Silvan Audio Workshop
Custom handmade turntables from a father and son team of wood-savvy audio nuts.
Silvan Audio Workshop
Custom handmade turntables from a father and son team of wood-savvy audio nuts.
Update: three days to go
We've gotten several messages in the last week or so pointing out that we need to either do a lot of t-shirts in the next few days or add some turntables to the project if we're going to hit our funding goal. It's a valid point, so we just wanted to update everyone. We have enough wood on hand to make this first batch of turntables, plus a little extra in case anything unexpected happens when we're building. We could put a few more turntables on here and almost certainly get to 100% funded, but if anything happened to any of the wood, then we'd be stuck, and someone wouldn't be getting what they pledged for on time. The good news is that several of the generous people who have pledged for turntables are interested in buying them directly. So even if we don't end up sending things in custom printed shipping boxes and printing a pile of stickers, we can still do the minimum to the shop space and do some building. So it's mission accomplished.
Once we do the first round, we'll get in touch with folks on the waiting list and go from there - we already have several on there, but if you'd like to be added as well, get in touch here or on silvanaudioworkshop.com. We'd love to hear from you!
What is it
A great turntable is a beautiful sounding musical instrument that anyone can play. Silvan Audio Workshop specializes in high-quality, completely unique turntables crafted by a father and son team from natural hardwood, shaped and finished by hand. Our project here on Kickstarter is aimed at outfitting our two workspaces to work more efficiently and get the same high quality we've had so far, more quickly and easily. With your help, we can take this from a small hobby to a real operation.
The heart of each turntable is components from the legendary English audio wizards at Rega, who have made their reputation as leaders in high end, elegant, incredible sounding audio gear. The glass platter shows off the beautiful wood, but it’s also heavy for speed stability and made for precision. The tonearm is a result of masterful engineering, designed to move your music all the way to your speakers just the way it was intended to be heard. The belt drive system is made with precision to deliver low vibration, low noise, and highly accurate speed.
The wood is individually selected for each turntable to be a thing of beauty that will have almost as much impact when it’s silent as it will when you turn it up and start dancing.
Our vision is to make one-of-a-kind objects of art that will be the centerpiece of any home entertainment system. We believe that if your music is unique, if it has soul and life and beauty, the things you use to play it should have all the same character. Mass-produced just isn’t good enough.
Construction is all by hand, from the shaping and planing, to the routing, soldering, setup, and testing. We’ll even align the cartridge perfectly and set the counterweight so you can just plug it in and go.
The three models
The Archer starts with the high quality parts of Rega's RP1, with RB101 tonearm, precision bearing, quartz-locked motor, and Rega Carbon cartridge. It includes an upgrade to the heavyweight, speed-stable glass platter to make it that much nicer to look at and listen to. This is a perfect entry into the world of high-end audio that doesn’t cost the earth.
Take the Archer and upgrade just about everything. A more precise motor and pulley, an upgraded bearing and subplatter, more refined Shure phono cartridge (the M97xE, but if you prefer another cartridge, let us know!) and maybe most impressively, the highly praised RB303 tonearm ($600 on its own). This is definitely a big step up – you’ll be playing in the audiophile big leagues.
Whether this is the first step to a thoroughly indulgent hi-fi system or the last piece, the Sampo is the ultimate expression of the Silvan line. The platter is heavier and includes another layer of float glass in a ring shape that creates a flywheel effect for incredibly stable speed. The subplatter adds a machined aluminum layer for precision and additional resonance dampening. Power is run through Rega's TT-PSU, which generates a perfect 60 Hz sine wave to remove any fluctuations or abnormalities in power supply and keep you running at a very precise 33 1/3 RPM. In addition, speed can be switched to 45 RPM with a button press so that you won't need to move the belt to the other pulley yourself. Topping all of this is the very impressive AT150MLX microline cartridge (again, contact us with other preferences if you like), which will get deep into the grooves to pull out all the finest detail from your music.
What you’re funding
What are the actual costs? Why are we asking for $14,000? Glad you asked. The bottom line: our goal is to set up our two shops really well so we can work together to produce these more easily and consistently, and maybe a little more quickly too. We don't live in the same town, so we have an efficient plan for who's doing which work, and where, but we need the right tools and setup in each shop to do things as well as we can. This will also cover our taxes, fees, and the cost of delivering all of the shirts, stickers, posters, and of course turntables. While we’re funding this project on Kickstarter, we’re going with lower prices and thinner margins than we will when we’re really up and running, and this goal will get us ready to go. Here's how we'll use the money.
We'll need high quality hand tools and power tools to work as precisely and efficiently as this project deserves, good dust collection for our health and sanity, and a workspace that lets us scale up well as we make more equipment.
Spare power cords, cables, solder and desoldering braid (because no one’s perfect), a better soldering setup, voltage converters for eventually making and testing international versions. All that stuff.
We’ll need a boatload of sandpaper, polyurethane, rags and gloves, and all those odds and ends. If we exceed our funding goal, we might even build a finishing cabinet to speed things up and make them even nicer.
Wood is pretty hardy stuff, and we’re not making Faberge eggs here, but we want to make sure that everything we ship gets where it’s going in pristine condition. To keep shipping costs a little more reasonable, we’re including a bit of scratch up front instead of per item for styrofoam, bubble wrap, and all the good things that will coddle our little creations all the way across the country and maybe the world.
Reserve funds for wood, fluctuating supplies, etc.
