The review below was kindly contributed by Nipper Varney and covers his Origin Live DC100 motor kit. Besides the few editor’s notes, what follows is Nipper’s content unedited. Take it away, Nipper!
ORIGIN LIVE DC100 MOTOR KIT (OPTION 3) & BELT. Full disclosure – I was recommended this kit on a FB group by David Baker before he identified himself as “Mr Origin Live”. It was outwith my budget and so I negotiated a small discount on the promise of this review. Out of respect to you, dear reader, I will not let that affect this opinion. It was purchased prior to review.
First the belt – at £35 it is more expensive than eBay examples – but it feels much better quality. It is thicker, so hopefully is less prone to stretching. It is also of a different material and has a grippier surface, therefore potentially requiring less tension which puts less side force on both the motor and platter shaft. This has the advantage of creating less wear on the motor and shaft and also transferring less vibration from the motor to the sub platter.
It was only after getting out my credit card – the motor kit is £530 (option 2 is £400) – that I researched user experience of the DC100 kit. Caveat emptor. Opinions on the web are mixed with roughly 50% thinking it’s great and 50% unhappy re noise and speed fluctuation. A number of folk considered it expensive, as I had, and found cheaper solutions. I suspect that this kit, which has been around a good while, has evolved and motor suppliers changed, so there is a possibility things have improved since the unhappy social media posts. Fingers crossed!
Editor’s note: I’m in the latter camp. Having seen at least three examples of these kits in use, I wouldn’t recommend them due to poor build quality, poor performance, obvious cost-cutting and the outlandish price.
Unpacking I found the transformer to be more substantial than the impression I got from the website photo. The Speed-box is fairly light and small (110mm x 180mm x 50mm – size not on website). It is of similar construction to the Classic Audio phonostages, but not to the same quality. The front panel on even the £150 Spartan 5, for example, is 5mm thick with bevelled edges and flush screw heads. The O.L. Speed-box front panel is only around 1mm thick with square edges and proud screw heads. Furthermore The Spartan has its switches and connections front and back labelled, as one would expect, whereas there is no labelling on the Origin Live. I have had to put masking tape on the back to handwrite which is the 33 speed adjuster and which the 45, and the direction to turn. I found the adjusters too small and fiddly. I am surprised at the cost-cutting basic finish of a top-dollar retail price unit from a well established premium brand and that it doesn’t compare well with a new start one-man band keenly priced product.
The motor is bought in by O.L. but there is nothing on it to identify supplier. What’s more is there is nothing on the website, transformer, Speed-box or motor to state the voltage. Only in the installation instructions is there mention of 8V. The top fixing plate, which I assume is O.L. made, is a good design. On one side are three holes and the other a slot. These allow the motor position to be adjusted from a fixed point on the turntable. There is vibration absorbing cork between motor and top plate.
Editor’s note: I believed the motor supplied with the DC100 was a Maxon 110191, 48V DC motor. However this was confirmed as incorrect by David from OL in his comment below. David states the motor is made specifically to OL’s specifications, though does not say on which motor it is based or whether it is a ground-up design. I apologise for the incorrect information.
Time to check out owner stated concerns. These are well known to O.L. and much of the installation instructions addresses them. Apparently the motor needs run in for the noise to subside, but even O.L. acknowledge their DC motor isn’t as quiet as many AC motors. I turn the motor on and it buzzes like a buzzy thing. Sitting on foam I can just about hear it from a few meters away, but rest it on something firmer, like the Speed-box and the top plate rattles are clearly audible from the other side of the room. It would be an unfair exaggeration to compare it to a marital aid but… And so I leave it to run for 24 hours prior to fitting.
I am installing it into my old Systemdek IIX and doing so is relatively simple. The motor top plate doesn’t screw into the deck itself, but into the deck’s metal bracket the existing motor is attached to. The two holes that the bolts holding the existing motor use line up with the aforementioned choice of hole and slot of the DC100 motor top plate. So it is a simple job of unbolting the old motor and bolting in the new one. Except the new DC100 motor has 3 screws sticking out the top and these are too far apart to fit within the large central hole on the deck’s metal bracket, which I have to file larger to accommodate them (this won’t prevent the old motor being refitted if needs be). It would have been nice for O.L. to supply new bolts, but they didn’t.
