4-way front-loaded 104db horn speakers; twin isobaric woofers (per speaker) good for 20Hz. Love'em or hate'em looks.
tube monoblocks; 8 6550s each; tetrode/triode switchable (450 watts in tetrode, 225 watts in triode).
2-Way active tube crossover, specifically designed for the Jadis Eurythmie speakers, with a crossover point at 180Hz. 12db slope I believe.
two chassis preamp with MM phono stage (not MC version). Single-digit serial number so an earlier version...
CDSD-matching DAC with built-in line stage.
MC/MM phono stage (CR-type equalizer) with 55dB of gain (MC); red lacquer version. So-called "battery-powered" but bps doesn't last long.
TT#1: early 80s Japanese monster. 60lb platter, heavier base, air bearing. Separate motor and air pump. Mounts for 4 arms.
Not set up yet. Soon to be on the Micro Seiki.
Nakatsuka-san's finest. Soon to be on the Triplanar which will be on the Micro Seiki.
This table was Denon's last and greatest turntable console for professional use (unless they make another one). It was launched in the early 1980s as a follow-on from the DN-307F, and is said to have the highest torque of any turntable ever made. The AC-servo 3-pole brushless motor plays 33, 45, and 78 rpm vinyl with supreme accuracy and stability, and for all of you budding DJs out there, it has a handy braking and clutch system for cueing records to the head of the song quite quickly. It comes with a giant, relatively thick, MDF casing, which helps the weight up to 180lbs. It has a large 14" turntable, with a huge motor (looks like a can of paint) inside the casing. It comes with its own arm, a long-armed version of the DA-308, which is set up specifically to use the DL-103 as its cart. The arm is probably not the best out there, but handily, there are some SME armbases which work with the DN-308F if you want to use an SME 3012R. Note, it takes a very short headshell, or a headshell with long mounting holes (so you can place the cart well back). It has far more 'stuff' than a regular record player - much of which is specifically for studio use, not home use but some of which is wonderful for home use. From left to right on the front panel of the console, it has an on/off toggle, a speaker grille, and a dead-man switch (with stylus down, you can dig for the start of the song, go back a quarter turn, and when you press play, it will be spinning perfectly at the start of the song) for monitor use (for cueing records), which can either be used with the built-in mini-speaker, or special headphones (Elaga DR-631C, 10kOhms, #110 jacks). In the middle it has a tone control (which I have not yet figured out cleanly), PLAY and STOP buttons, and a balance knob, and then an attenuator with an ATTENUATOR START button (which if on, means that you can start the record by turning on the attenuator (allows a one-motion start and volume fade-in after you've cued using the monitor)). It has a LINE OUT toggle which turns on the line-out amp functionality. On the main plate on the front right, it has a 33/45/78 toggle with a green lamp straight from the 50s. On the back panel, there are two VU meters and a stereo/mono switch. On the top is a handy place to display the current record playing. Inside the box, there are some juicy bits too. If you open the front panel, you can get to the electronics, which are 1) a massive power supply, 2) a line amp, and 3) a fully balanced (reportedly) MC head amp and RIAA phono stage built in. There are some end-user available adjustments to make inside such as raising output by 6dB, a phase toggle, and a switch to use if you are going to be mixing from two tables through a board. The line amp outputs a 600ohm signal of something in the 1.0-1.5V range, and can drive amplifiers directly via XLR cable (which is why this works great in homes - the TT can be away from the speakers, even in a different room, and XLR cables can run straight to the amplifier with very long runs (2-pin is hot)). The tonearm cable can be unplugged from the headamp/RIAA/lineamp circuitry and routed out the back to your own phono stage if you like. It is built for radio station abuse, though the interesting thing is that right when this came out, radio stations, concert halls, and recording studios all over Japan decided they had huge budgets to buy these, did so, and then really never used them. The result is that the condition of these can be variable, but a fair percentage (of an admittedly limited number extant) are in decent condition even today. In addition, Denon will still service these. What could be better? The casing could be better. Supreme execution would include replacing the MDF structure with something like a giant laminated maple or cherry structure top plate to be mounted on legs (with the electronic innards hanging below, or housed in a box below the plinth?), perhaps placed on a minus-K platform. If one rebuilt the top plate structure, there would be plenty of room for a second or third arm as well, especially if one moved the stereo/mono switch to the front panel somehow. Elsewhere, the front panel attenuator and speaker could be better, but both are easily replaceable (and neither matter if you are using your own phono stage). HOWEVER, all in all, this is a fabulous piece of kit, and has to go down as one of the great DD TTs made.
