Anyone had the chance to hear both of these tables? Would appreciate any opinions. Cheers!
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Hi Jeffl, thanks for your comments. You've got a very nice system btw! I think you're right; TR tables, espcially FB tables are HUGE in Germany, but not as well known outside Europe. I agree, the TR are beautifully engineered & look great, but more importantly sound excellent. But I also have a lot of respect for Helmut Brinkmann.
Dear Chosenhandle, You wrote, "I was surprised how different it sounded from la grange and balance. Much more lively sound." Call me crazy, but perhaps that is the difference between belt drive and direct drive that you heard. Thus, the Transrotor, I think, uses a belt to drive a magnetic subplatter which then drives the main platter without touching it. Great idea as far as low noise, but it must have some "stretch-i-ness" in terms of precision, kind of like a rubber drive belt vs a string or tape drive belt.
For laughs, you must read the description of the Bardo in the latest Absolute Sound. Paul Seydor describes the drive system without using the word "direct" and makes it sound terribly exotic and novel and "magnetic". Heck, it's got a coreless motor and uses direct drive, both great ideas that seem unfamiliar to the reviewer.
Hi Lewm, reading your comments it would seem on paper the Bardo's direct drive system is technically superior to the Fat Bob Reference, however i'm not so sure the TR's belt drive would suffer from "stretchiness" since it uses a much shorter precision machined belt which only has to drive a low mass sub-platter, which in turn drives the main platter. Thus I would have thought TR's TMD is more accurate than a conventional belt-driven design? My listening impressions of the Fat Bob demonstrated it has excellent PRAT. It was clearly superior to the ZET 3.1 which does not have TMD and uses a more conventional design to drive the main platter. Stepping away from design differences for a moment, the other variable is implementation, so it would be great to hear from an AG'er who has heard both the FB Ref & Bardo.
I have no direct knowledge of the Transrotor IMD, and I did not mean to imply so. It may work great. When I was last considering a new Belt Drive tt, a Transrotor with IMD was near the top of a very short list. I do have to wonder whether the magnetic drive itself permits something akin to what can happen with a stretch-y belt. That's all I was trying to say. I would look closely at it, if I were considering buying one. In my present state of mind, I tend to favor direct-drive or idler-drive. So I am not unbiased, and perhaps my remark was unfair or unjustified.
Hi Lewm, thanks for the clarification about the stretch you were commenting on. I guess what you fall back on is Transrotor have been building turntables for 40 years, so that's got to account for something. Still I do admire the Bardo which I think is a well engineered table. What a nice problem to have!
I can add some insight regarding using the TMD bearing versus the standard bearing in a Transrotor Apollon turntable. It is not a Fat Bob S, but it is using the same TMD bearing. The Brinkmann Bardo costs nearly twice as much as the Fat Bob S in Germany. I do not have much information regarding the Brinkmann except that it is also a fine turntable and have seen and heard it at various audio shows in Germany.
I use three 180mm short drive belts. In addition, my Apollon has been modded to every factory upgrade possible. 80mm platter, 3M Konstant 3 motor controller, and the TMD bearing. Prior to the TMD bearing upgrade, my turntable would free wheel for a while before it would stop and the start up from a stop was easier. When I added the TMD bearing; the force of the magnets are powerful on the TMD bearing assembly which now cause the platter start and stops to be more forceful as the inertia of either start or stop must overcome the magnetic field during initial start up and when you stop. When I mean forceful, the initial spin requires a good amount of torque to spin the platter from a stop. I do notice as my belts get older, I need to help the platter along, well with almost a 30 lb platter with record clamp, maybe it ought to be for every start, regardless of age of the belts, that is a lot of strain for any belt, even three.
The main differences I notice, and this is spoken from layman's terms as I do not claim to be any expert in such technology, is that the speed of the platter is a lot more stable, without speed drift that seemed to creep in every so often with the non-magnetic platter, as measured by my strobe disk. I think in part this is more of an indication of the electrical fluctuations than anything and to a degree to the non TMD platter versus the TMD platter. With the TMD, the effect of the electrical fluctuations have less of an effect on the platter causing the speed to remain more stable. I wish that the Transrotor had some type of speed controller that shows the speed in actual time and corrects the speed as needed. The upgraded speed controller is excellent and provides quartz controlled power to three motors, and I can adjust the speed as necessary after I measure it using the strobe disk or the Sutherland Timeline.
