Clearaudio " Innovation" - What?

Clearaudio has been around for a while and has quite a few well made models to cater for different ends of the vinyl market. I've noted their most recent models are called CA Innovation wood turntables which looks quite attractive where as I find most of their past acrylic models unappealing.

Calling their new model "Innovation" is a bit pretentious perhaps. I'm just wondering what true innovations has Clearaudio brought to the vinyl playback over the years? I'm curious to learn from those who has more knowledge on the subject.
The word ''Innovation'' is surely used only for marketing purposes and to generate some kind of reaction or attention. (Looks like it worked, right?) Whether there is true innovation or not is irrelevant in the marketing arena. It is the perception that counts, not the reality. Well, most of the time.
I think the "innovations" are the magnetic ceramic bearing and optical speed control. Google "Clearaudio Innovation Wood" and you'll find a review or two that discuss these things. Whether they're true innovations I couldn't tell you but they make for a damned fine sounding turntable.
In addition to the items wrm57 mentions, I think plinth construction on the higher-end models may represent innovations also.
I think these are innovations for Clearaudio turntables, not inovations in vinyl playback generally. What new (for Clearaudio) we can find in Ovation, Innovation Compact and Innovation at first sight?

1. DC-motors (instead AC synchronous motors);
2. OSC motor control mode;
3. Sub-platters - aluminium in Ovation and solid stainless steel in Innovation;
4. The main platters are made out of POM (instead GS-PMMA / acrylic).

Several years ago Linn did the "innovations" #1 and #2 as well.
5. Ovation contains another innovation - an internal 'mat' comprising approximately 100.000 tiny stainless steel balls - to soak up resonance and turn it into heat.
There is also a new "Master" innovation (which I will receive shortly). In addition to the ceramic magnetic bearing, it will also employ a similar magnetic drive setup that is used on their statement table ($140,000). Not bad for $24k.
...then again, there are countless ''innovations'' that more or less contribute more to techno blaber than actual AUDIBLE results. Many of those innovations carry fancy names to describe technologies that are shared by many, but that sound unique just because it was given a unique name by a manufacturer. Manufacturers of HD televisions are well-known to having doing this a lot in recent far as audio - think ''HD'' sound. Cracks me up every time !
I’m not sure what they have brought to the “table” in years past is as important as what they currently bring with their new line-up. I do know after listening to the new Ovation that the term Innovation they use to describe their new line is, in my opinion, very apropos and much more than just marketing hype.
I realise it is a marketing jargon. I observe a lot of adopting and may be refinement of others ideas ( delrin composite platter, magnetic bearing, sandwich plinth, swinging arm boards,etc) that has all been done before. I was wondering if they has been any real ground breaking work from CA...
I'm now wondering if this is a troll thread with an anti-Clearaudio agenda. Why single them out for having a model called "Innovation" when you consider how many hyperbolic product names there are in the high end?
Yes, why pick on Clearaudio about the literality of a product name? I owned a Michell Orbe for years and thought it a fine turntable; but you know, it isn't actually spherical! I've known a few overweight guys named Robert; the Transrotor Fat Bob doesn't resemble any of them! And TW Acustik Raven isn't really a bird at all! What gives???
^^^ well said Wrm57 ! :-)

Here are some of product names from Clearaudio:


Anything ends with "ion" will work. Anymore information? :)

Let's not pick on their names. It's just a name. Don't waste time on that. Just move on.

"Magnetic Drive"? Do you mean "Direct Drive" as used by a traditional belt-drive company that wants to disguise the fact that they have found the DD religion?
Or does the magnetic drive drive a belt that drives the platter? Which has also already been done by Transrotor. No slur on Clearaudio is intended. The point is that it is all marketing; there is very little new under the sun when it comes to turntables.
How about "Consumption", as in "conspicuous..."
But we won't be buying the "Malfunction", for sure.
Where'd you get Magnetic Drive? What Clearaudio offers is a ceramic magnetic bearing. From the english version of their German website:
The Clearaudio CMB (Ceramic Magnetic Bearing) is a result of long-term research and development and is based on a Clearaudio patent. Two aligned opposing magnetic fields are perfectly aligned one on top of the other, thereby rejecting each other. The magnetic fields are completely shielded from the outside through the careful application of very sophisticated materials. A high precision ceramic vertical axe fits perfectly into a bronze bearing. This perfect fit is essential and can only be achieved through the highest precision hand polishing.

High-performance synthetic oil is used for lubrication. The combination of these carefully selected components produces the effect of the platter floating by itself on an air cushion, and not on a ball bearing or bearing point.

The results of this magnetic bearing are one of the lowest frictions in turntable bearing design and until now, un-reached rumble measurements, and an unbeatable new standard in speed accuracy.
^^^The new (not yet on the CA site) is a quad plinth'd magnetic driven Innovation called the Master. The lower platter is belt driven w/ optical speed control and it magnetically coupled with the record platter above in the same way their statement table does. Both platters (drive and record are on ceramic bearings) As mentioned, I will have the first copy in North America...bought and paid for, should arrive w/in 2 weeks. There is a picture of the protoype in my system link below.
Congratulations ,nice Christmas gift to yourself, look forward to hearing more about it.

Whats in a name, if Andy Rooney had ever done a piece on product names of the audio industry it certainly would of been highly entertaining.

