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 Lew, I don't doubt that in some systems these devices, and even clamps, might work positively, given the incredible complexity of system ecologies (getting it right - musical magic as well as all the audiophile goodies - is like finding a needle in a haystack), as I wrote. I am just cautioning against unexamined assumptions: i.e. compare/test before assuming/accepting. Phase could very well be the saving difference of these devices, this is what Rega does to improve their motors, and it could well reduce motor vibrations. Next step, find a power conditioner that does phase so I can test this aspect out!! As to the clamp, why use it at all if it makes no difference, and you aren't using it to actually clamp? The Lenco spindle is slightly oversized, and achieves thusly what it normally takes a clamp to do, hold the record in place with no slippage. Another clever innovation by the brilliant Dr. Lenco, who was either the Leonardo Da Vinci of the record player world, or just incredibly lucky!

Speaking of synergies and ecologies, I am testing out a recent-but-vintage Dolan PM-1 preamplifier, famous about 15 years ago for it's phono stage (very adjustable, and on the front panel!). In my system as it stood it lost out in terms of detail and transparency to my vintage Sony 2000F, but it restored the bass of my Klipsches! I let it cook a couple of days, then I thought: what if I matched it up to my vintage Citation 12 Deluxe (dual mono) and the Yamaha NS-690s? Bingo-Presto Reference/monitor quality detail and separation, with bass and incredible imaging, AND musical!! It's fun to have an arsenal of amps, preamps and speakers to play mix 'n match and so make it easier to find working /combination ecologies!! Successful ecologies are more important than the quality of individual high-end items, which mismatched can lead to musically-disastrous results. But still, I am waiting for my fully-restored Leak (just spray-painted the new filter caps gold to match the chassis) to run my Klipsches. And I may have scored yet another vintage high-sensitivity speaker: a pair of Electro-Voice driver/speakers. It never ends! It sounds like I change systems like others change socks, but once I achieve that Ultimate System (and by this I don't mean the ultimate audiophile system but one which can achieve the Kundalini Effect of actual shivers and hair-raising, which I've achieved two or three times), my system stabilizes for months and sometimes years until I am forced to move (due to my Gypsy nature).

I'm currently testing out an electronic speed controller for the Lenco, courtesy of Sander who loaned me his. So far, at 33 rpm anyway, it has no negative effect on the Lenco's sound. But further testing ahead, both for 33 and for 45. Have fun all!
Don't really know why I continue to use the clamp (as a record weight, really). Probably it has something to do with a deep-seated insecurity, perhaps some fear that if not weighted down, the LP will rise from the platter like a flying saucer. I am going to try to go cold turkey on it. The "speed controller" you are trying out - is it an AC synthesizer type? If so, does it have phase adjustment? If not, try flipping the wall plug; you may find that one orientation of the plug sounds better than the other.
Hi Lew, I hope yout records haven't flown off into space since you removed the clamp/weight!! I have tried all sorts of electrical tricks with the Lenco motors so far over the years and have found no difference. I'll wait for a motor controller with phase adjustments, simply flipping the plug results in no difference to my ear. The Speed Controller I am playing with doesn't have these adjustents handy anyway, I'll propose it to Sander.

On the Lenco adventure front, I brought over my Demo Lenco (Giant Glass-Reinforced Direct Coupled standard L75) back to the fellow living in Montreal on a sunny "summer" day (22C and ah the beauty of the women and the food!!!), he of the 100-pound acrylic/lead/glass French belt-drive, and I thought I would have to fight him to get the Lenco out of there! He was grinning from ear to ear to hear Harry Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall (one of the TAS must-have reference LPs), it is SO great to see a Music Lover (first) and audiophile (second), simply playing discs with musical presentation foremost in his mind (all the other LPs he played were just ordinary pressings, Deutsch Grammophone, CBS and so on). This is the fellow who was obssessing over the gestalt the Lenco achieved, and not the usual qualities of detail and slam (though he was delighted with these too). He's asked for one and wants to tool around Montreal showing it off to others in their systems, so the Idler Revolution is poised to sweep Montreal too!

I stopped by another audiophile's place who was curious (a Blue Circle/Monitor Audio system), and he found the Lenco to have vastly better bass, realism and even detail than his Audiomeca Mephisto CD player, and he has asked as well for a second helping, to be arranged in the future.

