New european "chinese built" turntables

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Woodbrains
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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Woodbrains » 17 Feb 2019 18:04

Hello,

It is not quite as simple as saying modern TT's are not as good as vintage, because vinyl playback is niche and there is no money spent on R and D. There is likely an element of this, for sure. But if someone wanted to build a machine as good as vintage, they merely need to reverse engineer the thing and copy it. The Chinese are reputably very good at that. TBH, from what I've heard, there is an awful lot of reverse engineering in the West, too, not as much innovation is going as as we might think.

Anyway, I see it like this; a good table in 1970's might cost £100. A Thorens or the like. Pioneer came along with the PL 12D for about half of that. Let's be honest, it was only OK. It was built pretty sturdily and the die cast platter and motor were pretty good. Performance was a bit meh! (Don't get me wrong, I have an PL 12D and love it, but it isn't as good sonically as my Rega Planar 2). A really good table might cost £200+. How much would a Lenco have cost to make? They are amazingly over built, I absolutely love that, but again, only OK sonically.

The problem is, many people are still expecting to pay 150-250 for a new table nowadays. Well what do we expect for that price point? TBH I think it is amazing they can be had for that at all, and work as they do. I do think they are garbage but there was never a like for like comparison to be had; a table was never made in 1970 that cost £3 (as far as I'm aware) to do a comparison of build quality etc.

Now there are a lot of tables in the £600-800 price range, many baulk at that, but it is equivalent to the mid price tables if the 70's, and £1500 is perhaps, in real terms, equivalent in price to the nice Thorens etc. of the day. These are actually very well made things as far as I can see, and have innovations and use materials that would seem space age by comparison. These certainly are not junk. Look at some of the new Thorens, Eat, Project, Technics, Rega et al. Some fabulous machines, and will be going strong in in 40 years, I've no doubt.

I do love vintage, but I'm not going to see through rose coloured glasses. I bought a Pioneer Pl 740 (or similar, I can't remember exactly) brand new in the mid 80's. It was as much as I could afford with my first job, and it was all I knew for a good while after. My friend had an Amstrad linear tracking something, which was bloody awful, so I thought my Pioneer was pretty good. When I got a bit older and saw other tables and understood a bit more about mechanics, I realised what a bit if junk it actually was! The motor held rock steady speed, to be fair to it (it still does actually, my avatar is a table I built around that motor/platter) but the tonearm was shocking and the chassis no better than my child's plastic toys, the platter, very lightly cast, perfunctory at best There were lots of similarly made tables from Sony, JVC, Realistic, Technics....the bulk of turntable sales, in fact. Not all vintage is golden, and not all modern is garbage.

One caveat, there are some very overpriced tables built these days, and some clearly aimed at the feckless super rich. That is for another thread, but there are still some solid and fairly priced machines available, if we place them in the right context.

Mike.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Feb 2019 18:44

Woodbrains wrote:
17 Feb 2019 18:04
It is not quite as simple as saying modern TT's are not as good as vintage, because vinyl playback is niche and there is no money spent on R and D. There is likely an element of this, for sure. But if someone wanted to build a machine as good as vintage, they merely need to reverse engineer the thing and copy it.
Not true that there is no money spent on R&D and that serious machines are merely a reverse engineering of vintage designs.
For the Thorens TD309, 209/206 and 203 models and their new tonearms the TP92, 90 and 82, Thorens contracted the Finck Audio Consulting to design and develop the new turntables. And they started from a blank white sheet of paper. They were not inspired of older vintage turntables and they did not reverse engineer anything. They started completely from scratch! This is also the reason for the TD309, 209/206 and 203 to have different looks than Thorens vintage.

Finck Audio Consulting and their owner Karl-Heinz Finck are mostly known for their loudspeaker designs, and here is an article about them with focus on loudspeakers:
https://www.whathifi.com/features/most- ... ever-heard

But the reason that Karl-Heinz Finck was contacted by Heinz Rohrer, the former CEO and owner of Thorens (the company changed ownership in May 2018), was that the Finck Team had unique experiences in resonance measuring and to control resonances. This is very important for loudspeaker designs, and also for turntable designs. So this expertise with resonance control was carried over to research and develop a new line of turntables. The new suspension system in the TD 309 is clearly inspired by how the cones in a loudspeaker is set up and controlled. Also the new tonearms with a resonance damping ring to control resonances is a sign of this.

From Finck Audio's own webpage:
"In the early days it was just system engineering, but today it’s also serious drive unit construction, based on modern FE/BE Analysis and modern measurement equipment like Klippel Analyzer and Polytec Scanning Vibrometer. Since a while, we also started designing turntables – no wonder, it’s the same set of problems with Micro Vibrations – just on the other end of the music chain. We do tonearms, suspension systems and motor drive systems. But still our heart beats for the music, so on top of all measurements and engineering work, it’s the musical performance that counts and that is what we are looking for."
https://www.fink-audio.net/?page_id=8

Finck Audio Consultings leading man in turntable designs and development, is Walter Fuchs.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Woodbrains » 17 Feb 2019 18:50

Hello,

Raphael, don't misunderstand me, I was intimating that there is new innovation and most new tables are designed from scratch. I was using the popular argument that says there is limited R and D as a starting point, and then disagree with it.

Mike.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Issuesman666 » 17 Feb 2019 19:08

Woodbrains wrote:
17 Feb 2019 18:04
Hello,

It is not quite as simple as saying modern TT's are not as good as vintage, because vinyl playback is niche and there is no money spent on R and D. There is likely an element of this, for sure. But if someone wanted to build a machine as good as vintage, they merely need to reverse engineer the thing and copy it. The Chinese are reputably very good at that. TBH, from what I've heard, there is an awful lot of reverse engineering in the West, too, not as much innovation is going as as we might think.

