BRINKMANN: La Grange and one of the world’s first fully balanced vinyl replay systems

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Originally published here in February 2006

Howard, is it true that way back you were the owner of the World’s first fully balanced vinyl replay system?

Possibly the first; certainly one of the first three ..... so I'm told.

I purchased the Brinkman 10.5 tonearm before I became a dealer, and paid £2,200 from the then importer, Walrus.

I then purchased from a collector an ultra lightweight EMT which had the best VDH diamond fitted. The collector, among many other items had from memory:

  • 1 x full set of Cello amps
  • 2 x  Breuer 8 tone arms
  • Mark levinson ML26, ML 28, ML32
  • 2 pairs of Mark Levinson ML2a monos
  • 2 x Linn CD 12s.

It is highly likely that this cartridge was never used by him.

Anyway, the challenge was that this ‘nude’ version of the EMT had rather long trailing leads with gold pins rather than sockets. This meant it could not fit the arm. To cut a long and rather fine story short, I had by this time become a Brinkmann retailer.

I asked Helmut Brinkmann personally if he would modify the cartridge with new leads that would fit the 10.5 and to check over the cartridge and do whatever mechanical upgrades were necessary to make it the finest he could build. It is in effect a lightweight racing version of the EMT ti apparently. At the same time I asked if the internal arm wiring itself could be balanced and that XLRs be housed in a customised LaGrange arm base.

The objective was for me to have, as best I could judge at that time, the world’s first fully balanced vinyl system. To help with this I purchased an Ayre phono stage (using the XLR in and out facility) and used various preamps with XLR ins and outs into my Meridian M1 actives using the balanced input option.

Finally, I settled on a highly modified (By the late Colin Howard, retired production director at Meridian) 101b - the very last off the production line, finished by them in deep blue (unique) with discrete gold lettering. CH re-engineered this to be an MC phono stage with volume control (all other inputs disabled) and balanced outputs on 1/4" jack plugs to drive my series 2 Meridian M1 full-range actives.

Image result for meridian m1

Helmut personally rewired the arm, modified the cartridge and set up the alignment.

The machine work that Werner Roschlau did on the arm base with the XLRs (a first for the Brinkmann organisation) was magnificent. Such a pity that so much of it is hidden.

Image result for meridian m1


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