No matter, I use the existing, much longer than needed bolts and line up the motor spindle with exactly where the other one was. This wasn’t very smart of me as the new spindle pulley is much smaller than the original one, making the belt looser. A smaller diameter pulley has the advantage of maintaining a more stable platter speed with motor speed variation but the disadvantage of less contact with belt surface meaning the belt will slip more easily and therefore requires more tension.
To attempt to stop the buzzing vibrations affecting the sound quality of playback I placed some 1mm thick expanded foam packaging between the top of the motor top plate and the underside of the deck’s motor bracket and placed some sorbothane vibration damping strips I got from SRM Tech around the motor and on top of the deck’s motor bracket. The bolts were only finger tightened and I would have liked to have seen the motor supplied with something around it to suppress noise and vibration.
So I spend a Sunday evening spinning records and repeatedly counting 100 revolutions with stopwatch in hand and watching the supplied strobe through reading glasses with one eye shut. Constantly micro adjusting the tiny speed screw on the back I discover I’m getting nowhere other than frustrated as I’m getting one to two seconds speed variation over three minutes just on one side of a record without adjusting anything. Either the motor hasn’t yet settled down or the belt is slipping. More fun than watching paint dry – you just don’t get this level of excitement from a CD player! Why hasn’t the motor already been run in prior to supply? If I buy a watch I expect it to keep time perfectly straight out of the box… With the belt on the motor it all becomes noticeably even more noisy and, once the platter is up to speed, it also starts clicking rapidly.
Next morning I move the motor back to get more tension in the belt. Only to do this needs total disassembly as the three screws on the top of the motor now catch the deck’s metal bracket and it needs filed more. I leave the platter spinning most of the day for the motor to settle down. By now, after several hours, the motor has stopped clicking and noise is barely any more than the original motor. In an otherwise silent room, with the platter spinning but no record playing, I can only just hear it from a few metres away. I can live with that but it’s hardly £530 worth of improvement. Oh – and there’s also a faint hum from the transformer which is there all the time even when the speed box is switched off, unless switched off at the wall. And an intrusively loud noise as the motor brings the platter up to speed when turning on.
Time to set the speed again. The first side of an LP and the speed varies by up to three seconds over 100 revolutions. Then it settles down. Success. I hope. I am now paranoid where with the old motor I was oblivious and will continue to monitor speed instead of just sitting back and enjoying the music. In time, assuming all is well(!) and the speed remains stable, the paranoia will subside.
So the BIG question – have the sonics improved? Yes. Certainly the sound has been tightened up and probably more besides, punchier, cleaner and clearer. Unfortunately, much as I wish, I can’t be more certain, specific or informative. There was a 48 hour gap between “before” and “after” playing during which I not only fitted the motor and belt but also replaced the bearing. This required prolonged soaking in WD40 before sitting the outside of the housing in a mug of boiling water to heat it up and then turning it upside down and tapping with a hammer to remove the original bearing which, despite regular recent oil changes, had glued itself in. And then another few days of obsessing over the speed rather than listening. So, in fairness, I am comparing motor, PSU, belt and bearing change all at the same time, using an unfamiliar phono stage (the Spartan 15) I had listened to previously for maybe an hour or two. And I am not going to the faff of reinstalling the old motor to hear “before” again as I normally do when comparing. But there is no denying the ol’ Systemdek has never sounded sooo good!
In conclusion; A relatively straightforward (and reversible) install which needs to be left running for a good few days before it settles down (even when after when belts are changed etc.). When half the price of this Origin Live DC100 Motor Kit will buy you an Audio Technica record player complete with motor, PSU, arm, cartridge and phono stage that is able to provide quartz accuracy for speed control first time and every time (as well as three speed settings and the ability to adjust speed) there is no getting away from £530 being expensive for something which is just tasked to turn a platter at one of two constant speeds, especially when the Speed-Box casework is so cheap that it requires masking tape on the back to label the adjusters. That it is also far noisier and much more temperamental (in needing to settle down over days to work optimally) than my Technics SL1200GR turntable, which is silent even with my ear right beside it, is also undeniable.
