A shootout does not necessarily
mean casualties, but the comparison made here may
possibly cause changes to both decks, because
eventually I ended up wanting the best of both
worlds, which may not be possible at all, but
let's see. I never really thought of writing
about comparing turntables, but the differences
between these two decks are so obvious I'll give
it a try.
Having had the 401/LINN
ITTOK LVII running for a considerable
length of time, it was time to get the TD124 mkII
up running again. The motor was totally
disassembled and renovated according to the
excellent procedure described
here. A new
tonearm was purchased to replace the SME
following the deck, the Jelko 750D. The Jelko
company has made and makes a lot of the better
tonearms seen around and this is their best model
under the Jelko brand name. I'm sure the new
Ortofon arms are pretty much the same as this
Jelko 750D, only at 3 times the price.
The Dynavector XX2-mkII cartridge has been the
best investment I've ever made in hifi and from
the 401/LINN set-up I've been enjoying my vinyl
collection more than ever.
To cut a long story short:
With the XX2 cartridge and a homemade silver
cable, the 401/LINN delivers a firm and punchy
bass, vivid midrange and a slightly forward
treble response, where the 124/Jelko presents a
slightly less precise bass, but... a midrange to
die for and a delicate treble.
The weird thing
about the comparison made here is that it's so
well in accordance with the few basic
characteristics applied to the 401 and TD124
decks, which can be read - over and over again -
in HiFiWorld's "classics" section.
401: "- tremendously strong and articulate
with only a veiled treble to let it down."
TD124: "- it was sweeter (compared to
301-401) and more lyrical, yet lighter and
less impactful in the bass".
And, by the way, in the same section the LINN
LVII tonearm has these comments: "- design
to LINN specs for a muscular, rhythmic sound with
real dynamics". Couldn't agree more, not
only with the XX2 in front, but also the DV20X
Well, I'll be damned if this isn't exactly the
thing I've been experiencing going from the 401
to the 124. The midrange clarity from the
XX2/TD124/Jelko has made me put on more classical
recordings than I usually do.
Now, let's be clear
on what we're dealing with here, because I'm
comparing apples and pears, and nothing wrong
with that, we only have to know what we're doing.
The two things that have been then same are the XX2
mkII cartridge and the homemade silver
cable. Everything else is different, so I'm
comparing a lot of things at the same time, but I
can't have two decks on the same type of plinth,
the same tonearm, the exact same wiring, etc.,
etc. Well, this could be done, but I'm
not the one to set it up. Would take ages.
And how can I know that I have adjusted VTA,
azimuth, etc. exactly the same? I can't, so I can
only do my best and listen.
So, after some 1½ month with
the TD124 mkII/Jelko/Dyna XX2 mkII on the shelf,
it was time to reinstall the XX2 on the 401/LINN
deck. The 401 had two hours running before I
Hmm.... The 401/LINN rock solid bass was back,
but the midrange....bad! Well, bad may be too
strong, only the TD124/Jelko is significantly
better. Classical , pop, rock, jazz; all had a
turn on the spinner and the midrange just simply
couldn't match the TD124/Jelko. Cartridge
alignment was checked once more, but nothing
helped. So, after only an hour the XX2 was back
on the TD124/Jelko again and ooohhh.....the
midrange was back and I can live with the less
punchy bass for the sweet, transparent midrange.
It's not that the bass on the TD124 is bad, not
at all, it's deep and powerful and possibly more
true to the recording. On the 401/LINN the
midrange sounds slightly distorted compared to
Well, well, well.....
Is it the 401 deck or the LINN arm that just
can't match the TD124/Jelko combo? Hard to tell,
so only thing to do is making a plinth for the
Jelko arm on the 401 deck - or take the LINN arm
to the TD124 - and hear what happens. Summer
And the holidays are soon :-)
Art Dudley's enthusiasm about his restored TD124
can't go unpassed and I was keen to see if the
TD124 motor suspension kit would make the same
difference to my TD124 mkII as it did to his
TD124. So, the kit was ordered together with a
set of rubber "mushrooms" meant for
decoupling the chassis from the plinth. These
mushrooms never followed the deck I bought. Last
but not least I ordered a new rubber belt. Now, I
didn't change these things one by one, rather the
whole lot at once. What did emerge from this
investment - 200 USD, TD124 spare parts are quite
expensive - was better immunity of support
vibrations and an overall more tight bass, the
one parameter where the 401 excelled over the
TD124. Not sure the difference is noticeable any
The 401 has been on the shelf
for some months and a mail from Geoff, got me
back to the 401. I bought a new thrust plate from
Kokomo kit is a bronze thrust plate with a soft
ceramic bearing. The material is a bronze alloy
and it use a custom made soft ceramic bearing.
Its a one piece design, that means the
bottom plate and the dome with the bearing is
made in one solid piece. I worked since 3 years
about these bearing and mainly the special soft
ceramic ball brought a big step of sound
performance. Soft ceramic means the ceramic ball
is a little bit softer as the steel axis,
its a matched choice.
Near to all 401´s and some 301´s have a flat
top worn out thrustplate, this is like brake and
some Garrards have problems with the speed
control and can't hold the speed. Those flat
bearings avoid the full performance, the Kokomo
kit fix these problems and the Garrard can run
again with outstanding performance. The
installing is an easy job, all screws and parts
fit with this new part.
- All internal wires go to a box
mounted directly on the 401 motor. Not an ideal
situation, thus the mounting plate was removed
and the small box was moved to the plinth
allowing the motor to move more freely.
- Next I inserted a 40 watts light bulb in series
with the power supply. This reduces voltage to
- Last but not least, I made a new arm plinth for
the Jelko arm.
The 401 is certainly back in line
- and I'm afraid the 124 will be on the shelf for
some time. The most noticeable improvement came
from changing the spindle thrust plate. The
residual tweaks came in a bundle and hard to tell
which did the most. I'm afraid the Jelko beats
the LINN arm by a comfortable margin. I don't
think the Dyna XX2 mkII has ever sounded better.
Left: New thrust plate (upper left) and
wires detached from motor. Right: New plinth for Jelko