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Michael Lim's Rega Motor Isolation Base

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Michael Lim's Rega Motor Isolation Base

Postby watercourse » 23 Jul 2011 00:41

I've just installed the motor isolation base from Michael Lim from Malaysia. More info here: http://lpturntables.blogspot.com/2010/1 ... -rega.html

This was not extremely simple, but by no means difficult either. It took me approximately 3 hours to install and dial it in (including walking to my local hardware store twice and taking a break for lunch). Since I've only had a couple of hours and a few LP sides to check out, don't consider this a definitive review but a preliminary one.

First, the unit itself is very well made, and much more substantial than the photos convey. The base weighs almost 2 lbs. which should effectively keep it from shifting accidentally and changing the pulley distance.

Next, comments on the install: Michael provides detailed photos and step-by-step descriptions for installing it on a Rega table, but not for a P5. So P5 owners should take heed, but others may also benefit.

Some tips that Michael did not provide, but that did help me:
1. Before making any changes, measure the distance from the edge of the subplatter to the motor spindle (or from the subplatter spindle to the motor spindle if you prefer). This will help you to place the motor at the right distance once you've removed the motor from the plinth. You might also measure the height of the top of the motor spindle from the plinth, but this is less important.
2. Make sure that neither the base nor the motor touch the plinth when you're ready to spin. This is not explicitly stated in the instructions, but is a no-brainer considering what the unit is supposed to achieve.
3. Dress the cables so that they don't transfer vibrations.

The installation requires you to bend down the tabs/flanges on the motor top plate in order to mount the motor onto the base, which is a slightly smaller diameter mounting than the stock. I had difficulty bending one of the flanges as well as the other one, and had to drill out the hole on the flange a wee bit wider in order to make screwing the motor to the base go smoothly and without too much rubbing against the flange. They're not difficult to bend, but they are not easy to bend just right.

You may recall that I mentioned going to the hardware store. Well, the machine screws that were provided were much too long for the job. I purchased two M3 machine screws that were 12mm long and they did the trick.

The reason that Michael has included such long screws is to allow the user to mount the motor with spacers between the base and the motor. This would allow the isolation base to sit on your shelf and the motor to reach the proper height for the pulley WITHOUT any contact with the plinth. However, when I install my double pulley at a later date, I might need to adjust this and also have 16 mm screws in case they are better suited after any height adjustments.

So my initial sonic impressions: The most obvious change was that I observed more ambient information than I recalled earlier, listening to the same LPs just prior to the mod. Overall sound was a bit more relaxed and coherent, and still very musical and retaining previous positive character. There were no negative sonic effects from the mod.

I also noted the following observations, but I feel I need further examination to verify: Leading and trailing edges seem easier to follow now. Micro and macrodynamics seem slightly improved. The noise floor also seemed to drop a touch. This last observation is difficult to say with certainty because my modified P5 had a very low noise floor to begin with.

There may be issues with practicality of this mod. The isolation base, because it is free of the plinth, will make the turntable more difficult to move. Michael has included a rubber mesh pouch that you can attach to the bottom of the plinth for this reason. However, be aware that I felt the need to cradle the base when moving the table. And upon repositioning the table, measuring the distance from the motor spindle to the edge of the subplatter to get the correct pulley distance will be necessary from now on.

One positive benefit from the mod is that it is now much easier to seat the plug from the TTPSU into the motor, as the plastic frame is no longer interfering with a good fit. Bad engineering, Rega!

Overall, I am pleased with what I am hearing so far. I will post some pictures and comments after listening some more.

Wilson
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Re: Michael Lim's Rega Motor Isolation Base

Postby Michael Lim » 23 Jul 2011 08:35

watercourse wrote:The installation requires you to bend down the tabs/flanges on the motor top plate in order to mount the motor onto the base, which is a slightly smaller diameter mounting than the stock.....
Wilson


Hi Wilson,

Thank you for your additional tips which will definitely benefit everybody including me. I will take note of what you have highlighted here and improve upon my installation instructions.

As for the motor base mounting, I would like to make some clarification here:

There are two pairs of mounting holes on the base of slightly different diameters apart. The wider pair is meant for mounting the motor and it's aligned with the motor flange holes. The other pair, narrower apart with brass prods is to guide the motor in the center for easy mounting. It is also intentionally made narrower to align with the motor screw mounting holes on Planar 2/3 so as to enable users to lock the motor base onto the plinth when transport TT (in case rubber mesh netting may not be used).