For these reasons I doubt that a large Japanese corporation would bring this kit to market without substantial improvement. Note: I will update in a couple of months once the motor has properly settled down as I am informed it should get quieter to the point of only being heard a couple of feet away (though I doubt transformer hum or bringing up to speed noise will subside) and stability has a track record to report on. Currently stability seems to be behaving itself. By then I will have also got around to playing with the three screws on the top of the motor which apparently affect the noise, but that’s too much excitement for the time being and I would like to hope that they have been optimally set at the factory. I am reminded of the old cartoon with two old duffers standing over a record player, one saying to the other “It is the expense and inconvenience that drew me to vinyl”…
But – and it’s a very big but – it has managed to succeed in the Holy Grail of lifting the sonic performance of my old Systemdek IIX that I have become sentimentally attached to over the past 35 years to yet further new heights and has hopefully given it another 35 years of trouble free life.
Editor’s note: A motor, if working properly, shouldn’t change the sound of a turntable to any significant degree. The job of the motor is to provide enough torque to spin the platter up to speed from a standstill, and to maintain correct and consistent platter speed without causing fluctuation. It should do so with as little vibration as possible, with minimal stepping (minor ‘bumps’ as the polls move past the stator) and of course, low noise. From my own personal experience, and the review above, it seems the Origin Live DC100 kit fails in every aspect.
Complimenti. Un vero esame che solo una persona dotata di grande passione può portare a compimento. Passione e non solo: competenza tecnica anche. Cordiali saluti.
Thank you Giancarlo for your kind words
Apple translation;-“Congrats. A real exam that only a person with great passion can bring to completion. Passion and not only: technical competence too. Best regards.”
Some fact checking/comments on the review from OL.
Firstly, I’m not entirely opposed to Nippers review on the OL kit, and I can appreciate there are some improvements to be made to the kit, but several points made are a little naive, and the editors comments are especially biased, and boorish. The editor should be embarrassed by the extent to which he has steamrolled Nippers review to add his own opinion. This is especially apparent when Nipper concludes that despite the downsides the Sonics have improved. Editor decides it’s his job to have the last word with nonsense about how motors shouldn’t change the sound of a turntable. Nippers conclusion is that they do. Editor is refuting the authors conclusion. Amateurish and insulting to the author.
It may came across that my recommendation on the motor was a little surreptitious. I was responding to a post where Nipper asked about the OL kit, explaining the specs of the kit, and stated my connection to the company as soon as I was asked if I had experience with the kit.
Editors note one: already refuting the conclusion of the review, and adding your opinion before he’s even got there!
Nippers point about the cost of the Spartan vs the cost of the OL kit is a tad naive. More power to Michael Fidler and the Spartan series, but the cost of a product that you sell direct and that you can make in your own home or garage can be low. (this is not meant as an insult, we also started in a garage!) Origin Live is a company with 10 employees, a factory with large overheads, and not to mention a dealer/distribution chain that actually make this product a lot less profitable than you think once sold with margins taken off. That being sad, I think that labelling on the back plate is a great suggestion, although we have assumed that the order of 33 & 45 should be straight forward – they’re in numerical order. We use the same speed adjusters with no labelling on all of our decks for a more minimal design.
Editors note two: Incorrect. Motor is not a Maxon 110191 48V DC Motor. If it was the kit would be even more expensive! Our motors are not simply brought off the shelf, they are made specifically to our own specifications which is why they are costly.
I think it could be made clearer in the instruction manual, although there is a little more Systemdek specific info online that this isn’t a drop in replacement. The top plate is included so you mount this plate to the plinth, not to mount this plate to the existing plate. My apologies that this isn’t as obvious as it could be, but you should be removing the existing motor plate before fitting. This would not only avoid damage to the existing plate should you want to replace it, but wouuld also result in better sonics, since you have just attached two metal plates together that will resonate.
The point on belts is moot if you’re using an OL belt. as you mention at the beginning the OL belt has a grippier surface and will not slip at the correct tension.
The Motor is not supplied run in because we do not have the time or space to run them in. Running in is also best done with the motor turning a platter, and wearing in against the resistance of a platter. This is a DIY kit, and in order to run the motor in correctly, it needs to be run in on your deck. We often leave them to run in on our decks overnight. Perhaps a longer run in period should be given, but there is some variance in how long different motors need to run in.
It is very satisfying to hear that you found the sonics improved, and that is the report we get from folks who install the kit correctly. You raise valid points when you say the motor kit could do with a makeover, I do agree, and would love to improve this if business permits. I also think more thorough additions should be made to the instructions regarding bedding in. I bear in mind, that at this price, there are many who could benefit more from investing £530 in to a tone arm or a cartridge, or maybe just a new deck. But this is the consumers choice, your motor/psu may be broken or you may be especially fond of your deck. These motors come at no small expense this is the same motor and psu we use in £2000+ turntables. There are consumers who use this kit on decks worth £4000+, and consumers who use it on decks worth £400-. overall satisfaction is going to come according to your budget. The Rega kit is cheaper. Because Rega decks are… Cheaper. They do not produce the same performance our decks do, and part of that is down to the motor we use.
