History of The Oasis and Saturn Turntables
An Interview with Inventor & Creator David Gillespie
“I invented the Oasis Turntable as a senior project in college, which is the fluid drive turntable. I had gotten into being an audio file in college and I wanted to build something that was unique and different and it dawned on me to try to duplicate a transmission in a car. And I also knew that with a record player you wanted to have the platter that the record sat on completely isolated from any bearings and any kind of bearing noises that colors the music and influences the reproduction quality so I took the Oasis and developed a fluid drive for it and the platter actually floats on a liquid. It’s not in contact at all and its actually centered and held in position by what is called a fluid bearing. Fluid in between the outside platter and the inside clear drum that centers it. Then we put little impeller blades on the bottom of it and also underneath which is driven by a motor through a shaft with a seal on it. The record player has very good sound characteristics. The part of the fluid drive has a lot of inertia to the drive system so it has good speed stability. And again the platter itself is suspended by fluids and doesn’t touch anything and has extremely good sonic qualities. We introduced this thing, we worked a lot on the size and shape of it and came up with something that again went along with the shape of the unit and it was very unconventional and got great response.
We were awarded product of the year at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is the biggest trade show in the world, in 1978. The unit was going to get distributed by Polk Audio. They own an Oasis Turntable and were really very excited about it because the sonic quality was amazing. I spent a lot of time in Baltimore with Matt Polk and his two partners. In the end we never really got anything put together. Eventually they found they didn’t want to get into dealing with the record players and turntables and they stayed with their constant product line, which were speakers at the time.
The Oasis was featured in Playboy Magazine, won all sorts of awards and received a lot of press. Unfortunately I ran out of funds before I could get it to market. I was building a preproduction run of 100 units, and my shop in Michigan surprisingly caught fire. It really took my heart out of it after that event. I have yet to build another Oasis since that time, but I still have a few on-hand to be enjoyed. And the public keeps requesting to have and enjoy the Oasis Turntables as well. They truly are genuine, hand made, custom audio works of art.
While I was involved with the Oasis Turntable, I met a couple of guys from California. One of the guys basically made speakers and the other guy made speakers and electronics. They were a little bit into the fringe stuff, but they made really high quality things. They had a pretty good name for themselves. So they lined up an arrangement to get me moved out to southern California. We were going to start a company and all get together and make products. So I came out to California and that’s when I decided to make a new unit. That’s when I invented the Saturn Turntable. And with the Saturn - I kind of stayed a little more to the conventional end where there’s a standard belt drive system. Again it’s made out of a hardwood base. But I did create some different things with the Saturn. I basically used two drive motors to drive the turntable and by doing this I could actually wire the second motor 180 degrees out of phase with the first motor, which would then help cancel out some of motor pulsations and some of the motor electrical noises which gave superior sound. I also mounted the motors to a piece of, what we call noisily steel, which was a steel laminate, which really had a very acoustically dead property, which you could literally hit the steel with a hammer and it wouldn’t even hardly ring. It would maybe thud. The base itself is made up of 40 something peaces of wood, and I was very careful and intricate of how I laid the grain structure so no grain pattern will progress for very far. This helps again with the acoustics characteristic of the unit. And I also made it in layers where each layer is laminated together with a special sound detonating material which again helps it where you can literally tape on this record player when its playing and you won’t hardly hear it over the system when its up at high volumes. And that basically helps minimize the sound propagation of the music that you’re playing in the room that gives you a neutral, clean sounding system.
I custom made about 10 Saturn Turntables. I have a few of them out and around. We were selected to be in the Fine Woodworking Design Book in ’83? (Note: find date). Fine Woodworking Design select only 300 of the most outstanding pieces of woodworking created in the United States in a one-time book. The Saturn received some excellent high honors over all
During this time period, the Audio file industry was really taking off. Audio File is what is considered State of the Arts in recording sound. It’s the best of the best - highest quality available. I received some good recognition from a gentleman that owned a company called Mobile Fidelity. They specialized in making Audio File records and cassettes.
Mobile Fidelity specialized in recording records at what they call Half-Speed Mastered, which produced overall better sound characteristics. The owner loved the Saturn Turntable and owns one himself. I am the proud owner of quite a few of his Half-Speed Mastered Albums, which are extremely high quality, rare, and very good sounding units.
Life took me in other creative directions and the audio world did the same. Cassette tapes became the norm, then Compact Discs and MP3s. But when you move away from vinyl type records onto other sound mediums – you loose sound quality. Compact Discs are a great example as to how they are inferior to vinyl records. CD’s get the top end of their audio spectrum cut off, and colors what you hear a bit. That’s why CD’s sound a little strange to people on the top end. It’s not the full and warm sound of the original audio source. Compact Discs are not quite as fragile as vinyl are and are much easier to pirate – so the general public enjoyed these new benefits. But for the individuals who really care to hear the highest quality sound recordings – vinyl records are the best.
The music world has been noticing the loss in sound quality over that past few decades and many major recording artists have recently re-released their albums onto vinyl. Part of the surge was in part to the popularity of DJ’s preferring to spin vinyl records, as well as consumers of high quality audio desiring the full audio spectrum and warmth that you receive from vinyl records. Currently Germany has a few recognizable Audio File turntables, but nowhere near the quality of turntables I originally designed. As the demand for higher quality sound consistently increases, I am releasing The Oasis and Saturn Turntables for the audio file's enjoyment. The turntables are the first of their kind, award winning, innovative, limited edition, hand-made works of audio art. The are the highest quality audio gem across the board that you will find.”
David Gillespie studied Industrial Arts at Michigan State University, and graduated with High Honors. He has won many awards over the years for all his work. He is the proud father of two children and lives in Northern California. David is the owner of Dana Design, a high-end engineering and designing firm.
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