Saturday, 27 July 2019

The Foundation Turntable

Foundation Turntable

Bolt up - this is ad copy...

The concept for our new turntable has been a natural evolution over the years of experience, observation, and experimentation with LP playback. These distilled into a desire to have the best elements combined in a single unit. Garrard, Lenco, Walker, Kuzma, Galibier, Scheu, Micro Seiki, Verdier, Linn, Thorens were some of the brands which passed through. The best aspects were noted, explored and remembered. Myths were plentiful, good performance less so. With time it became clear what worked and what did not. These insights were an opportunity to combine the best elements and create a turntable which stands out.

The Verdier turntable is highly regarded primarily because its original “Granito” plinth. Among the experienced vinyl cognoscenti there are two turntables which are considered to be classics at the top of the game. The first is the Micro Seiki 8000 and the second is the Platine Verdier with Granito base. As a result of not being able to find a Granito version of the Verdier I approached M. Verdier in 2012 and requested to produce the original "Granito" plinth with his guidance and approval. He was kind enough to provide his mentorship, drawings and specifications as well as awarding my little company dealership of his products in the UAE where I was then resident. 

The original was fabricated in Italy and so one of the historical Terrazzo providers in Italy was selected. Even with detailed specifications it took three iterations over a period of two years before M. Verdier was satisfied. The final approved version utilises an uncommon, super hard concrete with Venetian finish and stones from all parts of Italy in various sizes and colours. Once it was finished and implemented all doubt concerning this plinth's roll in acoustics was dispelled. After trying slate, stainless steel, wood, panzerholz, bronze, brass, Baltic birch, resin encased MDF, steel and combinations of the these, it was quite clear that this unusual concrete and stone mixture had a more neutral and comprehensively powerful presentation than any of the others by a wide margin.

To earth this high mass plinth Stillpoint Ultra SS filters are employed to create a solid and easily levelled platform. This footing is not only for the plinth, bearing and arm but also the motor pulley and platter which is relieved of any suspension movement which causes tension and traction variations.

One of the most copied platters and bearings of any turntable was developed by Thomas Scheu. His enterprise not only provided bearings and platters for famous brands of turntables but also created one of the best sounding, ingenious and no-nonsense turntable designs of its own. Since he also kindly provided parts for DIY’ers, many of these took his concepts and created companies such as Feickert, Teres, Red Point and Galibier with them. Even as they deviated from his original concepts there is no question he inspired them all. His bearing, like the Verdier, utilises an inverted configuration but with modern materials and understandings of oil cohesion, adhesion, surface tension and capillary action. It is a simple and ingenious design which re-lubricates itself after initial servicing and is relatively maintenance free. 

The Scheu platter employs an acrylic of special character. It is harder than the larger part of the acrylic material family to achieve a speed of sound through this solid to be precisely that of vinyl. I have observed this measurement with the appropriate equipment personally. The result is like playing an 80mm thick, 7.5kg LP milled to German, high precision standards. Great solidity along with an inner natural life that is unique.

Not last is the arm pillar. Made of fibre reinforced concrete to marry plinth, platter and arm in rigid geometry while maintaining excellent acoustic properties. The result is a resolute and steadfast loop between groove and stylus which reads microns into macros.

This bearing and platter combine with the Granito plinth through a precision, inverted, alumina, ceramic core bearing, floating in a dynamic oil bath. The result, quite simply, stands out. 

Any readers of my old blog will know that I believe the heart of the turntable is the most overlooked component. While there are endless discussion of tonearms, tonearm cable, cartridges, platter mats and supports the motor is often overlooked and plays as an important a role, or more so, than any of the above. It is the primary active component which not only provides motive force, but also the reactive element to stylus drag. The motor's reaction to this ever-changing load is an interaction which fundamentally influences how a turntable sounds. 

The idler turntable proponents often attribute this influence to the drive mechanism however idler drive turntables use, almost exclusively, very large, shaded pole motors which compensate for the changing load with inductive inertia. Belt drive turntables most often use small ac synchronous motors which look like peanuts when compared to these idler juggernauts.

Thus, the different versions of motors and how they sound are commonly labelled as “idler" or "belt drive" really meaning high or low torque, rigid or loose coupling, associated high or low noise and high or low energy. The Verdier uses a powerful precision DC motor and idler enthusiasts say is the one "belt drive" motor that has any soul. M. Verdier kindly points out its merits in a Sound Practices article - issue 11. 

The grip, heart and slam of the “idler” as well as the fine detail, harmonic decay and ambient information of the best of “belt drive” is found with this motor. A completely new controller has been implemented which not only provides rapid and high current delivery but is also not thrown out of regulation by the EMI coming off the motor (as most DC regulators are). Additionally, this controller senses motor load and prevents resulting sag to maintain speed as the load varies. This is a simple but elegant solution which behaves much like the inductive stability of idler wheel shaded pole motors. A knob allows tuning this electronic inertia. The control provides adjustable degrees of immunity to the load changes of transient attacks without adding noise. One can readily find the desired presentation between “idler” and that of a “belt drive” without giving up the low-level detail idlers often do. 

The high degree of mechanical integrity provided by the plinth, bearing and platter combine with a notoriously good motor and elegantly managed speed stability provides a real foundation for music with all of its power as well as nuance.

Appearance is a simple, subdued, mid-century modern to fit any decor.

To accompany the Foundation we provide Dynavector XV-1S and Kuzma Stogi Reference 313 VTA Tonearms / Cardas Clear wire, on request, for a proven, optimum combination. no-No-nonsense vinylista tools of world class performance.

For orders send us an email. We committed to a small production run and half have already been booked.

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