STD 305D

STD 305DLaunched in 1978, this was one of the swishest British turntables around at the time. In a sea of Japanese direct drives that worked with riflebolt precision, the STD 305D was an attempt to bring convenience and ease of use to the high end – without forsaking the fine sonics of the top British decks.

Or should that be Scottish. Along with Linn Products, Ariston, Dunlop and Syrinx Precision Instruments, Strathclyde Transcription Developments Ltd. of Howwood, Renfrewshire was a key player in the Caledonian collective of companies from north of the border that did so much for high end vinyl replay in the latter years of the nineteen seventies. Apart from Tokyo, this area probably had the greatest concentration of high end turntable makers in the world at the time!

The 305D was beautifully built. Based on a 2mm thick aluminium extrusion, it had a 6mm alloy top plate which gave it ‘space age’ looks – a striking contrast to the conservative, almost dated looking Linn LP12. Inside was a steel baseplate, vibration damped inside, and this supported by four coil springs, a 1.5mm strengthened steel subchassis, reinforced in the area between the bearing and the armboard. This united the 9V brushed DC motor with tachogenerator, the bearing and the armboard, and was also damped.

The bearing was said to be “super-finished to extremely fine limits”, and it carried the 156mm damped aluminium subplatter and 300mm solid aluminium plate platter to which was bonded a variable-density rubber mat. The armboard had a handy spirit level built in. The deck was larger than the LP12 at 474x364x156mm, and heavier too with all that metal inside. The unit offered the lavish facility of switchable speeds via touch-sensitive buttons, and an LED speed readout. A heavy-gauge smoked Perspex lid completed the package, the height of fashion at the time!

The 305 came in two other variants; initially the 305M arrived a year or so later and dispensed with the touch-sensitive controls and speed display for manual belt changing and a 16-pole AC synchronous motor, but retained the lovely aluminium metalwork. The 305S appeared the year after, and was a cost-cut version of the M with a crackle-black finish and less vibration damping, although the basic chassis was the same. All variants were supplied with an SME mounting as standard, although others were available.

Despite the STD 305D’s elaborate motor and speed control circuit, it turned in the same measured performance as the M, with a wow and flutter figure of 0.06% and -70dB rumble (DIN B weighted), although start up time was 0.1 second slower at 1.6 seconds. All decks sounded good, with the M arguably the best. It was sprightlier than an LP12 of the period, with a brighter and lighter tonality, but still beautifully sweet and smooth. Tonally, it could capture the richness of a recording, and rhythmically it bounced along very pleasingly, even if it didn’t quite have the nuanced rhythmic insight of the Linn. Nevertheless, these were all very strong performers, the STD 305S being particularly good value for money, offering far superior sound to a Rega Planar 3 without being substantially more expensive.

The downside was the general fiddliness of the deck; with four springs underneath and a P-clip, getting the best out of them isn’t a ten-miniute job. Properly fettled however, and you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at the sound. Sadly, STD didn’t survive the early nineteen eighties recession and the advent of Compact Disc, finding itself consigned to the history books, its fine turntables largely forgotten.

24 comments

  1. How nice to read this story! I am happy to own a STD 305D; until a few years ago, it has not been used and it was new in the box! A Shure SME 3009 tone-arm and ADC TRX-2 cartridge. The sound is exceptional; detailed, indeed rich and smooth as you mention. If you want pictures, I am happy to send some. Keep up the good work, lovely platform!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, I too really rate this deck and it’s another great British ‘what if’ story from the nineteen seventies!

    • Frank S Morrison

      I used to work at the factory many moons ago . Great days and great products along with the even rarer Valve Amp they made . Go on Yungle8 Lets see some pictures of the beautiful 305d .

      • Hi Frank,
        A Valve Amp? Tell me more!
        I already sent some pictures to realspin, I am happy to send you some via mail.
        Best wishes, Yung

      • Jim

        Where was the STD factory as I have a friend on Midton road – I too have a 305 – great

    • Frank

      Sorry Y . Just seen this now . I hope this finds you well.
      I hoope you still have your STD 305D it a big part of the scottish turntable revolution . It to my ears and many other ears more musical with much better timing than the then LP12 Nirvana deck with ITTOK .
      Sadly Linns marketing was far more aggressive than ours . Im not sure if you remember the Chris Frankland review which stated the STD to be the winner only the following month for Chris to retract that and tell us the Linn was not set up correctly and on reflection was in fact much better musically .
      Either incompetence or persuasion by others . It did serious damage to STD because our magazines basically controlled what was favoured , No mention of some of the amazing Japanese decks on the go either .Frank

  2. Baflar

    I still use my STD305D. I had it fitted with a Hadcock GH228 unipivot arm. It’s all fiddly in the extreme, but still wonderful!

