View Full Version : Acoustical-Jobo Model 3100 turntable


Arkay
07-20-2009, 02:54 PM
Today I was going around the audio places, a little bummed at having stupidly missed/let go the BEST audio "score" of my life to date (barring the free RS IIs, perhaps).

Perhaps as a result of missing out, perhaps wanting to compensate(?), I was hoping to find something really good, a consolation prize of sorts.

A Sony P-7 turntable An caught my eye briefly, with its unusual and pretty looks, but not enough to make me buy it. I passed some fairly rare "collectible" boomboxes, but I'm not buying any more of them until I've sold off most of myexisting stock. An interesting dual-meter Sony integrated amplifier looked like a nice piece of classic vintage gear, but I have too many things like it. :no: An Onkyo Grand Integra turntable really caught my eye for a few minutes. Pretty heavy, large feet, quartz-locked DD, decent-looking tonearm... but I just wasn't quite in the mood to buy that one, either.

Just after looking at that Grand Integra TT, I stood up (it had been down low) and turned around, and there it was... something almost huge, definitely vintage, and very interesting-looking. It was a turntable, with the multi-part dust cover sitting in a couple pieces on top and a wooden plinth below. What was it? Thorens? Empire? Something from that era... and big! And somehow quite handsome-looking. And what was that tonearm on it? An SME 3009!

As I looked at it, I began to recognize it. I'd seen that plinth before, I'm oretty sure right here on AK. The reason I recognized it was that there was a semicircular portion indented along the front top edge of the plinth, painted black. Very distinctive, and very memorable. Then I looked at the pieces of dustcover on top, and recognized that, too. At first glance, I had thought it was hinged like the Empire DCs, but no: this was the one that had two halves, glued together under a metal strip that went up one side, across the top, and down the other side of the DC. I remembered the thread that discussed what a structurally poor, even if good-looking, design this had been. I remembered thinking at the time that it was, overall, one of the coolest-looking vintage TTs I'd ever seen, and thinking when I read the thread that if I ever got the chance to get one, I'd grab it! But I didn't remember any more details from the thread; just recalled these things as I saw them.

[I just spent far too long looking for that old thread; I can't find it anywhere. I wanted to link to it, because there were great pics there; if anyone knows it, please add a link to this thread. Thanks.]

I went over and lifted up one side of the TT, to look underneath. At that point, I got goosebumps... You see, two days ago I had been looking at the Thorens TD124 I'm negotiating to bay, and afterwards was looking at 124s online. I saw the Pabst (Papst?) Aussenlaufer motor that was offered by Thorens for a while for those, and remembered the times I had thought about that motor, checking Elacs and others to see if I could find one. This time, I couldn't get that motor out of my mind. For the past two days, it was almost like an earworm, "Aussenlaufer, Aussenlaufer..."

Yep! You guessed it: when I lifted up that TT, there it was: the unmistakeable lines of an original Aussenlaufer motor! :banana:

I started noticing more about the TT. Heavy steel top plate, very similar to the Lenco 75, but markedly heavier. Score one for the ... Acoustical? Yep, that's what it is; an Acoustical Model 3100. Acoustical?:headscrat Sounds like a cheap brand, but this beast looked more like a vintage transcription table. (I'll come back to this.)

Controls were simple, and made of heavily chromed metal (steel?). Mechanical parts underneath were mostly steel, reminiscent of the TD124, but since this one is a belt drive, much simpler. In fact, this is one the simplest turntables I've seen. It has other things in common with the Thorens TD124, like the built-in spirit level on top the base plate. That one's a tie. The speed control, too: the platter has a strobe painted underneath, and there is a window looking down onto a mirror, to allow you to see it. But the window on this one is a big larger and easier to see, plus (I learned later) there are TWO lights with lenses, pointed separately at each strobe (33 1/3 and 45) like little flashlights, and you can select between them. Overall, a big improvement ergonomically over the Thorens. Score one for Acoustical! There are metal frames underneath both the motor and the platter bearing housing. These, along with the long mounting screws, make it easy to sit this thing down anywhere, even when it is out of the plinth. Another point to the Acoustical.

I asked the guy the price, and I thought it was a little high. He pointed out that it came with the 3009 tonearm, which was worth that much, and before I could point out what was wrong with it, he pointed over to a cabinet, adding "including the headshell!" The headshell was an original, early SME one, the kind that go for pretty steep prices these days on eBay. We haggled a bit, but not too much. He said he was charging me the cost of the tonearm, and throwing in the TT for free, and he wasn't really lying. In fact, the headshell alone sells on eBay for as much as I paid for the whole shebang. I'm okay with that.

The arm itself is missing the counterweight and the little dangling weight, and may need new bearings. It's either a parts unit or a serious rebuild project. That's okay. Truth be told, I think I value the TT as much as the arm, anyway. The headshell will go on another 3009 which I will put on the TD124, and this new 3009 I will probably rebuild, just to gain the experience. I've been reluctant to try rebuilding one of these, lest I screw things up (bad pun), but since this one isn't good enough as-is, I'll use this as the "learning experience".

