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!
Photos of what he says is a close duplicate to what he is listening to, were posted at Lenco Heaven.

It's based on a standard Lenco chassis on a large wooden plinth. It has a special upgrade bearing, added platter mass and a metacrylic mat. Tonearm is a Graham Phantom II. The only differences his will have are the record clamp and the phono interconnect cables.

A second test MIGHT be done using the PTP and a slate plinth, but quite some time after the first Lenco shootout.
Finally! The lenco is getting the review we all know it deserves... Let's all consider ourselves lucky to have gotten one ( or two)! While they were still unknown/unaccepted by 'the connisuers'!
My humble Lenco remains unchanged in essence two years on... I think that is a testament to the satisfying wholosity and groovidacious goodness one can attain with these humble machines... For a nuerotic tweaker to say 'good enough' ..... Speaks volumes!
Ancillaries will come and go, but tge centerpiece of 'tha system' the mighty Lenco, shall stay!
Jean, my belated apologies for not getting that slate to you but a new child, career, and obsession with flea amps, single drivers and horns sidetracked me considerably!
It seems that non-welsh slate has been widely accepted as an upgrade, or at the very least, alternative, to the classic cld plinth, and all I can say is: 'amen, and rock on, brothers'!!!

Back last September, on my yearly pilgrimage to the Eastern Mediterranean, I stashed a little something in my luggage, in the hopes of getting it through both on-board luggage, and Customs. Stashed in my bags, in a regular-sized bag, was a smaller Lenco, in fact the smallest I have built in years, about 50 pounds all told.

Kostas, a friend of mine from the slopes of Mount Olympus, just under the Throne of Zeus, had asked me about a Lenco, and we made a deal. To make it sweeter for both of us, I built it to be included under my maximum luggage requirement, so I wouldn’t have to pay the exorbitant extra weight fees. And also to be able to carry it at all . Worked like a charm, the lovely woman at the check-in desk passed my Lenco (hidden in the bag) no problems, and wished me a good trip. At the other end, Kostas was waiting for me in his car, so I didn’t have to lug the nevertheless quite large Lenco all over Athens. Off he whisked me to Mount Olympus, and up we went as high as we could go with a bottle of wine for us and Zeus, to celebrate .

Once installed, Kostas was smitten. I asked him to try to get the attention of audiophiles in Greece, with the aim of ultimately getting the attention of the Audiophile Club of Athens. After all I go to Greece every year, and this is the ne-plus-ultra of audiophile organizations, where better to gain the Lenco’s graduation papers and world respect? I still remember back when I went to Berlin’s phonophono and admired their rebuilt Garrards and Thorenses, and mentioning the Lenco, and their telling me that “We do only serious machines”. This was after years of reports of Lencos outperforming various belt-drives into the mega-buck league.

Trust Kostas to not only gain the attention of Greek audiophiles, but to gain the attention of George, the owner of a collection of EMTs no less, and not only THAT, but the KING of them all, the rare and wonderful (and extremely pricey) EMT 927. So, the FIRST demonstration of the Lenco in Athens was attended by 8 witnesses in all, including a member of the board of the new Audiophile Club of Athens, THE most passionate and dedicated audiophile organization in the world, I think I can safely say, and the reason I took the Lenco to Greece. Just have a gander at their webpage to see how deep these waters run.

Now, had I known the FIRST demonstration would be against what might well be the finest record player in all of Greece (the EMT 927 can rightly lay claim to being one of the best in the world), I would have somehow arranged to have my best shipped over, at twice the mass. I mean, my plan had been to use the smaller/lesser Lenco simply to create enough interest to eventually lead, after a few demonstrations, to a serious public Shootout involving the A.C.A., so as to make shipping one of my best worthwhile, in the interest of gathering more evidence of the sort I have been after since I first brought the Lenco to the world’s attention,.

After all, there is a VERY significant sonic difference between the even a 75/80-pound Lenco and a 100-pound Lenco (quieter, blacker backgrounds, a more balanced presentation, greater retrieval of fine detail, deeper soundstage, more even presentation of bass SLAM and timing, greater “stability and balance” to the sound, etc.), how much more between a 50-pound Lenco and a hundred-pounder?!!? But, the die was cast, and considering the results, I see now that by being “tricked” by Fate (or Zeus ;-)) into sending my least Lenco I have only made the point that much stronger. To make things worse, the little Lenco was armed with only a humble Sumiko MMT and a Benz Glider. But I did what I could, and sent my new bearing and some other upgrades to be installed, to give this Lenco a fighting chance.

I’ll let Kostas tell the story via several e-mails he sent me, I, unfortunately, did not attend this demonstration, but on the other hand, no one can accuse me of “hypnosis” or influence :

"Just came back from Athens, the demo went well, or so it appeared, since everyone present liked the turntable. comments ranged from "a really nice turntable"- remember, compared to an EMT 927, no less - to ”simply amazing". Most people actually preferred it to the EMT, in spite of the latter's superior tonearm, cartridge and probably phono
stage. I have to go right now, there is a lot to do, including re-assembling the Lenco, but it seems the demo was not a failure. I 'll be back with a more detailed report on the demo, probably tomorrow."

