2020 update : JC Verdier La Platine

A recent encounter with a JC Verdier dealer as well as a recent Audiogon discussion thread led to the start of this thread. He was in my house updating my La Platine which had been in storage for ten years with thread and oil. While he has high regards for the deck, his newer clients nevertheless prefer a Techdas iii than an 'old' La Platine. Given the proliferation of expensive decks in the past dozen years, La Platine has become very much under-appreciated. 

It's clear to me that the influence of the La Platine is everywhere to be found. Specifically, the magnetic suspension system that was employed 30+ years ago. Even SOTA offers their newer decks with mag. lev. features. And if you read this review: https://www.callas-audio.nl/Callas%20Platine%20Mod%20Kit%20Review.pdf, the Continuum Caliburn uses the same concept, which was not acknowledged in Fremer's review, albeit with more sophisticated , and expensive, execution.

It is also clear to me that there is much misunderstanding of the workings of the La Platine. I for one have contributed to this. The motor of the La Platine, for example, has been much maligned. The thread drive is another aspect of the turntable that have been described as inferior. With regard to the motor and thread drive, I have been set straight by Chris @ct0517 and Lyubomir @lbelchev. Experimenting with the different types of silk threads, the tightness to the platter  and a renewed understanding of the soundness of the Philips motor have been rewarded with better dynamics and transparency. 

The funny thing is that during the past two years of re-engagement with audio, I have questioned ownership of every components in my arsenal except the La Platine. It has always been a keeper. I wonder if La Platine owners would contribute to celebrating this 'old' deck with tales, advice, and insights?

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The one area of the La Platine that I had assumed to be the weak link was the motor. There are numerous posts of using motors from Teres, TW Acustic, Galibier...etc as replacements. I had encountered noticeable pitch drift while listening to music with piano and violin playing. Using a Sutherland Light Strobe, I was never able to get a consistent strobe reading of 33.3 RPM. It usually drifts. Sometimes it would be very 8 rotation before it hits 33.3 RPM. In an effort to improvement matter, a Jasmine motor with an Origin Live belt was used as a test. The Jasmine motor was an not an outright improvement. Certain aspect of the music, such as the bass, seemed more stable or maybe just different. Then I started asking on the Audiogon Forum about possible thread replacement. And that is where things got interesting. 

The more valuable advice was not just the type of thread ( and thread is better than belt ), but the way the thread is applied between the platter and the motor spindle. The application requires that the thread be just tight enough to not lip while maintaining the correct speed. The idea, as I understand it,  is to allow the least among of lateral force on the platter. I, of course, had been doing the opposite -- applying as much tension as possible. This is such a subtle adjustment of the thread drive. But no more pitch drift. 

The advice came from Chris @ct0517. And apparently this is through direct conversation with the late Mr. Verdier! The design intent of using the low inertia Philips motor with the thread was well thought out. And I for one will no longer think of it as the weak link. It just required a little patience from the user. 
In the past two weeks, I have spent a lot of time refining the thread drive and doing more re-search on the La Platine. There has certainly been much discussions here and other forums on the thread drive, motor, the magnetic platter..etc It occurs to me that the title of the thread given, 2020 update, may not be the most appropriate. 

The turntable itself has had no upgrades or revisions since the introduction of the MDF ( black ) plinth, from the original terrazzo, in the late 1980's. In effect there is no update to speak of. More appropriately, this is more a re-acquaintance and re-learning. The turntable was acquired in the early 2000's, used for three years, put in storage, and returned to service in late 2018, What I have learnt is that if the La Platine is optimized, or operated as it was intended, then it can be a powerful neutral platform for the delicate interaction of the cartridge and the tonearm. 

In order to optimize its operation, I experimented with the thread drive.  The idea is to allow a minimal of interaction between thread and platter while maintaining consistent speed.  This in theory allows the inertia of platter and the braking forces of the oiled spindle to interact optimally. The platter is 6 cm in height and weighs 16 kg. There are at least three variables: the height of the thread placed to the side of the platter, the type of thread used and the distance between motor spindle and the center of platter. The most obvious optimization is the thread height. The lower the thread is on the side of the platter the better. Acting on the platter's  lower center of gravity allows less wobble. And this should be the optimal application to other TTs with heavy platters. This is easily audible with a tighter soundstage. The three types of threads used are: the stock thread, Gutermann Rayon 40, a viscose thread, and YLI pure silk thread.  Both after market threads are thinner than stock thread with the intent of allowing minimal action. I would say the different threads to my ear offered different sound signatures, The stock thread has a taut, lively sound, while the pure silk thread more laid back. There were no winners. As for the placement of the motor to platter, I used distances of 40 cm, 60 cm, and 90 cm. I would have guessed that the further the distance, the better the sonic benefits. However,  I could not hair differences. I may have to revisit in the future.

