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Jonathan Noble's Garrard 401 and system setup

updates (7_2_2014) and (7_5_2014) New Slate plinth with brass arm pods added.


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Jonathan's comments re: slate plinth and armpod.

update: 7-5-2014

"Wow. the brass arm tower sounds FANTASTIC....And looks fantastic also.  Everything sounds dialed in now, warmth and naturalness have returned, whilst the fine dynamics and power remain...Sound is super good with the tower....I don't think it gets better than this!  The arm support shelf doesn't work, i.e. as per the first pics I sent...The shelf sounds bright and flat.  ......(edit) more to come.


update: 7_2-2014

"...Greetings ... Just a few quick impressions ... I'm still busy with set up ... Arm towers as per the one pic to be added shortly (arm puck and tower will equate to 8kg of solid brass bolted beneath each arm, its double spiked with spike to puck and tower, height adjustable, and clamps up tight via a central bolt, a breeze to setup!) ... 

The TT looks beautiful ... And sounds fantastic!! with arm towers added, total mass will approach 60kg! Very clean, detailed, powerful sound ... Super dynamics and a massive stage ... But I've lost some 'coloration'/warmth from the former wood plinth ... Cant be so hard to add that back in !! ... maybe some copper couple caps for my 300b, or perhaps an ebony disc below the arm 

Bass drum really kicks ... 'Kinda seismic on the right lp!!! Currently loving a Shelter501mk3 MC on the Schick tonearm ... Gr8, decent priced MC, thanks for recommending it!!! Planning to mount the ol SPU on the SME3012 at the back Very pleased with how its turned out And can't wait to try the arm towers



PS ... I've waited years to build this plinth!!!!"




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Jonathans' comments:

"I am currently in the UK for 3 years doing PhD studies; living in Oxford. Back home in Johannesburg, SA, I have a lovely setup: Garrard 401 with grease bearing from a silver-grey 301, SME3012 arm, Denon DL 103r MC cartridge, Baltic birch ply plinth, on diy 'roller balls', on diy mana type support. Thanks to the long spindle on the Garrard I am able to use 3 diy mats, a cork mat, then a 4 mm acrylic mat, and lastly a ring mat. This arrangement works really well.

I experimented with 3 different plinth designs, and the medium mass Baltic birch came up tops. Roller balls took me to the next level (see close up pic)l!!!!

I also use an ac power supply for the Garrard, based around a wien bridge oscillator, a power amp and a step up transformer (designed by Mohammed Imbabi) ... the power supply greatly reduced motor vibration and brought further levels of refinement.

The TT setup mentioned here took 2 years of experimentation, but the final results are way past my expectations ... it is very fine sounding indeed, full of character and lively dynamics. Coloration seems to be very low. The sound is always rich and free, never grey or constrained. I also love the complete absence of surface noise, the mysterious dark background; tone colors emerge from the shadows in a way that sends shivers down my spine! I have to be honest; I would never swap this deck for my friends Linn LP12 with Eminent Tech air-bearing parallel-tracking arm. On the other hand, I doubt he would want to swap his for mine either (Hi there G Ö peace my brother).

I intend to write an article on my TT experience, for the diy section ... (by the way I also have 2 x Thorens TD124's back home, it's just I prefer the more forward and powerful presentation of the Garrard)

I am including a few pics ... so you can get the idea of my DIY audio fetish.

The photo on top shows some loudspeaker auditions, open-baffles versus transmission line. My regular speakers are the diy, ĎArielí transmission lines seen in this pic. They are well engineered speakers, but I strongly disagree with the designerís complex crossover. By contrast my crossover arrangement has only one Hovland cap on the tweeter and nothing else. The woofers are wired in series for a 16 ohm load, this connection allows the Arielís to come alive.

Electronics are all diy SE triode stuff. The Denon MC is fed via a 10x step-up transformer (Amorphous Permaloy core) into a 3 stage split riaa phono; using 6072a, Ac-Hl, mesh plate 27. The Ac-Hl is a lovely old globe shaped IHT, made by Mazda, with an odd 4 volt filament supply and super sound. Not shown is the MONSTER phono power supply with exotic RGN2004 mesh plate rectifier tube, and gas regulator tubes for added glow-in-the-dark intrigue (Ok, I admit it, I am kinda shallow). The power amps are an all DHT design using Ba, 10, and monplate 2A3. Output transformers are exotic Amorphous Permalloy cores, for a hyper-beautiful sound. Oh yes, and I also love Riken Ohm resisters on the plate together with Tantalumís on the grid. The 10 is my all time favorite DHT, and I cannot imagine listening without it. The type 10 triode paints with a bold and sure hand. There is a tonal rightness from the 10 that in some ways reminds of my beloved Garrard-SME.
Audiophile friends who visit often moan about the absence of deep bass, something I hope to address in the future. I guess my lower power SET fetish lets me down here, but I accept this limitation because I canít listen any other way. The main problem is the relatively in-efficient Ariel loudspeakers. Nevertheless, dynamic presentation is very good, the system breathes with energy. Stereo space is portrayed within a 3-D halo which extends up to the ceiling and way past the loudspeaker pair. If youíre used to the traditional-controlled sound-stage stereo presentation, then my system is rather different; listening is more swimming in a sea of ambience.

Anyway ... my life is a bit different here in the UK for the next 3 years ... I luckily just picked up a TD160 for 75 UK pounds, in lovely condition, and I intend to experiment with the recommended mods to see how far I can go with this cool looking old classic.

Am also building a small SE45 amp with integrated phono-stage, just to play honest music whilst here in the UK ... nothing over the top like back home!"