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Garrard 401 fun

Discussion in 'classic' started by gortnipper, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    I have been farting around with my 401 on and off for a couple of years now. I got it pretty cheaply in the first part of 2007 and have been doing this and that to it since then.


    But, I have been listening to my 301 which is in a dual slab sandwich Jarrah (I think) plinth for a the last 6 months or so (god - maybe longer) while I have been tweaking the 401's plinth to try and get rid of some resonance issues with it. Or should I say, I have been listening to the 301 while the 401 was sitting there waiting for me to do it. But I finally finished it, and it sat for a while longer waiting for some parts that a mateh dropped over - namly the Pete Riggle VTAF and his OL Silver arm - so we could do a straight A/B between the two decks with as many of the same components as possible.

    So, rather than changing arms and risk my cantilever (again), I decided to just mount the mate's VTAF bushing and vertical guide onto the arm board, and then just slot my arm in. This also saved a bunch of time as this part took about 10 minutes - and the cantilever's alignment was dead on! I just had to adjust the overhang about 0.6 mm (pats self on back). All up, about an hours job.

    I am using the Rollerblock Jrs, like I was on the 301. Both decks have a Kokomo bearing. Same cork underlay and Herbie's Way Excellent mats. Only differences in the set-ups are the deck and plinth.

    Wow. What a difference. The new sub-plinth seems to have done the trick - as the 401 now sounds better than my 301. Total flip-flop. Same arm, same cart, new sound - in a word - Clarity. Everything is crisper, more defined, more dynamic. Vibrant. Toe-tapping. So much as I can tell so far, the rumble I had heard before has disappeared. There is no motor noise unless I put my ear directly on the plinth. On the downside, there is a bit more surface noise on the same LPs I was playing last week - but I am sure it was just being smeared on the 301.

    This is now an arms race, of sorts.

    First - I am now more tempted than ever by the Jelco 750L. I bet this would up the ante quite a bit on the 401.

    Second - I have to figure out what is holding back the 301. First off, I will have to undo my "light-bulb fix" to reduce the line voltage (since it runs fast with out it). I have heard this can have an effect on the dynamics, so that is the cheap and easy thing to address - just have to find a good machinist to turn down the pulley to a correct diameter.

    Then, if that doesn’t really address it - I will have to make a Baltic Birch or Slate plinth.

    My bet is that once I sort gettting the pulley turned down, the lions share of the difference is the plinth. I would bet that with a top-notch BB plinth, the 301 would kick the 401. And then the 401 in a slate plinth would kick the 301.

    Arms race: Plinth Wars.

    But, that is all conjecture. Sounds damned good now spinning …

    Wilco - (the album)
    Cowboy Junkies - The Trinity Sessions
    Kenny Drew - Undercurrent
    Horace Parlan - Speakin' My Piece
    Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

    PS - more plinth pics for the interested at
  2. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    Beautiful work!
  3. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Thanks, Dowser!
  4. Robn

    Robn pfm Member

    That's one gorgeous looking plinth. May inspire me to get my finger out and start working on one for my 401.
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Just stunning. One of the nicest looking 401s I've ever seen. I love the finish and proportions of that plinth and sinking the 401 into it really works aesthetically, plus negates the need for a armboard spacer. Clever stuff.

  6. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Thanks Robn - you should do, it is really a rewarding thing to do.

    Thanks Tony. I am very pleased with how it looks too. It has some very nice grain.

    The whole lot sits a bit high on a shelf, and looking at it from the couch as it plays, ii can just barely see the front of the platter and the cart. The deck looks like it is floating above the shelf in the dim light...kinda cool.

    I saw a pic once of an inlaid 401 once and thought it was pretty cool, and the arm board solution sealed the deal. I made 4 arm boards from the waste of the cut-out for the deck - two of them are very special since the grain is almost identical to that of where the boards are inlaid, since they came from the top of the cut-out, under where the platter would be. They wait for a 12" arm - I made the plinth large enough for a Schick.
  7. ClaraBannister

    ClaraBannister pfm Member

    Very nice pics. What's that beautiful valve amplifier? Is it a commercial one?
  8. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    That is my pre - a Cary SLP-98P.
  9. ClaraBannister

