The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

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lbls1
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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by lbls1 » 12 Jul 2019 01:47

Many 70's era Garrards catch a hard time, as I've found that these crafts tend to be expensive to repair due to the rarity of parts. Moreover, many Garrard decks, although of good quality, cost considerably less used than it would to have them serviced. Garrards were capable of producing excellent high fidelity sound, and had a certain aura of quality and prestige. One has to be careful when shopping Garrard decks, and have at least a good idea on a deck's present quality and availabiilty of certain parts.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by anmpr1 » 06 Aug 2019 19:12

DSJR wrote:
11 Jul 2019 10:06
Thoughts have changed as to the suggested null positions from disc centre
Has thinking changed since 1938? That is when Erik Lofgren essentially solved the problem of minimizing lateral tracking error (weighted tracking error) in a pivoted tonearm. That's geometry for you. If Garrard got it right many years later, that is to the company's credit. I have not checked their pivoted arms, so I can't say if they did, or didn't.

When people talk about other 'solutions' they are talking about alignments that address different problems than minimizing WTE.

a) The so-called Stevenson alignment attempts to minimize inner groove distortion, at the expense of the rest of the record.

b) Lofgren devised an alignment to minimize WTE when the arm's offset angle is fixed and cannot be adjusted, and is based on adjusting overhang to minimize the RMS level of tracking distortion.

c) Finally, Lofgren devised an alignment designed to minimize WTE peak distortion between null points, at the expense of overall WTE.

The Stevenson 'solution' is archaic, especially in the context of cartridges with elliptical and better points. It was valid when cartridges couldn't track very well, but makes no sense anymore.

The second Lofgren alignment is only for tonearms that are essentially 'broken' in their design (ie, cartridge is fixed and can't be adjusted for offset). No one should be using one of these arms.

The third Lofgren alignment is more a psychological solution--the idea that lower cumulative distortion between higher peaks of relatively short duration is less objectionable than an overall reduction in WTE distortion found in his optimum solution. The best explanation I've found of this alternative was in Audio Critic 10:

By minimizing the integral of the distortion function weighted by the application of the method of least squares, Lofgren proposed to reduce the middle peak and obtain lower tracking distortion over the long, slow stretch between the two nulls, thereby alleviation an 'annoyance factor'. The price to paid for this is the automatic increase of the other two peaks, at the outer and inner grooves, but the resulting higher distortion is of relatively short duration, and therefore has little effect on the annoyance factor.

In the archives of this site you can find it all spelled out in a paper by Graeme Dennes: An Analysis of Six Major Articles on Tonearm Alignment and Opitmisation (and a Summary of Optimum Design Equations).

If you can't hear any difference, then you can't. But it takes just a little effort to adjust for optimum geometry, so not to do it makes little sense, either.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by Belmont » 12 Aug 2019 16:26

Having restored and used an SL95 for the last few months, I'd be hard pressed to call it a "bad" turntable when it's in good shape. It would be like calling an old Jaguar E-Type or S-Type a "bad car". The speed is rock solid, the wooden tonearm is an iconic look, and it doesn't sound bad at all. It does, however, suffer from a bad case of '60s British engineering. Smacks of British Leyland abound-the odd ergonomics, the kinda lightweight platter, the myriad of redundant levers and springs that all have to be perfectly in relation with one another to function and are precariously held in with e-clips, the grease that has long-since turned into hog glue and utterly prevent said levers and springs from functioning, etc. etc. etc. That being said, I'd trade it in a heartbeat for the 95B model, since that's the one that sparked my interest in turntables, and frankly just looks much nicer with the three switches instead of the two weird flipper-tabs.

However, it's pretty obvious that Dual made much better turntables. Even my humble 1009, one of the more primitive Duals, feels much nicer in almost every way. The platter is HEAVY, every lever and switch and function is butter smooth, the mechanism is only as complex as it needs to be, and you are mercifully given the choice of selecting size and speed separately. Even without adjustable anti-skate, the tonearm seems to track perfectly. That's not to say it can't be a fidgety nightmare if one thing is out of whack. God help you if something's wrong with the idler or motor pulley...

Both suffer from having proprietary headshells that don't allow for proper cartridge alignment. Hums will develop or leads will break for no apparent reason. Alignment pretty much depends on the size of the cartridge, and matching carts to tonearms is also important. The Garrard seems to work best with an AT-VM95E or a Pickering XV15/350, and does NOT like ADC carts or cheap aftermarket styli. The Dual is flawless with the Pickering or the ADC, but mistracked like crazy with the ATVM95E. A good conical seems to be a safe bet with either of these.

