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To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
February 6, 2011 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Do you only have one turntable and a microphone? Do you have a few thousand to drop on a turntable unlike any other? Well, Mike Disher and Joel Scilley are your men. But that's not the only way to get a one-of-a-kind turntable. This one was made from motorcycle parts. Stell Moebel has one that's wall mounted and one that's a functional coffee table (beware of the audio, click mobeldesign). If you can really afford to go all out, pick from one of the world's most expensive turntables.
posted by quiet coyote (28 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
You call these expensive? Hell, I've seen cables that cost as much as these turntables.
posted by mr vino at 7:55 AM on February 6, 2011


Puh-leeze. If you have to use electricity to listen to music then you're wasting your time! Just translating the pressure waves of the sound into electronic signals degrades the audio too much for my ears.
posted by fuq at 7:58 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also: some of the most expensive ones don't look like they actually play records.
posted by fuq at 7:59 AM on February 6, 2011


Wait a minute, we had the custom made ice thread, the $600 cookbook thread and now this? Is this MeFi or the Shaper Image Catalog?
posted by jonmc at 8:00 AM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's a handful of old idler drive turntables that have a cult following among audio geeks. They're built like tanks but tend to rumble pretty loudly unless mounted in a very dense, heavy base, so there's a lot of custom designs out there. I've never heard one, but some of them look really incredible. The most popular ones are Garrard 301 and 401, the Thorens TD-124, and various Lenco models.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:25 AM on February 6, 2011


Thanks for the links - the turntable made out of Triumph parts is quite lovely, and that link goes on to some other (in my opinion) beautiful but functional everyday objects made as part of the same project.
posted by hackwolf at 8:40 AM on February 6, 2011


quiet coyote: "Do you only have one turntable and a microphone"

Should come with an earworm warning!
posted by theredpen at 8:52 AM on February 6, 2011


That handlebar corkscrew is everything that's right in this world. Eff that's cool!
posted by dflemingecon at 8:56 AM on February 6, 2011


Expensive turntables.

At the highest end, these aren't about layering on the gold and diamonds and truffle veneer, they are demonstrations of uncompromising design and engineering. They have about the same relationship to consumer audio as the space shuttle has to a high performance bicycle. But while it was taxes that funded the composite materials on that bike, these advances cost us nothing, other than a tolerance for low inheritance tax and unregulated markets.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:13 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Library of Congress uses Simon Yorke tables for transcription.

Gotta admit; sometimes craftmanship does qualify as art.
posted by buzzman at 9:15 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


These all make very grand style statements (and demonstrate OTT conspicuous consumption) but for sound quality a straightforward stock Linn Sondek will very likely beat every one of them into the dust. You could then spend the 95,000 you just saved by buying some artwork to look at.
posted by Lanark at 9:33 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the bar for being a "functional" coffee table is pretty low.
posted by brundlefly at 9:46 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


About 45cm or 18 inches
posted by Flashman at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


But while it was taxes that funded the composite materials on that bike, these advances cost us nothing, other than a tolerance for low inheritance tax and unregulated markets.

I can't wait to see the Tea Party sign that says "You can have my high-performance audio cables when you pry them from my cold dead ears."
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about this interesting use of turntable - we have coffe table why not a Dreamachine?
posted by Praying Mantis at 10:19 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought that the argument in favour of LPs was that the degraded recorded format preserved something "truer" about the music, that the digital perfection of CDs was cold and sterile and lifeless. Doesn't creating some theoretically perfect turntable erase exactly this virtue?
posted by fatbird at 10:30 AM on February 6, 2011


fatbird, heres my explanation of vinyl benefits from a previous askme:

As far as the loudness issues goes, modern 'loud' mastering is aimed at music played on the radio.

Radio stations are all using CD's or digital recordings now.

It is always neccecary to master separately for vinyl and CD, because a track with a high dynamic bass note can actually make the needle jump out of the groove, particularly if its panned hard right or left (this is why bass guitar & bass drums are usually centered on Vinyl masters)

Putting these things together, theres no benefit in cranking up the loudness when mastering for Vinyl.

The inherent differences between Vinyl and Digital technology are fairly small (a personal preference for clicks/rumble over digital artefacts) but the differences in loudness between CD masters and Vinyl masters can be huge and mean you can often pick out instruments that are completely lost in the CD mix. The music industrys decision to master CD's so they will sound good on a $2.99 radio is the main reason that vinyl is still around.

