In developing The Beat, there was one lesson that was quickly learned. Everything matters! Everything. That is why we took great care in every detail of The Beat turntable. Many details can be seen, even more can not. They all can be heard.
“This makes me rethink what a turntable can do for music”
Building a turntable that can turn a platter quietly, and at a constant speed seems like a simple task. After listening to many turntables, it is obvious that such is not the case. Most turntables merely average the selected speed. Keeping the platter spinning at the correct speed consistently is certainly a rare accomplishment. Eliminating drive slippage is next to impossible on one drive method and noise is a major issue on another drive topology. Cogging or motor pulsations are the bane of the third major form of turntable propulsion. After studying all the main drive systems for turntables and a few not so common, our conclusion was that a form of what is commonly referred to as direct drive offered by far the most potential advantages. A quiet, low RPM motor, very low air turbulence, and the least amount of moving parts, hence the least amount of drive train losses which equals less noise. In fact, what we call direct drive is anything but direct drive. We use the term MagDrive™, which is a much more accurate description. Of the three common drive systems in use today, MagDrive™ is the only drive where there is no direct mechanical contact between the motor and the platter. There is only a magnetic field between the stator and the rotor. In other words more of the power going into the table is used to drive the platter and there will be less extraneous energy floating around that needs to be contained. No belt stiction, no idler wheel compression and no belt slippage. When one understands that the cartridge is really just measuring the size of the grooves in the record and how small these grooves are, we understand why maintaining speed and isolating outside vibrations from the record is of the utmost importance. The smallest variation in speed or external vibrational energy from the drive system will impart itself as a loss in clarity or distortion of the music. This is easily heard on sustained piano notes and female vocals.
“I thought I knew that record”
Finding a drive motor that exhibits extremely low vibration and drive pulsations is difficult. Single phase AC motors display very strong pulses making these common motors unacceptable. DC motors are much smoother, relatively inexpensive and used in many turntables. The issue with DC motors is that their speed is affected by the load. That means they need a control circuit. The control circuit can make the average speed near perfect but this is achieved by constant speed adjustments so there will be constant small speed variations. Many high end tables have used extra mass in the driven rotational mass (platter) to help hide the speed corrections. Extremely heavy platters tend to make the music sound slow and lethargic. No amount of mass will stop speed variations from an improper drive source, unless of course, it is so heavy it will not rotate at all! All compromises that the engineers of the Beat were not willing to accept.
The answer came in the form of a huge 3 phase AC true synchronous motor. What makes this motor the best choice for a turntable is that its speed is not affected by load changes such as stylus drag and bearing oil temperature. When the load changes, such as stylus drag (yes, it is real) in complex music passages and heavy bass lines, a synchronous motor instantly draws more current and supplies more torque to the platter. This makes the controversial matter of stylus drag a non-issue. Because of this behavior, this type of motor does not need any form of servo circuit to control the speed when fed the proper power. This power is supplied via a sophisticated and very accurate power supply designed to give The Beat clean and consistent power with correct frequency, no matter how dirty your mains supply. This power supply also gives the audiophile another feature, adjustable motor torque. Every listener seems to enjoy a slightly different take on his music so The Beat lets you adjust the torque of the drive system. Want more of a smooth sound? Dial the torque back and dynamics become softer. Want more impact and energy from your music? Turn up the torque and that leading edge energy from the kick drum, pluck of a string bass or piano becomes more intense. This is one area where the designers felt like allowing the listener control. The Beat lets you decide on the energy level and smoothness delivered from your vinyl source.
“For me, it’s not so much about what I hear, it’s how it makes me feel.”
Some cultures say the Devil is in the details. Others say God lives in the details. At KODO, detail is everything. In any case, the details have won. There are many more details such as platter design, plinth development, plinth materials, armboard isolation, armboard material, footers, etc. For example, the shape of the plinth is such that it reflects room energy so the stylus has a better chance of sending a clean signal to your phonostage. We use Stillpoints feet to drain excess vibrations to the shelf. While designing and testing The Beat by KODO, we never used cost as a design parameter, only what sounded best. We could go on and on but you get the idea of how serious we are in building the best turntable possible.
Lets face it, all that matters is…how does it sound? We invite you to hear for yourself.