Upgrade Your Turntable with Our Stelvio-Class Drive System
Requests for drive systems from owners of other manufacturers’ turntables (particularly Platine Verdier and Redpoint owners) were deafening, and we listened to you.
We’ve streamlined our production process and this freed us up to re-institute our drive system retrofit/upgrade program for a broad range of turntables.
Shown here, is the final QC step we take before burn-in and speed check. You can read more about this here.
Why Should I Upgrade?
You might wonder why an upgrade might benefit you, if you don’t hear any pitch stability issues.
If you read only one thing on this page, click the “Frequent Questions” tab and read the first topic (“Why upgrade?”).
Some history …
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the evolution of our drive system, we compiled this timeline (click this link).
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why upgrade? I have good wow & flutter readings
- Suspended Turntables
- Why should I lock down my suspension?
- Custom Heights – Pricing
- Belt Height and Custom Motor Pods
- International Voltages
- Warranty and Unauthorized Power Supplies
- Platine Verdier
- Redpoint Turntables
Why upgrade? I have good wow & flutter readings
It’s about much more than pitch stability. In short, the enemy is distortion.
That cartridge you thought was a bit too edgy? It may well be the messenger you’re blaming. The true culprit may be your drive system.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that until you’ve optimized your drive system, considering an expensive cartridge upgrade is a very risky proposition.
Good wow and flutter behavior is necessary, but there’s so much more to good speed behavior than pitch stability. Wow & flutter readings are taken with a steady sine wave (typically 3150 Hz), and this tells you very little about the distortion spectra or dynamic behavior of your analog front end when playing complex wave forms (otherwise known as music).
The next level of refinement brings with it a reduction in distortion and improved phase behavior (most noticeable in the treble because of the short wavelength at these frequencies).
This, in turn results in rich/lush tone which is most apparent in how strings and woodwind instruments are rendered. People associate lush harmonics with a “sluggish” rhythmic presentation, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth with our Stelvio-drive.
The improved phase in the treble region builds more accurate overtones which is is how we distinguish two different instruments from each other when they’re playing the same note (i.e. double bass vs. organ).
Better speed control means better tone. Is accurate rendering of tone important to you?
The improved phase behavior also results in better note definition, reproduction of leading and trailing edges of the note (along with less harshness), improved rhythm/timing, as well as delineation of musical lines.
In short, the music makes more sense.
Low-loss drive systems (idlers and rigid belt drive) contribute to this next level of speed stability. If you’re used to a rubber belt-driven turntable, this will be immediately apparent. String drive? This is another lossy system – perhaps better than rubber belts, but that sets a low bar to clear. Scroll down this page to the “Belts” FAQ for more information about drive belts.
Our most recent drive update brought the rendition of transients to be so close to that of our idler drive prototype that we began to question the reason for continuing with the Savoie project.
Interestingly, the audible improvements in this recent update showed only minimal improvement in wow and flutter readings. We believe in measuring, but this is yet another case of the industry not measuring everything that’s relevant.
We explore this topic in a bit more detail in this blog post. There’s some excellent treatment of this topic in a review of the Rockport Sirius III (archived on the wayback machine – opens in a new tab). In this blog post, we discuss the tolerances in our drive pulley design.
Our rigid drive belt system will not work with a suspended platter.
The platter must have no rocking or vertical play of any sort in order for the belt to track on the pulley.
Why should I lock down my suspension?
It goes deeper than the ability of a rigid belt to track the motor pulley.
Consistent with our design concepts and musical values, we’re firm believers in improving drive system coupling whenever possible, and we wrote the following comment in a forum post about Platine Verdier turntables:
My comment about locking down all suspension related to the resonant loop comprised of the motor drive, the “belt”, and the base/platter. Subtle relative movements between the drive components can affect speed stability on the “micro” level I described earlier.
In this sense, any suspension in the loop, whether it be some “squishy” footers under the drive system, or springs under the turntable base/platter will have similar effects to that of a rubber belt.
