TT-101 turntables…or any DD decks

It’s funny how in audio…..I’ve had many mishaps over the years which have led to ‘forced’ improvements in my system…..

The latest happened just 3 days ago when the ‘Power’ switch on my 35 year old JVC/Victor TT-101 turntable failed to ‘turn-off’ when pressed……leaving the unit ‘powered up’ with three diodes continuously on……
I thought to myself……time to have the unit serviced and all the capacitors replaced (at least)…..

I have thus been listening over the last three days and nights and have been struck by the perceived improvement in ‘sound’?
Everything seemed better….the timing….the solidity…the noise-floor….the subtlety…..the transparency…..
And then it hit me……
With solid state gear…..I have always kept them ‘powered on’.
My Halcro DM-10 Preamp is always on ‘Mute’ (as was the valve Kebschull before it and the SS Electrocompaniet before then).
My Halcro DM-58 Monoblocks are always ‘on’ (as was the Perraux PM-1850 power amp before them).
Most DD drive turntables I know of are all solid state……
Why should they be any different?
Why would they not benefit from the capacitors being fully charged with the transformer/power supply, PCB, transistors and resistors fully ‘heated’?

This for me…has been a more significant improvement than ‘nakeding’ the ‘nude’ Victor which I recently accomplished…

It’s such an easy thing for anyone to try out….there is simply no ‘down-side’……other than the diodes burning out? :-)

Happy listening…..and Happy New Year….

Here's an interesting post from a different forum about DD tables and one quote caught my eyes:
"He suggested that anyone owning any of the better 80s-era Japanese direct drives faces this problem sooner or later, and for some of the nicest models (those I mentioned above), the clock has essentially run out already, but on the good side, he said the best solution he knows of is to PLAY THEM OFTEN! Playing them frequently offers the best possibility to prolong their lives, especially in a humid climate like Hong Kong's."

I guess playing them often no only prolongs the table's life but also, in your case, its sound! :)

Solid state diodes won't burn out, and even if they did fail, they are very replaceable with modern superior diodes. I know of no reason not to do as you suggest, but I have never tried it, because some of my tt's go for many months without being used.

With the TT101, the Power button only activates the circuitry. I presume you still have control over whether or not the platter is spinning, using the other buttons for that purpose.

But yes, I am surprised that you have not already replaced the caps. In this case, it's more likely you've developed a faulty switch. No big deal.
That post has been re-posted ad nauseam and influenced many to fear owning these turntables. The situation is far from being as bleak as it is described. I even suspect that the quoted dealer in Hong Kong may have had another agenda, like selling new turntables that he can actually get his hands on. I doubt he can do enough business selling Kenwood L07Ds or Denon DP80s to stay "alive".
Ok, I'm game. Victor is now on; we'll return late tomorrow to have a listen. But I don't get why it should sound better after 3 days on (or whatever) as opposed to, say, 3 hours on?

This coming from a man whose tt101 resurrected after being left on overnight. But that was surely anomalous and due, I suspect, to the table having been in storage for, who knows, a decade or so.

Incidentally, Halcro, I managed to buy an original Victor pigskin mat. Unfortunately for me, it appears to have been lost in the mail :(.
Banquo.....I meant that I have been doing this for three days to make sure that it was not just a 'good' day the first time I listened?
It sounded better after 3 hours as you say....but even better the next day :-)

Don't give up hope on your pigskin mat.......
If it's coming from Hong Kong or China......the mail can take up to 5 weeks?
And that's to Australia where we are just a 9 hour flight away :-)

Good luck......

Lewm: "I doubt he can do enough business selling Kenwood L07Ds or Denon DP80s to stay "alive"."
Tommy Cheung is the owner of Hong Kong's audio store Top Class Audio Art and sells ton of used equipments and direct drive is their specialty. Since Hong Kong is close to Japan he does get a lot of Japanese goods so his "agenda" is certainly not to scare people away from DD tables.

Yes HiHo.......that Link about Tommy from TopClass is what inspired my Thread about Vintage turntables and "Living Dangerously"......

