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The idler-drive turntable appreciation thread

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by action pact, Aug 3, 2015.

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  1. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore Thread Starter

    Idler-drive turntables.

    They can be noisy, and the good ones are 40+ years old, but I love them for their undeniable oomph and authoritativeness. I've owned a LOT of different turntables, but the ones that have remained here are nearly all idler-drives.

    My #1 is a 1961 Thorens TD-124. That one was a lifetime purchase. A glorious music-maker.

    I have deep affection for my two Duals, a 1019 and a 1219, both expertly restored by 'No Transistors' from AudioKarma.

    The 1019 with its short little 9" arm sounds better than it has any right to, just a joy to listen to. It sounds amazing with a cheap Shure M35X tracking at 2.75 grams, and I can swap in an N78S stylus and play my 78s with making any adjustments.

    The 1219, with its full-size, low mass arm, is more refined than the 1019, but doesn't quite do the idler-slam with the same energy. I have it in the living room mini-system, with an M97xE mounted, and it sounds terrific.

    Earlier this year I acquired a much-neglected c.1956 Rek-O-Kut L-34 with mono-wired Model 160 12" arm. I reconditioned it, put it in a massive layered plinth, and with an old GE VRII cart and NOS stylus, it makes my old mono records sound amazing, with the most incredible presence.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. cat9

    cat9 Forum Resident

    Hey ap - hope you're well!!

    I don't own an idler but am certainly aware of the love they get and the following they have.

    Your examples are beautiful - I especially like the 124!!!

    Cheers from the 'Peg
     
    action pact likes this.
  3. delmonaco

    delmonaco Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sofia, Bulgaria
    The Thorens TD-124 is a masterpiece, but I can't think of many other idler-drive turntables that I can really praise. To me the TD-124 is more of an exception to the rule, and even today one of the best turntables, IMO.
     
  4. MrTim

    MrTim Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pacific North West
    I have had a couple Duals and a Elac Miracord all great sounding turntables and once gone through are super reliable and speed is dead on.
     
  5. raferx

    raferx Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Great thread idea.
    I'm seriously considering a Garrard 301 or 401 restoration as my next TT.
     
    56GoldTop and action pact like this.
  6. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore Thread Starter

    Which ones have you heard, and what didn't you like about them?

    They can be noisy, but placing them in a huge, solid plinth makes a world of difference. Even my ancient ROK is totally silent now.

    DO IT!!
     
    raferx likes this.
  7. rockadelic

    rockadelic Forum Resident

    Location:
    Singapore
    Ever since I laid ears on a refurbished & replinthed lenco L75. I could not go back to the Linn Sondek LP12.
    Just read some of Art Dudleys articles on the Garrard & the PTP Lenco, he pretty much sums up on what idler TT sounds like.
     
    1970, action pact and Roger C like this.
  8. sberger

    sberger Grumpy(but grateful) geezer

    Show off. Well you know where I stand on this one, although I'm going through a belt drive phase at the moment with my AR XA and newly found Grace F9E, I will always have at least one idler around. Presently, I have these 4:

    Garrard Lab 80

    [​IMG]

    Miracord 50H

    [​IMG]

    Pioneer PL-6A

    [​IMG]

    Dual 1019

    [​IMG]
     
  9. cat9

    cat9 Forum Resident


    Lovely "crop" of tables....I especially like the look of the Pioneer.
     
  10. soundfanz

    soundfanz Forum Resident

    A couple of pics of my heavily modded PTP Lenco

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    A dealer in my area is a big fan of idler tables. He particularly likes the Thorens 124. A lot of his cost-is-no-object customers are equipped with 124s, the top-of-the-line Ortofon arm and SPU cartridges; this makes their vinyl setup the cheapest part of their system (cheaper than a single pair of high end interconnects). One of the more interesting tables he has in the shop is a Gates transcription table that has a massive platter and a speed selector that looks like a Ferrari shifter.
     
    sberger and action pact like this.
  12. cat9

    cat9 Forum Resident


    Very nice!!
    Looks like a pretty substantial platter - is it one piece or more?
     
