Garrard Lab 80s

the jewel in the crown
Selectivelibrary1
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Garrard Lab 80s

Post by Selectivelibrary1 » 15 Aug 2013 02:18

This post may bring some eire from some as it's about the lowly Garrard Lab 80 "changer". Yes, changer. Before I get railed on I must give a little background. I've been a voyeur of VinylEngine for a long time. It's been such a great resource for my lifelong (nearly fifty year) obsession with hi-fi phonographs and equipment. The resources you all offer are very great. I sincerely appreciate everybody's opinion, advice, suggestions and comments.

Now, back to my topic of the Garrard Lab 80s.....

I've owned a few of these over the years but never gave them much of a thought. My thought was they were cheap, consumer grade players that were good for playing old junk records, nothing else. Heck, why waste any more time on these? Well....I was wrong on my thought.

Recently I decided to pull a couple of Lab 80's out of dry storage. My thought was to re-hab them and sell them to some novice on Epay. However, after rebuilding and trying them out, I'm seriously re-considering my fix-and-dump thought.

The Lab 80 was a consumer grade player, no doubt. I'm not espousing it is anything close to a high-dollar single play turntable. Having said that, I must state, with sincere confidence, I am sincerely impressed with the performance of the Lab 80. After tearing one down to the basic components, replacing the rock hard grease and then properly setting it up with a vintage cartridge the Lab 80 performs well for what it is. The six pound platter and uniquely mounted motor really do shunt nearly all rumble. The funky wood arm sounds fine (with appropriate cartridges) and allows you to swap cartridges easily. What makes it even better is you can play your marginal records automatically with no doubt they will sound as great as they can! I'm so glad I didn't just blow the Lab 80s off.

One thing to remember is the Lab 80 isn't a perfect monster. Restoring one is a bit frustrating until you find out the height of the platter shaft is the cause of your automatic "does not drop" problems. Like some Duals, the Lab 80 could use a shaft set screw. I was able to work around these issues and make the two I own work flawlessly. Are they perfect, NO, but they are great changers.

Thanks to all the VinylEngine members. It's though our collective collaboration we will keep vintage vinyl sounding like it should....excellent!

nat
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by nat » 15 Aug 2013 15:45

Actually, the Lab 80 has quite a following, if not here, certainly at Audio Karma. But it doesn't have a wood tone arm -- it has a pot metal tonearm with an afromesia insert. For some reason Garrard dedicated a lot of advertising copy to that piece of wood, but the structural member is metal. There are plenty of wood tonearms -- ADC, Grado, Weathers, Grace (I think) -- but I suspect wood wouldn't be a consistent enough material for mass production of the sort that Garrard did.

DSJR
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by DSJR » 20 Aug 2013 15:15

The fantastic thing about the Lab 80 in good working order is that there are a good supply of cartridges (and the odd stylus for older ones) that will work in the arm.

I put a basic cork mat on top of the stock mat (seems to lighten the sound beneficially) and this gets the arm level when playing single records. The exit cables to amp are home made Van Damme 'Tour Grade' screened RCA leads and I use an Ortofon stylus balance (the titchy one for under ten quid) as the one on my tonearm under-reads and have had great sonic results with a Shure M55e/Ed Saunders' stylus, Grado F1+, Rega R100 (similar to the A&R E77 and current Sumiko Pearl) and I even used a Shure V15 IV in mine for a while, meaning the current me97XE should be perfect. An Ortofon VMS5e and OM5e sounded great as well and these can still be got on eBay from time to time - anything with stable tracking from 1.5g upwards, depending on deck sample.

Lovely old decks these and the last time the drive and platter were of the correct grade. the SL75/95 and AP75 which came after were far cheaper to build in my opinion and worked well despite themselves I reckon, the tolerances nowhere near an equivalent Dual for example (1019, 1218, 1219, 1229 etc), these latter taking the lab 80 standard and building on it with proper tonearms, quiet and utterly gentle mechs and very refined drives...