“The Lenco sat on a specially conceived, built to specification turntable-rack, made by Japanese Zhen monks from a special vibration free wood which only grows on the island of Honshu. You can see it on pic 4. George complains that some visitors mistake it for a common Director's Chair and try to sit on it-can you believe those people? We had some difficulty connecting the TT on the preamp, but Manolis-on pic 2 crawled behind the rack and succeeded in plugging the rca's in the right socket. Manolis BTW, is a speaker builder himself, you can see his creation here:

“We listened to all kinds of music, rock, classic, jazz, but especially opera, which is George's passion. We made all kinds of comparisons, we didn’t spend the whole night comparing though. However everyone had the opportunity to build an opinion on the Lenco, and everyone was extremely positive, even the aforementioned Manolis who preferred the more, quote musical sounding, end of quote EMT. Now Andreas Economides, (pic 5 middle, sitting,) is the fellow in the board of the new-aca ( ) who asked for the article. He was actually ecstatic about the Lenco and told me he very much preferred it to the EMT even now with this arm, cart and cable. Oh yes, and George, the host, would like to hear the Lenco again, in more peaceful conditions after the cart is broken-in. He is a big idler-wheel drive fan George. So it appears the Lenco has made a good impression, don’t you think?

“Well, let me try and remember how it sounded: The Lenco sounded more extended on top and bottom, overall it sounded more balanced and had a better "punch" down below, and more rhythm. The EMT sounded sweeter, more relaxed and "beautiful ounding", if you know what I mean. But voices really sounded great when played through it... We made quite a few direct comparisons of music, but on one occasion the record sounded thinner and less full-bodied on the Lenco-it was a Capitol violin concerto recording, Nathan Milstein playing the Brahms concerto on a mono LP. I suspect the recording is really thin and not very full-bodied and the Lenco just revealed its weaknesses. Or perhaps it was just the weaknesses of my tonearm/cartridge combination, hard to say. I am quite sure that stereo imaging and sense of depth were equally good on both turntables. In a nutshell: the Lenco sounded cleaner, more real, the EMT sounded warmer, more "beautiful". I'm sorry that I cant report more details, I spent more time talking to people about the Lenco and answering questions than listening to the TT's myself. :-) “

So that’s Kostas’ report, independent demonstration and report from Athens of an almost-stock Lenco in classic birch-ply/mdf (with a small substitution ;-)) plinth vs the King of all vintage ‘tables – AND many would say record players past AND present . Now the fact it was an al most stock Lenco in classic plinth is IMPORTANT, as no one can point to something else and say “it was not the Lenco but something else which accounts for the results!!” No, the Lenco weaknesses were addressed (primarily the main bearing, making the idler-wheel post solid and stable, and Direct Coupling to a wooden plinth), but it was mostly the same old recognizable Lenco, lovingly restored, improved and set-up. This also supports my report of the Shootout between my much larger 100-pound Lenco I had shipped to Cyprus years back, in which the Lenco outperformed the EMT 927’s little brother, the EMT 930 (bought and restored at a cost of 18,000 euros). But MAN that 930 was fine.

I would like to once again thank George in public, look under my “system” page to see the evidence this is not a fantasy, pics of the Lenco under the EMT 927 (and an EMT 950 next to it), and George’s wonderful system.. One can see from his choices, ARC SP11, vintage horn-loaded drivers, Jean Hiraga amps among others, that this man knows MUSIC vs simple Hi-Fi, a true connoisseur.

To underscore once again, a 100-pound Lenco would have sounded much more secure, even-handed and stable, and so might have addressed that matter of “beauty” of the midrange, but I know what Kostas is talking about here, as I heard a similar quality to the EMT 930 when I was on Cyprus. In addition, the new main bearing I shipped over would have had a much larger, and more natural-sounding effect when mated to one of my 100-pound Lencos, as it was designed to work with these. Finally, I have gone back to the drawing board, and have rethought and redesigned not only the main bearing, but also the plinth, also to work with the new main bearing, the totality of which not only extracts far more information and energy from the grooves, but more importantly, while preserving and enhancing the Lenco’s magical way with timing and coherence, and simple majesty, all the while sounding much more “natural” and unforced. More news anon.

So, I won’t be back to answer questions or otherwise until I have further solid news to report, keep your eyes peeled all. So, I hope you enjoyed this report from the Lenco Front on which I continue to conduct my campaign!!! In the meantime…..Vive la Lenco, Vive la Idler-Wheel!!!!
Thanks for your nice report, Jean. We missed your writing ! It is not a surprise for us Lencophiles to see that a replinthed L75 sounds as good as a EMT, we even go much further now with newly DIY built of platters, plinth material, topplate, bearings,speed controllers, design,etc...
The beauty of these old Lencos is the smart motor/idler design that allows infinite creativity. And with a sound to dye for !
I especially thank you for initially opening the door to this Heaven. Lenco Heaven !

Jean ( Lenco Heaven)
It's nice to hear from you Jean !
I have a 10" Lathe in my basement and I would like to make a new spindle for my Lenco. Does anyone have any info on materials or design of Jean's spindle ?
I have a Birch base Lenco with a JMW 10.5i and Dynacetor XX-2 cartridge.This is my first turntable and it sounds very good ! I am still dialing in the cartridge but even with a very small cartridge adjustment with azimith or vta it makes a big difference in the sound.
This is my favorite website.

Thanks to all !!