The platter bearing is interesting. The spindle shaft has a ball bearing on the bottom, and the whole thing apparently sits not on a fixed thrust plate, as on the TD124, but one one that rides on a spring! Lift the platter up, and the spindle rises up a bit. Interesting engineering.

The platter itself is interesting, too. It is of thick turned metal (aluminum), reasonably heavy, but not quite as hefty as the TD124's or the Lenco's. But significantly heftier than, say, the "heavy" dual platters. It also has some interesting features, including a deep groove and re-thickened outer ring part, which increases its speed stability. The mat doesn't just sit atop the platter; the platter and mat and the center metal plate (think Dual or Lenco, but bigger) all intersect so that everything is held firmly together as one unit. There is a plastic ring set into the platter around the spindle, the size needed for 45s, much like the TD124 has, and the metal plate surrounding it, as well as the first ridge/groove in the mat, are just the right size for playing 7" 45s. The outer part of the platter mat is also sized and shaped well for playing LPs. Score another point for great design/thinking here.

I didn't even realize it at first, it was so well integrated into the top plate, but this thing has a wooden armboard on the side, somewhat like the TD-124, but the joint between the top plate and armboard is just a thin seam, that runs diagonally from the front right corner to a wider shape in the back (the toneboard is triangular).

Ergonomically, this TT is simplicity personified. There are only three controls: one single sliding-level control changes speed (it only has two speeds); one control is to choose which strobe light should be lit (I think), and the other one apparently adjusts speed.

This thing is clearly a "battleship" player, in the same general league as the Thorens, the Lencos, the ROKs, Rondines, the Empires... but somehow the name hadn't sunk in before, as one to watch out for. But it shares with them the kind of solid construction that, unsurprisingly, is still going strong after more than 40 years.

I brought it home and started cleaning it. It has spent some time in a smoker's home :puke: But it is cleaning up nicely (anyone know the best way to remove smoker's residue from rubber mats?). In fact, it will eventually look very beautiful again.

The plinth is another story. It is cosmetically restorable, but the old plywood glue is aging. Plus it is a "Box", where these TTs might benefit from something more substantial. But I love the design of the plinth and dust-cover.

What to do? I'm thinking of duplicating the design of the original, but using massive black slate for the bulk of it, and then copying the original semicircular cut-out design onto solid hardwood slabs. Essentially keep the looks and design of the original, but execute it in better materials, and using current "massy plinth" ideas. I'll restore and preserve the original, too, just in case I ever want to sell it.

Wikipedia talks about Acoustical in the entry for "Phonograph":
[I]The Acoustical professional turntable (earlier marketed under Dutch "Jobo prof") of the 1960s however possessed an expensive German drive motor, the "Pabst Aussenläufer". As this motor name implied, the rotor was on the outside of the motor and acted as a flywheel ahead of the belt-driven turntable itself. In combination with a steel to nylon turntable bearing (with molybdeen sulfide material inside for lifelong lubrication) very low wow, flutter and rumble figures were achieved.

I think that "lifetime" lubricant is already due for replacement, and I'll do that.

This brand of TT is also discussed in the book (mostly about the Thorens TD-124), "Swiss Precision".

It seems that this thing was also re-badged as a Beogram 3000, type 5211. There is a very similar TT pictured here: http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:lcSR5znv-ekJ:www.hydroponicsonline.com/store/ACOUSTICAL-3100-THORENS-TD-124-MOTOR-A-B-TONEARM_330321804892.html+beogram+3000+jobo&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=hk&client=firefox-a
The one I have has a different plinth, as mentioned, and the mat looks different. Of course the tonearm is different, too, and the placement of the logo badge is different (on mine, it is on the left, near the bubble level). Also, mine doesn't have the lift-up platter clutch thing described there; mine has a regular, solid platter. Otherwise, they look identical. Same top plate, same controls, same platter surround thing, same strope window, etc... Motor mounted using rubber grommets. According to that page, Acoustical-Jobo (that name appears underneath, on the cover for the motor capacitor circuitry) worked with Thorens on producing TTs. That might explain the many small similarities I've found between them.

One mention on a discussion board said these were quite expensive, and another mentioned one going on eBay for 450 Euros. Not a bad thing to have thrown in for free on your headshell purchase!

Well, It's nearly 3 am here and I'm getting too tired to keep typing. Just wanted to share this, and see if anyone can find the thread I mentionedm where this TT and that beautiful plinth are pictured. I KNOW someone around here has this TT, because I remember seeing the close-up pics of it, and admiring the overall look. Thanks!

Michael-Otto
07-20-2009, 04:06 PM
Here a ACOUSTICAL-3100 flyer, some pics from this are in the THORENS book from Joachim.

Michael-Otto

Arkay
07-20-2009, 09:12 PM
Interesting. THANKS for that! :thmbsp:

The pics there tell me something else: the plinth mine is in does not match the pics in that catalog. Either it was released only in a different market, or was a customer's replacement. This may help explain why it's hard for me to find that post: perhaps the plinth was in one post (with a different TT) and the pics and description of the TT was in a different post? I'm not positive enough to exclude that; I remember seeing both, but I don't remember for sure if they were together. I think the plinth design on the one I got is one of the most attractive I've seen.

