First Night's Spin
FIRST NIGHT spinning.
By the time I got thru the
woodwork, the lube-factory, the arm-placement and all the rest, I realized I had
mounted the arm so that it’s VTA tower conflicted with the counterweight’s
travel in the course of tracking a complete record.
Uncharacteristically, but wisely, I decided against going well into the
late evening to remount the arm and gave it up for that day.
SECOND NIGHT, Really
By the next afternoon I was
playing records, and I thought I deserved to give it a grueling maiden run.
I attached and aligned an average moving-magnet cartridge, plugged into
an average solidstate phono preamp, and that out to a small solidstate powered monitor
speaker…. basic bench-test mono.
For the first run, I chose a record both for it's garden-variety-nothing-special Lp sound, and also for it's less-than-perfect condition. With a little relief I found that there was an undeniable impact thing happening, even with an average-to-noisy copy of the Stones doing “If You Can’t Rock Me” on the live recording 'Love You Live’ from 1977.
This was not about bass
extension or something like that, and I wouldn’t have heard that in this
bare-bones monitoring setup anyway. This was about pace, drive, and
punch. Time, in fact-- all about Time. Which
is intrinsically necessary to getting life out of an old live set,
something hopefully representative of what about a dollar buys at a used record
shop. I was glad to be going with
this least-common-denominator setup to hear this table on it’s first spin in
years, since it pretty well validated itself on the first couple of rotations.
By now I was coming to a theory. My theory is that, in the hype-driven rush to ‘signal-to-noise’ supremacy, belt-drive technology suspended and isolated each element in the transport at such a remove that it may have just pulled the rug out from under itself. When motors and platters ( read : engine and load ) are separated with indiscriminate respect to speed stability, then the credibility of the transport system is at risk. Yes, with beltdrive, there is a deathly black silence between consequently monumental and percussive sonic events, but….
If there already exists the
least divergence from ironclad speed control, any advance on the
signal-to-noise front is a chimera. Time,
and Time above all, is the central and non-negotiable responsibility of the
transport. Failing that, other
“hi-fi” considerations are, well, lipstick on a pig.
In the course of the evening I moved from thick seventies rock to ultra-produced eighties & nineties pop and then backwards to late fifties jazz… I also moved, a step at a time, first to a real amp and large speakers, and by late at night to the ‘real’ phonostage and all-tube system.
By this time I gave up on being
objective, and having consumed a few buckets of cabernet, I was completely
convinced this was a promising project. Even still, I knew I was light-years away
from getting it into the league of more refined program material, say, Scarlatti
da camera, or Correlli da
Next up : Benchwork - time to get a little more elaborate with the plinth.
LUBE TYPES Used.
Cleaning Solvent : Zippo
Premium Lighter Fluid, Zippo Manufacturing Co.
If by chance the above sounds a little 'authoritative' --- don't believe it for a minute. Although I've read every last thing I can find on this for several years running, I've still got no certain idea of exactly what's to be done from one step to the next. That's encouraging, huh ? I guess no single 301/401 project needs to be definitive as long as several individual approaches make it to the Internet, and anybody who wants to can plan their own from there .....
The groundbreaking article for most of us on the 301 / 401 was Haden Boardman’s original “Turning The Tables” in Sound Practices of Spring 1994, which neatly set the general outlines. A much later article by Jonathon Noble “Diy-ing A Time Machine” was written in 2004 and gets to the reason why-- very well indeed. Both available on the internet.
James Donahue, 2006.
Assembly Line At Garrard In Swindon