Basis Policy for Turntables on the Used Market
Basis Audio has been producing the world's finest turntables since 1986. We at Basis are very proud of the fact that Basis turntables are built to last a lifetime, with even 20 year old examples creating a stir when they come up for sale. In fact, we are victims of our own quality and reputation in that any advertised used turntable can generate dozens of phone calls and e-mails with questions about age, upgrade status, value, possible upgrades, service history, and more. The support of Basis turntables is as unequaled as the precision, again making Basis a victim of its positive reputation: the word has spread about Basis giving such great support that many potential buyers repeatedly call us with more questions, comments, and suggestions while they are contemplating the purchase, taking so much time that we could not operate our business if we attempted to fully answer each inquiry.
With thousands of turntables in the field we must institute guidelines for disseminating information on used Basis turntables and tonearms. Please note that the following notes and guidelines are not a worst case view but rather are realistic expectations based on over 30 years of experience in the audio industry. Our intent is that our policy regarding used turntables will increase the likelihood of your having a positive Basis experience.
First and foremost, you should be aware that a Basis turntable is an incredibly precise mechanical assembly comprised of many precise subsystems, such as isolation system, bearing, motor, and vacuum record hold-down system. Unlike electronic components, most of these components can be damaged by unusual shock from lack of care during handling or improper packing during shipping.
1. All communication regarding used turntables will be via e-mail.
2. The only information that will be furnished without having the turntable on hand will be build-date, based on the supplied serial number.
3. If further information is desired, the entire turntable with all accessories must be shipped to Basis with prepayment for an evaluation included. The evaluation will include complete testing and inspection of the bearing, platter, bearing and platter combination for eccentricity specifications, isolation system, motor, belt, and, if a vacuum model, each vacuum component.
4. Basis turntables are extremely precise and technical tests and measurements are labor intensive. Pricing for the evaluation, based on model, is as follows:
2001, 2200: $600
Debut Vac: $1,300
Vector Tonearm: $400
5. Basis will not ship any used, upgraded, or repaired products in any packing other than original and will not ship in any packing that Basis deems too used or damaged to ensure risk-free transport. By sending your turntable to Basis you are agreeing to purchase new boxes if Basis determines that the existing packaging is inadequate due to wear and tear or not meeting original Basis specifications for product protection. Under no circumstances will we repack in non-factory packaging.
6. Upgrade status and options, other than those outlined here, will not be made without having the turntable in-house at Basis. The number of misrepresented turntables that have been advertised is staggering. Non-Signature turntables are represented as Signature. Signature suspension systems are removed and replaced with non-Signature items. Third party belts cause speed instability problems due to low quality and poor precision. Suspension cartridges have been drained of silicone fluid through improper handling or packing. Bearings are bent. Motors are replaced with generic, non-matching items. Carbide bearing thrust surfaces are cracked due to severe shock to the turntable in a fall or drop. Vacuum pumps are clogged with city grime, cooking oil, and smoking residue.
Bear in mind that none of the above situations can be diagnosed from a photograph, and most cannot be diagnosed while looking at the assembled turntable in person. You are at risk of any of the above problems when you purchase any brand of used turntable of any age. Also bear in mind that Basis turntables are extremely robust, and that most damage is due to improper packing, abuse such as dropping a platter or a bearing, or having a turntable fall off of a shelf or wall rack.
7. Basis will give build date, via e-mail, to the best of our knowledge, when the serial number is furnished. Since many upgrades have been performed by dealers or owners having purchased new items from dealers, Basis does not have a complete history, by serial number, of each model.
If the turntable is not Signature (Signature Series turntables have a special "Signature Series" tag on the front of the turntable), assume the following upgrades will be required to be current:
A. Signature Series Balanced Rotor Motor: $1,460. NOTE: Debut turntables using DC motors, as evidenced by a dedicated DC power supply, are $1,700 to upgrade.
