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Systemdek revisited

Discussion in 'classic' started by Jonathan, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan pfm Member

    friend just sent me this ... anyone know anything about it? apparently the systemdek 'prototype' and 'all metal' construction (whatever that means ... cast? pressed?). i've seen lots of systemdeks in my day ... even had the 'UFO' one in my student days ... but can't recall ever having seen this one but maybe i just don't remember it well ... anyone know anything about it? i would like to know a bit more about the company history.

  2. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    Yes, that is the original Dunlop System Transcription Ltd. Systemdek turntable; a belt-driven, 3-point spring suspension sub-chassis design with a plinth that is made up of three components; a steel base plate, extruded aluminium side planes and a separate plinth top, each layer isolated from the next via isolation dampers. Three adjustable feet in a Rega-like arrangement allow easy levelling of the plinth, whereas, the circular sub-chassis is levelled from above (like your Systemdek II) via three Posidrive screws (although, unlike the later IIX, the platter must be removed to access these screws, making adjustment rather more fiddly than with those decks that are adjustable from the bottom). Motor is the typical Philips/Airpax 24-pole AC synchronous with resistor/capacitor network. Main bearing comprised a 10mm stainless spindle with captive ball and the spiral-cut groove 'oil pump' feature.

    The original Dunlop 'Transcription' turntable was meant to compare with the best available and the brochure depicted the deck with a Fidelity Research tonearm and Denon DL-103 fitted.

    Jonathan likes this.
  3. essgee

    essgee Active Member

    Still got mine. Now has an Origin Live arm fitted.
  4. Taff63

    Taff63 pfm Member

    I've got one with a Nima arm. Love the thing - it just gets on with playing music and kicks the ass of a lot of more well-known players.
  5. cre009

    cre009 pfm Member

    Originally demonstrated in prototype form at the April 1979 Cunard Hi-Fi Show with the company then calling itself Aristodek. The name was changed to Systemdek by 1980.

    There were at least 2 iterations according to Hi-Fi Choice. The early version used a special spanner for suspension levelling which was changed to the Posidrive screws for the later more commonly seen version. The later version also used more compliant springs on the basis that more compression reduces lateral movement. The springs do mean the decks are very bouncy.

    I have found getting the suspension correct to be a huge challenge on mine. It plays well enough but based on reputation I suspect there may still be more tweaking needed to get mine to optimum.

    A common issue with these decks is the Nextel paint job which tended to go off with time. Mine is tatty but I have seen much worse.
    Jonathan and Craig B like this.
  6. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    IIRC, the company was Dunlop System Transcription Ltd. from the outset. Perhaps the prototype was named Aristodek, and then changed to Systemdek. I do remember the first brochure referring to 'system decks' and then conflated the words, dropping the 'c' in the process.

    At some point, after the Systemdek II 'biscuit tin' was released, the original deck suddenly became Systemdek III.
    Jonathan likes this.
  7. cre009

    cre009 pfm Member

    All I have on the Aristodek is the following brief report from the Cunard Show provided in the July 79 edition of Hi-Fi News on page 51.

    "There was quite a bit of activity on the turntable/arm cartridge scene and in particular it was good to see Ariston back in action with their fine looking RD11S design, a development of the respected RD11. Not a great deal of crossword experience is required to fathom the origins of the new Scottish-based Aristodek firm. They were showing an advanced prototype of a model to be launched in the summer. Its main feature is its ability to 'reproduce music beyond the standard already achieved'. Who'd argue with that? (well we know we would, but who else?)".

    The reference to Ariston is probably for the re-launch of Ariston as "Ariston Acoustics" when John Carrick acquired the brand. I would speculate that this caused Peter Dunlop to switch from Aristodek to Systemdek to avoid brand confusion. There is also a reference to "Aristodeck" in one single post on the Steve Hoffman forum.
  8. Jonathan

    Jonathan pfm Member

    curious how heavy those original decks were (?)
  9. Olsen

    Olsen pfm Member

    That I do remember
  10. cre009

    cre009 pfm Member

    The platter is 4.8kg according to the Hi-Fi Choice reviews. I remember the courier commenting on the weight when mine was delivered.
    Jonathan likes this.
  11. Taff63

    Taff63 pfm Member

    They are indeed heavy and very bouncy - sturdy turntable shelf recommended!
  12. PlattenFantast

    PlattenFantast TT user

    I use the Systemdek III which seems to be the same, and has a rubber damper ring around the perimeter of the platter.
    IMO an excellent turntable. It is crucial however, that you use the correct type of oil in the main (spiral groove) bearing to realise the full potential of the deck.
  13. suzywong

    suzywong Shifting 0s & 1s since 1968

    Only ever heard a Systemdek once, and that was when I was buying my TT in 1983.
    I demoed the Systemdek (£249) with the Linn Sondek (£347). The Systemdek sounded very good, but for me, the Linn just about shaded it. However, there was not much in it.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  14. YNWOAN

    YNWOAN 100% Analogue

    The deck in the linked to picture appears to have a vacuum hold down platter mat - though this could be an aftermarket addition as I don’t recall Systemdek ever offering this option.
  15. PlattenFantast

    PlattenFantast TT user

    The Systemdek III that I have, has plenty of PRAT (important to me...) and is - in comparison to the LP12 - somewhat more "neutral" in the best sense of the word.
    LP12 $995 in 1982, Systemdek III $899 in 1982, so a bit surprising that the Systemdek III didn't fare as well as the LP12 in the market place back then.
  16. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    I recall one magazine rated it as better than the LP12, though when someone from 'above' mentioned the relative advertising budgets, there was a degree of frantic back pedalling in subsequent articles. I never compared one to my LP12, just in case, but in there more enlightened times I suspect there isn't a lot to choose between them.
  17. Bob McC

    Bob McC Living the life of Riley

    I compared it against an LP12 in the early 80s when I bought my first LP12.
  18. Robert

    Robert Tapehead

    I had one back in the early 80s with a 774 and then Syrinx PU2 Gold. The latter was always a pain though I still have the gold 'mass ring' in my bits box for old time sake.
    Sytemdek/Syrinx was considered a foil for Sondek/Ittok. IIRC it replaced an Ariston RB80 and was certainly a little better. Looking back at the design now, it runs counter to many things I consider important in TT design (I'm firmy in the Roy Gandy camp) but I enjoyed my time with it.

    Oh and dark chocolate brown Nextel......that will be challenge today!
    pickwickpapers likes this.
  19. Robert

    Robert Tapehead

    We had ours in about 1981 so I'd have been 15.

    I've told the story before but the then Popular Hi-Fi editor Chris Frankland used to visit a friend of the family just a few streets away. One day I was invited over to meet CF, and of course i was thrilled!
    I was then utterly mauled for not choosing the LP12, and told very plainly that I wasn't listening to the right things......
    Needless to say, I was a bit deflated.

    He was right though.
  20. suzywong

    suzywong Shifting 0s & 1s since 1968

    Yeah, when I went for the demo at those fine chaps in Chandler’s Ford, I really wanted it to be the Systemdek....the fact that it was 100 quid cheaper was a strong motivational factor :D.... but in the final analysis the Sondek was simply better, even though they were demoing through Kans. I recall being somewhat disparaging about the Kans - now I have a fine pair of Mk. 1s :oops::D.

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