Thanks to Lew and his ability to track down transistors and equivalent parts used by their Ref Nos......I now sleep a little easier :-)
Dear Hiho, I stand corrected. I am in fact aware of the business, Top Class Audio. But still…

The big issue with these turntables is the integrated circuits that were used here and there. ICs come and go over time, and once they're gone from products, they are no longer made. There is no imperative for an electronics company to keep updating the same part over time. With discrete transistors, we are much better off, because such devices have basic functions that are always needed. Thus the bad transistors used in Denon turntables (known to be noisy and prone to failure) were readily replaced by Bill Thalmann in my DP80 with modern, quieter, and much more reliable equivalents. Other than the ICs, every other part in any of these tables can be replaced, therefore. This is why I harp on replacing 30-year-old electrolytic capacitors. One bad capacitor can wipe out an irreplaceable IC. However, I have had good luck finding the single IC used in the DP80 and the clock IC used in the TT101, from Hong Kong sources found on Alibaba. So it is not a totally hopeless problem, if it should arise. (TT101 uses several more ICs, however, and I don't know whether those can be found or not.)
Hi Henry

Who will you be getting to service your Victor DD table?

Reason for my question is that my Pioneer Exclusive P10 has been playing up intermittently over the past month or so.
It seems to lose the sync lock on the speed and will speed up or slow down with no rhyme or reason. Seems to be linked with hot days?
Then the other night worked fine off and on all night when playing DJ on NYE.

Btw, do you think there are any problems with the table running for 3-4 days straight with the bearing etc?

I understand, Lew. Some audiophiles treats the whole DD genre like alien products so there's no need to scare them even further. We need better education and awareness to dispel nonsense (and personal pet peeves) such as DD has speed hunting and has more vibration because the platter is attached to a motor, etc, etc, ad nauseam!

Hi Shane,
I won't be taking the Victor for repair unless something else happens....:-(
But if it does....I would take it to Chris Kymil.
He does all the amplifier and speaker repairs for Len Wallis and is very good.
I don't know if he can work on these complex turntables....but last time I was out there....I remember seeing a turntable or two sitting in his workroom.
Btw, do you think there are any problems with the table running for 3-4 days straight with the bearing etc?
This has yet to be tested on our old 'beauties'?......but I can't see anything intrinsically problematic about running them non-stop?
From my experiences so far.......the more and longer they are used....the better and more stable they appear to become?
I am hearing a noise from my TT101, but only at 45 rpm. It is silent at 33 rpm. It's an irregular regular pulsation that could be bearing friction, and in the absence of any other good ideas, I assume it IS bearing friction. I am planning to unscrew that plug at the bottom of the bearing well, to see what's going on, to clean up the bearing, and to re-lube. Has anyone had a similar problem or heard a similar noise? If anyone has done a re-lube, what did you use for lubricant? Any other issues re removing that plug? I know that someone mentioned it also controls platter height. This noise did not appear until after Bill Thalmann had run the tt for days on end, in order to prove to himself that the speed was stable after servicing it. The bearing is supposed to not need maintenance, but I have to think JVC Victor were not contemplating a 30+ year lifespan.
I doubt it's the bearing, Lew. I once heard a noise roughly of the kind you describe (it didn't sound like a pulsation, but I could hear it every 2nd or 3rd rotation). The noise was due to the platter scraping against the cover to the control panel. This had two different causes. First, the cover wasn't sufficiently screwed down tight enough. Second, after I messed with the bearing well, I evidently didn't reseat the platter to the same height (yes, the bearing screw at the bottom of the unit controls platter height). It sat too low and scraped against the control panel cover.

I relubed with Mobil 1 20w-50 motorcycle oil. There's no consensus on what to use, so I just used that almost at random. Prior to replacement, the existing bearing oil was quite dirty. Aigenga, another owner of the tt 101, did some experiments IIRC with different ball bearings, so you might pm him to get his insights prior to tackling it.