B. Signature Series Suspension: $500 modification to customer supplied suspension, $1,100 for set of 4 new suspension components. NOTE: 2001, 2500, 2800 suspension pods which have 3 or 4 retaining pins, as seen when looking into cartridge, are not upgradeable.
C. Signature bearing upgrade: $600.
D. Quiet pump box with upgraded components: $1,100.
8. The Basis warranty is not transferable: there is no warranty on used turntables or tonearms.
9. 1400, 2000, 2001, 2200, 2500, 2800 subchassis are direct drilled: changing tonearms requires the purchase of a new subchassis.
10. Platters, bearings, and subchassis cannot be upgraded to the respective items from turntables higher up in the line. Bearing and suspension mounting details differ, and weight differences of components do not allow calibration of the suspension.
11. 1400 and 2000 series turntables with a 1-inch hole and lock screw mount fit Vector and Basis-modified Rega arms only. 1400 and 2000 series turntables with a 1.6 inch hole and 4 threaded holes around it fit Graham Custom mount only.
12. If a turntable is suspected of speed or speed stability problems you should immediately purchase a new belt. 95% of speed problems are due to folded, creased, or damaged belts. If there are any crease marks or folds on your belt you should purchase a new belt whether you hear speed instability or not: folds and creases cause noise and speed instability which, even if below the threshold of audible speed instability, will lower the performance of your Basis turntable. Nearly every used turntable that is shipped to the new buyer will have a damaged belt from lack of care and the correct belt container.
Basis will evaluate the speed-challenged turntables only after a new belt has been tried. The entire turntable, including belt, is returned to Basis. We will not evaluate bearing/platter combinations or motors alone.
13. Vector Tonearms:
A. The first year of production had black counterweights and black pivot housings and are Vector Model 1. The cables had a black mesh covering.
B. The second year of production brought brushed silver counterweights and pivot housings while retaining the black mesh wire. This is Vector Model 1A. Many called this Vector Model 2. There was little sonic improvement from the earlier Vector, the improvement being in a slight refinement in the lower midrange/upper bass due to the change in material.
C. Vector Model 3 included smooth cables which are of Basis design and brought the largest improvement in the 3 1/2 years of Vector production to that point. The dedicated, proprietary cable is specifically designed for phono signal, with a major improvement in detail, effortlessness, imaging, low frequency detail, and air.
D. Vector Model 4 includes a new bearing configuration, new materials in the bearing area and counterweight shaft for increased bass resolution and clarity, and an azimuth limit feature which improves the handling of the arm by preventing all tilting behavior during cueing and handling. There is a red numeral 4 engraved in the side of the headshell.
The only Vector upgrades available are through purchasing new pivoting assemblies.
14. In early 2007 the oil film, bearing centering, platter concentricity, and pulley runout tolerances were all upgraded on all Basis models. These improved tolerances cannot be upgraded on prior Basis turntables. The cost of purchasing a new platter, bearing, and motor plus the cost of the used turntable would exceed the cost of a new Basis turntable.
15. In handling any damage claims Basis will charge our normal hourly shop rate of $120 for all evaluations of damaged parts and all time spent with representatives of the insurance and freight companies. Used turntable evaluations will be fit into the Basis production schedule as time permits between production orders. Expect a 4-week lead time under normal circumstances.
16. Please remember that opinions and information will be limited to the items described in this document. No opinions will be offered on one used model of a certain vintage compared to another used model of a different vintage or any other comparative questions.
WHAT TO EXPECT
In over 30 continuous years of turntable production and service, Basis has extensive experience with second-hand turntables. It is a sad fact of life and human nature that most folks will no longer treat equipment that they are selling with the same care as a piece of equipment that they plan on keeping for many years. Also keep in mind that unless a seller produces proof that they indeed are the original purchaser, this claim is often false.
