The TJN Mod showcases my practical but extremely effective solutions, which explains my actual results, results which lead to such high reports of the superb sonics of my work from my customers that I am now classified as a “Cult Product”. The real explanation of cult product is not that I have supernatural powers of persuasion (I created the current Lenco rebuilding market because I was right about its potential, not because I hypnotised anybody), but instead the simpler explanation that my results are actually as good as reported, something which potential clients find difficult to accept, those who believe in other players/technologies refuse to believe, and my competitors seek to defuse by dismissing me to others as a cult product.
I posted full details of the modification, with photos, on Audiogon January 31st, 2011, for a complete reading of this posting click here.
The gist of it is this: As with the Garrard, the Lenco idler-wheel is held against the motor and the platter by a spring. Again as with the Garrard the spring’s position relative to the motor pulley (or in the case of the Lenco motor shaft) changes according to speed. This means that the spring is either less stretched or more stretched according to what speed it is set at. This means, in turn, that the pressure of the wheel against the motor changes relative to position.
I had already proven, to myself and to Salvatore (by demonstrating how much increased pressure of the spring, by shortening it and so increasing pull, improved sound quality), that the pressure of the wheel against the motor was critical to its performance: a weak spring led to weak transmission of torque, and lessening of torque ALWAYS leads to a lessening of speed, information-retrieval, dynamics macro- and micro- etc.
The fix was extremely simple, in fact SO simple and SO practical it had never occurred to anyone, from the beginnings of idler-wheel drives in the dim past.
What was happening with this spring was the same thing which was happening with the rubber belts in belt-drives: not only was it stretching permanently and so loose, but the constant stretching and contracting during play was negatively affecting speed stability. The fix was extremely simple, in fact SO simple and SO practical it had never occurred to anyone, from the beginnings of idler-wheel drives in the dim past. I measured the pull of the spring (as expressed in grams), and replaced it with a weight equivalent to the pull of the spring, hanging from a string attached to the arm carrying the wheel (where the spring attached) extending laterally to a hole with a lip so the weight hangs down, but pulls sideways the same as the original spring. The string neither stretches nor contracts, being dimensionally stable, ensuring xx amount of torque at all times. For a few dollars (I sell the TJN Kit for $75 shipped to DIYers) I put gravity to work to ensure – always, every micro-second and fraction of a microsecond – perfect and continuous torque, in the amount of xx grams, at every position, regardless of speed.
The sonic result was SO dramatic – in terms of increased information-retrieval, imaging, dynamics macro-and micro-, etc. – that a new term had to be invented, essentially a new discovery, “torque stability”. Varying the torque during play causes speed instabilities (due to the ever-present braking action of the friction of the stylus in the groove) and so loss of focus, detail, speed, clarity and so on. Ensuring stable torque leads in the other direction, realizes the power of those superb induction motors and the idler-wheel drive system, and so towards greater speed stability, better timing, better differentiation of detail, better imaging and depth, and so on. This highlights what I’ve been saying since the beginning, that torque – an IMPORTANT amount of torque – is critical to properly retrieving the information in those vinyl grooves, and the best way of achieving that torque is by idler-wheel drive. . The TJN Mod CLEARLY shows a GREAT improvement, as reported worldwide (I make a kit available to DIYers).
Immediately this modification out, tested, reported on and generally approved, discussions among certain DIYers began on how to achieve the same thing using far more complex, expensive and unreliable methods like electro-magnets etc. Since magnets also lose their strength over time, the same issues of distance apply, furthermore requiring complex mechanical systems to achieve what the weight on a string achieves so perfectly etc. To be clear: NO MORE COMPLEX SYSTEM CAN EVER EQUAL OR SURPASS WHAT THE WEIGHT ON A STRING ACHIEVES SO PERFECTLY AND COMPLETELY, AT A MUCH REDUCED COST. This, in a nutshell, is the soul of proper engineering, which seeks to solve problems the most economical way, not the most expensive way, which is poor engineering.
Complexities are equated by many to a better product, and manufacturers take advantage of this mental blindness to both entice, and to justify very high prices. I am only interested in finding the best path to the best results, as every ‘table I build is an emissary for myself, and for my argument, which I am still making, that the idler-wheel-drive is, quite simply, the best drive system for playing vinyl LPs.
Though I did not invent high mass, I did discover just how profound an effect it had on overall sound quality from idlers as opposed to lesser mass, and did fight on forums around the world – long before any of my direct competitors existed – against great opposition, to have it accepted. As always my aim was to prove the superiority of idler-wheel- drive, by ensuring that whatever DIYers were doing out there, they were using high mass plinths to ensure best results, and reporting on those results. The prevailing theory then, still current today, was that mass stored energy, and that energy was re-released to destroy timing (the theory postulated to explain why high-mass belt-drives seemed to have no PRaT). The greatest opposition, predictably, came from England, Land of Flat-Earthers, and purveyors of low-mass, 3-point suspension high-end ‘tables like the Linn LP12. Lencos mounted in high-mass plinths are, in terms of rhythm and timing, greatly superior to any belt-drive, be it 3-point suspension or otherwise, so at a stroke disproving the mass-stores-energy so as to cause sonic problems theory: the real issue was drive systems.
Looking at the audio landscape today, I see that all the competitors – be they DD or idler – which rose from the market created by the “Building high-end ‘tables cheap at Home Despot” phenomenon, now use high mass plinths, in dimensions and styles very similar to those I built back in 2006. Various stone plinths of course devolved directly from this, being necessarily high mass.