Okay, what does this boil down to? It means, that when I bought the TMD option, I thought of the physics, from a novice point of view and related that to many years as an audio geek, and decided that TMD was worth the upgrade, because the drifting speed in turntables I had before were present in other belt driven turntables I have owned; Panasonic, Pioneer, and the only non belt driven turntable I owned, the Denon DP62L, which was always speed stable. I never second guessed my decision, and despite looking at some other costlier options, I am pretty sure I will be content for the rest of my life with the TMD option, especially on the TR Apollon. The Fat Bob S has received some excellent reviews here in Germany and other parts of the world.
I hope this gives you a personal perspective concerning the TMD bearing and what it did to help me enjoy listening to music even more, in which case, I never can get enough.
Good luck with your decision, you will be happy either no matter what decision you make, it is for yourself after all.
Thanks for your insightful comments. I had a read of your review of your Apollon table which is very nice btw! I can understand why your platter might require a bit of a nudge to get going after the belts get older; the 80mm platter you're using comes in at 15kg! I was discussing another model with my Dealer; the Fat Bob Plus which has a 60mm (12kg) platter and asked if there would be any benefit in running two or three motors on that table & he said no, other than the ability to play 78's. I'm not sure if the lighter platter plays some part?
Cost and availability ultimately shaped my decision though. Once you added on all the desirable extras on the Bardo, it was actually quite a bit more expensive than the FB Reference, and despite it's slightly superior direct drive design, I couldn't see enough sonic benefit to justify the extra cost. A bit of news; my Dealer offered me an excellent deal on a Fat Bob Plus which I couldn't pass up, so I pulled the trigger and had it specified with a Konstant M-1 ps, SME-5009 tonearm & Miyajima Shilabe cartridge, which leaves extra money for a good phono stage. The 'Plus' is a new model which has a heavier, larger diameter base compared to the 'S' & updated sytling so i'm wrapped! I hope to get the table set up soon :)
Hi Lewm, well no that's not exactly the case. The FB Reference & Bardo tables at list are similar in price, but with the FB Ref you're getting a reference power supply & very good tonearm for the same price, whereas a reference ps & high end tonearm are cost-extras on the Bardo. Certainly the FB Plus is a great value table at it's price point!
You are quite welcome. I think you made a wise choice for yourself based on many factors. I have never ever considered the TR TMD or belt drive system a hindrance to the sound and quality of the music. It is just astounding; take for example, the leading edge of a drum that cracks from nowhere astonishes me every time. This is a result of music emanating out of the black background so to speak, with explosive and revealing dynamic power. It is this leading edge of the drum thwack or snare that really fascinates among other things. Mids and highs are fantastic and voices are startling realistic with the same sense of emotion and subtle clarity of the breathings, lips parting and all of the voice particulars that appears as if the musician is in the room, which makes for a great listening session. The voices, when they appear out of the black sometimes can make you look around and or jump as you truly think that someone is in the room with you. It never ceases to amaze me how clear and delineated all of these minor details add up to make the greater sum of the music that much better. The Dave Brubeck Time Out song with the drum and cymbal solo really exonerates the attributes from which the source material is played on. Again, the initial attack of the drum is very powerful and in other songs from other groups where the drum has an initial attack such as Aerosmith, Pablo Cruise and ELO, the bass notes and mid bass are incredulous. I am certain that the sum of my system has a lot do with the my experience, however, the source made all of the difference in me being able to tell you about the minor details I am describing, based on the before and after experience with the TMD and 80MM platter. The TR rests on a 290lb Clearaudio Mont Blanc turntable stand and I have never experienced feedback, wow and flutter or otherwise when I subject my system to the full throttle of two 140 watts mono amps and two 15 subs (subs for rock and loud parties).
