Transcriptor Turntables

Introduction
 
Review
Sale Results at Auction
 
Links

Introduction

There where a number of experiments in the style of turntables during the 1970s. Many theories where advocated. One was that the platter should have high mass and inertia. The Gale, JBV and Transcriptor used heavy cylinders that doubled up to support the record at a few discrete points.

The Transcriptor Skeleton

Transcriptor had gained frame when the Transcriptor Hydraulic Turntable was used in the film "A Clockwork Orange".  It already have a following among Hi-Fi enthusiasts.


The Skeleton departed from the Saturn in having an all glass case and a new "Vestigal" tone arm where only the head pivoted, not the whole arm.

The motor is housed in a small box at the top left hand corner. This can be adjusted for height so that the speed change can work freely. This is a nothing more than a small knob that allowed the belt to be dropped or raised from one pulley to another - the two speeds of 45 and 33 1/3 rpm.

photograph courtesy of  Bill, burja123photograph courtesy of  Bill, burja123

Review of the Skeleton

With the lid up and the patter spinning it is stunning. The over all affect is a work of art. The glass is heavy easier to keep clean than plastics are. The design is so elegant and simple you might think there is nothing to it.

I purchased the Skeleton direct from Ireland in 1978. It was supplied with the casing side panels removed and the lid separated by sponge. The arm was fitted.

The Vestigal tone arm takes a little getting used to as only the head shell lifts and there is no keeper for when it is resting. If the turntable is not level or the counter weight too heavy the head will slide across the record. I have done this a couple of times, particularly with badly warped records. I have never found a scratch on any record caused by this. Adjusting the tracking weight with the help of the Stylus Scale allowed me to play records that other decks simply would not with their heavier arms being sent flying up or being thrown off towards the centre.

The platter is suspended on three legs. These can be adjusted, as can the support for the motor. I found that no matter what I did the platter would rub against the rear leg and so I filed the cap down to allow free movement.

I purchased an AKG P7E cartridge but later found that the Ortofon VMS20, supplied with the Round Table was an even better match. One magazine article suggested the use of a DECCA London, a cartridge that was as expensive as the turntable. However the author couldn't remember using the turntable when I wrote to the magazine but suggested that the design would not be very good as it lacked a firm support for the whole record surface.

I used a GA glass mat and a felt mat over the top. This did make an improvement, but it no longer looked so stunning.

In seeking an improvement for my hi-fi I was able to compare my set up (Cambridge P60 amplifier, JR149 speakers) to A&R60, Meridian and Naim amplifiers, Kef, Linn and Meridian speakers and a Linn Sondek turntable. The Linn Sondek had been the very expensive top end turntable and had a cult following with justification. Considerably more expensive, the Linn Sondek outperformed the Skeleton and my parents Pioneer PL12D by a comfortable margin.

I upgraded eventually, in 1980, to a Linn Sondek, Itok, Asak cartridge, Meridian 101 preamplifier (later upgraded to 101B), 104 tuner and M1 MkII speakers. In 1991 I replaced the Linn with a Linn Sondek Valhalla, Ekos and Troika,

The Skeleton was used by my brother in law, but his family couldn't cope with it and he got a single brand hi-fi separates with a remote control and returned the system to me. I had this running in the bedroom and eventually sold the Skeleton through Exchange and Mart. The Cambridge P60 and T55 tuner where sold on eBay in 2006.

Skeleton Turntables are now collector's item often selling for 700-800GBP.

The Transcriptor Skeleton was produced between 1973 and 1977. The unit employs a low speed synchronous motor on a sprung-suspension motor board. The Skeleton's platter is driven by a rubber belt providing the best insulation against vibration and rumble. In order to eliminate any mechanical or electric shock to the equipment, the on-off switch is accomplished by means of a magnetically actuate reed switch which assures long, trouble-free life. The Designer was David Gammon manufactured by TRANSCRIPTORS (IRL) Ltd, Carlow Industrial Estate, Ireland

The platter is 12" in diameter, cast and machined, aluminium alloy with 5 silver plated weights, approx 6.5 lb in weight

Main Bearing: Slim section ball-ended ground and polished steel, supported on a hardened steel thrust plate.

