The American Sound Turntable- Beyond's Minimalist!

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#1
Even among the best of the best turntables, there’s still be a distinguishable hierarchy. I don’t claim to have heard them all but many have passed through my hands and this small group is compiled after several decades of high end experience. In this group every player has the ability to completely disappear and present a natural, sophisticated experience of the recorded music, that’s why they’re Beyond the so called high and ultra high end for me where price has become the determining factor. At some point I came across the American Sound record player, a 550+lbs monolith designed by a minimalist. There’s nothing extra and/or non-functional here, not even paint. What finishing there is on the steel has a function and comes from the Japanese tooling industry, a hand finishing technique for grinding down and flat leveling machined steel surfaces. American Sound’s purity of design follows through to its sound, there’s nothing to attract or detract, simply music and of course Natural…

Words are busy, pictures tell it better.


L_002404.jpg


L_001534.jpg


L_001649-Test2.jpg


13-The-American-Sound.jpg


david
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#2
I N E R T I A...



 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
12
38
North Shore of Boston
#3
David, Thanks for posting this. I have a few questions. In the bottom photo of post #1, I see what looks like a round flywheel to the right of the platter, or on top in the photo. This is where the power supply is in the video, if that is indeed a power supply. In the video, what are you doing with the switch on that box? I see there is no belt, so I would think you could just spin the platter and inertia will keep it going for a long time. Does it have a brake, or do you slow it down with hand pressure?

Also in that bottom photo, there is a black line around the bottom of the massive platter. Is that another belt from the flywheel?

Is the belt stretchy or fixed like a tape drive or thread drive? Does the motor have enough torque to get the platter up to speed, or do you have to assist it by hand? Does the belt slip and only maintain speed once the platter is up to speed?
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#4
Hi Peter,

David, Thanks for posting this. I have a few questions. In the bottom photo of post #1, I see what looks like a round flywheel to the right of the platter, or on top in the photo. This is where the power supply is in the video, if that is indeed a power supply. In the video, what are you doing with the switch on that box? I see there is no belt, so I would think you could just spin the platter and inertia will keep it going for a long time. Does it have a brake, or do you slow it down with hand pressure?

Also in that bottom photo, there is a black line around the bottom of the massive platter. Is that another belt from the flywheel?
Its a Micro Seiki HS-80, I was testing it with the table when I took the photograph, I'm not using it any longer. The lower belt is connected to the flywheel.

in the video the black box on the left is motor and the unit on the right is the pump. You're correct no belt connected, I was demonstrating the inertia of this heavy platter with a light push. No brake.

Is the belt stretchy or fixed like a tape d
rive or thread drive? Does the motor have enough torque to get the platter up to speed, or do you have to assist it by hand? Does the belt slip and only maintain speed once the platter is up to speed?
It's a fixed Kevlar belt, no stretch. The motor has enough torque to get the platter moving but the belt is loose so a little manual assistance speeds things up. The belt doesn't slip nor is it tight, the right tension is a matter of experience. Too loose and the sound becomes muddy and soft, also the soundstage will be ill defined. Too tight also hurts the sound, it becomes unnatural and dead
 
Jun 18, 2011
741
5
18
Hong Kong
#6
Thanks David for the great info & photos!

I notice that the Air Force Three looks a bit like the AS turntable, although the latter is made of stainless steel, bigger/thicker and heavier.

 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
12
38
North Shore of Boston
#7
Thanks David. That AS table sure looks serious. I love the very straight forward design with every element taken to the extreme with excellent execution. I had forgotten about the pump. Of course you had to turn that on to free the platter to spin.

There is a video on the net showing a worker at the SME factory spinning the platter of an SME Model 30. It is not nearly as massive as you platter, but it goes on spinning long after the camera cuts away. Precision machining is a big part of it too, I would imagine.

I like the idea of the fixed Kevlar belt. That makes a lot of sense for such a massive platter. A stretchy belt would not last long.

There is a German designer who discussed developing a turntable similar to your AS. It was an air bearing of some type, a massive 150+ lbs platter. It was to use an idler to get the platter to speed and then disengage while a thread drive with slippage kept the platter running at proper speed. I think the theory is that it only brings it back to speed but then slips so it can's slow the platter down and therefore speed correction is extremely gradual and not jerky when the controller hunts for the correct speed. (Just my speculation)

I can't remember the name or if he ever built the table. I think he was going to make six in total for his friends so that there would be some economy of scale for the machining. Wildly expensive as I recall. He is the designer of the Axiom tonearm and various other analog accessories. I think called Acoustical Systems in Germany.
 
Last edited:
Jul 26, 2010
232
0
16
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
#8
David

When were the AS tables made. Are the two you have exactly the same?
Any more interesting details you could share that separate these tables from others physically. What would one of these cost back then and how did you find yours.