There is a small trend of people ripping Vinyl to FLAC/Torrents (search for 'Needle Drop') , that gives you the vinyl mastering in a digital format.
posted by Lanark at 11:05 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


fatbird, I think that's more nostalgia for a bygone era. Most people who are (pardon the term as I really don't mean it offensively) ignorant of turntables and vinyl usually have the attitude of, "Oh records are cool because you can hear the popping and hissing and all of that imperfection, it's really charming!" Well, anyone who truly loves vinyl (whether they have an expensive system or not) understands that the "pursuit of perfection" involves getting that perfectly clean record on a perfectly clean system thus eliminating any and all "pop and hiss." I'm no audiophile but I work within my budget. I spent 10 dollars buying an old entry-level Numark turntable at a garage sale. Then (the main investment) 200 on a new cartridge, headshell and pre-amp. Next, 75 on a vinyl cleaning system. So for well under $500 bucks, I have a great system for my needs and budget. By smartly shopping for good vinyl (and steering clear of inferior quality 180-gram bullshit overpriced vinyl that is geared towards hipsters who are into vinyl cuz it's "cool"), I have plenty of records that run SUPER clean. Once you understand that pop and hiss are created by microscopic flecks of dirt and dust and even smoke particles that become embedded in the grooves of your record, the obsessive/compulsive inside of you takes over and wants to try and get rid of ALL of that shit. It makes you feel good, like cleaning your bed of bed bugs.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:07 AM on February 6, 2011


I like the pride of ownership that vinyl involves. Sota, Rega, Linn, Dual, ... made in free countries, green countries, and it is easy to find video tours of the factories complete with smiling employees in good working enviroments. Many of these factories boast of average tenures of employment in the double digits.

A few dollars more in good research yields the same for speakers, amps/pre-amps, wire, etc... Classe, Marantz (Japan models), Rega, Green Mountain Audio, Boulder, Jeff Rowland, Cello, QSC, Dynaudio, Magnepan, KEF, Van Den Hul, Signal Cable, JM Lab, Sonus Faber, Bellari, Opera, Chario, and Mission are but a few examples. As always; YMMV, and country of manufacture is labeled on most products.

Most cities are scarce on small retailers (example as Whetstone Audio of small one man w/family business) but they are out there. This extra effort does not involve thousands of dollars (yah, no YG Audio in the LR), but it does keep consumer dollar closer to home and known economic direction.
posted by buzzman at 11:39 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about this interesting use of turntable - we have coffe table why not a Dreamachine?

Pft... analog dream machines are so passe; I only do digital dream machines. BEHOLD!
posted by stratastar at 11:45 AM on February 6, 2011


Doesn't creating some theoretically perfect turntable erase exactly this virtue?
posted by fatbird


Let me make an analogy from work I've done in visual arts. In making special effects scenery and props, we've digitally modeled organic plant and animal inspired forms, and had them cut with lasers. Those forms are shaped and textured by hand, and we drape intricate laser-cut foliage all over that. On film, it looks realistic.

One artisan specialized in organic textures that he made by laying out big troughs of cow offal from a slaughter house, then made latex molds of that, cast in various shades and colors.

On the DVD, the textures he cast, and the ones made with computer aided design, both look convincingly organic. But his casts, if you look at them up close with a magnifying glass, accurately reproduce structure in the source material down to individual cells in some places.

More detail than we wanted or needed, but it's there if you look closely. Analog records are casts of actual soundwaves, and some equipment can allow you to magnify it and recover that detail.

When you talk about analog having desirable distortions, you may be thinking of tube amps that can impart pleasing harmonics that aren't strictly meant to be there. The turntable is more like a jeweler's loupe, that examines every tiny detail, far finer than the digital snapshot of the CD recording.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


made in free countries, green countries

What on earth is a "green country"? Your listed brands seem to be made in the U.S., England, Scotland and Germany. While I'm all for high-end turntables and first-world manufacturing, let's leave the greenwashing out of it.
posted by brightghost at 1:25 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there any reason to think that the process of pressing the vinyl LPs they're meant to play has anything even remotely approaching the precision these things are engineered to?
posted by Naberius at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rega P3-24. Green!
posted by buzzman at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2011


But the real question is...

Does the world need any more super-amateur DJs?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:25 PM on February 6, 2011


Is there any reason to think that the process of pressing the vinyl LPs they're meant to play has anything even remotely approaching the precision these things are engineered to?
posted by Naberius


The play in the bearing of even the best turntable or an arm bearing is 100 or 1,000 times, or even 10,000 times greater than the information that you're trying to retrieve.


From that same interview you can glean another little known fact about the Linn Sondek LP12: before founding Linn, Ivor Tiefenbrun used to work in his father's engineering company Castle Precision Engineering in Glasgow.
Castle Precision (along with Neumann in Germany) are one of the very few manufacturers of the cutting machines used to cut lacquer masters, the first stage in the LP production process.

Maybe that intricate knowledge of the cutting process give Ivor & Linn Engineering some advantage over other turntable manufacturers?
posted by Lanark at 3:33 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The play in the bearing of even the best turntable or an arm bearing is 100 or 1,000 times, or even 10,000 times greater than the information that you're trying to retrieve.

That's why the turntable is really heavy, and, yes, turning. The inertia and momentum keep it from wiggling. One of the turntables mentioned above, I recall, talks about a sharpened spike pivot bearing. Rotating a heavy thing on a pointy point is about as close to a perfect machine as you can get.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:25 PM on February 6, 2011


I've spend a lot of time recently thinking about building my own. Two years ago I found these dyi instructions here on the blue on how to build a turntable for 50 bucks that apparently churns out a decent sound. Unfortunately I neither have any manual skills, knowledge about audio set ups nor 50 bucks for scrap parts and plywood.
posted by quoquo at 3:24 AM on February 7, 2011


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