Don't try this with a modern turntable! Torture test of Zenith Micro-Touch 2G tonearm

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by vwestlife, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    An amazing demonstration film for the 1962 Zenith Micro-Touch 2G tonearm, showing its development, manufacture, and some extreme torture tests that a modern turntable would fail miserably:

     
  2. Gaslight

    Gaslight Kokomo or My Ding-a-Ling : Shoulda been a poll

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    That LP is warped
     
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  3. BRODNATION

    BRODNATION The Future Never Dies because Tomorrow Never Knows

    Location:
    Canada
    That needle drag at 0:15 gave me a ****ing heart attack
     
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  4. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    You know, I have a 1969 Zenith Z931 console in my dining room with that turntable and arm. I've never tried the test but I've seen it before. Considering the age of the unit, it works and sounds pretty OK. I like to play period correct easy listening music and standards on it.

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    Since these photos were taken, I added a little Bluetooth receiver plugged into the tape input (as this unit doesn't have the optional tape player) and stream from my phone at mealtime if we decide not to spin a little vinyl.
     
  5. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    This, vwestlife, is what ceramic cartridges should be right now. This beats any of the new ones, and most of the old ones, and is gentle on records. Our host and I (mine with the Philco, with the Tetrad competition to this cartridge with the VM changer)'s record collections played on one of these are still good as new with periodic stylus changes, and serviced changers as needed. This cartridge system was as gentle on record life as the Shure M 44/M 55 or Stanton 500 A was then in a Dual or ELAC/Miracord changer or the Garrard LAB 80.
     
  6. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    It is interesting that they rattle such a stick in the video, but they are showing off a ceramic cartridge. The RIAA de-emphasis is merely mechanical. Here's the style on a turntable I have (this pic is a damaged one), 2g tracking weight. Look ma, no wires.

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    1963 had the Empire 880 MM, at not 2 grams, but as low as 0.5 grams, 47k load instead of high impedance needed for ceramic, and 1/2" mounting, essentially as modern a pickup as is used now. I don't think one could truly say stylus technology truly changed from 1963 until the forgotten Shibata+strain gauge cartridge for quad needing a special preamp:

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  7. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    How many tonearms in 1963 did the Empire work on? Very few. Reality. And they were all manual, usually the SME, the Pritchard. And you forgot the father of all light tracking, high compliance cartridges before your Empire, your ADC, the Weathers FM system with it's own tonearm and demodulator/discriminator box. Which was also manual turntables only. And not usable by many. The Dual 1009 in 1964 was the first changer which could track cartridges like the Empire, the ADC, the Shure M 44/M 55, the V 15, and similar.
     
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  8. Your record changer is a different model than in the video. Yours is the more common version of the V-M record changer. Instead of the swing-out arm to sense record size, yours has a lever to sense 10" or 12" and a pop-up button on the turntable itself which when not depress would indicate a 7" record. Zenith and most other companies like it didn't make their own record changers. The most common differences were the tone arm and cartridge between models. Voice of Music, like the turntable manufacturers in China now, would do any modifications to the basic turntable the customer ordered. This included tone arms or other visible feature to link it with a certain brand. Oh, the stereo console in the video is a tube type, whereas yours is probably transistor.
     
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  9. And the platter itself wasn't flat either.
     
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  10. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    Mine is solid state and, to be honest, I didn’t look at the video. But I thought it was the same system based on some other videos I’ve seen.
     
  11. In the beginning of discrete CD-4 quadraphonic, which required a Shibata stylus and extended frequency cartridge, no matter the brand of the turntable or set, if it came with a quad cartridge, 99% were all made by Audio Technica. Other than a preamp for any magnetic cartridge, most quad cartridges didn't need any special kind of preamp. The "magic" happened in the next stage using a demodulator or decoder to split the 2 channels into 4. Down the road, other manufacturers came out with their own CD-4 compatible cartridges. Of course they had to also come up with their own type of stylus, like the "Hyperbolic" stylus on the Shure M24H cartridge. Either JVC or AT had control of the Shibata type and didn't share.
     
  12. No. Totally different. The only commonalities are the Zenith name and a V-M manufactured changer.
     
  13. Many cartridges are designed to retract if the tone arm slides or too much pressure is applied, such as a record dropping onto the tone arm as it is playing another record. This often happened with record changers. Even some of the kiddie Ronette cartridges had a built-in safety guard. In-between the stylus point and the retaining screw was a rubber block that would contact the record before the stylus could gouge it.
     
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  14. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    I believe the Garrard RC-80 and RC-88 had various headshell configurations that accepted various cartridges, including a magnetic like the Shure M-44. The Dual 1009 has a much better arm, and more precise tracking adjustment. The Dual 1000 series is still underrated IMO, one of the finest record changers ever developed.
     
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  15. RCA, a little later, had an even better tone arm/cartridge system. At the front of the headshell there was a felt pad which rode on the record surface. The cartridge itself floated inside the headshell and was hinged at the rear. The only stylus pressure which was on the record grooves was the weight of the lightweight ceramic cartridge itself, which was 2g or less. The felt pad not only cleaned the path for the stylus but also guided the tone arm across the record. I had a 1969 model and it could play a noticeably warped record flawlessly. The only comparable cartridge we have around today which can navigate a warped record is the Shure M97xe.
    Here is a video of an RCA:
     
  16. Many turntables/record changers, like the Garrards of the 50's, could have a modern magnetic mounted in them. Originally, the cartridges used for the first electric phonographs were magnetic, many the horseshoe style. Modern light weight magnetic cartridges appeared in the late-40's from Pickering and the GE VR cartridge. They wouldn't have made them if there weren't turntables which could use them.
     