Paul
 

ALF

New Member
Mar 15, 2012
216
0
0
Southwest
#9
Thanks David. That AS table sure looks serious. I love the very straight forward design with every element taken to the extreme. I had forgotten about the pump. Of course you had to turn that on to free the platter to spin.

There is a video on the net showing a worker at the SME factory spinning the platter of an SME Model 30. It is not nearly as massive as you platter, but it goes on spinning long after the camera cuts away. Precision machining is a big part of it too, I would imagine.

I like the idea of the fixed Kevlar belt. That makes a lot of sense for such a massive platter.

There is a German designer who discussed developing a turntable similar to your AS. It was an air bearing of some type, a massive 150+ lbs platter. It was to use an idler to get the platter to speed and then disengage while a thread drive with slippage kept the platter running at proper speed. I can't remember the name or if he ever built the table. I think he was going to make six in total for his friends. Wildly expensive as I recall. He is the designer of the Axiom tonearm.
Hi PeterA,

That one, the German, he never built the turntable you are mentioning...it was a fantasy; however, it appears that he collected several $10s of thousands of hopeful deposits. Status- the fantasy, some friends, and the deposits disappeared.
 
May 30, 2010
13,952
24
38
Portugal
#10
(...) There is a German designer who discussed developing a turntable similar to your AS. It was an air bearing of some type, a massive 150+ lbs platter. It was to use an idler to get the platter to speed and then disengage while a thread drive with slippage kept the platter running at proper speed. I can't remember the name or if he ever built the table. I think he was going to make six in total for his friends. Wildly expensive as I recall. He is the designer of the Axiom tonearm.
Are you referring to the Brakemeier Laufwerk Apolyt? Unfortunately I can not understand german. http://www.knipschild.net/Brakemeier/apolyt.htm

I remember I got an Oracle Premier mk3 from someone in Germany who had such beautiful machine.
 

ALF

New Member
Mar 15, 2012
216
0
0
Southwest
#11
Hi David,

I hope that you are doing well and the summer is treating you and your family nicely!

Nice write up regarding your stellar collection of kit along with your willingness to share your experiences and expertise. I have enjoyed reading your posts and the nice write-up that Steve, aka "Amigo," shared with us a few weeks ago, sweet!

Cheers!
Alan
 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
12
38
North Shore of Boston
#12
Hi PeterA,

That one, the German, he never built the turntable you are mentioning...it was a fantasy; however, it appears that he collected several $10s of thousands of hopeful deposits. Status- the fantasy, some friends, and the deposits disappeared.
Interesting update. I had read something similar about an exotic pre/phono amp that he was marketing. If true about the turntable, it's a shame for the depositors. It seemed to have a lot of potential and the design reminds me of David's American Sound. The Axiom tonearm and protractors are real products and of high quality I understand.
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#13
I would almost bet that David has the only 2 in existence. It does have an uncanny resemblance to the AF3

Perhaps the much anticipated AF Zero will be fashioned after the AS. Of all the tables David has in his museum the AS with the Neumann DST cartridge lit my ears up like none of the others
 
Jun 18, 2011
741
5
18
Hong Kong
#14
Thanks David. That AS table sure looks serious. I love the very straight forward design with every element taken to the extreme with excellent execution. I had forgotten about the pump. Of course you had to turn that on to free the platter to spin.
There is a video on the net showing a worker at the SME factory spinning the platter of an SME Model 30. It is not nearly as massive as you platter, but it goes on spinning long after the camera cuts away. Precision machining is a big part of it too, I would imagine.
I like the idea of the fixed Kevlar belt. That makes a lot of sense for such a massive platter. A stretchy belt would not last long.

There is a German designer who discussed developing a turntable similar to your AS. It was an air bearing of some type, a massive 150+ lbs platter. It was to use an idler to get the platter to speed and then disengage while a thread drive with slippage kept the platter running at proper speed. I think the theory is that it only brings it back to speed but then slips so it can's slow the platter down and therefore speed correction is extremely gradual and not jerky when the controller hunts for the correct speed. (Just my speculation)
I can't remember the name or if he ever built the table. I think he was going to make six in total for his friends so that there would be some economy of scale for the machining. Wildly expensive as I recall. He is the designer of the Axiom tonearm and various other analog accessories. I think called Acoustical Systems in Germany.
Yes, Dietrich D. Brakemeier made that awesome APOLYT turntable!
He is the designer of AXION & Aiwon!

" ... Dietrich D. Brakemeier is perhaps best known for having created the APOLYT turntable in the early ‘90s. Featuring a bi-radial air-bearing, a 40 kg platter of lead and aluminium topped with acrylic, and a full air-suspension; no more than 15 units of the APOLYT turntables were produced, each at a cost of 40,000 Deutsche Marks, ten-times the price of a fully optioned Linn LP12 at the time. The turntable was shown at the 2006 High End Show in Munich to critical acclaim and the world has not seen anything like it in the years since ... "
http://www.audiofidelity.com.au/portfolio/acoustical-systems/
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#15
...And I love the tune playing in the background (exquisite piano solo) ♪
Bob, Its Erik Satie's Gymnopedies.


