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Turntables

QUICK UPDATE

CHANGE OF BUSINESS HOURS DUE TO COVID19

Unfortunately due to Covid19 we have now come to the point where we are having to reduce our hours. We will not be opening Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for the foreseeable future. We will open Friday, Saturday & Sunday only 10am to 6pm.

Please check this website or social media pages for further updates re opening & closing times.

UP-COMING EVENTS, RECORD FAIRS OR SPECIAL OFFERS

 

If you’re aware of any other up-coming events that would interest our followers, let us know….

DIGGIN’SYDNEY IS LIVE AGAIN TBA !

A comprehensive guide to where all the vinyl shops are in Sydney – a must for the vinyl collector, whether new or used, singles or LPs.

The website launched on 20th April 2013 (www.digginsydney.com), TBA of new version for 2020, but we still have 2019 version available in store – participating Record Stores already have the handy guide maps – available free! You can also download the map & key from that site.

 


 

Record Players!

Turntable / Vinyl Player / Record Player Terminology

There’s confusion out there about what a turntable is – yes, a turntable is a round platter that rotates vinyl records at precisely the exact speed to faithfully reproduce the recorded music. At the end of the tonearm is the head-shell which holds the cartridge where the stylus (needle) is plugged in. Through this tonearm tube are the audio cables carrying the electrical signal which is delivered by the RCA cables at the rear of the TT to the amplifier for amplification through the ‘Phono’ input.

imagesTurntable or Vinyl Player

The ‘phono’ input name on amps originates from the old phonograph days – the old wind-ups that played 78s. After the 60s, vinyls are mostly 33rpm (thats the 12″ LPs) and 45rpm (revolutions per minute), the 7″ singles.

In our terminology, a turntable and a vinyl player are the same thing – in recent years, ‘records’ as they were in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, & 90’s, somehow were renamed vinyls, possibly to differentiate them from CDs which were sold in Record Stores!

A Record Player is a stand alone table-top turntable and amplifier in one unit, with or without on-board speakers, usually from the 60s. A radio-gramme, is a floor-standing record player furniture piece with a radio and built-in speakers.

$T2eC16dHJH!FFloqsBumBRqcRWWOvw~~60_35Radiogramme

There are, of course, other incarnations, like 3 or 5 piece Grammes, sometimes one central unit (TT, Cassette, radio) and 2 or 4 speaker enclosures the same size as the central unit – the 5 piece Grammes were  Quadraphonic!

series_4_50_sq_quadraphonic_ob_4a_12528545 Piece Quadraphonic System


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We have just recently been fortunate in acquiring an original Transcriptor turntable, which subsequently was reproduced by Michell Engineering in the UK.
These are very rare and collectible, it was on display in the store, but recently sold.
‘Transcriptor’ – a term now widely used by the broader turntable industry, originating from the creation by David Gammon.
Here’s his story….
GAMMON-PASSPORT_PHOTO-288x300-150x150  David Gammon 

Founded in 1960 by the late David Gammon, Transcriptor’s was one of the World’s leading manufacturer of manual turntables, tone arms and accessories, and one of the most modern Hi Fi manufacturing plants in Europe during the 60’s, 70’s and the early 80’s. Many readers will be familiar with our turntables, which have been widely used in numerous television commercials, and in many films, including the classic 1971 film ‘A Clockwork Orange’ which used our 1964 Hydraulic Reference turntable in various scenes throughout the film. Our products have been copied and reproduced all over the world, from the ‘Concept 2000’ and the ‘Audio Linear’. Even today’s modern turntable design’s bear there origins to the striking designs that were designed by David Gammon, perhaps no better compliment could be paid to his famous turntables.

Sadly David passed away in December 2005 after a long illness.