On my Personal Audio Journey, I have found THE Speakers of my Lifetime, in the form of a pair of antique-looking Electro-Voice speakers in relatively enormous cabinets (about half the size of a fridge, and with filigree wooden grills with arches looking like a Turkish bath-house or wooden cathedral). They are made up of a pair of alnico-magnetted 12" dual concentric drivers, augmented by a pair of roughly 18"-long horn-loaded Electro-Voice tweeters, with an Electro-Voice X-8 crossover, looking very impressive in a square power-transformer-sized potted case. WHAT sound, I have NEVER heard bass like this, not from subwoofers or from extremely high-end systems with woofer towers, I don't know how it is done! Of course, it is very high sensitivity, and it has those fab alnico magnets (reputedly anyway, will have to do more research). The PRESENCE was astounding, only being beaten with the actual instruments by the actual musicians could beat it, I have NEVER heard anything like it! The PRaT was Reference quality, the SLAM unbelievable, but the quality of the bass, the extreme detail, definition and speed, and the reach and POWER was simply unbelievable, in all these senses well above what I have ever heard, and by a HUGE margin. The midrange, highs, lows were all stunning, detail could have been better, in some ways more detailed than what I have heard (hearing some things I have never heard), in others less (not hearing some things clearly which were clearer in other systems), but I believe rewiring and careful reassembly will improve this aspect. All this played via a Giant Direct Coupled Lenco (this the secret of the bass, as only an idler can retrieve this sort of bass information and POWER) mounted with a Grado PLatinum on a MAS 282 tonearm, played via a Sony TAE-5450 preamp, and through budget ASL Wave 20 monoblocks, cheapies, still can't understand how that BASS emerged from this. All this shows that bass is not a tube weakness (relative to solid state), but instead that tubes require the proper speakers to show just how good their bass is (i.e. vintage and not modern designs)! The build quality of the Electro-Voice drivers has to be seen to be believed, the "legs" of the woofer basket are 1" cross-sectional castings! I'll take photos of the drivers and place them next to modern high-end drivers to show/reveal the concept of "Progress".

Of course, all these astounding sonic and musical qualities were there to be heard due to the presence of the source, the Mighty Lenco. Thinking about progress, I pondered the fact that this was a Fifties/Sixties high-end system: large Electro-Voice speakers (making the giant-screen TV in the room look suddenly much less large and cheapish/toyish) with tubes, and backed-up by an idler-wheel drive. The PRESENCE was SO FAR above what I have ever heard from ANY system it was laughable (not to mention that supernatural bass), we have given up a tremendous amount in the search for "information", i.e. controlled detail, digital-inspired "neutrality" which is in fact music stripped of music to end up being sound. Add to that the move to tiny slim cabinets with tiny woofers: speakers get smaller and smaller in the search for domestic harmony - unobtrusiveness - while TV screeens get larger and larger, showing that the search for domestic harmony has nothing to do with unobtrusiveness but instead simple arbitrary fashion, as the TVs are anything but unobtrusive these days! This vintage system (admittedly with the idler-problems stripped away and the Idler Potential realized, which it wasn't back in the day) was like being immersed in MASSIVE tidal waves of music, washing endlessly with endless power over the listeners. Almost too much, sensory overload!!! A guy could get addicted to this :-). WARNING, this could lead to the end of marriages and family life, exposure will have to be restricted and controlled.

Anyway, though I have found the speakers I want to marry ;-), I'm not out of the woods yet, as I haven't the sound-room needed to set them up, NO WAY they can be assimilated into apartment living (I'd be evicted after the first night of listening), and not where I currently am either. So it looks like I'll have to settle down, abandon my Gypsy ways (after my next trip ;-)) and buy a house (with a BIG soundroom)!

Anyway, working on that Lenco vs SME 30 showdown, I'll take this challenge seriously enough to take over the best I currently have, rather than my Bauhaus Lenco I'll bring my own Reference Ultra Lenco (almost too large and heavy to even consider carrying, but Mass is Class) with JMW or RS-A1 tonearm, and appropriate cartridge. In the meantime, have fun all, I'll be listening to those Electro-Voice speakers at my buddy's place later this week (where they currently reside), I can't wait!!! Have fun all!
Those great speakers of the 50s have never gone out of fashion for some and are now in a mini-Renaissance of sorts, as more and more folks tire of modern, constricted, and dead sounding "hi-fi" speakers that need 250W of transistor power to make them move at all, because they generally present a very low input impedance which is anathema to any good tube amp, in addition to being ridiculously inefficient. Other good bets (besides Electro-Voice) are Altec Lansing, early JBL, Bogen, Klipsch. I plan to give one of these a try myself in a second all DIY system.
Recently came across a pair of orphaned Electro-Voice EVS-16Bs - technically a bookshelf speaker from the early 1960s, but with a full cone 12" woofer, they'd easily pass as floor standers. After refoaming, rewiring and recapping, these sweet things have easily supplanted by workbench Rectilinears. Tremendously clear two-octave midrange comes out of the 5" Danish made mid-range cones. I believe the tweeters are also Danish. The Michigan made woofer is a pleasure, ready to thump when called upon.
The crossover is geared a little to the bright side, but not unpleasantly so.

On the idler front, my first summer overhaul is in progress - a Lenco B-52 - of all things. Ironically this lightweight platter/bearing design has a much better topplate for plinth coupling than the latter-day heavyweights (thicker and panless) – so I’m going to see what treatments I can come up with and then enclose it all into a huge boxed plinth with dustcover (plinth within a plinth). An entry-level Lenco, to be sure, but I’m hoping for a bit of stealth in this re-armed B-52.

Then it’s on to the Big American Idlers where I think I’ve come up with a way to incorporate on-the-fly fine pitch motor control. It’s in my head, anyway.

It’s house clean-out time. Get down to those thrifts and rubberneck those yard sales. There’s still plenty of treasure to found out there!

- Mario