|Last night my friend Vic came around we been planning to evalute the two versions of Idler Drive for awhile. It was a great evening but ultimately I came away a bit frustrated by this as the leap from belt drive to rim drive was a big leap I supect our findings are do to belt slippage on the rim drive anyway please read the review. Please bear in mind the rim drive does a good job it just that the Verus does it better.|
Teres Verus Drive Vs VPI rim drive
Idler drive systems have been around for years. There have been many variations including Garrard, Lenco, EMT, Thorens and Rek-O-Cut. Generally this type of drive has had issues with rumble, but over time due to good plinth design principles, people have managed to work through them and take these turntables to heights no one really knew they were capable off. This has sparked a whole field of DIY interest in Idler drive, as for very little outgoing, it is possible to get extremely high performance.
It was only a matter of time that mainstream Manufactures came to this realization & started to introduce this type of drive into their ranges. Both Teres and VPI have introduced their own variations.
The major issue with Idler drives is rumble from the motor reaching the platter. Good isolation & mass plinths can decrease this. Both Teres and VPI use different means to overcome this issue. The Verus uses a low noise, slowly rotating DC Motor with precision ground O-ring, while the VPI uses belts & a huge flywheel. The Verus is unusual insofar as the motor drives the platter direct: there is no interim idler, belts or springs……….. just a pulley on the motor shaft that rests against the platter by force of gravity.
A few months ago I heard the 401 on a slate deck using the Terminator arm; I was very impressed with the sound. Vic (of Trans-Fi Audio) also uses a similar set up with Terminator tonearm plus a ZYX R 100H Cartridge. Initially I was going to get a 401 but decided to get the Super Scoutmaster due to its better bearing and platter. For me it seemed to make sense if I was going down the VPI route to stick with the same design.
I was initially told that all the equipment would take 6 weeks (Super Scout SDS Mini Feet and Duel Rim drive Motor) It took 10 weeks due to VPI staff holidays I do not mind waiting the extra time just want more accurate information.
Vic also experienced rumble from his Verus motor which was traced to an uneven O-ring. Teres give instructions on how to even this out & it took him several goes to finally create a rumble-free ring!
The VPI rim drive is easy to set up and presented no real issues. The Motor has the new belts and feet recently introduced. It now takes less time to settle and there are no issues with movement which was a problem on the first units. I hope VPI continues to pass on improvements to the Rim drive as it gradually develops.
The set up
Super Scoutmaster Turntable with the old lead TNT platter. Trans-Fi Terminator Linear tracking Arm ZXY R100H Cartridge SDS power supply. ZXY R100H Cartridge Whest PS30DT YS Audio A2SE PS Audio P500 SAC KT88 Glowmaster power amplifier and Wharfedale Opus 3 Loudspeakers.
Teres Verus drive with power Supply
VPI Rim drive with SDS
The Verus uses a 40 Watt 3 phase synchronous DC motor with a very sophisticated power supply. Please check the Verus site for more details
The Rim Drive uses a dual flywheel motor to turn the drive around. This has two motors driving a flywheel which the rim runs off. It’s powered by the SDS which allows control up to 100 of a Hertz.
Spinning the vinyl
Finally…..what it’s all about!
We played a few tracks LPs that Vic brought in and then some records that I know well.
With the VPI motor spinning the platter, Vic put on Massive Attack & immediately felt the bass sounded boomy & lacked definition. Not being too familiar with my setup, he suspected it was the bass reflex speakers.
Similarly with Sade, which has some very tuneful rich bass, Vic felt the texture he was used to wasn’t there.
We then substituted the VPI for the Verus. This had to be a bit of a bodge as we were dismayed to learn the overhang was not sufficient to reach the platter. We had to use a book & create our own ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ to create contact! Hardly ideal! We felt at the time this arrangement would not do the Verus justice. VPI owners beware!
In spite of the awkward setup, we instantly both felt the bass was cleaner on the Verus. This was obvious no matter what genre of music we played through the system. But it was not only the bass that improved………..also the top end keyboards were cleaner, as were guitar notes, allowing you to clearly hear what technique the musician was using. Al DiMeola’s percussive picking really stood out in a way I never heard before on Egyptian Danza!
On the Nick Drake Cello Song, the bongos were real. You could hear everything Nick was doing on guitar, and the cello came through with no sense of overhang. In contrast, the VPI rim was slightly darker & not quite as focused.
Later on I played Metrolopolis by Dream Theater. A piece of music I know particularly well. The kick drums seemed more powerful while the guitar riffs were clearer.
Similarly, with Vics records the rich texture on the bass of Sade was restored. There is a lot of background detail relating to percussive elements & hi-hats that were just audible with the VPI, but with the Verus, they came right to the front.
The bass on Massive Attack’s SLY, which was bloated before and Vic attributed to the speakers, suddenly had a percussive start to it, a textured middle & distinctive end! These were not subtle differences either, but like night & day.
I came in thinking that there would not be a lot of difference between the Verus and Rim drive but have to reluctantly admit, I prefer the Verus in terms of sound. I think for my turntable, the Rim drive looks a better solution, but in sonic terms the Verus takes you closer to the real event. To be quite honest, I wanted the VPI Rim Drive to win just for my own piece of mind. I am still happy with my rim drive and will not be getting rid of it easily outperforms my belt drive, but if I was to do it all again I would go down a different path!