Yeah. There's even a pretty good review on it. Still, hard to see it as much more than a gimmick. Appearance is of course really important with turntables. But still....
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I started a thread on it several weeks back. No one here owns one yet and I do not suspect there will be a lot of takers. It is more like a conversation piece. The background noise on even the best pressing is a lot higher than any reasonable modern belt driven turntable so in reality a solution in search of a problem. But it is cool.
According to several posters on Vinyl Asylum, this company or this product has gone under. The stories are conflicting. One is that it cost too much to produce. Another is that it cannot work with an MC cartridge because of the magnetic field. And finally, another person wrote that it plain does not work reliably.
Mijostyn, "The background noise on even the best pressing is a lot higher than any reasonable modern belt driven turntable so in reality a solution in search of a problem."
Do you think that bearing noise is irrelevant? If so, I assure you that it is not. Just listen to an air bearing TT with air in all three dimensions.
As Glen said, what about stability? What fixes the record with respect to the stylus? Does the platter wobble when the stylus is dropped? Horizontally? Vertically? Got to suspect it does, at least somewhat, and the effect is audible.
terry9, What evidence can you present that it is impossible to reduce bearing noise to the point where it is indeed "irrelevant"? Bearing noise is never zero, but in well designed turntables, it is below audibility to a listener at the listening position. Therefore, I kind of think the floating platter is a gimmick designed to appeal to those who are looking for a novelty item to show off to friends, rather than for good sound reproduction. Furthermore, there is or has to be a trade-off in stability of the rotation of the platter, with that device, because the center of rotation is not mechanically fixed in space. That could lead to massive amounts of wow and tracing distortion. Or maybe that's why it is reportedly off the market. (Hearsay evidence for that, I admit.)
Good question. Experiment was as follows.
Began with a TT which is famous for the quality of its bearing: Nottingham Analogue, one of the last Mentors, with the Dais bearing (their $10,000 TT). I played this TT for years and years, before:
Decided to build my own DIY air bearing TT. Inspired by the NA design of massive cast iron sub-platter with 1" of graphite sur-platter, I bought a large soft extruded iron billet and had it machined into a 45kg sub-platter. I specified a 1" graphite sur-platter, and an air bearing spindle to hold them. While each of them on its own rings when struck, the assembly is dead as a tomb. Just like the NA.
This assembly is mounted on a porous graphite air thrust bushing from New Way. The plinth is a complex of panzerholz and massive steel. Neither turntable is suspended. The NA plinth was replaced with an aluminum-baltic birch-aluminum sandwich.
Each turntable is fitted with a Trans-Fi Terminator air bearing tonearm. It is easy to exchange wands between them. Cartridge is a Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum with diamond cantilever. Phono stage is DIY full complementary push-pull with vacuum and air gap capacitors. Amps are DIY class A. Speakers are Quad ESL’s.
Now the experiment. The motors are disconnected, so that the essential difference between the TT’s is the friction in the bearing. Neither TT has an audible noise component when spinning - that is, audible at a few inches. The only indication of mechanical work being done in the NA is that the platter slows down.
The music produced by the DIY air bearing TT is notably more refined than the NA. Think of the difference between an electrolytic cap in the signal path compared to a film and foil cap. In the first few seconds, it seems like the air bearing is missing high frequency information, and in some sense it is - no high frequency distortion caused by bearing noise. But after listening for a minute or less, the difference (and preference) is clear: music from the air bearing is more natural and more musical.
After extended listening, it also turns out that the air bearing TT is less fatiguing (actually, not at all fatiguing). Furthermore, singers with unfamiliar accents or poor diction are more understandable. I conclude that bearing noise is a problem - and since I could hear bearing noise in the big new Technics DD, making it much inferior to the NA, it was easy to pass.
Terry9, have a SOTA Cocmos and an SME 30/12 and no matter how hard I try I can not hear the bearing on either turntable. How do I know?
Like Michael Fremer I have Pure Vinyl and can record records to the computer which by the way I do not due on a routine basis. I recorded the same record run out track from both turntables trying to figure out which one made more noise. Switching from one recording to the other, with the exception of slight differences in frequency response (different cartridges)
They sounded exactly the same even EQ ing the bass way up (rumble).
