A Revolution in Turntable Design

The audio world was turned upside down by the introduction of the Gale GT2101 turntable at Audio Fair, Olympia, London, in October of 1974.   A number of industry icons were instantly dethroned.

It was lust at first site for the entire audio world, and a Gale turntable on a magazine cover was commonplace.  Not bad considered they only made 60 of them!

It’s hard to put into perspective the effect the GT2101 had on the staid audio world of the 1970’s.   Here was a turntable more modern than the Transcriptors/Michell turntables that outperformed the Linn/Ariston tables sonically.  A direct drive, non resonant, advanced suspension turntable floating on a magnetic bearing!

Michael Fremer Review in AnalogPlanet


It took a year for the news to distributed throughout the world.  The Gale turntable appeared on the cover of the October 1975 Stereo Review and in the April 1976 Playboy magazine (see above). According to a factory brochure, the Gale GT2101 came with an SME 3009 Type II or no arm at all.  It appeared on magazine covers throughout the world and became the ultimate hi-fi status symbol.


Prototype Photo 1:

It was conceived by a Royal College of Art graduate, Kenneth Freivokh, and set the styling trend for turntables for decades to come.   It was the very first component to be selected by the Museum of Modern Art.  Like Jon Bannenberg, Freivokh ultimately turned his talents to luxury yacht design.




Prototype Photo 2:

Note the two layers of acrylic in this side view.  Prototype was driven by a synchronous motor with belt drive.



Prototype Photo 3:

Note the subplatter and felt pads.




Prototype Photograph 4:

Used a Colton tonearm rather than an SME.




One of the two Gale turntable prototypes.  Both were AC synchronous motor based units unlike the production DC servo motor version.

Note the dark colored acrylic up top and the Transcriptors Fluid Arm.  Also note the integral bubble level near the front suspension column.

 Prototype engineering drawing



The production GT2101 kept many of the prototype’s design features but replaced the drive system with a DC servo motor and an external motor controller.




The very rare and exotic Gale GT2101 Optical Servo Turntable was designed and built during the 1970’s and was truly a collaboration effort.




Implementation: Sao Win and Ira Gale were classmates and friends who met at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. Ira went on to study music at the Royal Academy of Music and Sao to Cambridge University. Sao helped Ira develop the turntable while they both lived in London. They share the patents on the GT2101, that’s why there are so many similarities to the Win SDC and SEC turntables.




Production Design: Primary production design was by David Carter, one of the world’s most accomplished industrial designers.  David Carter, CBE born in Leicester in 1927, is an industrial designer and educator.  Carter is a member of the Royal Society of Arts, the Design Council, the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers and the Royal College of Art.


Carter’s work has won numerous awards, including the Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation (1981-85), the Duke of Edinburgh Prize for Elegant Design (1967)[1] , and numerous Design Council awards.  Carter was President of Society of Industrial Artists & Designers during 1974–75, appointed Royal Designer for Industry (1974), was a trustee of the Conran Boilerhouse Foundation, chairman of the Design Museum, and chairman of the Royal Society of Arts Design Board (1983). Carter was appointed a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1980.

Engineering: Nigel Hobden was responsible for both the electrical and mechanical engineering aspects of the turntable.  We’re hoping Nigel will add his own words here soon on his experience.

Total production was approximately 60 (some sources say as high as 200) with a US List price of $1,975 without tonearm.   Three were owned by J. Paul Getty (for listening to his 78’s it was the only commerically available turntable that could adjust up to 99 RPM).


Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Ann Margret, and Freddie Mercury were also owners.   Fifteen have been located by the Gale Audio Group to date.

One was even given away as part of a radio promotion in Los Angeles.   Typical sales prices for prime condition models peaked at $5,000 before the crash and are in the $2,500 US range currently.




  • First all acrylic and stainless steel turntable
  •  First with optical servo speed control with brushless DC high torque motor
  • First motor floating on a magnetic field
  • First with a minimalist chasis with tripoint suspension



The Controller

An external stainless steel cylindrical Controller acts as the user interface for the Gale turntable.  It provides on/off capabilities as well as speed control.

