Is 3D Printing Up To A Turntable?

Thanks to a feature by Prusament because it uses their filament, we’ve been interested to read about the SongBird turntable from the British outfit Frame Theory (Note: at time of writing, they have an expired certificate). It’s a commercial product with an interesting twist for the Hi-Fi business: buy the completed turntable or buy a kit of parts and print the rest yourself.

We’re always interested to see new things here at Hackaday but we’re not in the business of promoting commercial products without a tech angle. This turntable has us interested then not because it happens to be 3D printed but because it’s instantly raised our curiosity over how suitable 3D printing is as a medium for a high quality audio component. Without descending into audiophile silliness we cannot overstate the effect that rigidity and mass of turntable components has on its audio quality. Take a look at this one we featured in the past for an extreme example.

So looking more closely at the design, we find that the chassis is aluminium, which makes sense given its visibly thin construction. Close examination of the photos on their site also reveals the tonearm to be made of carbon fibre tube, so it’s clear that they’ve put some effort into making a better turntable rather than a novelty one. This does raise the question though: manufacturing practicalities aside could you 3D print the whole thing? We think that a 3D printed chassis could replace the aluminium one at the cost of much more bulk and loss of the svelte looks, but what about the tonearm? Would one of the carbon-fibre-infused filaments deliver enough stiffness? It would be particularly interesting we think, were someone to try.

20 thoughts on “Is 3D Printing Up To A Turntable?

  1. Thing is that you want your turntable to be heavier, not lighter. You have companies like OMA who make massive plinths made out of slate and other heavy materials. It is a cool design though

  2. Usually turntables have very heavy either glass or aluminum platters to keep warble down and maintain a constant speed. I predict the audio quality produced by this one would be a bit iffy unless they had a really good motor drive algo

    Mechanically turntables aren’t that complicated and, in fact, some of the more complex features like auto needle drop and lift could fall easily at the feet of an Arduino.

    1. As for myself, I wish I knew enough about DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to be able to filter out a lot of the repetitive noise e.g. hum, buzzing on my AM radio.

  3. “This does raise the question though: manufacturing practicalities aside could you 3D print the whole thing? ”
    With at least 3 working turntables in our house, I won’t bother.

    1. I’d love an open-sourced laser turntable design, although given how rare an expensive they are I assume it’s either a very hard problem and/or doesn’t actually gain you much other than cool factor / Audiophile points.

  4. Looks like a ceiling version of a suction “hovercraft”, which as light as it is might work.

    Mass everywhere but the tonearm. I saw online a $70 weight (about a kilo) to place on the label which claims to clean up sounds the needle makes into the disc which get reflected back into the pickup. Skeptical I tried Dad’s old paperweight of genuine Alcoa cutoffs I machined in JrHigh with a center hole to machine the side and face. It’s a little smaller than the label and half as high.
    I could hear the difference. That’s on a decent turntable with direct drive. A poured concrete garden paver makes a great mass to place under a turntable especially if dancing is to happen.

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