Here is the promised information, which includes the rationale for this project and suggestions for experimenters and for doubters and DIYs and other possibilities. Refer to the other Home Depot thread for more in-depth information. I will start with the question that started it (sorry Will), then the answer:
I am a bit bemused by the statement you make that we should not bother with European GL75 motor units? As I am in UK these are the only ones available to me, I was not aware that there were any differences between these and US ones other than motor voltage and frequency?
Willbewill, it is the frequency which matters, of course, since the AC motors rotate according to this. So, while the Lenco motors can be very easily re-wired for North American voltage without modification (in fact Lenco motors have schematics for this either glued on, or actually cast into the motor cradle!), nothing can be done about the frequency. In my experience all Lenco wheels - North American and European - are precisely the same dimensions, though as I have evidently not bought every model made for every year, I am not absolutely certain this was always the case. Lenco actually machined the motor shafts against which the wheels turn to give the proper speed differently for each continent, as the top-plate "identations" for the speed clearly visible on the photos give the same speed on both continents. To tell you the truth, I never thought this made sense, as it seems to me that it would be far simpler and cheaper to simply manufacture larger and smaller wheels, though actually this may have been impossible due to the rigid design, top-plate, etc., which is designed for a certain clearance for the arm/wheel and so on. This means that the European 50 Hz spindle is larger than the North American 60 Hz spindle. Now the Lencos being infinitely adjustable, one would think we could simply compensate by sliding the idler wheel up or down - and the Lenco is actually built so you can do this by moving the speed "brackets" back or forth before "setting" them - but while this works for all speeds, there is a sudden drop-off in the spindle (a "shelf") at precisely the 33 1/3 RPM point which makes it impossible (for my Lenco at least) to get a precise 33 1/3. If others have different motor spindles than my own European model (this is entirely possible) which do accomodate the change-over, please report back to this post. In the meantime, until you know exactly what to look for and how to test it, European models are best avoided in North America. I would like to point out though that considering the Lenco's price, building a plinth for the Lenco in Europe is not a wasted effort, as a Lenco can simply be bought in North America and popped right in. This also gives you spare parts, just in case: platter, wheel, bits and pieces.
As to the belt-drive Garrard, you know I never noticed it was belt-drive, as I never really read this thing? I wondered what they were on about as it seemed to me in Europe that this thing had incredible sound quality (without the refinement, however, of the Lenco). Which brings me to one of the main points concerning the amazing sound quality of these idler wheels. The idler wheel has no "rubber-band syndrome" happening which essentially means constant speed variation inherent in belt-drive designs. This is why the substitution of thread for the rubber band brings universal improvement. The idler wheel addresses this. Since there seems to be a problem with old information, and this thread is getting rather long, I will quote from a reply above: "I also strongly suspect, after listening to the very clean transient starts and stops supported by this turntable, that its high torque drive system suffers less from dynamic slowing than belt drives. That's why it not only sounds dynamic, but has a very good sense of pace and rhythmic control." This is taken from the Hi-fi World test I quoted earlier.
The other reason idler wheels sound so good is their motors: I have repeatedly described the incredible engineering of these beasts: 4-pole AC COGLESS motors, hand-balanced (even the ugly little record-changer Garrard SP-25s), spinning on hardened steel bearings. Much of the vibration/rumble everyone is worried about is due to their experience of the COGGING UNBALANCED motors used in belt-drive designs, which MUST be isolated as they actually, despite their (vastly) slower rotating speed and great relative weakness and mass, vibrate like hell. Do not fall into the trap of applying experience of noise made by little off-balance cogging motors to idler-wheel motors. Idler wheel motors are entirely different beasts, and also have high-mass relative to belt-drive cogging beasties, and being cogless, act as their own fly-wheels, and they spin from four to more than ten times faster than belt-drive motors, thus further smoothing out speed irregularities.
Remember, they are individually balanced in labs: to see the principle at work, perform this cheap and interesting experiment: Buy a Garrard SP25 (any model, but the later ones - MKIII and IVs - are actually quite good and have tweak potential!) for $2 at a flea market or garage sale, they are incredibly common - 10,000 a week shipped to the U.S. alone during their heyday - and people are only too happy to get rid of them. You paid two bucks, don't hesitate, take it apart and remove the motor (I think you may actually be able to take it apart without removing the motor, as there are bolts holding the assembly together underneath, though this is a distant memory). Disassembling the motor will reveal the stainless steel bearing shaft, and little drill holes around the circumference: these are the evidence of the individual balancing. Put the spindle back in, give it a spin with your fingers. Heft it: heavy, smooth, substantial. Compare to belt-drive motor: no comparison.
