Sunday, 15 October 2017

SLAB It And You Shall Be Suprised


Most of the local hifi enthusiasts know how much I adore the stock and unmodified Lenco L78. The two units that I have owned from the renown Spic Doctor Mastan, as far as I know was rebuilt to its original state apart from the plinth. I have been using the unit for a few years and is very satisfied with it. Simple and accurate design it is.  I have also gotten the opportunity to review a modified Lenco based on the touch of SpH (or fondly known as Captain). The full fledged unit gave me a totally different impression on what modifications can do the a Lenco design and while it is different, I still decided to to stick to my stock Lenco. The unit I reviewed involves the the following changes:

  • SLAT - Sien's Lenco Alternative Top Plate
  • SLAB - Sien's Lenco Alternative Bearing
  • SSS - Sien's Stainless Steel Mat
  • Golf ball Tonearm 
  • Plinth - wood base and Corian material top

Since then, Captain was also blessed with the opportunity to showcase that unit at the recent KLIAV show and it was a hit. There are already a few hifi enthusiasts locally and abroad whom have taken the step to acquire his full design. For me personally, Lenco L78 is still a keeper mainly because of my liking towards its simplicity and also the nostalgic factor of which my late father used to own one as well.

Now, I am given the chance to test out the SLAB mod as a stand alone mod to my unit.  One fine evening, Captain came over and installed the new bearing design to my unit.




A quick comparison between the original Lenco bearing and SLAB:

  • Size: His design comes in a few sizes depending on the height of your plinth but all of them are larger than the original bearing. This include the OD of the housing itself and also the spindle size.
  • Material: SLAB is machined from aluminium material while the original bearing is made of steel and brass.
  • Lubricant: Grease versus oil
FIRST IMPRESSION
It was not even difficult to spot the change because it was not subtle. On Tracy Chapman's Baby Can I Hold You tonight, the introduction was presented with elevated and extended bass line and quite unique sounding of the rim shot and opening-closing hi hat.  Tracy's vocal was also upfront and the overall presentation of the track provided me with a slightly bigger envelope. The highs at times can be a bit sharp but not to a point of exaggeration. When the full instrument cue in at 1 min 14 sec, it was definitely a mind blowing change.


Baby Can I Hold You Tonight

A MONTH OBSERVATION


When You're Gone

I do have a soft spot for this Canadian female rock star. I really wanted to hear how the SLAB sound on an LP that I have not played before. Very timely as I just received the Avril LPs. This particular track is my favourite of hers. With this new LP, the Lenco sounded a bit muffled but still with enough energy to belt out the teenage angst of Avril. I particularly like what the SLAB is doing to Avril's vocal and also the sound of the piano. It builds up the momentum of the song nicely. With the sharp highs I experienced in the first impression, I was a bit concern that it may be unbearable when Avril does her screeching highs at the end of the song (cue at 3.00 minutes) but I was wrong. The SLAB allows Avril's screamer to flow nicely and it gave me goose bumps. The overall track however suffer from muffling sound but it may just be due to the quality of the pressing.


Whiskey In The Jar

One of my favourite cover by Metallica, Whiskey In The Jar was also used when I reviewed the mighty Kronos Sparta. And sure enough it is my reference when it comes to metal music. Playing this with the SLAB mod, it gave me a more wholesome balanced presentation. Energetic drumming of Lars can easily make listener get into adrenalin mode. The guitar riffs of Kirk sounded ferocious but also melodious to deliver that Irish folk song feeling. Very satisfying. Overall sound staging feels bigger and the envelope of being wrapped in music feel more realistic without loosing details such as the hi-hat manipulation (minute 1:28)


CONCLUSION

While the full modded TT of Captain Sph provides a complete alternative to Lenco stock unit, this SLAB bearing mod did not take away that 'Lenco' sound signature. It in fact delivers a new level of what Lenco L78 can do or provide you with. It has, some how deliver a more extensive bass and airy elevated sound stage. Huge! If there is one gripe I have is that the fact it now takes a a few seconds longer for the platter to come to a complete stop each time I turn the unit off. The lubricant used in this bearing is different from the stock Lenco. But if music performance is what you are going after for or just want to hear what else your Lenco can do, give this simple mod a try. Contact Captain Sph for further details.

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