Regarding the mods and prices compared to the Brinkmann, the TR can add up to cost as much or more as a Brinkmann, I stated the base price in Germany of the TR not including the bigger platter, extra motors, added arm base, tone-arm, and cartridge. Adding all of these mods will add a lot to the price of the TR. Geez, I feel like I am modding my corvette. Also, modding the Bardo will bring up the price as well.
Have fun with your new turntable and keep us informed on how you mod it.
Thanks for your comments Audioquest, yes I must admit I was surprised by the vividness and obvious lack of compression from vinyl when I first heard the Fat Bob Plus. The 'Plus' gives little away to the Reference, and i'm using the same tonearm & ps as the Reference, and the Shilabe is an outstanding cartridge. I think if I upgrade any part of my rig in the future, it is more likely to be the phono stage. My existing stage (Bladelius Heimdal) is a fine phono stage for now. I may also be tempted to upgrade to a reference arm like an SME-V or Triplanar one rainy day, but really we're talking about upgrading from Mercedes to Bentley. I'm perfectly happy where I am.
Dear Mel, Now that you made your choice, there is little point in this, but in the case of the Bardo, you would never want to or have to purchase an optional outboard PS. The Bardo, like all direct-drive turntables, must include its own outboard power supply which needs to be linked to the motor speed via a servo, in order to stablize the drive. In this case, additional AC treatments preceding the motor supply module are unnecessary if not even a bad thing. So the difference in cost between the two still equals the cost of a tonearm, which is not inconsiderable.
Hi Lewm, that's intersting! From your comments, the Bardo is obviously an excellent table straight out of the box, however fate obviously played a part in my decision to go for the TR. Still I will keep an eye on this thread, it would interesting to read any comments from members who have directly compared both the TR Ref and Bardo..both outstanding bits of kit!
I have the Bardo and an Technics Sp10. Both were improved by connecting to a Purepower conditioner. Both were further improved by running the power conditioner on battery pack without connecting to the wall. I checked the speed with a strobe and the same speed is maintained. The sound is more focused with better high frequency detail. It is also smoother with lower noise floor.
My belt drive table seems less sensitive to the power conditioner.
Hi Glai, that's interesting and implies the Brinkmann is more sensitive to line noise. Picking up on earlier discussion about the differences in the belt drive vs direct drive approach, I received this reply directly from Transrotor in response to a question asking why why they decided on the belt, as opposed to direct drive approach -
we chose the belt drive because we think it is the best way not to bring resonances from the motor to the platter. The negative aspect of the belt drive (the belt slip) is compensated by the magnetic drive, the TMD
I don't know about the Bardo, but the SP10 external power supply converts AC from the wall socket to DC and delivers three discrete DC voltages to the main chassis. I guess it could not hurt to supply it with "clean" AC, if one lives in an environment where the AC could be contaminated with noise from machinery, etc. But Glai, if your SP10 was not running rock solid at speed before you interposed a conditioner, then I would posit that it is not performing optimally, possibly due to bad electrolytic capacitors, if you've never replaced them. I was supposing that the Bardo motor also runs off DC derived in its outboard supply, when I stated that an additional outboard supply, between the wall socket and the Bardo box would be redundant, at best. What I meant was that there would be no expense with respect to purchasing something like a Walker Audio Motor Controller or VPI SDS, or the like. AC regenerators or purifiers and whether they help is another matter.
I merely want to state my experience that cleaner power improves the playback of the Bardo which the OP is interested in.
My Bardo and Sp10mk2 both benefit from cleaner power. THe SP10mk2 even more so. This experience is different from " The Bardo, like all direct-drive turntables, must include its own outboard power supply which needs to be linked to the motor speed via a servo, in order to stablize the drive. In this case, additional AC treatments preceding the motor supply module are unnecessary if not even a bad thing".
My Bardo has the upgraded power supply and the Technics SP10mk2 is from Artisan Fidelity with new caps and more. Both hold speed without and with the power conditioner. In the case of Brinkmann, there are power supply options with both their DDs and BDs which change the sound significantly. Maybe your sp10mk3 has a better designed power supply that takes this out of the equation.
