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ELP Turntable - Ask Me Anything!

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Jerfo

Active Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
58
Howdy, Folks!

After years upon years of wanting one, I finally bit the bullet and picked up an ELP LT-1LRC Laser Turntable off of eBay. It was still extremely expensive, but a fraction of the cost of what they go for new. Searching through the archives here, it looks like folks have often speculated how well <fill in the blank> would work on a laser turntable, so I'm here to answer your questions as best as I can. I'll start by answering a few FAQs off the top of my head, and then I'll add to this post as more questions come in.

How Does It Sound?

I'm not your classic audiophile, so I don't have a high-end turntable with a high-end cartridge to compare this to. What's standing out to me are things like stereo separation and detail. I'm listening to "Making Memories" on Rush's "Fly By Night" album as we speak, and the spread / detail on the multitracked acoustic guitars is gorgeous. (Same with the beginning of "In The End," which just came on.)

The high end / low end / mids are all spot on where I'd want them to be. I'd call it SACD-like. I'll leave it up to you to decide if this is a good or bad thing.

How Does It Handle Dusty / Dirty Records?

Most likely: poorly. While a stylus can force its way through small bits of dust and grime to a certain extent, the laser is entirely incapable of doing so. I've always done a wet clean and vacuum dry on my records, so I've yet to experience the "sound of eating potato chips" that some people describe this turntable making on dusty records.

How Does It Handle Scratches and Groove Wear?

In my experience so far: pretty well. It can't compensate for a part of the groove that's been completely destroyed, but it can be adjusted to play less-worn parts of a groove. I was skeptical about this functionality before I bought it, but it actually seems to work as advertised. I had a very beat up George Duke record that would skip with a normal stylus and even skipped on the ELP on its default setting. However, once I changed the groove depth setting, it played through just fine. There was still surface noise of course, but it was actually playable and dare I say listenable.

How Does It Handle Warps and Pressing Anomalies?

My results have been mixed. I tried one record with a pretty series dish warp and the ELP wouldn't play it at all. On my standard turntable, I could at least clamp it down and play one side. I have another LP with a pressing defect affecting the first 5-10 minutes of each side. With a normal stylus, it'll jump once a revolution and be essentially unplayable. The ELP actually plays it without any audio issues at all, BUT I can hear the entire mechanism clunking angrily once a revolution as it tries desperately to follow a wiggly groove. That doesn't make for an optimal listening experience.

How Well Does It Work For Matrix (SQ, QS) Quad LPs?

Beautifully. I'm running it through my first gen Surround Master and it's a match made in heaven. Instrument and vocal positions are exceptionally well-defined, to the point where at times the sound seems to be coming from phantom speakers in the front center and rear center of the room.

How Well Does It Work for CD-4 LPs?

Ah, yes...that's the $64,000 question. The answer at the moment is: undetermined, but probably very well. My ELP comes with an internal phono preamp that can't be switched off without opening the unit up and performing surgery on it. I'm not going to be doing that anytime soon.

I've ordered a passive inverse-RIAA unit that should effectively undo the phono EQ and amplification and allow me to plug into my CD-4 demodulator. In the meantime, I recorded a 96/24 sample from a CD-4 record and confirmed via a spectrogram plugin that the 30 KHz carrier signal is there. So, it looks promising.


Can It Play Colored Vinyl, Clear Vinyl, or Picture Discs?

Nope. It only supports black vinyl.

Does It Handle Locked Grooves at the End of a LP Side?

It doesn't seem like it. It blissfully ignored the locked groove at the end of Side A on "Fly By Night." That said, you can hit a button on the front of the player to play any single groove repeatedly, so it would be trivial to re-create manually.

Do You Have Any Rips That I Can Listen To?

[EDIT - 2020-05-02}

Yes! I've ripped the first side of the album "Better Than Live" by Larry Coryell and The Brubeck Brothers for your listening pleasure. It was a direct to disc recording from 1978 that has never been re-released and it's unlikely that it ever will, so I don't feel too terrible about sharing it. You can download them from my OneDrive link here: ELP Rips . The sounds clips are 24/96 and completely unedited - no click removal, no normalization, no limiting, etc.


That's all for now. Let me know what questions you have and I'll try my best to answer them. I'm also planning on making a YouTube video in the near future. I'll update this post when the video is ready.

- Jeff
 
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Cyber 1

400 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Sep 14, 2011
Messages
426
Seems to me that there would be both pros and cons to the table, I would wonder if infact it did and any color to what your hearing. If at some point you had another person bring over a very good table and run several good pressing back to back on each table, that would be interesting.
 

