get a nice new dual...keep 1k, and you're set. automatic lift..all this, and heaven too. you can drive yourself nuts over hi fi equipment...follow your muse.
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Well to answer your question what makes a good TT, and why are there so many different opinions, the reason is most likely that TT building is not quite an exact science. There are law's of physics and with the use of some materials that work better than others. Many believe that the "MASS" of the platter and with its plinth are of great importance when dealing with vibration and proper placement. I would look towards a VPI used on the GON. They are well built and very easy to upgrade and sell.
The answer to your question is easy. The implementation is hard.
A good turntable does 2 things:
- it keeps external vibrations from affecting the sensitive cartridge as it reads the groove
- it maintains a stable speed
Of course there are other factors that affect the sound as well:
- an accurate and musical and dynamic cartridge
- an accurate and musical and dynamic phono stage
- all the wires in between
- the rest of the system and the room
- the record itself
There are many, many ways to try to meet the 2 TT goals, and that's where the art and science meet. There isn't just one best way.
Here is a list of things to look for:
1) a robust drive (apparently, can be idler, belt or direct, if done right).
2) absolutely *no* bearing play (slop) or flexibility between the platter and the cantilever of the cartridge
3) in support of #2, the plinth where the platter bearing is mounted will be the same part as where the tone arm is mounted, and will be a rigid, non-resonant material. Rigidity between the platter bearing (which supports the platter) and the base of the arm is paramount.
4) the platter will be rigid and non-resonant
5) the platter pad will be energy absorptive, and ideally the same durometer of hardness as vinyl so that it does not depress as the needle passes over it, but does absorb all frequencies originating on the surface of the vinyl.
6) suspension is optional, if not suspended accommodation for that will be needed in the equipment stand. If suspended, will be damped so that oscillations die quickly.
I've stayed out of tone arm mention for the most part but obviously the arm plays a huge role and is part of the bearing system between the platter bearing and the cartridge cantilever.
Good question and some good answers. Problem is, all the technical information will not make you "feel" the music in your heart and soul.
But first, some disclosure: I build, refurbish and sell, plinthed Lencos. I have 2 for sale at the moment.
Here's my take on turntables-
I owned, among other tables, an MMF 5.1 SE. I had the same questions/feelings you express and I went as far as emailing Mr. Hall asking for advise about how to improve the table-different cart, etc. He did not have the time for my questions, so I decided to sell it and look further. 2 inquiries led me to try a Lenco. At the time, 5-6 years ago, I had never heard of it.
Because I was serious about getting the best vinyl playback source for the money (which for me is quite limited), I made inquiries to folks who had already sold their tables, realizing I might get a more honest answer since they had already sold theirs. That was my approach.
My radar was dialed in when 2 members stated that the "Lenco kicked the Well Tempered's ass" and "as soon as I auditioned the Lenco my Nottingham was for sale".
So, I scoured eBay for a Lenco and this site for more info. Found lots if inbred fighting which is both informative and amusing.
Since then, I have become a Lenco fanatic, trying to dodge the slings and arrows- folks seem to get irritated to read that their multithousand dollar belt drive is merely expensive eye candy.
Anyway, what I find that makes the Lenco such a GREAT turntable is the idler wheel design AND the way it is implemented. It is rather simple. A small, robust motor, spins a spindle at high RPMs, the idler wheel shifts over the spindle engaging it and the heavy platter above. The motor runs at a constant, steady speed.* There is no fluctuation in the speed, what causes the platter to go from 16, 45, 33, etc, is the idler wheel sliding up and down the tapered shaft of the spindle (which is spinning at a constant speed).
IM not so HO, I believe that this design is what makes the Lenco such a wonderful, great sounding turntable. Steady, solid speed means locked in rhythm which translates to deep articulate bass and drums. The stuff that makes you tap your toes and twist and shout. Or, cry when you hear a longing violin.
There's a reason why the Lenco lost favor back in the 1970s. Belt drive tables came along and it's new technology was backed up by something fierce- people with marketing degrees. It was, and still is in many instances, voodoo.
