From DJ to audiophile – pimping turntables



The worlds of vinyl DJing and audiophilia wouldn’t be further apart. While both essentially aim to achieve perfect playing of their records in their unique environments, the actual technology couldn’t be more different. Or so I thought… rubs chin… 

The audiophile world is an arcane and ridiculously expensive place, frequented by purist vinyl lovers with pockets disproportionately  deeper than their common sense. The turntables themselves walk an odd line between scientific instrument and work of art, and are suitably priced too. But then we must remember that the venerable Technics SL-1200 turntable was designed as an audiophile deck.

But for some, that’s just not enough. There are those who feel the need to break out the the wallet and the screwdriver to take their decks to the next dimension of high end audio sex. One such company happy to turn your Technics back into listening decks is Sound Hi Fi in Devon who can supply a solid amount of off-the-shelf mods. They’ll happily “take away the DJ part of the DNA and restore it to it’s original audiophile birth”, but it’s a one way trip – no DJing on these modded decks. It does however offer the most complete genetic reworking of a Technics possible.

Sound Hi Fi Technics Evo

Image courtesy of http://www.hi-fiworld.co.uk

Behold the Sound Hi Fi Timestep Evo – yours for a nut-crunching £3695, or £2895 if you supply your own deck. Hi-Fi World seem to think it’s worth the cash though. Colour me surprised – I expected only the minimalist wooden block belt drive style audiophile variety of turntable to get such glowing words.

Maple Store Stanton ST.150 Mod

But its not just Technics getting the pimp treatment. Its perceived successor , the Stanton ST.150 (or STR8.150 for the scratch guys) is being touted by The Mapleshade Store in the US as a very fine audiophile deck on its own without any fancy pants mods. But of course, they’re happy to perform the necessary surgery for a fee. They’ll pop it all in a rather nice polished wooden case too for $1620.


Vestax don’t miss out either, but perhaps to not quite the same degree. You can, if your heart and wallet desire, get some quite serious Toyota engineered feet from Stokyo for your PDX decks. Not quite the Technics/Stanton overhaul offered above, but a treat for your decks nonetheless. You’d better love your PDXs as these are $600 for a set of 4.

In years to come, I may well treat myself to a pure listening setup, but perhaps not drinking quite so excessively from the snake oil fountain as others. While I get immense pleasure from buying rare and well pressed vinyl, much of the mass produced variety really isn’t worth spending several thousand of your currency on. I’ve got vinyl that sounds worse than an electronic greetings card, so let’s not get fooled into believing that ALL vinyl sounds amazing, because it’s simply not true, especially the limited run variety that proliferated the dance music scene. Turd polishing is a fruitless exercise.

Do you have a special setup for listening to vinyl? Do you genuinely believe that these small and not so small tweaks can make a real difference and that it’s well worth the money? Or like me are you more of an opinion that on the whole, most vinyl isn’t worthy of such lavish spending? Personally, I’d rather drop hundreds or even thousands on the vinyl itself. I’m actually more likely to spend more money on the shelves to store it all.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t believe that there might be a heightened listening experience, but it’s simply that I’m happy with the quality I have, and I cannot see how spending thousands on Pear cables will make the DJ Premier remix of D’Angelo’s “Lady” or The Truth’s “Open Our Eyes” (my favourite play loud and just listen tracks) sound any better.

And thanks to ciscoelnino for the original Stanton pimping link.

  • culture_drone

    I thought no true Scotsman-er, audiophile would ever dare to use a direct drive turntable due to “brush noise” from the motor?

    • http://twitter.com/Jay__Dub Jay__Dub

      yeah, spot on… the thought of these even coming close to a proper audiophile deck is a joke, I love the 1210 and STR8… don’t get me wrong, but for sound quality this is like polishing a turd.

    • http://twitter.com/FischkoppMusic Fischkopp

      I totaly agree. I don’t think that I’m “audiophil enough” to hear a difference, but spending several thousand Euros on making a direct drive turntable audiophil is just plain stupid.

  • BelgianJungleSound

    Do audiophiles also encase their turntables in a soundproof box so as not to hear the sound coming directly from the needle itself? Or has no one ever thought of that?