Take it as a given that your turntable will need a new belt. Additionally, the likelihood is high that your used turntable will exhibit one or more of the following:
A. Bent bearing shaft ($700 to $1,500 repair depending on model and vintage).
B. Damaged motor requiring replacement ($900 to $1,700 repair depending on model and vintage).
C. Missing fluid or damaged spring in at least one isolation system ($800 + repair).
D. Non-original or damaged packing.
E. The turntable being significantly older than is claimed.
F. Cosmetic condition significantly lower than described. "Like new" or "Near new" is nearly never true. "Light surface scratches" or "normal wear and tear with no abuse" usually means well scratched acrylic along with some dings, dents, and scratches in aluminum parts.
Expect to deal with at least one, and maybe more, of the above or similar problems. Be sure that the price you pay for a used turntable, plus the cost of repair, will still make the deal attractive to you. Unlike electronics or speakers, where most parts are electrical and not precision mechanical parts, the best turntables are made from very precise parts which can be thrown out of alignment or damaged by mishandling or shock during shipping if improperly packed.
Q.: Would you purchase a used turntable or tonearm over the internet?
A.: Not unless I truly knew the seller on a personal basis, far more than "knowing him" through audio e-mail exchanges. I would only purchase a used turntable from a dealer if that dealer were a current dealer for that brand.
Q.: Would you purchase a used cartridge?
A.: Absolutely never.
Q.: Would you prefer a 10 year old Debut or a new lower model?
A.: Early Basis had clearly the best suspension and bearing, platter, motor, and belt tolerances equal to the best few brands in the market. Current Basis products have redefined the industry in terms of platter/bearing and belt precision. The 2007 Basis turntables set new industry standards for speed stability, which drives perceived tonality, imaging, decay, and other critical audio parameters, to levels which have never been heard in the belt drive turntable industry. An older Debut is a fine device and always will be. A new Basis with a Vector tonearm, even at the affordable 2200 turntable level, brings sound which is more reminiscent of high-speed tape in purity. I would therefore take the new model.
Q.: You don't paint a pretty picture of the used market. Would you buy any used equipment?
A.: The only category of used equipment I have generally been satisfied with is used electronics. They work or they don't. They are not full of precision moving parts which can be thrown out of tolerance, without my knowing it, by a strong whack by someone carelessly repacking them or shipping them in non-original packing.
Though not always, I have been pretty lucky with used speakers. I should add that in the last 10 years I have more often come to the realization that I have obtained far more pleasure from items purchased new. I don't have to wonder how careful the prior owner was, if they are hiding something, and how much better a new one might be. I realize I am not going to live forever and I want to maximize my enjoyment while I am here. I take very good care of my prized possessions, and nobody else seems to take as much care and pride, especially after they have decided to sell an item. As soon as they decide to sell they have lost that emotional connection. Just how careful will they be? So, I buy new, going down a model if I have to, and then keep it perfect for the long run.
Since my buying decisions are very deliberate, I do tend to keep an item for a long time. As an example, all of the tools and measuring devices at Basis Audio are the best: Milwaukee power tools, Mitotoyo measuring tools, Fluke handheld instruments. I have never regretted buying new and buying the best. Now I look at those tools, many of them over 20 years old, and realize that they are totally dependable, work as well as when they were new, and are a source of pride of ownership as well as comfort and familiarity, since have been with me for over 2 decades. This is exactly my mindset when I design and produce Basis products: as if one very critical, exacting person were going to use them for the length of his life. Basis products are meant to operate as new for that period. My formal education as an engineer, my aerospace experience, my 30 years in the audio industry, and my passion for music and audio, and perfect tools are all poured into every Basis product. If you are a perfectionist, if you value pride of ownership, If you feel as though you "have a relationship" with your prized possessions, you should buy a new Basis turntable and Vector tonearm and live happily ever after.
If, on the other hand, you are firm on buying used, read the above guidelines and be vigilant.
Armando (A.J.) Conti, founder