I design and make record players. It’s what I’ve done all my adult life. I keep doing it because it’s what I do.
Whether I help an old man enjoy his record collection or assist a Nation in accessing its recorded history, I feel I am doing something worthy.
The record player is a part of our shared cultural heritage. It has been the gateway to musical pleasure for millions of people for one hundred years and remains so to this day.
I will continue to be a part of its continued existence for as long as I am able.
After more than thirty years of trying to make a ‘pure’ record player, this is what I’ve ended up with:
This is a record player for the music lover, not the audiophile. It is for listening to music, not hi-fi.
It is an authentic entity in a time of universal deceit: raw, unadorned and reduced to its essence. You only need to learn to love it, as you do your wife and children.
“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility, it’s right. If it disturbs you, it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.” (Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
It must be understood that the listener’s state of mind is as important to the experience of hearing as is the sound being heard. It is not possible to have one without the other. The madness of audiophilia is its refusal to accept the subjectivity of emotion. It ignores the human.
Of all the machines I have designed and built, the S9 remains my favourite. I keep returning to it, because it is inherently ‘right’. It is the only one of my designs that has evolved over time. This version (#3) looks and feels like a machine tool because it IS a machine tool – in service to music.
From an engineering standpoint, a record player is not such a difficult thing to design and make. But when we consider the psychological aspect – how we emotionally respond to the machine – design becomes much more difficult, as emotion is a subjective thing that cannot be measured, quantified or programmed. Unlike the machine, the emotional response is constantly fluid, labile and irrational.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” (E.F. Schumacher)
Good design, like all art, is about expressing an idea as simply and directly as possible. Why make anything any more complicated than it needs to be? Form follows function, decoration is superfluous, and complexity is the precursor to failure.
The essential characteristics of the gramophone record and its means of reproduction were laid down over one hundred years ago and, despite incremental improvements during subsequent decades, remain fundamentally unchanged. The unnecessary application of new technology does not guarantee ‘betterment’ and the law of diminishing returns (the entropic law of thermodynamics) is always applicable. In plain English: “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.”
I will produce just five machines per year, by my own hand. I will invite each buyer to visit me, to receive personal coaching regarding installation, setup, maintenance and understanding.
I will make each machine to last, not decay. Providing it is not abused it should continue to perform its function for decades. And, should it be discovered in a cave some hundred years hence, any competent craftsman should be able to discern its function and rekindle it. This is the joy of its simplicity.
If you would like to reserve one of these machines for yourself, please contact me by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start a conversation. We create beauty in order to make the world more meaningful.
This S9 comes in a double-walled carton: 50x50x20cm (WDH); approx. 20kg mass.