Speed is variable from 10 to 99.9 r.p.m. with a push button quartz lock for 33.3 r.p.m. with an accuracy of 10 p.p.m.

There are three switched associated with the turntable.  A push-push red button turns the system on and off.  A push-push black button is for fixed 33.3 RPM operation or variable.  The third momentary button is up top, which turns rotation on or off.   Variable speed is changed with the top panel black acrylic dial, with a near instantaneous feedback read via the three LED displays.

The motor was adapted from one of the Inland/Litton Industries (we’re tracking it down) designs used for shipboard gyros. Cost in those days was $633 each in quantities of 100.  The same motor these days would cost thousands. Highly advanced, high torque, D.C. brushless with floating magnetic bearing.  According to Allan Coleman, Gale lost money on every one as it was so expensive to build.

Per Howie, his team’s “first investigations they figured out a couple of wires are power to the motor unit plus an earth (which is apparently necessary for the motor to ‘step’ even
though its not a stepper motor). The motor unit itself has the BLDC controller
board on the bottom which figures out how to turn the motor in the correct
phase/sequencing at whatever speed is possible from the input power. The sensor
in the motor unit also takes power from the supply and sends its output signals
to an opamp on the motor board which is then sent back through a couple of
wires to the main LED controller tower.”

The controller bottom with mains voltage selection and cable connector.




The turntable speed is referenced to a 1.048 MHz quartz crystal.  Speed monitored within the motor 600 times per revolution, and this information goes to a logic system in which makes instantaneous corrections possible thus short and long term speed stability exceeds any other turntable by a high order of magnitude.

The controller transformer is a toroidal wound custom item from Plessey.


LED Display below the plexiglass





Comment from Member Howie:

Update … the new pcb’s are still on order from the supplier, but some of the new modern ESC bits and pieces have arrived, including the digital pot (to replace the original resistance wire 10 turn pot), new earthing switch, and programmable controller, and we are ready to start putting the new speed control circuits together as soon as those pcb’s arrive. This will mean the entire motor and encoder assembly hanging under the platter will be original (as we have fixed the various problems in that bit of kit). But the guts of the speed control/power tower will be of all new bits even though the operation will be as per the original operation with one exception … we are going to program the red perspex top to default to 33.3rpm if the speed lock button is pressed (same as original operation), but when pressed and operating at 33.3 a clockwise turn of the perspex will automatically switch to a speed locked 45rpm, and another flick clockwise will lock to 78rpm, and vice versa anti-clockwise down 78 – 45 – 33.3. When the speed lock button isnt pressed the rotation of the perspex will operate as it did originally and move at whatever speed you ‘dial in’.


However, in the meantime, one of the guys found an interesting flaw in the flexible ‘strap’ which joins the various original Gale boards in the tower together. When touched (EG by a multimeter) it reads fine … ie circuit made, but readings on the various boards were flakey. Turns out there is a very, very fine delamination and tear in the copper circuit foil which is laminated between two pieces of whatever the clear strap material is made from. IE if you carefully look at it and touch the edges almost like trying to peel the back tape off a dymo label maker sticky label (hope you know what i mean here), you can see one leg of the copper circuit stays stuck to the one side of the material which makes up one side of the connecting strap, and the other side of the copper leg stays stuck to the opposite side of the connecting strap. So he’s made up a flex computer cable strap with the appropriate bits bared and then connected to the orig gale boards and …. hey presto …. first the good news …. it works … dial speed on the led, touch the top to rotate, etc! Now the bad news  …. it is really jerky rotation of the platter. The cro shows the signal is being turned on and off repeatedly by something and we don’t know what. We await the return of one of the guys in the Uni team who knows a bit more about analogue circuits as he may be able to put some light on which bit is still broken. But boy are we close.


So this puts me in a quandry … if we do get the original control tower working do I run the faster sampling new and easily replaceable modern stuff in the controller (although the motor and encoder are still original/old but working) … and keep the original and now working parts as backup. Or vice versa?”


Controller unskinned.  Note the five printed circuit board and large power transformer.



