MagLev turntable
SME 309 GD and Moerch DP6/8 tonearms
van den Hul Colibri and Canary cartridges

Copyright 2017 © Troels Gravesen

It's no secret a lot of high-end turntables are manufactured in China to custom specifications - and sold at horrific prices. Not saying prices are unreasonable, only beyond reach of a wider audience. However, critical turntable parts may appear on eBay from time to time and essentially we only need three things to reach into high-end turntables: The platter, bearing and motor. The rest is trivial, rubber belts, tonearms, cartridges, etc.

Magnetic levitation has been around for decades but few have done something about it until small neodymium ring magnets became available. As can be seen from the first photo, not much is needed to make 12 kgs floating in the air - almost. We still need a bushing to keep the platter stable horizontally, but the friction of the spindle + steel or ceramic ball against a thrust plate is gone. Wonder why not more common. Even the Döhmann Helix 1 turntable use a traditionally spindle on a ceramic ball. Arguments against magnetic levitation may be vertical movement, but this should be a matter of mass. Whatever, I took my chances and bought a 12 kg aluminum platter and a Jasmine motor and asked for an extra spindle so I could use flat belt or one/two round belts.

The Jasmine motor gets the platter going at 33 rpm in 3 sec. Nice! The flat belt supplied is interesting, being rather rigid, but needs a little help from time to time finding the middle of the pulley. I ended up using the twin round-belt pulley and use two rubber belt. Works without any problems and I take notice even the serious high-platters are driven this way. The newest trick is to use two rubber belts with different elasticity! Try it out. 

A one-evening quick mockup plinth got me going and it kept me up all night, pulling out records that I previously thought so and so, but here came to life with a significantly reduced noise floor compared to my beloved Lenco decks. The difference is not subtle, not at all. Improvement all over the spectrum, from bass to the highest treble. The low noise floor is something that makes listening at low level much easier.

Later I made a new plinth as seen below, and it's probably not the  final. Just gives ideas of what to change next time.

All in all, a significant step up the latter to aural nirvana.

Should this be of interest, search eBay for turntable platter and turntable motor.



Basic ingredients in high-end turntables, platter and motor. The platter is 60 x 300 mm and weighs 12 kg. All info available.
Download Jasmine manual here.

First time set-up, just to see it spinning.

Mockup taking shape. Adjusting SME tonearm pivot distance. The SME templates following the kit helps a lot.
The Colibri is so nosy I had to pull back the arm some further 5 mm.

SME and DP6. Double round belts.

Here DP8 and SME.
Should I make a plinth for one or two arms? Having choices we often end up only using one all the time.

The "final" plinth. Separate plinths for arms and platter, however glued together by rubber glue.
Made from 4 x 20 mm Baltic birch with 4 mm bitumen damping layer.

Arm bases in place. 20 mm black MDF standing on 20 mm alu tube spacers.

Time to step back and take a look.
Well, every fist time is a prototype, but I think I'm close to where I wanted to be. Still need a more firm motor support.
Hmm... kind of looks like my home alter - and kind of is. My preferred musical source.

The mockup sounded better than this one. Hmm... turned out the alu tube pillars for the arm boards were too resonant. I think.
Smaller arm boards and solid BB support. VTA, Azimuth and hangover check up. Now as good as before.