DIY Turntable In A Beautiful Wooden Case

Old timers who have been around for the last 40 years or so have been fortunate enough to have lived through several audio reproduction technologies – Vinyl Records, Cassette Tapes, Laser Disks and CD-ROM’s. Most will also swear that analog, especially vinyl records, sounded the best. And when it comes to amplifiers, nothing comes close to the richness of vacuum tubes.

[MCumic10] had a long time desire to build his own HiFi turntable encased in a nice wooden housing, with the electronics embedded inside. When he chanced upon an old and battered turntable whose mechanism barely worked, he decided to plunge right in to his pet project. The result, at the end of many long months of painstaking work, is a stunning, beautiful, wooden turntable. Especially since in his own words, “I didn’t have any experience in electronics or woodworking before I started this project so it took me many long months in learning analyzing and frustration. I burned some electronic parts few times and made them from the beginning.”

The build is a mix of some off the shelf modules that he bought off eBay and other sources, and some other modules that he built himself. He’s divided the build in to several bite sized chunks to make it easy to follow. The interesting parts are the 6N3 Valve Preamplifier (the main amplifier is solid-state), the motorized Remote Volume Control Input kit, and the Nixie tube channel indicator. And of course the layered, plywood casing. By his own reckoning, this was the toughest and longest part of his build, requiring a fairly large amount of elbow grease to get it finished. He hasn’t yet measured how much it tips the scales, but it sure looks very heavy. The end result is quite nice, especially for someone who didn’t have much experience building such stuff.

Thanks [irish] for sending in this tip.

44 thoughts on “DIY Turntable In A Beautiful Wooden Case

  1. On the one hand this is a great project that came together really nicely. Hats off- this is awesome!
    On the other hand I think I just got knocked out of the running for the top prize in the DIY Audio and Music contest over on Instructables.
    Is amazapointed a word?

  2. At first I thought, “why would anyone spend so much time on a project and not do it out of the best materials possible.”
    Then I looked at it some more.
    This is very well executed, it takes an existing mechanism and gives it both an updated and a retro art deco feel. The plywood gives a linearity to contrast with the sweeping arcs and works with the design instead of against it. If he had tried to use solid wood it wouldn’t have turned out as well. The 6N3 is showcased and is obviously the star of the project.
    Beautiful.

    1. Agreed.
      It would have been better to route out a hole, bevel the edges and inset a metal screen.
      But I understand how after several months you just reach the point of “I..just..want..to..finish!”

    2. Audiophile answer: The random hole spacing is to ensure there isn’t any tendency to reflect or pass through a single wavelenght, resulting in unform acoustic properties of the bottom cover over the audible spectrum.

  3. ” Most will also swear that analog, especially vinyl records, sounded the best. ”

    Umm no, most will not; please educate yourself on weasel words.

    I can’t believe someone so obsessed with “perfect detail” would use plywood. A wooden turntable is as bad an idea as a wooden 3D printer. If you don’t know why please educate yourself on how humidity and temperature warp wood.

    1. There’s 100 years worth of wooden-cased audio equipment out there, most of it using veneered plywood. It’s a perfectly suitable material for this project.

      This person was obviously pushing their skills hard in several disciplines. I find some minor details puzzling (unfilled voids in the plywood, power entry held on with drywall screws). But the overall vision and execution are magnificent.

    2. Kiln dried wood doesn’t warp like the PBS carpentry attempts at woodworking with air dried wood. Check inter-cellular versus intra-cellular moisture after exposure to high humidity. Plus plywood veneer goes through huge gas dryers and moisture detectors before being glued and heat-pressed.

      1. And yet it still does “live” a bit. It maintains planar geometry somewhat better than block wood, but it gets thicker and thinner with moisture, which is easily noticed when you paint it or apply paraffin oil etc. Things swell up.

    3. Plywood is much more stable than solid wood. Wood movement is always (mostly) across the grain, the idea of plywood is to have alternate layers such that across grain movement is restricted by the two adjacent layers.

      I think that in the US that plywood is so (relatively) cheap that it is regarded as a second rate product – far from it, it is a magnificently engineered wood product – so much so that I would kill to get my hands on some. In most parts of the world it is 4-5 times the price paid in the US, Canada, and some lucky parts of Europe..

      There are some very well known fine furniture makers who use plywood almost exclusively, and use it in all it’s naked glory.

      1. That’s the theory anyway.

        One thing I can always count on with plywood: it will never be flat! One small change in humidity and suddenly it looks like a potato chip.

    4. The turntable looks like metal to me, the mat material looks like cork and the plinth is plywood. We can’t see what the sub-chassis is made from. All of these will have an effect on the end result. So long as he is happy with how it looks and the sound it produces that all that matters.

  4. For all those griping about the materials or electronic solutions that [MCumic10] used, go and read his build log over on Instructables, and make sure to read TWICE where he says: “I didn’t have any experience in electronics or woodworking before I started this project…”, and then realize what he accomplished with this build.

    …steps down from soapbox

  5. This is amazing and beautiful. Something about mixing fine crafted wood work with electronics just makes my geek-radar ping. To make something like this takes honest to goodness skill, hardwork, and craftmansship. This wasn’t just churned out of a 3D printer or pre-bought parts. (not putting down 3DP just outlining if effort)

  6. “….Nixie tube channel indicator”
    Im sorry, but ?what? is being indicated??

    Theres an opamp RIAA equalization preamp with gain, so ?what? purpose does the 6N3 buffer serve?

    But yes, very cool overall.

    1. oftentimes, a tube hybrid is made so that tubes do the voltage gain (first stage) and transistors (bpl or mosfet) do the current gain. but since there is an op-amp there for riaa, I can’t see how a tube adds anything, really. yes, the riaa is a pre-pre-amp and you still need another stage of voltage gain before you have a final current buffer, but inserting a tube ‘in the middle’ really adds nothing. you’ve already added lots of odd order harmonics, and so the tube adding even order won’t really ‘help’ the sound any. according to tube guys, you’ve already ‘ruined’ the sound with 2 solid state stages. (I don’t believe that, but that’s what the tube guys will say).

    1. that’s funny as hell! love the idea ;) a good impl. would mimic the pace of the audio from the turntable and keep the digital playing copy in sync. if you lift the tonearm, you would pause the audio from digital. not sure how on earth you’d quickly know when the needle was dropped back on some random area of the record and then start the digital copy at that point. but start to finish playing would work.

      not a practical thing but a funny demo, maybe at an audio gathering event.

      1. Just have an angle sensor on the arm, and if its sensitive enough, you can calculate a rough approximation of where in the audio stream that particular position would represent (You could easily be a second or two off without anyone even noticing).

        I would want to build something like this and run a blind test on audiophiles to see if they really could discern a difference between analog and digital audio.

      2. You can achieve that with control vinyl (like a Serato CV02) to control the playback. They use an encoded timestamp on the record. There are open source implementations of the protocol, at least in mixxx that work well.

  7. This old timer doesn’t miss vinyl or vacuum tubes, but this is still a cool project. He clearly succeeded at making it what he wanted it to be, and learned a lot in the process.

  8. ‘old timer’? ’40 years or so’? I’m 40 or so (OK… 49). I remember vinyl, cassettes, Laser disks, CDs (you left out 8 tracks), but I’m certainly not an ‘old timer’. Am I? Old timers are waaayyy older than me.

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