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Gavia/Stelvio Controller Upgrade

Development of one product frequently informs development of another.

In the case of the NiWatt amplifiers, we needed better wire and suddenly, a new line of cables was born.

During development of the Eiger rim drive turntable, our biggest challenge was reducing noise transmission from the motor, since it’s directly coupled to the chassis as well as contacting the platter through the idler wheel.

We learned some interesting things while solving this, and the results transferred to our belt drive turntables.

Power demands and vibration …

While prototyping the Eiger, we learned that the higher the torque demand on the motor, the more noise and vibration it made.

Gearing down with a narrower diameter idler lessened the demands on the motor.  It had to deliver less torque to perform the task of controlling the platter.

Having more “drive” in reserve results in cleaner note attack and decay along with a more nuanced presentation.

Overtones are beautifully fleshed out .  Woodwinds sound more woody and horns are more like themselves – golden with just the right amount of “splat”.  Rhythmic nuances and complex musical lines are all the more intelligible.  All of the usual audiophile accolades apply.

As powerful as the motor is, it still benefits from gearing that makes its job easier.

The Eiger teaches the Gavia and Stelvio a lesson …

This month, we transferred these lessons to our belt drive controller – a drive system which received stellar reviews when we released it in 2014, which was further improved in 2018 with a circuit revision and the inclusion of a more sophisticated power supply (by Teddy Pardo).

This “easier” gearing strategy translates equally well to the Gavia/Stelvio belt drive architecture, with the same stunning results that we experienced with the Eiger.

The photo shows a test bed we rigged up to prototype these revisions.  We performed some micro-surgery on the production circuit board to test out the concept.  The two external pots are in temporary use to tune the values for two pairs of internal resistors.

How many Teddy Pardos?

One owner who fell head over heels over the 2018 revision asked me:  “how many Teddy Pardos” does this most recent improvement equate to?

This owner was so enthralled by the 2018 circuit mod combined with the Teddy Pardo power supply that he used the upgrade as a unit of measure to describe a substantial system change – the “Teddy Pardo”.

From my experience, I’d equate one “Teddy Pardo” to a cartridge upgrade from something like an Ortofon Cadenza to a Lyra Kleos or perhaps a Van den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius – in other words, a very notable change.

So, in attempt to answer his question, I was my typically understated self and said “about one-third to one-half of a Teddy Pardo”.

Yesterday evening, I had another small gathering to audition the prototype and I brought up the Teddy Pardo “unit”.  The consensus was one to one and a half Teddy Pardos.  People always accuse me of underselling myself.

The basic architecture continues to prove itself with each subsequent drive system update, and this one is no less significant than the previous two.

The update plan …

We ordered a prototyping run of circuit boards.

In the next few days, we’ll be mass-mailing our customers about the upgrade program, and as soon as we have the final quantities established, we’ll order a production batch of pulleys and circuit boards to kick off the upgrade.

We expect to start rolling out the upgrade in early July.

Stay tuned for more …

5 comments

  1. Thom says:

    You’re very welcome. After all these years, I remain as enthused about this as my customers are. It makes for a shared journey.

  2. Bruce Ring says:

    Thom: Enjoy the read and your journey to further excellence! Enjoying the TT everyday! Bruce

  3. Thom says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Bruce.

    Since Galibier became a full-time effort, I came to realize how much of a labor of love this is … that, and of course having more time to allow my near obsessive fascination with making things better to manifest itself 😉

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