At the turn of the century, LP was all but dead (every magazine was headlining ‘final vinyl’ features), CD was king, and SACD was the challenger to its throne. So who would have imagined that a decade and a half later, it would be LP that might end up the last physical format standing? Vinyl’s reawakening in the 21st Century led to Electrocompaniet designing its first ever turntable, the ECG-1. It also led to the new ECP-2 balanced phono stage, which we shall be covering in a future issue.
There’s a lot of negativity in audio, and a brand best known for audio electronics making its first turntable in 2015 could be a target for that kind of negative thinking. The turntable could be seen as simply cashing in on the record-playing boom. Or, it could be considered to be a ‘make weight’ model, on the books simply to help complete the range and allow products like the ECP-2 to sell in Electrocompaniet specialist stores. However, the most cursory inspection proves the ECG-1 to be neither of those things, because that kind of cynical ‘design’ invariably involves placing the company’s logo on an OEM turntable, and the ECG-1 is not just a Pro-Ject or Rega design wearing Electrocompaniet’s distinctive gold on black livery.
Instead of adopting another company’s turntable, Electrcompaniet built the ECG-1 from first principles, adopting some of the anti-resonance and vibration control that went into products like the EMC 1-UP top-loading CD player (now in its EMC 1 MkIII SACD player guise), and applying them to the unique demands of the spinning vinyl disc. This becomes most notable in the chassis, which is a sandwich construction formed of a layer of aluminium between an upper and lower layer of acrylic. The acrylic layers are good for resonance damping and control, but require a more structurally sound aluminium layer to add the rigidity needed to keep the arm and bearing in alignment and, in the process, prevent any speed control issues from small changes in motor-to-platter placement.
The motor itself is a 24V asynchronous AC motor in its own housing, driven by an external two-phase speed controller. The motor housing stands almost completely independent of the main chassis, with only a single mini-DIN captive lead flying from the deck. This drives the basic speed controls in the Electrocompaniet’s signature four gold button layout – here, the buttons relate to turning the deck on or off, and 33, 45, and 78 rpm speed changes. There are no user adjustments to fine-tune speed.
Its platter is a thick acrylic design that sits deep in a recess in the top section of the chassis, and the belt sits around the outside of the platter. The belt, when first installed, can potentially slip under the platter and extracting it involves lifting the platter and the bearing housing; however, once installed the belt doesn’t ride up or down when playing.