Since the bearing screw controls platter height, it is essential that you mark the screw's current position and count the number of rotations it takes to take it off. Some cement type compound was used to lock the screw in position. You'll need to deal with that and possibly consider a replacement after you're done. I didn't bother myself, but I know how exacting you are :).

Good luck. Am looking forward to hearing about how the Victor compares to the other direct drive giants that you own. I assume you have a giant plinth planned for it? Or are you, gasp, going to go nude?
Banquo, It is certainly true that the noise I hear is not "obviously" due to bearing friction, so I am open-minded as to other causes. But I did inspect the spacing around the platter, between the edge of the platter and the escutcheon, and I did not see any area of contact between the two. Is that what you mean?

As to the bearing, I gather you are saying that altho you do not think the noise is coming from the bearing you do think I should clean and lubricate the bearing. Yes?

I actually bought my TT101 as part of a QL10 ensemble. Thus I have the original Victor plinth with a 7045 tonearm mounted on it. My plan was, heaven forbid, to use it AS IS, first of all. After that, I was indeed thinking of a minimalist but heavy and sturdy probably metal support structure that I would say IS a plinth but some would say is a manifestation of plinthlessness. I am done with slate. I think it's great stuff, but I am finished with the aggravation associated with purchase, getting it cut, drilling holes, oiling the surface, etc, in order to end up with a nice finished product. I did it for SP10 Mk2, Mk3, and Denon DP80. Now I'm done.
But I did inspect the spacing around the platter, between the edge of the platter and the escutcheon, and I did not see any area of contact between the two.

Yeah, I didn't note any point of contact either, that's why it puzzled me for a couple of days. Perhaps I have mis-described the problem; can't be certain. Nevertheless, the 2 solutions I described for the noise I heard worked for me.

I assume no one messed with the bearing screw on yours. If my diagnosis is correct, then all you need to check is whether the escutcheon is screwed down tight. I mean really tight.

I believe the bearing oil is worth changing, if only for peace of mind. IIRC, Aigenga did it several times to try out different oils--so it's evidently not a difficult procedure. In other words, why not? Better now then after you have everything already set up.

I just remembered yet another cause for the noise I heard. I don't know if Bill had reason to unseat the motor, but in fact it rests on washers. If one forgets to put them back in, then the platter will be lower then it should be--and cause a noise every 2nd or 3d revolution. I recall now that I had to put those back because my second (sic!) tech forgot.
Thanks Henry

I know Chris, he is out at Croydon Park.

I did not realise he had experience with dd tables.

We've never "pulled" the motor, and so far as I can tell by inspection, no one has ever messed with the screw that allows access to the bearing thrust plate. But when you say the motor rests on washers, I have to think. As you know, the electronics all hang on the metal assembly that also contains the motor per se. Are these "washers" accessed by trying to remove the motor from the rest of the metal structure? If so, mine should still have them; I am pretty sure Bill did not take that apart, and I know I didn't either.

Thanks for all your suggestions. I agree that now is the time to service the bearing.
As you know, the electronics all hang on the metal assembly that also contains the motor per se. Are these "washers" accessed by trying to remove the motor from the rest of the metal structure?

Yes, Lewm.
Lew, try to determine if the noise is coming from platter friction due to contact with the metal housing of the turntable. Any slight lowering of the bearing height will result in scraping of the platter. If the motor was removed then check that the washers to support the motor are in place.

If the noise is not coming from the platter then it must be from the motor. I have experienced a similar scraping sound at 45 rpm but not at 33 after oiling. It was due to incorrect bearing height as the bearing screw was not repositioned exactly where it was originally. I doubt if your TT needs oiling...if it did then it should produce sounds at 33 rpm.

Lew I would carefully mark the position of the bearing screw before unscrewing to oil the bearing or adjust. It is easy to do with a marker pen or simply just score the screw and the housing with a thin bladed screw driver.

The screw actually determines the height of the bearing and thus the central spindle for the motor. There is actually a round metal plate that could scrape a pc board inside the motor. Too low and the plate would scrape but too high and another part of the motor would begin to touch the housing causing friction.

