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!
The Idler Wheel Revolution continues to gain steam, new products being released at a steady pace! Consider the Teres rim-drive, and the VPI rim-drive, which as I understand it is actually a quasi-rim-drive like the Thorens TD-124, an idler driven by a belt. This gives only quasi-results, as the true idler force is mitigated by this over-caution approach (i.e. potential dynamics and transient response mitigated), originally (TD-124), and one assumes currently (VPI), due to the lingering perception that idler-wheel drives have inherent noise problems which obscures fine detail. No, these problems are part of the ongoing campaign against the Idler, both Direct Coupling to a high mass and careful restoration eliminates noise and exposes the true idler strengths in the areas of detail (stunning detail retrieval, and in an entirely matural presentation) and organization (the ability of the Idler Torque to keep the various musical strands easily separated, with the interrelationships clearly audible and magical).

Now Arthur Salvatore's website (news/upcoming section) features the following tasty tidbit, with at least a question mark next to the word "inherent", which means we are making some SERIOUS inroads against the usual anti-idler dogmas!: "Next, there may be a new turntable, coming out soon, with an advanced idler-drive system, that finally avoids the (inherent?) problems with these systems; mainly the higher sound-floor, which obscures subtle musical information. This could mean the best of both worlds (dynamic force combined with subtlety). The source of this turntable will prove surprising to many audiophiles. I'd spill the details now, but I'm sworn to secrecy, which should end soon."

Of course, all those who have actually tried a properly restored and set-up idler-wheel drive know that idlers excel in the retrieval of subtle information (micro-detail and imaging, etc.), and retrieve some - such as proper timing relationships, proper and full restoration of dynamics (incredible), and incredible transient response (ultra-fast, giving them ironically a more modern sound than belt-drives) - which seem to be beyond the abilities of belt-drives (at least those mere mortals can afford). The Uber Idlers advertised in Salavatore's website already exist: Lencos (which may after all be the best of them all due to the excellent torque/inertia balancing act); Garrards and EMTs, just to name three which can do all the amazing Idler tricks, and do it quietly, with the subtleties intact.

Thanks for the post Chad, I still have that Gray tonearm in my sights!! Just waiting for one to swim by ;-). And glad to hear that I scored such juicy drivers Harvey! Hope I find time to match the newly-restored Leak to newly-cabineted Corals! The Leak only has 12-15 watts per side, and delicate ones at that, this should suit the Corals just fine. In the meantime, it'll be the Klipsch Heresies.

I spoke with the Montreal fellow again very recently, and interestingly he focused not on detail, bass and SLAM (though he did comment on them), but is fascinated by the more subtle issue of gestalt/organic wholeness. Incredible that he fastened on this aspect of the Idler Experience (against a context of a 100-pound lead/acrylic/glass belt-drive). Of course, this aspect of information-retrieval indicates just how "right" the idler-wheel drive system is, and this particular aspect, which is a timing issue - along with the associated issues of transient response (keeping perfect speed in the face of the braking action of stylus force drag), dynamics (ditto) and bass (ditto) - is why I believe the idler-wheel drive system is the superior system for vinyl playback. These issues are where the musical POWER and MAGIC reside. The other audiophile obsessions - detail and imaging - are an inherent result of superior speed stability, along with the stabilizing and quieting effects of Direct Coupling to a high mass (black backgrounds), and simply add icing to the cake of the more important/visceral issues of SLAM, timing, gestalt, and so on.

Back later with some recent idler experiences, to wit the use of clamps!! Have fun all.
Hey Jean,

One thing I know about practically anything new mentioned on Salvatore's site, I wont be able to afford it :) I am glad we already own the uber table, HA!

Speaking of clamps, I have never been able to come to a conclusion about using a clamp on the Lenco. My latest clamp adventure is the old Sumiko crystal record weight - looks cool, has strobe markings, etc., but no cigar. Never the less, I have a piece of African black wood I plan to make into a simple weight. I realized something in regard to Lencos and clamps - all the ones I have tried have a soft substrate between the weight and the record label. Note that clamps like the new Harmonix clamp have an exotic wood substrate between the weight of the clamp and the record. I throw that out there for thought and comment.

