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!
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
One of the biggest problems with the Lenco (this being relative, as membership in Lenco Lovers now hovers around 1000) is just how incredible-"y" good it is. I use the word "incredible" literally and accurately, as it describes the problems audiophiles and music-lovers have believing the reports of the Lenco Mightiness, which so far FAR outstrips every legendary belt-drive, Direct Drive and even Idler-Wheel Drive so far thrown against it, up to the $20K barrier, this being the ceiling it has hit so far in its quest for definition. By "definition" I mean as in an idea of just how good the Lenco really is, where it measures up. Best in the World? Good as a $30K turntable? Good as a $40K turntable?!? Good as a $100K turntable????!!???? Better than a $100K belt-drive (only belt-drives so far reaching these stratosperic price points)!!??!!??

Now audiophiles and music lovers have to bear something in mind, which I have always emphasized, and which has always represented a significant roadblock/wall in the Irresistable Lenco's Path: if the humble Lenco may be better than the best belt-drive in the world, it is NOT because claims for the Lenco are exaggerated, or a reflection of how literally unbelievably good this particular not-so-impressive 'table is, but instead that the drive system - which just happens to be the most evolved idler-wheel drive ever manufactured - is quite simply superior to the belt-drive system AS A SYSTEM, which in turn means the Lenco is inherently superior to belt-drives because it is not a belt-drive, but instead an idler-wheel drive. Which is where "inherent" comes in. Like pitting a car with round tires against a car with square tires: the round-tired car will win every time, even if in every other respect the square-tired car is its superior. To reiterate, it is not that the Lenco is so good, but that the drive system which the Lenco uses - Idler Wheel Drive - is so good. It's just that the Lenco is the most evolved idler-wheel drive ever manufactured, if not the best/most impressively-built (the EMTs make it look like crap). But, to caution against yet more undeserved conclusions, though the Garrards and EMTs (especially) make the Lencos look like relative crap, the Lenco design (vertical idler-wheel and relatively light platter) ensures that the main bearings remain practically pristine/untouched (no lateral push/friction, mimimal wear) ensuring decades of reliable use, the idler-wheels themselves practically NEVER show signs of wear (the metal ones in fact never in my experience), and the massive motors can be relied on as well for decades, or centuries (considering 40 years of use, another guaranteed forty years after reconditioning, we're not so far away from a century), of use. The platters of course do not wear out.

Well, finally, we will have a showdown between the Lenco and a $40K turntable, that being the SME 30. This means more than the $40K price tage suggests, as the SME 30, despite being less than half the price of some of its competitors, is considered by some The Best Turntable in the World. But, this SME 30 has been modified to accept the Graham Phantom tonearm. Now, if I were to mount a simple Rega RB-300 tonearm on a smaller Lenco, which well might outstrip even the SME 30 (I have a feeling that the EMT 930, outstripped by the 100-pound Ultra Lenco, would itself make mincemeat of the SME 30), then the usual problems with credibility would arise, and this would show as well a certain amount of disrespect, which while useful in the early days of Da Original Thread (there was nothing to lose and everything to gain as the idler-wheel system was Bottom of the Drive System Heap, and the Lenco was bottom of THAT heap, and so disrespect and outrageousness had great PR value), is no longer so useful or constructive now. So, I will consequently take this Showdown VERY seriously: I have bought a SME IV tonearm (used, of course ;-)) to mount on my best Lenco, the 100-pound Giant Direct Coupled Glass-Reinforced Ultra Lenco. The fellow who owns the SME 30 is admirably in search of the simnple truth, he is simply curious and interested, and is not threatened in the least by this comparison. What a chance is given here, and to him we should all be eternally grateful!!

So, today I mount the SME IV to my Ultra Lenco, and I will play with the variety of cartridges I have to see which will be included in the demo. I may even buy a cartridge specially for the comparison. I'll also lift weights and train in preparation for carrying this monster around :-).

Speaking of lifting weights, it looks like my Leak Stereo 20 will be ready this week, which means schlepping the monstrous E-Vs back to my own listening room, I have no idea how I got those monsters into the basement of my buddy's place all alone (he has a broken leg, lucky him ;-), must have eaten my wheaties that day! Not looking forward to lugging them UP the stairs, MEDIC!! But O the Sound I look forward to! If the E-V sound SO incredible with budget tube stuff, how much better with the legendary Leak?!? I feel faint!

