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. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    I told the story of getting it a couple years ago. I bought it from a local fix-it shop where the owner seems to get the occasional great find. This is as new as something now 50 years old can be. He got it from the estate of the original owner and I recall paying $125 for it. It's amazing how well it still works and while I play records, I also stream appropriate Pandora or Spotify recordings as well.

    At some point, I'll probably have to butcher it a little and replace the RCA ins as the original plugs are mounted on a metal plate and are too close together for modern RCA plugs. Additionally, they are made with a ceramic insert and they are degrading. I had to open it up and swap the leads for the outs to the ins as one plug broke. These were supplied for the optional tape deck which mine does not have. Still, for now, the remaining two plugs are holding up to the modern sized RCA cable.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
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  2. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Webcor didn't get used in Philcos for very long into the Stereo era, they went to VM and to Glaser-Steers. Hanpins are not professsional grade, they're home use and prosumer grade. In a broadcast station, I'd not want to use a Hanpin much past 3-4 years of production room use. Technics SL-1200 in current models the bare minimum for broadcast work and be maintainable for longer than that. We can agree on that. Hanpin has their place, but you should know better given your username. The high end Hanpin models are somewhere in between. But not quite professional. Your Capehart by the way is very high end for it's time, the father of HiFi as you and I know it.
     
  3. Yep. Capehart set the pace. I am surprised that it uses PM speakers and there are two of them. The output transformer is actually mounted on the cabinet remotely from the main chassis.
    The AT 120's have become quite popular in commercial use. Some of the record pressing companies also use them for quality control. I've seen one company using an AT-1240.
     
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  4. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Maybe you should research the strain gauge cartridge and the special preamplifier needed for its transducer, which measures the resistance.
     
  5. Maybe you should. There are all types of other cartridges and sound reproduction systems out there plus some which haven't even been invented yet. Here's what I found at Wikipedia for the strain gauge cartridge:
    Strain gauge cartridges
    Strain gauge or "semiconductor" cartridges do not generate a voltage, but act like a variable resistor, whose resistance directly depends on the movement of the stylus. Thus, the cartridge "modulates" an external voltage supplied by the (special) preamplifier. These pickups were marketed by Euphonics, Sao Win, and Panasonic/Technics, amongst others.

    The main advantages (compared to magnetic carts are):

    • The electrical connection from the cartridge to the preamplifier is immune to cable capacitance issues.
    • Being non-magnetic, the cartridge is immune to "hum" induced by stray magnetic fields (same advantage shared with ceramic cartridges).
    • The combination of electrical and mechanical advantages, plus the absence of magnetic yoke high-frequency losses, make them especially suitable to reproducing frequencies up to 50 kHz. Technics (Matsushita Electric) marketed a line of strain-gauge (labeled "semiconductor") cartridges especially intended for Compatible Discrete 4 quadraphonic records, requiring such high frequency response. Bass response down to 0 Hz is possible.
    • By using a suitable mechanical arrangement, VTA (vertical tracking angle) stays steady independent of the stylus vertical movements, with the consequent reduction in related distortions.
    • Being a force sensor, the strain-gauge cartridge can also measure the actual VTF (vertical tracking force) while in use.
    The main disadvantage is the need of a special preamplifier that supplies a steady current (typically 5mA) to the semiconductor elements and handles a special equalization than the one needed for magnetic cartridges.

    A high-end strain-gauge cartridge is currently sold by an audiophile company, with special preamplifiers available

    There is nothing new about optical reproduction either. Back in the 1940's Philco had it's "Beam of Light" system. Physical contact was still necessary , but the long-life needle vibrated a lighted mirror which a photocell picked up and was then processed and sent to the amp. There are pick-ups that use fishing line. Then there is the laser system which works similar to current optical devices and there is no physical contact with the recording source.
     
  6. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    "Well, men, Zenith really has something here..." (said guy with skinny tie and radio announcer voice). That retractable cartridge/arm thing could be done today, using high quality precision made parts and sold for what, 20k dollars?
    Thanks for posting that. I rarely watch videos- but I managed to watch most of that one.
    I seem to recall that Zenith was a good brand of TV back in the day, before the era of the Trinitron, but maybe I'm wrong. Apparently the company is now owned by LG and makes no products?
     
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  7. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I had one in the '70s loaned to me by someone who was working with Sao Win. I could not get it to work. It could have been me....
     
