SYD reborn

After more than thirty years of trying to make a ‘pure’ record player, this is what I’ve ended up with:
The record player stripped bare by its guardian. (With apologies to Marcel Duchamp)

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 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.

4 Replies to “SYD reborn”

  1. Dear Simon, it is so great to see you back on the track. SYD will go on, the best news since a long time in Audio Manufacturing. I‘m proud to have your creation (S 10) since 2008 in my listening room, after years with the S 7. Will never give away the record player, only the surrounding. Best regards Sven from Hamburg

  2. Words cannot describe how thoroughly wonderful it is to see you again creating your expression of that mystic place where art and science converge. The light is on in the workshop again, the hands that that made my S-9 #42 are creating again.

    Before my SYD “42”, I was locked into believing that I was always “missing something”. After “42” came into my life, I was forever off of that costly “merry-go-round’ of being an audiophile and can just love my music.

    The world became just a bit better, the sun a little brighter, and a sense of peace overcame me as I saw the pictures and read your words.

    To me it appears that your skills and powers are again energized to bring purity and simplicity to life in the material world and create those instruments that can awaken the music held in the nether world of the vinyl grove. I have hoped for a long time that your talent would be reawakened. You have a gift that must not be withheld from the world.

    I believe that your gift was given to you to create and bring art to this world that can unlock the power of music to those who are ready to transcend “sound quality” and “audiophilia” to the realm where music again ignites joy and passion.

    I truly believe that you have again opened a door to a temple where you will find a few true pilgrims ready to transcend and fall in love with music again using the Pure as their guide.

    Bravo Mr. Yorke!!

  3. Hello Simon,

    It is really great to see you making a return to roots with this stripped down S9.

    Less is more. Enough said!

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