Denon's top of the line consumer table, built with their AU-196 out-rotor 3-phase AC servo motor (in the ad copy, originally designed to be a cutting lathe motor). Like other Denons, it also uses the magnetic pulse system on the inner rim of the upper platter piece along with a dual PLL quartz lock system to maintain speed stability. However, this time they have made the platter very heavy (6.5kg) so there is a very high moment of inertia, coupled with a very high torque (10kg/cm2) motor (seeing a shot of the motor is a treat in itself - the whole rotor is the size of a can of paint and is one reason why this thing weighs a short ton). One of the least talked-about bits on this TT is the platter. It has a double platter system - the idea taken off the DP80 - but it goes further. The upper platter and lower platter are connected by a leaf spring creating a high-cut filter. The leaf spring is dampened with silicon oil in the damper shaft. The table has pitch control from +9.9& to -9.9% in 0.1% increments. It plays 78s. The one I have has the DK-1000 base, which adds another 15kg to make the thing 63kg - definitely a two-person operation because I can't even get my arms around it even if I could lift it. I don't have have the electronic servo arm - mine is outfitted with an SME 3012R Pro long arm (though other bases are possible). This combination is super-quiet, and super speed-stable, and is among the quietest tables I have ever heard. You know... all the superlatives that people talk about when they get greater detail out of their records - they're all here when I heard this table for the first time - and that was using a pretty good base for comparison. Pics to come.
Exclusive was Pioneer's flagship brand of stereo electronics (the company's multi-story HQ-based showroom in the 1990s had a separate floor/room for Exclusive). The P3 was Exclusive's flagship turntable when introduced in 1978. It is about as over-engineered a DD turntable as was made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was also, to my knowledge, the most expensive TT sold until Micro Seiki came out with their SX-8000 in 1981, and the P3 was the most expensive direct-drive TT until its successor, the Exclusive P3a. It was 10% more than the Yamaha PX-1 (which itself was 20+% more than the next comer), more than 3x the plinthless/armless Technics SP-10Mk2, 20% more than the Technics SL1000Mk3 (the fully loaded SP-10Mk3) which came a year later, and 40% more than the Sony PS-X9. In short, it was a player among players. It has the largest and most robust form of the Stable Hanging Rotor drive within the Pioneer family, with mammoth torque - 10kg-cm, some 65% more than the Technics SP-10Mk2 - allowing it to attain 33.3rpm in 0.3sec, despite carrying a 16lb platter cut from a block of aluminum. All wow/flutter/accuracy specs were industry bests, and the P3 S/N ratio, while reported at 78dB, was effectively higher than that according to the 1980 turntable shoot-out (see the vintageknob.org for details). The plinth hides an impressive base/isolation system underneath. This is shown under a separate picture. The only thing I can say is... it is wonderful - and frankly, it's a steal given that it comes with a great built-in isolation system, a fantastic high-torque motor, and a great, purpose-built arm.
- Exclusive P3 - The Innards
The TT is mounted on a 25kg barium sulfate and aluminum plate structure (see other photo), supported on 3-method suspension system (oil-damping, springs, rubber grommeting) separating it from the lower base. This structure has a resonance of 5Hz, designed to be below minimum expected tonearm resonance. The Brazilian Rosewood 'plinth' is actually not a plinth per se, but a cover to the mechanism. It is only coupled to the lower base - it remains uncoupled from the motor and platter assembly, and the tonearm structure. The whole thing weighs just over 100lb, including turntable mat.
