This review came about from my visiting the Hagerman Technology booth at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest back in October. The UFO (Uniform Frequency Orbiter) Strobeclamp Kit/2 insures your turntable is spinning at the correct speed. Since my very first job in life was working for Heathkit Electronics, i find such kits to have that endearing 'cute' appeal. Though before discussing this object of desire, i would like to devote more insight to those of you unfamiliar with Hagerman Technology.
What Is Your Name?
What Is Your Quest?
Offering high-value 'half-kits' to music lovers at a low cost.
What Is Your Favorite Color?
Red, no purple....
So what exactly is a 'half-kit?' Basically they are an 'tween of complete DIY and an assembled unit. These kits include only the the customized parts not usually found 'off the shelf' at your local Radio Shack/Tandy or other mainstream supply shops. Half-kits include an owners manual and the circuit board (with traces) but no electronics soldered to them. Certain more advanced half-kits include pre-cut and silk screened chassis panels, a drill guide, and/or decals.
Pro And Cons
So what are the benefits and drawbacks of a half-kit? What you need to supply is usually the soldering gun, the solder, and the various resistors, capacitors, switches, etc for the project. The advantaged to half-kits is that many audiophiles find the parts quality in some kits to be of lower quality than they desire. Wish super tweak capacitor, resistor, or high-speed rectifier in hand, certain DIY guys swear by certain types/brands of parts while scoffing others. Hagerman's half-kits come with no parts so you can feel free to use whatever El Tweako device you desire.
The drawbacks? Basically in the effort it takes to source various parts. Another disadvantage is that some kit companies supply 'known good' parts that work together well. Remember the old adage of 'the sum better than the parts.' Audio Note and the like carefully chose specific parts for their kits as synergy is also key.
The good news is that many of Hagerman Technology's kits are also available assembled. There is no need to solder or source parts as what you will receive is ready to go. Then again all the above pertains mainly to their RIAA stage, preamplifier, and amplifier kits. The UFO reviewed here need not use El Tweako parts and assembly is incredibly easy.
How does one write a review about a unit that simply insures the speed of your records is accurate? You simply turn it on by pressing the red button, look at the strobe pattern, and adjust the speed of your turntable until the spot no longer moves.
There is no soundscape, no depth to be discussed, and no lush/harsh/etc sound. So what can i say, for only $40 for the half-kit you have the opportunity to enjoy building a kit. Everything is very straightforward and easy to do. It is a speed strobe my friend, not rocket science after all. Yet for $40 it is inexpensive and looks way cool to boot!
Yes, i will fully admit there are motives in this review. My hopes are in introducing audiophiles to the joys of kit building. Did you know Hagerman Technology sells a cable burn-in device for $30, a battery powered phono stage for $30, a tubed phono stage for $95, and 8 watt monoblock amplifiers for $190 per pair. Naturally these are half-kit prices, though the assembled prices are also very reasonable. Perhaps now is the time for you to begin warming up that soldering iron my friends.
Oh, and start chatting with your newfound DIY buddies about those high-speed rectifiers and special capacitors found in that recent dumpster dive. As always...
Type: Vinyl record player speed strobe
The UFO is available as a DIY half-kit, comprising two circuit boards and an assembly manual.
Parts can be built on top or bottom of the PCB (except ICs) for assembly flexibility.
Speeds: 33.3, 45, and 78
Battery Life: 25 hours
Hagerman Technology LLC