England 1960 – 1967

Employed by Almer Components as chief engineer that he designed the Transcriptor arm along with the sweep arm and stylus brush. These designs were born, due to the lack of professional devices that were manufactured by various audio companies

His friend Brian Allan (who was an architect) suggested to David that they should take some photographs and send them to Hi-fi News as a joke not thinking they would get published. He was amazed to find in their next issue that the pictures had been published. David started producing the Transcriptor Arm and the accessories part time in his flat. It was not until he was approached by an audio research laboratory in the early months of 1963 , that he started production of the Reference turntable. The laboratory required a turntable that could meet the strict criteria required for highly accurate audio testing, and so the Reference turntable was designed. It was designed around the Transcriptor arm and was the most advanced turntable unit that had been produce at that time. He also designed a turntable unit for the then British audio company, Goodman’s.

In 1964 after leaving Almer Components, they offered him two room’s for thirty pound’s a week at Holloway Road, which were situated above the Almer Components premises, and with a small workforce of seven he started production on a full time basis. However after a year, he out grew the premises, and moved to Theobald Street, Borehamwood.

England 1967 – 1973

After moving to the new factory he was now in the position to increase turntable production. A year later this resulted in his next design, the Saturn. The table was produced alongside the Hydraulic turntable. In 1969 the late Stanley Kubrick visited David at his Borehamwood factory and asked him if he could purchase a Hydraulic Reference to use in his latest film project. He let Stanley have the turntable free of charge. The turntable made its appearance in the bedroom and hospital scene of the 1971 classic, A Clockwork Orange which starred the much acclaimed actor Malcolm McDowell. Various turntable parts were also used in another Stanley Kubrick production, 2001 A Space Odyssey. His other designs included turntables for department stores which allowed them to show there goods in their display windows.

Transcriptors_Clockwork_Orange

A Clockwork Orange (1972)

‘Classic HiFi’ had in-stock this identical turntable

In 1971, David received an invitation from the London Design Center, to collect a design award for the Hydraulic Reference turntable. He received his award from the late HRH Princess Margaret at a lavish presentation evening. David was also present at many social events, which included hi-fi shows all over the world, even parties hosted by the Queen. Some of the last Hydraulic Reference turntables carry the design award logo which is located bottom left on the acrylic lid. He also received many other awards from all over the world, Japan and the former state of Yugoslavia

Gammon_Princess-Margaret

Towards the end of 1973 the Irish government offered a purposed built factory which was ten times the size of the Borehamwood factory, and could manufacture all components in-house without the need to sub-contact work to other companies. This combination would also allow him to take turntable design even further.

England 1973 – 1980

Relocating to Carlow Ireland. David sent his chief engineer Keith Weightmen to set up the factory in Ireland ready to carry on production of the Saturn until the middle of 1973. Due mainly to the oil shortage and the large cost of using acrylic as a material to manufacture turntables, he turned to glass. He drew a glass case and took it to the windscreen manufacture Triplex, and asked if it was possible to manufacture. They took a look a the design and said “no problem”. He had previously woke up in the early hours of the morning and said “Yes!, I’ve done it”. In eagerness to get his idea on paper, he sketched his idea on to the back of a Bensons & Hedges cigarette packet. The turntable was the Skeleton and featured the famous, but controversial, Vestigal tone arm, with it’s unique head shell design. Nobody could exactly understand how it worked but worked it did.

Instead of the conventional tone arm design, where the arm is pivoted at the rear, balanced by an extremely heavy counterbalance, the Vestigal tone arm was pivoted at the head shell allowing for a very small counterbalance and tracking force. In 1974, David moved his family to New York. Here he opened an office to satisfy the American market. No sooner than he got arrived, that he was overcome by orders for the Skeleton and also the Vestigal tone arm which was also sold as a separate.

As usual, hi-fi magazines, as well as the general public, were complaining about the scaling prices of hi-fi components. To answer this call, he took all the main components of the more expensive Skeleton, scaled it down and produced the Round Table. It featured a tone arm fitted to the lid, which allowed easy changing of the record. The turntable sold for twenty five pounds. As with all Transcriptors products, it was well thought out and well engineered turntable. Bear in mind, like all the other Transcriptor turntables, it used jewel pivot’s in its tone arm construction. However, for some strange reason, none of the complaining public bought the turntable, so only 300 were produced, and production lasted only for a year, which makes this particular turntable very rare and collectable.

