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!
Cleopatra 52: "Now, if Jean could just come up with a permanent fix to that resonating spring to which Arthur refers (a fix I understand Jean has developed) Lenco supremacy will be assured."

A ways back I thought up an idea for an electromagnetic tensioner for the Lenco idler arm, whereby a solenoid would provide a magnetic force via a moving armature, which would be solidly linked to the Lenco idler spring. If the magnetic force were properly governed and the solenoid could be made to operate silently, without introducing vibration into the idler system (most solenoids make noise as the armature moves back and forth), it could be just what's needed, but at a cost: a much greater level of complexity. The Lenco spring whose only function is to get the idler into engagement with the motor and platter; and the self-engaging design of its idler (and of any properly-designed idler) that generates most of its grip from the rotation of the motor shaft, is SO elegant in its simplicity.
Arthur Salvatore has updated his comments about the Jean Nantais Lenco at his site:

It is in the Recent File (and the Reference Turntable File).

NOBODY here is so lazy as to read just this one line and not go to read the rest, so I don't feel amiss in quoting Arthur:

"This is the finest turntable I have ever heard."
"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."

From my last post, now I guess this is the news here presented, the Lenco I built Arthur Salvatore now - I didn't dare to dream - officially on the Reference Components page in Upper Class A, though there are further details coming, and like some of you out there I am on tenterhooks for the continuing story! Once the full review is out, I'll give my further impressions of how the review came about, and of my visit to Salvatore's sound room, with the phono section of his Jadis preamp wired directly to his amplifiers, the volume control and switches out of the signal path, a demonstration of the extreme audiophile path of preservation of the purity of the signal, which - in spite of 8-watt SETs - resulted in THE most transparent, dynamic, focused and detailed (while preserving musicality) system I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Re. the results from Athens, apparently, as I have been writing for more than six years now, it must be pointed out that there is one main reason the Lenco is as good as it is: THE DRIVE SYSTEM. Those who don't want to believe this, go get ye a belt-drive Lenco L85 and see how far modification, replinthing and tweaking will get you. As I wrote back on February 1st, 2004, when the Audio Landscape was completely different and the "Idler Wheel Revolution" was just a dream in my head (still in development ;-)), for those who don't remember their history:

"Do I want to get into the whole idler-wheel drive philosophy and science and so upset hordes of belt-drive maniacs? No! Unless you want an explanation. But consider the history. I personally own many 'tables, some high-end, like the air-bearing Maplenoll which a friend recently dumped his VPI MkIII with Clearaudio parallel-tracking arm for (also considered very highly by Salvatore), some "mid-fi" (but I love them), and some I built myself. The Lencos beat them all. Sugano who builds the Koetsu uses a Garrard 301 idler-wheel drive. The Japanese have been using low-powered tube amps and sensitive speakers for decades while we scoffed, and now we're finding out that there was something to this after all. The Japanese have also been buying up all the heavier Garrard idler-wheel drives they could get their hands on. There are idler-wheel fans all over Europe and North America with high-end systems. Through all this, one highly-regarded 'table which sold in large numbers has been ignored in all the Garrard-fever (and I have owned a number of these Garrards in Europe), and that's the heavy-duty bomb-proof yet elegant Lenco idler-wheel drive. Because of this, it can be had cheap. Forget about rumble figures propaganda, that's what this thread is meant to address. The issue was the wheels themselves, and if you can find a Lenco with the rubber-coated aluminum wheel, then it will be perfect, as I have never yet found one which was flattened. There was a business in England which still sold Lenco wheels only a while ago for roughly $20, I will search this out. The moment someone finds one and buys it, I will proceed with a step-by-step demonstration - with photos - of how to build a high-end 'table. Chipboard and plywood are enough, but feel free to source Corian, acrylic, marble, anything you can get your hands on, as the prime issue is mass. It's easy, even someone who has never used tools can do it. Fun, and you'll end up with a 'table you'll be hard-pressed to match, let alone beat. Those who want to dismiss or object to the idler-wheel technology, please address your objections to Sugano."

I always thought the following was one of the better things I wrote, so here it goes again :-): "Those who want to dismiss or object to the idler-wheel technology, please address your objections to Sugano." Audiophiles all over the world considered Sugano something of an audio god, and yet all turned a blind eye to this apparent aberration of his, preferring to look away than to investigate, which is why I loved tweaking their noses on this subject.

So, that attended to, I must underline the IMPORTANCE of the Athens results and the respect the result demands from Lenco-ites as well as the rest of the world!!: the EMT 927 is an IDLER-WHEEL DRIVE, the REASON the Lenco is so good you would all do well to remember, and NOT coincidentally the KING of all vintage 'tables and, in terms of build quality anyway, the KING of all idlers. It makes the Lenco look like a cheap piece of crap in terms of build quality (though build quality is NOT design, where the Lenco scores BIG). Even the famed fully-blown Shindo Garrard (let alone various lesser rebuilds) must quail (and not in the bird sense ;-)) at the prospect of a Shootout versus this near 150-pound (without plinth) Swiss-made professional studio machine and LEGEND. Which is the reason certain participants of this thread, and others, have tried to bury Lenco vs EMT successes (there have been others). So, that explained, we have GREAT reason for celebration, as the Lenco - in close to stock form (plinth excepted of course) - has received TWO sets of graduation papers: judgment vs the KING of all idlers (and unless you've heard an EMT idler, which is a borderline frightening experience, you are not fit to judge, dismiss or reduce this achievement); and judgment, by an audiophile of extreme experience and analytical "mercilessness" and a reviewer/guru of, until now, the Belt-Drive persuasion.

I'll here quote from one of Salvatore's earlier postings, to provide context from this exclusive, until now, user and reviewer of high-end belt-drives: "I have to admit that I still have a degree of scepticism about idler-drives. This unease is based on the history of turntable development and marketing. This is my problem: I don't understand why none of the contemporary turntable manufacturers are using this method, if it's truly superior to what they are now using. If there's a rational reason for this reluctance, I can't think of it."

This, evidently, was the problem many had from the beginning of my crusade to have the Idler taken seriously - via the cheaper and yet superb Lenco - by the general audiophile population, and removed from the fringe element existence, much as some would have preferred it - and the Lenco - remain a secret ;-).

I'll post a photo of said "Reference Lenco" under my "system" for those who wish to see it, you'll recognize the design, though under the hood, where it counts, I have made important changes. More details anon.

So, one more time for Old Time's sake (I HAVE been fighting this battle for more than 6 years now, good to finally see vindication - from Salvatore AND from Athens - of my claims for the Lenco, so please indulge me): Vive la Lenco, Vive la Idler Wheel!!!
Dear Jean, Is your bearing upgrade available to the rest of us? If so, can you supply details? Also, do you still use and recommend the stock idler wheel in your ultimate efforts? Thanks.
Hey everybody!

Been so busy that I never built another Lenco after the last one I posted more than 2 years ago.

Congrats Jean! The "hype and spittle" becomes OFFICIAL INTERNET REALITY! AT LAST! LOL! HOOORAYYYYYYY!

I for one am also waiting with baited breath to hear the technical details of Arthur's "Lenocius Canadius".