Knowledge Base: Turntables
Best Record Player Design Philosophy
Introduction to Best Record Player design
Most experts agree the best record player will provide the most satisfying music. The record player still reigns supreme in terms of performance and quality. Unlike CD there seems to be no limitation on the musical information it can extract. In recent years, advances in the best record player designs have caused the gulf between CD performance and vinyl to widen even further. Origin Live draws together many long-established principles of high end turntable design, along with advanced innovations, to reveal just how much the vinyl medium is capable of.
The recreation of an original musical performance involves capturing many factors. High among priorities are dynamics, transient speed, definition and tonal accuracy. Definition and tonal accuracy are especially important for great imaging capability. This rare ability is one of the key factors that separate high performance decks from the mediocre.
Concepts in Design
Analysis of the Best Record Player Mechanism
We cover the incredible levels of sensitivity and magnification of a record deck in the article “what makes a better turntable” so if you have not seen this yet, then please do so now as it lays the foundation for design architecture.
One of the points covered is that the slightest source of unwanted resonance in a turntable is amplified around 8000 thousand times, impacting the musical performance with coloration and distortion. It is the successful elimination of this unwanted vibration that produces the huge differences between mediocre decks and star performers.
Overcoming the Challenges
However a good design does not just eliminate resonance – it also holds the cartridge rock steady allowing the cantilever to generate a pure signal. Vibration is a highly complex area – the most important parameters being:
Speed of energy transmission
Speed of energy absorption – resonance absorbs energy slowly whereas damping tends to be faster
Resonant frequency of the material (how does behave within the audio band?)
In summary, our turntables overcome many of the problems arising from unwanted vibration in the following ways:
- To reduce resonance, all components are carefully selected and optimised by using materials and profiles that are optimised to achieve this.
- They reduce vibrational “noise” created by the motor through the use of a low cogging AC motor or DC motor (optional).
- They exclude environmental vibration. This can be anything from originliker feedback (ground-borne and airborne) to underground pumps and road traffic. For example, the platter is decoupled from the sub-platter and the bearing house is decoupled from the plinth or sub-chassis.
Design of Components
What is the secret of the superb performance lurking within Origin Live decks? The answer lies in countless hours of research and development into the main variables governing sonic performance. Every design detail contributes to the sonic character of a deck. Meticulous attention has been paid to every design choice on our turntables. The key variables are:
- Types of material used at each point in the structure.
- Choice of which materials to interface together.
- Dimensioning of materials.
- Shape and form of components – solid, hollow, plate, flanged, tube, etc.
- Method of attachment – bolting, gluing, welding, screwing, etc.
- Decoupling methods – springs, spikes, elastic bands, rubber, foam, air cushion, etc.
- Motor positioning and method of mounting.
These critical areas and many others have all been exhaustively tested to produce the outstanding performance of the Origin Live turntable range. The results are well documented in the many excellent reports we consistently receive from owners and reviewers.
Supporting the platter and arm
A Record Player should fulfil three ideals in supporting the platter and arm:
- It provides a stable platform for platter and stylus to ‘kick’ against under force.
- It ‘earths’ any unwanted vibration created by the stylus/record interface.
- It isolates the platter and arm from environmental vibration and motor noise.
A sub-chassis has been found to be beneficial to performance, as it provides additional isolation of the arm and platter from external vibration. This feature is included on our record player.
Theory of Energy Management
In principle a Record Player is one of the simplest items of Hi-Fi equipment. However, as you now know, understanding the principles governing performance is much more involved than first meets the eye.
These critical areas and many others, have all been tested extremely thoroughly and result in the outstanding performance of our record player models.
Hear For Yourself
These notes provide an introduction to the subject of a best record player design. Why not discover for yourself the astonishing potential of the world’s highest performing medium for the reproduction of music?
Mk1 to MK2
It is not possible to upgrade MK1 or MK2 decks to MK3 or MK4 specification as so many parts changed. However trade in for part exchange is always an option with ourselves or a dealer. Any quote for this is best assessed by the parties concerned as many factors come into play.
MK1 Differences to later models
On Mk1 decks the belt runs on a sub-platter
Power supplies are not as advanced
Motor pods are much smaller and electronics are housed in a seperate box
The Aurora and Aurora Gold (renamed Calypso) used metal plates for the plinth
No platter mat existed
Neoprene Belts were used
Bearings are not as advanced in terms of low friction or sound quality
Motor Pulley was metal
Features of MK3 over previous MK2 models are:
The MK2 decks ran for over 5 years with few updates or price increases. After making a number of new discoveries, the time came for these to be included in what we named the MK3 turntable versions. The new decks represented a significant increase in performance and value to an already superb sound. Music was replayed with particular improvements in:
- Rock solid imaging
- Reduced colouration
- Refined presentation of low level information
- Easy to follow separation of individual stands in the music and vocals
Specific Specification changes
- Changed from spring supsension to unique, centre-point support cantilever suspension
- New type of Acrylic platter material with reduced internal stresses
- Increased thickness of platter due to changes in overall design
- Lower friction bearing along with lower vibration design
- Improved power supply
- Improved belt – hand made from start to finish – surprisingly the belt material makes a big difference to sound quality
- Quieter motor from additional pod damping
Introduced substantially more powerfull and smooth running motors along with improved electronics and temperature compensation.
All Origin Live tonearms fit our decks without need for adaptors or any other device.
All older Style Rega arms (RB250, RB300 – ones with threaded bases and a large clamping nut) fit our decks with the aid of our threaded VTA adjuster.
Rega arms with the later 3 point mounting ( RB251, RB301, etc.) can be fitted to the Aurora and Calypso with no requirement for additional items.
