why not get your sapphire refurbished?
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Get a quote on getting it refinished at an auto body shop, I recall seeing one in high gloss red and while it didn't float my boat the fit and finish looked great. I'm sure they could finish it in any color you like. Will likely be cheaper to do that and get it upgraded at sota than buying the new tt. Just food for thought. Either way GL with the search.
I have both, Sota Star and Clearaudio Performance. the Performance is a very nice table, dead quiet and speed right on the money. The Satisfy carbon arm is also very good. I dont think you will lose any performance by switching to the Clearaudio, but you will need to isolate it in some manner if room vibrations are an issue. The Sota has about the best suspension system around, so you will lose that benefit.
your Sota is built with a spring isolation suspension system built in. One of the best. So it is not susceptable to external vibrations as would a ridgid mount turntable. If your floor is anything but a concrete slab, you might have issues with vibrations from your foot steps causing vibration in your turntable, and therefore distortion in your cartridge. also, if you play loud, bass note vibration can cause feedback. Your cartridge is basically a microphone, picking up vibration whether it is on the record or in the air. The Sota is designed to minimize those effects. A ridgid table has to sit on something that absorbs those vibrations from the floor before they get to the table.
Except that Manitunc does not mention the negative aspects of the spring suspension on the SOTA. This is one of the age-old controversies among vinylphiles. There are inherent advantages and disadvantages to both unsprung and sprung designs. This is not to say that I would choose Clearaudio over SOTA.
The suspension system needs to be damped, else the chassis will continue to bounce up and down well after the inciting force has passed. The designer also needs to tune the suspension so as to filter out frequencies around a certain set point. These choices and how they are achieved have major effects on the outcome. Also, suspensions can limit the weight of the tonearm that can be used, because the tonearm can cause the suspension to sag eccentrically. (In fairness, SOTA has a nice way of getting around the problem.) But finally, once you have a suspension, you have to worry about where and how to mount the motor. If the motor is not also suspended, then when the suspension is flexing it is also changing the length of the flexible belt. And the belt would have to be flexible to permit this action. Stretching of the belt leads to very audible pitch variation, and stretchy belts also increase "belt creep". Early SOTAs were very prone to this problem. So then the motor needs to be mounted ON the suspended part of the chassis (as SOTA does do these days, or so I am told), which means that its vibrations and noise are right on board with the springy suspension. Also its mass, which is another source of unbalance and sagging. Yadayada.
Current Sotas do not bounce around as the spring system is better controlled. The Sota Cosmos uses a different motor which is mounted on the solid aluminum plinth and therefore suspended, so those issues of unsprung motor/sprung platter are eliminated, but truthfully, with the later suspension, there was little movement even when changing records. The Oracle Delphi V and VI are like that too, compared to the early models which were much more affected by movement. The suspended table manufacturers have fine tuned their suspension systems after learning that you dont have to be as delicate in your suspension system to get the desired isolation. The Sota Cosmos motor is also designed with minimal vibration, enough so that I cant tell when its running by feel or by ear.
the old outboard power supply has nothing to do with the above issues, which in my opinion are a non issue anyway. None of my Sotas have exibited sideways movement during play after initial startup anyway, and watching the tonearm during play doesnt reveal any side to side motion that isnt caused by an eccentric record spindle hole.
I have also never had an issue with tonearm weight being a problem, from SME 309 to Helius Omega, both substantial arms. These suspension systems are designed to filter out vibrations around the 2hz level, with other means of dealing with higher frequency vibrations.
Dear Elegal, As Manitunc states also, no. The outboard PS in no way mitigates any effect of having the motor mounted onboard with the suspended mass. Your older SOTA (depends on how old) is likely to have the other problem: motor mounted on the unsuspended chassis. I owned an early 1990s Star Sapphire Series III with vacuum hold-down for many years. I never realized how much pitch instability and muddy bass I was living with until I changed over to a Notts Hyperspace. I've never owned a later generation SOTA, but I have heard the Cosmos, and I agree it's excellent, altho I did not have it in my home on my own system for critical listening. Just based on the technical aspects, I would take a Cosmos over any of the Clearaudio models in its price category.