of searching for for perfect sound
A bit of history for the patient reader. If you don't feel like reading the constructor's insights, go straight to the technical details.
The design that I am presenting to you was created for completely prosaic reasons. Every lover of listening to music at home comes to the point where they feel the need to change.
The unbearable awareness of the limitations resulting from the current equipment configuration, boredom with the lack of new discoveries in the matter of sound, and finally the usual and deeply human desire to raise the bar for ourselves, makes us start running around shops and with deep conviction we feel the need to spend our hard-earned money. Every fan of vinyl media knows that just recreating a beloved record is a simple matter, because the great years of the analog have left an endless stock of old designs available on the second hand market. New constructions were also created, the sophistication and technical advancement of which is admired by all those who have a little idea of precision mechanics or creating new forms of utility objects. The turntable I had at my disposal had sentimental value, it was functional and sound quality was ok. And that was enough for me for years. With time I came to conclusion that I had no idea about the facts so obvious to me today that each cartridge should be optimally positioned, that the tonearm should allow it, and that the vinyl record does not tolerate errors and shows them mercilessly. While having fun with designing home furniture, I got to know the unlimited possibilities of my befriended craftsman (wood, metals and so on) and that opened my eyes to new possibilities.
Due to a bit of innate quirks, I decided to create a turntable with a shape other than a rectangular body. Originally, I intended to use my old turntable as an organ donor for transplantation. As I do not have a very sophisticated taste, or rather, I like classics from the Art Deco era, I started looking for a model to follow from the 30s of the past century. The unlimited possibilities of internet search engines also made it possible - as if by the way - to discover that the world is full of turntable designers! The achievements of enthusiasts such as P. Altmann creating their structures from what they found in a junk store, from wooden and metal elements that used to be something completely different, allowed me to become convinced that I do not necessarily have to stick to the current convention. What struck me the most about this search and its results, however, was that devices that looked like objects created by Robinson Crusoe with an axe and a sailor's knife on his desert island. They had great reviews to! The reviews talked about aspects of the sound that I had no idea about. Details and flavors I have never heard of. Finally excellent articles about calibrating a turntable, such as the compendium provided in an understandable way by P. Robert Rolof on the RCM website, made my determination reach its peak. Another significant fact was that my excellent colleagues Jacek and Wojtek were audiophiles searching for good turntable and they had a lot of caRTRIDGES to test my potential achievements. Their sophisticated musical tastes, experience in the whole range of the influence of individual elements of the system on the final result, helped me to objectively evaluate all steps of the project and avoid dead ends. Dear Sir or Madam! As you are probably fed up with reading about me and my creative suffering, in short, now about the very process of creating the AD FONTES turntable.
The original concept was to create a turntable with a plate made of a lump of metal weighing at least 10 kg, driven by a DC motor located as far away from the arm as possible, with the possibility of regulating and stabilizing the speed. The base was to be made of wood and consist of several independent elements that would allow decoupling everything from everything. The arm, very precise and susceptible to all regulations, was obtained from the secondary market and I was very pleased with it, if only because of its beautiful appearance. After finishing the carpentry and metal work, I got what I called Art Deco. After ages of adjustments and calibrations and what is extremely important building an additional excellent preamplifier - the RIAA equalizer on tubes according to my tube guru P. Hiragi, I got the nirvana effect. What was shocking was not that the turntable was mechanically and electrically efficient, but that I finally discovered the richness written in the grooves of the vinyl.
The quality of the sound provided, its lightness and detail, as well as completely new information reaching my imagination, so far VERY limited, allowed me to appreciate the efforts of designers creating gramophone works of art. I stopped treating them like haunted geeks or clever marketers.
As you know, better is the enemy of good. So I went further knowing that the turntable is only as good as its individual components. Most problematic for me were the elements obtained from other devices. I started to design individual details myself, to choose those optimally suited to my needs. More and more perfect bearings carrying heavy loads, arm lifts with adjustable fall time, DC motors originating from military with great precision of bearings and possibly noiseless. Plates of various designs, made of solid brass and aluminum or for a change, sandwiches made of acryl and metal separated by silicones of different elasticity. Power supplies for motors with the precision allowing for regulation and stabilization of revolutions at the level of a fraction of a percent…. And it would probably have ended there, if not for a bit of madness, instilled in me by audiophile Piotr from Warsaw, who persuaded me to make my own turntable arm. At this point, the limitations of the manufacturers assumptions regarding the arm length no longer applied to me and I could see that the 8 inch arm is a poor relative of the 10 inch and the fun only starts above 12 inches long. The shape of the arm itself, due to the "home production", had to be simple. Adding to the adjustment of all the parameters of the arm in a range not found on the market of popular turntables, I could finally say that I had built something that would meet my expectations, but also my colleagues, who were waiting patiently on the results of my work. The result is an arm with a classic 14-inch design, made so simply that it couldn't be simpler. Straight does not mean primitive though! After a few attempts, I was able to fit this monster on a base that does not differ significantly in dimensions from standard turntables in your homes.
After operational tests and elimination of errors that arose due to the use of not fully thought-out solutions, after simplifying everything as much as possible, I could finally recognize that my work should be named and thus AD FONTES Turntable came to life.
Ultimately, it means that after many years of digging and bothering my metal and woodworking partners, I have reached the source! These years were not wasted thanks to my determination and thanks to the enormous critical help of my colleagues. Thank you very much for this help! The orders that appeared from time to time led to the unification of dimensions and the refinement of the details of the turntable's appearance. Different expectations regarding the equipment resulted in the creation of a version in the presented shape, susceptible to modifications in the scope of the materials used, but repeatable and compatible with other copies.