Unique Turntables: 8 Very Different Ways to Play LPs
Today we have a “just for fun” post. In the world of DJing, the good old Technics 1200s are the iconic standard for vinyl DJs… a fact that is unlikely to change. You're probably familiar with some of the alternatives: the Numark TTX, the Stanton STR8-150… and so on.
But the world is filled with vinyl lovers. And not only that, but there's also a lot of people who are in love with turntables themselves. Some of the designs that people have come up with are fairly unique, to say the least.
Let's have a look at 8 of some of the more rare or eclectic record players that are out there.
Note: I have tried to appropriately credit the sources of these photos. If anyone has a problem with their use, feel free to contact me and I will gladly take them down. Thanks!
Teenage Engineering's Styrofoam Turntable
Link: Teenage Engineering
This fascinating turntable was made entirely out of high-density styrofoam. I mean, every main piece, not just the outer shell. Even the tonearm is styrofoam.
This super lightweight unit is fully functional. It operates at 33 or 45 RPM (with a fine-tuning adjustment knob), a USB slot for transferring tunes to the computer, and an RCA and 3.5mm headphones jack.
Unfortunately, only one (the prototype you see here) was built and I haven't been able to confirm any statements saying it would go to actual production… making this a truly unique player for someone's media made out of much heavier material.
Joel Scilley's Handmade Wooden Turntables
Amongst other stereo gear, Audiowood creates turntables out of wood. But not just any regular old turntables… these are works of art. In fact, they have been featured in the pages of over 20 major magazines, as well as heaps of other tech and sound related publications and blogs.
A cool fact about these tables is that, aside from a handful of retailers scattered about the world, they sell them online exclusively via Etsy.
The Townshend Audio Rock 7 Turntable
Link: Townshend Audio
The Rock 7 is a $3000 turntable geared towards audiophiles. It focuses especially on reducing noise introduced from external influences.
In particular, it has one interesting unique feature… a front-end damping “trough” which secures the needle-end of the tonearm. This greatly diminishes vibrations and allows for some of the cleanest sound ever to be played off a record. This concept makes so much sense, I'm surprised to have not seen it before on cheaper record players.
Fabien Clerc's Fully Ceramic Turntables
Link: Fabien Clerc
This set of tables and a mixer, collectively referred to as “Back in the Good Old Days”, was created by artist Fabien Clerc out of Geneva.
Talk about unique! These are the only set that exist… don't expect these to turn up at Guitar Center. Obviously these are meant to be more of an art piece than a DJ setup, but the entire rig is said to be fully functional.
The installation is made up entirely of decorated and glazed earthenware and was shown at an exhibition which investigated the idea of luxury.
Galibier Design's Stelvio-II Turntable
Link: Galibier Design
Galibier has taken a fairly modular approach to their Stelvio-II. Several of the pieces are free-standing, such as the tonearm module and drive system.
The big standout feature of this turntable is the inclusion of dual tonearms. That's right… this is two record players in one. Why anyone would want this is beyond me, but there it is.
What do you pay for this feature set? A mere $35k.
Goldmund's Reference II Turntable
Photo Source: Wired
Until fairly recently, this was considered to be the world's most expensive turntable. And for good reason… this puppy costs an astronomical $300k.
The list of specifications is impressive, at least from the perspective of a wordsmith: “liquid nitrogen-rectified belt,” a “revolutionary patented spherical insert”, a “ball-circulation linear carrier,” “mecasyl-lubed ball bearings,” and the list goes on.
A little out of your price range? Me too. No big deal… only 25 of these will ever be made anyway.
Michell Engineering's Syncro Turntable
Link: Michell Engineering
Photo Source: Audiogon
This glass-based turntable was designed by Michell Engineering in the early 80s. This transparent wax machine features an inverted-pendulum design and even had a glass platter. It was considered to be an entry-level product.
I found one of these that recently sold on eBay for $800. Honestly… not too bad. I kinda want one! Not very useful for DJing, but would look neat in the living room.
AV Design Haus' Dereneville VPM 2010-1 Turntable
Link: AV Design Haus (German)
Photo Source: Wizard High End Audio Blog
You knew it had to be coming… here is the big daddy. The most expensive turntable I've found to date… which is enough in itself to make it unique.
Since you're probably dying to know, the magic number is 650. As in $650,000.
So what does all that coin buy you? According to AV Design Haus (translated from German):
Heavy, solid Corian chassis (60 kg), standing on air suspension feet.
Toe angle measurement by laser, Tangential linear unit with a stepper motor.
Belt drive with two frequency-controlled motors Tern EBM-Pabst.
Speed measurement using a pulse ring with 24,000 pulses per revolution.
Plate mass: 20.5 kg ball bearings, worn by Neodyn magnetic disks.
Effective shielding due to large mu-metal layers in the dish.
Scanner-camera to the empty groove recognition, track selection via touch screen.
Gimballed special tone-arm, length and height.
Integrated digital scale at the parking position of the pick.
Balanced XLR audio output. Video output S-Video / BNC
2 built-in microprocessor controls, touch screen remote control.
Ethernet connection for easy software updates and remote diagnostics.
All parameters, such as system operating hour coverage, speeds and much more,are always available on the touchscreen.
Integrated high-resolution Miniature camera to observe the sampling system during playback.
Pretty cool, if overpriced, stuff. But hey, if you're looking for a turntable with a built-in microscope, this Dereneville certainly fits the bill!
So, there you have it… some of the rarest and most unique turntables out there. Let me know if you enjoyed this post in the comments below… there are plenty of other unique designs out there to explore!