Which brings me back to why the belt-drive Garrard Zero 100 is considered so good by TNT: while it is belt-drive, it still has that superb Garrard motor (but in my estimation the Lenco motor is even more superb), which is like applying a totally Lintoed Linn motor to a humble 'table, only the Garrard motor is even better than this. No expensive after-market band-aids are needed to compensate for what is a crappy little cogging motor, which is cheap to boot! I remember that one of the last improvements of the famed Versa Dynamics 'table was the inclusion of just such a cogless, 4-pole motor, which the designer explained needed no expensive electronic filtering. He said that they cost $300 each from the manufacturer, which explains why the crappy kind is now universally used. Origin Live's $500-$600 motor is just such a cogless motor, though far less substantial than those commonly found in idler-wheel decks such as the SP25s, and in early '70s belt-drives.
For those who are convinced due to the Dogma perpetrated by the "establishment" (remember, this is the same thinking/establishment which declared transistors vastly superior to tubes) that belt-drive is the only way to go, I offer the following possibility: early '70s belt-drives often included these superb motors, as they were much more common at the time. You can recognize designs using this type of motor by the very thin pulleys, and by the fact you can actually spin them by hand like a top. Recently I found and bought a humble '70s CEC belt-drive which is actually very similar to the Rega 'tables, the BD-2200: solid plinth, no automatic mechanism, quite a decent arm (similar to the original Rega Arms, RB200 I think) with removable headshell, only an on/off swith, speed selector (mechanical), and raise/lower mechanism. I bought it for $10, including Ortofon MC10 MKII, and it's mint and quite attractive in Nextel grey. I owned a Rega Planar 3, and I would say the CEC easily bests it: extremely dynamic, lively, powerful bass, like the belt-drive Garrard. Why? Because of that motor, and also because it is quite well designed and built. I am constantly thinking about downgrading, and consider which equipment I would choose, this 'table being among these. When I want to astonish my friends, I say "Want to hear what $10 sounds like?" and I hook it up. They are astonished and say "It must be because of your speakers" and so on...
Another cheap experiment for those who want to only dip their toes in the water without too much bother or money: Garrard SP25s fill every nook and cranny of this continent and the rest of the world. They can usually be had for $2-$5. Early models had partly iron platters (inner platter) which attract the cartridges above, thus increasing downforce (it took me a while to figure out what was going on because as the cartridge neared the center where the iron was the down force "magically" increased dramatically: a comedy!) so do not buy these. I removed everything which was not directly connected to the drive system, removing all rattling parts related to the automatic features, which is all gears and levers made of metal, because they rattled. I soldered a better cable to the tonearm tags. I cleaned and re-oiled the main bearing and the bearing to the motor. Install decent MM cartridge. I sunstituted the cheap AC cord with 18-gauge solid-core the motor (this works, I do this for ALL my 'tables!). Tell me you don't hear an astonishing amount of detail, power, dynamics and Prat even from this little spud. A millionaire I knew in Europe, who owned a high-end system using the Grasshopper cartridge, visited me one day and I played some music on this Garrard. He was astonished, said he felt the hairs go up on his arms, and signed a check to me for several thousand dollars to develop the idea further. He accepted what he heard, and did not let dogma influence his thinking any further. The result of that money and research was the Lenco project which is the subject of this thread. So the SP25 project is cheap-cheap, an afternoon's work, and easy. Also very educational, as you will understand then that the true heart of a 'table is not the platter/bearing, but the motor. It is the motor which determines speed, and it is accurate speed which all the high-end 'tables are trying to achieve with their outboard power supplies, their flywheels, their flywheel-platters, ect. Of course noise is a great issue which is addressed by non-resonant plinths, accurate main bearings, isolation and so forth, but without accurate speed, what is this worth?
So: more cheap fun (not even the cost of a pint!), more experiments, more education a la crystal radio set. More cheap alternatives for those who want high performance for literally the price of a beer or two. Belt-drive CECs or idler-wheel Garrards, take your pick! It's Christmas!
Ooops...A total mess, I know, I should just stick to my 'tables and stay away from computers. Short version: photos at http://www.terrypogue.com/Johnnantais/john.html. See explanation (twice! Don't you hate that tricky copy/paste feature?) above.
Your posting is in danger of being brought to a neighborhood theater, and titled The Magnificent Obsession, except some other movie appropriated that title already.
This genuine love for audio as a creative, and hands on hobby is all too rare.
Some of us can just about manage to mount, and adjust a phono cartridge, and are in awe of your considerably greater aspirations.