FWIW, the Pickering on the Garrard seems to line up perfectly with my Loefgren protractor.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by lbls1 » 13 Aug 2019 01:54

^I'm not sure if I would go as far as saying that Dual was a better brand than Garrard. The Duals were distinctive (thus why I am a fan of their vintage turntables) and approached record handling differently than Garrard. Equally important, the Duals seem to be fairly good with servicing (unlike my current Garrard). It just something with the aura of the Garrard brand, the look of class with some models, and the sound reproduction of Garrard. Garrard and other platters didn't have the tricks of Dual, but the sound reproduction and record handling of a Garrard was HiFi grade and quite competent in the turntable genre.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by T68 » 13 Aug 2019 06:06

Having done some job under the hood on two Duals (601, 1225) and a Garrard Zero 100s I must say that the Garrard to me seems to be a sturdier build. Maybe not as refined as the Duals but more solid. Less plastic and metal parts are heavier grade. After a direct hit, to me the Garrard would live. The Duals probably not.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by DSJR » 13 Aug 2019 18:38

Garrard were penny-pinched by Plessey and it was careful detail engineering that got these decks working properly at all. I had an SL95 in mint condition way after the 95B Module I was very happy with and I have to say I thought it was horrible, due to very sloppy flipper controls, too much play in the tonearm horizontal bearings (gravity loading be damned) and I didn't think it sounded that wonderful with the ubiquitous AT95E fitted (this would have been late 80's when I came by it). The 'B' models I feel, tightened up on some of the sloppiness, the three tab controls 'feel' much better (and nod to the lab 80 model) and I think the reproduction 'sound quality' is better too..

By the way, the Dual auto mech when serviced and working right is an absolute slick joy to behold and very much simpler, although one or two rubbery parts on later models ('pimpel' and 1219/29/49 rubber sleeve in the arm height assembly) need replacing to prevent a very nasty repair to replacing the 'dearing ring.' The Garrard mechs are more complex, but it's only dry grease that really slugs 'em...

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by lbls1 » 14 Aug 2019 01:53

Garrard also made the unfortunate decision of competing with the mass market turntable makes such as BSR, and made many component turntables that were cheap in appearance and had so-so quality. We saw more of this in the mid to late 70's, that probably hurt their reputation. Garrard made several landmark crafts during their prosperous period, including the Zero turntables and its derivatives.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by DSJR » 14 Aug 2019 10:45

BSR got better in fairness. The good looking MP60 (P128?) was a direct competitor to the venerable SP25 III and later, the HT70 (not sure of the general model number) offered a heavier taller platter with much improved rumble and W&F figures. The BDS 80 compared well with the 125SB (UK models) and of course the top models (610/810?) did fairly well for a time, but I never compared these to the 95B or Zero models, all of which were, in the UK, totally annihilated sales-wise by the Pioneer PL12-D.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by Belmont » 14 Aug 2019 15:52

DSJR wrote:
13 Aug 2019 18:38
Garrard were penny-pinched by Plessey and it was careful detail engineering that got these decks working properly at all. I had an SL95 in mint condition way after the 95B Module I was very happy with and I have to say I thought it was horrible, due to very sloppy flipper controls, too much play in the tonearm horizontal bearings (gravity loading be damned) and I didn't think it sounded that wonderful with the ubiquitous AT95E fitted (this would have been late 80's when I came by it). The 'B' models I feel, tightened up on some of the sloppiness, the three tab controls 'feel' much better (and nod to the lab 80 model) and I think the reproduction 'sound quality' is better too..

By the way, the Dual auto mech when serviced and working right is an absolute slick joy to behold and very much simpler, although one or two rubbery parts on later models ('pimpel' and 1219/29/49 rubber sleeve in the arm height assembly) need replacing to prevent a very nasty repair to replacing the 'dearing ring.' The Garrard mechs are more complex, but it's only dry grease that really slugs 'em...
Definitely agreed on the awful flipper controls. They’re extremely unergonomic, and manual cueing is a bit of a pain. I don’t think mine has sloppy tonearm bearings, though. I don’t feel any looseness when I move the arm around or even (gently) try to twist it. Luck of the draw?

Maybe it’s because it’s a newer model, but I quite liked mounting an ATVM95E on mine. I’d reckon that’s about as fancy as I’d get with one of these.

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by Landolaman1 » 14 Aug 2019 16:54

I was fortunate enough to get hold of a SL95B from a guy in Swindon a couple of years ago. The home of Garrard. It was pristine, still in the box, with all components present including a brand new GL800E cartridge. He had three of them, all boxed and untouched. He told me that his father had worked for Garrard and when he passed away he found the three boxed SL95B TT's in his fathers loft! Anyway, after a thorough de-grease, service and mounting in a suitable plinth i must say it performs superbly well. It is absolutely silent in operation and the speed is superbly maintained. It's difficult to fault the machine as an everyday go to spinner and as it's all mechanical with virtually few electronics it's wonderfully reliable. To say i like it, and i do have other "High end TT's" would be a total understatement. No i wouldn't class the SL95B as "Junk" under any circumstances!

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Re: The Garrard Sl95B - Was It Junk?

Post by DSJR » 16 Aug 2019 21:47

How did you fit a VM95E to the carrier? I thought the AT's mounted from above...

As to the question of different 'inner null points' since 1938. maybe the theory hasn't changed, but Garrard did.. The AT6 and descended 60mk2 used 70mm (I think the lab 80m does as well but can't get to it easily to confirm. the Zero 100 and later 86SB seem slightly different as well and setting overhang up 'correctly' for one deck seems to make it slightly off for the other. At day's end, it's largely inaudible and back then, even the Garrard people regarded the Zero 100 tonearm concept as a conversation piece (A70BBen may confirm, but it's in the Garrard book I think...)