Sonab 85S Belt-Drive Turntable Service

I’ve just serviced a rare Sonab 85S belt-drive turntable. The Sonab 85S is an unusual design, quite nice for a belt-drive deck and very solidly built. The deck should give years more good service, after the work we’ve done here.

The Sonab 85S is a 2-speed, belt-drive turntable with integral tonearm and comes fitted with a moving-magnet cartridge. I have borrowed the following specifications from the Vinyl Engine:


Motor: AC synchronous
Speeds: 33 and 45rpm
Platter: 300mm, 1.2kg
Wow and flutter: 0.08%
Rumble: -60dB
Tonearm: static balance type
Stylus pressure: 0.5 to 3g
Cartridge weight: 5 to 12g
Cartridge: Ortofon F 15 EO
Stylus: 18 x 8um elliptical diamond
Frequency response: 20 to 20,000Hz
Recommended tracking force: 1.5g
Dimensions: 440 x 370 x 160mm

This old girl needed a new belt, some cleaning and lubrication and a careful setup of the tonearm and cartridge. Once these jobs were done she worked perfectly and sounded really nice!

You can see that this is a fairly non-descript black deck, well-made and sturdy, with a quality motor, platter and tonearm.
Even quickly cleaning the chassis and lid makes a noticable difference though.
The layout is very straightforward – speed change on the left, arm lift on the right. The sturdy and well-made tonearm complements the rest of this unusual deck.
In this case the stylus was good to go, just needing a careful cleaning.
Quality bearing, spindle and mechanism needs a clean and some silicone grease, while the bearing needs synthetic bearing oil.
The motor also needs lubrication after so long, in this case fine machine oil, run down through the motor oiling hole.
You can see that better here. You should also carefully clean the pulley with alcohol to ensure all traces of the old rubber and oil are gone.
Finished, polished Sonab looks a million bucks!

11 thoughts on “Sonab 85S Belt-Drive Turntable Service”

  1. Mike, another question from the curious consumer… you seem to easily find a new belt for just about every ancient turntable that comes along, even very rare ones like this Sonab. I’ve always thought this was a real handicap of old belt-drive tables; that belts vary so much in diameter / thickness / geometry that spares would be a nightmare. So there’s not an endless variety, and it’s easy to find a suitable replacement for most tables? This makes a huge difference in the prospects for keeping classics running, if it’s true.

    1. Hi Selwyn, yes the good news is that almost any belt can still be easily obtained and with the nature of belt drive, there is always a little room to move. I haven’t come across a belt-drive deck yet that I couldn’t source a suitable belt for.

  2. Hi Mike.Love my old sonab 85s turntable. Unfortunatly the stylus broke. Where can I get another??I’m in Tasmania.

    1. Hi Max, it very much depends upon what cartridge is currently installed. Most stylii can be purchased online, try to determine the name of the model of cartridge and then search online or on eBay for a replacement stylus. Regards, Mike.

  3. Hi Mike
    What size belt did you use? Im trying to source a belt for my Yamaha CS-50P, which is an identical deck to the 85s

    1. Hi Justin, I can’t recall the belt size but there are a few sizes that will work OK. You want to make sure it isn’t too tight, that’s very important. Regards, Mike.

  4. I have just purchased a new belt for my Sonab 85s from a source in Germany – through eBay. The belt dimensions are 280mm diam.. 4mm width. I also still have my original Sonab AO12 speakers purchased at the same time as the deck (1974) and they are going strong – unfortunately my amp / tuner is long gone. They were all classic minimal design at the time – the deck and the unique top directional speakers still look good.

  5. Hi Mike,

    I have owned and still use my SONAB 85S turntable and have only replaced the belt once. I also have my cube SONAB omnidirectional speakers but they are in the shed as I can’t bring myself to off load them. They work but I did have the woofers replaced about 20 years ago. My amp is a Cambridge Audio P80 coup[led with a T55 tuner.
    Quality always lasts, hey?


    1. Hi Peter, yes indeed, that’s a great old system! It would be a very good idea to have your equipment properly serviced though at this point. This will help it last another 30 years and improve its performance.

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