In praise of idlers

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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I think this is the core of the matter. Musical pleasure.

Having owned belt drive decks -including tricked out LP12, Voyd 3-motor, Townshend Rock II and Rock Reference, and idlers including well-fettled Garrard 401s (I'm not generally a fan of the 301), Lencos and of course the TD124, I've settled on a Schopper'd TD124. Why? it just sounds more like music and not like hifi.

DD decks like the Technics SP10 (MkII at least) tyically sound more like CD players to my ears - soulless. Never had an urge to own one, not since I was a lad in the 70s and early 80s at least.

High mass/rim drive is an area I'd like to explore. Also quite fancy a Verdier at some point - I've liked the ones I've heard, most low mass belt drives in my experience to deliver speed wobble that you simply never hear on an idler or DD. (At least to me, a musician).
If those were the options my choice would be 124 too. The voyd is reputed to be a tough one to set up and maintain apparently you need to tweak it almost on a daily basis else it does not sound good. Guy helped design it he he knows a lot about it. I heard one it was all wobbly.

Barry2013's Townsend rock is very good but from what I know most from the used market now are not functioning properly, so unless you paid Mik or someone a premium to get a fixed one chances are it won't sound good.

I have heard three verdier and find them too laid back for me. But based on this, I wouldn't conclude idler is better than belts, as there are many more belts than are idlers, and they are all as different from each other as they are from idlers.

Even fans of sp10 mk3 don't necessarily prefer the mk2, and kodo beat and nvs are known to be at a different level to mk3.

Just as an example, Mik preferred his techdas to his kodo until he put a linear tracker (air tangent) on the kodo, and then preferred the kodo. So shows that the arm made a higher difference than the drive type.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Thanks for your report. I'm not very familiar with rings - they vaguely seem somewhat of a risk. What does the periphery ring do to yield the difference you hear?

I assume depending on its weight, it can aid flattening of a record. I'm guessing it changes the resonance frequency of the vinyl. Is there an energy transfererence from the vinyl to the ring or vice versa? I agree about a ring's incorporation being designed for a particular table's platter surface and clamp, if included.
Tim, despite designer Vic not incorporating any damping into his tt, I use a periphery ring and lp weight. Both have proved successful. Enables my lps to fully contact the nine 0.5" high Delrin pods bonded to my aluminium platter. I have to be very careful re not snagging the stylus. Have had one tragedy so far.
 
Mar 12, 2017
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Do you have a copy of this paper that you can share? The sole result of a Web search was this thread. Being an AES paper may

I confess to being a bit sceptical of stylus drag having an audible influence or more than a negligble influence on table accuracy. I believe it is a force that (somehow?) can be measured, but if the table spins consistently at 33-⅓ rpm is it significant? I'm not denying that it exists. Is there a way to hear stylus drag? Can it be heard?

The means of speed measurement available to the audiophile consumer - measuring the electrical ouput or audible output of a 3150Hz test tone - seem limited compared to measuring actual platter speed while playing a record. Is stylus drag detectable with a test record and a phone app? I would like to know more about this.
Or The tt must be a wimpy piece of crap to have this effect of stylus drag.
 

spiritofmusic

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If those were the options my choice would be 124 too. The voyd is reputed to be a tough one to set up and maintain apparently you need to tweak it almost on a daily basis else it does not sound good. Guy helped design it he he knows a lot about it. I heard one it was all wobbly.

Barry2013's Townsend rock is very good but from what I know most from the used market now are not functioning properly, so unless you paid Mik or someone a premium to get a fixed one chances are it won't sound good.

I have heard three verdier and find them too laid back for me. But based on this, I wouldn't conclude idler is better than belts, as there are many more belts than are idlers, and they are all as different from each other as they are from idlers.

Even fans of sp10 mk3 don't necessarily prefer the mk2, and kodo beat and nvs are known to be at a different level to mk3.

Just as an example, Mik preferred his techdas to his kodo until he put a linear tracker (air tangent) on the kodo, and then preferred the kodo. So shows that the arm made a higher difference than the drive type.
Ked, I've only heard my Salvation w Vic's air LT arm, so you could be right. However plenty have bought his tt to use w pivoted arms, all prefer it to the belt drives they had before, and a small number felt it was a sufficient step up over their idlers as well.
 

bonzo75

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Jun 13, 2013
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Gilles, your link is not going to the article.

I'm not suprised the owner moved from belt drive. Re the Verus, I do know my designer Vic tried this in one of his prototypes, and it proved ultimately unsatisfactory for his purposes. So he was forced to create his own rim drive motor from scratch.
 
Jun 13, 2013
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Sorry Gilles, all I get is a login/register page. No link to yr article. Can you refer it to it longhand? Ie what section on the forum, and title of the thread?
 

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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I believe Teres still run an aftermarket Verus rim drive motor pod once can adapt to existing tts.
Yes the rim drive should still be available, now updated, though I don't think Chris Brady is still active with turntables. I have a cocobolo Teres 320. Started with string, switched to mylar tape, then converted to the Verus rim drive. The Verus can be used with any table that fits with it.
 

