I think it depends on what kind of earth your turntable sits. I agree about a building in Manhattan
over a subway line. I disagree about a home's concrete slab in a suburban area not known for seizmic
(sp?) activity. The kind of resonances that naturally occur in the ground are sub-sonic and any
decent isolation feet should prevent them. However, if you're having earthquake activity or even
high wind activity that creates air-mass vibrations akin to a huge woofer, that probably can show us
as rumble or skipping on most if not all turntables (maybe not those old Garrard console models that
track at 5 grams and cut their own new grooves each time you play the record). Oh, HVAC systems will
also cause rumble, especially on wood-framed floors.
That said, floating the turntable platter (and the tonearm connection to the cabinet) and using a
frictionless bearing (if such a thing existed) should, in theory decouple your spinng record and
groove-reading cartridge from all external vibrations. Such a system doesn't exist, at any price,
for any sized man.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Clark Johnsen" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 4:33 PM
Subject: [Norton AntiSpam]Re: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
> Footfall susceptibility is the obvious vibration problem with many
> turntables. Left mostly unsaid is the pernicious effect of low-level,
> omnipresent vibration transmitted up from the earth. Most built-in
> isolation methods and suspensions fail to stop this and those that
> somewhat do, then fail to account for the far more worrisome lateral
> shaking... the stuff that fells buildings in earthquake zones.
> It is my considered view that much of the difference heard among turntables
> (apart from the clearcut stuff like rumble) can be accounted for by their
> susceptibility to this unsuspected vibration environment. One class of
> exception: The very, very expensive 'tables that do seem to address this
> situation, but I can't say for certain. One thing I do know, though, is
> that clamping a 'table down tightly to the earth only allows more
> ground vibrations to proceed into the unit.
> On Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 3:37 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> Hi Carl:
>> You are right about the Philips with floor vibrations. Cheapo feet are the
>> reason. I use an old IBM typewriter pad that used to sit under the
>> Selectric typewriters so they wouldn't vibrate a desk. Plus it's on top of
>> a heavy file cabinet sitting on a concrete slab, nowhere near any woofers.
>> The touch-sensitive buttons were a koolio feature in the early 80's (along
>> with big hair and "Flashdance"), but they get very insensitive over time. I
>> now have to blow on my fingertips before operating them or they won't sense
>> any touch. I'm not dead, but I do have dry hands and fingers. My mother
>> (the original owner) had the same problem with those buttons. At her house,
>> the turntable was in a cabinet that had cement under it and the speakers
>> were in a different room, so no vibration feedback problems.
>> In the case of both the Philips and the Technics servo systems, there's
>> plenty of feedback to make speed accuracy and pitch accuracy if the system
>> is functioning. One system that could get tripped up was Denon, which had
>> two tape heads and a magnetic ring inside the platter as its system. That's
>> only about one data point per second (2x 33 1/3 per minute), and some
>> people can hear the system adjust speed on tracking-challenge stuff like
>> fff to ppp on a good classical recording. I saw that tape-head and fixed
>> magnet system used in one other place -- on AutoTec tape decks, that's how
>> motion-sensing was done. Ampex used a light source, strobe wheel and
>> light-detector on the AG-440C. I was taught old-school about tape spooling,
>> and don't trust any motion sensing system. I always "rock and roll" to a
>> dead stop, then hit stop. Diverging ...
>> Anyway, as I've said numerous times, there is only so much "perfection"
>> you're going to eek out of the _vast_ majority of LP records. Even a modest
>> modern system (due to low-noise phono preamps and the general availability
>> of decently compliant cartridges) will reveal how much rumble and hum and
>> hiss is baked into the "golden era" records. Listen on headphones and it
>> all hangs out. The early Westrex stereo cutters were tough beasts to
>> wrangle, and the old lathes were rumbling to varying degrees of audibility.
>> Plus the old tape machines had relatively high noise floors, old tapes
>> hissed, etc. The problem with most "audiophile" records is that the content
>> sucks and isn't worth hearing, performance-wise and/or recording-wise. Some
>> reissue LPs of more recent vintage are wonderful exceptions to that
>> admittedly blanket statement.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 3:11 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
>> Pardon the imprecise language, professor. I mean to say the best playback
>>> of LP I have yet heard. :)
>>> You mean the Philips model that used touch-sensitive buttons? I had one
>>> of those around 1978. It was good, but the suspension was very sensitive to
>>> footfalls. Speed is not the only thing that's important, but it should be
>>> right. The original Rega Planar 3s ran fast! (Purposely?) On how many TTs
>>> can you hear the pitch go up after a loud passage? You're right about the
>>> Slovak stuff - they're toys. I'd rather have what I think you've got -
>>> Technics? But then it would be fun to put yours next to a mid-range Rega,
>>> and compare them for overall tunage. The Technics would probably win for
>>> value, but of course, that's a very personal evaluation.