    • DJQA

      Typically, hifi cartridges don’t make as much stylus noise as DJ carts. It varies a lot though, apparently dependent on stylus shape and suspension compliance. My old Shure V15V was almost completely silent, but the stiff elliptical Denon 103R I have now makes quite a racket.

      Some people lower the dust over while playing to shut out the noise, but that’s not recommended apparently because of potential static build-up on the Perspex pulling the cart away from the record, lessening effective tracking force and potentially making the stylus mistrack.

      • DJQA

        Oops, I mean spherical stylus on the Denon. The Shure used a line contact type.

      • BelgianJungleSound

        “…but that’s not recommended apparently because of potential static build-up on the Perspex pulling the cart away from the record, lessening effective tracking force and potentially making the stylus mistrack.”
        Now that’s just getting too extreme in the search for perfect audio quality.

  • beuis

    do you really listen to D’Angelo’s “Lady” or The Truth’s “Open Our Eyes” ??? they are both shite!! dude you have gone down in my estimations.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      I’ve gone down in your estimation because I listen to a neo soul DJ Premier produced banger as well as a Marshall Jefferson deep house classic? Oh well. Both are amazing tracks, but as ever, one man’s classic is another’s “shite”. At least you read the article!

    • DJ Stu-C

      lol, flaming mark on his music tastes. D’Angelo has a quality voice.

  • Zam

    Here is what I did so far with my SL-1200 without reaching the non-return point (=being unable to DJ):

    1. Properly set the turntable: height of the arm, anti-skating, cart weight. It’s so obvious to me but I have seen so many dj turntable set the wrong way and dj ignoring these settings.

    2. Install a good hi-fi cart with elliptical needle: this is the key, it can greatly improve the sound.

    3. Use a vinyl cleaning machine such as Okki Nokki: big improvement compared to brushes

    4. Use an anti-static pistol such as Milty ZeroStat: minor difference here

    I also tried the Isonoe feets and Isonoe glass which have a great design and efficiency. They are intended for DJ rather than audiophiles. The major issue with those is that the turntable will move up and down as you touch the turntable or the vinyl, making the needle jump!!! So these feets do not work for DJing actually.

    Of course the whole sound chain must be good as well (preamp/mixer, amp and speaker).

    • Zam

      + using the Technics overhang gauge to properly install the cart on the technics headshell if you are not using Ortofon Concorde or similar. The other way is to use stylus alignement templates (good luck).

      Disappointed with record clamps as well, as they put the pressure on the center only.

  • http://twitter.com/mixmaster_jdub DJ JDUB

    id spend the money on a stellar set of monitors instead

  • Daniel Morse

    One of the Technics I bought was upgraded with Cardas tonearm wire. Apparently this is a good thing?

  • http://twitter.com/Djscottfrost Scott Frost

    Can you still buy those orange things?? I always wanted a pair.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      Search for freefloat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/warpnote Audun Notevarp Sandvold

    Hate those orange ballons with a passion….

  • Dj Stu-C

    they look pretty cool but audiophiles are like football stato’s… really annoying and normally full of shit

  • Pingback: From DJ to audiophile – pimping turntablesUniqueSquared Pro Audio Blog

  • Pingback: Pyle retro turntable – it’s just a deck in a box | Sunnylicious

  • Pingback: Restoring Vestax PDX d3s turntables — my next projectSunnylicious | Sunnylicious

  • Álvaro Martín Gómez Acevedo

    I’m not a DJ, and I’m the happy owner of a Numark TTXUSB for home listening. The only somewhat expensive tweak I’ve made to my turntable is buying a line contact cartridge for it (line contact styli aren’t cheap), after performing some DIY tweaks to the tonearm to make it appropriate for a high compliance cartridge. Also bought a cheap cork mat because I was tired of peeling the stock slip mat off due to static. But conversations about the “sound” of a platter mat, record clamp, interconnect cable or even a headshell made me laugh. And regarding prices, here are some absurd examples from the audiophile world:

    http://www.elusivedisc.com/KOETSU-BLUE-LACE-ONYX-PLATINUM-MC-CARTRIDGE-03mV/productinfo/KOEBLUEONYX/

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000J36XR2/ref=dp_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=new&sr=8-1&qid=1398027476