Is it vintage ? Or just classic ?

airdronian

Junior Member
Did a little more TT maintenance recently, so I thought I'd give the Luxman PD-277 some run time in the system. This is a full auto table, with a repeat function even. I suppose for those times when Ravel's Bolero needs to go on and on and on.....

Since I rescued this a few years ago it's mostly been sitting. This is the one I bought new in 1979, and it served me well for a number of years until I went digital. I did enjoy using it at all times, and it was a nice improvement over my first table - a JVC QL-A2.

I eventually sold it to a friend, who used it for some time and in turn loaned it out to someone else. Apparently for a decade. One wine fueled evening we were discussing this stuff (he's not an audio enthusiast) and he recalled it was still around. It took him about a year to reacquire it from the loanee, Poor old table was reputed to be stored in a garage of all places.

It needed a good cleaning (dust cover still to do - its intact though scuffed). I ended up replacing the cartridge leads, the aluminum tags looked dodgy and I was unsure of their condition. I found out you can't buy leads in the required length off the shelf, and this had to be fabricated. Oddly enough this fixed headshell design terminates the phono leads to a set of fixed pins and not just running the full length to the cartridge. So you need cartridge leads like you would with a removable headshell. Only longer.

The anti-skate thread had been broken so that was replaced. Finicky. When I first tested the auto function, the arm jammed halfway to the record - the part which internally depresses the power switch had gotten sticky and prevented it from moving freely. Once that was freed it worked - although groaning in protest.

The service manual for this table is readily available at VE; though I found it a little vague in some descriptions. So I took a video of the start function from below the table to understand how all the moving bits moved. Greased where appropriate, and now it operates correctly and mechanically sounds like it used to. The tonearm swings effortlessly.

I wanted a 1970's cartridge for this and was able to obtain some cartridge bodies from our own @JohnVF . (Thanks John !) Currently mounted is an Empire 999 XE/X with an aftermarket elliptical stylus.

Spent some time spinning Donald Fagen's "Nightfly" today and messed with settings. Currently have the Phonomena at 40 db gain and loading at 100K and capacitance at 300 pf which seems to work well. VTF set at 1.5 g. Have to fine tune the alignment, but for now it's working.

How does it sound ? Not bad at all. It's sins are of omission - it doesn't have the frequency extension (at both ends) of the usual table with the AT OC9ML/II. Or the transparency. But it does sound quite pleasant - there's that vinyl warmth that I read so much about. I'll spend more time with it this week. I've always like the Luxman turntable design aesthetic - to my eyes this one is Classic. :)

LuxmanInAction.jpg

LuxmanStrobe.jpg

EmpireAtSpeed.jpg

LuxmanTonearmPillar.jpg
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
It makes me really happy to see one of those Empire cart bodies on the business end of such a beautiful table that’s had quite a little history getting back to you. Congrats on getting it back and working!
 

airdronian

Junior Member
It makes me really happy to see one of those Empire cart bodies on the business end of such a beautiful table that’s had quite a little history getting back to you. Congrats on getting it back and working!
Thanks. It was carry on luggage at one point. Quality time was spent during the 3 hour layover in Vancouver. :)

LuxmanInTransit.jpg

Its not perfect of course. I'd really like it if the tonearm was adjustable, but that wasn't an option at this level of the lineup. I wanted to use my Herbie's mat on it but that's too wide. Its good on these cast aluminum platters, but this one has a lip that the stock mat fits within. I'm not going to pursue that angle; the stock mat is rubber with a pseudo-velvet kind of covering, and still looks much as it did decades ago. No cracking.

It really is a testament to the quality of Japanese manufacturing in the 70's (like several other brands). The auto functions still work, and it maintains speed well, after some Deoxit. The internal electronics look clean as a whistle. If memory serves I paid $485.00 for it when new.
 

BillWojo

Junior Member
That tonearm is a Micro Seiki TA-1. Actually, Micro Seiki built entire TT's for other manufactures and that might be one of them. Very desirable unit, you did good getting it back.
You don't have a Micro Seiki BL-91 sitting in a box somewhere, do you? That's an end game TT for me.

BillWojo
 

airdronian

Junior Member
That tonearm is a Micro Seiki TA-1. Actually, Micro Seiki built entire TT's for other manufactures and that might be one of them. Very desirable unit, you did good getting it back.
You don't have a Micro Seiki BL-91 sitting in a box somewhere, do you? That's an end game TT for me.

BillWojo
I think it's like a subset of the TA-1. The images I see of that arm seem to show a removable arm tube, and finger nuts for VTA adjustments. This one lacks those, but otherwise seems to match pretty closely. TA-1 Jr. maybe.

A little more tweaking today. Removed the stylus guard which made setup a PITA. I will have to get a protractor printed out and laminated for this instead of the types I've used so far. Me thinks there is a little improvement left to gain. The Empire isn't the last word in transparency with this stylus (Tonar), but it is nicely dynamic with some solid mid-bass. Works well with some of the 80's stuff I have, and those inexpensive BN and Verve reissues.

I'd completely forgotten how nice it is to have auto return at the end of a side. A fella could get used to that.... :)
 

airdronian

Junior Member
Discovered a quirk about this table that I never knew. The speed selection is handled by the switch on the far left, with selections for 45, Off, and 33. I tried a 45 rpm album for the first time today, and found the auto function is set for the little 45's of yesteryear. Have to use manual setting for this.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Another shot for @JohnVF . What a different presentation than the Empire. I have to say working with carts like this is a lot less stressful than an MC.

View attachment 21069
Interesting in that I think they're both Moving Iron. Another contrast is the Stanton 881s vs the 681eee. Very different carts! The 681 thicker and more laid back, the 881s being more lively and detailed. The Stanton looks good on there.
 

airdronian

Junior Member
Listening to it I can understand exactly what you mean by thicker. It's very controlled. Still tweaking, and need to get a few hours on it - that was the first side spinning in the pic above. This is one of the basic ellipticals available - a Tonar which the vendor believes is sourced from Jico. I'm not sure I want to try one of the shibata types on this arm, as height can only be adjusted by shims or thicker mats.

Given how pleased I am with the TT I may spring for another Herbie's which did so well on my aluminum plattered Pro-Ject some years ago. They make them in a 4 mm thickness and correct width for these tables that have a mat that is inset.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
For whatever reason the shibata in the 881s (I think it’s a shibata... very fine line of some sort) isn’t as susceptible to VTA as others I’ve come across. It’s an oddly forgiving cart and one of my favorites. Speaking of which I should get it out of storage while I’m stuck in quarantine with my Mitsubishi LT-30.
 

airdronian

Junior Member
People want $$$ for the 881's these days it seems.

I'm racking up a few hours on the new stylus and doing some tweaking. The test record indicated the Empire was about 11 hz resonance and the Stanton 9 hz, Seems to track pretty well too:

 
Top