I'm surprised this TT isn't better-known or more widely discussed. It's quite nice, for what it is. Is it that rare, outside of perhaps the Netherlands/Europe (or even there)?

Deczor
07-20-2009, 11:29 PM
PixPlzThx

Arkay
07-21-2009, 08:42 AM
PixPlzThx


That's partly why I was so eager to find that post again... it had lots of pics, of the top and bottom of the TT. Anyway, you can see what it looks like here, as long as the listing stays up. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330321804892&afflpt=229590
I tried to save a pic or two from there to post here, but the hosting system won't allow it. Mine looks identical to that one, except for the different plinth. [I like my plinth better, although it is older and needs serious renewal or replacement.]

From the description, there is one other serious difference: the seller claims that one has the rise-up platter clutch thing like the TD124; mine has a fairly massive single platter, NOT the TD124 system. The descriptions in the document Michael-Otto posted indicate it is made from an anti-magnetic alloy.

I'll try to post a few (more permanent) pics, when and as I find them. Eventually, perhaps, pics of mine.

Arkay
07-21-2009, 11:37 AM
I found a picture online of this model, which I'm attaching to this post. The pic comes from a Dutch collector's site: http://www.littlehide.com/Site/grammo/verzameling.htm

This is the exact model I have, except the logo is near the bubble level on mine (and was originally, as it is fastened through holes in the top plate). BUT again, the plinth (including dust cover) on mine is different. I like the plinth version I have so much that even if I can't fully renew it, I'll reproduce the same design (with perhaps one modification I thought of).

One nice thing with this TT is that the belt goes around the outermost periphery of the platter, not an inner (smaller) ring, as on so many older turntables. This increases the ratio between the two "pulleys" (motor spindle and platter) to its maximum, helping with speed stability. Most new TTs do this, but many older ones didn't. The platter design, with a heavy outer ring section (not visible without removing the mat), also helps both with inertial momentum and to reduce vibrations passing through the platter.

The Papst Aussenlaufer motor, already known for its silent running, is mounted in a frame with rubber isolators above and below, isolating whatever sound it makes from the top plate, and thus, from the platter and tonearm/cart. It has a speed controller, with the knob conveniently located near the strobe window, where you would be looking when adjusting speed.

The looks are in a sense vintage, with hints of its idler-drive heavy cousin, the TD124, but also more modern, with the shiny black top plate and armboard, the angled seam where top plate and armboard meet, and its chromed-steel(? -metal, anyway) control knobs. Mounted in a dark, glossy plinth, this thing would be at home in any contemporary interior, with just a stylish hint of its age, whereas in a wooden plinth, it looks at home in a 50s-early 60s period interior. I think it actually dates from the mid-sixties, but its style dates from the fifties, when Jobo came out with the very similar-looking but simpler 2600 model, and Acoustical the 2800 model.

I'm still uncertain on whether Jobo and Acoustical were two companies that joined, or one all along, using a trade name. I think Acoustical was Jobo's own brand, but some sites refer to it as a separate company.

I found a mention that refers to this turntable as "ultra-rare". Given how little I'm finding about it, that may be about right. It seems the 2600 model was more common. I think sales were confined to part of Europe (mostly Holland and Germany, perhaps the UK), and it seems they didn't sell too many of the 3100s. Apparently it was considered a "semi-professional" model, with some used in studios. Anyway, I feel lucky to have found one. I've been cleaning the nicotine film off of it (It lived with stinkheads! :ouke:), and the paint on the top plate is beginning to gleam with an almost mirror-like "wet look", even after 40+ years. There is a tiny 1-2 mm chip in the paint on the front tip of the armboard, which will disappear with a touch of a small paintbrush, and a tiny surface scratch (not deep; not through the paint) near the speed control knob, that is only visible at certain angles. Otherwise, the paint is perfect. Have to love that kind of quality! :yes:

mech986
07-22-2009, 01:37 PM
Hi Arkay,

This is a mostly OT post.

No way to get a PM through so a quick post and delete for you. Nice purchase on the turntable, looks very interesting!! Good luck with it.

There's a bunch of us still waiting patiently on your previous thread wondering what happened ultimately and what was the mystery score that we now understand slipped away.

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=241187&goto=newpost

I know how it is to get bummed from a missed opportunity or some slip up that I had to take personal responsibility for. Why, just last night I was moving a perfectly good JBL 2214H woofer taken from a 4425 cabinet and I snagged the perfectly good surround on a horn driver, tearing the surround :tears: :nono:

If you feel up to it, please share with us your disappointment. We're all your brothers and we'll help you through it.

By the way, your PM box is full and needs to be cleared to be used again (probably from us)

Warmest regards (97+ degrees today) from California,

Bart
mech986

Arkay
07-22-2009, 02:46 PM
Thanks, Bart! See the other thread for my post there, including an explanation of why my PM box is full. VERY busy during this time period, and not able to keep up with AK posts quite as well as usual. Sorry for that.