Tonearms For Warped Records
If many of your records are warped, certain precautions are indicated. In general, the
lower the mass of the arm-and-cartridge assembly which has to take the jouncing from a
warped disc, the better the results. The GE Baton arm, the Pickering, the Garrard, the
Shure and the Weathers arms are engineered to operate well on a warped disc.
Matching Arm To Pickup
The functioning of the pickup, however, is more important than the perfection of the
arm. Most pickups operate best in arms made by the same manufacturer. In some cases no
other arm will do. The Ferranti, Leak, Shure and Weathers pickups will hardly work at all
in another maker's arm. With the GE and Fairchild pickups you have a choice of arms,
because these are the most popular in the business and every arm is more or less prepared
to bold them. The Rek-O-Kut arm is designed to hold almost any pickup.
The cheapest recommended turntable and the cheapest separate arm will cost you, between
them, about $80. For half this money you can buy the German-made Miraphon record player,
with an excellent four-pole motor, a solid turntable and a very decent arm. It will not
track quite so well as the separate arms, and the turntable is not so well weighted for
the avoidance of wow and flutter. But you'll have to be pretty good to catch the
difference, and the price is definitely right.
If you have a large quantity of 78-rpm or 45-rpm records, you will probably want a
record changer. Getting up to change records every four to six minutes is unquestionably a
nuisance, and it diminishes the pleasure of a phonograph. Since the argument for high
fidelity is an increase in pleasure, there is no practical sense to the purist argument
which rules out the record changer from all high-fidelity installations.
There may be no practical sense to it, but there are sound theoretical reasons behind
it, which can be summarized. The motor of a turntable has one job, turning the table. The
motor of a changer must also work, through intricate gears, to lift and move a tone arm
out of harm's way and to push records one on top of the other. It does its basic job less
efficiently because it has too many other things to do. The tone arm of a separate
installation merely holds the stylus on the groove, and swings in as the record plays. The
tone arm of a record changer must also trip a mechanism which starts the changing cycle.
As it leans against this switch, toward the end of the record, it drags the stylus against
the outside edge of the grooves, distorting the eventual sound and (more serious) wearing
out the shorter grooves.
Since record changers do not have heavily weighted turntables, they lack the flywheel
effect which makes for constant speed on precision instruments. The turntables are rarely
a full 12 inches in diameter. This means that the vinylite record sags slightly as the
stylus plays its outer area-and the stylus wears more heavily against the outside of the
Pickups are made to perform most accurately when the stylus is directly
perpendicular to the flat record. A tone arm can be adjusted to hold the stylus in this
position if there is to be exactly one record on the turntable. A changer, however, plays
stacks of records, and the tone arm will bold the stylus perpendicular to only one of the
records. The stack problem has other aspects, too. It increases the weight of the
turntable which the motor is turning, and the turntable is likely to run slow as the stack
builds up. Moreover, it never did a record any good to be dropped, and then to be gripped
in the grooves of another record.
Nevertheless, except in the very best systems (which will pick up the changer's
characteristic low-frequency rumble) the record changer is an adequate way of playing
records. Those with an all-LP collection will not want it (the man who is too lazy to
change records every 25 minutes is too lazy to live), but others are likely to find that
its convenience outweighs its defects. Many hi-fi families own both a changer and a
precision turntable the former to accompany Madame's housework; the latter for more
Record changers come in all varieties. The ultra-fancy kind, which turns records over,
has not been made for hi-fi use-it takes a special and pretty poor cartridge. But the
Thorens, Garrard, Miracord, Glaser-Steers, Collaro and Webcor (in descending order of
price) are eminently hi-fi goods.
(Excerpts from the book Hi-Fi All-New 1958
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