Sunday, 19 June 2016

Garrard 301 - Let's get classic.

Garrard 301 - grease bearing

Since the Lenco was so good it raised the question of the classic idler table used by Sugano, Ikeda, Kondo and many other music enthusiasts. I searched for and obtained a good example of the 301 - it had to be a grease bearing if it was to be in the representative of the examples of lore.

A very clean example.

Where to start with it?  -where the Lenco began - in a double layer rich maple plinth with large brass footers.

Ah ha! A new presentation of the music. Richer,  more energetic while at the same time, and best of all, more organic. There was some loss of ambient resolution, spacial depiction and decay but overall the increased energy made the music very enjoyable and present.

Adding mass by combining the plinths and adding brass inserts was a step in the right direction.


This was also an opportunity to tear down, clean and rebuild the motor and platter bearing. This helped lower the vibration levels. This deck was more prone to it than the Lenco and was requiring more tuning and adjustment.

Now thing were better, all of the strengths and a reduction of the weaknesses - vibration and noise. This resulted in greater resolution and space.

Again, this was a stopping point but more than with the Lenco it seemed that more mass was indicated and so...

Another slate plinth, this time in a sandwich with layers of stainless steel. The theory was to add mass and more evenly distribute vibration through the slate.

Designed so that original mounting bolts could be used.

El Conquistador. The difference of mass with the 301 was really something. It must be said this plinth is very heavy. This is probably obvious but I did not think of it until I had it all put together and tried to carry it down stairs. If memory serves well it is 50kg or so not including the 10kg bronze arm tower.

How did the mass affect the sound? It lowered the vibration considerably more and brought out fine nuances and most importantly became increasingly life like. It seemed the leading edge and follow through of notes was clearer, more dense and colourful.

A bronze bearing mount/sink was added. This served two purposes, the first of which was to add mass to the bearing house to sink vibration and give it a path to ground. The second purpose was to brace the top plate as it was not rigid nor well supported previously in stock form. This bracing from underneath prevented the top plate from flexing and allowed the bearing and platter to maintain greater stability during rotation. This improved stability was readily apparent in tone, depth and clarity.

It was getting very serious at this point and hard to beat. One thought was to make a bronze platter but first there was the flywheel to consider. It should be mentioned at this point that a motor controller was in use which could adjust the voltage and frequency of the AC going to the motor. Adjustment was easy if you could get a finger on the motor while adjusting to find the lowest vibration. Tried with and without the eddy current brake it was clear that the brake was in part responsible for the organic sound. Foucault effect I believe explains why, essentially it lessens the speed error with varying load. This brought up thoughts of inertia and damping vibration at it source - the motor.

A new flywheel was produced which would greatly increase the inertia - more than a bronze platter - and also by adding mass to the motor shaft reduce the amplitude of its vibration as well as possibly balancing some of it out.

Tuning it was a devil but it yielded. Greater speed stability as could be seen with the strobe when varying load with the finger and the sound became increasingly solid and bold. No doubt the varying drag of the needle is a great negative influence and was now lessened. The brake was lost with this heaver wheel as it allowed no clearance for it to operate. The question of if actual inertia or the inertial like effect of the brake was greater was answered by another bronze flywheel with an accommodation for the brake. (Middle)

The brake won again. Use the brake. In this case there was the best of both.

Inspired by this deck a FR-66S was obtained and became the house arm. It ran everything well included moving magnet cartridges if you can believe it.

And then the FR64S which was only a shade away form the 66S.
An Ikeda on an Ikeda is hard to beat. In this case an FR 702, a favourite.

I should say this about the Garrard 301 when playing heavy arms and low compliance cartridges. It gets so real sounding that it can spook you. After a long day of flying helicopters in the Arabian heat I was home at night listening before bedtime. The house was semi dark with candles, my child fast asleep upstairs and the house was closed for the night. Listening with my eyes closed and really getting into the music and then I heard someone in the room and my radar lit up and my eyes opened to locate the source. It was just inside the right speaker. David Crosby with singing very softly behind there. I realised it had sounded real enough for me to suddenly believe someone had got past the locked door and into the room I knew was empty except for myself. This is a very potent deck when setup with the right tuning. It does something I have not heard on another deck and it is all about music.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Beautiful work on your Garrard 301. I like your eddy brake disc design. Do you sell these? If not who can I contact to get one.