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Loricraft Plinth and Power Supply Accessories for Garrard 301 and 401

Back to the future with a vengeance, part 2

Or: the eagle has landed

Product: Loricraft Plinth and Power Supply Accessories for Garrard 301 and 401
Manufacturer: Loricraft - UK
Approx cost: For exact prices, please ask Terry or Nigel, the folks at Loricraft.
The plinth costs some hundred UKP.
The standard service also costs some hundred UKP.
Then the standard power supply sells for a bit more than 1000 UKP, but older versions on the s/h market sell for about half of that.

Reviewer: Hartmut Quaschik - TNT Germany
Reviewed: June, 2009

[Garrard 301 in Loricraft plinth]
[Italian version]

You may have read about my experiences with the Kokomo bearing on a Garrard 401. But my Garrard adventure went on.
Last year I was lucky to get my hands on a s/h oil bearing Garrard 301, which had been given a full standard service through Loricraft. Although the service had been done a few years before, I do appreaciate this service, because Loricraft exchanges the bearing bushings with new ones for smaller clearance and less play. This is the best pre-condition for using oil in a Garrard bearing.
Of course, I tried the Kokomo on this oil bearing 301, with the same positive results like with the 401.
Surprise, somebody sold his Loricraft plinth on a US marketplace. It was the variant with the fluted front and sides, which reminded me a lot at the 80ies Linn LP12, and yes, I like that old fashioned looks.
A bit later, I bought two used Loricraft power supplies for Garrard 301/401, and learned what they did to the music.
I already raved about the Kokomo, but this article is about the Loricraft bits and pieces.

Loricraft Power Supply

The two versions I have share their simple topology. They have opamp based Wien bridge oscillators which drive a mono MOSFET power amp, which then feeds a stepup torodial transformer to 230 Volts. One of the power supplies had the output voltage adjustable on the front, and the other had a trim pot for basically the same adjustment inside. The adjustable power supply had smaller torodials inside, maybe 125 VA types, while the fixed voltage power supply sports 250 VA torodials. The power supplies are 180mm wide 450mm deep 105mm high, and beautiful to look at.

[Loricraft Power Supply]

What both have in common is it takes up to five minutes for them to stabilize the output voltage. If you start the power supply in the same second as the turntable, it will start way too slow, and you have to readjust at the Garrard's magnet brake to get the turntable speed right. So please, start the power supply at least 5 minutes before starting the turntable. And please do not forget to switch off the Garrard before you switch off the power supply, because if you forget to switch off the Garrard, then you have a flat spot on the rubber idler wheel after a day or two.

I purchased the power supply with the adjustable output voltage first. When I set the output voltage to exactly 230 Volts and connected it to the Garrard 301, I noticed a very big reduction of grain, together with a different balance of bass, mids and treble. Treble was much clearer again, bass less dominant than usual, while at the same time the timing aspects were sorted. This was the very first time I experienced that the Garrard was playing correct in the time domain. Now with this combination I could listen to classical records without missing anything, this was difficult before.

[Loricraft Power Supply]

When I got the second power supply with the fixed voltage, it sounded different with the Garrard 301. It had the same sureness in the bass and the time domain, but it preserved the bass level compared to treble level. I can only guess that this due to the bigger torodial used as stepup transformer.

What both power supplies gave me, what simply this: they both completed the upgrade started with the Kokomo. While the Kokomo sorted out the midrange and treble, as well as center localisation in the soundstage, the power supplies sorted the bass region. No longer one-note bass anymore, instead the bass is structured and well resolved. And what is more, the time domain gets sorted. I can now listen to classical records regardless of genre. And last but not least, with both modifications the basic character of the Garrard remains intact. The easeness and comfort of listening remains, while all the vagueness disappears.

Loricraft Plinth

This is a mother of plinths. A solid wooden frame with triangular corner bracings for supporting squash balls, a bottom plate with ventilation holes, that is all. I bought the plinth s/h without top plate. So I took my jigsaw and made a top plate myself from a beech multply board using the Garrard template.

[inside Loricraft plinth]

When I had a full serviced Loricraft 401 in 12-inch plinth some years ago, I noticed it was good, but I had it without Kokomo and without a power supply, so I noticed nothing special with it. Now it is different: with Kokomo and power supply, I can fully appreciate what the plinth does compared to a fixed plinth like I had before. It gives a lot more detail and transparency to the soundstage. This must be the air suspension of the squash balls. And yes, the softer squash balls (two yellow dots) sound better than the harder ones (blue dot).

Conclusion and Outlook

With all these modifications, my Garrard is as good as never been before. In fact it is so good, that its limitations can be perceived in high resolution setups. Its limitations are quite obvious: the idler wheel produces a very slight noise, which is well below the groove noise, but nevertheless noticeable, if your systems has top class inner detail resolution. These differences are on a very high level: the Garrard is like a just cleaned window, while my heavily modified Simon Yorke is like an open window.
Then the speed accuracy has been greatly enhanced, but it is still not 100% locked like with the very best direct drive decks, and I mean not the usual Technics SP10 or a Micro DDX-1500, I am talking about EMT. Last but not least, bass impact is not as impressive as with solid 10 or more kg stainless steel platter. Though it is not clear to me whether the dynamic presentation of heavy metal platters is part of the recorded music or just an artefact, that means added by the machine. Listing these limitations sounds harsh, but in everyday use they play no role, simply because the Garrard does not destroy the beauty of the music, neither does it show detail when there isn't any. The Garrard 301, modified like described in this article, is balanced in a way that you do not miss anything. It presents music on an even higher listening enjoyment level than the Kuzma Stabi Reference that I reviewed before. The Garrard is as fuss-free as can be, it doesn't even have a regular subchassis. There are no springs to care, no electronic air suspension thing to adjust, you can load the Garrard in your car and bring it to a party, setting up the Garrard is in a breeze. This Garrard delivers a non-analytical presentation of music, at the same time leaves all parts of the music intact, be it soundstage, timing, dynamics, flow of music, PRAT - you name it, the Garrard devlivers.

"What about your Simon Yorke?", the watchfull reader might ask. At the moment, the Simon Yorke has been tweaked further, and got even more enhancements. Both Garrard and Simon Yorke are wonderful decks, and I am lucky, that I have both. Like the Schroeder and the Pluto tonearms, each piece of gear shows some tricks where the other gear is not 100% perfect. And there is no perfect gear, anyway.

Is this the end of evolution for the Garrard? Well I can imagine an even better motor management with the pulley removed, and the motor changing its speed, like Loricraft does it for the Garrard 501 they developped. How about a motor electronic with negative output impedance? Then, I think plinths can be improved further. The guy who sold me this Loricraft plinth, told me that he changed to a very expensive slate plinth. But given the limitations by design, the idler wheel ... is worth maxing out the Garrard any further? I don't know. At the moment, I feel it is so very balanced in its current modification level.

© Copyright 2009 Hartmut Quaschik - www.tnt-audio.com

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