Tri-Phonic Turntable 1997

The worlds 'Most Versatile Record Player'
Guinness Book of Records

Outline Specification Includes:

1. 'Nipper' the His Masters Voice['s] dog
[buried in Kingston-on-Thames]

2. Tone-arm 1
3. Forward and Reverse play platter
4. Raised Tone-arm 3
[can play 3 records at once eg 2xLP's + 1x10"/7"]
5. On/Off switch
6. Forward/Reverse toggle switch
7. Ultra micro/vari-speed dial
[any speed I want down to 1.5rpm]
8. Master fader knobs
9. On board mixer for each tone-arm volume output.
10. Tone-arm 2

Self contained flight case


Short 1min Film
click below


'World Premier!' outdoor party in Southwark, London. On my birthday 14th July 1997.
Hosted by the Urban Salon.

[note Stock Aitkin & Waterman's studio top right! Once home to Kylie's]

Left: Three Arm 'Thriller' Jackson/Schaefer------Right: Three records at once. My party trick!--

My first composition using the Tri-Phonic was made using a T.S.Elliot poetry LP.
His Poem 'Burnt Norton' deals with time, past and present.
This is played simultaneously by the 3 arms just after each other.
You can hear the concept of the machine, and the words describe this very well

This track appears on 'His Masters Voices' LP - my first release
It was also published by The Diagram in New York on CD

listen to the 'His Masters Voices' here in MP3

The Tri-Phonic Turntable:
rticle extract about the project from the Leonardo Music Journal [MIT Press] issue 11.

It has always been a principle of mine to not copy ideas, but to bounce from them in order to develop new ones instead. Not to xerox, but manipulate in order to produce something new and unique to yourself. As a result one develops ones own ideas which then form a series of personal stories which is much more rewarding an experience.

Records, as opposed to tapes and CD's are the most visually and physically accessible forms of sound reproduction. Records are an ‘open air’ affair. The sound is laid out before you. The potential to change this physical surface is obvious. One of the most important characteristics of sound is that it is temporal so it takes time, space and surface to reveal and store it. The history of the record has itself left vast amounts of vinyl lying dormant across the globe where virtually any sound that you could want to use is awaiting rediscovery, accidental encounters and unknown uses. It was obvious to me that it was a desirable mine field of unlimited potential to create new sounds from these sources. I decided to take the work of Philip Jeck as my cue, and in particular his installation/performance ‘Vinyl Requiem’. This utilised 180 old Dansette record players which were mounted on a vertical scaffold and were all set to play simultaneously. My idea was very simple which was to do the opposite. Instead of using lots of record players to play lots of different records I simply thought of combining several record players in one. The Tri-Phonic was born. As records can be easily accessed in many time frames/places simultaneously it was to be very efficient at maximising the potential of obscure vinyl discoveries. This invention could multiply, magnify and manipulate the essential physical surface of sound in as many ways as was practically possible.

From this initial concept I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it, but I knew that it would be able to fuel my desire to leave the studio and start performing live. I needed to start pushing myself out into the world and start making new friends who were interested in a similar type of music. This idea should then made to be portable and as flexible as it could practicably be, to spur on the widest exploration of the vinyl surface. It needed to be compact, so I decided that three arms was an optimum number. I could use each tone arm for the left, the right and the centre channels of the stereo field. The revolution speed needed to be as flexible as possible so that any speed within its boundaries could be set. Micro-variable control. Very importantly a reverse mode was essential and just for good measure I designed it so that up to 3 records could be played at once. This was possible by putting a 7" or 10" on top of an LP on the platter and then by using a central spacer another disc can be placed above and played by the third arm which I fitted at a higher level. Practically speaking this covered all potential possibilities [except one arm playing upside down on the underside of the raised disc]. Finally I routed the stereo signal from each arm through an integrated mixer to make it truly self contained.

