Building high-end 'tables cheap at Home Despot II

“For those who want the moon but can't afford it or those who can afford it but like to have fun and work with their hands, I'm willing to give out a recipe for a true high-end 'table which is easy to do, and fun to make as sky's the limit on design/creativity! The cost of materials, including 'table, is roughly $200 (depending, more or less), and add to that a Rega tonearm. The results are astonishing. I'll even tell/show you how to make chipboard look like marble and fool and impress all your friends. If there's interest I'll get on with this project, if not, I'll just continue making them in my basement. The next one I make will have a Corian top and have a zebra stripe pattern! Fun! Any takers?”

The Lead in “Da Thread” as posted by Johnnantais - 2-01-04

Let the saga continue. Sail on, oh ships of Lenco!
Hi Lewn,

There's nothing "locking" about the bearing sleeve coupling. The top plate comes on and off just as it would with a free floating bearing. It's slips in and out of that 3/4 Baltic ply layer just a bit more snugly.

- Mario
Hello from the Country all, I've been overcoming Culture Shock in reverse, adapting to Western society after months spent in a Middle Eastern lifestyle and mind-set. I confess I do miss the walks along the beaches and in the mountains and medieval fortress cities, the movement and the exotic situations!! But, it's back to work and setting up the workshop after it had been mothballed for months. Out here the internet is snail-slow, but I'm working on this.

I'd like to thank you all for your support in the face of DungBeetle (who is obssessed not with the truth, but instead with mud-slinging and uncoveriung mopre dirt, evidently, being satisfied with nothing else...we'll go back to his old name when he shows evidence of positive as well as negative attitudes, and actual investigation of the situation). Telling that these types have to resort to my ancient pre-professional cabinet-maker plinths (I hired one to train me and help me out in gaining the Wyetech Lenco score for the brilliant PR/evidence this provided) I have let stand under my "system" to encourage novices (as I was then) to join in, be proud regardless (have fun and be creative to substiutute for ultimate quality of finish) and add to the store of evidence; questions of aesthetics being counted as superior to issues of performance, simply put a pissing contest. Even more incredible to me that some find this sort of issue/attack acceptable and join in. Those watching who are interested in the truth and the public record can download the original thread at Lenco Lovers, inspect my own Audiogon "system" (also for photos of my later more aesthetically acceptable work which has been there for close on two years now ;-)), and use their heads to put together the real story by extrapolation and some research.

Moving on to more pleasant matters, I've been thinking about the Lenco vs EMT 930 experience in Cyprus, which settles various issues I was thinking about. To wit, whether the Lenco with European motor running off European voltages and cycles sounds precisely the same as the same Lenco running in NA, a question which has come up in various e-mails. Happy to report that to these ears the Lenco sounded precisely identical in both contexts, which should be the case as the Lenco first blew me away in Europe before being shipped back to Canada/NA a decade later.

Another aspect of the experiment concerns a favourite subject of mine: the issue of subjective vs objective evidence. I have always been on record saying that music is NOT an entirely objective experience, of course, and so we must trust our bodily and emotional reactions in determining the superiority of various engineering solutions to reproducing music (and this includes the old MM vs MC debate ;-)). I.E.: if one 'table makes/forces you up out of your chair while the next makes it entirely an passive intellectual experience, then the one which raises you up is dong something right while the one which leaves you untouched emotionally and biologically is doing something wrong. Furthermore, there are engineering/scientific reasons for this, and in the case of record players this has everything to do with issues of speed stability. The ultimate scientific tool is the human ear, and trumps all theories and measuring instruments and systems in the context of home audio systems.

Since it is impossible to have perfection in any physical manifestation (i.e. there are always imperfections), then the issue becomes one of which types of imperfections in speed stability the human ear is sensitive to. So, for instance, I believe quartz-locking/referencing DDs is a mistake, as the human ear is extremely sensitive to the resulting form of speed INstability (negatively affected), however impressive the test figures are, which are necessarily averaged out in any testing. Idler-wheel drives (and belt-drives), however, are a purely analog/momentum solution to the issue of speed stabilty, and both are more fluid-sounding (less "dry"/analytical) than the quartz-locking DD solution. I'll write more on this later when I have more time to think and write and experiment.

All this leading up to another subjective reaction I had when listening to the EMT 930 vs Lenco: while the EMT was undeniably powerful, fluid, entertaining and rivetting, the Lenco did that familiar trick, raising the hairs in my arms and causing me to shiver, something the EMT failed to do. The Lenco - Direct Coupled to a high non-resonsant mass (which the EMT cannot be to the same extent) and Glass-Reinforced to address the resonant top-plate - provides not only better resolution of complex material than the 9,000 euro EMT, more detail, more high-frequency extension and greater focus - it provides a deeper musical experience, and I submit the Prime Directive in the reproduction of music in the home is depth of musical experience; detail and such-like being more in the nature of icing on the cake. This applies as well to the MM vs MC debate, which was my angle all along, not really matters of detail/information-retrieval, though indeed certain MMs - Deccas, some Grados, upper Pickerings and vintage Ortofons - do indeed extract an astonishing amount of information when sympathetically set-up. I'm happy to report however that some MCs do indeed provide an intense PRaT-filled musical experience (usually the preserve of good MMs), such as the Ortofon SPUs, the Ortofon Jubilee, and the Denon DL-103s (in its various guises). In terms of musical intensity, only the Denon matches a good MM (and moving irons) so far, while adding that extra focus/clarity MCs are so good at.

