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question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

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question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby CeruttiA » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:39 pm

Hello all !

Could one use them outside of a studio ? Are they good and how does one connect them up to the Rogers 5/8 etc.

How do they perform ?

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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby James Perrett » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:34 pm

That looks like a modified Technics SP10 Mk2 with a Shure SC35 cartridge but I'm not sure what the arm is. From the labelling I would assume that the panel at the front is a preamp. It looks a bit more specialised than a standard studio turntable but I should think that Hugh might know more if this is a bit of BBC kit.
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:49 pm

I don't recognise that as coming out of a production cubicle for on-air use.

The switches and the pot are classic BBC though. Bearing in mind the EQ controls - which you'd never allow an on-air presenter anywhere near :lol: - I wonder if it was used for transcription work or possibly for a 'Desert Island Discs' type programme.

But I'm sure Dr R will advise...

Whatever, it'll have an onboard preamp so it should be able to connect to a line-level input on an amp.
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 18, 2020 12:03 am

Yes H R will know but the SC35 cartridge has a tracking force listed at 4-5gm and that is enough to make your average 'vinylophile feint!

If you have 'acquired' such a deck and are not too fussy about your records fine but if you wanted a high quality playback system something like a Rega Planar with a high compliance pickup coupled with a decent hi fi amp would probably give you greater fidelity.

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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Nov 18, 2020 12:30 am

If memory serves, that's a table-top RP2/10, the last generation of BBC in-house-built broadcast studio turntables. There was a dual version too, called the RP2/9 (and there were variants with slightly different 'preamp' facilities).

Common studio equipment in general purpose (GP) radio studios and in TV sound galleries and dubbing studios, although the dual version was actually probably the more common form. The desktop RP2/10s often ended up in production offices and libraries for previewing discs too.

Definitely not intended for self-op deejay use. It was intended to be used by trained Studio Managers and TV Audio Assistants when working in a production team as 'grams' alongside a colleague on the mixing console.

It has a built-in RIAA preamp with -- in this case -- some basic tone controls and HF 'scratch' filters -- and it provides a balanced stereo line level output, with switchable mono /stereo /manual-balance options, and a load of remote control facilities.

The bass/treble EQ section is known as an RSA -- Response Selection Amplifier -- and is bypassed/engaged by the blue lever switch. The rotary fader - hardly changed in appearance from the type-A consoles of the 50s and 60s -- adjusts the output level, of course.

There is a built-in headphone amp, too, but the headphone sockets on the front panel are PO316 types. Inserting a standard type-A jack-plug on stnadard consumer headphones will wreck the socket by forcing the tip contact back much too far! So please don't do that!

The turntable itself is a standard Technics 1210 mk2 -- I don't think the Beeb modded it in any significant way, other than by removing the start/stop button and extending the logic control for remote starts which can be done either locally via the red/green buttons on the right, or by opening the rotary fader, or by a remote switch from the mixing console the turntable is connected to. The direct-drive turntable is mounted on a sprung platform.

However, the pickup arm is a BBC design and/or made to a BBC spec -- mostly so that an optional 'groove location indicator' could be fitted (allowing the needle to be dropped into and played from a specific groove on a disc). The GLI is fitted on this example -- that's what the prism at the back left of the platter displays.

Again, if memory serves I think the standard cartridge was indeed a Shure SC35, and it tracked pretty heavy (5g sounds right) -- definitely not suited to delicate hi-fi purists. Same goes for the electronics actually -- it was good robust stuff, but designed for a broadcasting service that didn't need to go above 15kHz on a good day!

So, if you like the styling and the heritage, are willing to pay top dollar for well-used, vintage gear, and can handle a balanced line-level output, (and Postie headphone plugs), fine. It is what it is! Enjoy!

But don't expect 'hi-fi'... And if you actually want to play precious gramophone records I'd steer well clear. There are much better and more appropriate domestic hi-fi options!

... But then the same could be said of the venerable LS5/8s and AM8/16s.... ;) Each to their own!
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby CeruttiA » Wed Nov 18, 2020 1:20 am

thank you very much for all your detailed answers ! Now everything is pretty clear.
Thank you very much, Hugh !
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby James Perrett » Wed Nov 18, 2020 1:44 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The turntable itself is a standard Technics 1210 mk2

Fairly sure that's an SP10 rather than a 1210. They're supposed to be pretty good turntables and fairly collectable. I saw (and heard) one used at Abbey Road to check a test cut but they were using an SME arm with a Stanton 681EE cartridge which is a better quality arm/cartridge combination than the one here.
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby James Perrett » Wed Nov 18, 2020 1:53 am

ef37a wrote:Yes H R will know but the SC35 cartridge has a tracking force listed at 4-5gm and that is enough to make your average 'vinylophile feint!

High tracking forces like this are common for broadcast - mainly because the styli have to be rugged enough to handle back cueing. You are more likely to damage a record by tracking too lightly than too heavily. As soon as the stylus loses contact with the groove walls it will start bouncing around and bumping into the walls with more force than it should which will cause pits in the groove wall where the stylus collides with it.