All the audible noise was on the record not the turntables. I can not tell if an air bearing makes a difference but given the above results I seriously doubt it. It is an exercise in technology for technologies sake just like this thing. Which means that rich people make more dumb mistakes than us regular guys:)
Audiophile Rule # 27
"One needs to remove the noise - before the difference can be heard"
For your specific example both your SOTA and SME use conventional mechanical bearings. Bring into your room a turntable without a mechanical bearing - and you will hear.
If you have seen the video of the table, it is clear that it cannot do even the basics of delivering decent performance--the platter wobbles like crazy. Even if this were not a concern, I don't see how it delivers any advantage at all--the arm and cartridge, which are the components that are most sensitive to, and need protection from, vibration, is anchored to a base that is not suspended. The drive element of the system is located in the base and will be a source of motor vibration even if the platter and rotor elements are suspended in air.
The Luxman magnetic bearing was not designed to fully float, it was designed to lessen the down-force, pressure, and stresses on the thrust bearing and contact points... and thus lower the friction, and lower the complex noise generation and noise transmission.
It’s right there in the widely available design brief for the turntable.....
And it works exactly as advertised....
If the TT in the OP is what I think it is (a floaty wobbly useless thing), it is a gimmick and a strong outlier of a backward step for high fidelity.
Audiophile rule #27 is for idiots. In this example the noise on the record is a constant and the same in both examples so just like a math problem it cancels out. Next, since when are air bearings not mechanical? There is a shaft in bushings just like any table except this one. Just the thrust plate is air. Clear audio and SOTA accomplish exactly the same thing in a far more elegant fashion using opposing magnets. A more appropriate use of a compressor is vacuum hold down. My SOTA with it's new magnetic bearing still sounds exactly the same as the SME without as far as I can tell. Admittedly an oscilloscope trace would be more accurate than my ears but I did boost 20 Hz 10 dB which is as far as I could go without breaking a subwoofer from the rumble on the record. No difference. The noise on the record is far in excess of the noise made by the turntable...unless you have a broken bearing or an old idler wheel drive turntable. I have heard those rumble bad enough that you can hear it. Compare one to a modern belt drive table by recording them both with the same record and you will hear the difference. People that do not have boosted subwoofers generally do not care or notice the rumble it seems.
They are just psychologically attached to their turntables which is not a bad thing at all. You have to like/love you equipment as Nelson Pass said' " Audiophiles just want to be happy." People love their old 356 Porsche's.
Dynamically they are seriously flawed in comparison to a modern 911. But, who cares. They are still really cool cares and give you an experience that can not be matched in a new car. Audio equipment is exactly the same except we want to argue endlessly about what better is.
My car is faster than yours! Who gives a f___.
mijostyn - Audiophile rule #27 is for idiots.
Sure mijostyn - firstly though.
Have you EVER bothered to look under the covers of your mechanical bearing turntable ? I mean at the acual thrust bearing?
1) What happens when you change the viscosity of the fluid it rides in ? The sound changes.
2) What happens when you change the material of the bearing itself ? - the sound changes.
Is this magic ? are you hearing things ?
No. It's a vibration resonance hobby ....Mijostyn
3) So what is going to happen when you eliminate that thrust bearing all together ?
Well - could be good, could be bad - depends on the design. One thing for sure. It will sound different.
My Car Buddies - since you bring up a Porsche.
The funny thing to me is that my car buddies - who mostly think this Audiophile stuff is ..... well ......out there.
"All" of them GET the turntable bearing resonance vibration thing - and what is happening. Changing up of the fluid or the bearing material...
The turntable thrust bearing design is instrumental in how the turntable will sound. It is in the TT's DNA sound.
Anyway, this Mag Lev table can fix its platter wobble fairly simply - but it will lose some of its cool factor.
Mijostyn, you say, "... since when are air bearings not mechanical? There is a shaft in bushings just like any table except this one. "
Not so. Not at all. In my first post I specifically mentioned an air cushion in three dimensions. That is achieved by the New Way air bushings. Look it up.
Although the thrust bearing accounts for most of the friction, hence the noise, the shaft bearing generates enough noise to be easily noticeable. Please re-read my post regarding conclusions - noise is not in the 20Hz region, it's in the 5KHz region.
Further, @ct0517 notes how those attuned to such things can hear the difference between different engine oils. I expect that you can too - just before and after an oil change. It's not some deep psychological thing with your pride of ownership - the sound changes.