Rockitman posted some pictures in another forum of the Clearaudio Master Innovation "magnetic-drive" turntable, ie, a belt-drive turntable's platter is driving a turntable above it via magnetic coupling. It's a doubledecker!

Clearaudio Master Innovation pix

It's a noncontact approach. A belt is compliant and so is magnetic force so it's a double compliant system. Why not simply drive the platter with magnetic force using some ironless & coreless coils underneath it and tweak the magnetic force/compliance via precision electronics..... oh, voila, it's a coreless direct drive motor. Oh my god, it's a direct drive turntable! Who wants that?! :-D

P.S. My concern with the Clearaudio approach is the top deck's bearing. To allow the driven platter underneath the top platter the bearing shaft has to protrude down to hold a platter so naturally it cannot allow for single ball bearing well and my guess is a type of angular contact bearing --similar to the EAR Disc Master turntable-- that has more contact point than a simple one baller. To gain no contact on the platter you have to add more contact points on the bearing. You gain something, you lose something. No free lunch.

Verdier, Kenwood (in the L07D), Transrotor, and EAR (among products I know about) have each done something like either the magnetic drive or the magnetic bearing descxribed above. This is not to say that the ideas are not good ones, just not new ones.
12-14-11: Hiho

P.S. My concern with the Clearaudio approach is the top deck's bearing. To allow the driven platter underneath the top platter the bearing shaft has to protrude down to hold a platter so naturally it cannot allow for single ball bearing well and my guess is a type of angular contact bearing --similar to the EAR Disc Master turntable-- that has more contact point than a simple one baller. To gain no contact on the platter you have to add more contact points on the bearing. You gain something, you lose something. No free lunch.

Is that how unit works for their magentic drive on their statement table ? If you don't know, perhaps your concerns are purely speculation ? How is magnetism compliant ? There is no physical contact between the belt driven drive platter and the magnetic interface of the upper portion of the drive platter that connects to the shaft that drives the upper record platter. In fact you can slide a piece of paper through between the drive platter halves while it is spinning. The bottom platter is split in two and that is where the magnetic coupling is done. Not sure I fully grasp your concerns. Unfortunatley I have not seen the table in person and will be able to better describe it's engineering once I receive it.
CA clearly produce some well made turntables and other products over the years. I like their newer Innovation models with the Delrin platter and panzerholz sandwich plinth. The current model name is just that but it prompts my query about any design/advancement for vinyl playback over the years with their resources and engineering know how.
Here is a video of the master innovation be demonstrated by Musical Surroundings at RMAF 2011!
Dear Rockitman, There can be some "play" in the attraction or repulsion between two magnets. "Play" = compliance. So, even a direct-drive turntable could in that sense be said to have some compliance built into the system. All other turntable drive systems would have additional built-in compliance, depending upon how many energy interfaces there are between the motor and the platter, e.g., belts, idlers, magnetically attracted or repulsed or rotated elements.
Thanks for explaining that Lewm !


Chris Brady of Teres Audio responded in a forum thread about "magnetic drive" of the type by Clearaudio, EAR, or Transrotor, etc..., here's what he had to say:

"Magnetic drive is a more ambiguous term. Every electric motor in existence is has magnetic drive. The rotor of the motor is driven by magnetic pull from the stator. And just like the coupling methods used by EAR and Clearaudio this magnetic coupling is "stretchy" much like a rubber belt. The compliance of the field in the motor is directly proportional to it's torque capability. I don't see how using a powerful motor connected to an EAR type magnetic coupling scheme would be any different than just using a weaker motor without the magnetic coupling. Please correct me if I am missing something. So magnetic coupling is also a marketing term for a scheme that adds a layer of magnetic compliance in series with the motors internal magnetic compliance. Much like a stout rubber belt driving another more stretchy rubber belt.... The EAR approach has the common characteristic with direct drive of no physical contact. But I think that the resulting sound would be much more like belt drive than direct drive."

Lewm is correct about magnetism that it is NOT a rigid system otherwise there would be no isolation of vibration and I have to assume that's what the Clearaudio Master Innovation or Statement is trying to do. In the Master Innovation, it is essentially one turntable stacked on top of another, the bottom belt-driven table is driving the top table via magnetic force and I understand the isolation advantage of such method. After all the motor is isolated by a belt and the top platter is isolated by magnetic force so it is compliance after compliance. It ought to be quiet. I get that.

But if you focus just on the bearing of the top table and how it is set up, it is not likely the bearing is a shaft in a hole with a single ball at one end type. Is it? If it's not a single ball type then it would have to be multiple balls around the shaft so the bottom end can hold the platter with the magnets. Typically manufacturers would use a kind of "angular contact bearing" a la EAR and such bearing may not be as quiet as a single ball type bearing. Maybe Clearaudio's design comes up with some innovative ideas in dealing with that. That's what engineering is all about.

You're right; it's all speculations. When you get the table, please let us know its performance. I look forward to a sonic report.

PS. Here's another conceptual game. Just imagine the bottom table is eliminated and is replaced by a series of coils (stator) generating a magnetic field to drive the magnets (rotor) above. And, voila, it is a direct drive turntable, the original magnetic drive system.

Thanks Hiho. When I assemble the table I will endeavor to photo the various steps/parts to get a better understanding on CA's magnetic drive implementation. I will put them up on my website that I will link too.