Editors note three: ‘fails in every respect’ flies in the face of the authors conclusion. Nipper, you should not write for someone who adds this kind of nonsense, and steals the final word on your own review.
Correction* Same motor – not the same PSU as our own turntables. DC kit PSU something we are working to improve the load compensation on in future to solve speed stability issues – bear in mind different decks will have different speed stability issues, some decks may suffer from this more than others.
Thank you David for your input. I’d firstly like to say that I respect your response here and in the Systemdek group, and apparent willingness to have a constructive debate. That’s not always the case in the audio industry. To address your points:
It was not my intention to steamroller Nipper’s review, merely to balance his subjective comments with some objective comments. If the audio industry is to survive, and to not remain an object of deserved ridicule by many, objective discussion is important.
I stated that a motor should not change the sound of a turntable, and I stand by that, but I should have clarified. The motor has ot provide enough torque to spin the platter from a standstill, to achieve correct speed, and to maintain that speed under the load presented by stylus drag and the action of the stylus and pickup arm to modulated grooves. It should do so with as little vibration as possible, as imparting vibration a device which is essentially a ‘vibration measuring machine’ (as Roy Gandy calls it) is not a good thing. But if two motors can provide sufficient torque, maintain correct speed even under load, and make as little noise as is practical, I fail to see how they can have any sonic influence.
The only way I see a motor influencing sonics is if it either introduces mechanical noise to the system, over-compensates for changes in load (which would ultimately cause speed variation), or can’t maintain the desired speed under load. Nipper states himself that he did not A/B the two motors, and frankly to A/V the motors properly would be difficult without having a second turntable identically configured, and ideally a removable headshell to take any minor differences in the response of the cartridge / stylus. Given that many studies suggest our acoustic details fade from our short-term memory within 15 seconds or so, you’d have to swap the record and cartridge pretty quickly to make a meaningful comparison. So, with that in mind, we’re reliant on measuring equipment to tell is if there’s any objective difference.
With regards to editor’s note 2, I apologise for the incorrect information re the motor type. I thought that was correct based on some research I conducted before publishing the article, but will revise.
With regards your comments on Rega turntables. DO you have any evidence in the form of measurements, specifications or other test data to support your claim that they “do not produce the same performance our decks do”? Rega produce some very fine turntables, especially in the form of the Planar 8 and Planar 10, which are certainly not ‘cheap’. They are based on engineering principles that are I would say unique in this industry, and directly contradict the ‘accepted’ rules of turntable design many of which, from an engineering standpoint, are wrong. Rega’s design methodology and the materials they use are far ahead of many in this industry, and for that they should be applauded. I have been working for over a year on a turntable based on Roy Gandy’s principles of turntable design, having built many more ‘traditional’ turntables over the years in all kinds of materials. There is a great deal of merit in the low-mass, highly rigid ‘vibration measuring’ approach.
The 24-volt AC motor they use can be tuned for minimal vibration (almost imperceptible when held in the hand), and the synthesised power supplies give excellent speed stability with even lower motor noise.
Response to David’s reply 21.04.23;-
1, For those new to this thread it’s perhaps a good idea to start with the bottom comments and work your way up.
2, “David” is David Baker of Origin Live.
3, I am grateful to and thank David for taking the time and effort to respond and to put forward his comments for the reader to get another point of view for balance.
4, I am not going to directly respond to personal accusation for that is an unseemly downward spiral which brings no gain, not least to the reader. To attack the man is generally considered to be accepting of losing the argument (and for a business to criticise a customer, however valid, reflects badly – equally so to denigrate a competitor’s product, particularly without inviting them to respond as David has to my review). As I had already stated on Facebook and acknowledged by David, it was my intention that my review was written with even-handed integrity and lack of bias either way. I wrote it, as a customer, from my point of view as I found it, as balanced and fairly as I could. I stated my opinion of my experience of a product I had purchased and was unfamiliar with, as customers generally are when buying for the first time. I had purchased it with my own money and therefore clearly wanted to like it – psychologists consider consumerism as wanting to buy happiness, which is what the hi-fi industry sells.