Anyway, I see it like this; a good table in 1970's might cost £100. A Thorens or the like. Pioneer came along with the PL 12D for about half of that. Let's be honest, it was only OK. It was built pretty sturdily and the die cast platter and motor were pretty good. Performance was a bit meh! (Don't get me wrong, I have an PL 12D and love it, but it isn't as good sonically as my Rega Planar 2). A really good table might cost £200+. How much would a Lenco have cost to make? They are amazingly over built, I absolutely love that, but again, only OK sonically.

The problem is, many people are still expecting to pay 150-250 for a new table nowadays. Well what do we expect for that price point? TBH I think it is amazing they can be had for that at all, and work as they do. I do think they are garbage but there was never a like for like comparison to be had; a table was never made in 1970 that cost £3 (as far as I'm aware) to do a comparison of build quality etc.

Now there are a lot of tables in the £600-800 price range, many baulk at that, but it is equivalent to the mid price tables if the 70's, and £1500 is perhaps, in real terms, equivalent in price to the nice Thorens etc. of the day. These are actually very well made things as far as I can see, and have innovations and use materials that would seem space age by comparison. These certainly are not junk. Look at some of the new Thorens, Eat, Project, Technics, Rega et al. Some fabulous machines, and will be going strong in in 40 years, I've no doubt.

I do love vintage, but I'm not going to see through rose coloured glasses. I bought a Pioneer Pl 740 (or similar, I can't remember exactly) brand new in the mid 80's. It was as much as I could afford with my first job, and it was all I knew for a good while after. My friend had an Amstrad linear tracking something, which was bloody awful, so I thought my Pioneer was pretty good. When I got a bit older and saw other tables and understood a bit more about mechanics, I realised what a bit if junk it actually was! The motor held rock steady speed, to be fair to it (it still does actually, my avatar is a table I built around that motor/platter) but the tonearm was shocking and the chassis no better than my child's plastic toys, the platter, very lightly cast, perfunctory at best There were lots of similarly made tables from Sony, JVC, Realistic, Technics....the bulk of turntable sales, in fact. Not all vintage is golden, and not all modern is garbage.

One caveat, there are some very overpriced tables built these days, and some clearly aimed at the feckless super rich. That is for another thread, but there are still some solid and fairly priced machines available, if we place them in the right context.

Mike.
This is a good post.The Vintage Agenda on this forum is quick to recommend the turntables you speak of.Such plastic based turntables were common(even Technics made them such as the SL 210,220 etc) in the 70's and 80's.

I have such a vintage turntable and am lately thinking of retiring it or donating it even though I use it often to play less than wholesome shaped condition records.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Feb 2019 19:11

Woodbrains wrote:
17 Feb 2019 18:50
Raphael, don't misunderstand me, I was intimating that there is new innovation and most new tables are designed from scratch. I was using the popular argument that says there is limited R and D as a starting point, and then disagree with it.
Then I misunderstood your first paragraph, my apologies. :)

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Woodbrains » 17 Feb 2019 19:31

raphaelmabo wrote:
17 Feb 2019 19:11
Woodbrains wrote:
17 Feb 2019 18:50
Raphael, don't misunderstand me, I was intimating that there is new innovation and most new tables are designed from scratch. I was using the popular argument that says there is limited R and D as a starting point, and then disagree with it.
Then I misunderstood your first paragraph, my apologies. :)
Hello,

That's OK, your post continues to forward the point I was making, anyway.

I do like much vintage stuff, but a lot is of an age now, that they are beginning to fail. I have not had a table recently from 1980 that hasn't needed new capacitors as the speed has become erratic. I am fiddling with a Pioneer PL 300X at the moment, totally erratic speed. I just recapped it and now works fine. It has a nicely made, heavyish platter. But the tonearm is awful. The plastic plinth is dreadfully resonant and the suspension is fairly basic and now failing with age. These were not very low end tables pricewise, and probably good enough for casual listening, they were semi auto. But are they worth buying now? No, unless you can fix them yourself, they certainly are not worth paying to have a tech do it. And if they are user serviced to keep cost ecconomical, what is the end result? A fairly low to middling performing machine.

I hope to use the motor and platter to build a home brew table, but I would not use it as is. I would find it hard to recommend any 40 year old table, of this sort of quality, unless a lot of time and or money is spent to get it back to spec. So only the high end machines would be worth it and these originally would have been expensive things back in the day.

Mike.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by chgc » 17 Feb 2019 20:20

OK, I guess the turntable market is bigger and more vital than I had previously appreciated. Thanks Raphael, Mike et al. for pointing out interesting recent developments.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by toaster999 » 17 Feb 2019 20:22

We all started (well some/most) with hand me down turntables or cheap ones - thats all we could afford. If these are the Garrard SP25 of today - no bad thing. They encourage people to play and buy vinyl.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by pivot » 18 Feb 2019 01:43

Spinner45 wrote:
17 Feb 2019 16:50
pivot wrote:
17 Feb 2019 15:44
An old saying from work not "hobby", "It does not matter who built a thing but to who's specification it is built". In other words, does the company whose name is on the label exercise control over the end result and stand behind the results.

If the parent company ...... AND if the parent company ........ AND if the the parent company.........if the company holds up it's end.

...............
That last statement normally would be true, as in "back in the day" such companies as RCA Victor, Zenith, Westinghouse, Fisher, Harman Kardon, etc., made products with their reputation in mind.
There was individuality back then, not cloned, cookie-cutter offerings.
But today, those names don't mean crap, because "the name on the label" was bought by outsiders, as was many others, and produce products of questionable generic quality.
Did you miss the numerous "ifs"? The company has to do it's job. Not all do. Many great names of the past have faded away because of it. If they don't do the job they deserve to fade.

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