The Legendary TRIO/KENWOOD L-07D Turntable
[REVIEW 2019]

My previous turntable was Thorens TD-124 MKII which I was in position for nearly 10 years. It was fully refurbished by Schopper and the sound was sublime. Running with an SPU GT with an SME 3009 it really rocked. Well, things change and I decided I really wanted to finally get my hands on an L-07D.

When one came on the market I snapped it up and after a full service, I'm really glad I did.

The Trio/Kenwood L-07D turntable hs always sparked my interest. I first saw one in a magazine back in the mid 90' and I was always impressed with its design. Not only that but the fact that it was made around the late '70s, mid-'80s.

There is a mystery about this outstanding turntable. Nobody knows for sure who designed it or how much profit Trio made on the production. But the general consensus is that Trio didn't make a penny back on these turntables, in fact, some say they were even in deficit. It was purely a loss leader, a 'Statement flagship'. Even Kenwood today don't know much about the people involved with the design. There are some who say Micro Seiki had major involvement in the design too.

The model name is actually an abbreviation of several different identifications.
  1. L- = 'Laboratory series' which used the very best components.
  2. 07 = The design team of 7 engineers
  3. D = The identification of the production of turntables within Trio/Kenwood.

The Construction

Cutaway of TRIO KENWOOD L-07D Turntable - Tannoyista.com

The L-07D is a very heavy turntable, weighing in at 35kg fully assembled. It's high rigidity closed-loop construction uses a selection of specially manufactured laminated materials to eliminate vibration.

The extremely high inertia direct motor drive is kept perfectly in time with a crystal-controlled frequency generator and stays perfect no matter what influence the input mains voltage may have. And any abnormal external breaking of the platter is corrected instantly. So, when the designers set out to build a turntable with a 'zero tolerance' for speed errors, they did exactly that. 

In fact, the team re-designed the idea of the turntable full stop.


Cutaway of the TRIO KENWOOD L-07D Turntable - Tannoyista.com

The Plinth is a monster, a three-part affair utilising a huge aluminium subframe through which is bolted both the motor (via with 6 massive hex bolts) and the huge tonearm base. This massive machined aluminium casting is cast together into the main plinth section which is made from a concrete resin called ARCB (Anti-Resonance Compression Base). 

This ARCB section forms most of the plinth, The last section is a large section of mahogany, seated and integrated into the ARCB base by 34 screws. The ARCB base alone weighs in at 10kg.

The 4 large adjustable feet are constructed of a two-piece machined brass billet.

The Tonearm

The tonearm on this turntable is also astonishing. The 3kg machined and cast unit allows you to adjust the VTA on-the-fly whilst listening with zero tracking errors. The tonearm tube itself is made from a unique mix of resonant cancelling materials, hard aluminum, boron fiber and carbon fiber. 

The construction of the tonearm tube has a different structure of these materials at the cartridge end than the weighted end with the materials being layered in such a way as to adapt to the greater vibrations from the cartridge. It's truly a wonder of how this was achieved and the whole assembly lives up to being a separate precision machine on its own and a thing of beauty in its own right.

Incorporating ultra hardened roller bearings which have zero play ensures precise tracking. 
TRIO KENWOOD L-07D Turntable tonearm - Tannoyista.com

The highest quality Litz wiring is used internally and all pins are heavily gold plated. The tonearm cable is also Litz using 168 wires per conductor.

The Anti-Skate mechanism is an unusual yet ingenious mechanism. Using two machined metal end caps with a hair-like thread (Ethicon 689G suture thread) connecting both together. The thread has to be exactly 82mm in length between each cap. Each end cap has a machined hole in one end. These anchor to the tonearm and the arm base via a small peg. The thread is then wound around a small pully and then around a pivoted adjustable weight arm. Just this mechanism by itself shows the amazing attention to detail the designers went through.

The L-07D also has a space for a second tonearm to be fitted at the back left of the deck. The blanking plate the deck is supplied with shows the space holes and measurements.

The additional plates came in three forms:

TB-07-A  - This fits SME 3009 R: 218.5mm

TB-07-B  - This has a drill hole diameter 23mm, 3 pc 3mm bolt R 19mm and 3pc 4mm bolt on R 25mm from center main drilling  R: 235mm

TB-07-E - This has only a single drill hole diameter 30.9mm R: 222mm use this for SAEC WE-308SX

Top view of the TRIO KENWOOD L-07D Turntable - Tannoyista.com


The Platter

The Platter is also something of beauty. It's beautifully machined, no flaws. Constructed from a triple layer composite of anti-resonant materials such as Aluminium and Duralumin. Then the top platter mat is made from a 5mm machined slab of non-magnetic stainless steel. 

Including the rotor, the combined rotational weight is 6.8kg. For even more stability, Trio included an inner weight (the DS-21) and an outer periphery stabiliser ring (the DS-20) increasing the rotational weight to 8.7kg, and if you were to include the ceramic platter (the TS-10) the weight jumps up to 10kg.


Side view of the TRIO KENWOOD L-07D Turntable - Tannoyista.com

The Control Unit / Power Supply

The external power supply/control unit is a hefty bit of kit. Its umbilical cable contains 20 smaller cables and it uses a JAE connector to connect to the turntable. All the settings are adjusted here. When the turntable is serviced this unit also needs to be re-calibrated.

The Sound

A little bit about my system first. My system comprises of a Croft Epoch Elite which is highly modified. The internal phono stage is MM and so I'm using a Lentek SUT which has a great synergy with the Trio. More information on my Croft can be found HERE!

The main amplifier is the Tube Distinctions copper amplifier using KT-150's. Discover more information HERE!

My main speakers are Lockwood Majors with 15" Tannoy monitor gold drivers. More information can be found HERE!

The sound is astonishing. I could just stop there as it sums it all up. The pace and timing was the main aspect I noticed immediately. I had to reconfigure my ears I guess. The bass is voluptuously gratifying and the image is centre stage, rock-solid with everything fitting together perfectly.

The L-07D is a rare wonder. Something that was on sale when I was only 7 years old. Yet it's something that performs and looks like it was made much more recently. It makes me think how much this deck would now cost to design and produce. Okay, there are plenty of advancements in materials and components these days and even the control unit could now be the size of a Raspberry Pi. Probably smaller. 

But I love old tech. I love the workmanship, the passion, and the over-engineering which used to go into development and the L-07D is an astonishing example of that.


Front of the TRIO KENWOOD L-07D Turntable - Tannoyista.com

My special thanks to the L-07D website for the technical information. For a much more technical and in-depth insight into the L-07D, please visit www.l-07d.com

The L-07D is a truly remarkable piece of engineering. For a company to indulge itself for the sake of prowess on a limited run of units is now unheard of. But in around the 1970s, 1980s and lastly the 1990s, large Japanese companies like this felt it was totally necessary and justified to give the reigns to it's top design teams to create one-off pieces of engineering to simply say... 'look what we can do'.

The price of this deck in 1979/1980 was £1,550, in todays money (2022) it would set you back £6,200. So, if you would like to buy one of these wonderful turntables, pricing one up today in great condition with all it's accessories be prepared to pay around £3500 - £4500 mark. Since I bought mine, prices have risen sharply and for very good reason. 

For the price, finding a turntable which has so much going on like the L-07D, you'd still struggle to find something on an equal footing.

Once you have one, you won't want to let it go. It's a true classic and becoming rarer to find.

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