The origin of ELP's turntable came from an American company named Finial Technologies, led by Michael Stoddard, who designed a prototype unit for playing vinyl using laser technology in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, this coincided with the commercial rise of the CD, so Finial went into receivership and sold the rights to ELP in 1989.
The units are custom built to order - a typical price in the mid-2000s was about $11,000 to $15,000. The turntable uses a combination of five lasers, which point in different directions of the groove in a vinyl record to ensure a steady signal is picked up. Because of laser technology, loading and unloading a vinyl record is similar to the process used in most high end CD players.
The lack of mechanical components means it is far more capable of playing records, even those with scratches and warps, and it also allows direct track selection like a CD, along with the ability to change pitch in smaller increments, which is physically impossible using CD technology. One notable disadvantage of the laser technology used is that it is impossible to play coloured vinyl, which was frequently used for singles and promotional material. While the technology allows for a far superior sound quality, this also means that clicks and pops are also more pronounced, so more regular and thorough cleaning of the vinyl is required.
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- Bill Gaw (April 2004). "Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 55 : ELP Laser Turntable". enjoythemusic.com. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
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- Ralph Glasgal (3 March 2000). "The ELP Laser Turntable". Stereo Times. Retrieved 13 December 2012.