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
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
> -----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
>>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
>>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
>>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
>>down to very low price points by using a non-exotic platter with a good but non-exotic bearing and
>>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 too.
>>As for tonearm resonances, that's another problem with the low-end "audiophile" tables coming out
>>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
>>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
>>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
>>> 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?