Top level flipped for examination






Revolution control is via wheel





The Suspension

The Gale’s two acrylic levels are interconnected by three suspension towers which mechanically isolate each other.  The top level acts as the platforms for the motor assembly, platter and tonearm.  The bottom level of acrylic acts as the foundation and is mechanically coupled to the building.  The item pictured as left is the very rare suspension tower adjustment tool.  Note the two tines in the lower right corner.

One of the three suspension towers internals.  Note the foam has generally rotted by now.






Closeup of a suspension tower






Important to orient the black sleeve correctly in the suspension tower





The Motor

The motor is a skew wound direct drive made, by Inland in the USA.  This has minimal torque ripple.  Commutation and speed control is sensed from a Litton 600 line glass optical encoder disc and speed corrections are via a custom servo feedback loop designed by a Sperry engineer.  No contacts for commutation eliminate another source of noise.

Motor suspension is by rare earth magnets (Samarian Cobalt) in repulsion (like poles facing each other) enclosed within a 5mm thick Swedish soft iron cylinder to prevent the field interfering with pick-up performance. Rumble is zero because there is no mechanical contact surface supporting the weight of the platter.


Inside the motor housing.  Note the strobe disc rotating between the electro optic reading assembly along with custom circuit board on top.

The spindle for the motor (its vertical axle) is ground stainless steel running in a phosphor bronze bush as a matched pair with 0.004″ clearance and lubricated with clock oil.



The motor windings.  Note the opening at bottom to access the strobe disc reading assembly.





Top circuit board added by Gale






A damaged glass strobe disc from inside the motor.  Be very careful when shipping the unit.






Notes from Paul Ramsden, who worked for DCA along with Nigel Hobden.

“Nigel and I worked at DCA Design (now DCA Design International) in Warwick,England. I was the electronics group along with Steve Twitchet. Nigel managed the group.  His background was mechanical engineering and industrial design. Ira Gale came to DCA with the “look” of the turntable already established, but needing help with electronics and mechanical engineering to productionize it.  We took the task on. Most was done at DCA, but we had an outside consultant in who specialized in stabilizing phase locked loops. The phase locked loop is the entity that locks the motor to the crystal oscillator. I can’t recall his name, but he was quite elderly at the time.

As I recall Steve did the layout for the circular boards in the control tower using the standard technology of the time, putting green and red tape down by hand onto mylar sheets to designate the copper tracks. It’s been a long time since PCB layout has been done that way.

As for repairing the units, I expect that you will run into severe component obsolescence problems. I think the motors came in as finished units from Litton Industries – we had nothing to do with the insides. I don’t think I have the schematics for the control system, I don’t recall seeing any in the last few decades, but I can have a look.  Normally when you work for a design services company the documentation of the design would by kept by the design services company (DCA) and by the client (Gale), not by the employee.  I don’t think there was any kind of manual either.

If one of the turntable owners is an electronic engineer then I don’t think it would be a huge task for them to reverse engineer the thing if they have enough interest. It maybe difficult finding the data sheets for all the old chips though.”





More from Simon Y- “I followed up on some of the questions on the height setting for the turntable with Nigel. The position of the top tri plexiglass should be mid point between the upper and lower metal parts of the suspension tower. Not sure how easy that is to achieve as my turntable seems to be set more towards the top.

The question on the foam. The foam was produced by C.B. Frost Ltd. in Birmingham. They still exist today. Gale ordered a number of samples from the company and by trial and error made the selection. If the correct type is used and in good condition then the problems of wobble should not be present. Nigel said that Ira looked into the use of a silicone damping system however in the end he thought it would introduce too many other difficulties.

Bearing Lubrication. Leicester University Department of Tribology came up with the lubricant which was Watch Oil to use with the magnetic thrust bearing. They did the study into the lubricants to use with bearing. The problem was that the oil came from sperm whales. Ira was also in contact with BP Advance Fluids department and was looking at ones used in space programs as these had the right properties similar to watch oil. Any other lubricants could introduce rumble so Nigel tought. Watch Oil did not oxidize and remains where you put it.

The turntable ended its production when DW bought the company. At that time he was not so interested in the turntable. They had sold a number of them and had got feedback on the product.  They felt that it would require another year of work and research to improve it and get rid of some of the issues they wanted to overcome.  DW did not want to invest into this area of the business.

