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!
I am posting to describe the result of the most recent idler tension spring mod to my Jean Nantais Lenco Goldring L70. I understand that this mod is described in detail on the group, but wish to present a “fresh eyes” assessment from someone not caught up in the usual group exchanges.

I am running the 100 lb “Classic” plinth, built about 2 years ago and later mod’d with a “Reference” level Lenco main bearing and a carefully rebuild motor assembly. About 2 weeks ago, Jean installed his latest innovation; replacing the idler / speed control shaft tension spring, and mounting a custom fabricated sleeve together with a precisely constructed silk thread and bias weight combination. The theory, as I understood it, was to ensure a constant pressure on the tapered speed control shaft / idler wheel and, thus, eliminate speed fluctuations; as Jean stated it "the maximum useful pressure, constant and unvarying at all speeds, to ensure maximum and stable torque". It simply seemed too obvious to be true – I had to try it myself! I had just heard from two trusted vinyl aficionados that the difference is sound from this latest JN Lenco mod was immediately apparent. I asked no further questions as did not wish my assessment to be biased by their experience.

What I found was a radically improved and stable pitch with an overall greater sense of space and dimension in presentation of the sound stage. There was a certain quality of air and openness around the instruments and vocalists, as well as “room clues” that had not previously been noticeable. This was especially startling as I was listening to LPs that have been in my regular rotation for close to 40 years (Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Ladies of the Canyon as prime examples) and found that my sense of the recording studio environment was far enhanced.

I then went on over the next few days to several well know classical pieces and found similar results with Glenn Gould’s – Goldberg / 32 Variations and Starkers Bach Suites / Solo Cello, and on and on. As I played 6-8 albums each day, I came to realize that each listening session presented a new experience from even my most trusted and best known reference recordings. I began to compare these recording on my other tables and found them lacking. What had I done?

My experience in these matters is considerable. I have had an idler wheel table in my system since 1972. Several years ago I purchased a mint Lenco Goldring L70 in a (rather heavy) stock plinth, after hearing a Lenco L75 rebuilt by Jean Nantais. I was shocked at the results with the L75 and wanted to understand what the JN mods could do for my system. I was then running a Garrard 301 and Garrard 401, as well as a Rek-O-Kut Rondine Deluxe and a Thorens TD124. I could hear the potential in each, but none matched what I heard in the early Nantais mods.

Now, with the latest spring replacement mod, even that first impression has again been elapsed by the addition of a simple thread and weight. I know it seems remarkable and, if reading it, I would have to ask “How is this possible?” My only response can be, “You have to hear it” so I invite each of you look at your options for making such a mod or having Jean provide you with the materials to do so.

Us low-lifes "caught up in the usual group exchanges" hear the same thing as you :) As reported.

Thanks for all the reports everyone - Mike, Barry, John, Terry - and all those who have been trying it out and reporting in on various forums, I appreciate your posting all!! This is better than theorizing in the utter absence of evidence, no?

In fact a version of this very experiment was carried out and reported on by Salvatore in his initial analysis of the weak vs strong spring on his Reference Lenco: the ONLY element changed in his system was the tightness of the spring on his Reference Lenco, which, as he reported, doubled the sound quality in his system. So the ONLY conclusion that could be drawn was that the amount of force applied to marrying the wheel to the motor-platter interface was of EXTREME importance to delivering the motor's torque.

This is the whole point of an experiment: devise an experiment to prove - or disprove - a theory, and accept the results. This is why I went on and on about science and the scientific method in early days: because the then-ubiquitous belt-drivers (much less ubiquitous now :-)) would not accept evidence of the superiority of the idler-wheel drive system or the serious high-end quality of the Lenco. They dismissed any evidence as anecdotal (to those espousing ANY theory all evidence it is wrong is "anecdotal" and all evidence supporting that theory is "proof"), so I devised a way - the original thread - to give them 1000 anecdotal results, "anecdotal" THAT! Ditto the TJN Mod.

As I wrote earlier, the TJN Mod was too important to keep to myself - and too simple, effective and elegant (no complex electro-mechanical solution to this problem will ever match what this little string and weight does with utter reliability and stability for as long as Gravity operates in the Newtonian universe) and most of all IMPORTANT to keep to myself and my own work. Every Lenco owner owes it to himself, or herself, to implement this mod, as it "completes" the heart of the Lenco: its drive system (without it the Lenco is just another record player).

This also proves what I have been saying since the very beginning back when I started the original thread: it is TORQUE which makes the Lenco - and other idler-wheel drives - superior. With the TJN Mod installed torque can be felt to increase, and with an increase in torque - precisely what Salvatore reported in an experiment where the ONLY element changed was spring tightness - comes roughly a doubling of the sound quality.

So, stripping the results of the experiment down to its barest essentials: more torque - and torque stability and so speed stability - equals more information-retrieval, more detail, better separation of instruments, better soundstaging, better low frequencies (lower, tighter, more detailed) better high frequencies (more extended and at the same time more natural with less distortion) better dynamics micro and macro (greater focus, greater speed).

A cautionary note to the usual suspects who tend to equate simply running endlessly in the same direction of a pre-existing already discovered idea with true progress (200-pound platters on the way, I have a lot to say about THIS subject soon with, as always, proof, engineers seem to have forgotten grade-school physics - keep your eyes peeled all): don't start hooking up 200 HP motors to your idlers, as with the spring mod weight - which reaches maximum torque at a surprisingly low weight/mass - so the torque necessary to push the LP through stylus force drag in the better idler-wheel drives (their motors ARE relatively enormous) was accurately calculated by the '50s (and earlier) engineers, they had not forgotten their grade-school physics ;-).

So, getting back to the results of the latest experiment: More torque = clearly better sound, and what better system to deliver this torque than the idler-wheel drive system with their massive motors and decoupled wheels (which makes use of massive motors advisable), which, as Salvatore reported, given Direct Coupling, achieves low noise floors to equal top belt-drives: massive torque without sonic penalties!! Now THOSE were engineers!! If someone came up with the decoupled idler-wheel/massive motor idea NOW - against a background of direct-drives, direct rim-drives and belt-drives - the whole analogue world would be set on its ear, gasp and cry Sheer Genius!!!!

Get Ye out all Ye Lenco users and show the world what an optimized idler-wheel drive system can really do!! Vive la Lenco, Vive la Idler-Wheel!!!! Next time I'll come back (it'll be a while) with yet more fun in the world of science, physics and spinning LPs, maybe that platter mass thingy :-).
Thanks Jean for all your efforts in promoting the mighty Lenco. Thanks to you and this thread I got myself a GL75 6 months ago. I love it. I tried your spring tweak and it worked a treat just like you said. I look forward to more of your thoughts in the future.
Has anyone here done this mod with Peter Reinders PTP? Or are you all using the stock Lenco chassis as a basis? If done with PTP, did you have to drill a hole to accommodate the string and weight? Thanks.

Jean, in your earliest posts on this mod, you seemed to think that the benefits had a lot to do with eliminating a resonance imparted by the spring, Here you seem more to focus on the benefit of increasing the force that marries the idler wheel to the platter and motor shaft. Have you changed your mind about how the string works to improve the sonics of the table, or am I over-interpreting your last post?