Listener57, thanks for the compliment! I am actually more of a full-time adventurer/traveller (totally and blessedly audio-free, except for bouzouki music, Balinese gamelan orchestras and African drums) in life, but when I'm stuck back home, I must burn this energy away by tinkering with 'tables! During one of my more stable periods in Europe, I discovered idler-wheel 'tables (bought accidentally at a flea market in Helsinki as a simple means of playing records - Helsinki at that time - early '90s - still selling LPs cheaply and abundantly when the rest of the world had bailed) and the humble Connoisseur 'tables (surprisingly good!). I learned to respect "outdated" designs (I already owned a Pierre Lurne and a Maplenoll at the time, packed away in boxes). Plus (and this is a BIG plus), they're cheap and fun! But this started as a serious business proposition, a millionaire wanting to start manufacture of a new turntable line when he heard my accidentally-discovered modded SP25! The hitch was the cost of production of the motors, which faces all 'table manufacturers, which is why only Versa Dynamics ever included one of these beauties in his design, to my knowledge. The growing trend towards high-torque (not relative to these idler-wheel babies, however) is a recognition of the importance of this aspect in record player design. So really, just the culmination of a series of accidents, which I finally decided to simply hand out and share.
But truly, the construction of one of these beasts is quite easy, given that the cutting can be done at Home Depot for that professional look. The amateur cutting on the inside of the plinth nobody will ever see, as is clearly evident in the photos: big sloppy (but effective) holes drilled into the slabs to allow entry of the jigsaw blades (1/4"), sloppy/easy cutting of the area for the tonearm, motor, and so on, and then glue and clamp. More details on another reply. Cheers!
Thank you very much Albert, both for your support and for putting that "little blue clicky thing" up for people to use. I am abysmally ignorant of all things computer as I have spent a good part of the last 15 years haggling over the price of tomatoes in the eastern Mediterrenean! I had to enlist the help of good friends just to get as far as I did (thanks Terry and Dave)! You might attempt to explain to me how to do it, but it might be in vain. Thanks again.
Bottom of the page , just below the box where you type text are the instructions from Audiogon as to how to do this. They are in blue and say:
No html, but you may use markup tags
Click and follow instructions. You can shrink type for quotes and make active links as I did for you. I guarantee you can do it.
That easy? Thanks for the info, now I can post photos of my favourite beaches! I'll call it "The Ultimate Non-Resonant Platform".
Of course I can't know what's going on out there, so for you people who may be rushing to glue your slabs together before I have a chance to post new assembly photos, heed these instructions! First of all, choose the straightest edge on each slab to use as your reference point when making the templates for your work. Secondly, from this straight edge, choose the straighest side adjacent (at a 90-degree angle) to this for your second reference point for your measurements. So, all perfectly lined up on one long side (the cuts at Home Depot will be slightly off), and perfectly lined up on the other adjacent side. It doesn't matter if the two remaining sides are slightly off, you'll be using a sander at the end to even things out. From these two sides you will be making the same template on each individual slab. For instance, given the Lenco dimensions of 15 1/4" x 13", if you have calculated an extra 1 1/2" front and back, then you use the straight edge you have chosen for all slabs to measure a line 1 1/2" from that edge (choose two point from that edge, and draw a line across the slab from that), repeating for each slab in turn. If you have chosen, say an extra 2" for the sides, then using your adjacent (90-degree angle) straight edge as your reference, you make two points at 2" from that edge, for each slab in turn. Then, simply measure the precise distance of the Lenco from that line, being 15 1/4" from the side line, and 13" from the back (or front) line, again making two points on each side, and drawing a line throough them. Now you will have the same Lenco top-plate-sized box at precisely the same points on each slab. Make a coloured mark also on each reference side so you know which straight edges you used as your reference points come gluing day, as you will re-line them up this way. All sanding/rectification will be done AFTER the plinth is glued together.
Now make sure you do ALL drilling and cutting for each slab individually, as trying to hold a straight 90-degree line for a hand-held drill through 3"-4" when drilling the holes for the fastening bolts will not work. By drilling each slab individually, you will be able to drill through the whole thing together at the end regardless of small deviations (you will still be able, given reasonable accuracy, to see the hole going through all four or five layers), so you will have no problems.
For those rushing to disassamble their Lenocs in preparation for the project, be very careful not to remove necessary parts! Leave the on/off switch assembly in place, as well as all parts related to the idler-wheel and its carriage arm. Remove the arm, yes, but again being careful. The mountings for the four springs that are there for the suspension are screwed into tapped holes, and it is these tapped holes which will be used to fasten the Lenco to the finished plinth. So remember, each slab measured, cut and drilled individually as without large expensive equipment you will not be able to achieve the necessary accuracy, both for final assembly and the illusion of a professional finish. Have fun!
