Artisan Fidelity is the result of a 22-year pursuit by Christopher Thornton to find higher fidelity sound for the home. He says it has simply been a labor of love. On his website he lists his title as Designer / Artist and I think that is a fair description. His love of music and audio has come to fruition in Artisan Fidelity; a company with a passion for reengineering vintage turntables. This effort results in heirloom quality restorations of turntables. I found Chris to have great enthusiasm for his products and once I got one in, it was easy to see why. I also found him to be a wealth of information and a pleasure to work with.
Artisan Fidelity uses state of the art CAD design and precision ultra high tolerance CNC machine engineering, and hand crafts all the woodwork to produce their beautiful turntables. The CNC machines are used to create exquisite hand crafted plinths for Lenco L75/78, Garrard 301 Schedule 1/ Schedule 2, Garrard 401, Garrard 501, Thorens TD124, Thorens TD125, Technics SP10 Mk2/ Mk3 and EMT turntables.
Artisan Fidelity’s website says their analog designs are individually hand built by third generation wood craftsman using a combination of time tested traditional and modern machined techniques. They use German Panzerholz, select imported exotic and domestic hardwoods, project-specific metals and modern synthetic sealers, along with various alloys and aircraft grade metals utilized in key areas of their plinths. These are use to produce a constrained layer damping to aid in resonant tuning and mass loading, providing the plinths with added rigidity and desired tonal characteristics. Artisan Fidelity also tunes each model carefully by ear.
More than a Pretty Plinth
If you think that the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 is nothing more than a 301 dropped into a beautiful plinth, which it certainly is, you are vastly mistaken. According to Artisan Fidelity, the materials for the Garrard 301 Statement’s plinth were carefully chosen for ideal resonant characteristics, material density and tonal attributes. They tested synthetic multi-layered bases from German Panzerholz, aircraft grade aluminum stock, slate, and man-made materials. In the end for the Garrard 301 they used hand selected kiln dried domestic hard woods combined, with premium Russian Birch plywood, and a blend of ultra premium synthetic sealer resins were chosen ultimately for their liveliness and superior overall tonal attributes.
Like others who rebuild vintage turntables, part of their design philosophy focuses on elimination of unwanted vibrations. In addition to carefully designed plinth construction they also use Stillpoints Ultra isolation devices. Then they use an oversized tri-layer nineteen pound inverted modular platter that is CNC machined from aluminum, stainless inox steel, and magnesium.
Artisan Fidelity’s modifications and rebuilds are not restricted to the plinth, but to the entire ‘table. The stock Garrard 301 motor pulley is replaced with a high grade marine brass pulley (50Hz or 60Hz); each factory chassis rivet is painstakingly replaced; each and every screw head hand polished; the idler wheel replaced with a modern idler wheel using a blended durable rubber composite with a solid precision machined stainless steel hub.
Artisan Fidelity moves beyond rebuilding to modernizing the Garrard. Chris says there are “drastic compromises faced when using stock Garrard 301 Schedule 2 oil and Schedule 1 grease type bearings in both rebuilt and modified versions.” So they have decided to use a modern CAM/CAD precision engineered inverted bearing solution.
Their modern solution according to their web site, “features a brand new inverted bearing that uses a large bore stainless steel inner micro lapidary polished primary shaft surrounded by a solid precision machined stainless steel outer primary hull. Inside, a direct micro contact point bearing features Swiss laboratory grade Sapphire with close sphericity tolerances of less than a micron with typically < 10 micron wall tolerances. Contact points are kept to an absolute minimum for near dead silent operation. For thrust plate material, an ultra low friction military grade thermoplastic pad with low center porosity rests above within a sealed stainless steel bearing cap. Low viscosity synthetic spindle oil lines completely proprietary sintered bronze internal sleeve bushing cnc bored.”
Another part of the modernization is how they offer the table so that it can be used with a dedicated variable frequency power supply, which doesn’t have the famous or infamous Eddy Current Brake.
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