Anyway, this is me getting trying to get back on track after my months-long interruption, I'm setting up a new system and experiment with different components, thanks again for all your support and kind words, keep the Idler Ball rolling!! I'll be back with more as I once again get exposed to the sound of idler-wheel drives and various other 'tables, including the Sony 2250 DD. Over to you all and your respective reports and experiences now ;-), I'll be a while settling in and cogitating and experimenting. WHAT fun!!
Hello again fellow idler-wheelers: I'm here to report the latest bout of Crush the Belt-Drive. Once again, a VPI TNT, earlier edition (MKII I believe) was Crushed by a Giant Direct Coupled Lenco. The way it happened is more interesting than the fact that it happened, it being such a common occurrence and all ;-). As an aside, it doesn't occur to some that not only am I not exaggerating when I use the word "Crush" - a word which I am told some who have compared the rim-drive Teres 'tables to their own belt-drives have used - but that I am quite simply right about the inherent superiority of the idler-wheel drive system to the belt-drive system. This is not hypoerbole, not a stunt to attract attention. Of course, the unabashed use of "big" words DOES work as a PR tactic, but in this case entirely justified, as years of growing conversions attests. As I contantly write: how is it possible to exaggerate something which has not yet met even close to its match (the whole issue in the use of the word "Crush")?!? Also interestingly, Teres use the words "Direct Coupled", complete with caps, on their own website to describe their own version of the rim-drive.

Anyway, this fellow belongs to a jazz group who move meetings from sound-room to sound-room, each taking turns hosting, and all having quite serious systems. That evening it was held at John's place, who has posted previously on this and the old threads, who had a Giant Direct Coupled Garrard 301 (grease-bearing) set up with a Morch UP-4 (heavy wand) and Decca Super Gold, the best tonearm I have yet heard, incidentally, with the Decca. The fellow was smitten, and saw my Bauhaus Lenco sitting there on the floor. Being told it too was an idler-wheel drive, he did not hesitate and offered to buy it on the spot. This in a system which is not his, reminds me of the time more than a decade ago when I instantly heard the Greatness of the Idler when I had accidentally (unplanned) modded a humble Garrard SP-25. It shows this sort of out-of-context epiphany can happen to more than just one person. I arranged to loan it to him from Greece while I was traveling so he could test it out in his system, and he sent me the following words: "I finally got the Bauhaus over here and set it up with John's Rega arm and my cartridge. The VTA probably is not right but who cares. All I can say is: STUNNING! Truly, it is better than I could have imagined." As context, the VPI was set up with a Graham 2.2 ceramic tonearm, so in this way the VPI TNT had the advantage. In the end I had to build him an entirely new one to accommodate the different geometry of his Graham tonearm, and I'm keeping the Bauhaus for my own RS-A1, STILL one of the most sonically superb tonearms ever built, and an incredible sonic bargain.

I forgot in my list of projects to mention Reinderspeter's top-plates, something which is definitely on the agenda. In fact, I bought two, one being for two-tonearms and one for the Lenco-Noll project (it being slated to be married to a Maplenoll tonearm).

On the home audio front I continue to learn lessons and to plumb the depths of vintage audio: I am back to my Sony TAE-5450 preamp, which handily outperformed a Classé DR-5 preamplifier, which shows just how good the old Sonys really are (from back in the days when Sony was targeting McIntosh). Various of my amps were taken out by a defective ARC SP-8 (eventually repaired, but too late for my amps), so I was forced to resort to an untested Sony TA-3140F, which I originally ran with my new Klipsch Heresy MKIs. This was too bright, and out came my ESS AMT-4s, which provided not only the best balance, but also the most magic in this set-up. In fact, I'm pretty well back to the set-up I originally had when I started the original thread!! And it's STILL magical. For those who have forgotten, these vintage Sony electronics - especially from 1966 (TA-3130F, TA-3140F etc.) to 1976 (V-fets, TAE-5450, TAE-8450, etc.) are superb vintage electronics which see off many serious current pieces, especially in terms of overall dynamics, richness and that elusive PRaT; and the ESS speakers use the Oskar Heil Air-Motion Transformers, and as mid-to-high frequencies transducers have never been matched, let alone beaten (high-efficiency allied to beautiful detail and astounding dynamics). To my ear, and from extrapolating from readings, the AMT4s - the world's largest mini-monitors ;-) - are one of the most successful marriages of woofer to ultra-fast AMT transducers.

Anyway, have fun all, there are magical marriages to be found at all levels and all times, and for those on a tight budget vintage audio - ESPECIALLY the Lencos - is STILL the best way to go, with a little luck ;-)!
Hey Jean, I have actually done some work on my Giant Lenco #2 recently. (My work schedule kills me) In fact, all I have to do is finish sand and route some slots for arm boards. This one is a layer cake with MDF, birch ply and wall board - covered in band sawn veneer. Its ridiculous how many arms and carts I have now that I have never used - your fault. Still highly curious to heat them all.

BTW: over the summer, a Sony TAE 8450 was offered on ebay - the bids were low and the guy pulled it before I got a chance to bid.

Hi, Jean

Could you clarify vintage Sony amps for me? I have a vague memory of you saying the "F" series were VFETs, yet your last post differentiates them from the TAE series. Also I think you said originally that VFET amps needed an easy load to drive and lacked bass control? Could you also tell me which are the best sounding vintage/VFET amps in order and how they go with electrostatics? Thanks.