P.S. Some Lencos used small solid silver dumbbells inside the power-switch assmebly!
TechnoPop: Kraftwerk, Yaz, Depeche Mode, Art of Noise, Yello, Colourbox...If you haven't heard these on an idler-wheel 'table, you haven't heard them period! Idler-wheel drives excel in the bass, where they have greater reach, power, slam and speed than belt-drives designs. Of course, these attributes also benefit all music, as stand-up bass in jazz ensembles and all bass instruments are simply heard more clearly on these 'tables. This power and slam covers the entire frequency-range, it's just that it's the bass which will first astonish and thrill you! Don't worry about the high-frequencies, as both Lencos and Garrards had much lower measured rumble than LP12s in their day. Join in the experiment, it's educational, fun, and rewarding in all kinds of ways! And cheap and fun! I recently listened to the above bands and had to share this great entertainment with you.
The issue is one of Dogma, unfortunately. To make this point clearer I will give a dictionary definition of "dogmatic": "asserting a matter of opinion as if it were fact". All kinds of audio authorities have written about the "fact" of idler-wheel rumble, and gone to great lengths to explain it via theories and so forth: now, more than 30 years after the essential demise of the idler-wheel drive, they continue! Of course the audio industry has never been guilty of cynically promoting sonically-inferior technologies for a great increase in profits...but wait! Of course, NOW I remember, they did tell us that transistor amps were vastly superior to tube amplifiers! They had all kinds of charts, graphs and theories to back them up too! Oh, and then there was that "Perfect Sound Forever" thing which engineers and scientists went to great length to support scientifically. Now they give us DVD and SACD which gives us 10 times the resolution of their original "perfect medium".
This whole issue of building your own plinth for a Lenco to produce a true high-end 'table has been an incredible education, as all kinds of facts have surfaced which I didn't have access to when I discovered them 10 years ago. The Lenco is cheap because of dogma, "opinion paraded as fact." Despite the fact of Garrard businesses around the world, and the fact that Sugano used one to design his cartridges (still no one to address this fact), Garrards have been dismissed due to rumble even by many of their owners. Why? Because of the tremendous pressure to believe this is so via "opinion presented as fact," along with lengthy technical theories.
So here I ask these still-vocal "authorities" (similar "authorities" asserted that the sun circled the earth well after the publicaton of the works of Galileo and Copernicus, one Professor refusing to look through Galileo's telescope - as certain persons today pronounce themselves against the Lenco without hearing it - because "as if with magical incantations to charm the new planets out of the sky"...this argument sounds familiar, hmmm) to explain the following information which was sent me on my other thread: "In 1962 Garrard 301 cost £ 17 14s 6d plus tax whilst the Goldring Lenco GL70 (predecesor of GL75) cost £ 22 10s plus tax (admittedly it had an arm and 301 didn't) but it shows it wasn't a cheap deck. Interestingly in 1976 GL75 still had a £ 10 price lead over 401. Rumble figure for 401 was quoted as 'almost non-existent' - I haven't been able to find a rumble figure for GL75 but the GL78 which was more expensive and had a slighly bigger and heavier platter (but I think it used the same motor?) came in at -60dB (original LP12 only quoted 'better than -40dB!)." So it turns out after all that the idler wheels including the Lenco produced significantly less rumble than the belt-drives that supplanted them. So why did the belt-drives conquer all? Oh, I forgot about the audio industry cynically promoting inferior products such as transistors (in the beginning) and compact discs due to the greater possible profits. Include retailers among this group. Of course, I didn't need all this research to tell me there was no rumble, as in a large variety of systems neither I nor anyone else had ever heard any. But it seems we need "expert opinion" to make it so. I fear certain "experts" in the industry who have spoken out will find themselves somewhat discredited: that's what you get for offering opinion as fact, a far more common phenomenon in science than is commonly thought.
The other interesting thing revealed by the above information is that in a world where Garrard 301/401s were considered the "ne plus ultra", the Lencos sold for significantly more, and sold despite this fact in large numbers. Since all early audio reviews were in fact almost purely technical - presenting only such things and flutter, rumble and wow figures - then the Lenco must have had very impressive figures to compete with the Garrards. Why then did they become derided? What else but "expert opinion."