5, It is useful, though, to those thinking of fitting this motor kit to their Systemdek IIX, that I respond to David’s comments on how I installed it;-
5a, Origin Live requested I inform them, at time of order, of which turntable I was to be installing the motor and belt (ordered together) to and supplied items they considered specifically compatible for this turntable.
5b, There were no installation instructions supplied what-so-ever specifically for this turntable. Nor was there any reference to any online instructions specific to this turntable. I was not aware of these an it would have been helpful if I had been.
5c, Installation was therefore a “go figure” application of logic and common sense. My method of installation was the only obvious, logical option without instruction to the contrary. The holes lined up so bolt them together.
5d, David states that the provided top plate should have been fitted direct to the plinth rather than to the existing plate as I have done. I have several issues with what he now advises, post review;-
5di, I thank him for acknowledging that the supplied instruction manual is lacking.
5dii, The supplied top plate, despite being supplied for this turntable, particularly with the supplied belt, is not suitable for installation to this turntable as David describes;-
5diia, The supplied top plate has a hole and slot the correct width to be in line with the existing plate motor fixing holes – as I have used. It is, however, the wrong width for the existing plate to plinth fixing plinth holes and so will no fit to the plinth here.
5diib, Further it will not fit to the existing plinth holes as the supplied fixing plate holes are in line with the motor spindle, requiring the plinth to be butchered to allow clearance for the spindle and access to the 3 top screws.
5diic, Further it will not fit the existing plinth holes as the supplied belt for this installation would be far too short.
5diii, With the provided length of belt it is highly unadvisable, in my (expert, in my professional) opinion to install the motor in another location on the plinth. To do so would require two new holes for the bolts and a large notch taken out of the plinth to accommodate the spindle, belt and 3 top screws. Not only would this be very unsightly, but the bolt holes would be right on the edge of the plinth cutout and so would be very weak and susceptible to break. A longer than provided belt needed to have been supplied for the motor to be set back from the edge and it should have been made clear in advance of purchase that holes and a large notch would be needed to be made to the plinth in order that the customer could evaluate their technical ability and aesthetic preference.
5div, In order to fit the motor direct to the plinth – if that is how it should be – then the supplied top plate should be to the same size as the original with fitting holes to line up with the existing plinth holes: i.e. a direct replacement, particularly as this was supplied specifically for this turntable. What was supplied is much smaller and completely different.
5e, I humbly disagree with David’s assertion on how best to fit the motor to this turntable and maintain that my method of fitting is the best way, all things considered, of carrying out the installation for the following reasons;-
5ei, the “resonance”, David refers to (quite some admission, as I see it, and will come back to) will occur instead between the supplied top plate and the plinth. This, I understand but am happy to be corrected, will transfer motor vibration by a more direct route, and therefore more efficiently, to the stylus and therefore should, in my understanding of the theory, be more detrimental to sonics, not improve them as David states.
5eii, To prevent motor resonance between the supplied top plate and the existing plate, I have placed foam between the two plates to dissipate the vibrational energy into heat and to separate the two surfaces. I clearly stated this in the review and it can be seen in the photo either side of the two motor back screws. Furthermore I placed resonance absorbing sorbothane both on the motor itself and on the existing plate and used plastic washers on the bolts to decrease vibration transfer through these. My theory of doing all this was to reduce the amount of motor vibration reaching the plinth, and eventually therefore stylus, thereby improving sonics over direct mounting of the supplied motor top plate to the plinth. It is worth noting that Origin Live themselves recommend the use of Blutac (in liue of my foam) when installing the motor to the stainless steel plinth of an LP12 for the very same reason. The issue with Blutac is it goes hard over time as it dries out. A thin sheet of Sorbothane may be best. In summary the two metal plates cannot resonate, as David states they are, if they do not touch, which they don’t.
5eiii, Not only, applying my own (possibly incorrect) theory, that installation as I have done it is sonically superior to direct plinth mounting, but it does not require butchering the plinth as direct plinth mounting does and is fully reversible without damage to the plinth. I hope and trust that the filing of the existing plate should not affect reinstallation of an AC motor at some future date.
5f, The sales pitch of the DC100 motor kit is improved sonics from lower vibration compared to AC motors – yet David states it will resonate with what it is mounted to and makes more noise than some AC motors. What is causing this greater resonance and noise if not vibration? I am genuinely curious and happy to be educated.
