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Looking for A 21st Century Idler Turntable ?
THE SCHICK 14 IDLER TURNTABLE
Schick 14 – "der Plattenspieler"
With the record player it is the same story as with the tonearm:
Historical models are appealing ...
... but rare and often a full restoration has to be done first to reach a top notch sound.
Even then historical compromises are still inherent.
Well – time does not stand still. That is of course true for record player components. Especially modern motors can deliver stunning results. Still, the recipe to make a record player today seems mostly very, very simple: cheapest weak motors, thin unstable bearings, belts with yoyo effect, heavy platters, heaps of flashy materials which result all in all in a very dull and lifeless sound.
The Schick 14 takes over where the great analogue era may have ended: with the latest record cutting lathes
The platter has, like these cutting lathes, a diameter of 14 inches, hence the name Schick 14. This platter size still allows the mounting of 9 inch tonearms. The weight of the platter is ‘only’ 4,5kg.
But why this large diameter and a comparatively low weight?
The flywheel momentum of that dimension is much more than a heavy 12 inch platter can reach. So heavy platters do not solve problems, but actually create new ones for the bearing and motor. With a larger platter the momentum is high, but bearing wear and pressure are very small. Regulation of the motor is not translated to the platter as well.
The platter is cast from an aluminum-magnesium alloy, just as was the case with the best historic predecessors. Casting (without pressure) results in lowest tensions of the material with a highly desirable resonance pattern. Today this process is optimized so there are almost no cavities in the cast. This process is not to be confused with die cast method for large quantity parts.
In combination with a very strong motor a drive with highest precision is realized ... now to the Motor :
I have been looking for a suitable motor a long time and found a suitable one from a German manufacturer. Normally small and weak motors are chosen. This really top level motor I have chosen has the following characteristics :
It is used in medical and critical industry applications
It is a brushless DC motor, which has very high torque and is yet absolutely quiet
It is finely balanced and has a high mass rotor
The bearings run in low noise material cages
This way an extremely stable and quiet drive find its place in the Schick 14 record player
The motor allows programming of all its parameters. This motor is not programmed for maximum power, but for most smooth and constant operation ... a feature that was unavailable for the AC motors of the vintage record players.
Compared to its vintage brethren this motor is just leaps ahead.
The plinth material comes from the industrial tooling industry, and has the following characteristics :
It has the appearance of a stone or of fine suit fabric
The material is a high-density polymer
This material has almost ideal damping characteristics. It dampens but is not "dead"
High and low frequencies can be absorbed very quickly in the material
Unlike hard materials there will be no vibration energy stored
It is heavy, but not too heavy. Heavier than wood, but lighter than slate or stone. Heavy material tends to store the vibration energy longer but often these do not absorb it
Due to the high mass of such a material it will resonate later, resulting in a smeared sound
Materials which absorb only low or high vibrations, result in an unbalanced sound
The material is also extremely dimensionally stable
It barely moves at temperature differences that exist in living rooms – it practically does not move at all – unlike wood
These positive characteristics however are reflected in a high material price ...
... it is about seven times more expensive than mahogany !
However, the related CNC process allows for an affordable production cost
The machining also allows tailored cutouts for bearing and motor
The design allows clumsy levers and and adjustment bars to be omitted
The plinth fits the record player like a glove
Thus, I achieved greater stability than regular large area cutout plinths from any other material
NOTE : We offer plinths made from this material for vintage Thorens, Garrard and EMT Turntables ... Call !
The Idler Wheel
The force of the motor is transferred by an idler wheel of large diameter, which drives the platter horizontally on the inner side.
This results in a very high torque drive. Slip and yoyo effects, like with a string or a rubber belt, are eliminated.
A well made idler wheel with modern parts, besides delivering a very dynamic sound, can deliver a rumble free platter drive when combined with a modern silent motor.
Modern rubber is much more consistent compared to the unequally hardened idler wheels in old turntables.
The idler wheel is mounted on a special ball bearing. A regular, single bearing would ring, but with the Schick 14 there are special constructions with more than one row of steel balls.
The wheel runs really smoothly, and has been designed for 24/7 use with high rpm. So again, it will last ‘for a very long while’ …
We also included a set screw to adjust idler wheel pressure. Some vintage models had this feature. Very helpful. You can dial in a "non-hand stoppable" torque, or the regular "one-finger-stop" feel.
Every Schick 14 turntable is delivered with three magnetically damped feet, which have a very good damping in the vertical direction, but are not able to swing sideways. This avoids the feeling of a wobbly sub-chassis and the negative effect of circular movement of the turntable.
By the way, that was exactly the research result when EMT designed the damping feet for their 950 model
Again vintage concepts were chosen when they proved to deliver best results. Bronze bushings and steel ball are perfect examples for that.
But the bearing incorporates some high-tech as well :
The thrust plate is made from PEEK -- Polyether ether ketone, not the soft and cheap POM
PEEK is used, for example, in high performance engines as chain-guides, where low wear is demanded
So, if PEEK lasts +100.000 miles in a hot car engine, 33rpm at room temperature is like comparatively "smooth-gliding"
The lubricant is high-tech too > a synthetic fluid (oil) which features :
‘Low noise, resistant to oxidation
Good viscosity temperature behavior’ – according to the manufacturer’s data sheet.
The latter means -40°-+140° C … In room temperatures it has constant viscosity ...
... So, even on a cold day the bearing does not stick any bit more than on a hot day
Seems like a modest thing to ask for, but most lubes used in record players do not behave like this
You see, the components of the Schick 14 resemble those of the popular vintage idler wheel turntables.
But, despite its minimal design, there are quite a few remarkable features in this unique turntable.
Where improvements were possible using modern technologies, these were carefully applied
This is especially true for the motor and its programmable regulation
Finally, I avoided the unnecessary levers and tension springs found the original vintage designs.
Instead if favored Small parts count of exceptional quality, just like with my tonearm designs.
Classic concepts are thus transferred to the modern age, and let a Dream Turntable become reality ...
... my dream turntable for sure, and possibly yours !
$ 17,000 Turntable only
Call for : Accommodation price with 9" or 12" Schick tonearm & Schick Graphite Headshell
Availability : Custom order / 14 week delivery
Conditions : 60% down at order