Another reason why the Lenco lost favor is because it was sold in a particle board frame. The robust motor and 8 pond platter is too much for this poorly designed "plinth". Vibration crept up into the cart, arm creating distortion and it never lived up to its promise.
There were reports of Lenco rebuilds on the web- recipes for heavy, vibration absorbing plinths, and you can have a very good record player for a few hundred bucks. With the help of various key folks, many of us are now in vinyl heaven.
* Belt drive, compared to the stable Lenco, tend to fluctuate. Belts stretch, motors are either too close or too far from the platter, folks try tape, rubber, strings as belts and still it (speed) is not stable. This takes the pace and rhythm , namely bass and drums, and smears it, the foundation of the music. The very essence of the music. This is the problem with most belt drives.
The original arm, IMO, is not worth rebuilding when a Rega 250 or 300 is a perfect synergistic match for a properly replinthed Lenco. The Denon 103 will put you in the park and then the sky is the limit.
I've had buyers report fantastic results with VPI and Graham arms. Van Dun Hull, Shelter, Dynavector carts.
This is the beauty of the Lenco design- the basic table is built like a tank. Of the dozen or so tables I've had, not once did I find it in such poor shape that it could not be rebuilt. They were built like tanks. Unfortunately, the word is out and they are not so cheap anymore.
That is my answer to your question, as misguided as it might be. I hope you have an opportunity to hear one of these. I think you will be happy you did.
I agree with simple solid turntable design. I've no experience with Lenco but I have had a couple of Micro Seikis (MR611 for 20 years and now a BL51). Very solid, very well built and prices are reasonable unless you go for the Uber Micro Seikis (wonderful machines but beyond my budget). I would also add that the speed is stable on my belt drive Micro Seiki.
As such I'd say look for a good second hand Micro Seiki, what Oregon says about the Lenco's is quite similar to what I'd say about Micro Seikis. SImple design very well engineered and built.
I agree that a used VPI is likely to be the best option, they are available at good prices on audiogon. As to what makes a good turntable many of the factors have been mentioned. One that should be stressed is the isolation of the table from the motor. This was the deciding factor in the direct drive vs belt drive war that I thought had been decided in the early 80s but apparently rages unabated in certain circles. The Lenco also isolates the motor by using idler drive.
I have just now replaced a wilson benesch full circle plus MC phono preamp (both together some 5000 usd new) with a vintage Pioneer pl 707 direct drive tuner, MM pickup and an vintage Philips studio preamp with inbuilt MM phono for somewhat less than 1000 usd. I completely amazed how nice, beautiful, warm, soft harmonic flow of music and at the same time dynamic sound with nice 3D soundstage I m getting from this inexpensive setup. Wilson Benesch with its ply mc and the mc phono together provided a more closer sound to my digital rig, with somewhat warmer tone. Now, this set up is just so much above my digital sound, I really feel the human touch in the flow of music that since days I do not listen digital at all. Please take into account that I only listen classical music.
Turntables are rounder than they were twenty years ago. I think I read that in TAS.
Seriously, get yourself a good used table and you'll have everything you need. I went with a SOTA and I love it, but there are lots of great ones out there. $1,000 can buy you a lot of used table.
As for what makes a good table, it depends on what you're looking for. Personally I wanted a table with a lot of mass for very stable imaging which I have in spades with my current rig.
Hey, you nutjobs are right! I had an old Pioneer F-445 digital tuner in my garage and just got it out and hooked it up. Wow, what depth, what flow, whatever other audiophile descriptors come to your drug-addled mind. I gotta go; I'm dropping off all six of my turntables and several thousand records at the Goodwill. This is just too good to be true! If I could just find an FM station that played only Pat Barber, Diana Krall, Holly Cole, and "Jazz At The Pawnshop" I would be set! Rock on.
What makes a good turntable has less to do with money than a understanding of the properties to reproduce music. A AR X series TT with enought TLC (an a new tonearm) can out perform dozens of newer tables. But, if perfection is what you want & you have a mind for mechenical things the maplenoll line offers value over value at a price and a DEMAND of attention . The next closest are the Raven TT, but at a cost. The mapolenolls are far from perfect and DEMAND your complete attention in set-up;after then you get a real taste of the "after-life".