What I would do in your case is to simply mark the bearing screw position and screw clockwise a tiny bit ...maybe 1mm and check the result. If it does not solve your problem then try again.

Hope this helps. I am not an expert and take no responsibility if you in any way damage your TT or bearing. I am just relating my experience.
Dear Dickson, Thanks for all the suggestions, but as I wrote earlier, the bearing was never messed with, nor was the motor per se ever removed from the main chassis (at least not by me or Bill Thalmann), and I did check to see if there was visible rubbing or any physical contact between the rotating platter and the well in which it sits, and I could detect none. Moreover, now that I think of it, the noise should be present at 33 as well as at 45, if it's simply a matter of platter height and "rubbing". Yet the unit is silent at 33, or at least silent enough that I do not hear the noise from about 2 feet away at 33. (Probably should get out my stethoscope.) We shall see.

Oh, and the last thing I would ever do is to hold you responsible for anything. I am no virgin when it comes to DIY or direct-drive.
Dear Lew, Even if the bearing or motor was not tampered with, there can be slight wear of the bearing plate resulting in the bearing sitting lower.

As mentioned I experienced the same symptoms that you have. On 33 there was no scraping sound but at 45 there was a scraping sound. I cannot explain why this would only occur at 45rpm and not at 33rpm. Adjusting the bearing screw solved the problem.

I also have a TT-101 motor that I have opened up and there are three thin washers separating the top and bottom motor cover. If I omit the washers and spin the motor manually there is a scraping sound due to the motor touching the upper motor cover.

You can experiment and raise the bearing spindle by turning the bearing screw just 1 millimetre at a time and checking the 45rpm speed after each adjustment. I remember I only had a range of adjustment of about 6-8 mm.
A couple of thoughts: I have left my TT-101 powered up continuously for months now. I start it spinning when I want to play. No apparent ill effects and no problems with power supply glitches that were starting to appear before I adopted this approach.

I concur with the suggestions to Lew that the motor height is off slightly leading to the scraping sounds. Both suggested solutions: checking the screws that hold the motor cover in place - they use two different metal washers, stacked,and adjusting the bearing cap are the right ones. I would also add that the motor itself is screwed down onto two thin washers (that I replaced with rubber/steel)

Inside the bearing cap is a white nylon or similar thrust pad that on mine has an indentation where the ball sits. I wanted to take it out and replace it with Lignum Vitae but was unable to remove it without causing damage so left it alone.

I believe that the indentation in the thrust pad is original but have no evidence for that - it could have been worn into it by the years of rotation. I tend to believe that the ball is held by the end of the spindle (it is cupped) and rotates on the thrust pad which because of the indentation has a rather large contact area with the ball. To my thinking this creates a large area that needs lubrication and it is critical that the lubricant is not squeezed out leaving a dry center - so I used a 5w-20 Mobil one that I have on hand. Next time I take it apart I will switch to an even lighter synthetic (0w-5 Redline Racing).

