Back into vinyl - part 1

About five years ago, while I was living nice, quiet, and boring vinyl-less life, I run across some very nice LPs while walking around my local flee market. I got rid of all my records years ago, almost immediately after Sony and Philips promised us all “Perfect Sound Forever”. My music life was easy and simple, few hundred of my CDs were complemented by couple hundred cassettes and only sometimes I was wondering how come some of my cassettes sounded very obviously better than CDs.
But I would not let these thoughts bother me – digital was better, period. Doesn’t every manufacturer of audio equipment say so for 20 years now?
Anyway, the albums I run across were so dear to me and so impossible to find on CDs that I bought them, without even thinking about the fact that I had absolutely no idea how to use them. Did they even sell turntables anymore?
Being a nerd I started searching the Net for information and to my surprise discovered that not only they still sell TTs, but there is a whole range of them, from 50 Presidents all the way to tens of thousands.
I was considering getting me some of those 78s, so three-speed machine was needed. I quickly found a site of KAB Electro-Acoustics, and called the guy.
Kevin was very helpful and knowledgeable. After hearing my pathetic story he very kindly described me current situation on the marked and few days later I was a proud owner of KAB Broadcast Standard, equipped with Shure V15VxMR.
The LPs that I bought sounded amazing. They were almost 40 years old, though in very good condition, but the sound was so real that no CD could even touch it.
Bare in mind, my system was nothing to write home about – middle-of-the-road ES Sony CD player, amplifier and cassette deck and Mission speakers.
And then I found audio forums.
OK, I have to admit – I am always questioning my knowledge. Even when I am 100% sure about something, there will always be a thought buried somewhere deep inside, saying “What If You Are Wrong?”
So I started asking questions and in return heard condolences about my TT and really stupid explanations about why direct drive is inferior to belt drive. Someone even quoted well-respected magazine reviewer stating that DD table is constantly changing speed at a rate of about 3500 times a second, which is quite audible.
I bought it.
I sold my KAB table (surprisingly very close to the original price), in my heart blaming Kevin for selling me this junk, and got myself a … well, I don’t think I should use any more names here – it is really irrelevant. Let’s just say that the table was listed at $750 and at that price point is considered to be a de facto standard in audiophile world.
Well, this is where my problems started. First, the damn thing was running fast. I was trying to get my dealer to fix it with no positive outcome. “The table is flawless” was the answer. Oh and did I mention “No Returns” policy?
Running fast, switching between speeds was a nightmare, and then in 2000 they released an updated motor in which was supposed to fix speed deviation problem (what problem?) which set me back another $150. With no positive outcome.
I had to let it go, losing a lot of money in the process.
What do you think I did next? Correct, I bought another belt-driven table from different manufacturer. It was about twice as expensive as my first one and was coming from the company that is even more respected in audiophile world.
The construction of the table was very unusual. Almost as unusual as one of the first models from this company, shown in one of Stanley Kubrick’s movies.
Built quality seemed to be better, but as I discovered, in order to achieve best results, I needed much better tonearm, special power supply etcetera, etcetera… Oh and did I mention that you can’t really clean the record on this table? Friction between the belt and the platter is too low for it…
I got back to the previous company and purchased their just-released top of the line model. Exotic materials used for platter, outboard power supply, fancy words used in its description… I was not as stupid as I used to be, so I purchased it from Canada, thus loosing my US warranty, but saving about 30%.
Well, what do you know? The table was running fast! The brilliantly engineered power supply did not allow for speed adjustments without knowing the schematics and friendly technical support staff of the manufacturer was too friendly to respond to my request.
Another bummer.
I was getting smarter. No more purchases, I said to myself, before I am sure I know what I am buying.
Very famous and very local manufacturer just released reasonably inexpensive model, which I borrowed from my local dealer. Build quality was so low that I still don’t understand how people can actually mention the word “quality” when talking about this table? Platter bearing was loose, table was running slow and besides the motor was running hot as hell. I called the company with my questions and they responded that bearing has to burn-in (oh really?) motor has high operating temperature and speed can be easily adjusted by using their power generator costing a mere $1000! Thanks!
I tried few more tables. The more expensive they were getting, the more I was shocked by their poor quality.
I got tired. My vinyl collection was several hundred LPs by now but I had no means of listening and enjoying.
Then I called Kevin.
I told him about my experience and my frustration and his simple and knowledgeable words got me back to real world.
I have a degree in electrical engineer for crying out loud, cant’ I do something?
And I did.
To be continued…
You are smart in not mentioning names. It appears that Agon has taken to censoring posts that are not complimentary or attack the reputation of any manufacturer, even if said information is valid and / or verifiable. As Twl stated, i too am interested in Part II. Quite honestly, i am even more interested in the names involved in Part I, but... Obviously, you did your best to give the identity away on one make, but folks would have to be familiar with who made the table in Clockwork Orange to know who that was : )Sean

PS... Kevin / KAB are well worth doing business with. I may not agree with all of his views or share common experiences, but he is honest and a pleasure to work with. The same can't be said about a lot of other dealers / manufacturer's.

It's not hard to figure out the names.

Table 1 Rega

Table 2 Oracle

Table 3 VPI

At least those are my un-edumacated guesses.

Post removed 
And behind door number 4 is TT manufacturer initals only, Oops I scrambled them by accident (M.A.J.)

Is there a boobie prize if you guess the TT in question?

Who made the tape deck in Clockwork Orange???