I am in the suburbs not very far from power line with a dedicated subpanels and lines installed by AV solutions. The AC off the wall rages from 119V to 121V. Crude THD measurements is 4%. Unplugged from the wall, the regenerate AC is 120V with 0.8-0.9 THD.
The improvement I hear seems to be more than just speed stability. I suspect that it is related to less vibration of the motor. The noise floor drop away with softer notes played softer and overall increased in dynamic range and more focus. The gains on belt drive are less.
Glai, I apologize if I sounded offensive or aggressive. I thought you had written something to the effect that you "noticed" improved speed stability when you introduced the AC regenerator. This to me meant that you looked at the little strobe device on your SP10 and could see that the orange and black display was noticeably more stable, which is what prompted my remark about capacitors. On the other stuff, it seems we are in agreement.
By the way, please don't laugh, but my SP10 Mk3 is still sitting on the floor in my office/study. I have yet to put the plinth together and have been quite happy with my Kenwood L07D and my Lenco, in the meantime. I did make some progress over the weekend, and there's not much left to do except to drill the armboard.
As a recent buyer of a Transrotor Fat Bob, I agree with all that was said about its performance above. Fit and finish is superb, and it is as quiet as I have ever experienced. dynamics are startling. Well worth the purchase price. Currently using a Monster Alpha 1 cartridge. While my listening time has been short, I have not found any area of complaint yet.
03-15-11: Melbguy1I trust the Transrotor turntables are good sound products based on what was commented from earlier posts. I also think the TMD is a clever idea for belt-drive. But I'm surprised by their response to why they chose belt drive. Isn't direct-drive in itself a form of magnetic drive? Just think of the TMD is driven by coils instead of outboard motor using a belt. And if the DD motor is spinning at 33rpm, half Hz, isn't it innately quieter than one or three motors spinning at, say, 300rpm to 1800rpm, isolated by a belt or not? The only noise issue with DD is the quality of the bearing, which applies to ALL turntables. This is just another case of someone who does not understand the workings of direct drive. Let's face it, building quality DD table is expensive and, more importantly, requires a lot of knowledge in electronics beyond just mechanical engineering. I have no problem with them saying they simply prefer the sound of belt-drive, instead of using the, by now, really tiresome argument against DD. The horse is dead, stop beating on it.
Hi. How are you enjoying the Transrotor?
In the case of vibrations, wow and flutter, and distortion with the Fat B and the Apollon, the motors are outboard and isolated separately from the platter assembly, negating any direct vibrational affects. Plus, each motor assembly is I believe internally damped with some interesting advanced technology to mitigate any noises or vibrations that might emanate from the motor assembly. Having three motors, I can state that I do not hear, feel vibrations, nor have I had any issues, whatsoever. The measured performance of using the TMD combined with the Transrotor motors, based on the classic Pabst technology, is so miniscule, that traditional Wow and Flutter measurements are hard to measure.
In fact, the combination of TMD and outboard motors used caused quite a stir in a German magazine a few years ago due to the extremely low measured distortion; comparably lower than some direct drive models.
The combination of the TMD and the isolated outboard motors add to the overall benefit of creating an extremely quiet and stunning musical presentation.
I am also happy to state that I do not have any problems many people report regarding vibrations, sensitivity, or influences from the external environment, just pure musical bliss.
Hi AQ, the Fat Bob Plus is really excellent, very smooth in operation and as you say it has a stunning musical presentation. Thanks for your further insight into their design. Transrotor have just superior design, engineering & forward thinking. It is really simplistic to simply say direct drive is superior to Transrotor's TMD. That is like saying Lexus is superior to Rolls Royce.
