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The R.E.A.L. 101.3 Turntable


The Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101.3

is a totally new approach to turntable design.

Using a patented R.ubber E.lastomeric A.coustic L.aminate along with other new innovations, the Energy Management Design principles are raised to a new level. The sonic performance overshadows the original Heirloom design by a wide margin.

  • Description
  • Turntable Design
  • Reviews
  • Clamping System

“The Suspended Plinth"

The most dramatic improvement in turntable design in 30 years! The patented R.ubber E.lastomer A.coustic L.aminate controls self generation and external energies to a degree never before accomplished.

The result is a dramatic elevation in the resolution and music realism of all past designs.

  • Energy management design
  • Rubber Elastomer Acoustic Laminate
  • Elastomer suspended MDS impregnated oil well bearing
  • ¾ inch polished stainless steel spindle
  • Inverted adjustable hemispheric feet
  • Acoustic Isolation Valleys
  • Elastomer suspended azimuth adjustable tonearm mounting platform
  • Polyoxymethylene platter
  • Rubber cork compound mat
  • Built in Strobe Disk
  • Elastomer suspended synchronous motor with MU shielding
  • Outboard Microprocessor Motor Drive 33-45 RPM
  • Periphery clamping ring and center weight
  • WOW & Flutter .02% Din 45-507
  • Speed Accuracy 2 parts per million





  1. Rubber cork compound mat
  2. Damped center weight
  3. 3/4” polished stainless steel high stability spindle
  4. Quick change tone arm mounting platform
  5. Damped periphery clamping ring
  6. Polyoxymethylene platter
  7. Inverted adjustable hemispheric feet
  8. Elastomer suspended MDS impregnated high viscosity oil well bearing
  9. R.ubber E.lastomer A.coustic L.aminate
  10. Adjustable dual oscillator (sign/cosign) crystal time base motor drive system. Accuracy within 3 parts per million.
  11. Elastomer suspended, fluid damped, custom manufactured, synchronous motor
  12. Acoustic Isolation Valleys
  13. Level
  14. Built in speed strobe utilizing a short pulse, crystal controlled, square wave generator


With a clean sheet of paper and the Energy Management Discipline in mind, a new approach to turntable design emerged.

The Turntable consists of:

  • a rotating platter that supports a phonograph record
  • a drive source for this platter (motor, pulleys and belt)
  • a plate to mount the bearing which accommodates the platter shaft
  • mounting for the motor and pickup arm.
    (This mounting plate is called the plinth, base or chassis. Some type of feet are used for support of this plinth.)






“The 101.2 outperforms the $16,000 Basis turntable that it’s currently sitting next to. And that’s with the Shick, I can only imagine it with a Phantom or Triplanar.

Thanks so much for your great work and Happy Holidays!”

– Joe Nicolosi

According to a recent poll of our editors and reviewers (TAS 216), the AR XA was ranked as the most significant turntable in the history of analog playback. If you ever lived with the AR XA turntable or one of its successors (XB, XE, ES-1, ETL-1, EB101), you may well have installed some of the popular “Merrill mods” that helped lift the sonic performance of that entire turntable family. These ranged from enhanced speed controllers and motors, to acrylic-lead turntable mats, acrylic subchassis, center and outer clamps, and improved parts, among others. Thousands were reportedly sold, making them the most popular mods for those venerable belt-driven, spring-suspended classics.

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Back in 1973, my passion for turntables began with a modest purchase of an Acoustic Research AR XA. At something like $88 including a pre-installed Shure cartridge, it was a no-brainer even for a High School freshman on a paper route budget. For several years, I “unofficially” worked at an audio store, assembling and setting them up for waiting customers. Little did I know back then that this cheap unassuming little workhorse of a turntable and diamond in the rough would ignite the creative juices of one George Merrill in Tennessee.

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The Merrill –Williams Clamping System
The most toughly engineered clamping system available

The center weight and periphery ring are designed to function as a team. The mass distribution is optimal to achieve the most uniform pressure on the LP. To insure the periphery ring has a low resonance top it is formed from forged bronze. A damping inlay is inserted in the ring body to tune the resonance.
The cone shape of the center weight helps to eliminate the resonant peak. A rubber knob is placed at the top to help absorb energy. This knob also aids in handling. A damping pad is used to contact the LP. A rubber insert in the spindle bore decouples the weight from the record spindle.

Debunking LP Record Weights and Clamps
by George Merrill

The LP record ranges in weight from approximately 80 grams (Dynaflex 1969) to 200 grams. Most pressings weigh from 100 to 130 grams. One reason the heavier and thicker records sound better is the vinyl will not vibrate to the degree as the light weight records. The 180 and 200 gram records are the choice for less vibration, and can render better sound. The rule is simple, the more damping applied to the LP the better it sounds. This result can be obtained from its own vinyl mass or external. To achieve the best external damping, the record vinyl needs to come in total contact with a vibration damping material (mat). In the past a few record mats have used small rings or points to support the record in a few places. This flies in the face of common logic. Holding the record to a damping material is the job of weights and clamps. An LP record’s label is thicker than the vinyl playing surface.
The label varies from approximately 20 to 60 thousands of an inch thicker than the vinyl. A record mat will have a depression in the center to allow the record vinyl to lay flat, otherwise the label would be the only contact point. If a center weight is used that is very heavy, let’s say 2 lb. the lighter records will lift from the mat. This happens because the mat depression edge will act as fulcrum. This information tells us we should use a center weight tuned for the record thickness and weight. However this is impractical. Here is the solution: Use a center weight that weighs 8-10 oz or less. This weight will work with all but the lighter records. The alternative to a weight is the screw down clamp. These clamps have pluses and minuses. The plus is down force on the record can be controlled. The minus is if not designed properly (unfortunately most are not) spindle energy is coupled into the record. It takes very little intrusion of external energy to cloud the mechanical output of the stylus. (I wrote a paper on proper screw down clamp design about 25 years ago.)
The best answer is the periphery clamping weight along with a center weight. The weight balance between these two should be calculated for even and optimal down force on the entire vinyl area.
As the stylus traces the groove, energy is radiated in all directions, as it reaches the periphery of the record and then reflected back into the groove area. The periphery clamp will help damp this edge energy before it is reflected into the groove area. The center weight also acts as a damper. The first production periphery clamp was used on the Merrill Heirloom Turntable 1980. Kenwood also introduce theirs about the same time.

















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