The J A Michell Connection

There have been many rumors, claims, hi-fi article’s, web sites, about the supposed connection between Michell and Transcriptors. Hi-fi magazines claimed that the late J A Michell was a director of Transcriptors and that it was Michell’s reproduction of the Hydraulic Reference turntable in A Clockwork Orange, and even to the outrageous claim that the Transcriptors turntables were J A Michell inspired. On the contrary, In the sixties and early seventies, Michell ran a small engineering business next to Transcriptors carrying out various contracts. In the early days of Transcriptors, David contracted work to various engineering companies including J A Michell as he had no machine shop at the Borehamwood factory.

In 1973 when Transcriptors relocated to Ireland, David and John signed a contract which was known as the ‘Technical Agreement’ which was witnessed by his then receptionist Joan Nelson that allowed the Michell company to reproduce the Hydraulic under license. Under the terms of the agreement J A Michell were to only produce the Hydraulic. At no time were they allowed to modify the turntable, reproduce the sweep and stylus brushes without the express permission of Transcriptors. some of the early branded Michell Hydraulic reference turntables with the original round feet are in fact Transcriptor units as David had left John a few turntables to get started in the turntable business. The agreement was terminated by ourselves in November 1977.

Design Concept

David’s design concept was inspired by old clocks and watches from the 17th and 18th century. David had often asked this question many times over, why put something of engineering elegance into a black case or even worst, into a wooden case, that looked as if it had been made down in somebody’s garden shed. In fact Transcriptors started the trend to expose all the components so that they could be viewed from all angles. Manufactured from aluminum and acrylic to very high tolerances, tested, the end result always being a highly polished, highly accurate turntable. Designed and built with the skill of an 18th century clock maker, the turntables made for a very satisfying sight indeed.

Sounding Off

The turntables have appeared in many films and TV commercials including the Kellogg’s cereal advertisement through to the Heartbeat TV series. They have also been reproduced not necessary legally, in one form or the other by companies from all over the world such as the Michell/Simon York Designs/Audio Linear even Concept2000 and Sykes & Hirsch, used the fluid arm on their Compacta.

Many famous people have had or still have a turntable. These celebrities have included the band members of super group Pink Floyd, Peter Noon of Herman’s Hermit’s, Royalty and also the late legendary record producer Mickie Most. The turntables have also been given as gifts to numerous museums such as the American Museum Of Modern Art New York, The Design Museum London, Pinakother Der Modern Munchen, Germany and even Japanese Museums, to name a few. He even supplied the Hydraulic reference turntable to SME in kit form, which they fitted their 3009 tone arm.

From the Museum of Modern Art NYC: David Gammon. Manufacturer: Transcriptors, Ltd. New York Turntable. 1964. Polished aluminum, brass, plywood, and acrylic, 4 3/4 x 16 3/8 x 17″ (12 x 41.6 x43.2cm)  Gift of Transcriptors, New York. ‘Classic HiFi’ has in-stock this identical turntable.

MuseumModernArtNYC


SO! WHAT’S THIS BIG WEIGHT AUDIOPHILES PUT ON TOP OF THE RECORD ON THE SPINDLE?

Here are just a couple of other record weights to choose from below.

    

   

Well! It not only looks ‘chunky’, but it actually has a couple of very good functions………..

The majority of your records will have some degree of warp, no matter how perfect you think they are. The slightest undulation sets up distortions & low frequency noises amplified through to your speakers that were never intended to be there. One quick fix is a switch on your amp called ‘Low Filter’ or something similar – trouble is, it cuts off the low frequencies of the music as well!

So why not put something heavy on the centre of the record when it is on the platter to flatten it out? Also, it adds more weight to improve inertia as well, achieving a smoother 331/3rpm.

There are a couple of versions – just pure weight, a clamping type device or a screw down version but the spindle needs a thread & not many turntable manufacturers are that accommodating.

