On the surface, turntable is a simple device that plays music records. In reality, there is much more to it than just a basic combination of plinth, tonearm, and motor. The trick is to build high quality turntable components and make them seamlessly work together.
The development of my first decent turntable prototype took over 2 years of hard work and trying 5 or 6 different designs along the way.
I had to face the following challenges and dilemmas:
- General materials (what to use?) and blending them together based on self-resonance and vibrations
- Effects of materials on sound quality (tons of research and reviews read before deciding on my preferred specification)
- Wood processing, veneering and varnishing
- CNC turning and manual processing of plastics, aluminium (several alloys), and stainless steel (several alloys). Coating application (varnishes, anodes, and vinyl)
- Technical drawings including 3D models and CNC machine inserts. Searching for manufacturers and building trade relationships (very few are interested in small-scale projects)
- Motor, drivers, and controller software in C++
- Soldering technique and PCB board design
- Customs and legal considerations (I do get a few components from China – nothing wrong with that)
- Branding design and trademark registration
- Website, professional photos and captions, brochure (work in progress), product packaging and labelling etc.
I write all this to show you that making high quality turntables, speakers or amplifiers is not as easy, quick or cheap as you may think. By the way – the turntable price is not determined by the combined value of its components. To those who ask me if the turntable is made of gold after seeing the price tag – it is not but should still cost even more than that! I will tell you a secret – a turntable is an investment that may never pay back. Too bad – turntables are my passion, not just a job.
In the next few blog entries, I will be telling you what has already happened in my BennyAudio journey and how I plan to further develop and improve the most influential component of a high-end system – tonearm. I’m not sure how this story ends but I do know that this type of tonearm research is carried out in secret labs of the finest quality audio brands.
Read next: Part 1 – Avalanche