The discussion we had on the motor is a bit beyond me however they used a special clamp when they opened up the motors. This ensured along with a special spacer so that gap could set correctly between each head. Knowing the distance was critical. Each one was set individually?  John you may need to give me some corrective feedback on this as I am not sure if I made the correct point here.

Nigel has found drawings of the turntable but has not opened them yet.

The wiring diagrams may turn up but the issue it seems is that replacement parts may be difficult to find and some were custom made.

If we have any more questions I can bundle them up and try and get an answer.  No news on parts.”



Repair Information (Schematics/Parts List/Photos)

gale_gt2101_parts GaleTT1ASchem GaleTT1BSchem GaleTT1Layout GaleTT2ASchem GaleTT2BSchem GaleTT2Layout GaleTT3ASchem GaleTT3BSchem GaleTT3CSchem GaleTT3DSchem GaleTT3Layout GaleTT4Layout GaleTT4Schem GaleTT5Layout GaleTT5Schem GaleTTbackplane GaleTTmotpcbLayout GaleTTmotSchem








Integrated Circuits in Motor Controller

(courtesy of Howie)

Quantity Manufacturer Part Description
1 Motorola MC14511CP BCD-to-Seven   Segment Driver IC
1 Motorola MC14553CP BCD   Output Decade Up Counter
1 Motorola MC14011CP Quad   2 Input AND Gate
1 Motorola MC14001CP Quad   2 Input OR Gate
1 Motorola MC14013CP Dual   Type D Flip Flop
3 Texas Instruments TIS61 General   Purpose PNP transistor (300 mW)
1 National   Semiconductor BC214 General   Purpose PNP transistor (625 mW)
2nd PCB
Quantity Manufacturer Part Description
1 Motorola MC1748CP1 High   Performance Operational Amplifier
1 Motorola MC1455P1 Timer/Counter   (NE555 equivalent)
1 Motorola MC14521CP 24   Stage Frequency Divider
1 Motorola MC14016CP Quad   Analog Switch / Quad Multiplexer
1 Motorola MC14040CP 12   Bit Binary Counter
1 Motorola MC14011CP Quad   2 Input AND Gate
1 Motorola MC14001CP Quad   2 Input OR Gate
1 Fairchild BC184 Small   signal NPN Transistor
3rd PCB
Quantity Manufacturer Part Description
1 Motorola MC14011CP Quad 2 Input   AND Gate
1 National   Semiconductor LM3900N Quad   Operational Amplifiers
1 Raytheon XR2207P Rohm Voltage   Controlled Oscillator
1 National   Semiconductor LM308N Precision   Operational Amplifier
1 Motorola MC14013CP Dual   D-Type Flip Flop
1 Motorola MC1747CL Dual   Operational Amplifiers
1 National   Semiconductor BC214 General   Purpose PNP transistor (625 mW)
1 Vishay 2N4393 N   Channel JFET
4th PCB
Quantity Manufacturer Part Description
1 Motorola MC14011CP Quad 2 Input   AND Gate
1 Motorola MC14520CP DIP   Dual Binary UP Counter
1 Motorola MC14046CP Phase   Lock Loop
1 Motorola MC1747CL Internally   compensated High Performance Operational Amplifiers
1 Fairchild BC184C Small   Signal NPN transistor
1 Vishay W300A 7709 N   Channel JFET
1 Vishay 2N4392 N   Channel JFET
Power   PCB (bottom level)
Quantity Manufacturer Part Description
1 STM Microelectronics BTB08 8A TRIAC
1 International   Rectifier 10DB1A Bridge   Rectifier
1 Texas Instrument TIS91 600   mW
1 Motorola 1N5761A Bilateral   Triggers-DIACS
1 Unknown Under   Heat Sink