The present set up for the La Platine is the use of YLI silk thread, with the motor  spindle 60 cm from  center of platter, and thread placed 3 mm from the bottom of the platter. The music that has been produced from vinyl is the best yet experienced. I have come to appreciate the vinyl play back as a co-operative effort between the turntable, the tonearm and the cartridge. It really is a team effort. Each has to be optimized for the other to play their part and sound their best. I have done some work towards optimizing the turntable. The play and influence of the Trans-Fi Terminator arm and a ZYX ultimate 1000 on the music becomes very apparent. The differences in recording, the adjustment of the VTA and azimuth..etc. Slight changes in each variable are immediately heard in the play back. 

I had a ZYX air 3 ( $ 3,000 ) mounted on a SME V arm ( $ 6,000 ) in the early 2000's set up. The arm + cartridge combo now is around $ 2,500. By most measure this would seem like a down-grade and not an up-grade. However,  the SQ is far superior. I now believe that it is the turntable, tonearm and cartridge in descending order of importance. 

A final word on the La Platine motor: Using a Sutherland Speed Strobe to measure the speed of the table, I have been unable to  achieve constant 33.3 RPM on each rotation. Typically, there would be a  4-5 rotation drift before returning to 33.3 RPM.  Speed is consistent, but not constant at 33.3 RPM. A future project will be perhaps the introduction of a Speed controller, something that SOTA is now offering with its Total Eclipse Package with the Roadrunner.  
re: Audiophile Speed Anxiety

My direct drive turntable which I put together many years ago; can be seen on my virtual system and here..


is never at 33.33

It is always above or below. Such is the nature of that turntable's drive system. It will fool your Sutherland Gizmo, and this device will say the speed is good. The cheapest DD turntable, whose system uses a back and forth motion to correct speed, will fool the Sutherland Gizmo into showing correct speed. If passing this test makes one calm, I assume that is a benefit, as this may lead to enjoying the music.
But if it causes anxiety ?

The better La Platine test, is to get to a level of setup where one can turn the motor off for a second, turn it back on, and/or flick the thread as the music plays ....and neither of these activities are detected by the human ear in the music that is playing.... that is the real test.


La Platine is not a plug and play turntable and depending on one’s system chain resolution, all of the following aspects affect the way the music plays. In no particular order.

1) Room humidity/temperature. The synthetic threads may be less prone to absorbing moisture.

2) Material and diameter of thread.

3) How tight the thread is applies.

4) Position on the Platter. (This for the benefit of the motor) The analogy I repeat, of helping a friend move a couch. Where does one grab ?

5) Thread distance from the pulley to the platter - will affect the torque applied. Think about a sling shot catapult length. Results vary depending on thread type and diameter.

Varying any of the above will affect things.

If your table is at 33.2 or 33.4 and the speed is consistent, that is what is important and music will sound as good as it can get. In both these cases your Sutherland Gizmo will drift left or right. As long as the drift is slow and consistent, and the music sounds wonderful, relax and enjoy it.

Cheers Chris

My direct drive turntable which I put together many years ago; can be seen on my virtual system and here..


is never at 33.33

It is always above or below. Such is the nature of that drive system.

I'm sorry, but why do you think it's a "nature of that drive system" ? 

You can watch @halcro 's  video with his Victor TT-101 with timeline mark.

here: https://youtu.be/rrFzOPaE6bs 
or another one: https://youtu.be/RE52bsIh_ZA 

As you can see it's spot on, this is one of the best Direct Drive motor and it demonstrate absolute speed stability, his unit has been calibrated, maybe you have to do the same with your old Technics?    
In one version of theory, the motor pulley should be as close as possible to the platter so as to minimize (but not eliminate) belt creep.  Belt creep occurs because the tension on the belt (string or other) is always greater on the "pulling" side and lesser on the opposite length of free belt space between motor and platter.  This causes the belt to "creep".  A noncompliant string belt does help to eliminate the problem, I would agree, but not entirely. It seems to me that the very small improvement in transmission of noise to the platter from the motor that is achieved by placing the motor at a greater distance from the platter is not worth the increase in belt creep.  You want the belt to contact the platter diameter as much as possible, which means get the pulley close up to it.  The other aspect of the Verdier that does not appeal to me is its top heaviness with spongy feet.  The motor would tend to pull the whole shebang off perpendicular to the deck.  Besides other problems with that, that construction would also tend to be a cause of speed irregularity, as stylus drag waxes and wanes over the course of an LP..I would put solid inflexible footers on a Verdier, if later models don't already feature such.
Chris, I have a thing for speed. :)

It must have been a video like the one linked by @chakster that got me hooked. I had always assumed that it was plus & minus 33.3, until I saw otherwise. Please allow my indulgence. 