The good news is that suspension under a fairly massive base like that of the Verdier is likely to have a smaller effect than that of a rubber belt due to the platter/base assembly being high mass, and will “jiggle” quite a bit less (much less so than for example, a Linn turntable).
It will still “jiggle” however, and when you consider the minute wavelength of a 10 kHz signal in a record groove, and then take into account that any error more than zero will introduce phase anomalies, you’ll understand why we take this so seriously.
You may well find the solution for your turntable to lie on a continuum – that a bit of compliance will be the best compromise in your system. In general, I fall into the camp that less (suspension) is more (fidelity).
Some of this has to do with musical values – your perceptual framework and what in a musical performance your attention is drawn to. We’re all different in this regard. I tend to listen to a lot of rhythmically complex music with interleaving musical lines, so dynamic behavior (and unraveling these musical lines) is important to me. Of course, benefits like lowered distortion are a universal value.
My take is that when the urge to experiment strikes (and we all know that it occurs frequently with Verdier owners <grin>) that you play with eliminating as many “springs” out of your drive system as possible – as long as it’s reversible.
Custom Heights – Pricing
Refer to the “Pricing” tab for details.
Custom height motor pods are typically produced “off-cycle” as “one-off” designs. Whenever you make only one of something, a machinist charges a premium.
Our standard height motor pod locates the belt center-line 5.225″ above turntable shelf.
In the rare instance that you order while we have a pending production batch in process, we can add your order to that batch and wave this surcharge.
Belt Height and Custom Motor Pods
Many of our customers install aftermarket footers on their turntables, and these height variances make it impractical to manufacture motor pods in advance (by brand and model).
It’s the rare platter height that we cannot accommodate. Typically, this involves an extremely short turntable, with the belt center-line being lower than about 4 inches above the shelf. Of course, you can raise your turntable base with custom footers to circumvent this limitation.
Specifying belt height is a key part of any turntable design. Since we have no insight into either the design principles or execution of your turntable, we recommend that your new motor pod position the belt at the same height as the “stock” design.
The theory is that you want the pull of the belt to impart a stabilizing force on the platter so as to not induce rocking of any sort. The geometry of your bearing and platter factor into the design.
Our Galibier turntables locate the belt height in agreement with this principle. In practice (both measuring and listening), we’ve found that the precision of our bearings makes our platters immune to any rocking.
The machined motor pods sit “flat” on the shelf (no feet) and a rubber o-ring groove on the bottom prevents slippage.
We specify the Teddy Pardo power supply which is made in Israel, and can be specified for either North American voltages (120V / 60 Hz) or for 240V / 50 Hz.
If you live outside the United States, we recommend ordering your power supply directly from them. This will save you on international shipping charges. We can instruct you on the details of selecting the correct plug as well as custom umbilical cord lengths.
When you order your power supply, we’ll apply a credit to your order.
To receive both your credit and to maintain your warranty, send us a copy of your purchase receipt from Teddy Pardo.
Warranty and Unauthorized Power Supplies
We will not warranty a controller which has been used with a power supply we have not certified for use with our drive circuit. Currently, the Teddy Pardo 12/4, the discontinued Tenma, and the current Astron RS-7A supplies are certified.
Contact us if you have any questions, and if you purchase your power supply directly (not through us), forward us a copy of the receipt to keep your warranty in effect.
In 2018, we eliminated on-board regulation from the controller circuit. Tests with the Teddy Pardo supply (as well as the Astron and Tenma units) showed that it was not only unnecessary, but that it degraded the sound.
These onboard (3-pin) regulators are compact and useful in many situations, but they cannot compete with a dedicated linear supply. Parenthetically, these regulators are key elements of both the Redpoint and Verdier drive modules. Me mention this in the “drive history” link in the “Overview” tab on this page.
The single benefit given up by eliminating the onboard regulator is that it protected the logic module and motor from inferior supplies. In practice, no one investing in a drive system like this should be skimping, especially considering that even the reasonably priced supplies Tenma and Astron are of sufficient quality to render additional protection unnecessary.
In short, there is a sonic and reliability penalty for using dirty power. You would never knowingly put dirty gasoline in your Porsche, and you should feed your Galibier controller with good power as well.