5g, Edit – I have just now eventually found the specific online instructions. These state to fix the motor with only one bolt, which overcomes the plinth distance / belt length / pulley interference issues raised above… but, I suspect, with only one fixing point from a levered position, allows the motor to vibrate more and, with the ability to pivot, could alter belt tension and therefore requires to be fixed tightly, increasing vibration transfer. I consider one fixing point to be suboptimal to two. A longer belt would be required or a new bolt hole in the plinth would need to be made as the existing bolt holes are too far back given the belt length provided, however this does avoid needing to file the original mounting plate. To be fully accurate, the instructions actually state to screw the motor top plate to the underside of the plinth from a single point. Given that the plinth is only 12mm thick and so only allowing a single screw length of 10mm or so, in my professional capacity I would not consider this to be a secure enough fixing which could easily fail.
5h, Ideally it would be better to have the motor freestanding, not attached to the turntable. It may therefore be an idea for Origin Live to offer a machined freestanding base with adjustable height for the motor to sit in.
6, I take this opportunity to refute that it is unfair to compare build quality vs retail price between Classic Audio and Origin Live products in my review and correct David’s assertion. Both companies sell via retail outlets and both companies sell direct, therefore comparison is valid.
7, In a previous reply I challenged Ashley’s assertion that this motor kit was a fail re maintaining constant speed.
7a, As per the fitting instructions which state to set speed when the needle is on the record and in the middle of the record, needle drag does slightly affect speed. When the needle is at the start of a record and the groove is faster the drag is greater, causing the platter speed to be slower than when the needle is at the end of a record. The difference is in the region of a few 10ths of a second per 100 revolutions / 3 mins. At roughly 0.2% or less this is not audible to me that I have noticed. This slowing drag is very noticeable for example, however, when wiping a spinning record with a cleaning brush. By comparison my Technics SL1200gr is rock steady and unaffected by needle drag that I have been able to time with a stopwatch.
7b, Some have stated wow and flutter are “poor” with this motor. I am unable to measure this so cannot comment wither way.
7c, Some have also stated experience of random speed stability issues much greater than merely needle drag. For balance, some others have stated they have had no such issues. I have had little use of the turntable (due to post surgical complications) since the motor kit has settled down, but so far so good. As previously promised I will report back once I have had more experience.
8, I am now less aware of the motor noise so perhaps it is improving. There is no getting away from the transformer hum though, so if you are considering getting this kit I would recommend the cheaper option 2 as in my experience Walmart plug transformers are quieter. I will play around with how / where the transformer is placed to see if I can improve this.
9, I respect David for appreciating that there are improvements to be made to the DC100 kit. Putting aside that this has been on the market for approaching two decades and so there has been plenty of opportunity to have already done so, I vey much welcome his stated intention to make these improvements when time allows and hope they successfully address the issues raised.
Author’s reply to Editor’s notes;-
I agree with Ashley to the extent I would not unreservedly recommend the Origin Live DC100 motor kit, however it is inaccurate of him to state it “fails in every respect”. It is the job of this product to rotate a turntable platter at one of two selectable speeds and to do so accurately and consistently. Now that the motor has run in it is doing just that, which is therefore a success. Getting feedback from other users most state it will continue to do so. One stated he checks weekly but didn’t state if he made adjustments, one stated it suddenly sped up before settling back down and one (so far) on here states he had stability issues. As per the review I will report back in a few months whether or not it continues to remain stable.
The debate as to whether or not motor kits (motors and PSUs) affect the sound quality is seemingly a “cable debate” with two entrenched camps. Having spent my own hard earned and rapidly diminishing on this it goes without saying that I want sonic improvement from it and I recognise I am as susceptible as the next man to confirmation bias / placebo, even though I kid myself, like we all do, as to the extent of this. As stated in the review it was difficult for me to be certain for the following reasons – there was a gap of a couple of days between hearing before and after; multiple things were changed at the same time (kit, belt and platter bearing) so identifying which made sonic improvements was impossible; using an unfamiliar phonostage (I was in the middle of a/b comparing 7 phono stages) further made the comparison difficult. I am of the opinion that fitting this new kit in exchange of the original 35 year old and worn one improved sonics, but I am less certain as to how much than I am when a/b comparing immediately back to back. I accept the situation was less than ideal and, like every one else, my opinion can be affected by placebo.
