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!
Jean, As you fade off into the sunset, did I hear you intimate that you are building/have built a plinth for an SP10? While I am no lover of the Heil tweeter, I've had a longstanding curiosity re those big EV (and JBL) horn-loaded spkrs of the 50s. I bet they're great.
Hi Jean,
Those EV triaxials must sound great! Originally matched for Aristocat enclosures - guess about 8+ cubic feet? Saw another pair of EV-16s down at my municipal re-use center @ $5 for the pair. Once again, no foam, no grilles and, little doubt, in need of cross-over rebuilds.
Now the 12” EV-16s three-ways with Danish mids and paper tweeters, are nowhere in the same league as the 12TRX/12TRXB, but I was simply astounded when they left my Rectilinears sounding tepid when stacked for easy A/B comparison.
Then something happened… they fell off completely. Not sure whether I used a couple of bad capacitors from a defective batch (Dayton “audio” grade) or I did something ruinous to the voice coils – but they're “get up and go” has “got up and left”. Hmmmm. Sometimes I wonder if these old paper cones are environmentally sensitive – temperature/humidity etc. Maybe they’re winter performers. In the meantime, I think I’ll take a pass on those orphans at re-use and look to step up into the EV/Horn combo.
A stab at your tease…. Bearing capture into the plinth?
All best,
- Mario
Hi Lew and Mario, back from the Great White North, the scenery on the way up was incredible. Now I can let the cat out of the bag, it was to deliver a Lenco, which conquered (in a system consisting of Joule Electra preamp, Sonic Frontiers phono stage, large VAC amp, large Proac towers) the fellow being a "true" audiophile, in the sense that he trusted his ears and left prejudice aside. I agreed to go up there as I'm a Gypsy by nature and was damned curious. Also, I had done some research suggesting that there may have been a European mining outpost up there before Columbus sailed, be returning to check that out further. Some shenanigans going on up there in the 16th/17th centuries for sure. For those who don't know, the area around Lake Temiskaming is an incredibly rich mining area (one village called Val D'Or, "Valley of Gold"_, gold, silver, cobalt by the literal ton. About two-thirds of the way up signs informed me that from that point up, all rivers spilled into the Arctic reservoir. I wonder if that's the northernmost Lenco :-)? Signs, once IN the town, ask you to PLEASE DON'T FEED THE BEARS.

Anyway, yes Lew, I've already replinthed several Technics SP10 MKIIs, back from when in the day I considered the big DDs the only REAL threat to Idler Supremacy. Now I'm re-working an older plinth, will take a look to see what further I can do to extract more. So far, the Sony 2250 DD is a better machine, likely because it can be Direct Coupled while, so far anyway (I'm looking into it), the SP10 can be bolted but not screwed, so to speak ;-), and so not Direct Coupled. The Sony also has a superior main bearing, simply incredible. Anyway, I'm playing with it once again. To underline something, it has been a dictum among SP10 fans since long before I started my Audiogon/internet/forums activities on behalf of the Idler that a minimum of 60-70 pounds of plinth is required to make the Technics truly behave/sing. Heavy plinths were already de riguer in dealing with Garrards. I took this as a starting point and added Direct Coupling and materials, attention to the mechanisms and so forth.

The big horn-loaded vintage speakers have something for which there is no substitute, no going against the laws of Physics: VOLUME. A BIG box translates into a BIG sound, with POWER behind it. Match this volume to horns with massive cast baskets and magnets (the EV drivers - used in many Klipsch speakers - are awesome to behold), and you are in for an EXPERIENCE. But, and there's always a "but", a seriously damped room is a must, the midrange horns especially can be problematic, interacting with a room to create a piercing upper midrange sharpness. But, with carpeting on the floor and big fluffy things, this disappears entirely, to leave the speakers do what they do best, which is almost EVERYTHING. I'm going to put heavy carpet/rug on the floor, and perhaps a second couch or large chair on a side wall. I the meantime, I have a true high-end vintage system: Lenco idler-wheel drive (of course); vintage CJ preamp (PV-7 and PV-8) and rebuilt Leak Stereo 20 (EL-84s) going to big horns by EV and Klipsch. And the sound has never been more modern: ultra-fast, incredible air and imaging. The only thing NOT modern is the ultra-powerful bass and limitless dynamics, and the UTTER absence of an analytical quality/colouration (to turn the tables ;-))!!

Hi Mario, the enclosures on my EVs measure 22"W x 28"H x 19"D, being large vintage television size. I'll post photos when I get everything set up. The Klipsch Cornwalls are much larger, and have 15" woofers to boot! The resolution on these horn-loaded speakers is amazing, something I had not heard mentioned on most websites, the "little" Klipsch Heresy's for instance out-detailing everything else I've had in my system, including the ESS ribbon midrange/tweeters, legendary for detail/resolution. They are ultra-fast. So, once the Cornwalls set up, I expect great things. Ditto the E-Vs. One pair I keep, the other pair go to my buddy's place.