Last, I suggest that you conduct your own experiment. Get your platter up to speed by hand, and listen to the purity. Get that sound firmly in mind. Then disconnect the belt and do it again. It will sound different - and better - at least, it does with all 3 motors I have tried. What has changed is noise from the sleeve bearing on the motor - it's gone.
Mijostyn, from your posting about computer files I infer that you have not experimented much with the sound of electronic components. It is highly rewarding, and the physics is pretty much understood.
In general, lower dielectric absorption is better (take-away: teflon or styrene film and foil caps). Faster devices are better (hyperfred diodes, high ft transistors). Etc. A whole new dimension ! Enjoy !
As per usual, this discussion has turned into several arguments. That’s OK. Terry, you seem to have presented evidence that it is worthwhile to have as noiseless a bearing as possible. With that sentiment, I wholeheartedly agree, and I am not at all surprised at the excellence of the performance of your DIY air bearing. Kudos to you, if what you report is accurate. But your bearing is a "real" bearing, not at all like that of the maglev turntable we are discussing, in that your bearing takes into account the necessary function of a turntable bearing: First and foremost, the bearing has to position the platter firmly and fixedly in space while also allowing for rotation in a plane perpendicular to the vertical only, with as low friction as possible. THEN you try to make it as quiet as possible, as you have done.
elliottbnewcombjr187 posts11-19-2019 8:28amGreat idea, but,It does wobble some in the video, but obviously it does not affect the sound. I mean, look at the way the dude is jamming out while the record is playing.
"...have to wait for the platter to come up to speed before the tone arm descends...." What?! A 'Jetson' version of a Flintstone player? And it's How Much?!
My first thought (I do think, contrary to what some may think....or think they do...or...oh, forget it....) was it has to effect the cart...any cart.
Even the old Rabco ST-4 I bought ages ago just for grins works better, mechanical racket and all...
...and it's still amusing to pick the entire arm up off of a record in mixed company if I get tired of waiting for the lift to engage.*L*
I can buy a lot of other things for as much, or less...even Lots of Things.
As for the 'free-spinning' BlewToothed ....looks like a old handset from a telephone....a 'hard-wired' one.....I thought the VW van version was a lot more funny...use one to play old 'bubble-gum' groups only, tho'...
Someone....Somewhere....at a house party, will push that maglev platter sideways while it's playing.....
The 'wow' will Stop Everything Dead....and then, the 'pusher'.
It's likely already has occurred....*sheesh*
ct, it may sound different to you but not to me. I think spending hours trying to limit the rumble from a TD 124 qualifies and yes, I had the table almost entirely apart. I have never taken either my SOTA or SME apart. No reason to. Neither table makes any noise that I can hear as far as sonic differences between the tables I can not say. The SME is set up for low compliance cartridges and the SOTA for medium. I would have to by an Identical Air Tight or Koetsu install it in the SOTA and add a lot of weight to the arm. That would be a little too rich for my blood.
Terry9, absolutely congratulations on making your own turntable. As far as bearing type is concerned from an aesthetic point of view no thrust plate makes sense and with opposing magnets easy to do. A shaft is a shaft and air rushing through tight spaces makes noise. Try whistling. Does this noise make a difference? Who knows. But if I can't hear any noise why would it matter. As far as sound better, that is a psycho-subjective analysis you can not trust any human to make accurately which is why there is so much mythology and BS in the Audiophile world.
I like elegance and fine machining in a mechanical device more than anything. In my mine the simplest solution that solves the problem is always best. I can appreciate the Walker Proscenium Black for what it is but I would never buy one. It is way too complicated and IMHO darn ugly.
Rubber bands and springs work just fine. Yes, my SME is also pretty ugly, even worse with a Kuzma 4 point 14 hanging off it but boy is it built.
The only review i read (on Positive Feedback) claims that the wobble disappears once you get the table perfectly level. That reviewer also unnecessarily advocated upgrading cart, PC and interconnects. Mag-Lev's
website says 30 day money back guarantee of satisfaction (not including freight and return shipping of course) if anyone feels adventurous.
the mag-lev looks cool. but, so what? just get a vintage empire turntable, it will smoke this thing (and any other new $3k table, imo.) if you want a floating platter turntable, spend big money and get a verdier platine. no, you won't see air under the platter, but they are great turntables.
just have one of these in your listening room if you want something cool-looking. (i have one in my bedroom, it's the nite-light.):