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Playing Vinyl on a TD-124

Posted 6th January 2011 at 09:50 PM by kevinkr

I acquired a TD-124MKII back in late September and after some months feel like I have come to some understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.

I finally understand that the drive train will never be silent, and needs some periodic maintenance to perform quietly.

Belts are problematic on the MKII, and later versions of the MKI with the dual in chassis intermediate pulley. For some reason very early units seem quieter in this respect.

Motor rebuilding is pretty worthwhile, mine of course was not running so it was mandatory. My experience with motor bearings is limited, but based on replacing a number of bearing sets I would recommend the bearings available from The Analog Depot over others I've tried. They are very precisely made and run well from the get go.

I've added a Bren1 record weight which I feel clamps the record more effectively to the table's moving mass, and I thought improved some areas of performance significantly. Bass in particular.

I've also added a recent audiogon acquisition - a Merrill-Scillia mat which is a composite of lead, cork and rubber. This reduces coupling of mechanical noise (not much) from the table, as well as damping the vinyl effectively. It significantly improved overall resolution whilst removing the "air" I had come to like along with several objectionable and obvious colorations I didn't. I've managed through careful tweaking to get some of that sound back when it is actually present on the vinyl itself and not an artifact.

Recently I discovered that removing the bedplate grommets on my SME 3009 Series II was also beneficial in taming a bit of mid bass bloat, tightening things up on the bottom end considerably. Also seems to have improved resolution, soundstage and imaging. In general sounding a bit less confused than before.

The DL-103 is not the last word in trackability but through careful adjustment of tracking error, VTA, tracking force, and a significant reduction in anti-skating force I seem to have improved that issue as well.

I recently had the opportunity to listen to an SME 3012 Series II arm as part of the restoration process I am doing for a friend. I liked what I heard, clearly some improvements in tracking as well as the bass. Everything just seemed to sound a bit more cohesive. I was a bit surprised.. So I thought I would buy my own SME 3012, but studying eBay and Audiogon prices convinced me to look at acquiring a Schick instead - a modern and far better arm than the 3012 according to many. I have had the opportunity to use and listen to several, but had not considered it affordable.. A 12" Schick will be ordered soon.

Finally a slate plinth should complete the package. Not sure when this will happen.

The effort has been worth it so far, the sound is very good and often better than the comparable CD ignoring the obvious advantage CD has in inherent noise levels (no clicks and pops) and convenience.
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  1. Old Comment
    Well the convertion kit from 3009 to 3012 S2 is "only $380" while Schick arm is $1500 (used to be how much -$850??) and untill you'll notice whole project will take $4-5k with plinth , platter and other various upgrades -you know , talking about affordable...;0) Do you have any first (or second) hand experience , opinion about SME convertion kit from Thailand??
    Keep going with your TD 124 saga, Regards, L
    Posted 7th January 2011 at 09:31 PM by limono limono is offline
  2. Old Comment
    brianco's Avatar
    Are you using it with the alloy top platter in place? If so you will find a great improvement in removing it and putting your new mat straight on top of the heavyweight main platter. [Dont forget to reset the VTA]. Also trying alternative arm boards is advisable.

    Your slate plinth will make a big improvement...especially if you securely bolt the chassis into it without using the mushrooms. But I have to say that having spent over two years and a lot of money attempting to get the best out of this TT we found that it was far more sensible to accept that it would never be a really top quality TT. The Lenco heavy platter TTs are capable of a better performance but require a lot of effort to get there.

    The SME arms can give a very nice sound but again cartridges such as the Denon, SPU etc produce a lot of physical energy and are better in higher mass arms with absolutely 1st class bearings. The Schick arm will give a lot of improvement with such cartridges.
    Posted 10th January 2011 at 12:43 PM by brianco brianco is offline

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