Regarding the benefits of clean power (as well as upgrading to the Teddy Pardo), we have one customer who asked us what to do with his old supply (after upgrading to the Teddy Pardo). I commented that they can keep it on hand in case his Teddy Pardo ever needed servicing. He replied: “if I can’t use the Teddy Pardo I won’t listen to my turntable until it returns”.
Once you’ve heard our controller with the “Teddy”, you’ll understand what he was talking about.
To implement a rigid, “tape” drive belt on the Platine Verdier, the suspension must be locked down so the platter does not rock. Any slight rocking or vertical movement of the platter will result in the belt jumping off the drive pulley.
The most frequent Verdier height dimension we’ve encountered positions the center-line of the drive belt so it is 7.5” (190 mm) above the turntable shelf.
We have seen a variance in this number due to the wide use of aftermarket footers under the base and motor pod, however. The reported belt height (to position it at the same height as the “stock” turntable) has ranged from 7 to 8 inches.
We can accommodate any height, but because of these variances, Verdier motor pods cannot be inventoried, and require a custom height motor pod.
Refer to the “Belt Height and Custom Motor Pods” section for a discussion on why drive belt height specification is important.
Of course, we have a history with Redpoint, although our physical implementation has diverged slightly over the years.
- Our standard height motor pods have increased in height by .670” to accommodate the footers we specify for our turntable bases.
- Redpoint has changed the top (control) plate thickness and internal cavity dimensions of their motor pods.
The majority of the Redpoint upgrades we’ve performed involved re-machining the existing Redpoint motor pod – expanding the control cavity to accommodate our control plate and circuitry.
Shown here is a motor pod whose cavity was re-machined (before and after). We can discuss this with you to map out a strategy.
The Kapton belts we specify last for years, benefiting from regular cleaning to maximize performance (a 30 second task).
We recently wrote about specifying drive belts in this blog post. Recently, we re-visited our assumptions about belt materials, and this once more validated our design assumptions for all those in attendance. You can read about this session by clicking here.
Our earliest adopters are still using their first belt (7 years and counting). Kapton belts are so robust as to be specified to run the “black boxes” (flight recorders) on commercial aircraft.
From R.P. in Albany, NY
This fellow was an early Galibier adopter, and when Joel Durand asked me for recommendations for a beta test group for the Durand Talea, he was one of the first people who came to mind.
He’s one of our more discerning owners, and has previously used a Mark Kelly designed controller – this, before we released our 2013 version (the first major change to our drive architecture since 2001):
Here are his comments about the most recent iteration of this drive architecture – the 2019-2020 update (click here).
From Audiogon user audiotomb
Thom Makris of Galibier has never rested on his laurels and has developed a fabulous new drive system worthy of his refined turntables.
The first thing I noticed was rock solid speed which made for clarity and focusing of the presentation. My original Galibier motor pod was certainly no slouch in that department.
Leading edge transients are very pronounced and did not lose tonality upon release. Cymbals, pianos, horns, etc. all jumped out of the mix with enhanced dynamics.
The smaller drive pulley allows the motor to get up to speed very quickly and keeps belt interaction to a minimum. The new controller has finer resolution in speed control adjustments and comes calibrated. Mine was dead perfect.
Utilizing a Kapton belt and Teddy Pardo power supply the results are stunning. Those with other high mass turntables should consider the Galibier motor pod as a significant analog upgrade.
From a Redpoint Owner: C.H., Greeley, CO
What’s that old saying … “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true”? We designed the Redpoint controller back in 2001 and carried it forward to Galibier, so we’re well aware of it’s weak points.
They say it’s not good form to criticize your competitors. Well, treat this as a “self-critique” of how much we’ve learned about our own designs.
It’s always gratifying however, when our customers recognize the difference as well.
Shown here is the extended cavity we machined to accommodate the Galibier electronics, along with the completed, assembled motor pod and top control plate.
For the record, the Platine Verdier uses a similar drive architecture to our legacy drive system, so you’ll experience similar upgrades to what Redpoint owners are hearing.