  8. Zenith introduced and stuck with the Radionics Cobra cartridge. You never had to worry about replacing a stylus or needle, you just threw the entire cartridge away a bought a new one. You couldn't install anything other than another Cobra cartridge. Because it produced something like a radio frequency, there were special circuits in the amp. If you found another cartridge which would fit into a special Cobra tone arm, you would also have to modify the amp. Cobra cartridges were not stereo compliant, so that was the end of them.
    As far as tone arms and their costs are concerned, they don't put that much into the ones they have now.
     
  9. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    So the cartridge in that video demo wasn't stereo?
     
  10. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    That was the only record changer / stock console record player that wouldn't just shred records. Most other models back then had something like 6g of force, crappy stylus and tracing geometry, and they slapped records atop one another onto hard mats with grit between them. Most people didn't clean or handle records properly then either. I had one of these consoles which I sold for maybe $100. Others just got frowned at.
    -Bill
     
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  11. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Zenith made the best and most reliable USA TV sets into the 1980's. LG bought Zenith later on.
     
  12. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    The Tetrad failed on my grandmother's old GE console, and I traced down some suitable replacement, but by the time I got it on the grease had solidified and the platter wouldn't spin. My sister took it when they sold our grandmother's house, but I told her she'd be better off finding a better table to swap in rather than pulling that one to have it serviced.
     
  13. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Those cartridges died out in the 1950's (Wurlitzer used an improved version up to the next to last mono jukebox). The later Cobra models used a ceramic cartridge and discontinued in 1961. Cobras were superb for 78 RPM and adequate for old mono LP discs and 45 RPM discs when they were cut at lower volume levels, when records got cut louder and Stereo discs came into use, they got obsoleted.
     
  14. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    Pish posh! Vaughn Monroe claimed that you could play a record over 3000 times on RCA's Studiomatic record changer and it would still sound great:



    In 1964 Admiral also introduced a high-end console system with a strain gauge cartridge (the Admiral SM-1 Solid State cartridge) and a "Variogram" tonearm, adjustable between 0 and 4 grams.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Big major issue with too many compact and console owners. Their often lack of care, and maintenance. Styli got ran way past severely worn, changers got used way past maladjustment, and records suffered from the consequences. And too many companies who claimed "Permanent" styli also are very much to blame. Those who replaced styli at least yearly with average home use, who got their changers serviced every 5 years or issues noted, exception. When you got upper crust console owners like the Ampex, HH Scott, Fisher, Magnavox Concert Grand, and high end Sylvania crowd (who paid $650-$2000 upwards) they did a better job of caring for their cherished, carefully chosen and thought about pride and joy.

    Past 1966-1967, the new consoles were cheaper made, more cost cut (Sylvania and Fisher the main exceptions) and the owners often less educated and lower income, and much more likely to not service their units. This is generally fact from repairing these in a shop as someone who dealt with these units as a repair technician (who was the junior tech specializing in radios, radio/phono consoles, and older TV and older Color TV).

    Gradually by the middle 1960's the carriage trade console buyer tended to buy separate components installed in custom furniture unless it was a rural buyer who was too far from a HiFi dealer. By 1967, it was very hard to sell an over $450 console without a TV set comboed with it.

    A note with Zenith, RCA, and other consoles, post 1967, the furniture tended to be cheaper made, first, then the amplifiers and tuners cheaper and less powerful, and the record changers often made cheaper. And as 8 track became a highly demanded feature, this added, also left less budget for quality in the $400 and under mainstay console market. Bear this in mind.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  16. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    360 watts hardly, maybe about 10 real watts. The biggest power amplifier in that time frame in a console was in a Fisher (a President, or an Executive) which had a 35 watt per channel RMS 20-20,000 hertz, less than 1% THD unit. In 1966 these sold for $1899 at cheapest as a radio/phonograph only in a contemporary cabinet sans open reel tape recorder. Basically separate components in nice furniture. Don't be deluded by that ad. P.S. The Fisher models I mention had Dual 1019 or ELAC/Miracord 10H and Pickering V 15 magnetic cartridges fitted. Both could track and trip reliably at 1.25 grams or less which this Admiral Ensign changer can't even dream of doing, strain gauge or no.
     