Yes, a higher tracking force will cause more wear on the record than a lower tracking force if there is no mis-tracking but I usually set the tracking force towards the higher end of the manufacturer's recommendation to be safe.
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 18, 2020 8:17 am

James Perrett wrote:
ef37a wrote:Yes H R will know but the SC35 cartridge has a tracking force listed at 4-5gm and that is enough to make your average 'vinylophile feint!

High tracking forces like this are common for broadcast - mainly because the styli have to be rugged enough to handle back cueing. You are more likely to damage a record by tracking too lightly than too heavily. As soon as the stylus loses contact with the groove walls it will start bouncing around and bumping into the walls with more force than it should which will cause pits in the groove wall where the stylus collides with it.

Yes, a higher tracking force will cause more wear on the record than a lower tracking force if there is no mis-tracking but I usually set the tracking force towards the higher end of the manufacturer's recommendation to be safe.

Yes James, been there, done that and given it all up for digital! I never aspired to the dizzy heights of a V15lll but had an M95e which, iirc, tracked very well at about 2gms.

I agree that tracking at 4grms properly will cause little wear for the first few playings but most folks want to play their discs quite often.

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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby Kwackman » Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:52 am

From a dodgy memory, that black pot at the back on the right is a speed control, the yellow switch bypassing it.
I also think the prism on the LHS at the back had a numbered scale that was linked to the angle of the arm. It gave you a rough reference to what groove you were in (obviously not terribly accurate, but a guide).
Why?
There were a couple of reasons.
Some radio shows with classical music would often require music cues from some way into a track, not from the clearly visible start of the track, so you couldn't easily see the cue point. While rehearsing, you'd find the number on the prism, which gave you a rough idea where it was, and note it on the script. When it came to the transmission or recording, you put the disc on and could fairly quickly find the correct spot, hopefully before the presenter finished the link!
Also effects discs (usually 7" 45s) sometimes had many short tracks, and you'd go crosseyed trying to count to track 23 across the vinyl for the required dog bark. Easier to use the prism.

Other boring bits....
When playing in a cue, especially in the middle of a classical piece, as well as getting the needle in the correct groove, it was also useful to mark at what point the cue you wanted actually started. After tracking by hand to find it, the edge of the disc was marked at that point with a Chinagraph. The disc was backtracked (for example) 1/4 of a turn. Then with one hand holding the fader closed on the front panel, and the other on the green "play" button, at the big moment press green and watch the chinagraph mark and just as it approaches the stylus snap the rotary pot open and hope you'd got it right!

And finally, I believe the bulb for the prism was a 12V auto bulb.
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby ken long » Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:06 am

James Perrett wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:The turntable itself is a standard Technics 1210 mk2

Fairly sure that's an SP10 rather than a 1210. They're supposed to be pretty good turntables and fairly collectable. I saw (and heard) one used at Abbey Road to check a test cut but they were using an SME arm with a Stanton 681EE cartridge which is a better quality arm/cartridge combination than the one here.

Definitely an SP10. 1210 has a stroboscopic platter among other differences.
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:26 am

SP10 based, didn’t the Beeb, among others, use EMT turntables a lot?
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby pk.roberts » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:35 am

Yes, the EMT 948 (I think) replaced the Gates turntables in the presenter or 'DJ' operated areas (still known as 'Continuity Suites' in my day).
I'm guessing the original query in this thread came from the auction site currently listing the equipment and everything else, from BBC Wales. If you've got a bit of time to waste, it's all here ....

https://www2.ppauctions.com/auction/306 ... 3-day-sale
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Nov 18, 2020 12:17 pm

I bow to the greater knowledge of technics turntables... sp10 it is!

I can tell the difference between a garrard 301 and 401, though... :lol:
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Re: question on the BBC turntables : opinions !

Postby techman25 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 12:27 pm

As a TO and SM (now retired), I used this gram set up many times over the years. The turntable is a Technics SP10 modified to remove the start stop button. All the control was done from the front panel and the gram could fader start from the rotary fader. Usually this model was in dubbing suites and recording channels and a huge double version was used in GP studios for live work. The BBC suspension on these units was terrible, the whole top wobbled about and the SM would be very lucky not to jog the arm when working alongside the deck.

The Shure SC35 cartridge was common in the 80s, being also used by the pop networks in the EMT 950. This was later changed to Ortofon OM10s and the “concorde” equivalent in the EMTs but I don’t think this ever made it to the SP10 incarnations. The SC35 tracked at 5 grams and every effects record in the library had a distinctive loud burst of crackles in the lead in where they had been backtracked multiple times and the vinyl had been gouged out!

I’m not sure what the arm is, I’ve seen these with an SME arm but this looks like it could be a Technics one.

The other thing to note is that the amp and logic cards sit in a eurorack in the front of the unit behind a 1970s trendy smoked panel.
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