SME and Linn mount arms can be fitted to the Aurora MK3 and Calypso MK3 at special request as a different sub-chassis is required by special order and will be an additional £280.
Other arms cannot easily be accommodated at this stage without a one off sub-chassis being made.
Due to carrying out a great deal of listening to vinyl replay, we have had the luxury of listening to a vast array of equipment. The following information is intended to offer some help and advice on the many options and choices available with regard to upgrading priorities and allocating your hard earned budget.
We are constantly asked questions about upgrade paths along the lines of:
– “How much should I spend on my cartridge?”
– “Is it worth having my arm rewired for a budget turntable?”
– “Should I upgrade to the advanced DC motor kit or upgrade the tonearm or turntable?”
– “What level of performance does the DC motor kit add to my deck?”
Assessing priorities to upgrade your system is not always easy and so we are providing some guidance from the experience that we have acquired over the years. Much depends on your the level of performance you aspire to, coupled with your future plans (if any) and budget. For this reason the following guidelines are a matter of opinion and judgement.
Depending on the deck, the DC motor kit will add approximately £700 worth of performance to most turntables relative to the cost and performance of turntables. This makes it a very worthwhile investment, especially as increasing the performance of a turntable is vastly more effective than cartridge upgrades.
The motor upgrade is usually as effective as upgrading to a Silver tonearm but this depends on the quality of your current turntable motor drive.
The upgrades below are scored in terms of performance relative to one another.
Our Opinion on Component Significance
Origin Live Turntable Rating
Origin Live Tonearm Rating
Origin Live DC Motor Rating
|DC Motor Kit
Our Approach To Turntable Development & Production
Origin Live developed breakthrough after breakthrough to produce turntables with a truly magnificent sound. This involved very high levels of investment and engineering excellence.
The Beauty of Manufacuring in-House
To create advanced designs in the shortest possible time, we needed to accelerate production and testing of many innovative ideas. Normaly only a limited number of prototypes can be produced due to time and cost constraints. We quickly recognized that avoiding sub-contractor’s long lead times meant manufacturing everything ourselves. Acquiring CNC machines was costly but enabled us to produce hundreds of prototypes in a tiny fraction of the time taken normaly.
Most turntable bearings are made using an economic drill and ream process. Ours are produced the slow way, using specialist boring techniques to ensure a dead-straight hole, without the slightest degree of taper or eccentricity. Our bearings are then honed by hand to remove the microscopic surface edges caused by machining processes. All this takes about 40 times as long as doing it the quick way. The results are very audible in terms of increased clarity and freedom in the music. In fact, the quality of bearings used in our decks exceed those used on many at well over 6 times the price.
High Grade Materials
To ensure high grade sound quality requires careful selection of materials. These are often expensive and hard to manufacture. For example the grade of acrylic we use is higher than most. Cheaper acrylics cut corners in production by being allowed to cool faster. This lowers costs, but results in high internal stresses, which cause sonic degradation. This is just one example of where two deck materials seem identical but are actually very different.
Expertise and Design Talent
The time taken to conduct ground breaking research by the right people is often overlooked – this is the untold story of many great products born from years of immersion in a specialist field. We are fortunate to have association with brilliant and talented innovators who share confidential ideas freely with us.
Highest Standards of Workmanship Beginning With Parts Production Through to Final Assembly
Manufacturing parts in-house has the advantage of guaranteed quality. Highly experienced craftsmen ensure the correct materials and manufacturing techniques are used throughout the production process. This delivers you a consistent level of excellence that does not just look the part, but is the genuine article.
Turntable Sound Attributes
How do you want your music to sound?
If you have never heard an Origin Live deck it’s hard to imagine the potential benefits to your system. As already stated there are major sonic differences between decks for good technical reasons. The way Origin Live turntables render music is foremostly musical and realistic. If you want music of unrivalled transient speed, musicality and dynamics which could easily be mistaken for real instruments and voices, then Origin Live is for you. If you want music with effortless power, natural rhythm, great tonal shading and balance then Origin Live is for you. Reviewers understanding these qualities are quick to point out the sheer speed and musicality of our decks.
This may not be for everyone – you can read countless opinions on the Internet and there are some who clearly prefer a slowed down version of events where bass notes are slightly slow and overhung, where instruments are clear but lack tonal richness. Where percussion notes stop short without natural decay. It is fair to say that such systems are often made up from a mix of components that are not exactly neutral. This means that when a neutral component is added, the system becomes bass light or bass heavy.
Music is very individual and not everyone has similar tastes. On balance we would say that at least 80% of people really want music to sound like real instruments and real voices. Professional musicians love our decks, which is an excellent indicator on how they prefer the portrayal of reality.
It is good to be clear on how you listen to music. Some people like to hear things analytically, where they maybe just concentrate on bass notes or treble clarity – the variations are endless but essentially these folk like a predominantly cerebral experience. Others speak of emotional involvement, the cohesiveness and organic nature of the presentation, the ability to connect properly with the performers. This is a bit like discussions on photography, where you have technical photographers who understand all the technicalities but do not take artistic photographs.
If you like your music as close the the real thing as possible, we invite you to open a door that will allow you to enjoy a richer experience than ever before.
When you place an order with us, you have a full 2 week trial period to see if our claims are true. If you are not completely delighted, we will offer a full refund.
You have much to gain from this trial, judging by the many comments from delighted owners who say that they simply cannot envisage how anything could be better. These are not minor improvements, but system transformation.
Your turntable is absolutely foundational for a good front-end. You can have everything else right, but if the deck is below par, your equipment cannot perform at anything like it’s real potential. We suggest you don’t miss this opportunity and get one of our decks in your system for a trial. We trust this will give you the results you are looking for.