Harman Kardon T60 Turntable Review

Harman Kardon T60
Harman Kardon T60

Harman Kardon's Model T60 is a single-play, two-speed, semiautomatic turntable whose heavy (4-pound) die-cast aluminum-alloy platter is belt-driven by a servo-controlled, quartz-locked d.c. motor. Special measures have been taken to reduce the turntable's susceptibility to external vibrations.

The T60's base is made of high-density particle board chosen for its acoustical damping properties. The platter and tone arm are rigidly mounted on a floating subchassis that is suspended as a unit from the base on compliant isolation springs. The center of gravity of the suspended system is located on the center axis of the platter to improve the stability of the subchassis. Four large feet support the base, each one adjustable for leveling the turntable.

The relatively thin rubber mat that covers the platter of the T60 is said to have only a few thousandths of the rebound coefficient of the typical rubber turntable mat. In other words, it forms an acoustically absorbent "dead" layer that minimizes the transmission of vibrations from the platter to the stylus tip. Also assisting in this regard is a 1-pound disc "stabilizer" that comes with the turntable. When placed on the spindle, it presses the disc firmly against the mat.

The tone arm's cueing lever operates with a definite toggle action, remaining either up or down and causing the arm to lift or descend at a fixed rate virtually independent of the rate at which the lever is moved. Lifting the arm from its rest starts the motor. During play, the arm is not coupled to any internal mechanism, but it can be set to lift automatically at the end of play (this also shuts off the motor but does not return the arm to its rest).

Other unusual features of the HK T60 include a three-position cartridge-load capacitance switch and separate 1-meter-long low-capacitance cables for connecting the turntable to an amplifier. The complete unit weighs 20 pounds, counting the disc stabilizer, and measures 17-1/2 inches wide, 15-1/4 inches deep, and 5-5/8 inches high. Price: $440.

Lab Tests

We installed a cartridge in the arm of the T60 with the help of a template and tracking-error protractor supplied by Harman Kardon. When adjusted according to the instructions, the tracking-error and stylus-force calibrations are very accurate. The antiskating adjustment, as in most tone arms we have tested, gave optimum correction when set a few tenths of a gram higher than the indicated tracking force. Unlike most other turntables, the T60's antiskating compensation did not cause a significant outward drift of the arm when the cueing device was used. The 10-gram net effective mass of the tone arm was slightly less than average, and we would describe it as a low-medium-mass arm. With our test cartridge, it resonated at a nearly ideal 8 Hz.

The unweighted rumble of the T60 was among the lowest we have yet encountered, although the relatively high motor speed-compared to that of a direct-drive motor, for example-placed the principal rumble component around 9 Hz. This prevented the ARLL-weighted rumble measurement from being as outstanding as the unweighted measurement. Nevertheless, the ARLL reading of -62 dB was considerably better than most of the measurements we have obtained from other turntables.

Considering the T60's very compliant turntable suspension, which appeared to resonate at a few hertz, the transmission of audio frequencies through the mounting feet was surprisingly high. Although there was no measurable transmission above 100 Hz, the major modes at 10 to 25 Hz and at 45 to 55 Hz were comparable to those we have measured on many conventionally suspended turntables. As usually happens, operating the turntable with its cover raised greatly increased its susceptibility to base-conducted vibration.

COMMENT

The Harman Kardon T60 is a very solidly built, smoothly operating record player. If it is placed on a rigid surface, as the instructions recommend, the turntable is nearly immune to shocks resulting from striking or pounding the supporting surface (or even the turntable base itself). But if the support is not rigid-like the steel shelves on which

we placed the unit-even a slow, gentle pressure on the supporting surface can rock the turntable on its soft mountings and cause mistracking or groove skipping. This is not a fault, nor is it unique to the T60-it is characteristic of any turntable suspension with a lightly damped or totally undamped infrasonic resonance frequency-but it is a possible installation consideration.

Switchable load capacitance is a good idea, although a few amplifiers also offer this feature, but the control should probably have been located in the rear of the player, since it is an installation adjustment rather than an operating control. Both this and the vernier speed control are nearly flush-mounted knobs meant to be turned with a coin.

The operation of the T60 could hardly be simpler, and we found the automatic motor turn-on when the arm is lifted an ideal arangement. It eliminates the need for a power switch, which we did not miss for an instant. Even when the automatic end-of-play arm lift is activated, the pickup can be cued to the inner grooves of almost any record without triggering the lift mechanism, a felicitous touch not always found on automatic turntables.

All things considered, our experience with the Harman Kardon T60 showed it to be an excellent turntable-easy to set up and use, attractively styled, and reasonably priced.