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The physical experience of playing vinyl helps listeners rationalize elaborate customizations, from record shelves to speaker stands. One of the most gratifying, and perhaps most important areas to upgrade, is the turntable itself.
Manufacturers in the ‘60’s and 70’s like Garrard and Thorens actually created record players meant for aftermarket meddling. In fact, in early department stores merchants made selecting the perfect plinth — the oft-wooden or metal turntable base — as easy as selecting the stain color of new kitchen cabinets.
For the most part these turntable bases do have some utility. Heavy woods, metals and raw stone all help mitigate the ricocheting of sonic waves that come with listening, which contain the potential of affecting sound quality — though there is something to be said for design for design’s sake, so expect that to be celebrated here too.
Below, some exquisite turntables embedded in custom plinths.
Ron Arad’s “The Concrete Studio” was in one of his 1983 exhibitions and is among his most iconic works. Arad used concrete to convey an apocalyptic HiFi aesthetic, in the process conjuring up fantasies of a science-fiction dystopia. The complete set-up includes a concrete turntable, amplifier and two speaker towers.
This acrylic base is no doubt inspired by dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian, with its irregular grid pattern of mostly primary colors. A Garrard 401 is cradled in the plinth; the turntable’s compact design made it ideal for an easy weekend customization project.
This plinth is a hi-fi masterpiece made by forum user “Ovenmitt” and shared on the popular vinyl lovers platform www.whatsbestforum.com. The hobbyist used a Garrad Pearl for this plinth project, and details the components of his turntables as being made up of “Panzerholtz, Ebony, cherry and/or maple, bamboo, aluminum, and soapstone”. Each of these materials was used in a variety of different ratios, and each created a different sonic personality.
This Garrad 301 is set in a stunning block of marble that looks like a 3-D snapshot of the deep ocean. Made by Holger Trass of analogue-classics.com, this singular set up does a beautiful job highlighting the turntable and the contrast of the stone.
This Garrad 401 was planted into a solid mass of marble by another hobbyist with the username “Doctor Hugocat” from dynacotubeaudio.forumotion.com. The stone offers a “harder” sound, and is most definitely a statement piece. If you’re curious why this one has two tone arms , it’s because having two tonearms or more in your setup makes it less of a hassle to switch-up needle cartridges.
Audiowood, based in New Orleans, makes custom turntables informed by nature. This burnt piece of burl wood is imposing and serious, and it’s wild organic shapes make for a stunning display.
This Garrard 301 sits in a plinth made out of Baltic Birch Plywood, Panzerholz and a layer of man made Slate. It’s the most conventional looking plinth on the list but its intricate wood grain and warmth is worth marveling over. The plinth was made by hi-fi outfit Woodsong Audio in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Yes, another Garrad 301, this one set in a beautiful 90’s acrylic plinth made by DAS Acoustics. The stands that support the unit help reduce environmental noise, creating a perfect listening experience.
This Garradd 401 has a minimal coolness that’s evergreen; it was shared by theanalogdept.com. Two cross-sections of what appears to be birch are immaculate specimens, part of a brilliantly designed project.
This Plinth was an official option for buyers of Thorens turntables in the 70s. The two tone wood has a balance that’s both sophisticated and playful.
If you’re feeling inspired to make your own plinths now, The New Yorkshire Workshop has a well documented how to. You can find the video below.