  3. David Tooley

    i HAVE ONE OF THESE DECKS. STILL WORS BUT COULD DO WITH AN OVERHAUL. IS IT WORTH ANYTHING

    • Condition is everything – if it’s really good cosmetically and works perfectly then a few hundred pounds. As a spares or repair job, half that or less…

  4. MerseyMal

    I have the 305S which I picked up in a hi-fi shop in Wolverhampton, UK back in 1989. Still working great.

  5. Gareth Woods

    I have used my STD 305D since I bought it new in 1978. It has a Hadcock GH228 uni-pivot arm and Garrot Micro-scanner Decca Landon Gold cartridge. It has outlived a brief flirtation with a Gyrodec. I would have to pay silly money for anything to substantially improve on it.

    • Baflar

      My STD 305D also has a Hadcock GH228 uni-pivot arm, and it’s now fitted with an Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge. The sound is sublime. You say “I would have to pay silly money for anything to substantially improve on it”. How true!

  6. Chris Clague

    I have a 305M bought it in 1982 with Hancock GH228, been used up till last year, now using Gyrodec SE with Orbe platter and clamp, Different presentation but no that much better.

    • Frank

      Oh its a killer when you spend Michel money and find there are sonic differences but no real gains . I am with you on that . I have the std Gyro with sme 1V arm . STD has the old Syrinx PU2 Gold .

  7. Mariogert

    I am in desperate need of a service manual for the 305 D version. Tacho and display works but motor does n’t spin…

  8. Tony Ford

    I have one of these, which I bought in the early 1980s from Unilet HiFi in Guildford, Surrey. About 12 years ago I took it to Origin Live’s workshops near Southampton. OL gave it a new lease of life by replacing the motor’s PSU with one of their own (now only 33 & 45 rpm though, no 78 any more), and by fitting one of their own arms in place of the previously installed SME Series III. Add a Dynavector Karat 17D3 m/c cartridge for quite a tasty package – still going strong.

  9. Pearce

    Had the 305m with SME arm and a Grado cartridge. Sold it to a friend. Since then, I have had an Ariston RD81 and then a lacklustre Rega 3. The 305 was such a better looking deck.

  10. HiFi Junkie

    Sadly this deck has been largely forgotten since the companies demise, so many will not realise its super deck status back in the day! I doubt much of the new stuff will hand a candle to it tbh. Given the level of precision engineering it would sell for well over 2 grand if still made.

    • Frank

      Totally agree with you . My 305D is different to my Gyrodek but no less musical and enjoyable . STD supplied a few turntable manufacturers with parts .

  11. Mike Yeomans

    I worked for two different retailers selling the STDs; one I remember particularly was with a Hadcock arm. The major issue we reckoned was the heavy rubber mat but I can’t remember if we tried alternatives. The S was amazing value without the frills, although it did look a bit plain.

    • Frank

      Nice to read that . I actually liked the mat although we did have success with a glass mat and believe if or not a perspex mat . All it really did was shift the sonic`s a bit .
      I liked the Hadcock arm , properly set up it was much better to my ears that the SME 111 .
      The S as you say was a stripped down version of the M and to be honest I didnt really hear any diff between it and the M . The magazines however said it was not as good .
      I still have my first STD 305D fitted with a Syrinx PU2 Goid and Glanz MFG61 cartridge .

  12. Derek Seeds

    Hi there, I have just aquired a 305M, just before Christmas, with an Infinity Black Widow tone arm and Ortofon VMS10e cartridge. It sounds amazing after not having a deck for at least 15 years and I think sounds better than my CD player. A great deck and well worth the money I paid, which was not alot….lol…

    • Well done!

      I find if I listen to CD or streaming a lot, and then go back to vinyl, I am often amazed by the sound of vinyl – it’s a step change higher.

      I’m lucky enough to have an excellent digital system, which I really enjoy, and some superb turntables, arms and cartridges.

      The STD 305 was a big step up from a Rega Planar 3 back in the day, and in my view as good as the LP12 in several respects. Yet it never got taken seriously by the UK hi-fi press.

      How frustrating it must have been to produce top-notch designs and have it dismissed because “it’s not a Linn”…

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