Our Commonwealth 12D/3 was made some time after the manufacturer, Commonwealth Electronics, based in Tasmania, Australia, was acquired by the giant multinational Philips corporation in 1966. The 12 in the model number denotes the 12-inch platter; a 16-inch version was also offered. The 3 denotes the number of speeds (33.3, 45, and 78 RPM); a four-speed version (adding 16.67 RPM for voice transcription discs) was also offered. Commonwealth even made a reel-to-reel tape deck.
The idler-wheel design features a massive motor and an idler wheel that drives the inside rim of the platter. The original thin felt covering had to be scraped off, and the platter is now topped by a thin layer of neoprene and a Funk Firm Achromat mat.
It sits on a plinth made of layers of heavy cross-sawn oak, crafted by the brilliant Olly Christian (OC Bespoke), whose workshop is just outside Bath, and who has designed several Cool Gales plinths. The sides are alternating oak and ebony. The replaceable tonearm base is made of ebony. The tonearm currently is the exquisite Schröder CB, with an ebony wand and a spalted ash headshell. It’s mounted with a Cool Gales Aurora cartridge, a highly modified version of the Denon DL-103R with a sapphire cantilever, a fine-profile stylus, and a body made of malachite, a mineral rich in copper (hence the marbled green appearance). The plinth sits on three Shun Mook large Diamond Resonators. The custom rack is constructed of heavy American black walnut.
Speed control is a rotary switch. In any off position, the idler wheel is automatically disengaged, so there’s no possibility of it being accidentally flattened. Although the unit runs on 220-240 Volts, speed of the platter on this unit is very slightly fast, so the deck is connected to a variable power supply, which enables very precise rotation.
The sound is authoritative, utterly musical and immediate.
Not currently for sale.