Thursday, February 14, 2008

HiFi 05 : Project Classic Cherry Turntable

The last few years have seen a resurgence of good, old-fashioned LPs. I guess there are a number of reasons for this; the number of people who still have substantial numbers of old records stacked away, but also a considerable attraction is the sheer physicality of those huge black vinyl discs and the transparent way they convey music.

Do BVDs sound better than CDs? Well, they're certainly different but for me, sound more lyrical and when the music needs it and more visceral when the bass really kicks in.

Through the whole of the CD revolution I maintained an ability to play LP records, firstly with a turntable I built using a platter kit and an Audio-Technica arm, then, for convenience a Dual 504 and lately, a Project Classic Cherry turntable.

Of course, the Project was built for the European market and thus runs on 220v/50Hz, while the US supply is 110v/60Hz. Elsewhere I have found a solution to supply 220v in a US household, but the controlling factor on this type of turntable drive is the 50Hz cycle, while US supply is at 60Hz.

Henley Designs, the UK supplier of the Project turntable were very helpful and were able to supply a 110v/60Hz motor. This was a fairly simple job to install, but it did require a small amount of soldering, so it wasn't completely straight forward.

There were a couple of glitches along the way; although Henley supplied the right motor, they included a 50Hz pulley and also in the move I lost the turntable drive belt. Worse, at some point, the tone arm had gained some play on the gimbals which had to be addressed.

Fortunately, it's the age of the internet and the belt and pulley problem was easy to address via Elex Atalier. Finding a tool to adjust the arm bearings was more difficult, but I eventually sourced one with The Needle Doctor.

Installing the belt was simple enough, but the bearings were more difficult since there really wasn't any information on how to do it. Henley only told me it was a very skilled job for one of their technicians. So it really was up to me ...

Even with the tool the bearings have a lot of stiction. Each adjustment seemed to go in little jerks. What I did was to incrementally tighten the bearings until I could feel no more play, and then backed up slightly and checked again for play. I've no idea if this is the correct process, but it seems to work; the bearings seem very free, but with no play at all.

All this has been well worthwhile. It sounds good and I think the only future upgrade may be a better cartridge when the current one is in need of replacement.

I am slowly in the process of bringing over the best of my collection and I am also really lucky that Princeton Record Exchange is very close and has a huge inventory of used LPs and a fair few new ones. More about PREX another day ...

*See my hifi / media index here.