I apologize for causing you extra effort which I failed to forsee and highlight in my instructions to you.

Hope you enjoy the music with this upgrade.

Michael
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Postby watercourse » 23 Jul 2011 20:52

I've listened for a couple of hours last night and today, and can now report my findings.
There is a consistent improvement from before in overall coherence - music is now more "of a piece" and has a sense of ease that simply makes me want to listen to more music as I am more drawn into performances. The "gestalt" is of a more smooth, enjoyable, and refined playback system. This is not night and day from the previous level, but consistent and positive.
I have noticed consistent improvements in microdynamics, leading edges, and ambient information retrieval. I believe this speaks to a lowering of noise floor and less smearing or loss of information caused by motor vibrations. I have also noted more solid imaging and soundstage placement than previously. Again, this was not night and day, but consistent and positive.
In being able to compare these differences, I think that Rega did a great job with minimizing the majority of the motor vibrations from entering the plinth. Assuming that the mounting system is similar between the P3-24 through P7, users will likely hear similar benefits.
Based on Michael's clarifications on how to mount the unit to a P5, I will likely make changes to my install to be able to more easily transport the turntable. This will likely also obviate the need to re-check the pulley distance after moving as well. Had I known what the intended uses of the two mounting holes were, the install would have been complete in about an hour.
Good work Michael, and hope this post allows others to experiment with your invention.
Thanks,
Wilson
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Postby bacobits » 24 Jul 2011 20:01

Good show guys!! Thank You !!!
I think Michael makes some killer upgrades.

Interested, but need to see some picts when you have time Wilson.

From your description of the sound the double pulley has most of the same improvements.

Den
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Postby watercourse » 24 Jul 2011 23:17

Den, ask and you shall receive! Here are some step-by-step pics, minus some obvious steps.
I also think this is a very good mod, especially so if you learn from my mistakes. More later when I install the pulley.

Base weighing in at just under 2 lbs.
[album]18298[/album]

Base next to CD
[album]18299[/album]

Prior to work, measure distance to motor spindle
[album]18300[/album]

Stock P3 through P7 motor out
[album]18302[/album]

After bending down motor flanges, mount on base with machine screws, tape loose wiring, and attach rubber mesh netting to existing screw holes
[album]18303[/album]

Re-mounted, added additional spacers (Herbie's grungebuster sheets), and checked top plate for level. Notice that I am using the shortest length of machine screw that Michael provided, after clarification on which mounting holes to use.
[album]18304[/album]

Completed view of isolation base mounting. Moved pulley to correct distance from edge of subplatter after checking that there is no contact between motor, base, and plinth
[album]18305[/album]

Currently, I am still using the rubber mesh because I will need to bend the flanges down even more, or drill out some of the plinth in order to seat the motor in the space perpendicular to the way it was oriented in its stock form. I will likely drill out the plinth as this will be easier and guarantee a fit, all this so that I can use the longer screws to hold the base when transporting.
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Postby brassnwood » 25 Jul 2011 12:34

Sorry Wilson,
I'm confused here!!! [not difficult for me:-[
Surely if you had used the wider spaced holes [as Michael appears to suggest] you wouldn't have to bend the motor flanges at all! or am I missing something?
GC
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Postby watercourse » 25 Jul 2011 14:02

GC,
You are not confused. If the wider spaced mounting holes were used, then one need not touch the flanges.
Hence my estimate of taking only an hour for the mod (versus the three that I actually spent) had the instructions been more clear. I'm providing my experience so that others don't have the same issues, or can make a better-informed decision.
On the other hand, if one does mount using the smaller diameter holes, then the wider holes can be used to transport the motor/base instead of the rubber mesh. I will include photos once I do this so that this is more clear.
Wilson
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Postby bacobits » 25 Jul 2011 15:15

Wilson, Thanks for taking the time!
Super job, I love the description from weighing the piece, measuring to fit and installation. Michael will probably use this on his blog.

Did you have to change the size of the original feet? I have BDR cones and bases under my table. These have no adjustment. I see no problem here with moving the table. I don't move it at all. Again, Rega should have installed a plug for that motor wire to the board.

