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.


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

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.


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


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.



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!