The Sony PS-X9 was Sony's monument to turntable greatness. It is a classic Japanese engineering exercise sold at a terrible loss per table (par for the course for most Sony statement products). Introduced in 1977, it has a fantastically speed-stable motor with massive torque (7kg-cm - 15% higher than the Technics SP-10Mk2 which was the torque king at the time), with a very wide high-inertia platter. It featured a newly designed arm, the PUA-9, a new cart launch around the same time (the XL-55) where the best handpicked examples were named the XL-55 Pro, and reserved for buyers of this TT. Sony admired the top EMT tables for their engineering, and the homage is visible in the design of the PS-X9. In addition, Sony admired the concept of keeping low-level signals to the shortest possible signal path, and so the table featured a built-in MC headamp (the HA-55, designed specifically for the XL-55 cart), and an RIAA phono stage with excellent specs. This was Sony's "Integrated Turntable." The HeadAmp has 27dB of gain, accepting carts of 0.2mV or more (100ohm standard), and the Phono Stage is a direct-coupled dual-FET differential amplifier (36dB gain, ±0.2dB gain from 20Hz to 20kHz). To top it off, the phono stage had variable loading, both for resistance AND capacitance (how many stages do you know have that?). The headamp and the head amp+RIAA combination are both by-passable. The torque on the table is so large that speed stability is completely flat out to several decimal places with up to 1100 grams of tracking force. It comes up to full 33 1/3 rpm in 1/8th of a platter revolution. The table weighs 35kg/77lbs in its birthday suit. Unfortunately for Sony, the table was a result of the product designers completely missing the spirit of the time. As a table oriented to professional use, it was twice as expensive as the then-current non-console mainstay SP-10Mk2 (the Sony TTS-8000, while sporting a pro-series name, ended up more in the hands of audiophiles). As a table oriented to audiophile use, it flopped. The orange sides were meant to be a Sony signature for top-end products, and ended up on only three products to my knowledge. The competitors at the time were all sleek black (the Pioneer PL-L1, the Yamaha PX-1, etc - the high-gloss rosewood tables started arriving a few years later). What's more, while meant to be a more highly-engineered Japanese version of the EMT 930, for those in that market, it was decidedly not an EMT - it was Japanese - not German, and unforgiveably, it was Japanese and orange. Despite its lack of commercial success, it is a great table. I have been playing it for a little while and I think could live with this table for a long time. It is wonderful with a great stonking TT mat. It is even better when placed on a very good isolation platform - I've been a magnetic flotation platform. As a fully integrated (but still quite flexible) unit, it is a real prize.
Kenwood's greatest TT and one for the ages. On paper, almost the perfect table (at the time). The aim was to re-think the turntable from the ground up, and create an almost completely rigid plinth/motor/tonearm 'pickup loop' so there were no stray vibrations which passed into the cartridge cantilever. The product was introduced at the same time as the Kenwood L-01T tuner and the L-01A integrated amplifier and the three were the first products to wear the Kenwood brand name in Japan (prior to that, it was 'Trio'). The motor used dual-servo coupling, switching the speed control method depending on whether speed was close to desirable or a bit further away. In addition, the motor had an auto-switching method from DC to AC to reduce influences from the motor drive circuit. Torque was 2.5kg-cm and the moment of inertia was 1025kg-cm^2 (which was among the highest of all DDs). All internal wiring was copper litz, and all connections were gold-plated. The platter was quite heavy (12lbs) , made of two layers of aluminum bonded together, with a (non-magnetic) stainless steel turntable sheet was mounted on top of the platter. The static balance arm made of laminated exotic materials fibers (carbon, boron, aluminum, etc) - somewhat similar to the armtube design of the Sony PUA-9 (which came on the PS-X9) it seems - has 'on-the-fly' adjustments possible. The plinth has a place for a second arm to be added. The result was the highest S/N ratio (-94dB) turntable made in Japan at the time (later, the Exclusive P3a had an ever-so-slightly higher S/N ratio (-95dB DIN B)), and something which wowed the world. How does it sound? Fabulous. Very very quiet, and very stable. The arm is not the be all and end all, but it does not sound bad at all (though it doesn't work with the heaviest carts of the time (or now)). The ability to add a second arm is quite convenient, and unusual for flagship DD players which came with a fixed plinth.
Nakamichi's 'second-best' table. In 1981, Nakamichi introduced what was perhaps the second most expensive TT in Japan (the most expensive being the Micro Seiki SX-8000 with all its associated doodads). It had a single claim to fame, which was that Nakamichi had figured out a way to estimate how far the record was off-center, and adjust the position of the upper platter so that when the lower platter started spinning, there was no visible evidence of the record being off-center. The TX-1000 was a monster in every way (as it should have been at something like $7000 in 1981 dollars (JPY 1.1 million in Japan)). Two years later, Nakamichi released the Dragon CT (the TT shown here). It had a simpler method of finding 'absolute center' and correcting the upper platter. The Dragon CT was lighter, smaller, and according to reports at the time both in Japan and abroad, vastly more reliable. Being #2 did not make it a bargain though as it was more expensive than almost all other manufacturers' #1 table at JPY 400,000.
The platter is relatively light, motor is not the highest torque out there, and it is not the quietest table (about the same as the Technics SP-10Mk2, the major Denons of the time (at least the ones below the DP-100). However, the real show here was the centering system, which was based off the concept of doing the same thing for tapes in tape decks (azimuth). The original TX-1000 was spec-ed out by Mr. Nakamichi himself while according to the Vintage Knob website, the CT's design was outsourced to someone else.