You got those pieces from Michael pretty quick too.
This looks to be well worth the $100 cost involved. All these upgrades have sane prices. This achieves the same thing as the VPI "stand alone motor supply".

Will I go for it here? Maybe later on.
I have that Schiit DAC on order. \:D/

Den
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Postby RoDa » 25 Jul 2011 15:22

Sorry for beeing a bit slow..... but:
Is you motor now completely detatched from the plinth?
It just sits on this new base only in contact with the shelf underneath the TT?

If so, it sounds similar to the solution on my Well Tempered Record Player.
There problem there was that the motor/base was not completely level so the motor pulley moved on the motor axle and gave me a smal headache. :D

Regards
Rolf
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Postby Michael Lim » 25 Jul 2011 16:26

bacobits wrote:Michael will probably use this on his blog.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :oops:
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Postby gabriel1998 » 25 Jul 2011 16:38

At what point does a Rega Turntable stop being a Rega Turntable??
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Postby RoDa » 25 Jul 2011 16:51

gabriel1998 wrote:At what point does a Rega Turntable stop being a Rega Turntable??


My thoughts exactly.
I think this is changing too much.
To me all parts of a Rega needs to be firmly attached to the player, no loose parts here :D

But this is a reversible tweak, and maybe it pushes the performance and is well worth the effort, Rega-ish or not.

Anyhow it's great to have these good descriptions and pictures to help if one wants to try the upgrades in the future.

Regards
Rolf
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Postby bacobits » 25 Jul 2011 17:26

At what point does a Rega Turntable stop being a Rega Turntable??


Well, I would say mine right now should be damn close to a P7, different platter of course, that Funk Firm Acroplat maybe closer because it is a ceramic.

I am going to stop for now at the double pulley. I very happy with the way it sounds.

There are only 3 upgrades left anyway.

Re-wire RB700
Motor Isolation
VTA adjuster

Den
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Postby watercourse » 26 Jul 2011 01:55

gabriel1998 wrote:At what point does a Rega Turntable stop being a Rega Turntable??


Well, I actually believe that this mod is taking Rega's design philosophy one step further: Rega uses light materials throughout to minimize resonances and vibrations, instead of using a suspension system or very dense materials, constrained layers, or heavy materials to isolate the deck from external influences. Making the plinth even lighter by taking the motor off-board does not conflict with Rega's philosophy, in my opinion.

@RoDa: Yes, the motor does not touch the plinth at all, it sits (in my case) on some Herbie's dB neutralizer sheets.

@Bacobits: I adjusted the height of the motor in the base by putting spacers between the motor and the base to get the height of the pulley right. Currently, my P5 sits on Herbie's TT footers.

This mod does, however, take more effort and may be impractical for some, and I would opine that the lower-end Rega's might be the best place for the motor base isolation unit, although I did hear a positive difference in my case. The choice is yours: I'm just reporting results of my experiment to give you information.

I have to admit that I installed the double pulley last night (I couldn't wait), and wow! talk about putting some snap into the system! Holy mackerel! This P5 is now freaking amazing sounding to me, as good as some much more high-ticket TT's I've heard for under $3500K (I'm talking VPI, Scheu), but the Shindo TT still sounded better, but mostly in pitch stability and solidity of sound image. This could have been a synergistic thing with an all-Shindo system. But we're talking $20K here for the table alone, and I'm not even close to being disappointed in my P5's sound after all this work.

P.S. I'm not sure it should sound "like a Rega" as much as it should sound like good, realistically-reproduced music. I had a P1 and P2 before, and I can tell you I wouldn't stick with the stock sound if it represents the "true" Rega sound. So I guess it depends on your point of reference. I can say that my P5 sounds better than stock (and stock wasn't bad at all) with much more clarity, improved dynamic range, pitch accuracy, more linear and smooth response, and a decreased noise floor. If the Rega "sound" (if there is one) strays from the accuracy, clarity, and the refined, pleasing, yet exciting sound I'm getting now, then I guess I don't want it.
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Postby watercourse » 26 Jul 2011 03:35

On second thought, maybe this is a FrankenRega... muahahahahahahaha!!!! :twisted:
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