Enjoy your lab 80's, I do mine very much :)

zal319
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by zal319 » 21 Aug 2013 03:49

I have only recently obtained my Lab 80 and after getting it running well (with the much appreciated help from a VE member) I can say I am very pleased and impressed with the sound quality this table produces. Running a completely vintage setup with a Shure M55e cart, I find it compares very favorably to my Marantz 6300 and Pickering XV 1500 setup in terms of performance, and I find myself using and enjoying it more and more. The LAB 80 can be frustrating to get right and will will probably need adjustments as time goes on, but once you are "in the groove" it sounds very very good indeed. Hope all Lab 80 owners enjoy :D

sberger
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by sberger » 22 Aug 2013 06:14

I love my Lab 80 MKII. Switch between it and a restored Dual 1219, although I prefer the Lab 80. Just a beefier, bigger sound that knocks me out. Normally run a Shure M91ED cart with either a Jico SAS or OEM stylus, but just got ahold of an M55E with an OEM stylus and think I like that even more.

Great, underrated table.

http://i1341.photobucket.com/albums/o74 ... 66c5e8.jpg

DSJR
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by DSJR » 22 Aug 2013 11:18


sberger
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by sberger » 22 Aug 2013 23:20

Looking pretty good there.

DSJR
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by DSJR » 27 Aug 2013 13:04

Mine's not a mint example as the original owner had little holes drilled for a deck-light and a clunky switch/light also on the plinth, which I removed and masked off. The mechanicals seem fine apart from a now tiny flat on the idler wheel. I lack a lathe and read that re-tyred idlers may not be as quiet as the soft originals (the identical looking idlers from previous models had a harder compound I believe). I get a now very muffled thump-thump if I turn the volume well up and it doesn't bother me :) Doesn't stop me loving and respecting this deck more the longer I've had it.

sberger
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by sberger » 06 Sep 2013 18:34

Just put a Grado 8MZ stylus on a F1+ body and am using and liking it very much on the Lab 80. Can't really find any spec sheets on the web for it, but an expert on Audiokarma suggested 1.65 tracking force, and loading it down to 10K. Sounds really nice. Don't know if from a compliance standpoint if it's "right" for the Lab 80 arm, but it's doing a very nice job with lot's of bass and a smooth top end.

Anybody else use a combo like this on their Lab 80's? DSJR I noticed you used a F1+ and I assume it was the stock stylus that you used with it? How did that sound?

DSJR
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by DSJR » 09 Sep 2013 21:34

The F1+, either because of age or just luck, tracks at 1.5g (externally checked) a dream in the Lab 80mk2 of mine. No wobble on warps or dragging at side end. The sound at 47k loading is fine - not tizzy at all and certainly not dull and bland as I found the Prestige Gold (the new 'One' models have been tweaked and I don't know how different they are). The Ortofon VMS5e sounded nice in this deck too, with no roughness I sometimes noticed in other decks.

comfynumb
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by comfynumb » 08 Feb 2014 22:28

I'm hoping to breath a little life into this thread :)

After looking into the Lab 80 I would really like to find one in good shape. I've read that the Mk i is truly manual in manual mode, is this the case?

Is the Mk ii truly manual in manual mode as well.

Is one better than the other as far as sound quality?


Thanks,

sberger
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by sberger » 08 Feb 2014 22:58

MK II has auto return in manual mode(which I love, as do many other Lab 80 owners). I haven't heard a MK1 but my understanding is that there is no difference in sound quality.

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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by comfynumb » 08 Feb 2014 23:10

I see. So the Mk one does not auto return after playing?

Based on what I've read I would think they would sound similar.

Is the tonearm considered medium mass?

sberger
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by sberger » 08 Feb 2014 23:28

My new favorite cart/stylus combo with my Lab 80 is a Shure M91ED/N93E. The 91ED stylus sounds very good with the arm, but the 93E tracks a little heavier(1.5-3g) and so works from a compliance standpoint a little more favorably. And it adds a bit more weight on the bottom without losing anything that I can hear on the top. I was lucky enough to get an original 93E from a vendor just before they closed up shop, but I have a Jico which sounds very good. There are other replicas out there also for less money if anybody wants to experiment.

comfynumb
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Re: Garrard Lab 80s

Post by comfynumb » 08 Feb 2014 23:35

I bet it sounds great :-)

I just received my stylus replacement for my Shure/Realistic cartridge and I'm not liking the fit at all, there's a gap between it and the cart. I won't make that mistake again and the next time it will be a better brand for me.

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