Over the last few years we have had ample opportunities to examine many of the finest (and most expensive) turntables in existence.
Inevitably, conclusions get drawn regarding the many philosophies of design and execution. Some we liked more than others, and some we liked less…
And over the years we began to draw up a blueprint for what we believe to be a cost-effective design for a turntable that we believe to be unimprovable in any meaningful way.
And now we are delighted to present The Pacific Audio Turntable.
This massively built device fulfills every basic criterion, exceeding most criteria by a huge margin. Some of the details of construction are traditional, and others more radical, with the result that the Pacific Audio Turntable is able to fulfill the most basic requirement that any turntable is subject to: the ability to extract all the information encoded on a vinyl record.
Information retrieval is a simple enough request, but there are many factors that can inhibit this. Without becoming too technical, the following design features will show the thinking that led to the design that we now proudly present.
Plinths will resonate, both from ground and air-borne signals. Any resonances can and will interfere with the neutrality of reproduction, and the first task was to eliminate these. We chose slate for this purpose: a massively honed and sedimented construction, weighing 85lbs, effectively neutralizes the turntable and provides a perfect platform for platter and arm to do their work. The plinth rests on four heavily machined aluminum legs, terminated in sorbothane, and to all intents and purposes is utterly inert.
The drive system has only one job, and that is to maintain a precise speed, free from any fluctuations whatsoever, without transmitting any noise to the record. For this task we selected an internal rim-drive. This system provides a sense of drive and ‘slam’ : this effect has been long noted as an intrinsic component of turntables like the Thorens TD124/Garrard 301 and 401. The motor is a high-torque brush-less servo design, and electronically controlled. Isolated by sorbothane bushings, the motor is mounted internally on a pivoted bracket, and uses its own weight to maintain a constant and perfect contact with the platter. No springs, pulleys, or weights are required making the system maintenance-free for life. The speeds are electronically set and are utterly accurate. A programmed ‘soft ramp’ start/stop system ensures longest life for the motor and drive system, and all switching and power supplies are externally mounted in a ventilated slate case to minimize any possible sources of interference.
The platter is a monolithic construction, being a laminate of aluminum, brass, and aluminum, topped with Delrin. This top plate is held in place by austenitic bolts and is machined concave by approx. 0.055″ center to edge. A precisely machined screw-down record clamp, incorporating a peripheral o-ring, ensures perfect record contact to the Delrin. When a record is clamped in place resonances are eliminated: the record is perfectly mass-loaded and vinyl excitation is virtually impossible. The platter weighs approximately 50lbs and, in conjunction with the high-torque rim drive, speed stability is essentially perfect.
The platter is supported by a proprietary bearing, unique in the turntable world, capable of absurdly high loads and speeds. It is sealed for life and will never require any maintenance. Also incorporated is an internal slip-ring to ensure that the platter is grounded at all times to minimize grounding-related interference.
The arm is again a proprietary design. For maximum tracking accuracy it is 12′ long, and made entirely of carbon fiber, aluminum, and brass. Using the principle that the fewer bearings the better, this is a uni-pivot design utilizing a concave sapphire. The arm is heavily damped, the degree of damping being adjustable, and as a result arm resonances are kept extremely low. We have found that anti-skate adjustments are unnecessary, and the arm sails through the most difficult modulations with ease, even with inexpensive cartridges.
The counterweight is eccentric, with a fine adjustment; this provides an optimal and easy way to adjust for weight and azimuth. On-the-fly VTA adjustment is achieved with a smooth-acting Delrin screw on the arm pillar. The cartridge is mounted with a single screw; this gives the ultimate ease in adjustment for rotation and overhang for all cartridges.
The cabling has been chosen with the utmost care to provide the best signal transmission with the least loss: a fully screened Mogami 32AWG ultra flexible tonearm cable with cryo-treated rhodium plated cartridge connectors is routed through the center of the tonearm column and connected to a cryo-treated gold-plated DIN plug with integral grounding in the base, minimizing contact points and interference.
The DIN plug is outputted using 1877 Phono Spirit DIN to RCA cable; the cartridge connectors and DIN plug are supplied by Canadian analogue specialists Zavfino.
These then are the components that make this turntable. Every effort has been made throughout to identify, and meet head-on, any source of vibration and resonance. The job of the arm and cartridge has been minutely examined in the same way, with the result that The Pacific Audio Turntable is virtually unimprovable – and at any price.
We have immensely enjoyed this process and look forward to sharing the results with you!
Allan Clarke, Nicholas Seiflow, and Connor Ramsbottom for,