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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Tim, despite designer Vic not incorporating any damping into his tt, I use a periphery ring and lp weight. Both have proved successful. Enables my lps to fully contact the nine 0.5" high Delrin pods bonded to my aluminium platter. I have to be very careful re not snagging the stylus. Have had one tragedy so far.
Yes, that's why I likely would choose a different table than one whose performance needed a ring. When I switched from a table with a deck (SOTA Sapphire) to one where the arm hung naked in space I 'lost' two Shelter 501s inside a week. Ouch. Retrained my hand movement and never again. Placing then removing the periphery ring for each side? I think I'll pass.
 

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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Just as an example, Mik preferred his techdas to his kodo until he put a linear tracker (air tangent) on the kodo, and then preferred the kodo. So shows that the arm made a higher difference than the drive type.
I imagine those were different differences. The real compare would be putting the air tangent on the techdas.
 
Dec 17, 2015
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From Jacque B on lencoheaven

Comparison between Goldmund Reference TT and PTP based LENCO PROTOTYPE:

First, I have to mention that the Goldmund (GRTT)is now, after more than 10 years in my hands, at its best condition. I have used a new oil for the bearing, which is a personal creation, and which has impressively improved the qualities of the original GRTT. Then , three years ago, I had big troubles with the motor power supply, which has not yet been solved , and I found an alternative solution with the Verus motor system from Teres Audio. This system drives directly the platter through its outer edge, like an idler wheel would do, and gives me great satisfaction. I can say that the GRTT fitted this way sounds even better that the original one. You must know that, for economical purpose, the original motor used in the GRTT is not the best that could have been choosed at that time thirty years ago. This is a general problem in industrial gear, the price of the separate elements must stay below 1/5 of the final retail price, for the business to remain possible. For this reason, even great quality gear like Jadis for example , can be easily improved by replacing the cheap components by better ones.

the other important element of the GRTT to be replaced was the T3F Linear tracking arm. This arm has great qualities, but his conception was made with the technology and the knowledge that were available 30 years ago. The main negative points of this arm are:
-lack of rigidity of the mechanical parts, and especially the bearings, which are too loose;
-enormous difficulties to adjust the tracking force, due to counterweight conception
-difficulties, which can be overcome ,to adjust azimuth

After reading lots of reviews, I finally choosed the KUZMA 4 POINT tone arm. After designing and machining of a proper aluminium board to adapt this arm to the GRTT chassis, I must say that I do not regret my choice: this tone arm is the most seriously constructed that i have ever had in my hands. all adjustments can be made easily with great precision and reproducibility, even delicate adjustments like azimuth or antiskating . The VTA can be adjusted while the the TT is running, which is very important.

The result was stunning, with the same Clearaudio Stradivari cartridge that I was already using on the GRTT since a few months:
The general tonal equilibrium seemed immediately better, with firm bass, and delicate treble, without any agressivity. The sound stage gained in stability, in a tridimensional impressive way. The focusing of all instruments or singers was greatly improved . For example, the choirs in the "Cantate Domino" LP , let distinguish clearly all the individual voices, which was not the case before.

Then, I moved to my first PTP based LENCO prototype, which , as you see on the photographs, is made with a very ordinary medium plinth, on which I mounted the T3F linear tracking arm fitted with an old DENON DL 103 cartridge. The only particular features are:
-my special oil for the original Lenco bearing
-a special design for the treatment of bearing and tonearm vibrations, which uses a very simple steel rod pressed against PTP4 and T3F armboard, through the plinth, and transmits directly all parasite vibrations to the concrete floor.

The result is stunning. There is not much difference that can be heard between the two TTs !
I am making constant comparisons every day since a couple of weeks , between the two TTs. What I can say is that all the qualities that I loved in my GRTT, have been fully found in the Lenco ! Perhaps, the GRTT, with its better tonearm and cartridge, goes a little bit further in soundstage precision and precise focusing, with slightly better tonal equilibrium. But the lenco shows clearly better bass, and an overall credibility and stability to the soundstage.

At the present stage of development, I am clearly unable to choose between these two TTs ! So does my wife too !

I am now working on a new design for the lenco, based on a plinth which will be machined in a 120 pounds aluminium block...and fitted with the kuzma tonarm ...
 

spiritofmusic

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Gilles, an interesting read. Obviously this is a tale of two old drive systems, one brought right up to date ie the PTP.
 
Jan 12, 2018
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Thank you for the clarification. That is good to know, there is a L70 with the stock tonearm and a nice CLD plinth that popped up local to me. The seller is offering it with a Shure M3D but I was hoping it would suit the Denon as well. I don't want to get too off topic so would you mind sending me a PM with the details of your cartridge spacer?
The Shure M3D is supposedly a class act [I have not heard it] and many lencoholics use it.
Jico does replacement needles if that should be necessary. So if I were you i would actually
try it out wtih the M3D first and see what you think of it.

This is a bit off the subject of the thread so I'll send you something pm about spacers later.