    ClaraBannister pfm Member

    Lovely piece of kit. I see a couple of the valves have screening cans on them. Something you rarely see these days.
  10. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Seimens E83CC in the cans - for the phono stage.
  11. ClaraBannister

    ClaraBannister pfm Member

    Never knew Siemens made valves. I'd be more familiar with the Mullard ECC83, a double triode if memory serves. I think my tape deck has some of those in its preamp.
  12. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Yup - they both are nice valves. I have some Mullards I use as well, but the Garrards seem to like the Continental valves more in my gear. ;)
  13. 337alant

    337alant Negatively Biased

    Stunning, I realy love that plinth, quality work M8 ;)

  14. hairyderriere

    hairyderriere pfm Member

    That's a really elegant solution. The flush fitting really works for me and the rectilinear looks have a kind of Bauhaus appearance to them.

    Having had a 301 and now a 401, I have to say that increasingly I prefer the aesthetics of the 401. Still like the 301 but the 401 has grown on me.

  15. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Yeah - kinda Bauhaus i guess. If Star Trek would have had any wood gear, I am sure this would have fit right in!
  16. RHCD

    RHCD pfm Member

    that's a really beautiful plinth! So glueing the plywood layers underneath fixed the resonance and rumble, did it?

    I'm gathering ideas for my own 401 plinth project and this has really inspired me: I love the proportions of it - would you mind posting the dimensions of the finished kauri block?

    Great work!

  17. hairyderriere

    hairyderriere pfm Member

    Yes, the proportions are very pleasing. Like an elegant console of some kind.

  18. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Robert - Yes, the deck is very quiet and smooth sounding now, and much more revealing than my 301 is currently.

    The plinth is pretty darned big - the top slab is 665w x 495d x 55h. It was really designed for a 12" arm.

    The deck inlay is 50mm from the front edge, and 90mm from the left side.

    The arm board is 160 x 135 x 15 and sits 12 mm from the right side of the inlay, and 90mm from the back. Theoretically, it should have enough room for any 9" or 12" arm - including a Schick - with enough room to spare to have a perspex dust cover made and still accommodate the swing behind the pivot.

    But, when I was laying out the guides for routering, I got a bit nervous about how thin the left edge of the arm board inlay hole was (mainly concerned about vibration between the deck and the arm board). Consequently, my SME 3009 just doesn't quite fit - so if I had it to do over again, I would make the gap between the arm board and deck cut outs ~5mm, and increase the length of the arm boards by the same.

    The sub-plinth is three 15mm layers of marine BB grade hardwood ply, rebated 27mm (because that was the width of pre-cut 1/4 sheets, which meant I only had to make one cut per sheet, and everything squared up beautifully). I installed three 1/4-20 T-nuts between the middle and bottom layers, to attach footers, rebated in for a nice tight fit.I really should have installed an IEC block in the rear, and I may retrofit one to the exterior of the sub-plinth if it will fit nicely under the Kauri.

    I would encourage all of you Garrard owners to play with a couple things that I really noticed helped as well:

    First, the combo of a 3mm cork underlay mat + the stock mat was a very cheap, and worthwhile addition. Get those cheap at a crafts supplier. But, it was better when I replaced the stock mat with a Herbie's - also fairly inexpensive.

    Second is using some Rollerblock type isolation footers. I have heard this from a couple other Garrard users, who report the same results. One of them noted that the heavier the plinth, the greater the effect. What I notice is that there is a very pronounced difference between them and wood, aluminium cones - especially in how they tighten up the mid-bass definition. I am looking forward to seeing how my friend's Black Diamond cones work, though. But, I am in no rush for that!
  19. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Have you found any roller-block type things that allow for height adjustment (i.e. levelling)? I'd like to try a 'hard' foot at some point as I've only used my skateboard wheel / adjustable cone solution so far. This really works from an isolation perspective in that with the stylus on a stationary LP I can bang the table pretty hard without breakthrough, but I have no idea if it sounds good or not as I've not compared it to anything else!

  20. gortnipper

    gortnipper loose nut

    Tony - yes, the Rollerblock Jr's I have, each puck has a standard 1/4-20 threaded hole on the top for attaching to any unit. I use them to level the deck. Their website doesnt show it, but it is in the description: "After its first production run, Rollerblock Jr. was modified to include a 1/4-20 threaded hole dead center on the opposite face from the cup."

    I think the Aurios Classics do as well.


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