I coined a phrase back then, Mass is Class, to promote the use of high mass. Consequently, all my plinths are high mass, as all my rebuilt Lencos use the TJN Mod.
You wrote up above that since heat rises, then a very close space will not make a difference. But a larger space around the motor will allow air circulation which will prevent heat build-up.
The Inverted Exoskeleton, or “Vibration Drain”
Another aspect of my designs currently being used by various competitors, and which I pioneered and offered up publicly for my DIY project many years before a single competitor existed. I first offered a short explanation and promoted this to DIYers on February 20, 2004: “Other photos show the solid internal structure to understand the principle: no enclosed resonating spaces, therefore the motor hangs in the air in open space to further dissipate its vibrational energy. The rest is dense, inert, solid. Simple, cheap, easy.”
I gave a more detailed explanation on Building high-end ‘tables cheap at Home Despot on May 6 2004, (Page 10 for those of you who have the original thread on record): “You wrote up above that since heat rises, then a very close space will not make a difference. But a larger space around the motor will allow air circulation which will prevent heat build-up. The space I leave around the motor is not an enclosed resonant air space, but simply a space, an absence of material, being open all the way to the ground, and surrounded by a solid plinth, kind of like the Oracle open-air design, but much more massive. Now I own a Maplenoll with a fluid damping trough, which came in several iterations. They originally came with a rather narrow trough which you would think would make no difference from a large trough. Wrong: the walls of the narrow trough actually reflected the vibration the fluid was damping back to the paddle and into the cartridge, which was very audible (a disaster).
The improvement was a much wider trough, which was a vast improvement. So taking my experience with this trough (enclosed spaces reflect energy back at the source), and a page from Oracle (a good idea to have a solid skeletal design which allows vibration to escape, and which itself vibrates only with great energy, as it is very thick and solid), I designed the plinth as it appears in my and Willbewill’s photos. The Lenco plinth as I have designed it allows space around the motor, which also has the added advantage of allowing air to flow around it. Narrowing this space negates the air circulation, and in my estimation will create a resonant air space after all, as the walls are too close to the motor.”
As is clear, the massive plinth is, by being solid and with space around the critical areas, a sort of inversion of the Oracle’s skeletal design, being massive, and having the appearance of being a hollow box, but being instead a massive non-resonant structure with voids. As with the TJN Mod and my use of high mass, the Inverted Exoskeleton/Vibration Drain is also a feature of all my work, from the most budget to the highest.
MKII Modifications and Parts
New Direct Coupling Slider Mechanism for Idler-Wheel Arm
The TJN Mod was only the first of a three-part attack on improving both torque and speed stability (the two are connected). Part Two is now developed and being included in all my MKII models and above, and supports the TJN Mod: it is a new slider mechanism which ensures the perfect operation of the TJN mod, improves speed stability (and so sonics) and takes advantage of the principle of Direct Coupling – which can only be achieved with wood – to act as a siphon for motor vibration and so noise, thus improving silence (already inaudible until compared to the new slider) and naturalness and effecting the usual improvements in detail-retrieval, dynamics, and so on. It is machined from solid, and also designed to make the range of speed adjustment universal anywhere in the world (i.e. you can move from a 60 Hz zone to a 50 Hz zone and achieve the correct range of speed from above, without dismantling the record player, simply swap motors; or if you have a voltage drop problem you can again make adjustments from above). The principle is this: the new slider is much wider than the original, thus providing a much more stable platform (like a wrestler with his feet spread wide) for the post on which the idler-wheel arm hangs. Furthermore, the entire upper half of the slider mechanism (there is a lower half below the chassis), including the post, is machined from a solid block, so that the post is not simply bolted to the slider, but is actually part of the slider, thus effecting a perfect transference of motor vibration via the wheel, to the post into the slider and, thanks to Direct Coupling, back into the plinth to be “eaten”. The lower half of the slider is so designed to ensure an easy and extremely accurate sliding motion from 33 to 45. The original Lenco chassis sounds better, for a variety of reasons, than after-market alternatives, and this slider realizes its potential. It is very time-intensive to make and so only available with my own work.
Reinforcement Ring for Main Bearing
There is a third improvement now for all my MKII machines, a reinforcement ring for the main bearing made of a metal chosen for its sonic properties (as all my materials are), which required, in tandem with the TJN Mod and the new slider, a re-working of the way in which I assemble the machines (the extreme increase in information-retrieval meant a VERY careful re-working of the whole to ensure no added brightness, grain, or glare). When done correctly, all three modifications raise my work much higher still, raising my Classic Models up close to my Reference model, and raising my Reference models much higher still.
New Ultra High-Accuracy Idler Wheel
I have inspected both the original and after-market idler-wheels, identified what needs doing, and designed and have now made available, and thoroughly tested, a new ultra high-accuracy idler wheel. As its name suggests, the main function and aim of ANY idler wheel is that it be accurate. As with all my mods the goal is not to impress and dazzle with exotic metals, materials or other gimmicks, but simply to get the job done right, a much more difficult proposition than simply offering nonsensical (and often failed) exotic materials. It goes through several stages, has much “magic” under the skin, and is only available with my own work. It is a $350 option with my Classic models, and is included with my Reference Lenco MKII and above.
New Techniques for Increasing Speed Stability; Further Dropping of the Noise Floor
These are achieved by a variety of methods working together to supplement and enhance the new parts and the preexisting work. All modifications are retrofittable, no one will be left behind, watch the reviews section for reports of these enhancements.