have not tried the JA yet but have had great results on the phantom previously at 2 grams on other decks.
I didn't however get to do an A/B comparison with my carts between phantom and excalibur so i cannot tell you any more on that particular subject
But to my ears they are both great tonearms on the rock.
All the best
Hello All,
While working for the Dept.Of The ARmy in Germany, I had the opportunity to purchase an Elite Rock Turntable with Excalabur Tonearm. This was in 1987. I went to visit a small audio shop in England and purchased the Rock used for USA $5690. Early on Max Townsend was the go-to person for bearing fluid, belts, etc. After a while he disappeared. Now I need bearing, trough fluid and a belt, but don't know where to obtain these items now.

Needless to say the Rock turntable has performed flawlessly without a whimper. In my humble opinion, it was/is still one of the very best turntables around today. I don't see a need to buy anything else. And by the way, the Excalabur tonearm is excellent and can handle most of the new moving coils.

In particular, I was elated to see the post from Albert who actually worked with Max T for a while. I am also delighted to hear from and know that there are others who use the Rock TT even now.

Here are my present concerns:

Are there any upgrades for the early Elite Rock TT?
Where can I obtain trough and bearing fluids?
Where can I get a belt for this marvolous TT?
Finally, my turntable has an outrigger transformer that controls the TT speed. Can this be updated or removed entirely and replaced?

Thanks again for everyone who contributed posts regarding the Rock Turntables. I applaud you and would love hearing from each of you.