But all kidding aside, with the thread drive as is, there is no drift in playback from strings or piano. I am relaxed. The on/off and plucking tests have all been confirmed. Initially, I was quite skeptical about leaving the thread loose. But having implemented it at your suggestion, it works! On more than one occasion, the platter would not move when I turn on the motor. I looked around only to find that the thread had slipped. Whether it was due to humidity or temperature or both, it showed that the thread was barely hanging on. 

This is, indeed, not a plug 'n play devise.  All the variables you mentioned are integral to the workings of the 'table which I have come to realize and appreciate.

Cool looking SP-10 MK II mod. I have been following a NZ forum with a step by step documentation of a SP10 MKII mod:
A direct drive will definitely be a future 'thing' for me.  BTW, I am contemplating a ET arm, maybe for next year. I'll be seeking advice from you then.

 Thanks for the link. I remember using the strobe when my wife came into the room enquiring what I was up to. I explained. And her first reaction was ' Why isn't it dead on? '. The only thing I could come up with was, ' It's the French, they are not German.' It's a terrible stereotype, I know. But I really cannot imagine a German, or Swiss, 'table, with so many variables. 

@lewm You have a good point about contact surface. However, as I understand it, we  want a small  contact surface for the least amount on pull while maintaining consistent speed. This would be the opposite of what you are suggesting?

The top heavy 'table with wobbly bottom analogy is well taken. How do I defeat the suspension? By simply adding solid footers as you suggest? I believe @ct0517 commenting on this issue on one of the other threads. Chris, did I remember correctly? 

You need to see a $50 vintage dd turntable defeat the Gizmo then you will believe me. Blinking lights don't impress me. What I hear with my ears does. My turntable outperforms my Studer now, and the tape deck would need to be hot rodded. If someone wants blinking lights, nothing beats a tape deck.

The Music Lover uses this turntable to go through their collection, enjoying every minute, never giving it a second thought.
The Audiophile. ..... hmmm......variables.... 

You never answered my question in the other thread.
This one


If Chakster provides the answer to us, he will have also explained to Lewm why his post based on theory, does not work.


Ct, Your remark, to follow, makes no sense. "If Chakster provides the answer to us, he will have also explained to Lewm why his post based on theory, does not work. "
If you want to say that despite its flaws you dearly love your Verdier, that's great.  Every turntable has flaws in its design, sometimes great, sometimes small.  I have heard the Verdier many times, and I cannot say I hear any major problem that I could attribute to the turntable.  But "belt creep" is a fact of life. When I prefaced my remark by "in theory", I meant that according to the facts of belt creep, I would expect the Verdier to exhibit some measurable manifestation of it, based on the custom of placing the motor very far away from the platter.  Because I have never made any measurements of the speed constancy of a Verdier, my thoughts on it in relation to belt creep are "theoretical". I think we went around on this issue once before; you, or whoever was the protagonist, were indignant that I assumed the motor to platter distance is great.  (I assume it because every home or show demonstration of the Verdier I have ever attended over a period of 30 years was set up that way.) What would mitigate belt creep is that most strings used for turntable drive are relatively noncompliant. That does help.  To further minimize belt creep, you would want the motor closer to the platter.  As to the top heaviness of the design, that is just another fact, along with the spongy feet. Do you agree it would be better to use noncompliant feet?  And why do you think I don't love music just as much as you do?
What is going to happen if you replace your AT 616 footers (which btw I also happen to own) ..... and place four blocks of slate material in their place?  

I've noticed you've got those AT-616 pneumatic feet under your "naked" SP10 mkII that you're using with tonearm pod. I must say i never tried any pods or "naked fashion" style with my SP-10mkII. Also i don't have SP-10 mkII anymore, i've been using mine in a custom made teak wood plinth or very small rubber feet.  Now my turntable is Luxman PD-444 and i made my metal custom racks for them. 