Wood doesn’t just grow on trees, you know. Or, well, yes, it does actually literally grow on trees, but every tree is a little different, and they’re not infinite or all local. There’s plenty of them out there, and we don’t anticipate problems getting enough wood, but if the exact piece we want costs a little more at one point than we anticipated, or if some turntable parts stop being produced and we have to substitute other ones, or whatever may happen, we want a portion of funds specifically reserved to make sure we can honor the prices we start with and not have to eat a bunch of the difference. Risk management.
Custom printed boxes (optional, but SO COOL)
It’s just that we’ll feel like actual grownups if we ship things in a box with our name on it. You understand. For under two and a half bucks each, it’s a pretty reasonable thing to include, but if we’re cutting costs, this will be one of the first things to go.
Once we ship this first round of gear, we want to keep going! This means getting the word out and maintaining a web presence, mainly with a well-designed site of our own.
If everyone involved pledges a dollar, all we have to do is get busy thanking everyone, and we’ll obviously net a lot more than if we need to ship 15 completed turntables to Eastern Europe. But we're not getting a shop set up just to generate lovely thank you notes (there's probably another Kickstarter project for that). We want to make the things we love, so we’ve set a goal that will be safe if any one pledge fulfills the majority target. (If you’re curious, the lowest margin is the $1,000 item, the Champion turntable. If we were to get nothing else pledged for but this and a ton of shirts, we’d hit our net goal plus a little bit of Chipotle money by funding the entire $14,000 project target.)
The funding phase of this project will wrap up in late March. From there, we have two paths that can start at the same time. The first is to get stickers, shirts, and posters printed. While that happens, we can get to work on the shop space.
Our expectation is to have everything printed and ready to send out within a month. Depending on the volume of shirts, stickers, and posters, the standard ones should be addressed and in the mail by the end of April.
Custom color shirts will involve not just choosing a material color, but also reworking the art to come up with a custom color scheme. Depending on the volume of these orders, this part could take some time. We'll stay in touch and work in the order of pledges to get these out as quickly as possible.
If we meet our goals and can start setting up both shops right away, we should have tools in hand and start working by the end of April. The shop spaces themselves are good to go. No renovation or repair needed. We do have work surfaces to build, dust collection to install, tools to buy, etc., so we'll need a few weeks to get situated.
The plan is to align the timing of the shop preparation and tool purchasing with the mailing of printed goods so that we can focus our attention on shipping first and then get to work on building turntables once the first things are in the mail.
With parts ordered by the end of March, we plan to begin production on the turntables themselves as soon as the shop is done - the first dust should start flying around the beginning of May. While we'd like to commit to delivery in just a month or two, and we might be able to do just that, we want to underpromise and overdeliver, so going in, the goal is to allow three months and ship all of the hardware out within the month of July. International orders of the Sampo may take a bit of additional time to source electrical components, but we intend to do that in parallel with the printing and the shop setup, so it shouldn't cut into the time between when we start building and when we start delivering.
The next things
Our commitment getting started is that nothing else goes into the business until we've delivered our startup batch of rewards and finished the Kickstarter project strong. At that point, after July and into late summer, we'll start looking at developing the brand more, building a web site, increasing our stock of supplies, and maybe even branching out to more types of products. We can also take full-price orders to make more turntables for folks who expressed interest after the first batch was spoken for, or wanted to save for a bit, or whatever the case may be. With your help, at this point, we'll be off and running!
Thanks for getting involved!
If you shared this on Facebook (or you go share it now), or you told a friend to look at this page, or just told one of us that you thought this project is cool, you’re a backer, and we’re eternally grateful! If you’re able to kick in a few dollars, that’s amazing too! And of course, if you want a lovely work of art that will turn heads and fill your space with beautiful music, we’re here to make that happen.
- Will these work outside the US?
It's a little bit complicated, but the short answer is that only the Sampo will work outside North America. Rega has rules about what we can buy where, and the parts for the Archer and Champion aren't available to us. The Sampo runs on a separate Rega power supply (the TT-PSU, which is awesome), and that only needs a unique wall wart to work anywhere. If you want one, we'll hunt down the wall wart for you and send you something that works out of the box.
- Are you related to Audiowood at all?
No relation. A couple of people have asked, so we want to be super transparent about this. Audiowood is a FANTASTIC company making hardwood audio gear of various sorts, including a tree cross section turntable like what we're doing. We discovered their stuff while building the first turntable of our own and have a ton of respect for what they're doing. They're well established, and doing great things. Support them too (or instead)! If you're on the lookout for other custom plinths that will support Rega components, there are many others out there too, with wood, and metal, and acrylic, and all sorts of other things as well. It's a great hobby and a great community.
Risks and challenges
Once the shop is up and running, unless we treat the tools poorly (which we don't), we don't expect them to break or break down. Parts are consistent and in great enough supply that we don't expect any slowdown there. Wood is variable, though. There can be fires, shipping problems, cracking, and any number of other issues. We have enough wood on hand for the initial batch of Kickstarter orders. Of course, we're committed to being completely transparent, and our backers will be the first to find out if anything unexpected happens with any part of the inventory or process.
After that, what this will come down to is cost and time. We've planned a safe estimate of cost per piece of wood, but if a supplier runs out and we have to go somewhere else, it could take time, and the cost could be higher. We've mitigated in two ways. The first is to build a bit of cushion into the overall project funding (see above), and the second, like we said above, is to pre-purchase all the wood we'll need to at least fill the orders associated with this kickoff project. After those first ones are done and delivered, it will be up to us to handle problems like any supply-dependent business. That is, by adjusting prices, inventory, lead times, or sources.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)