WELL-TEMPERED: The Bill Firebaugh interview

J. Gordon Holt writes ..... 

Bill Firebaugh's first product, the outrageous-looking Well-Tempered (tone) Arm, established him as one of audio's most innovative designers. At the 1985 Winter CES, he showed a prototype companion product—the Well-Tempered Turntable—and was producing production units by January 1987. He discusses here the WTT's unusual design features. (Readers should note that, since we have not yet tested the new turntable, this interview is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of the product.)

Holt: Bill, what prompted you to get into the turntable business?

Firebaugh: Well, after I had made my arm, and achieved what I felt to be the correct degree of stability in it, I thought it would be a rather simple matter to make a turntable. I thought, "There's nothing to a turntable. It's a platter, a bearing, a belt, a motor, and so forth." To me, it seemed to be the simplest thing in the world to make them all work together. So I started out using an aluminum platter, and I made a very nice spindle sleeve and ball-type bearing.

Holt: In other words, the usual thing.

Firebaugh: The usual thing. It took hardly any time at all to make a prototype, but it didn't work well at all. It didn't have that nice, sweet, musical sound, and I wondered, "What's going on here anyway?" After a period of consternation, I started experimenting with these sleeve-spindle, ball-type bearings, and I made maybe three dozen different varieties, trying different materials and different finishes and geometries.

Holt: Why did you assume right off that it was the spindle bearing that was at fault?

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