Melbguy1: "It is really simplistic to simply say direct drive is superior to Transrotor's TMD. That is like saying Lexus is superior to Rolls Royce."I did NOT say direct-drive is superior to anything. I own all three drive systems: belt-drive, idler-drive, and idler-drive. All three are capable of good sound. But when it comes to direct-drive, I hear the same argument against it over and over again, i.e., if the platter is directly attached to the motor then therefore it will have vibration and no way of isolating it. My view is that the motor and platter share the same bearing and it has only one single moving part which is running at such slow speed at 33rpm that vibration isolation is not even needed. I see the mechanical simplicity as a plus and hence my fondness of it. Of course there are other issues that can haunt a DD system such as cogging, servo speed, magnetic shielding, etc... and those are valid objections. Nobody said it's perfect.
The TMD system is very clever and to me more elegant than their FMD or the one used in Clearaudio Statement or EAR Disk Master. I have no doubt it is a quiet table and offers the mentioned good sound and I am happy that you're enjoying it. Hell, I would like to try one myself. Again, my comment was directed at TR's response to the DD motor/platter isolation issue, which is a non-issue to me, and hope people can just move on to addressing other meaningful analog issues. I am certain people will bring up the same argument again and again... just like life.
Audioquest4life: "In fact, the combination of TMD and outboard motors used caused quite a stir in a German magazine a few years ago due to the extremely low measured distortion; comparably lower than some direct drive models."
Do the said direct drive models use the same bearing as the TMD? I rest my case.
When I first read about TMD, I was enchanted. What a great idea! I was actually ready to buy a Transrotor with TMD, before I started my investigation of direct drive and idler drive. I still think the Transrotors are fine turntables, but now I see TMD as the interposition of another drive motif between the belt itself and the platter. So, I would be wary that the TMD system adds unwanted compliance where there is already some unwanted compliance from the belt itself. (Did I read somewhere that some Transrotor aficionados prefer to pass up on the TMD option? If so, that's telling.) As someone else said, direct-drive could be thought of as a form of TMD, but with any true direct-drive motor, the force (torque) that controls the platter motion would be more powerful, less compliance between the stator and the rotor=platter than with pure permanent magnet TMD. I make no judgement for anyone but me.
Lewm: "I would be wary that the TMD system adds unwanted compliance where there is already some unwanted compliance from the belt itself."Maybe this is the reason the EAR Disk Master uses noncompliant gear belt to lessen the compliance in sum with the magnetic force. TR can probably use something less stretchy like mylar tape or film. I was enchanted by the TMD too and still think it's a great idea.
"(Did I read somewhere that some Transrotor aficionados prefer to pass up on the TMD option? If so, that's telling.)"
Not from me:)-. I cannot substantiate that statement. I went from a non TMD bearing assembly and then upgraded incrementally until I had no more upgrades to make. I started with the 80mm platter (teller auf Deutsche) and the TMD bearing assembly. My initial impressions of that first upgrade to the TMD and larger teller; increased transient response, better attack, and more bass.
I am very happy with these upgrades and thus cannot relate to any negatives about this type of setup. I love to listen to music, what you and others all do, and at the end of the day, equate such mods, as basics for men in particular, as my wife has stated, the same as modding ones Harley Davidson or Corvette.
On another note. I just love what you did with your DP80. I have a DP62L that needs some serious work, I want to bring it back into service for our living room system. I do not know where to start. It spins, but the front Denon light is inop and the arm is bent ( a result of a very Psychotic ex-wife). I only have one arm, the bent S arm, and only one weight. I hope to revive it someday, I need to find someone who can do some repairs. Do you have any tips? Thanks.
Tips on Denon restoration:
(1) Send it to Bill Thalmann at Music Technologies in Springfield, VA, for a complete evaluation and repair as needed. If the strobe is inoperative, it may mean that the one IC used in the Denon circuitry is at least partially damaged. I can help you to find an NOS one.
(2) I will be happy to supply to you the drawing I made in order (in pdf form) to have a piece of slate cut to fit the Denon (all Denon DP chassis' have the same shape, I think). I can tell you where I bought my slate slab and where I had it cut by waterjet, too.
Hey, you live in my area. You can come by any time (with some advance notice).
