Bounding Unicorns


Kenwood KD-1600

  • Auto return
  • Cue up & down
  • 33/45 rpm
  • Belt drive
  • Standard 1/2" mount tone arm

Technics SL-BD20

  • Auto return
  • Cue up & down
  • 33/45 rpm
  • Belt drive (?)
  • P-mount tone arm

Pioneer PL-S40

  • Direct drive (?)
  • Standard 1/2" mount tone arm

Victrola 5-in-1

  • 33/45/78 rpm
  • Plastic platter

BSR McDonald A/X 6500

  • Full auto
  • Idler wheel drive
  • 33/45/78 rpm
  • Metal platter
  • Changer (up to 6 records)
  • Proprietary tone arm (?)
  • 33/45 and 78 rpm two-tip stylus

This is a strange turntable:

The output level appears to be close to line level and quite far from phono level. At the same time, the output signal sounds rather thin, lacking bass. Running the signal through Yamaha RX-V2500's phono stage makes it fuller and more pleasant, and I think also reduces the noise. But the volume level of the turntable's output passed through the phono stage is very high.

When I run the output of the turntable into AUX input of the receiver, the sound is cutting out sometimes. I'm not sure if this is the record or the AUX input or the connection but this does not happen when I use the phono input on the receiver.

The turntable itself appears to be noisy. I bought a new needle and tested some 33 rpm records on this BSR turntable and the Technics SL-BD20, using the latter as reference. Technics turntable was significantly quieter throughout the records.

The BSR turntable also has more distortion around midrange than the Technics one. Louder notes in particular are noticeably distorted.

Speed of the turntable can be reduced by filing the motor shaft. I have done this for 33 and 45 rpm successfully. The 78 rpm speed has some kind of a sleeve with a wavy surface, I found this impossible to file down with the files I've had - I was concerned with the motor becoming noisy due to bearing wear if I pressed the file harder into the shaft.