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Models & Pricing

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So began my project, on February 1st, 2004, to have the then-unknown Lenco record players taken seriously, and to accumulate the evidence required to prove to the world that the idler-wheel drive system was the best of the three systems: belt-drive (which at that time reigned unchallenged as the only serious system), direct drive, and idler-wheel-drive (and the Lencos are the most evolved idler-wheel-drives ever designed).

This thread – and others around the world in which I participated – forced the world to take the Lenco seriously, as it had two things going against it in a world then dominated by belt-drive: #1 it was an idler-wheel-drive and #2 it wasn’t a Garrard 301 or 401.

As one client of mine posted on my Audiogon profile November 6, 2004 (several years before there was a single Lenco rebuilding business, as the fight to have the Lenco taken seriously had only just begun): “One of the tables pictured here (Lenco in marbled plinth) is mine, and I can honestly say that it’s the best turntable I ever owned , which covers a whole spectrum of decks –Empire, Sota, Well Tempered, Thorens TD 160, VPI HW19 III, etc. — including my current early-model VPI TNT. Like most others, I considered idler-wheel technology as something that time had passed by, but the Lenco has totally changed that view. A fabulous machine. Dave”

Following the tremendous success of the thread, the first ever Lenco forum went up – roughly 6 months after “Building high-end ‘tables cheap at Home Despot” had started and snowballed – on July 25, 2004: “Maddogmcq: Hi All, After reading this brilliant thread, I decided to purchase a GL75 (I’m from the UK) and I was fortunate enough to find an absolute MINTER! I then spent another few days trying to pull together the *myriad* bits of information relating to this project. It became clear that there are a good number of people in here who are very interested in this project and many who have already begun/completed the work. In an effort to centralize and *share* information, experiences and tips (in a structured and easy to follow format), I’m about to create a website dedicated to the task and wondered if anyone visiting these forums would be interested in participating?”

So why is anyone at all considering my work? As one participant of the Home Despot thread put it on October 31st, 2004: “I have to ask you. How did you discover the GL 75 ? And upon discovering it, what made you say “this is a great turntable drive system, but the arm is not up to snuff and it needs …”

It could be postulated that someone might have discovered the Lenco, but, as implied above, who, hearing the lack of high frequencies, overripe bass, lack of detail of a Lenco in stock form, and in a world dominated by belt-drive (of which I was an active believer before my discovery) would have come to the conclusion that THIS was a serious high end machine? And hearing that take action to prove it to the world? For how this happened this click here.

Being a Gypsy at heart, I thought the status-conscious overpriced overhyped moribund High-End could use a shake-up at the same time.

The Home Despot thread was a very methodical tactic used to accumulate the necessary amount of evidence – i.e. a large number of conversions – to counter the usual charges, by fellows defending an orthodoxy (in this case superiority of the belt-drive system), of “anecdotal evidence”. As I posted on October 31st, 2004: “I looked for Garrard 301s or 401s everywhere, and they simply couldn’t be found (no internet), but eventually, I did find a Lenco L75 at a flea market, and this being the best large idler-wheel drive I could find, I built the marbled Prototype (after lots of research into plinth design and problems of vinyl-replay, I’m a professional writer-researcher when not Gypsying) and having faith in the Rega arm, I mounted the Rega RB300 (which I had re-wired) on it and heard the glorious, slamming, extremely detailed and musically-flowing sound which all you Lenco-ers out there hear in your own homes: the Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove. Of course, I came to the conclusion that the Mighty Lenco was an absolutely superb turntable in its own right. Still being a Gypsy, I drifted for another ten years around the world before coming to Canada, working, and in a moment of extreme boredom (winter), devised a scheme whereby I could prove to the world how good the idler-wheel system really was, by turning the entire world, thanks to the internet, into a large controlled scientific experiment: empirical science at work. I could only do this by giving the recipe out for free, and emphasizing the budget aspect. Being a Gypsy at heart, I thought the status-conscious overpriced overhyped moribund High-End could use a shake-up at the same time. Have to admit, the experiment was far more successful that I ever could have imagined, thanks to the open-mindedness of all those who jumped in for the fun/curiosity of it.”