Given that I hate, hate, hate clamps, I'm not real objective about this. I use a Boston Audio Mat I on my replinthed Lenco, which means there's precious little spindle length available above that mat. Bought a Souther "Clever" clamp for those rare dished LPs that tend to float a little on the Boston Audio, and it was just awful sounding. I'm now using a rubber washer from the hardware store that provides enough pressure at the spindle to hold the record in place, and that works fine.
As this and the last thread are mostly about preconceptions/Dogmas, I have to relate my recent clamp adventures while visiting various soundrooms including various of my 'tables (Garrards, Lencos). My own experience/experiments with clamps (I have several, ranging from one in metacrylate through lighter ones to a solid lead one by Maplenoll) and Lencos were uniformly disastrous, as I had related back in the days of the original thread, and I had forever turned my back on this particular "improvement". Visting one, I saw the fellow using a clamp and asked him if it helped. To this I received the "news" that clamps more securely coupled the record to the platter/record player to achieve an improvement, as if I had never heard of a clamp (this the result of The Clamp Dogma, in which a person steeped in it, hearing me ask about it, must assume I had never heard of a clamp or I would know it HAD to be an improvement). He didn't answer my question about whether or not it was an improvement, and tired, I let it be.

The next fellow had an extremely high-end system, and hearing my Lenco (Dynavector 507 MKII/Dyna 17D MKIII) sounding so pedestrian (I was actually falling asleep in the listening chair), I said, fed up, "Let's do a before and after listening test!" He agreed, we played one track, and then played it again sans clamp. WHAT a difference, the Lenco POWER returned in all its Mightiness, with incredible dynamic spread (from softest to most SLAMMING) and bass (DEEP and powerful), the difference amounting to the difference between an eagle with pinned wings to an eagle soaring among the mountain peaks, the Lenco was now unfettered and ALIVE. The music became entrancing and irresistable with that familiar Amazon in Full Flood sense of limitless untapped fluid power in reserve, and the fellow was delighted and behaved as if he received a whole new high-end system! He had been listening to the Lenco (fettered) for weeks, due to his unexamined assumption (that clamps automatically improved the sound). I wonder how many fellows are listening to crippled 'tables (heavily or lightly modded without first hearing the Lenco "au naturel") due to unquestioning attitudes?

The experiment with the ceramic ball bearing shows just how sensitive the Lenco is to any "interference", the Lenco being evidently a SERIOUS case of the whole being MUCH greater than the sum of its parts. I now understand that this is due to a series of "accidents" which focuses in on a perfect balance of torque (a lot but not too much via its heavy 1800-RPM motor and delicate - as opposed to rim-drives - idler-wheel coupling) vs inertia (just right). In my experience as well, the Lenco seems immune to power conditioning - I've heard it in a few systems with some pretty exotic waveform regenerators - though usually not hampered (it just ignores them). Lenco advertising claimed a no more than 1% deviation from "perfect" for up to a 13% fluctuation in voltages!

In fact, being the sum of a variety of parts with astonishing results, the Mighty Lenco is the 'table the Supreme Being designed and listens to ;-), a happy accident of a variety of accidental parts which amounts to a near-supernatural end result, when properly restored and replinthed. I am now very curious to see what the Reinderspeerter top-plate brings to the party, as it leaves the Lenco parts untouched, and adresses the one "weakness" (the relatively flimsy top-plate, hleped along by glass reinforcement and Direct Coupling).

Now, systems being a case of various synergies and organic balanced ecologies (when successful), it is possible that clamps might help in some cases, and power conditioning in others, but I advise all to actually listen to the effect of any modifications before making any assumptions, as the Lenco is itself a balanced ecology (and with no context, how does one know that one's modification hasn't in fact killed the goose that lays the Golden Egg of Audio Bliss, and end up with something sterile and thin?)! In designing your various "Super Lencos" as well as simple tweaks (like clamps), always compare to an "unfettered" Lenco (i.e. with minimal intrusive mods).

Anyway, have fun all, and never stop questioning!! Now, I'll get back to my latest successful venture in synergies! More audio adventures to relate in the near-future of course.
A Lenco lover who purchased one of my tables (replaced a Nottingham Spacedeck and Well Tempered), had a clamp custom built out of some strange, mysterious, expensive material.
I was against the idea. Just think of all the LPs out there for all that money?
After getting his wonder clamp and A/B comparisons, the clamp was never used again. Seemed to suck the dynamics out of the air. Toe stopped tapping. Had to call the toe truck.
Lenco no like clamp!
Lenco like records!!
Lenco like MUSIC!!!