Here I must quote from the owner's manual for a Goldring-Lenco G 99, Lenco's version of the 301/401 designs, sold without tonearm: "The hardened steel centre spindle runs in a sintered bronze bush with a special thrust pad. The 4-pole constant velocity motor limits changes in turntable speed to less than 1% for up to 13% change in line voltage. Rumble and hum are negligible. Maximum wow and flutter is 0.2%. The turntable, which is die-cast from zinc alloy, is non-magnetic and weighs 8 lbs. A thick rubber mat is fitted. Another feature is the push-button on-off switch which also engages and disengages the drive. A neon pilot gives the "99" an added refinement. The switch circuit is entirely click suppresed......" It all sounds vey impressive, a fitting competitor to the far more famed and expensive Garrards. The great thing is that, apart from the strobe light and the pilot light, the G 99 is mechanically identical to the L78s and L75s, which is a good thing as the G 99s are rare while the others are common. So am I pointing the finger at all those Garrard owners who paid more for their 'tables than I did for my Lencos? Absolutely not, as they were the victims of a Dogma created and propagated to this day by industry "authorities". Besides, they bought the superior technology. We've come this far in this lengthy battle, so might as well not beat around the bush.
So am I claiming to be brilliant because I realized the potential of the Lencos when I discovered them? Absolutely not: I discovered them because of the Dogma propagated by the "experts" and the audio press - here I quote from a letter I had sent Richard in happier days, before "experts" began to "educate" him: "Also, it was a British mag which reviewed the Swiss Lencos against the British Garrards, so I would tend to think that there was quite a bit of bias involved (until quite recently, early 90s or so, American 'tables and mainland European 'tables were quite negatively reviewed in the British press, the British versions always considered superior. And of course, the majority of the audience slavishly follows the mainstream press, including those who work in shops, which is the whole point of such forums as Audiogon." Because of this enormous (and undeserved) bias against the Lencos and the enormous cult following of the Garrards (because of the British audio press), when I discovered the evident superiority of idler-wheel designs (remember, I already owned two "high-end" 'tables at this point), I was simply unable to find a Garrard 301 or 401 to rebuild to see what the idler-wheel technology could do (there was essentially no 'net then). Because of the same dogma, however, Lencos were plentiful and cheap. So, being the heaviest and best-engineered idler-wheel drive I could find, I simply did to it what I would have done to a Garrard 301. The result is this thread.
So you're lucky that I post this cheap, easy and educational recipe for a true high-end 'table (incredibly high-end, as I sat unimpressed before a $6000 'table today), and while you are at it, thank all those authorities who created a situation where you can buy Lencos cheaply! Thank you British Press! Thank you, "experts"! I for one, am thankful! Kisses! Hopefully, these "authorities" will continue to artificially depress the value of Lencos! Keep up the good work!
And remember, you can marble them too, or cut to any shape (I have done lozenges!)
I'm definately interested in building one of your Home Depot turntables. Please provide info on how to do it. Thanks.
I thought this particular thread was dead long ago!! Threw me for a loop. All the instructions are on the other Home Despot thread, and there are many links hidden in there. The simplest and easiest to follow with links to the others is at http://members.home.nl/fmunniksma/lencol78.htm
Sorry, but my own photos are not yet set up on a separate website.
I have Lenco 78 to rebuild. Your information is quite helpful. Do you know where I can find and buy the templates to build the plinth? Thanks for response! KB
Yikes, this thread keeps coming back from the dead! The original Home Despot thread is where it's at, man. No there is no "official" template, since there are so many ways to go about it. You can get an idea by clicking on my "system", and willbewill has an original Lenco template which shouldn't be too closely followed however. You have to develop a template by taking measurements from the Lenco itself, only cut out as much as necessary from each succeeding layer, and leave lots of room arond the Might Lenco Motor to allow sufficient air circulation to keep it cool. Click on the link provided above to get at Willbewill's template, and do a little reading (i.e. only drill out 1/4" holes for the four bolt holes for the top two or three layers etc.).
Might be a stupid question, but is the Lenco L75 able to be run on both 110V and 240V? Is there any precaution that one needs to take when trying it to run it on 240V when it was 110V before? I know with the Garrard that you have to wire up the motor differently to convert from 110V to 240V or vise-versa.
I'm sure that all you have to do is to re-wire the AC inputs in back of the motor housing. Go to Lenco-Lovers website where you will probably find the necessary info.
I'm reaching out to see if somebody can help me. I had Johnnantais build me a Lenco back in 2006, and it came with two tonearms. Does anyone know which tonearms he used back then when he was making these decks for his customers?
I'm reaching out to see if somebody can help me. I had Johnnantais build me a Lenco back in 2006, and it came with two tonearms. Does anyone know which tonearms he used back then when he was making these decks for his customers?
Load image of your table and arm at an image hosting site and post address here. Someone will be able to identify.
Glrtrgi - why don't u contact JN directly and ask him ? His website
good table with excellent stability ,, nice work !!!!!!