Jesper
 
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spiritofmusic

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This man has worked a lot on lenco to ameliorate them.
I have got one of his last plinth in massive aluminium of 160 lb.
He finally built his statement turntable as seen on the picture. 400 lb.
http://www.firstvoice-audio.com/pages/qui-sommes-nous-1.html

http://www.firstvoice-audio.com/album-photos/img-3512-1-4-1.html
Just when you think you've seen the craziest scary/sexy tt, another one comes along. Who'd have guessed that the rearguard action of vinyl in the face of the digital perfect sound forever onslaught since 1983, first cd, now streaming, would be so adaptable and mutating.
 

bazelio

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Sep 27, 2016
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Thanks for your report. I'm not very familiar with rings - they vaguely seem somewhat of a risk. What does the periphery ring do to yield the difference you hear?

I assume depending on its weight, it can aid flattening of a record. I'm guessing it changes the resonance frequency of the vinyl. Is there an energy transfererence from the vinyl to the ring or vice versa? I agree about a ring's incorporation being designed for a particular table's platter surface and clamp, if included.
I'm not sure what the risk with a periphery is. In the case of the Kuzma M, the platter, center weight, and periphery ring are designed as a system to dampen the type of noise shown in the article. In the article, he shows noise picked up at the bearing column from a frequency sweep LP is fairly remarkable. Motor noise in his case is also significant - and I'd disagree with any assessment that it's not as it peaks at 12db and 328 Hz. The frequency of resonance from the LP or motor is obviously going to vary from design to design, but clearly both need to be addressed. And I think "no clamp" is never the answer as it is certainly going to aid in damping, with the periphery ring helping further. The Kuzma platter itself is also damped by design. You need to know what you're dealing with in a particular design before you can effectively address it.

With the Blue Dragon, for all I like about it, I'd been struggling a bit with its mid-bass performance. Just yesterday, on a whim, I decided to put the ring on and A/B both ways. The ring clearly improves mid-bass heft, detail and overall presence. It's almost like an EQ has occurred. If I listen closely in the treble region, I do think I hear some reduction in grain with the ring vs without it, but this is minor in comparison to its affect in the lower region. This is also somewhat disappointing, as it's likely going to put Top Wing out of contention unless somehow the Red Sparrow rides just a bit higher and clears the periphery ring. Or maybe it has a different body profile. Will see; I get the demo in this week.
 
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Jan 12, 2018
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Stylus drag was studied in the 60's and quantified with measurements for a belt drive - see "Sensitivity of Phonograph Turntables to Normal Loads Halter", Jerome B.; Cole, T. S., AES1968 and comments. Unfortunately we do not have the custom LP's the authors used at that time to test our modern turntables.

However, if such subjective theory of transients was true HiRez digital would be intrinsically very superior to belt drive. In fact - now it is my very subjective opinion - the belt driven AirForce One was much closer to the DCS Vivaldi or Studer A80 playing Tapeproject tapes than the EMT927 in transient performance. This does not imply any drive system is better than other, just that other details in turntable design can overcome some traditional beliefs.

BTW1, noise and resonances can mask some fine details but enhance some other aspects - IMHO it is what can happen with some turntables. Then we pick what we prefer and enjoy.

BTW2, we should remember that in the old days the champion of "the beat and rhythm" was the belt driven Linn Sondek - I still keep a perfect vintage one for nostalgia.

BTW3 we lack specific technical details about the motors used in most idlers - otherwise it would be very interesting to calculate the moment of inertia of these compared to the platter moment of inertia.
Good idea, let's do some calculations. Im considering a turntable where a motor drives a platter through a belt.
I've used parameters which are sort-of garrard'ish -- but belt driven.

I did a spreadsheet to compute 4 different things:

1. The resonance frequency of the belt-platter system. Thick rubber band => 3Hz, Guitar string => 13 Hz.
2. The platter rotational energy. = 0.41 J [Nm]
3. The torque of the motor. = 27 Nm
4. The rotational energy of the motor. = 0.5 J [Nm]

Unfortunately I cant upload the spreadsheet but I'd be happy to mail it to anyone interested.

Im unsure about the parameters used to compute 4 but it cant be magnitudes off.

What is clear is that the (electric) torque of the motor is a way bigger reservoir of resistance to speed change
and stylus drag than the platter or the moving inner bits of the motor. In fact, to match numbers the platter would
need to be approximately 200 kg placed in a 15 cm radius.

Hence, the drive system (the belt) matters. The point here is that any non-constant stylus drag will trigger a cyclic movement
in the platter relative to the motor (wow) at a resonance frequency that is determined by the mass of the platter and the
spring constant of the belt. If the belt is a thick rubber band you get a resonance frequency of 3 Hz and if its a guitar string
you get 13 Hz resonance frequency. Take your pick. This resonance will be dampened by the damping of the band only.
Crucially, this resonance is correlated to the music.

BTW2: The LP12 wobbles in all dimension, including spring suspension between motor and platter. The only clear beat
Ive heard with the Sondek was the sales guy stamping his foot behind me :)

Jesper

Ps! I would like to see the paper if you have it.
 

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