  13. soundfanz

    soundfanz Forum Resident

    Thanks. It's 2 stacked Lenco platters,with an extended spindle.
     
    nm_west and cat9 like this.
  14. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I'm curious about these decks, but anytime vintage gear is being considered I worry about something breaking down the road. The fact that idler mechanisms seem pretty complicated and involve a lot of moving parts adds to this. Any thoughts from long term owners on this? Is it a matter of getting it refurbished properly once and enjoying it for life?
     
  15. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore Thread Starter

    Not really. Most of them are built like tanks, and only the auto-changers have a lot of moving parts. Most of them have just a motor/pulley and idler wheel under the hood.

    The only parts that usually are problematic are the idler bearings and the tires themselves, which can be rebuilt for about $40.

    My ROK was super-easy to refurbish:

    [​IMG]
     
    soundfanz and Rolltide like this.
  16. raferx

    raferx Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Beast!
     
  17. soundfanz

    soundfanz Forum Resident

    Agree. The Lenco is a simple table, with a motor that will just keep keeping on. Lots of Lenco owners out there upgrade the bearing, and remove the top plate and replace it with a more rigid system like the PTP plates.
    I cheated a little bit, purchased my Lenco already installed with the PTP plate and the plinth it sits in. I spent money only on a new bearing (about 350 AUD) and replaced the Idler wheel. I then purchased another old platter, had someone make me an armboard mount due to the increased height needed, and lastly purchased an extended Spindle to accommodate two platters.
    End game for me will come in the next couple of months when I hope to purchase a Phoenix Engineering "Eagle" PSU Speed Controller and possibly a Roadrunner Tachomotor to lock in speed control.

    http://hifiheaven.net/shop/Phoenix-...r-PSU-Turntable-Speed-Controller?search=Eagle

    I've been informed by Phoenix that they are currently beta testing a unit that will work with the Lenco's and any Garrard. At the minute they aren't suitable for Lenco's etc because of the wattage requirement that they require.
     
    action pact likes this.
  18. inperson

    inperson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    Looks like you just posted someone's social security number for all the world to see :D
     
  19. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore Thread Starter

    I looked it up once... he died a while ago. :)
     
    Wally Swift likes this.
  20. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Etched social security numbers on audio gear as a security measure is part of the fun of vintage gear!
     
    SandAndGlass and action pact like this.
  21. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    I wonder how many owners of idler wheel table owners utilize modern and unconventional arms, such as Graham Phantoms, Tri-planars, Schroder, Kuzma, etc? It seems that most owners use vintage arms or arms that might be new but are in the vintage design camp (e.g., EMT and Ortofon arms with SPU headshells, Thomas Schick).
     
  22. nm_west

    nm_west Forum Resident

    Location:
    Abq. NM. USA
    I have the usual Garrards, Duals, etc.
    My favorite sounding ones are the L75's. I have one with the original arm and one with a Black Widow

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    coltlacey1 and action pact like this.
  23. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore Thread Starter

    I went with an SME 3009 for my TD-124 because a.) it's a good performer; b.) it's affordable; and c.) it's period-correct.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  24. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Is there any use asking a "301 vs. TD124, who ya got?" type of question, or is that just of the coke/pepsi ford/chevy tastes great/less filling nature?
     
  25. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore Thread Starter

    Both are awesome! :)

    From what I've read (never having heard the Garrards), is the Thorens has a 'softer,' 'rounder' sound, and the Garrard has more slam. That makes sense to me, since the Thorens has a hybrid belt-idler system and the the Garrards have a more conventional idler drive with the motor pulley spinning the tire.

    Here's a look under the hood of my TD-124, for those who haven't seen one:

    [​IMG]
     
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