Realistic Lab series turntables?

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by progger7, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. progger7

    progger7 Active Member

    San Jose, CA
    You don't hear much about Realistic turntables and they generally go for cheap on epay and Craigs. My understanding is that the same japanese manufacturer who made these also made them for Marantz, etc. I have a line for a Lab 395 I might pick up for a friend who is putting together a retro system. The platter looks heavier than many of the other Jap units of this era. Any thoughts on them?
  2. 92ES5sp

    92ES5sp New Member

    I have a LAB-395. My moms b/f gave it to me for free. It works and everything, but both my Technics SL-1300 and Pioneer PL-530 (when it was working) run circles around it. I keep it as my back up table. It doesnt sound too bad, but Im not a big fan of plastic and semi-auto. The good news its made in Japan! But there are better choices.
  3. x_25

    x_25 Big Vandies!! Mwahahah...

    Northern NJ
    My friend has a Lab 1100. It works but just about anything else you can find would be better.
  4. Elfasto

    Elfasto Super Member

    Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA
    I have 2:

    LAB-450 - BPC. Flimsy construction, but good platter drive motor. Fairly accurate RPM control. Straight Tonearm is nothing to write home about, and no vertical tracking adjustment. Worked alot better when I shoved about 500 grams of plaster under the platter, and a whack of metal weights glued to the inside of the "Plinth".

    LAB-100 - Made by BSR for Radio Shack. AC synchronous motor belt drive. Much heavier build than the 450, mechanically it's built like a Leopard battle tank, but the S- shaped tonearm sucks (Flimsy mounting) and again no vertical tracking adjustment. Also has this cartridge mount that slides in an out of the headshell, but it's sloppy as hell (even when new). If there was a way to mount a better tonearm on it, it would be an awesome chassis to use. Subchassis is well sprung, nice weight to the plinth, and solid wood.
  5. stereofanboy

    stereofanboy AK Subscriber Subscriber

    My sweetie bought me a LAB-1200. It is one of those plastic ones RS was selling a couple of years ago. The cool thing is it has a pre-amp built in so you can use it with a new receiver's aux. inputs. I also have a LAB395...crap. I'm one of the RS fans, but its the speakers I like. I have something like twenty pairs.
    Gramps66 likes this.
  6. mpd8488

    mpd8488 New Member

    I picked up a LAB 395 the other day for a couple of bucks at a thrift store with plans of giving it to a buddy to try and get him into vinyl. The platter does have some mass to it, but the rest of it is very flimsy. It sounded better than I expected (though my expectations were that it wouldn't even turn on), but I was getting some scary subsonic woofer excursions on records that I know aren't warped. I haven't really looked into it and that old thing isn't really high on my project priority list.
  7. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Lunatic Member

    Napa County, Calif
    If you all want to get into arm surgery, there are brand new S arms with nice bearings, vertically adjustable, good anti skate and all from Audio Technica for around $160. That sounds a bit pricey, but tone arms start about there and go up to thousands for some. It's a nice arm for an all manual conversion :)
  8. avguytx

    avguytx AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Central AR
    My first real turntable back in the late 70's/early 80's was a Realistic Lab 400. If I could find another one for reasonable and close by, I'd pick it up in a second. Sentimental reasons and it just sounded good for what it was back then.
  9. radiotvnut

    radiotvnut Super Member

    Meridian, MS
    I had a mid '60's Realistic Lab-(don't remember the number) that was actually a Miracord 40A 4 speed idler driven TT. It was built like a tank. I wound up giving it to a friend so he'd have a decent TT for his albums. After a few years, he sold it at a yard sale for $5 because he found a "more modern looking" TT. I would have given the $5 to get the TT back had I known he wanted to sell it. Needless to say, I gave him a lecture letting him know that his new BPC turntable was garbage compared to the one that I gave him.

    I also had an early '80's Lab-440. That was a DD auto-TT in a particle board plinth and a straight tonearm. I guess it was OK; but, I've certainly seen better.

    I've also seen other Lab series TT's from the '70's that were nothing more than rebadged BSR record changers with ceramic cartridges. You know, the same TT's that were used in 99% of those "all in one" systems.
  10. Joey1127

    Joey1127 Well-Known Member

    Sacramento, CA USA
    The only LAB's I have experience with are the LAB-400 and LAB-450. Those were made by CEC (same company that was making tables for MARANTZ and Quadraflex) and they were both very decent tables.
  11. Windwalker

    Windwalker AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Picked up a Lab 2100(DD Liner Track) the other week as part of a package
    Think I've got 5 bucks in it

    Doesn't want to behave nicely though, Arm moves a bit too far into the record and doesn't quite return to home position when done.
    Not sure if it's even worth monkeying with

    Any idea who made this one?
  12. oregoncruzer

    oregoncruzer Active Member

    where does one find this AT arm? I can't find it online.
  13. Bogframe


    Brooklyn, NY
    I bought my LAB-400 new in 1979 and haven't had a problem with it yet!
  14. kr-6160

    kr-6160 Active Member

    lemoyne pa
    i've had a lab-420 that i bought used in 1983, it has never missed a beat, i love it nothing fancy but solid a real meat and potatoes work man like table
  15. Live_Wire

    Live_Wire Realistic Ak'er

    Brampton, Ontario, Canada
    I have a LAB 460 and a LAB 1100 (I think it is). The 460 has a nice aluminum platter, belt driven and has a fairly nice sound to it. Very cheap quality, but it does the job. The 1100 was an impulse buy. It was on for $40 at the source on one of their sales, so I grabbed it because I thought I could use the dustcover on my 460. Alas, the hinges are much different.

    I use my Denon for critical listening though. I keep the 460 for sentimental reasons :)
  16. asmd

    asmd Active Member

    i had a 420 and currently have a 400, nice tables indeed.
    both made by CEC back in the day.

    lab 420

    lab 400



    Attached Files:

  17. xpert54

    xpert54 Lost in Music

    Close to Lake Whitney Tx
    I have a Lab 420. I thinks its pretty decent. I use it on my secondary system with a Shure M95 cart/stylus
  18. chingon

    chingon Well-Known Member

    I can pick up a lab 500 locally for 35, but needs a stylus. He revised the listing from 25$ :(. I'm still struggling on whether to get it or not. I can also pick up a kenwood kd-3100 for half that @ the GW, but needs both a cartridge and stylus. The kenwood's plasticky so i dunno how it fares..

    I realize my post is more dollars and sense now that i read it, but we're talking realistic afterall
  19. bre's dad

    bre's dad I drank what?!? Subscriber

    I've got a LAB-400 I bought for less than $10, mint shape. Only problem is the fluid for the mechanism that raises & lowers the arm is gone, dried up or something and the tonearm won't automatically raise or lower, even when using the que lever. Anyone know what would work fluid wise on it?
  20. BruceRPA

    BruceRPA AK Subscriber Subscriber


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