Anyway, i can't explain anything to Lewis as he's much more experienced that me when it comes to different turntables. 

However, i love all my direct drive turntables, some of them are expensive, some are not so expensive, but i can't detect any lack of speed accuracy or any other problem with Lux PD-444, Denon DP-80, Victor TT-101, Technics SP-20 and SP-10 mkII.  

chakster I've noticed you've got those AT-616 pneumatic feet under your "naked" SP10 mkII that you're using with tonearm pod.



Look again.  the AT616 are no where near the SP10.

The Sp10 is held up by Solid SS columns. These columns are bolted into the Sp10 and the Plinth. 

The AT616 are then placed under this plinth - Three of them.

The Plinth holds the Armpod as well.

Understand that this setup went with through many versions.

Prior to the that Sp10 project I had personally built a plinth of multi layer birch / mdf and aluminum. I believe its around 50 lbs.

Here is a picture of it.



What I was getting at with the AT616.

The AT616 are what I would call a first level good pneumatic suspension.

They are not as effective as the feet under La Platine.

I used the slate material as an example to you, because you were referencing a dealer on that other thread that sells alot of turntables made in slate which I imagine he gets from a local quarry. If you replace the AT616 with the slate you create a path both ways for vibrations.  

The turntable would no longer be self-isolating.


@lewm @chakster 

lbelchev discussed La Platine concept/design on the other thread that both of you have posted to.  I believe the following post is eloquent and self explanatory. 


@ct0517  yes i saw your pictures and understood construction of your SP-10 plinth system, it is still "naked" or not traditional plinth. Not sure why your SP10 II is not stable, because it is a stable Direct Drive motor and seems like everybody happy with it. 

Personally i have never used a slate plinth, i even started a thread on here about different plinth for SP-10 (from Steve Dobbins, OMA etc), but i gave up and bought another DD that does not require all that mess up with a plinth. The feet on PD-444 are suspended, but the plinth is super heavy metal, no more question about the plinth for me, i am happy. My AT-616 are for Denon DP-80 plinth and for Victor TT-101 plinth. 

lbelchev explained La Platine original concept, sounds good. 
OMA changed the concept using slate plinth for this turntable. 

What i don't understand is your criticism of Direct Drive speed stability. 
Lewis perfectly explained the weakness of the belt drive. 

Besides other problems with that, that construction would also tend to be a cause of speed irregularity, as stylus drag waxes and wanes over the course of an LP.
Lewm, here is a nice explanation from the manufacturer Jean Verdier:

"Now, let us approach another point: Dr. G.W. explains that playing a record with a stylus consumes energy and that this energy is variable on account of the changes of musical modulation, resulting in drive speed variations of the platter.

That is absolutely correct and it is one of the basic problems facing the turntable designer. The author than explains how to remedy this: the motor must renew the energy as swiftly as possible to keep constant speed, that is the reason for using a low inertia motor. I think that if this were true, no turntable could work well, because no motor is good enough. Fortunately, we can make use of more powerful tools to settle that problem.

The first tool is well known, it is the platter’s inertia. The heavier platter, the more it works to counter momentary variations in speed, but the challenge is to make a very thick and massive platter which doesn’t ring like a bell.

The second tool is less well-recognized than the first: the constant-coupled brake system. Since the player stylus consumes variable amounts of energy, we have to mask that consumption by permanently consuming much more energy by the use of a brake. The larger the ratio between the energy consumed by the brake and the energy consumed by the stylus, the better turntable work.

To be clear: only a few models of turntables have this device. To understand the concept better, have a look at a Thorens TD 124 which uses a brake with Foucault’s current excited by a permanent magnet, or EMT 927 which has a completely mechanical brake consisting in washers placed around the axle with the capability of adjusting the pressure and therefore the braking action.

On my turntable, the brake is present, but invisible to the casual eye-it is furnished by the axle and bearing. The two parts are unusual in their very large dimensions. The two facing surfaces of about 60 cm2 separated by lubricating viscous oil form the brake."

We can see this brilliant principle in 2020 - CS Port Analog Disk Player LFT1 (£48,000.00): "In LFT 1, the rotation control is not performed, and the constant speed rotation is left to the high moment of inertia of the 27 kg platter, creating a rotation free from unnecessary vibration caused by the control. Only the positive direction force is applied from the motor, but by using a coreless motor with LESS MOMENT OF INERTIA, the influence of the vibration is reduced."

There are more hidden things, but modern audiophiles are looking for exactly 33.33333 ....