TT#2: Linear-tracking arm, direct-drive (slotless DC motor), fully-automatic, separate power supply. Yamaha's flagship, followed by the PX-2 and PX-3 in the few years which followed.
Diatone's flagship linear-tracking direct drive turntable from 1980. Excellent torque, quite high S/N ratio (80dB) for the time, and very low wow/flutter. Two-piece die-cast aluminum and stainless platter to reduce platter resonance. Short arm made of titanium alloy for lightness and strength. Mine is the lighter-colored version, not the darker one shown in the picture.
Sony's top consumer deck in the mid 1970s, built off the technology of the 2310 and then later a 5-series (where the name escapes me) - which were built to try and compete with the first Technics SP-10. The TTS-8000 was the top Japan-market consumer deck in the late 1970s (the PS-X9 was the top pro deck) though it was not advertised too heavily. Originally sold with arm (either a PUA-1600 long or short arm, or the PUA-9 (which was the stock arm on the PS-X9) or PUA-7)) and plinth, or just as a drive (like mine in the pic). I bought mine as NOS drive and have yet to use it... it's so pretty... (actually, the real problem is a lack of plinth for it now). An early model with black strobe dots on silver background. Nice oil-filled turntable mat. I have a second one for parts just in case... :^)
Denon's replacement for the DP-6000 and the new top-of-the-consumer line (excepting the DP-100M which was a pro deck which was also stuck into a frame which could accept a wooden shroud, and sold to a few audiophiles for a stupendously high price (equivalent to $30k in today's dollars if thinking about it in average PPP/household income terms)). As a replacement for the DP-6000, it came with a new, stronger 3-phase motor, and lowered rumble through a new double-layer platter construction. Apparently, if you open it up, the voltage adjustment/controller portion of the speed controller circuitry is something to behold - highly sophisticated. In any case, above and beyond the speed controller, there is a PLL loop and a magnetic pulse system (similar to the system used by Sony at the time) working in combination with it. Denon's claim was that a 250g stylus at the outer edge would not cause the platter to change speed (the P3's claim was that a 1.5kg stylus wouldn't budge it). All in all, a nice table, which deserves a better plinth than I have given it so far.
The Japanese version of the PL-90 Elite made from the mid-1980s onward. The PL-7L came out five years after the PL-70LII, which was the trickle-down TT in terms of receiving technology (arm and Stable Hanging Rotor system) from the mighty Exclusive P3 and later P3a. The PL-7L has the same specs as the PL-70LII - very high S/N ratio (85dB) and one of the lowest wow/flutter levels seen on a TT - this time with an interesting built-in isolation damping footer system, and no money spent on veneer. Quite decent torque. A real steal for the money these days in my opinion.
- Rek-O-Kut Rondine Deluxe B-12H - PROJECT
old idler wheel drive - to become a project... couldn't resist the looks. The trick now will be to see if I can get the whole thing done with time, elbow grease, and 100 bucks.
On the PX-1. Old faithful?
Very low output MC cart - Micro's top of the line cart in the late 1970s. Very very strange magnet design.
Very heavy, very low compliance LOMC classic from Ikeda-san, to go with his heavy stainless steel arms. Sounds like Jadis on a stick.
An update to the FR-7 which came out two years after the FR-7 (in 1980) for 40% more money. Like the Fr-7, this also weighed 30g and had an integrated headshell. Output was 0.15mV. Stylus is said to have a square cut of 0.15mm (as opposed to the 0.2mm x 0.3mm semi-elliptical of the original FR-7).
MM Cart. One of Technics' best. A real giant killer.
MM Cart with ruby stylus. Excellent performer for the amount one pays used.
Wonderful MM cart from the Australian brothers. Very high performance - this cart is one of the ones which 'surprises' me as an MM cart. It has a lot of the characteristics which were used to describe the reasons why MCs are inherently better than MMs.
LOMC (0.2mV) mono version of the XL55 cart introduced to go with the Sony PS-X9 table. Also used the innovative 'Figure-8' coil of the XL-55 family. Very nice-sounding mono cart. A huge step up from the DL102.
This was theoretically no different than the XL55 regular version though Sony (or their Soundtec division which designed/made the carts) made the Pro specifically to adorn the Sony PS-X9. The XL55Pro has an integrated headshell (like the XL55mono) vs the XL55 which came without headshell. With the headshell, it is quite a heavy cart - I'd estimate 25-28g. The XL55Pro was reportedly a handpicked version of the XL55 (similar to the Denon 103Pro in concept).