Here’s a copy of a very high end UK manufacturer’s brochure supplied with the clamp they offer as an optional extra ( and yes, we stock them):

By the way, you might think that the new 180 gram (or even 200 gram records are starting to emerge) will overcome the warping problem, but even very thick records will not be dead flat & what are the chances of these weight/clamping systems flattening them out on the platter? Let alone if over time, these heavy thick records start to warp even more!

OUR FAVOURITE TONEARMS

Tonearms, the critical conveyance of the delicate signal from the stylus & cartridge mounted at the end where it tracks the record groove.

Tonearms can ‘make or break’ a quality turntable setup and here we have selected 4 of our favourites of the more common type.

The common denominator is that they are all manual with a cue lifter (a little lever to lift/lower the arm onto the record) built into the arm’s base – no auto functions like – auto lift, auto return, cut, start, play……………the levers under the plinth to move the arm place too much drag on the fine cantilever and the diamond tip, compromising audio quality.

First, SME, made in England and their caption (The world’s Finest Tonearm) isn’t far off the mark:

Next, Rega, highly regarded, no fuss, easily mounted & minimalistic.

Thirdly, Grace again English!!, delicate, beautifully engineered, & nimble were less is more!

And lastly Syrinx, this is the PU2, not so common, but WOW! a killer tonearm:

BIZAAR TONEARMS

A few rare photos while lurking around the web.

Loci tone arm.

It was invented by Adams.N.Rosenberg, this is a high end arm that was a victim of the release of CD, only 60 of these tonearms were ever sold making this a rare bird indeed.

Tonearm_Lateraltracking An example of lateral tracking arm – this is a high end Kuzma, whereas most are consumable brands. The sliding motion across the record is fundamentally problematic – the slightest corrosion or dirt jams the arm & if embedded in the case of the plinth, that’s the end of the turntable.

 

SETTING UP TURNTABLES CORRECTLY

This is the fun part! Once you’ve got your gorgeous classic turntable home, you now need to set it up correctly, so the diamond tip of the needle sits correctly in the groove. It may sound elementary, but so many people are just so glad to hear music from their records, they never bother to calibrate it properly – and a correctly set-up turntable will make your records really sound ‘sweeter’ than them thou CDs.

Number one rule – it must be situated on a dead level surface free from vibration (refer our discussion below titled ‘Turntables and Floor Boards Don’t Mix’).

Next, get the platter moving and ensure it is rotating at 331/3 or 45 rpm. Many turntables have some sort of strobe built in, maybe a light shining on groves embedded into the side of the platter, maybe groves on the platter surface or something like it. If you can’t see anything, pop into our store or email us, we’ll provide you with a free paper-cut out that will do the job. Remember, our power supply in Oz, is 50Hz, so that’s the row of grooves that must appear to be stationery.

Step 3, Use the counter balance weight at the rear end of the tonearm to adjust the needle pressure on the record – too light & it’ll just skate over the grooves, too heavy and it’ll wear out the stylus tip and damage your records. mmm, this is where it gets tricky for the amateur and all counter balance weights are adjusted differently – I know, lets look at YouTube! Click on this link, it’s quite a good performance, it’s a bit DJ orientated, he calls records vinyls which is a bit strange to us, but calibrate the pressure to 2 grams +/- .2g – NOT over 2.5g as suggested by that DJ.

www.youtube.com/watch

They are the major settings – the other issue to address is anti-skating – what’s that!! There’s a fundamental principal in physics where anything that turns freely will gravitate to the centre – a tonearm will therefore gravitate to the centre of the record, thereby leaning on the inner side of the groove more than the other, and that’s not good! It must sit dead centre of the groove to get even stereo reproduction. Whatever anti-skating device your tonearm has, and you are sure the turntable is level, set it to the central mark – if it’s a weight dangling on a string, loop it to the middle groove, if it’s a dial from 0-3, set it on 1.5, if it’s a tiny weight on a horizontal bar, set it to the middle.