The ball I put in is Si3N4 (Silicon Nitride)and it is 4.06mm in diameter (even though I bought it at 4.0mm and the original steel ball is 4.01 mm it all seems fine).
Aigenga, I have some of that Redline Racing oil. It was recommended by Howard G Stern for use in the Kenwood L07D bearing. (Howard is the L07D guru and keeper of the L07D website, not the radio jerk.) Thanks to all for your suggestions. At the moment, I sent off the TT101 for repair of a persisting problem that neither I nor Bill Thalmann have been able to cure. I don't expect to have it back for a few months, but I will keep the ideas in mind. If the problem cannot be fixed, the rubbing noise is not going to concern me very much; I will have to put the TT101 on display as a museum piece or use it as a doorstop or a boat anchor.
Sorry to hear about the 'persisting problem', Lewm. Can you describe what it is and tell us who you sent it to? There exists a higher authority than Thalmann? I'd like to know his/her name for future reference.
I was afraid someone would ask. I described this once before.
Here is what it does, in my house. (It did not do this in Bill Thalmann's shop, last time I picked it up there; it worked perfectly.) When you start it up at either 33 or 45, it gets up to speed, but the tach reads typically 33.32 or 33.34, instead of 33.33. It will run properly for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then it shuts down back to "Power on" condition. When it thus shuts itself down, the brake action also fails to engage; the platter just continues to spin until friction and loss of inertia bring it to a stop. IF you press the STOP button while it is still up to speed, it DOES activate its brake (which in this case is simply the reverse servo activating). It was doing this when I brought it to Bill for a second time, several months ago. He re-soldered some questionable tracings, etc, and got it to work fine in his shop, as noted above. When I went to retrieve it, I also observed that it was working fine. Not so, when I got it back home to my house. (Bill's shop is about 30 minutes from my home, driving on the DC beltway, Rte 495.) I then took it apart and soldered the leads at some of those through-hole posts; Bill had already done some of that. Someone here, I think Aigenga recommended that approach, too. My efforts did nothing to correct the problem. In fact, if anything I made the problem a bit worse, because prior to that the tach would first go to 33.33, as it should, and only then start to show 33.34 before the shutdown. Frankly, I was embarrassed to take the thing back to Bill yet again. I Googled "Victor turntable repair" and found a place near Philadelphia, BC Electronics. Another hobbyist said that the guy at BC repaired his Sony 8750 very nicely after others had failed. He has my TT101 at this time. I am not optimistic that BC has any particular genius or insight into the TT101; he admitted that he had never worked on one.
Lewm: I was the one who suggested resoldering the tracings. I did so because my tt101 had the exact same problems you describe and that's how my tech fixed it. He told me he took the 'brute force' and resoldered them all. Did you and Bill do that? Because, evidently, visual inspection is insufficient.

Even after having done all that, my tech must have missed at least one. That's because the electronic brake stopped working consistently shortly after I got mine back. It sort of bugged me, but since everything else worked just fine I left well alone.

Now, to connect up with the true subject matter of this thread, in response to Halcro's observations I've left my 101 powered up. Two days in, the brakes started functioning again and has continued to work as it should ver since. So, leaving the unit powered up definitely has some effect on the circuitry. Thanks for fixing my brakes Halcro!

Whether it impacts sound, I'm not certain of that in my case. It does seem to have improved in certain respects, but I've not observed any clear progress day to day.
Sorry to hear about your persistent problems Lew.....
Bummer :-(
I'll keep my fingers crossed for this 'virgin' guru of yours...?

Glad to have helped with your problem Banquo....and funny you should mention it?
Two days ago after a listening session.....I forgot that the 'Power' button on my TT-101 had stopped working.....and I unthinkingly pressed it!
Lo and behold it started working again :-)
I quickly switched it back on however as I really do believe it is better for the circuitry as Aigenga also seems to confirm.
If you compare the videos of the TT-101/Timeline with three tonearms that are posted on Peterayer's will notice that the latest one with 'music' keeps better consistency with the Timeline....
I believe this is due to being 'powered-up' continuously?
At any definitely sounds better as well :-)
I am kind of regretting sending off my TT101, because I feel like I could have figured it out. And Bill would have been glad to help. He still does not even know that I've had problems since its second visit to his shop. He didn't even charge me the second time around. So far as I could tell by visual inspection, every single one of those through-hole eyelets had been re-soldered, by the time I got finished with it, and after Bill had already done most of them.

The weird thing was how it worked well in Bill's shop after the FIRST round of repair. I took it home and it had problems. I took it back, and after he did the above mentioned soldering, it worked fine again in his shop. You know the rest. Bill and I joked about an evil spirit in my house, because my Beveridge amplifiers also had a similar strange set of geographically dependent symptoms, for a while. The Bev amps are totally up and running now, however, with no problems at all.
Fortunately for me (i) I was careful to pay only the value of the 7045 tonearm and plinth, when I bought the QL10 ensemble. So if I never fix the TT101, I am out only the cost of the service, and (ii) I have a Denon DP80, Kenwood L07D, and Technics SP10 Mk3, not to mention my Lenco, to console me while I await a verdict.

So, "Don't cry for me, Argentina".