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  17. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    The RC 80 and 88 would only have worked with the Shure M 44-C. Those changers would not trip the automatic return lighter than 3 grams tracking force, those were better suited for a Shure M3D which tracked at 4 grams in changers. Too antique. They were designed in the days of mono, when the GE RPX was for most people the best cartridge they'd install or an early Pickering.
     
  18. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    VM however made higher quality products than Hanpin and their ilk did. How many Hanpins will be playing records every day when they're 50 years and more old, VM changers can. And can be repaired, rebuilt, and still have spare parts support today.
     
  19. I was given a Garrard changer of similar vintage and it has a Powerpoint cartridge. You can't get much less mass than that. It didn't have any trouble engaging the reject cycle and worked flawlessly for decades.
    It's true that some changers had a mechanical or electrical reject actuation system and a tone arm had to have enough weight on the stylus to be able to follow the lead-out groove. However, many of the early record changers used a velocity reject system. This is the reason many 78's and even into the Columbia LP's of the late 50's had an eccentric lead-out groove. If just the rapid movement of the tone arm in the lead-out groove moving towards the label wasn't fast enough to actuate the trip cycle, the action of the tone arm wagging at the end of a record would. Capitol 78's were the best for that. The entire lead-out groove was eccentric.
     
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  20. There were several record changer manufacturers which most of the major electronics companies used. V-M and Webcor were common. The simpler and mechanical the record changer is, the longer it might last. Typically, the degraded rubber parts and lack of lubrication could kill them, but most can be repaired. Hanpin manufactures turntable to what their customers order. Electronic speed controls are probably the weakest link. So far, longevity has been good on the higher quality TT's, but due to their electronic nature, repairs down the road, although lubrication comes into the mix, will be like repairing anything else like amps and radios. Most of the internal electronic parts use common generic components.
     
  21. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Powerpoints tracked heavy and were low compliance. What part of that don't you understand. As in 6-8 grams. Fine on a Garrard playing old softly cut easy listening mono records. That changer if it was so high compliance then, why couldn't you use a Shure M7/M21D, why couldn't you use an Empire or ADC on it save for the 4 gram friendly models? The PowerPoint Stereo was LOW END. Used in cheaper tabletops and consoles. OK for those, not for Stereo discs cut at loud levels. Like the RCA Living Stereos, the Mercury Stereos, the Commands, and other such records. In the Garrard, a nicer Sonotone was a far better option than a PowerPoint was, and much better performance. There is no way a Garrard RC 88 or RC 98 could track and trip lighter than around 3 grams and that is when they were perfectly adjusted and serviced and maintained regularly. Most were not. The changer is not junk, but it's a early 1950's design with refinements. It is what it is, by modern standards and post 1964 standards, dated. A Garrard LAB 80 or LAB 80 Mk II was the only Garrard classic which could come close to playing nice with the better magnetic cartridges of the day which weren't intended for changer use. Powerpoints are NOT low mass. They are high mass, practically bricks (and 5-6 grams is not low mass or high compliance). A Micro-Touch Zenith beats any power point, it's more compliant, it tracks at much lighter weight, it wears the records less.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  22. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Webcor was good in the days of mono. Their design was not able to be adapted to Stereo discs very well, suffered from considerable vertical rumble, and was also very expensive to make for the era, which is why they faded from the scene. And Webcor changers had a very complex trip system and their piling on features made it worse. The best non VM US changer in my opinion, was the Glaser-Steers GS 77, which was very well designed and thought out. And legitimate HiFi.

    Hanpin's weakest link is too loose tolerances and too cheap construction. For average home use acceptable. Not for those who demand precision built, durable, reliable, consistent. And repairable, and maintainable. Quality is cheaper than replacing or upgrading lesser. In the long run, buying proper saves you money.

    Big issue with the pre Dual 1009, ELAC/Miracord 10, Garrard LAB 80 changers is most magnetic cartridges used in them, lack very ample stylus supplies now with the cartridges which will work reliably in them. The last Garrard RC 88 I serviced, got switched to a Pfanstiehl ceramic which could track around 3 grams, it had a GE RPX in it, the owner wanted to be able to play a Stereo disc without damage. Jico's discontinuing many of their heavier tracking magnetic styli from the early days of Stereo. The Shure M 44-C, Stanton 500, and Pickering V 15 are among those still with stylus support.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
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  23. There were many options out there. However, a Powerpoint is light as a feather like the one I am holding in my hand right now. There were also many other different ceramic cartridges to choose from. Whatever the tracking weight was also varied. Most of the newer cartridges track in grams rather than ounces. Record changers, like my 1948 Capehart flip-over, which came with a GE VR magnetic cartridge, was designed to track at 6 grams, but I've got it down to 3 grams. Any lighter and the sound deteriorates, but the changer still trips OK at the end of a record. As the Capehart changer requires regular service and maintenance, because it is largely mechanical. The mechanics of current turntables require almost no maintenance. Keep them clean and they will last indefinitely. With the belt-driven TT's, belt replacement will be necessary in the future.
     
  24. As I stated, Hanpin builds what the customer orders. Although they make plenty of cheap-o TT's, they also make plenty which can meet commercial professional needs as well as requiring precision. Recently I had to bypass the built-in pre-amp in my first AT-PL120, eventhough I've never used the built-in pre-amp, because it was creating an audible hum. Mechanical tolerances are even better than my Technics 1200's from the late-70's.
    Webcor record changers made it well into the stereo era without a problem. I believe that Philco used them as well as Webcor itself in it's own stereos.
     
  25. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    That is a nice Zenith stereo console. It appears to be in very good condition after all of these years.

    Zenith as a whole built some nice equipment back in their earlier years. Then they started putting out some real garbage toward the end.

    Apparently they had abandoned their slogan, "the quality goes in before the name goes on".

    I also like listening to period music on a piece of audio gear from the same vintage period.
     
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