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Orpheus Silex Turntable

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Hi all,
I have just become the happy owner of an Orpheus Silex turntable (made in Melbourne, Australia in the 1960's).
I understand from what I have read that it was popular at radio stations being used as a transcription unit and is built like the proverbial tank but also has a cult following in the vinyl fraternity.
I've been told that it still runs so that's good but I gather that it will probably need a re-build. It also has an arm on the dodgy plinth (also to be replaced) that I would like to know more about. 
My question to anybody that is up to speed with these is, who/what were "Orpheus Sound Reproduction Equipment" in Melbourne Australia? The attached photo is all I have at present but will upload more when I get it.

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Radio stations in the majority of cases used transcription turntables of the rim drive/ fixed speed variety. Before the advent of reel to reel and cartridge tape machines ,  broadcast material such as advertisements and radio serials were transcribed from 16 and 12 '' lacquer discs. Instant start up cueing   was a requirement that was not provided by most belt drive turntables.  The Orpheus was manufactured by a husband and wife team  in Melbourne and distributed by Simon Gray P/L. The Orpheus Silex uses a special   mounting arrangement and  a pickup arm  should be coupled to this and not a plinth. Pictures of the model that you have may help in providing advice on any changes  that could be made. 

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A friend of mine in Melbourne has owned one of these for years.

 

He has done a range of mods to it and most recently did a new minimalist skeletal style plinth for it with new outboard motor etc.

 

He is using it with a air bearing linear tracking tonearm and a strain gauge.  It sounds very good with these mods and he loves it.

 

He is a former tech and can rebuild turntables etc. so if you would like to speak with him about what he has done, the most worthwhile mods or even to build a skeletal plinth etc. then pm me and i can pass on his number.

 

I owned one for a few years.  Un modded it was quite good but not comparable with Commonwealths, Bayers, the better Lenco's or the Garrards.  With mods they are very good.  It handily beat his modified Sota.

 

A little known fact is that Frank Schroeder also has one.  I was told it was one of his favourite vintage tables.  There are some photos of his personal unit being demoed at a couple of events (might have been the Berlin Triode Festival some years ago with a Schroeder arm and top end Lyra Cartridge).

 

LPG

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from the other thread I posted: Orpheus Silex - worthwhile Project?

< A little known fact is that Frank Schroeder also has one.  I was told it was one of his favourite vintage tables.  There are some photos of his personal unit being demoed at a couple of events (might have been the Berlin Triode Festival some years ago with a Schroeder arm and top end Lyra Cartridge). >

 

here it is:

 

 

IMG_4640.jpg

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I sold an Orpheus Silex with Grace arm and cartridge to a mate of mine last year, LPG will know who!

Got a good return on it as I'd bought it around 20 years ago for around $80 for a modest system for my sister.

She didn't need it anymore so I said we'd go out to a restaurant on the proceeds.

Then again the Grace cart was an F8 from memory so the buyer got a relative bargain.

regards Ian

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These are very capable turntables when paired with a quality arm, cartridge and plinth. If they were ever produced to operate using 60Hz mains, I bet we’d be paying a LOT more for them than we are.

I have a number of classic idler turntables; Garrard 401, Commonwealth 12D, Lenco L75 and an Orpheus. I don’t plan on getting rid of the Orpheus anytime soon.

 

 

88F06648-BF5A-465C-B880-A0855712D24A.jpeg

Edited by lowpoke

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On 15/06/2018 at 8:56 PM, Mat-with-one-t said:

Here’s my folks’ system.  Total maybe 20hrs! I plan to restore it....l

D2A3BDAD-ED95-455C-AC6D-4F84C93E8D01.jpeg

 

My father in law has those speakers - Warfdales.  They still are used in his second system.

He bought an Orpheus Silex with that system.  Many years later it was given to me - no plinth, no arm, in pieces in a carboard box.  At that stage there was no info on it on the web, and I couldn't work out how it went together.  I also thought it was of ordinary quality, the sort that went into 50's consoles.  My father in law wasn't helpful either.  I asked him about it and all he said was that it was in a box in his garage (with the implication that he was given it by someone else), it wasn't until years later that I found it was originally in his system.  I gave it away, and kick myself whenever I think of it.  It also had the rare green hammertone finish (the bronze hammertones look lovely too).  Since then I've bought one, and am working towards getting it setup.

