Tim de Paravicini began contemplating a radical new design for a turntable
several decades ago, but the advent of digital audio put the project on
hold. Now, with interest in analog not only continuing, but growing, he has
finalized his design, and introduced the Disc Master turntable. While many
turntables have appeared on the market in recent years, few offer as many
novel features as the Disc Master, but this is not novelty for its own sake.
The Disc Master represents a new standard for LP playback.
Most striking is the no-contact drive system. The need
to transfer power to the platter of a turntable has always been problematic,
as any system with the capacity to transfer power can, by the same means,
transfer vibration. Flexible rubber belts have proved a satisfactory
solution, but suffer problems of slippage—hence, uncertain speed—and they
pull the platter sideways, which can result in stability problems. Tim de
Paravicini has arrived at an ingenious solution that solves these problems.
A low-noise motor, controlled by a carefully optimized servo loop, drives a
subplatter via a geared belt that ensures absolute speed control. The
subplatter drives the platter via an arrangement of opposing magnets. This
method not only eliminates slippage, but allows enough compliance to filter
out any remaining vibration from the motor and belt, while applying a fully
symmetric driving force.
Bearings are another problem for a turntable designer,
one that Tim de Paravicini has solved by the use of Swiss-made, precision
angular contact bearings, which are as quiet as the more common
point-contact types, but wear much more slowly, so that their performance
after years of use will be as good as on initial purchase.
The platter is made of an ultra-low-resonance
composite of resin and inorganic filler, accurately machined and supported
on an instrument-grade aluminum chassis. Adjustable, damped feet support the
assembly. Three speeds—33, 45, and 78—are offered, with a continuous speed
control for 78 to accommodate discs cut at non-standard speeds.
All common tonearms can be mounted and adjusted with
ease. The Disc Master is also available with a special EAR version of the
Helius Omega tonearm. The Omega arm is as
radical a rethinking of tonearm design as the Disc Master is a
reconsideration of turntable design, and the two work superbly together.