Bushing coated with PTFE a material having a lower co-efficient of friction than any other solid.

The motor is a 10 Pole synchronous, split phase, 720 rpm

Wow and flutter is rated at 0.05%

Speeds are 33 and 45 rpm

Rumble: nil

Dimensions: 18" x 15.5" x 7"     It weighs about 36lbs double-boxed.

The Round Table

I purchased the Round Table with VMS20 cartridges fitted. The lid is acrylic and has a fair amount of flex in it. As the tiny tone arm is suspended from the lid, half way across the radius of the LP this didn't seem right. I had no problems getting used to operating it lifting the shell up as the lid is lowered then placing the needle before letting it down. Other family members found it much harder to operate.

Only 300 were made. Originally designed to offer a low cost entry to a quality hi-fi turntable. The platter lacked the extra mass of the cylinders found in the Skeleton and earlier models. It still had the rubber supports to reduce contact with the record.  The low cost was at the expense of features like being able to change the speed from 33 1/3 to 45 easily. You manually had to move the belt to the wider pulley.  You also need a steady hand to lower the lid and hold up the tone arm and lower that after the lid is closed. It worked and in fact very well.

The last where sold off at a low price. A couple of years ago one sold for 2500GBP, definitely a collector's item. Prices at auction are typically 600-800GBP, almost the same as for the Skeleton.

Transcriptor Stylus Scale

‘OF BRITISH DESIGN, THIS SUPERB INSTRUMENT WEIGHS ACCURATELY THE  DOWNWARD STYLUS FORCE OF ANY PICK-UP ARM, DESIGNED TO TRACK AT LEAST 5 GRAMS OR LESS.  OF PURE BALANCED BEAM CONSTRUCTION, INCORPORATING A BUBBLE BALANCE  INDICATOR, AND A PRECISELY MADE UNIPIVOT, THIS UNIT IS DESIGNED TO WEIGH  FROM 0-5 GRAMS IN l/20th GRAM INCREMENTS. THE BALANCE IS SENSITIVE TO l/100th OF A GRAM, AND IS CAPABLE OF ACHIEVING AN OVERALL WEIGHING ACCURACY OF BETTER THAN l/50th OF A GRAM. 

THIS IS A COMPLETELY NEW CONCEPT IN THE DESIGN OF SUCH A DEVICE, SUCH ACCURACY HAVING PREVIOUSLY BEEN ACHIEVED ONLY BY THOSE MANUFACTURERS USING EXPENSIVE LABORATORY BALANCE EQUIPMENT. 

CORRECT STYLUS PRESSURE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CARTRIDGE MANUFACTURER IS MOST IMPORTANT AND TODAY'S PRESSURES ARE SO SMALL THAT THEY MAY BE CORRECTLY SET AND MEASURED BY USING ONLY THE TRANSCRIPTOR STYLUS SCALES.

EACH SCALE IS SUPPLIED WITH A PAIR OF TWEEZERS, INSTRUCTIONS AND THE FOLLOWING WEIGHTS: 

2  -  2 Gram weights              1  -  1 Gram weight 

1  -  1/2 Gram weight            2  -  1/5 Gram weights 

1  -  1/10 Gram weight           1  -  1/20 Gram weight

Sale Results at auction

Skeleton

13/04/13 1350USD
14/01/29 2199 USD Grace F-9L cartridge and Grace tone arm
14/03/15  947USD Grace Model 707 Tonearm, Stanton 680 EEE cartridge & Stylus

Round Table

14/03/22 800EUR

Stylus Scale

13/03/07 55.65GBP snap box
13/07/02 60.99GBP
13/07/03 31.74GBP
14/01/09 119GBP snap box
14/01/15 93GBP snap box
14/02/20 56GBP black box, early packaging
14/02/22 95GBP snap box
14/03/31 99.99GBP

Vestigal Tone Arm

14/01/21 224.50USD

LINKS

Transcriptor Skelton and Round Table brochures

A company history and of David Gammon written by his son at http://www.transcriptors.eu/company-history-2/ 

And a history of JA Mitchell who under licence manufactured the Transcriptor Hydraulic Turntable until they designed and manufactured their own turntables:- http://www.michell-engineering.co.uk/history/


Last updated 5th April 2014