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25 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

My father in law has those speakers - Warfdales.  They still are used in his second system.

He bought an Orpheus Silex with that system.  Many years later it was given to me - no plinth, no arm, in pieces in a carboard box.  At that stage there was no info on it on the web, and I couldn't work out how it went together.  I also thought it was of ordinary quality, the sort that went into 50's consoles.  My father in law wasn't helpful either.  I asked him about it and all he said was that it was in a box in his garage (with the implication that he was given it by someone else), it wasn't until years later that I found it was originally in his system.  I gave it away, and kick myself whenever I think of it.  It also had the rare green hammertone finish (the bronze hammertones look lovely too).  Since then I've bought one, and am working towards getting it setup.

Yeah it's amazing.  I reckon it must have come as some sort of package?  My folks are far from music people, and barely used it.  It was a wedding present, and lived in the "good room", thus never really used!  I know somwone in Coburg near me who can restore the amp - I assume tubes are near NOS, and it'll maybe need some dry caps replaced.  I recall the Wharfdales working and they sounded great - a really sweet, warm system!  I am sure all the original brochures and even receipts are with it!!  I hope to grab it, restore it, and I'll post the results.  I suspect the suspension bushes on the TT are all dried out and so on.  I've seen some great resto info on these TT's, so I'llmake use of them!

Mat

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I am listening to one now.

 

I have owned and restored several exotic turntables and the Orpheus Silex is the ultimate under appreciated prize.

I prefer it to my 12" Commonwealth which is in perfect condition and is also a wonderful TT,  but contrary to many opinions is not in the league of the Orpheus Silex. The original unsuspended Orpheus is worthy of the cult status that Commonwealth Electronics enjoys and the Silex with its clever suspension takes it to a higher level.

 

I have made mounts up for various arms including the currently mounted SME as shown in the picture.

The arm needs to be suspended off the subchassis unless it is a non Silex model.

 

Open it up with a skeleton plinth and replace the suspension with sorbothane pads and you will be delighted. It may be a little more lively and transparent sitting on compression springs but to do a good job they need to be longer than the original mechanism allows. I have also hung the subchassis by springs as Orpheus offered as an upgrade but couldn't get suitable spring rates.

 

Worth every minute you put in to it.

IMG_2971.jpg

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11 hours ago, Onslo said:

I am listening to one now.

 

I have owned and restored several exotic turntables and the Orpheus Silex is the ultimate under appreciated prize.

I prefer it to my 12" Commonwealth which is in perfect condition and is also a wonderful TT,  but contrary to many opinions is not in the league of the Orpheus Silex. The original unsuspended Orpheus is worthy of the cult status that Commonwealth Electronics enjoys and the Silex with its clever suspension takes it to a higher level.

 

I have made mounts up for various arms including the currently mounted SME as shown in the picture.

The arm needs to be suspended off the subchassis unless it is a non Silex model.

 

Open it up with a skeleton plinth and replace the suspension with sorbothane pads and you will be delighted. It may be a little more lively and transparent sitting on compression springs but to do a good job they need to be longer than the original mechanism allows. I have also hung the subchassis by springs as Orpheus offered as an upgrade but couldn't get suitable spring rates.

 

Worth every minute you put in to it.

IMG_2971.jpg

Hi

very nice indeed!

Just asking whether you will share the exact material / components used to mount your SME arm.

Not too long ago, I used to own 7 units of Silexes including a 2 poles, bronze colour one. Love them all. Since then I have sold 3 and butchered a Not-so-good one. 

I moved on to collect the Byers and bought  a 12” and 2 nos of 16”. Others also include Garrard and Lencos.  The most exciting part of these acquisitions is to own a Byer 16” with S/N 0001 bought from another member of this forum. Thanks to the seller again. 

