This is a big one for me, guys. If you haven’t noticed, these mods have been getting progressively harder each week. That is very apparent with this week’s installation, the JDDPTA-PCB Tone Arm Kit from Jesse Dean Designs. From here forward I will refer to that monstrosity of a name as the PCB.
I picked up the PCB tone arm because it is the newest offering for the PT-01 from Jesse Dean, to my understanding. Retailing for $70, JDD have refined the manufacturing process to cut down on final costs. We’ll see if the materials hold up. The kit comes with everything you need to install the tone arm, plus a little future proofing for other mods. We’ll get to that a bit later.
I also picked up an Ortofon OM Q.Bert needle and cartridge on Amazon for $80. The PCB accepts all OM style carts, but with the shortage of Shure-style needles at the moment I decided to save those for my 1200’s. I splurged a bit on an Ortofon product I’ve always wanted to try but could never justify getting a pair of. Guess who only needs one to scratch!
What’s in the Box
Fiberboard tone arm with built in led stylus light
JDD installation kit (wires, breakout boards, etc.)
NOTE: It is highly suggested to pre mount your cartridge on the PCB tone arm. Trying to do so after installation would risk damaging the arm.
First, don’t forget to take out any batteries or disconnect the power cable from the PT01. There should be no power running to your device when you begin working on it. Remove the 8 case screws holding the body together. Separate the two halves of the body, carefully detaching and noting the location of the connecting wires. Yours may vary from mine, as I have previous mods installed that change this. Check out my Sound Plate install to catch up.
Take the top piece of your PT01 for now. Clip the wires connecting your original tone arm to the brown board. No turning back now! Remove the nut, clip and plastic tab from the original tone arm’s base. The arm may slide out right away, so take care if you are trying to protect the old arm for replacement later. One more thing to do on the underside, pry up this small piece of plastic covering the bottom of the tone arm clip on the body of the turntable. You can stick it on the silver speaker for safe keeping.
Continuing our disassembly, flip the top piece of your PT01 over to remove the original tone arm. Be careful pulling it out so that the wires don’t get caught. Remove the clip on top of the tone arm. . . clip. It should be left with just a hole down inside the body. Disassembly done!
Feed the wires of the new PCB tone arm down the hole. Hold the arm in place with one hand and connect the clip with the other. Next put the plastic tab back on, and finally the nut. I later found (and then lost again) an extra washer that could potentially remove some wiggle from the tone arm, but I have been fine without it. Once your arm is somewhat secure, you are able to move on. Just be careful not to spin the arm too much in the next steps as it can rotate a full 360 degrees and damage the motor start switch.
Next take the new magnetic tone arm rest and slot it into the opening from underneath. Make sure you put it in the correct direction - with the magnet on the platter side. The instruction recommend you fill the empty space behind the arm rest with hot glue, but I chose to use balled up gaffer tape. The purpose is to stop the tone arm rest from sinking down, and my method works fine. Replace the plastic strip covering the hole from the inside. I put another piece of tape over it to make sure it stayed secure.
Note on the magnetic rest: For about 2 weeks after installation I thought my rest and tone arm were not lined up properly because the magnet was not sticking. I realized, however, that the magnet had become unglued from the tone arm and was just stuck on top of the arm rest magnet. After a bit of fixing it works perfectly now. Watch out for this!
Remove the 2 large disc screws next to the tone arm. Install your new JDD preamp one those 2 posts, with the new screws included. I chose to mount mine backwards to what was suggested in the hopes of tucking wires out of the way of any moving parts. It works fine, but is a bit of a hassle to hook up so it’s really up to you which way you go.
Connect your wrapped wires as shown in the picture below. Try to keep them isolated from each other as much as possible. Connect your separate power cable with pin connector on the other side as well as the 2 small wires from the tone arm. The instructions show to connect them to the same power connection, but the model used in the video seemed older than mine so I split them up as shown. Both should work.
Next we need to do some wire patching, and it actually calls for tape in the instructions this time! Cover those connections we clipped earlier with a piece of non-conductive tape (I prefer gaffer if you didn’t know). Attach the JDD patch board over the taped spot. Be careful screwing in the screw again, as it could crack the board.
Disconnect the small connector right next to the new board and plug the board into that recently vacated spot. Then plug that connecter into our new board. Now that’s some good patching! Finally for this part, take the included white ribbon cable and connect the JDD preamp to the JDD patch board. Set this piece of your PT01 aside and grab the bottom half.
One more patch is needed for this mod to be complete. Disconnect this small pin connector on the USB transfer board and attach the JDD jumper board with the mounting screw nearby. Attach the wire you just took out into top spot ONLY. Connect the short wire into the vacated spot on the USB transfer board. When connecting the power wire from your tone arm to this board, you can connect to any of the open spots.
Carefully reconnect the top and bottom pieces of your PT01. Take extra care not to pinch any wires, especially the new ones you just installed as they may be in strange places. Connect the new power wire from the PCB tone arm to the jumper board attached to the USB transfer board. Reconnect any other wires. Replace the 8 case screws slowly, working around the unit. Power on your turntable and you should see the new LED light turn on right away. Test out your new JDDPTA-PCB tone arm!
This mod has made such a huge improvement. The stability when scratching has jumped up so many notches. This mod is the reason I don’t feel like I need a new platter yet. Of course, the needle has something to do with that as well. I’m in love with the Q.Bert scratch cartridge as well as the JDDPTA-PCB tone arm. Installation was challenging, but once it was in I knew it was worth it. I have taken my PT01-KILLA to a variety of locations and scratched on a lot of different surfaces. The arm stays locked tight to the platter and the sound quality is top. The brass counterweight is an interesting design that works well. The material the arm is made out of is durable and fits the aesthetic of the turntable. Overall this is a huge recommendation from me.
What could possibly be next for this little scratch monster? Stay tuned right here on The Dojo to find out! Thanks for reading. If you would like to follow along on my quest for unnecessary turntable mods keep your eyes on The Dojo by subscribing to my blog, and as always, if you liked this post please consider sharing it with a friend. Keep scratching!