Saturday, November 17, 2012

De-essing Part 4: Laser turntable

Source:; Owner: Steven KreuzerWe have seen some ways to de-ess a turntable. Most of the problems arise from the way the needle rides the grooves. If one could only have something that could read and play the disc optically…

There is such a device: a laser turntable. Developed in the US and marketed and sold in Japan by the ELP Corporation, this turntable works by shining lasers on the vinyl record and reading information from the scattering. Advantages quickly pop up into mind: perfect groove ride, the ability to skip to individual tracks, use of a remote control, continuous replay of a single track, the elimination of guesswork and frustration on the selection of cartridges and needles, plus, the possibility  keep your records in pristine condition indefinitely; in fact, one of the mottos of the company is "no contact, no wear". Micron level precision also allows the reduction of noise by scratches, warping and wear, and, having the lasers always aligned by default, harsh ess sounds, which is our subject matter. Oh, and the signal stays analog all throughout.

Such a cool piece of technology has an insurmountable problem for all but the rich though: it is outrageously expensive. The most basic model, that plays only 33 RPMs, goes for around $9000. Admittedly, the prices have declined over the years, but, as you can see, they are still prohibitively high.

Uncorroborated (by me at least)  hearsay around the net also indicates that getting one fixed is a hassle and  expensive and slow to boot. Also that the records must be squeaky clean to get good results.

Apparently the patents for this technology have expired and it is only possible that some other company brings to market a more affordable player.

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