So, without going into dreadfully technical discussions, they are the basic steps – put in the effort and your ears will be rewarded and your precious records will love you.



 

TURNTABLE CARTRIDGES – Moving Magnet or Coil

Most turntables have MM cartridges in the tonearm to pickup the minute vibrations from the diamond on the tip of the stylus (needle) and every amplifier with a phono input, accommodates MMs.

But hey! There’s another type of cartridge for the more serious vinyl connoisseur, the Moving Coil (MC) cartridge.

They are much more expensive and damage the stylus, and it’s a throw-away. As well, it’s unusual to find an amplifier that will accommodate a MC, then again, users of MCs usually prefer an external MC Phono Pre-Amplifier anyway.

So what’s the difference and is the effort and cost worth it?

The fundamental difference is that in MMs, tiny magnets vibrate to reproduce the sound from the record groove, but in MCs, tiny light copper coils vibrate and when it comes to agility to navigate transients encountered in record grooves, less weight is an advantage.

The price difference is something like 10X, depending on quality.

We came across this exploded image of a MC cartridge, and it all now can make sense!

MONO – WHERE IT ALL STARTED

Not that we are into Mono setups, but we are having people asking about these Mono cartridges.

This interesting close up below is a Lyra Dorian Mono cartridge.


 

TURNTABLES AND FLOOR BOARDS DON’T MIX

 


Turntables for playing records or vinyl, require a solid level base. In fact all the fine adjustments on the tone-arm are irrelevant unless the turntable is spirit-levelled and is isolated from any form of movement or vibration, for instance, sound waves or movement from cabinetry, and especially floor boards.

If your stylus jumps around on the record when you move around the room, something has to be done – you are doing irreparable damage to the needle and your precious records.

Solution? You can pull up the floor boards and install concrete flooring(!!) or wall-mount the turntable. Brick or stone walls are the best fix, but even fixing to a gyprock wall is better than the turntable on your cupboard which is on floor-boards.

A ready-made and easily installed solution is our Turntable wall-mount kit, for $199 complete with screws, wall plugs, even rubber grommets to ‘float’ the black timber shelf off the metal bracket. See the listing in our product files under the ‘Unique to Classic HiFi’ brand– follow this link:

http://classic-hifi.net/product/turntable-wall-mount-kit-4/

Now you can get about setting up the turntable properly and we even sell a purpose made Turntable spirit leveller Record Stabiliser. It also provides a 33/45 rpm strobe for checking the speed, as well as increasing inertia of your platter with extra weight to help prevent record slippage.

Here’s the link to the Record Stabiliser:

http://classic-hifi.net/product/recordvinyl-stabiliser-5/


 

Disclosure: if we inadvertently breach any copyright material anywhere on this site and you are the owner thereof, please contact us directly and we will take immediate action to your satisfaction.

PLEASE NOTE OUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE

  • Our stock has been selectively acquired by Classic HiFi, tested extensively & serviced where necessary.
  • All stock are genuinely original, used, quality components from decades past and are offered for sale as inspected by you – you cannot expect them to be in new condition.
  • All our products carry our 3 month warranty, but coverage does not extend to mis-use, in-appropriate connections, or consumables such as amplifier facia globes, valve tubes and turntable styli or belts.
  • You are encouraged to audition in-store, as exchanges are only agreed to within the first 2 weeks after purchase for major faults undetected by our servicing regime. If repair cannot be completed within a reasonable time a refund is available on production of our Tax Invoice issued to you at the time purchase.
  • We encourage you to attend to your own installations as we assist in-store with set-up advice.
  • If you require shipping, you understand that whilst we do our best to pack, and that we cannot be held responsible for items damaged in-transit.
  • A minimum deposit of 20% is required to reserve stock for you, and the maximum term for payment in full is 3 months. After 3 months, uncollected goods will be returned to stock and deposit funds will be held as a store credit for 12 months.
  • Any order cancellations prior to delivery or collection, incur a 20% fee, levied against the gross price.