The new Lenco mod is SO simple I'm amazed I never saw it before, but that's always the way with great things, isn't it? It was the result of the drunken idler-wheel post in the Great Shootout with the SME 30, playing with Reinderspeter's top-plate, rebuilding the Northern Lenco, and working on the Technics SP-10, for which I bought small washers for repair, and so had next to me. The mod is simple: It is to stiffen the little idler-wheel post by means of inserting washers above and below the top-plate, so that the threads/nut can be tightened completely. That's between the post and the slider on top, keeping the spring-washer between the new washer and the slider, and again underneath the top-plate, between the nut and the under-slider. As I worked on the Northern Lenco, I was drawn to the slightly floppy post, and wondered if, as at Rick's place, it was a mismatch (top-plate not thick enough). I double-checked with another Lenco and found that all was "fine". Since the Lencos had always sounded so fabulous, I had never REALLY closely examined and looked at the idler-wheel post, which indeed as designed DOES reel about in all directions like a drunken sailor. I realized then that making the post stationary would vastly increase speed stability, which MUST increase sound quality. Things to expect would be even more razor-sharp transients (and let's recall that a Lenco with a truly drunken/broken idler-wheel post duked it out with a SME 30, matched it in resolution, beat it in terms of dynamics and transient speed and a sense of 3D "thereness"/palpability, matched/edged it out in terms of bass information and reach, though all these were dismissed as colourations by the SME owner), tighter and more informative bass, and a greater sense of cleanness. Sure enough, this is what I heard in my own system, briefly, and again in the far North, where this all was VERY clear via that high-resolution system. The bass - even on the "small" Proac towers (by vintage standards ;-) - was amazing, and the CLARITY was incredible. Best of all: the Lenco "magic" - its sense of fluidity and inexorable power, its overall dynamics and incredible gestalt (which I was worried might in fact be attributable to the drunken post) - was left intact! Be warned that the much stiffer post (stiff as a 14-year-old boy at a nudist colony) makes speed adjustment a chore. but once done, it will STAY, making the Lenco much less sensitive to transportation to boot.

And another note on the subject of Russian birch-ply/MDF recipe: it was clear, AGAIN in a very high-end high-resolution system (and I have heard many Lencos in many MORE high-end high-resolution systems), that this recipe is tonally "perfect", letting the true sound of instrument shine through. The highs ultra-extended, the bass bottomless, and everything in-between in proper balance, not to mention limitless dynamics across the frequency spectrum unmarred by brightness, hardness or grain. It is a sickness among audiophiles -exploited by many - to seek the complex, exotic, EXPENSIVE solution, and to dismiss - against the evidence of their own sense, anything which is practical and "cheap" (not so cheap). This is simple prejudice. Of course, there are varying degrees of success in this recipe, careful clamping and design is a must, and there are varying qualities of both MDF and birch-ply. Leave it to the tonearm board to play with material, I favour solid wood, walnut most of all, but am presently experimenting with rosewood (also used in instruments), and such dense woods as ipe and so forth. Finally, Direct Coupling, which makes a VAST improvement/difference, can only be achieved (easily/practically anyway) with wood products.

After I had thought of the little post/washer mod, it occurred to me that Reindersperter's top-plate, which played a part in my thinking, was superior to a glass-reinforced original top-plate not so much because of the extra-thick top-plate (a great idea anyway) or isolated motor (also a great idea), but because the post screws into a sold piece/slider, and so is stiff and not loose. In other words, because of increased speed stability. I'll be testing out this theory. Whatever the case, those who have stock Lenco top-plates, Get Ye some little washers, a few cents, and stiffen those posts!!!

Finally a word about speed stability and the music encrypted in those black discs. This proves that it is not absolute speed stability which is most important, which is impossible to achieve in the physical world, but the form the speed INstabilities take. A belt-drive's speed instabilities are a direct response to groove modulations, and this is heard in inferior transients, dynamics and bass power. A quartz-locked DD's speed instabilities are caused by the electronics, which are heard digital-fashion by the human ear (dash-dash-dash), and so which sounds like digital: dry and analytical (some prefer this sound, but it IS a colouration). An idler's speed instabilities are caused by the drive system, but is is ANALOGUE (momentum of motor and platter)/smooth, and so LEAST damaging to the musical signal. And regardless of rumours of less torque with idlers (faulty mathematics/missing-misinterpreted information somewhere), a simple effort to stop the platter on any big idler (VERY difficult relative to both DDs and belt-drives) settles the issue. So what happens when you take a powerful big and very evolved idler and perfect the speed stability even further? Tighten those posts and find out!!! And, finally, Direct Coupling to a high inert mass improves the speed stability of ALL systems, smooths out quartz-locked DDs, making them more musical, and should also do the same for belt-drives, though to a lesser extent. But so far in my experience, the Idler still rules.

Have fun all, more to report once the dust settles!! Vive la Ever-Improving Lenco, Vive la Ever-Improving Idler-Wheel!!!!
Great mod Jean,I did the idler post mod to my replinthed L70 and it made a big improvement.
Jean, Are you talking about the distal end of the idler arm, where it attaches to the chassis, originally with rubber washers on either side of the nut/bolt that hold it to the chassis? Ugghh, I'll have to remove the chassis from the plinth to do that one, always a thrill.