  17. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    The irony of life is that in the years you mention, I despised these old consoles and all the mid-century stuff every family in my neighborhood seemed to have. Now, I lust after the stuff. The '69 Zenith Danish Modern console I have is real walnut veneer and is a nice piece of furniture considering. The gear inside works and I actually have a group of records I play on it (as well as my little rigged Bluetooth receiver hooked into the tape ins. So many of these later consoles with their plastic moldings and Mediterranean designs were truly hideous. Years ago, I had a wonderful tube Capehart-Farnsworth that I picked up at a second hand shop in San Francisco called Busvan but it became a maintenance nightmare and I finally had to let it go. I used it mostly to play cassette recorded old radio that I patched into the unit with my cassette recorder.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Wurlitzer used the Cobra cartridge from 1947-8 until, I believe the mono 2500 model. There were 3 basic Cobra cartridges, 3 mil for 78(red), 2 mil for 45/78(red & green) and 1 mil for 45/33(green). There wasn't an "improved" version. A Cobra cartridge was a Cobra cartridge. Only the stylus size and color scheme was different. The Wurlitzer 1200 through 1600 could be converted to play 33, 45 or 78 speeds for 10" and 7" records. My 1550 doublestacker could intermix 10" 78's and 7" 45, which the 2 mil(red/green) Cobra cartridge was for. It could be converted to play 10" 33's and retain the 7" 45's, for which the 1 mil(green) Cobra was made for. For Wurlitzer, if it was stereo it used a Sonotone cartridge like my 2304S and 7500. Typically, a jukebox was built to be in service 10-15 years. Cobra-equipped Wurlitzer were around into the 1970's.
    I remember Zenith came out with a Cobra cartridge that had 2 stylii, 1 mil and 3 mil, and you would move a switch on top of the headshell to change the stylus.
    Stereo killed the Cobra cartridge.
     
  19. It probably was stereo but it didn't have to be. Zenith made stereo phonos and it made mono phonos well into the 1970's.
     
  20. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Also, loudly cut mono pop records killed the Cobra equally. And it was expensive as well. Wurlitzer was also second or third place after Seeburg introduced the M 100A Select-O-Matic, and the M 100 B first 45 RPM mechanism meant Wurlitzer never pioneered anything in jukeboxes save for the Deutsche Wurlitzer cassette jukebox of 1971. Wurlitzers were nice, and generally reliable and well made until we got to the Wurlamatic mechanism, which was not adequately field tested and sank the company in the USA. I occasionally repaired the odd jukebox in the day, and the one Wurlamatic equipped machine on the route which I sometimes did repairs for didn't get used past 6 months, and was already on it's second warranty repair then, and an older Americana with the old mechanism replaced it (which never gave trouble beyond routine maintenance items). Wurlitzer didn't have background music or other non public means of testing new technology. Seeburg did and AMI-Rowe and Rock-Ola did. A pity as I liked better Wurlitzers. Liked the Deutsche Wurlitzers a lot, save for much more expensive spare parts prices, and they usually were good machines.
     
  21. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Yes, as they made budget phonos too, for the youth market and the thrifty. But the mono models never had Micro-Touch and neither did the cheapest Stereo models, when you got to the middle of the line, then you got Micro-Touch.
     
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  22. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    This is gospel. It matches exactly my experience with the products mentioned.
    -Bill
     
  23. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    This is correct, but as you sort of flew-over the fact that these turntables you mention here were really designed and sold as stand alone components, many readers might get the wrong impression that these were common or sold as standard in consoles. They were not. These were very expensive, top performing models of the time and as you suggest, customers who had that sort of cash and desire for excellence (think $10000+ system by today's standards) would be guided to choose each component separately, turntable, cartridge, amp, speakers, tuner, preamp, etc. Then they could choose from a number of fine furnishings to install these in. The ultra-wealthy could even have custom cabinetry made into the wall of their spacious living rooms or dens.
    -Bill
     
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  24. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Yes, you are correct here. The units I mention here were creme de la creme, the Rolls-Royce of packaged consoles. Even a budget Fisher rose considerably above the market in quality, in features, and in workmanship. Remember, people like Eugene Ormandy, Andre Kostelanetz, Nathan Milstein, Sol Hurok are among the distinguished Fisher owners of note. These consoles were anywhere from $495 to as much as nearly $3000 in 1966 US Dollars. Wealthy and discerning music lovers and audiophiles the main buyers. Units like these and the Ampex models were only for the truly wealthy.
     
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  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    And I now proudly own a 1965 Fisher Electra console of my own (once unloaded from my station wagon, will be in my living room). $649 new then. It has a Dual 1010 record changer factory fitted with Pickering V 15 magnetic cartridge.
     

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