2019 August 25
There are things we own, things that own us, and things in between. I buy a carton of eggs at the grocery store and they're mine. I can make them into an omelet, I can hard boil them and paint Easter decorations, I can even throw them off my rooftop. They're mine and nobody I know says otherwise.
Maybe six months later, maybe a year, maybe two years, I saw a cool turntable called the Transcriptors Skeleton. It has a lovely platter that suspends the vinyl record on ten rubber dimples with five-fold symmetry and the platter-tonearm combination balances on a three-point spring suspension. By whatever artistic standard the Vestigal looks good, the Skeleton looks every-so-much-more-so beautiful. I saw the Skeleton, but not with a Vestigal mounted on it.
But here it was on eBay, Skeleton and Vestigal from 1973, way too much money for a turntable and tonearm, even with a nice Ortofon phonograph cartridge. I winced, I decided that I could live with paying that much not just for a piece of audio history, but also for a piece of art, something lovely in my home that I can look at. I may think my Linn/LOCI looks terrific, but it's plain-Jane next to the Transcriptor set-up.
So I got the box sent from Russia, well most of it, because the seller didn't pack it very well. (Here are videos of the product and pictures of my journey from a broken box full of parts to a working system.) There were tears large enough for parts to fall out, so I believe him when he says he packed all the parts even though some were missing. I found a fellow in Florida who had the missing parts and could tell me how they fit together. Life is good after all!
So now I have it wired and running in my hifi. There's no user switch. Instead there's an old telephone-switch-style reed switch and a magnet that moves closer to the switch to turn it on. There are only three wires from the headshell back to the pivot, so the two cartridge ground wires are connected to each other. It's okay, it works, and it still looks lovely. The tonearm has no armrest as the anti-skate is set by balancing the back pivot so it gently stays away from the platter.
Time for audition: The Transcriptors setup is beautiful and it sounds nice. In spite of having no way to regulate its constantly-changing vertical angle, in spite of the Ortofon being a middle-level performing cartridge, in spite of the suspension not being as smooth and balanced as it was forty-six years ago, the sound is smooth and balanced with a satisfying image on records that have a real stereo image. It's a joy to listen to it, not to mention how beautiful it is.
Time for comparison: The Linn/LOCI/Denon is an easy winner. It does control the vertical angle repeatably and precisely and it has more horizontal mass. Inspired by the Vestigal I designed it that way. As I expected, its image is clearer and more consistent and its bass is a whole lot deeper and tighter. Voices and instruments are more real and there's more there there. It doesn't make the Transcriptors any worse and I would have been very surprised had it come out the other way.
So now I have two good-looking, good-sounding turntables. No complaints. They go well with my two half-track and my quarter-track tape decks. There's a Camelot Magic digital-to-analogue converter to play the FLAC files I made from my compact disks (CDs), so now I'm in audio heaven with lots of input media.
Today is 2019 October 18, Friday,
22:40:41 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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