>>> Small things mean a lot with this black magic stuff, and they cost. The
>>> tonearm is important and so is the way it interacts with the rest of the
>>> structure. The fewer you sell, the more expensive each is, forming a
>>> commercial feedback loop. I know from working in high-end retail, that
>>> nobody actually pays $170,000 or $35,000 for one of these things, unless
>>> the buyer's favorite charity is his audio dealer. On the Clearaudio, the
>>> customer could demand a 25% discount and the dealer would still make
>>> $15,000. No dealer would say no, right?
>>> Now, the question of value, .... that machine looks absurd. Clearaudio's
>>> normal stuff pales in comparison to SME's workmanship, but their stuff
>>> generally is better than VPI or others at below 8k (my buddy is a dealer
>>> for those makes and others). The SME's price makes some sense given the
>>> scope of the market, inherent quality, and the performance you get.
>>> Seriously. I have owned (of the good ones) Thorens, Luxman, Oracle, Micro
>>> Seiki, VPI, Nottingham, and now for some years the modest little SME 10.
>>> They're all good, all different, and there is a hierarchy of reproduction
>>> quality that, to me, is worthwhile.
>>> In high-end audio, high cost also is its own priority. It is sometimes
>>> money for nothing and when it is shysterism, that's wrong. I'm okay with
>>> your populist sentiment, Tom. I've spent most of life on a shoestring and
>>> right now Micky and I are literally below poverty income - only partially
>>> by choice. So far, it has made sense to me to have a better TT than a car.
>>> Hope that doesn't change!
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Sep 19, 2012 1:17 PM
>>>> To: Carl <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
>>>> Aside from obvious things like unacceptably high rumble, speed
>>>> inaccuracy and tonearm resonances,
>>>> which should only occur on cheapo junk among modern-production
>>>> turntables, what exactly is the
>>>> "sound" of a turntable? Shouldn't the "sound" of a turntable be the
>>>> sound of the cartridge with good
>>>> design rendering rumble and mechanical resonances inaudible and perfect
>>>> speed accuracy eliminating
>>>> wow and flutter?
>>>> By the way, use any objective test record (Analogue Productions, Shure,
>>>> the old Command test record,
>>>> CBS Labs, etc) and a frequency counter and see how inaccurate the speed
>>>> is on the lower-end
>>>> "audiophile" belt-drive turntables. I discovered this problem on a
>>>> MusicHall turntable and then
>>>> measured the same problems on all of those similar turntables made in
>>>> Eastern Europe. I think the
>>>> problem is a combination of a cheapo motor and a cheapo bearing, which
>>>> makes speed accuracy
>>>> impossible without a platter too heavy for the cheapo motor to move. The
>>>> old Thoren belt-drives had
>>>> it right -- if you're going to go that route (and I prefer direct-drive
>>>> in the first place), then
>>>> you better have a massive platter and a precision bearing. Philips had a
>>>> clever system that they got
>>>> down to very low price points by using a non-exotic platter with a good
>>>> but non-exotic bearing and a
>>>> DC servo motor driving the belt, so the motor would make up for whatever
>>>> the consequences with a
>>>> light platter. I've got one of those Philips turntables and it measures
>>>> speed-accurate like a
>>>> Technics 1200 direct-drive. Both have very low flutter characteristics
>>>> As for tonearm resonances, that's another problem with the low-end
>>>> "audiophile" tables coming out of
>>>> Europe. Those hollow-metal tonearms very audibly resonate with many
>>>> cartridges, especially on
>>>> deeply-cut records and on warped records. Plus the premative
>>>> string-and-weight anti-skate
>>>> "mechanism" is a joke. For the same money, the Chinese
>>>> Technics-knockoffs will give you better speed
>>>> accuracy, a better-designed (but not necessarily better-executed)
>>>> anti-skate mechanism and, if you
>>>> get a real-deal Technics heavy rubber platter mat instead of a felt
>>>> "skate mat" typically included,
>>>> you get equal or lower rumble.
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:48 PM
>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
>>>> It's a statement all right, and so is the price. Makes the best record
>>>>> player I've ever heard seem
>>>>> cheap. The SME 30 is about $35k. Yes, if I had that kind of money, I'd
>>>>> own one. Better than
>>>>> wasting that much cash on an automobile.
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: Randy Lane <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> Sent: Sep 19, 2012 11:42 AM
>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
>>>>>> Anyone own, plan to buy, or used one of these yet?