Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Belting out good sound


Late last year, Malaysian turntable tweaker Michael Lim telephoned me and asked whether I wanted to try out his Rega turntable belt. I quickly said yes and he turned up in my house with a small plastic bag containing his belt.


I have been using Rega's white belt for a while and have been very satisfied with the results.


Michael Lim's belt, which is sourced from Italy, is made of silicon and is reddish in colour.




Rega's white belt and Michael Lim's red belt.


I quickly slipped his belt onto the motor and plastic sub-platter (I'm still using the original Rega sub-platter) and played an audiophile pressing of Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms.


Immediately I noted that the music sounded laidback and relaxed and the images were pushed backwards.


It crossed my mind that I had never heard Dire Straits sounding that way before.


I removed the red belt and slipped on Rega's white belt. Immediately I noted that the music sounded dynamic and punchy - the way I am used to hearing Dire Straits' songs - and the images were moved forward.


I was quite mystified as to how a simple belt could affect sound quality and after much thinking, I came to the conclusion that it had to be linked to the torque of the motor.


Again, I used the red belt and noted that it took about two and a half revolutions before the platter spun at a steady speed. With Rega's white belt, it took only one and a half revolutions.


Thus the white belt, which felt stickier, had more grip on the motor and sub-platter and delivered enough drive to make the platter spin at the right speed faster and ensured speed stability.


The red belt, however, was not as sticky and had less grip and could not provide sufficient drive.


In the end, it boils down to what kind of presentation you prefer - the relaxed, laidback way or the dynamic and punchy way.



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