Monday, 17 September 2018
8:06 pm
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Posted by: Fluteboy
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Spin doctor

My birthday fell on the 10th of this month, and for it, my partner allowed me to spend £100 on a second-hand turntable. While that same £100 would have bought me a brand new Audio Technica AT-LP60 - a rather respectable unit too - I instead chose to go back 30 years, to a German-made classic that I owned in my teenage years. Enter the Dual CS505-2.

For £100 it is in a rather terrific condition, with an unscratched dust cover, although it does have issues that need to be ironed out. When it arrived I discovered the tonearm was loose on its vertical bearing. Taking that bit apart, I discovered that a "caged ball bearing" part was missing. We shall assume the previous owner took it apart and lost this vital ingredient, and did not have the stomach to be upfront about this when selling it. While I was able to temporarily fashion a makeshift plastic bearing from a TePe interdental brush (!) and render it operable, I will need to lay my hands on some 1mm ball bearings, some grease and a 3mm washer. The alternative would be £20 for a new tonearm and bearing assembly.

The motor and pitch control assembly also requires attention. The motor spindle itself is divided into six sprung "fingers" - a bit like an umbrella with its six sides, and these "fingers" are pushed open or sprung closed in order to regulate the effective diameter of the motor spindle, and thus the resultant RPM of the platter. One of those fingers is bent outwards, thereby affecting speed stability, and would possibly break if I tried too hard to push it back into place. Someone suggested a hack involving cotton thread, so I will try that. Otherwise it is £25 for a new motor.

Is it really worth the effort and money to bring an old turntable back into use as opposed to buying a new one? Yes, it is. New turntables that are properly made are quite pricey, and their affordable counterparts always seem to have little imperfections, like a platter that bobs up and down while turning. Choosing your own cartridge and stylus combination can also be limited with newer turntables. If you favour real quality, then you do have to look back to the golden age of turntables, when they were made with proper attention to true performance. And that is something that will NEVER come from a Crosley or a Jensen.

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