There are lots of work to do with all these vintage players collected. Hence, I have not come to the stage when to look into Silex properly yet . Of course, my final goal is to build a good plinth. Hence the question asked above.

i have most of the Silexes serviced myself and may be it is time come to build a good plinth.   Not too long ago, including my audio die - hard friend😜, we both acquired a big piece of slate and he was looking into cutting it for the plinths. 

i am really excited to hear that Silex can be as good or even better than a CE. Is anyone from the forum tried CE 16” vs Byer 16”.Any opinion is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Hi Kttiong

I machined up a new stem and made a plate to sit under the SME plate that I slotted to allow the SME movement. This is from about 5mm aluminium. However it is not essential to go to that trouble as you can swing the tonearm on its fulcrum to facilitate alignment and my problem was in fact getting it all close enough to the centre to give the correct alignment. Clearance to the outside of the casting of the TT is tight and I had to make the plate asymmetrical for it to work.

 

I rubbed the unit back, painted it with several coats of two pack high fill primer to get it flat then a mid gloss auto 2pac. I then adhered the original transfers and built up coats of 2 pac clear, blocking back between coats until the transfers were covered flat. Looks pretty genuinely old but a bit classier than the hammer coat. I do like them in hammer coat too. I previously highly polished one which looked pretty cool.

 

The plinth is a 3 legged base of river red gum with a 4 legged second layer on top, completely open. Your motor should be quiet enough for this to work. I had to revarnish, balance and install new bearings though to get my motor quiet. The spindle bearing in my case was very precise and not worn so I simply cleaned and polished it, replaced the ball and oiled it up and it is very quiet and stable. I replaced the belt with a new viton oring. A better belt might be better, I would not be surprised.

 

These pics might show it better. It is a sweet table. I have played it for a few years and plan to upgrade the arm next. Looking for something suitable to mount my Decca Gold in. Should be lovely.

IMG_0945.jpg

IMG_0944.jpg

IMG_0946.jpg

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Thanks Onslo!
Now I can understand better how you built the “platform “ for the SME. It is definitely a bit of work to machine one. The reason why I was interested is because I still couldn’t figure out what is the best way or rather say a nice way to sit the arm for my Silex . I have everything you have shown except the “ platform” where sme sits. Great idea!
Also, I have told my mate once that I felt Silex sounds better than my Garrard 301. [emoji848]But I couldn’t be so sure and at the time I believed it was just my own opinion. I told him anyway. You are probably the first one to feel that it sounds better than a CS. I don’t doubt that as Silex can show great potential to kill a lot of vintage players. It is all depended on how you set it up and the right combo !
As I don’t own a CS which I am drooling for it, I have three Byers instead. It would be a good shoot out if all of these players are put into good plinths . May be I can tell you in the near future how Silex compares to a Byer ya. Thanks for your opinion and contribution towards the Silex .[emoji122][emoji122][emoji122][emoji122]Cheers kttiong

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16 hours ago, kttiong said:

...Also, I have told my mate once that I felt Silex sounds better than my Garrard 301. emoji848.pngBut I couldn’t be so sure and at the time I believed it was just my own opinion. I told him anyway...

An opinion based on objective listening with an open mind and discerning ears is valid. 

 

So much audio rubbish is written by people who don't listen objectively, have lower-quality equipment (so can't really tell the quality of what they listen to), don't have discriminating ears, and have made up their minds with preconceived rubbish.  In the end, what matters most - and ultimately is the only thing that matters in audio - is how it sounds. 

 

I read an interesting article about the guys who originated upgrading Lencos and recognisng/achieving their audiophile quality.  They would tinker with the turntable, trying improvements, and take it to their friends in the audio shop and compare it to the expensive turntables.  After some time they found that their modded Lenco's were much better quality than the mega-expensive tables being sold in the shop.  So much so, that one day the owner of the store came rushing out of his office wanting to find out what was producing a much-improved quality sound.  His excitement instantly changed when he saw the humble Lenco (dismissed at the time as rubbish) out-performing the market leaders.  He could not accept that the Lenco was capable (with improvements) of such great sound.  He also banned the guys from bringing in the Lenco to his shop. 

 

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43 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

An opinion based on objective listening with an open mind and discerning ears is valid. 