Good luck in finding/choosing a good vintage system Lew, I'm sure you'll be loving every minute of it!! And great to hear you having so much fun Mario, thanks as always for backing me up in my outrageous claims! I'll be opening up and dissecting my E-Vs to write accurately on the drivers and their standing, and may do some things to improve the crossover, wiring and cabinet too. Have fun all, and back later with more Lenco/Idler news!!
Speaking of vintage speakers, I still like my Dynaco's in my vintage living room system. However, I finally heard something that just didnt sound good on this system - a bass heavy Bill Laswell Axiom number. It left me pining for my 211's and some high endy speakers. Which brings me to my new speakers - 15" ATC woofer, 6.5" Accuton mid and Raven 2 tweeter. I will be posting pics soon.

Speaking of pics Jean, how about some pics of the 100 lb super jumbo jet Lenco - as well as some underside pics of the glassed-in Lenco??? If nothing else, get one of those Walmart disposable film cameras. Inquiring minds want to see!

Naturally, we are all quitely confident that much ass will be kicked in this contest vs the upstairs crowd :)

Super jumbo jet Lenco, what a hoot! I'm working on getting access to high-speed internet and a high-speed computer out here in the country, as soon as I've done this I'll once again be able to post photos, and I REALLY want to do this, if only to snicker at current high-end drivers sitting next to vintage high-end drivers ;-)!!

I've just set-up the SME IV to the 100-pound Super Jumbo Jet Lenco, and mounted my Monster Cable Sigma Genesis 2000 to that, and heard a significant darkening and dynamic flattening of the sound as compared with the same cartridge on both the stellar JMW 10.5 and the stellar RS Labs RS-A1. Now, as context, the Monster Cable kicked the ass of the Denon when set up on the RS-A1, jury's still out on the JMW, as it sounded great with both the Denon and the Monster (and the fab Ortofon Jubilee, which I mistakenly sold....I'll buy another one soon :-)). So, disappointed, I remembered my experience a while back with a SME V I had the opportunity to play with (thanks Bob!), which I wrote about at that time: I found there was a special synergy between the SME V and the humble Denon DL-103 (mine having an elliptical tip from phonophono in Berlin). I figured this would also apply to the nearly-identical SME IV, and mounting it, I found that the Denon now kicked the ass of the previously-superior Monster Cable, in every single audiophile area as well as in musical terms. There was more detail (on other tonearms the Monster was always significantly superior to the Denon in this sense), MUCH better, deeper and tighter bass (on the RS-A1 the reverse is true) and MUCH MUCH more musicality, PRaT, gestalt and overall dynamics! As I wrote back then on a completely different system, the Denon DL-103s, likely in all their iterations, are waiting for the SME IV/V to show just how good they REALLY are (and musically-speaking, vice-versa, the SME IV/V are wating for the Denons - AND idlers - to show just how POTENT they are!)), this match-up being one of those unbeatable synergies, like the air-bearing MG-1/Dynavector 17D MKIII, or the JMW/Decca combinations. For the better off, I say it makes sense to match up a $4K-$5K tonearm to a two hundred dollar cartridge (plus 80 euros for retipping), as this particular cartridge is in many ways one of the best, and on these tonearms even in audiophile terms becomes something much much more (as do the SMEs in question, actually)!! To the less well-heeled, I say the SME tonearms usually go for between $1400 and $1800 used, and with the Denon still comes to less than the price of a currently "reasonably-priced" high-end MC!! I was thinking of selling this tonearm after the Showdown, but now I think I'll keep it. The Ultra Lenco is a two-tonearm Lenco, and the second for now will be the RS-A1/Monster combination.

With the RS-A1 we have a similar story, but in reverse. In this case, the Monster LOMC usually sounds a bit dead and lifeless in comparison with Deccas and Denons, and the RS-A1 can sound too exhuberant. But, the Monster becomes extremely musical, and preserves its super-detail (a high-end MC with a micro-ridge stylus) to become a great combination, having amazing bass, great musicality/PRaT and amazing dynamics to boot! So, there will be a flexibility of options to go against the SME 30!! It's all unexpected synergies fellows, excepting for the universal and across-the-board improvements wrought in every system when a high-mass idler-wheel drive is inserted!! Have fun all!!