Motor Controller Ribbon Connector Functions
1 Positive Supply
2 Drops to 0 When Start/Stop pressed
3 Frequency to generate display (switches between motor tach and desired   signal)
4 1 Hz/10 Hz clock for Display Refresh (showing motor/showing desired)
5 LED Signal
6 1 Hz/10 Hz clock for Display Refresh (showing motor/showing desired) duplicated
7 Speed Reference Signal (10 Hz to 999 Hz), speed set by main pot
8 Ground
Note Pin 3 signal has a much higher frequency when showing   desired speed and not running
1 Positive Supply
2 1.048 MHz Clock Signal
5 Pulse High when Start/Stop pressed
6 Drops to 0 when Start/Stop pressed
7 Return for 33.3 Select Switch
8 Frequency to generate Display (switches between motor tach and desired   signal)
9 Inverted Tach Signal
10 1 Hz/ 10 Hz Clock for Display refresh (showing motor/showing desired)
11 Frequency fixed 33.3 * 40= 1332 Hz
12 Negative Supply
13 1 Hz/ 10 Hz Clock for Display refresh (showing motor/showing desired)   duplicated
14 Ground
3rd PCB  (Middle) VDC VDC
1 Positive Supply
4 Pulse High when Start/Stop pressed 0 10
5 Pot signal frequency * 4 (40 Hz to 3996 Hz) 0 10
6 ???
7 Speed Signal
8 Negative Supply
9 Ground
4th PCB   (Near Bottom) VDC VDC
1 Positive Supply
2 1.048 MHz Clock signal 0 10
3 Return from 33.3 Select Switch
4 Inverted Tachometer signal 0 10
5 Tachometer Signal 0 -10
6 ???
7 Negative Supply
8 Ground
9 Speed Reference  (10 Hz to 999 Hz   speed set by main pot) 0 10
Bottom PCB   (Power PCB) VDC VDC
1 33.3 Indicator (33.3 Selected/Not Selected) 9.18 0
2 Positive Supply 11.9
3 Return from 33.3 Select Switch, Frequency = Pin 4 or Pin 7 0 10
4 Frequency set by pot (0.1 to 99.9 * 40, 4 Hz to 3,996 Hz) 0 10
5 Tach Signal 0 -10
6 Speed Signal 0 5
7 Frequency Fixed 33.3 * 40 = 1,332 Hz 0 10
8 Negative Supply -10.9
9 Ground 0
Turntable   Motor DIN Connector- Brushless DC Motor
V Speed

15 Responses to Turntable

  1. Marc S. says:

    I saw the one in Los Angeles, Believe -it-or-not, for sale(used) in a store in Puente Hills Mall,City of Industry,Ca. back about 1982-83. They where asking $1600 for it. ( the store is long gone)

  2. darucla says:

    I sold two of these in my days in retail in central London. When the company (my company, not Gale) was bought up and subsequently shut down by Thorn, the stock was sold at reduced prices to staff. My friend Steve Grant, who later played guitar with an incarnation of The Animals, bought the last one for, I believe, about £250. Don’t know what happened later though, as I never saw him again.

  3. Vincent Aruofor says:

    We sold the turn-table & speakers in remote Lagos Nigeria in the ‘heady’ 70’s & early 80’s.

    It is hard to believe only 60 were made(???)

    What a delight!

  4. Huub says:

    I had an email conversation with John Daly from DCA back in 2006 concerning the GT2101. It seems that DCA have sold their only left GT2101 after the article in Hifi News & Record Review. Who was the very lucky guy that bought the DCA owned GT2101? The writer of the article in Hifi News & Record Review ??

    Also in the summer of 2006 there was a GT2101 seller in France (Strasbourg). During the first attempt on ebay there was no bidder for the asked minimum of 2000 euro !! During the second attempt on ebay it was sold for about 2700 euro.

    the mail form John Daly (DCA):

    Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 6:08 PM
    To: Bouwmeester, Huub
    Subject: Re: (Fwd) GALE turntable

    Hello Huub,
    Gosh I did have to dig deep to find some images for you – 3 are attached.

    You are correct in believing that DCA was involved in the design of the Gale turntable. Not only some of the visual work but also the design of the speed controller and the build of the early prototypes. Sadly we threw out our last remaining sample about 5 years ago.

    In the end the turntable was too expensive and I think it suffered from too much rumble compared to other high end turntables that were around at the time.

    Because Gale was a client at the time some of us bought Gale 401A’s at a good price of course, and I still own a pair in fantastic condition but I suspect they are worth very little today even though they still sound great.