Contradicting the above statement, perhaps, too many years ago to count, I was taught at school that sound is a consequence of vibration. No one, not even Origin Live, is claiming that the motor kit isn’t noisier than the best AC options. Therefore, in my rudimentary logic, I conclude it must be vibrating more – just as I observed when I placed the motor on top of the speed box and compared the rattle to a marital aid. The whole idea of sonic improvement, I understand, is to reduce motor vibration, transferred via deck and belt, to the record and therefore cartridge. My simple understanding from this – and I am very happy to be corrected – is that therefore the DC100 kit should be more detrimental to sonics than a decent AC solution. I struggle with the statement by David Baker (Mr Origin Live) explaining the opposite on my post in a FB group; I quote “David Baker
Just for the folks who are curious about the motor noise. There is a low level noise, that I find is fairly inaudible from a foot or two away, and can’t hear once playing music. But the important point is this noise if not vibrational, and is one of the compromises of using a DC Motor. DC motors are often slightly noisy initially and never
completely silent in comparison to a/c motors. This
is due to the high conductivity precious metal
brushes which have to make contact with the armature in order to turn the motor. The better the contact the less vibration, but the more audible noise. This ‘noise’ its more of a soft purr can be softened with a drop of Loctite superlube. The silent alternative would be a carbon contact, but this is less conductive, and therefore produces more vibration. The brushed DC motors produce much lower levels of vibration
and hence better performance.”
In my experience, these DC motor kits don’t hold accurate speed, though I suppose it may on your definition of accurate speed. I have perfect pitch, and can easily tell if the speed is off by the smallest margin. As you point out in the review, a cheap direct-drive turntable can give you accurate speed, so the idea that a motor kit at almost 3 times the price can’t is absurd. I would also argue that having to check the speed of your turntable on a weekly basis, and adjust as necessary, is ludicrous. There are countless Technics 1200s that have been abused in clubs for 50 years that still spin at the right speed, and haven’t been adjusted since they left the factory. Why should any turntable be different.
To that end I have never heard one of these motors perform accurately, whereas it is possible to achieve accurate speed with an AC motor running at the correct frequency without needing any kind of reference or realtime reading from the platter. Hence my comment that the OL kit fails. I have read reports of a turntable with the OL kit taking 5 minutes to achieve a correct and stable speed, which is simply unacceptable.
With regards to the comments on vibration. It is true that a brushed DC motor will have a higher level of vibration than an AC motor. Though surely in that case, one aiming to produce the ultimate DC motor upgrade kit would have used a brushless motor at its heart. With that said, an AC motor can be made to run with so little vibration it is almost impossible to feel, even with the motor held in your hand. This is done by altering the phase angle and can be done by means of an incredibly simple circuit using only passive components. A twin-phase, AC synchronous motor, running at an optimal voltage on an accurate frequency and with an optimal phase angle will be almost silent, with almost no discernible vibration, and will be dead on speed as soon as enough torque has been applied to get the platter spinning.
While I would love to have a silent motor, we’ve conducted extensive AB listening tests on AC and Brushless, and unfortunately they just don’t sound better in a deck than DC Brushed.
Also Ashley what does perfect pitch have to do with timing?
I’m afraid the relation between perfect pitch and timing is rather obvious. If the platter doesn’t spin at the right speed, the pitch will be off. And to some, that is extremely noticeable. I have never heard a high-end turntable fitted with a DC motor that could hold pitch properly. The low-end Japanese decks that used frequency-generator servo motors could hold speed well, but they had extremely light platters and generally a P Mount cartridge, so they tracked at 1.25 grams and hence there wasn’t much stylus drag even with a heavily modulated groove. However I find I can easily hear the pitch variation with any of the current DC motor options I’ve heard (and built), not so turntables equipped with synchronous motors and a good drive system.
Nipper? Is that a name? Who is he?
The EMI dog thought it was
Used to have a DC100 kit many years ago on a Systemdek too. Made a slight improvement in sound but I experienced a succession of speed stability issues with it. Never more for me…
Very noisy motor too…
seems there’s a theme developing. Of the 3 I’ve seen, all had noisy motors even after careful adjustment.
Please expand on the stability issues
After awhile, the music was starting to have noticeable slowing motion. Tune was going done. The retailor was doing his best and he sent me some replacement motors a couple of time. Same result: speed not reliable after a few months.
This was about 12 years ago.