After using (and enjoying) belt-drive turntables for over 30 years, I wanted to try something new.
Also having used a Koetsu cartridge for more than 20 years, the realisation (thank you, Jean Nantais) that Yoshiaki Sugano used an idler drive turntable (Garrard 401). was further encouragement. The Salvation is another product from Trans-Fi Audio – manufacturer of the Terminator linear tracking, air-bearing tonearm (seen above).
Essential features of the Salvation turntable:
- Rim Drive platter.
- Solid aluminium, 9kg, unusually large 14 inch diameter platter. (An acrylic platter version is also available).
- DC power supply, no-feedback motor controller.
- Magnetic platter bearing – magnetic levitation using opposing magnets (a 2014 update).
- Solid slate plinth – 45mm thick.
- Trans-Fi’s Reso-Mat platter mat – which lifts the record 12mm approximately, above the platter on small pegs/cones (see below). There is no record clamp.
Latest update available for the Salvation (Sept 2014) – magnet levitation suspension feet. (I hope to audition this soon.)
The Reso-Mat is a surprising feature. Elevating the record away from reflections of the platter, is something that I have tried many years ago, with mixed results. However, with this implementation, the sound has no shortcomings that I can discern. Possibly, warped records may be a little less well supported.
(I have fixed the Reso-Mat to the platter with 3 small pieces of double-sided adhesive tape.) So, what audible differences do I hear with this turntable? Using a Koetsu Rosewood Signature cartridge and my music system as described here (previously using an Aura turntable)…
- Percussion has more clarity, more rhythmic drive and ‘punch’, clearer orchestral instrumentation.
- Low frequency power, solidity, extension, stability noticeably improved – eg. greater orchestral ‘authority’.
- High frequency is more ‘present’, bandwidth overall seems to be increased and some slight harshness is removed.
- Dynamic range appears increased – Downward Dynamic Range (DDR – ref. Allen Wright) seems to be improved, noise floor lowered.
- Dynamic headroom, at the fff end seems to be increased, with lowered fatigue during loud passages.
Overall, this turntable produces music with very good power, clarity and separation of instrumentation and good perception of ‘depth’. There is especially nice clarity of rhythmic lines, good ‘leading edges’. Unsurprisingly now, the cartridge performs better, perhaps better balanced with wider bandwidth.
There was slight adjustment to cartridge loading (now ~105Ω) and slight reduction of tracking force (1.95 – 1.97gm) required. Bass power is especially good, still resonant (not unnaturally ‘tight’) but ‘punchy’. Midrange ‘presence’ remains very good.
Below is the Salvation, 30kg packaged, as delivered by Fedex, from UK to NZ. The slate plinth, with its 3 support feet installed, waiting for the magnet bearing to be installed. A close-up of the sealed slate plinth surface and rubber-damped feet. (As mentioned above, magnetic levitation feet yet to be auditioned.) Slate plinth (below) with bearing bottom magnet ring installed, with its oil well & spindle shaft. Ready for installation of the aluminium platter with top magnet ring. Also motor controller box and the rim-drive motor.
(The motor power supply design eschews feedback-servo type speed control, as Vic Patacchiola found that this degraded sound quality. In use, I do not find speed drift to be noticeable sonically.) The completed Salvation turntable with Terminator tonearm:
Trans-Fi Salvation webpage
Comments and questions welcome.