    What a shame Gale product are so ordinary today.

    John Daly
    Design Director

  5. I have one and for some reason it topped working about a year ago. I would put mine up for somebody to re engineer it. If any body know of someone who has taken one apart i would love to talk to them. I tried to take apart the motor but stopped, I was getting into areas which I knew nothing about. Thanks

  6. Tim Humphries says:

    I hope one of us has bought this turntable, I could not find it on eBay.

  7. Mark says:

    I have a sales brochure for the GT2101 – it is just a single sheet, printed on both sides. A picture of the turntable is on one side and some description on the other. I am happy to send a scan if you would like.

  8. A reader of my website brought one over last Wednesday cushioned in a box with a pillow. It has a Magnepan Unipivot arm on it that was a mess… he also brought an original Koetsu Black in the box. The idea was for me to listen and write about it, he said, but I think he really wanted me to set it up and get it running for him. Mission accomplished after a great deal of trial and error since I did it before finding this website! I didn’t have the Magnepan cartridge set up template so I did the best I could with a “universal” one but finding the pivot point on the Magnepan is difficult. He didn’t have but one azimuth washer so I used a blob of Blu-tak and I’m listening to Lucinda Williams right now marveling at how smooth and pleasing this rig now sounds….it’s not a Continuum Caliburn, of course, but it’s quite fine! And this one’s foam inserts are intact. If it was mine, I’d change the arm and definitely use a healthy dose of acrylic polish! I’m not a fan of acrylic and definitely think suspending a record on three platforms is not a good idea, but that was then and this is now. Thanks for your site! It’s very helpful. When I write about this I’ll be sure to link it!

  9. Ron Nortrup says:

    I’ve been dragging this image around in my head for nearly 37 years!
    I’ve described it to dozens of stereo buffs, and they all thought I was nuts. One guy swore there was no such animal!
    I knew the object of my desire was: insanely expensive, triangular, with concave sides, two tiered, with clear acrylic & aluminum or steel. I also “knew” it involved magnetic levitation, in some way.
    But that search got me nowhere. So I went back to the triangular & acrylic idea, and found the Gale GT 2101, only today! I was just as wowed & delighted to see it, as I was back then! Not only that, but to find the motor really floated on a magnetic field, just goes to show all those drugs in the ’70’s couldn’t erase such a vivid image 😉 ! Blows my mind.
    I’m sure I still could not afford one, but I’d be happy even with a broken one, just to be able see it in person, after all this time. John Shaffer DDS can throw his, my way! lol

  10. A dear friend, the late Sven-Eric Borja, record producer, audio consultent (to Tanberg, Electrocompaniet etc) and producer at NRK, had one of the master works back in the 70s…
    When the rest of the so called “high end” was spinning on rubber bands, there was the Gale, so very advanced for its time and a beauty to behold! The Gale, with an EMT, via a Paragon tube pre amp, into the Iverson’s master work, the Electro Research A75, feeding stacked Quads, was indeed heaven on earth!
    Even today, this system would kick into the dust most of the sorry pretenders to the throne!!! The “gurus” may believe otherwise, but those who have heard the real stuff know…
    I ask, where is the progress??? Rubber bands?!

  11. Adrian Newitt says:

    Hello my name is Adrian Newitt and I am the guy who wrote the article you are using from Hi Fi & Record Review.
    I would like to say I bought the turntable at the time of the article, but I only borrowed it from DCA, so have no idea where it went when returned.
    I did originally work for DCA and got to know the editor at Hi Fi Review – Steve Harris
    so managed to put the two together in the form of the article.
    You are probably using scans of the magazine for your pictures ( lets leave copyright aside ) I could possibly send you images from the original transparencies if you would like. Nice to see my words and pictures had a life after the magazine, it’s a pity you didnt try to track me down when you put the site together.

  12. robyatt says:

    I own Sao Win’s table! I would like to post pics etc. I am listening to it right now as I type.

  13. emmaco says:

    I spoke with Dr. Win a few months ago and it was a lively conversation. He’s very involved in his children and education now and happily retired in the Santa Barbara area.

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