Launched 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.