 

So much audio rubbish is written by people who don't listen objectively, have lower-quality equipment (so can't really tell the quality of what they listen to), don't have discriminating ears, and have made up their minds with preconceived rubbish.  In the end, what matters most - and ultimately is the only thing that matters in audio - is how it sounds. 

 

I read an interesting article about the guys who originated upgrading Lencos and recognisng/achieving their audiophile quality.  They would tinker with the turntable, trying improvements, and take it to their friends in the audio shop and compare it to the expensive turntables.  After some time they found that their modded Lenco's were much better quality than the mega-expensive tables being sold in the shop.  So much so, that one day the owner of the store came rushing out of his office wanting to find out what was producing a much-improved quality sound.  His excitement instantly changed when he saw the humble Lenco (dismissed at the time as rubbish) out-performing the market leaders.  He could not accept that the Lenco was capable (with improvements) of such great sound.  He also banned the guys from bringing in the Lenco to his shop. 

 

all you need to know https://www.lencoheaven.net/

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Yep.... If the physics are well understood,  incremental improvements can give outstanding results. Lots of screwdriver work and lots of rejects but its rewarding.

  

 You do see mistakes though and I have seen a Silex housed with full suspension on the platter but the tonearm rigidly mounted. Anyone who thinks that sounds good hasn't heard a tenth of that turntables potential.

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1 hour ago, Onslo said:

Yep.... If the physics are well understood,  incremental improvements can give outstanding results. Lots of screwdriver work and lots of rejects but its rewarding.

  

 You do see mistakes though and I have seen a Silex housed with full suspension on the platter but the tonearm rigidly mounted. Anyone who thinks that sounds good hasn't heard a tenth of that turntables potential.

Wow! Getting really excited about the potential of a Silex . Will certainly spend more time in setting up and trying out my Silex. Hope it kills my Byers ! 

Anyway, any one with knowledge as to the sound quality of a two poles vs 4 poles Silex motors? 

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I wan't aware they did them. I assume the 2 pole spinning so fast might be a bit harder to keep quiet?

 

My money will be confidently on the Silex. Mind you a rigidly mounted Byer in a heavy plinth can sound great. I have one in a plinth I made out of end grain wattyl  chopping boards. It is very heavy, very dead and has the solid sort of bass you would expect. I love it with my Decca Cart. However the Silex has far cleaner mids and therefore imaging and detail.

Comparing the same (V15iii Shure) cart (on SME 2-) across my 5 turntables the Silex does it the best. Thats not to say a different arm and cart may suit particular tables better (They are a tweaked Systemdek, 1019 Dual, 701 Dual, 12" Commonwealth and the Orpheus). 

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The Orpheus with the 4 pole motor is preferred. The Byers are best forgotten if you are looking for a low rumble performance, especially the early 16'' model with the rubber insert fitted to the rim.

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4 hours ago, Onslo said:

Yep.... You do see mistakes though and I have seen a Silex housed with full suspension on the platter but the tonearm rigidly mounted. Anyone who thinks that sounds good hasn't heard a tenth of that turntables potential.

Taking this to the next level, how would you best use two tonearms on a Silex? 

 

I was thinking having one suspended using the mushroom, and another mounted on the plinth.  Based on your comment, would it be better to be using two mushrooms (one for each arm)?

 

Edited by audiofeline

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The Orpheus with the 4 pole motor is preferred. The Byers are best forgotten if you are looking for a low rumble performance, especially the early 16'' model with the rubber insert fitted to the rim.


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The Byers and other early vintage players especially those fitted with huge motors bound to be very sensitive to rumble due to the enormous power the huge motors deliver. However, the Byers can be played to avoid rumble effect or to a very low level without affecting its performance by using a “ stand alone” tonearm as shown in the photo. Also I believe a good plinth will eliminate the rumble effect effectively.
To me , the vintage players with huge motors are preferred as it can delivered a sound to another level. Many reckoned Thomas Schick refurbished the Byer 16 and used it successfully in the Munich high end show 2012 . See photo.
The rumble could also be due to the bad rubber fitted around the platter. All 3 of my Byers played well with no rumble issue and they produce wonderful sound much better than my Garrard 301 IMHO. IMG_6486.jpgIMG_5533.jpg

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