In addition to all this, I was first to explain why idler-wheel-drive is superior, conclusions I had come to in the early ‘90s and posted on Audiogon on February 4, 2004, predating Salvatore’s analysis and conclusions by 7 years, and all forums by several years:

I sent the Reference Lenco, an Ode to Wood of sorts, out into the world for judgment, in this case Salvatore who still had serious reservations about the viability of the idler-wheel drive system

“We know things now they didn’t know when they were manufacturing idler-wheel ‘tables. We can now realize their potential. Due to the high rotational speed of these motors, great relative mass and so high torque, no expensive solutions need be made to address the weak motors now used in high-end decks. The platters on the Lencos weigh about 8-10 pounds, with much of the mass concentrated on the periphery: the old boys understood flywheel effect to ensure stable speed. The Lenco platter is a single cast piece, of a zinc alloy of some sort, very inert for a metal, and then machined and hand-balanced in a lab. No ringing two-piece platter problems to overcome. Even the motor is hand-balanced in a lab, and weighs something like 3-4 pounds, and runs silently on its lubricated bearings. Think of it: a high-torque motor spinning at well over 1000 RPMs (compared to a belt-drive motor’s average 150-300) which pretty well wipes out speed variations by itself. The idler wheel contacts the motor spindle directly, while contacting the platter directly on its other side, thus transmitting most/all of that torque without any belt stretching. Many high-end decks offer thread belts which don’t stretch, thus giving an improvement in sound. The Lenco does the same with its wheel. But the platter is also a flywheel, and so evens out whatever speed variations there may be in the motor. It’s a closed system (motor-platter, platter-motor) and speed variations brought on by groove modulations don’t stand a chance in this rig, and it is clearly audible. The trick is that big, solid plinth you build at Home Depot.”

More recently in 2010, I was first (and still only) to prove to the world, officially by review, that the Lenco had enormous potential and ranked with the world’s best (and beyond: working on it as per my new models), by submitting the Reference Lenco to Salvatore for review. I designed the Reference Lenco specifically as an answer to the growing DIY crowd who had embraced the slate craze – and the various commercial slate concerns who drove the craze by claiming that wood had limits – who were themselves mimicking the claim, that “there were insurmountable problems with wood”… in spite of the fact it was the Lenco wooden plinths which had achieved mass worldwide conversions of experienced audiophiles with highly-rated high-end belt-drives, and which was responsible for the fact there were Lenco forums whatsoever, that there were Lenco businesses whatsoever. As is typical of me, I sent the Reference Lenco, an Ode to Wood of sorts, out into the world for judgment, in this case Salvatore who still had serious reservations about the viability of the idler-wheel drive system: he received it February 24th, 2010. As is now common knowledge, the Reference Lenco achieved a complete conversion of Salvatore as to the superiority of the idler-wheel-drive system, with no caveats, with a noise floor the equal of his Forsell, and equaling it or surpassing it in every single sonic parameter. This victory facilitated the emergence of a host of Lenco and classic ‘table businesses, all of whom owe a serious debt to this watershed review.

My recognition of the superiority of idler-wheel-drive was not an accident (though the discovery was, by definition); the actions I took were planned (i.e. using Audiogon to create a DIY phenomenon to accumulate the necessary evidence; submitting the Lenco for review to an impartial reviewer of great note), and the work of development continues to the present day, with new models a result of my continuing work on the “Ultimate Lenco”, now nearly ready for unveiling.

With continuing work on the Lencos and other idler-wheel drives over the years I continued to learn and make discoveries, and now manufacture parts to my own specifications to realize the potential of idler-wheel-drive and achieve yet greater results.

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