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 Johnnantais, Thanks for taking the time to answer so completly. Your systems "sound" great and interesting. I have more than a few vintage pieces in my system also.

And the fact that you get to test your ideas on various systems must be quite helpful to you.


Hi all, a couple of questions, first, where is there a good supplier of a Denon 103E cartridge, and what is the cost?

also, how do you get the Lenco tonearm mounting collar off? I looked under the turntable and there is a large nut, but I cant seem to turn it.

Thanks, Michael
You're welcome Bob. I also rely on reports from afar: for instance if you look under my system, there is the report of the fellow who owned a Platine Verdier/Schroeder tonearm/Koetsu Urushi combo, and who reported it's easy defeat by one of my replinthed Direct Coupled Garrard 301s (oil bearing) matched with a Dynavector DV-507 MKII/Denon DL-103 combo. Such reports as these are very common too. As I continue to underline, if such a report comes from the very owner of said megabuck belt-drive (or indeed the distributor of others), then it is reliable, since he/she has no reason to support the cheaper 'table.

Hi Michael, the answer to the elliptical-tipped Denon is phonophono in Berlin, they are the only ones to offer a simple substitution of the original conical diamond with an elliptical one, without touching the cantilever. They reported this was much better than the Denon DL-103R, which they also sold. But, they are funny, as they will not simply take a new DL-103 and re-tip it: you have to use your DL-103 (or DL-103R) first, and THEN send it to them for re-tipping. As to the collar, it just takes elbow grease and the appropriate set of pliers. It'll come off. You may have to remove or simply bend some of the rest of the tonearm hardware in order to get a sufficient grip.

And over in my system, the Oracle/Benz continues to burn in (becoming more and more detailed and controlled with time, sounding more Karat-like in this sense, but with deep bass), and the re-wired Rega RB-300 continues to show its mettle by both handling the Benz and showing this progression, with precision, clarity, and musicality.

I've also finally picked up a Gates idler-wheel-drive, super-heavy-duty, as if I didn't already have sufficient of these projects!!
Hi all, the other night I once again heard vinyl sounding like Master Tape, on a vintage system which still sounds better than any other I've heard, backing up those Fab Electro-Voice speakers (simply the best I've ever heard, period, The End) now residing in an overstuffed listening room.

By Master Tape I don't mean simple detail (though that was there) or imaging and so on (which was all there), but the utter absence of the sound of a mechanical system: no stylus dragging on vinyl, no sound of any sort of friction, no intrusion of any sort, which only becomes audible when it has disappeared (and then your ears perk up and you say WHAT?!?). Mounted on the traditional Giant Direct Coupled Glass-Reinforced Lenco was a rewired Rega, and mounted on THAT was the latest-edition Dynavector 20X-H (which was, in audiophile terms, slaughtered by my Dynavector Karat), with new Micro-ridge diamond. I sat there stunned as I recognized that sound: the sound I heard back on Cyprus when the Ultra-Giant Lenco (100 pounds) duked it out with the EMT 930 and won. I remember being struck there when I first that sound (of Master Tape...or better, as the owners of the EMT, who made master tapes of various ensembles playing in various spaces, said) coming from the EMT/RS-A1/Shure V15V, a then from the Lenco (but with even superior fluidity and power and resolution than the EMT). The Shure as well had a Micro-ridge diamond, and I'm now wondering if this utter lack of a mechanical sound (of friction or "working") is due not only to the Lenco - which continues to be THE most fluid-sounding, and yet powerful, turntable I've ever heard - but also to the Micro-ridge cartridge? Now I don't think I've got any Micro-ridge cartridges (maybe the Karat Ruby), but I will definitely be looking into this new wrinkle. I've heard the E-V system several times, and yet not until I mounted the Dynavector to the Lenco did I hear that particular Master-Tape-like quality, to the extent that it HIT me.

The rest of the components were my own CJ PV-7 (itself very fluid, silky and musical, and with the E-Vs a Master of Bass) and the humble ASL Wave 20 monoblocks. Doesn't sound like much, but thanks to those E-Vs (and the sound-room which eliminates their brightness), simply the best I've ever heard, and that by FAR. The E-Vs retrieve detail from the electronics out of all proportion to what one would normally expect from those same electronics. God only knows what would happen if high-resolution electronics were hooked up to those E-Vs. Might not be a good idea. I still don't know exactly which particular E-Vs these are, except that they belong to the era of the famed Patricians (which had 30" woofers, the largest ever made!!!).

In building this particular Lenco, I took the normal care in putting it all together/modding it/adjusting it, and noticed as well, as always, that until everything was put together just so - in addition to the usual motor and main bearing rebuilding/balancing/etc. - and by this I mean the Direct Coupling screws tightened just so, the bolts tightened just so, and so on, the Full Lenco Magic was there, but not in full strength. Once it was dialed-in, it was OBVIOUS....sounding spectacularly Lenco-like (and those who have heard modded Lencos know what I mean), with its full measure of limitless power with an utterly fluid the Amazon in Full Flood. But once that Micro-ridge cartridge was set up and heard in that E-V system....Master Tape. So, don't be sloppy or cavalier!!

Anyway, having pursued the Kundalini Effect (timing SO potent it raises the hairs on the body and causes **frissons**...which I still pursue) which so far only a good idler-wheel drive can deliver, I will now pursue this Master-Tape-like sound (also idler-wheel-related, Analog speed stability which depends on torque-aided inertia, in my experience so far), and see if indeed it does come down, at least partly, to the Micro-Ridge cartridge. But also, in both cases, spectacularly good speakers were being used: in the one case the E-Vs, and in the other Quad ESL-57s. Oh, and tubes too in both cases.

Oh, and on the budget front, I've written it before and I'll write it again: the tonearm cable (5-pin DIN type) which comes with the vintage Audio Technica tonearms (which usually run about $200) is SO good it's worth it to buy one of these tonearms and ignore it and use the cable, or keep the cable and sell on the A-T. I've compared it to several pricey tonearm cables on such luminaries as Graham tonearms (vs a Hovland cable) and such-like, and I just tested it on my newly-acquired SME V, which came with the Van den Hul M. C. D501 Hybrid Halogen-free cable which comes standard with SME Vs and...the A-T slaughters it. More detail, more bass, more depth (MUCH more), better and more extended highs, better timing (music just ROCKS more with this cable) and so on. So, if you already have an Audio Technica tonearm with the silvery/gold/metallic sheath, then hang on to it! The rest of you, look for A-T tonearms with the original cable, if you have a 5-pin DIN connector.

More Lenco Adventures on the horizon, as well as other idlers, DDs, and so on (maybe even a belt-drive!!). Have fun all!!
Not sure if this is the proper venue to post this but I am going to go ahead anyways because the praise is well deserved

I want to personally thank Jean Nantais for going out of his way to help me troubleshoot a squeak that was coming from the platter
Jean walked me through various tests to narrow down the issue. His last e mail for the night was at 9.00 pm
and he emailed me again this morning to see how I was getting on . I'm happy to report the source of the problem has been identified and the problem has been fixed

Thanks To Jean and others i'm happy to be spinning vinyl again without any noise interruptions. Jean your service is top notch and will continue to read with interest as the Lenco momentum moves forward