So I then had to build it. I had no workshop at the time, which determined that I got the carcass made for me by a flightcase manufacturer. It would then be self-contained and ready for travelling the world. The realisation of the other physical elements of the design were able to be undertaken at home quite easily. It was the electronics that gave me the biggest headache. I had no friends that could help with the simple circuits that I needed designing. My knight in shinning armour came in the guise of a shop keeper who resided in the back of Henry’s Audio on Edgeware Rd. I had to try and persuade him more than once to reveal his electronics wisdom to me. Explaining in rather rudimentary terms what I wanted to achieve, he eventually handed me a bag of components and scribbled out the circuit diagram on a scrap of paper. He unceremoniously told me to just ‘put it together’! Considering I had no electronics knowledge and could not even solder this proved a difficult task. By a painful process of trail and error I finally worked out the solution and assembled the final design. At last it worked. From the onset it wasn’t clear exactly what I had built. By chance the platter could revolve from one and a half to seventy-seven and a half revolutions per minute, so all records could be played as normal before being altered.

The inaugural ‘world premier’ was hosted by my friends at the Urban Salon on my birthday, in a small courtyard adjacent to their tiny office on a balmy summers evening. This happened also to be located right next to the studios of Pete ‘the hit maker’ Waterman [formally of ‘Stock Aitkin and Waterman’]. During the evening I ‘performed’ some very rudimentary yet quite explanatory plunderphonic collages which explored the infinite potential of the Tri-Phonic. The previous night I had discovered that Kylie Monougue’s hit ‘I Should be so Lucky’ [Produced by Pete Waterman] when played far too slowly sounded remarkably like Rick Astley [another artist on the same label]. A wonderful and amusing coincidence. At this point the staff of the recording studio flung open the doors and looked rather comically and questioningly at the throng of guests watching the proceedings. Unfortunately Pete wasn’t there that night! Another of these early explorations of the Tri-Phonics ability was to play Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ with the three needles in the same groove, acting as a raw delay device. On hearing this, my girlfriend explained quite wonderfully that this fantastic dance record had been rendered un-danceable! A great summation of the Tri-Phonics’ potential. Admittedly these early experiments proved to be slightly gimmicky, but were an interesting starting point on my journey of discovery which would lead to my current manifestations.

After several years of developing and honing my playing techniques, moving away from plunderphonica, the most useful purpose of my turntable has proved to be when using multiple locked groove records in performance. I have cut my own Dub-Plates [a one off record] of locked grooves and have used several other locked groove releases which I play by bouncing the needle around the record, accessing each groove randomly and working the discoveries into the mix. It was after all an accidental instrument from birth. This can be done in both a forceful or calm manner, which is reflected in my developing musical ‘style’. For the first few years when preparing my live performances I took these accidents and noted down what was happening. I then made up annotated score sheets, which were sequences of previous accidents [image 8]. I developed these scores slightly for each performance until I felt that I had recorded an accomplished pair of ‘successful’ live ‘scored’ recordings. By ‘Successful’ I mean ones where I had realised all the planned sequences without overt obvious blunders [in my opinion]. Of course further accidents occurred while performing live, but this was the purpose - to harness that real-time sense of occasion [image 9]. The results of this period are documented on the album ‘OUT’ [see audiography]. The artwork for this design [image 10] was produced by slicing up various record covers, and gluing them back together, much in the same vein as the music.

[Written December 2000, Published Spring 2002].

Below is my signed photo by Roy Castle the
face of the Guinness Book in the 70's to 80's

Childhood dreams come true!



Have a look at my 'Twin' turntable + my revolving two arm Wedding cake too!

See my other 'World Record' project

Also my new 'Duel' turntable



Also of interest is the Tri-Phonic's little cousin which joined my collection in 2002

The World's Smallest Record Player



twelve arm turntable t-shirt


my wedding cake 2003
fruit cake base & 6 rotating chocolate records with edible labels


My project for the 2012 London Olympic Games
The Olympic Record Player

Project for The British Council
[copyright control]