Thanks David for the great info & photos!

I notice that the Air Force Three looks a bit like the AS turntable, although the latter is made of stainless steel, bigger/thicker and heavier.
Hi CK, the form factor for all these turntables comes from the Micro RX-5000 of the 70's. I still think its the best and most flexible shape and there are quite a few look alike tables today that are just hiding the form in little fancier shape.

david
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#16
Thanks David. That AS table sure looks serious. I love the very straight forward design with every element taken to the extreme with excellent execution. I had forgotten about the pump. Of course you had to turn that on to free the platter to spin.

There is a video on the net showing a worker at the SME factory spinning the platter of an SME Model 30. It is not nearly as massive as you platter, but it goes on spinning long after the camera cuts away. Precision machining is a big part of it too, I would imagine.

I like the idea of the fixed Kevlar belt. That makes a lot of sense for such a massive platter. A stretchy belt would not last long.

There is a German designer who discussed developing a turntable similar to your AS. It was an air bearing of some type, a massive 150+ lbs platter. It was to use an idler to get the platter to speed and then disengage while a thread drive with slippage kept the platter running at proper speed. I think the theory is that it only brings it back to speed but then slips so it can's slow the platter down and therefore speed correction is extremely gradual and not jerky when the controller hunts for the correct speed. (Just my speculation)

I can't remember the name or if he ever built the table. I think he was going to make six in total for his friends so that there would be some economy of scale for the machining. Wildly expensive as I recall. He is the designer of the Axiom tonearm and various other analog accessories. I think called Acoustical Systems in Germany.

A stretchy belt has other qualities, the tension is naturally higher than thread and solid belts. It depends on the tt design, platter weight, motor, etc., the belt is yet another factor in the final tt sound.

I think as others noted below you're probably mentioning Brekmeier's Apolyt. I never heard one but I read a couple of articles on it, very different approach from the AS. The air bearing concept is the only idea common to both, but execution is very different. ALF has direct experience with him and his products. For me his designs are unnecessarily over complicated, the slippage idea if it was his is one of them. It simply doesn't work and one is negating the primary reason for having a heavy platter. You're going to hear any adjustment, maybe not directly but you will, there's always an artifact of some sort, reason why I don't have any DD tables. Just think of the additional mechanical and electronic parts needed to make such a system to work, and then fine tune it to perform as needed, why? There are simpler ways.


david
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#17
David

When were the AS tables made. Are the two you have exactly the same?
Any more interesting details you could share that separate these tables from others physically. What would one of these cost back then and how did you find yours.

Paul
Paul,

The two are identical. Whoever made them was very skilled and knew exactly what they were doing mechanically, but definitely a low volume product. Aside from the obvious higher mass the big difference between this and other tables is in its absolute minimalism and purity. Even the spindle is machined into the platter and doesn't have any moving parts. I was a designer, manufacturer in my past life and this is the kind of functional simplicity which we had to work the hardest to achieve. The AS has taken the concept to its limit and executed it perfectly, you'll know immediately when you see it. The designer achieved all his goals, including the function of the design, sonically its almost peerless. Steve's been generously and accurately describing it in the other threads. I have no idea what they cost back in the day, the AS was very obscure, this is the work of an individual, not a company.

david
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#18
Paul,

The two are identical. Whoever made them was very skilled and knew exactly what they were doing mechanically, but definitely a low volume product. Aside from the obvious higher mass the big difference between this and other tables is in its absolute minimalism and purity. Even the spindle is machined into the platter and doesn't have any moving parts. I was a designer, manufacturer in my past life and this is the kind of functional simplicity which we had to work the hardest to achieve. The AS has taken the concept to its limit and executed it perfectly, you'll know immediately when you see it. The designer achieved all his goals, including the function of the design, sonically its almost peerless. Steve's been generously and accurately describing it in the other threads. I have no idea what they cost back in the day, the AS was very obscure, this is the work of an individual, not a company.

david
Minimalism to say the least. Beautiful to behold and as good to listen to
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,447
6
38
Utah
#19
Hi David,

I hope that you are doing well and the summer is treating you and your family nicely!

Nice write up regarding your stellar collection of kit along with your willingness to share your experiences and expertise. I have enjoyed reading your posts and the nice write-up that Steve, aka "Amigo," shared with us a few weeks ago, sweet!

Cheers!
Alan
Hi Alan,

This is the high desert, summer's are relatively mild and often breezy. Glad you enjoyed the posts :).

david
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#20
Hi Alan,

This is the high desert, summer's are relatively mild and often breezy. Glad you enjoyed the posts :).

david
not when I was there. I was short of breath and the temp was 95-104
 

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