Well, that’s not a subtle difference! Thom, I don’t think I realized how broke the original motor was and what an effect that has had on my perception of vinyl playback over the years since I bought the Redpoint.
It took all of a minute to have the controller set up and working, and the speed was locked on at 33 as well as 45. I simply used the KAB strobe disc to check it. I’ve never seen it sit that still on this turntable before… I tried both my diy mylar belt and your Kapton belt and, at the moment, I seem to prefer the Kapton. I could easily hear the difference between the two belts. That ability to finally “hear” differences ended up being what my entire weekend was like!
It was pretty amazing to listen to familiar recordings. The depth, three dimensional quality and believability has pretty much gone through the roof. Dynamic range seems to have increased as well.
I also am finally able to hear smaller differences in VTA and azimuth. I need to sort out some adjustments in my phono pre now.
Seems I’ve been using adjustments in the phono pre and arm in an attempt to compensate for problems with the motor. Of course, now I need to get a lot more serious about arm and cart setup because those things are now way easier for me to hear.
Just wanted to give you a quick update on the thing. I’m really happy!
You’ll be receiving the following four key components which comprise the complete drive system we fit to our Stelvio-II turntable:
1. Drive Module
The circular top plate is the heart of our drive system – housing all components with the exception of the external power supply.
We’ve shown it removed from the motor pod to highlight its modular construction.
This has dramatically simplified rolling out system updates, and the very first turntable we built in 2001 has a motor pod compatible with this module.
Our two decades of international shipping experience have proven this architecture to not only facilitate maintenance and upgrades, but also to reduce shipping cost and risk of damage and loss.
If at any point, you send your drive system to us, you need only send this module. It weighs under a pound (about 430 grams), and removing it is a 3 minute operation (click here for instructions).
2. Custom Height Motor Pod for Your Turntable
Shown here, is a Redpoint motor pod conversion. The silver areas show the sections we machined to adapt to our drive module.
In most cases, you will be receiving a new motor pod with the faceted pattern shown on our Gavia and Stelvio pages.
3. Kapton Belt
We’ve auditioned numerous belt materials, and if you’re looking at our drive systems, you are very likely aware of why we advocate rigid drive belts.
From time to time, we revisit our assumptions. Click the photo to read about a recent comparison we ran.
4. Power Supply
These drive systems benefit from clean power, and the Teddy Pardo is the best linear supply we’ve found to date.
Click the thumbnail to visit the Teddy Pardo site (opens in a new tab).
The motor pod and top plate is finished in matte silver (anodized).
In real life, the finish is a bit brighter looking than how it’s rendered in this photograph.
On occasion, we’ll release a few “standard height” motor pods finished in our Stelvio custom, platinum gray metallic.
Complete drive system for other manufacturers’ turntables
This includes all of the items noted in the “What’s Included” tab. Pricing below differs based on motor pod requirements:
Standard Galibier Motor Pod: $2,695
(belt center line is 5.225″ above turntable shelf).
Redpoint turntables – two options:
$2,695 – if we re-machine your current motor pod.
$2,995 – if we machine a new motor pod. The Redpoint motor pod is .670″ shorter than our standard height, and therefore requires custom machining.
Custom Height Motor Pod: $2,995
(Platine Verdier, Final Tool, etc.)
Galibier Owners – $1,295
Your upgrade consists of the drive module shown in the “What’s Included” tab (item #1), and is a direct, plug-in replacement for all turntable motor pods we have ever manufactured (dating back to 2001).
Not included (since you own at least one of the following):
- A linear power supply – either by Astron ($90) or Teddy Pardo ($460).
- Motor pod (we fit the top plate to your existing motor pod).
- Kapton belts.
Note: warranty is void if you use an unauthorized power supply.
Trade-in / Trade-up
At any point within two years of purchase, you may apply the full purchase price of your drive system upgrade in trade toward a new Galibier Stelvio, Gavia, Savoie, or Eiger turntable.
We will re-purpose any compatible parts from your drive system (as applicable) to the model you purchase.
Contact us for details.