Jerfo

Active Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
58
Seems to me that there would be both pros and cons to the table, I would wonder if infact it did and any color to what your hearing. If at some point you had another person bring over a very good table and run several good pressing back to back on each table, that would be interesting.
Given the current world situation, it might be a while. :) I'll see what I can do. My old table had a Ortofon Blue cart running through a Yamaha C2 preamp - nice, but not in the same class by any stretch.
 

fredblue

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congrats on scoring a beauty!
sounds like all very encouraging feedback so far. thank you for sharing the detailed info with us.

it may have been a typo but fwiw a CD-4 demodulator would ordinarily be looking for a 30kHz carrier to lock onto rather than 20kHz and to separate properly would require being fed a signal from a source with a frequency response in excess of 30kHz (45-50k are the figures that get bandied about) but you maybe onto a winner yet! fingers crossed!

please keep us informed as to how you get on and good luck 🙂
 

DuncanS

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I looked at those then I saw the price and it was :eek:

I thought I saw somewhere that somebody had done CD4 with one of the ELP turntables, but they had to bypass the pre-amp to get at the 'raw' uncompensated signal. So had to get into the innards and rewire to a new wideband preamp. Even with an inverse RIAA filter on the current unit I'd be surprised if it worked. Mind you I hope it does.
 

Jerfo

Active Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
58
congrats on scoring a beauty!
sounds like all very encouraging feedback so far. thank you for sharing the detailed info with us.

it may have been a typo but fwiw a CD-4 demodulator would ordinarily be looking for a 30kHz carrier to lock onto rather than 20kHz and to separate properly would require being fed a signal from a source with a frequency response in excess of 30kHz (45-50k are the figures that get bandied about) but you maybe onto a winner yet! fingers crossed!

please keep us informed as to how you get on and good luck 🙂
Whoops! That was half typo and half social-distancing-brain at work. Here's a spectral snippet from my CD4 of Frank Zappa's "Apostrophe" album:

1588378443962.png


You can see the nice tall bump in the 30k range. (I had the levels set way too low on my rip, which is why everything is in the -40 to -50dB range.)
 

rustyandi

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 19, 2002
Messages
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Australia
I haven't tried it myself, but it's only designed to play black vinyl. I'll try a few just for the sake of completeness and add my results to the FAQ.
It does not play coloured Vinyl or PYE QS (they look black but they are red) I have tried CD4 With mixed results
 

winopener

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
3,693
How Well Does It Work for CD-4 LPs?

I've ordered a passive inverse-RIAA unit that should effectively undo the phono EQ and amplification and allow me to plug into my CD-4 demodulator. In the meantime, I recorded a 96/24 sample from a CD-4 record and confirmed via a spectrogram plugin that the 30 KHz carrier signal is there. So, it looks promising.
I don't see too much above the carrier... that's a problem. Raise the level and check out if there are the side bands.

If it's all there, try to decode the Cat Stevens Greatest Hits or the Barry Manilow Try to get the feelings, these are the CD4 with the hottest signal engrooved and if these comes thru decoded and undistorted it's a safe bet you can do any CD4 well.
 

fredblue

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while i'm far from expert, i wouldn't personally use the Zappa, Manilow, or Cat Stevens CD-4's for this purpose.

it feels like none have suitable Quad mixes where you can really get anywhere near true isolation in any one channel.

while Cat Stevens is a torture test for sandpaper/distortion bursts, the mixes are a mess and feel kinda unhelpful to see if things are separating properly.

tbh i can't think of one A&M Quad you'd want to use to test how well a setups separating, the mixes just aren't super separated in the first place like the majority of CBS or WB Quads.. maybe Wakeman's Six Wives at a push you could use to see how things are working but that's Japanese CD-4, you've possibly spent enough on the ELP already to go crazy on expensive discs.

it might be better to test with one of the readily available Quadradiscs with good discrete reference material "out there" from Q8 or Quad Reel conversions, so its easy to compare how well the CD-4's separating stuff?

maybe things like the Doobies (any of the 4 Quads), James Taylor (Gorilla is good), etc., they are so handy for testing purposes since many tracks were mixed with lead vocals hard upfront and only faint reverb of those lead vocals in the Rears.. so you know you're on the right lines if you check out the Rears only and you have light vocal reverb with minimum distortion (plus of course whatever else was mixed and intended to be emanating back there). ahh breakfast time (so late.. so lazy in these lockdown days!) anyway, happy Quad playing, this is all very exciting and still the most fun you can have with your clothes on! 🤗
 

Jerfo

Active Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
58
I have a couple of CD-4 calibration LPs, so my plan is to use those from this point on.
 

DuncanS

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Even with the low rip level for CD4 I would expect to see more of the FM modulated signal over 30kHz- 45kHz, doesn't seem to be a lot got through in that frequency range. Worth a try though.
 

Tubelicious

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Feb 18, 2016
Messages
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Thanks for the detailed and frank review. I’ve been intrigued by these turntables for a while now. As well as the whole “is it really analoge if it’s being read by a laser?” debate. At 10K entry point, it’s a little hard to justify for me, but have never even considered trying for one on EBAY.

glad to hear SQ works so well. I have a V1 surround master too running through my vintage Marantz integrated. And yes your CD4 solution sounds like the best route without tearing into it. Curious how the “CD4 sandpaper” issues are (with the rougher copies I think this is a universal issue) :(

again, mucho thanks for your input :)
 

François

Senior Member
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Apr 20, 2013
Messages
293
Location
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Video on Laserdiscs is analogue, read by a laser, and there’s never been a debate about it!

Analogue vs Digital is how you store the information, not how you read it. And before digital information is brought into digital circuitry, it is read by analogue electronics, because our physical world is inherently analogue!
 
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