Hiho, my apology for taking your comment out of context. You sound like you are an enthusiastic vinylphile and have a good understanding of different drive systems. I can appreciate those that find certain systems (eg: idler drive) fascinating and enjoy such tables. The matter of which system is "best" is murky water. To firstly answer Lewm's question, the feedback I got from my Dealer and directly from Transrotor is that the TMD bearing is superior to the non-TMD bearing & contributes to greater speed stability and lower noise. As Transrotor put it "we chose the belt drive because we think it is the best way not to bring resonances from the motor to the platter. The negative aspect of the belt drive (the belt slip) is compensated by the magnetic drive, the TMD."
Just regarding TR's FMD bearing. I can tell you up close it is awesome and if engineering has anything to do with it, it just appears far superior to TMD. I asked TR commented "..most important the FMD bearing. Which works like the TMD bearing with a magnetic coupling but has a total separation between the driven platter and the main platter."
I used Google Chrome and translated to English to find the differences between TMD and FMD
This link covers FMD
This link covers TMD:
I used the Google Chrome translate. I can speak, read and write auf Deutsche. The FMD appears to still be a belt drive type system, but with another magnetic bearing for the driving belt, versus the magnetic bearing for the platter itself.
I guess you could say this would be like modding your Harley with every chrome accessory possible.
TMD = Transrotor Magnet Drive
Using a ring bearing surrounding the platter bearing underneath the subplatter driven by a belt. The ring bearing holds the magnets that attacts the magnets in the subplatter above. This ring bearing is still mounted on the same plinth as the main bearing.
Diagram of TMD
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
FMD = Free Magnet Drive
Using a belt-drive motor pod underneath the turntable. The motor pod holds the magnet that attracts the magnets in the subplatter above. FMD differs from TMD is that FMD is completely mechanically separated from the turntable above. Similar system in the Clearaudio Statement and EAR Disk Master.
Diagram of FMD . . . and . . . more pictures.
I looked it up, too. Life could have been simpler if they just made a direct-drive turntable instead, the new politically correct term for which is "magnetic drive". Why bother with the belt at all? If one insists on the ultimate in isolation, they could have made a direct-drive that magnetically drives the top platter. Maybe I can get to hear Audioquest's TMD some day.
Ultimately the success of a drive system comes down to implentation & the talent of the audio engineer. Price point does play a part. The old addage applies that you pay, you get. Though if you watch the 'Gon, some killer decks come up fs now and then. I just love the TR tables & I can say i'm sticking with them. They have 40 years of experience which gives you assurance.
"Maybe I can get to hear Audioquest's TMD some day." You have an open invitation. I am still settling in and optimizing my system for the much smaller room I am in compared to the expansive room I had in my house in Germany. I think I will be "show" ready soundwise in about another month or so. As you know, it is a massive undertaking to move a system and optimize for a room and conditions. Now add a transatlantic move and things are more complicated. It appears my Krell SACD is now acting up, sigh.
I believe seeing a fully hot rodded Transrotor Apollon, minus FMD, would be of interest to you.
Do you have a handle in Audioasylum? I would like to send you a private e-mail to chat offline.
Lewm: "Life could have been simpler if they just made a direct-drive turntable instead"
That's what I've been saying! But audiophiles always have a hard time grasping the concept of direct drive that it is "magnetic drive" -- instead of driving the top platter with another set of magnets, it can be driven by magnetic field generated by coils, which is a stator in a motor, and this system is called, voila, direct-drive! Granted it comes with its upside and downside but, yes, life could have been simpler.
Regarding the TMD, I am curious why the secondary bearing, the ballrace bearing (maybe the technical term is angular contact bearing"?) is attached to the platter bearing, at least according to the diagram. Wouldn't it be better to have the collar bearing decoupled from the bearing shaft to have better isolation? Perhaps, I am not interpreting the drawing correctly.
Part of the purpose of a magnetic bearing is not just to isolate, but to relieve the load on the bearing. That way you get the benefit of a heavy platter without the problem of excess weight on the bearing which could create wear and noise. I have a Fat Bob, and there is contact between the bearing and platter, as the magnet is not strong enough to levitate the platter, but the load is minimal.