Thursday, 5 January 2012

Marantz 6300 , the newest member of the family

Probably more than the receivers, amplifiers and tuners I prefer turntables. Except for the mysteries of the stuff in the grooves and how it changes to music they are inherently less complex than the other stuff. You can make sound with a toothpick and a paper cup if you can find a way to spin a record under it.

Some turntables are nearly that simple. I recently sold my Rega Planar 2 table; it was one of those simple ones. Simple is good...there is less to go wrong, and as some would say to interfere with the signal but more on that later. This post is about my most recent turntable purchase and I will work backwards to some of the others including the dearly departed Rega.

The new member of the family is a Marantz 6300. I picked it up this morning (or is that yesterday?) and have been hacking around with it tonight. It dates from around 1975 according to the Legendary Audio Database though might have been made for a few years. That's about when I acquired my first stereo gear but was still using a suitcase turntable borrowed from my dad. I probably also borrowed the quarter I had to use on the tonearm to keep it from skipping on those Loving Spoonful and Grand Funk Railroad albums.

This table is a real looker and, if all goes well, will soon migrate into top spot Chez Moi. I like very much my Kenwood 2055 but it might need a break.

As usual with 30 or 40 year old gadgets it has some issues. It has some significant scars in the lid and looks like it has been melted in spots! "Yes dear, you can put the kettle on top of the record player. It won't mind." Ay caramba!

The cuing "Down" button was stuck down, there is a ding in the veneer in the front right corner, and it is a bit grimy. Someone has obviously tried to work on it before as some screws were loose or missing. The lid would barely stay up, but I soon discovered some screws that adjusted the tension on the hinge springs so that was an easy fix.

The headshell is not an original Marantz (bummer) but a JVC. The cartridge appears to be decent as it is an Audio Technica AT11e but upon examination with my 60x scope the stylus looks unevenly worn, so I won't rely on it. In the next pic I am trying it out with a sacrificial Frankie Laine album. Sorry Frankie!

I had to try an album on it to test for a few things. The cuing button freed itself fairly easily, but I had to fix the cue lifting arm. It was rotated 180 degrees the wrong way and not raising willingly or high enough to actually get the needle off the record. A set screw adjustment and some well placed oil seems to have fixed that.

Also the auto shutoff was not working well or at all. I have heard about "optical sensor" issues with these tables and I managed to figure it out without a service manual. This is one of the reasons why I like turntables! This one is way more complex than my old Rega, but I can see what is supposed to happen and work out how to adjust it.

Here is most of the exposed underbelly of the 6300. The motor is at the bottom with 2 screw holes for fine tuning the 33 and 45 rpm speed and the tonearm base at the upper right:

On the 6300 you have a full Manual setting and an Auto setting. Auto is not fully auto; it just lifts the tonearm at the end of the record so it does not click and thump incessantly at the end of the side. The tonearm does not return to the rest like most semi-auto types. Auto does less than semi-auto...???

There is beauty in this design though. The Marantz shutoff imposes no mechanical drag or impediment to the tonearm. There is in fact an LED that sits under plinth near the tonearm that directs light onto a photocell. When the tonearm travels all the way to the lead out groove, a thin metal blinder moves between the LED and the photocell interrupting the light path. This signals the electronics inside to trip a relay to lift the tonearm and shut off the motor. It's a pretty cool design.

Mine however was way out of adjustment so Frankie never did turn off when he should. But I found an adjustment screw accessible at the back of the turntable that moves the holder for the LED apparatus in and out. You can see the hole in the back of the wooden case. Playing with this fairly quickly found a sweet spot where the shutoff happened where I want it. I may need to do more with it, but this can be done without opening the case or powering down. I'll connect it to my system soon with a known good cartridge to do more testing.

The next 2 pics show the LED assembly a bit closer and the same area with the "blinder" attached to the tonearm interrupting the LED light path. It's the silvery bit you will see that has moved into view as the tonearm has approached the end of the record.

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