maxon's low-noise brushed DC motor makes music

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Low noise, no cogging, brushed DC motor with precision control. That was Shaun Daniels requirement in order to create a record player, incorporating the best features of yesterday’s world-leading designs, along with the technology of today. maxon motor worked with the Sheffield-based audio consultant to fulfil his vision.

maxon's low-noise brushed DC motor makes musicIn 2004, Shaun Daniels, turned his love of music, and high-quality audio equipment, into a part-time retail business, running alongside his full-time engineering job. The company specialises in high-quality audio equipment, particularly stereo and analogue equipment, with an enthusiasm for classic turntables. The business flourished and Shaun left his day job to focus on Peak HiFi.

Peak HiFi’s customers interested in record playback tend to fall into two distinctive groups. One is made up of people who are revisiting vinyl; they tend to have grown-up families and now find themselves with more leisure time and more disposable income. The second group are younger audiophiles who have grown up with CDs and are now getting into record players and vinyl. Both groups are looking for the same result – enhanced quality of sound reproduction.

Longstanding music enthusiast, Shaun, saw a gap in the market for a completely new record player. He says: “I am a big fan of the Garrard 301 and Garrard 401. These were amongst the very best turntables of the 1950s and 60s, and are exceptional even by today’s standards. Unfortunately, the technology around the drive system is complex, and expensive to produce, and they died out in the 70s. They also have areas that can be improved, certain limitations of the technology of the day and mass production methods, resulted in casting defects, large motors with no speed control, isolation issues and so on. We started to produce upgrade components for these old decks and this is where the vision of a completely new record player came from, one that incorporated the best of the older deck drive systems but addressing the weaknesses with the engineering of today.”

So what makes a good turntable? Shaun explains: “You want to retrieve as much information out of the groove as possible, but add nothing. You should aim to introduce no vibration or noise from the mechanics, such as the motor or bearings and reduce airborne and mechanical vibrations from the speakers. Another area vital to performance is pitch stability, the record must rotate at a constant speed and not fluctuate. The drive system must not slow down and speed up, it must have a grip for consistency of speed. This is where the idler drive technology from the turntables of yesteryear, together with a controller, is a vital piece of the device.”

For his SMD Acoustics V2.0 Turntable, Shaun utilised cutting-edge technology and ultra-precise engineering to produce a record player, with a contemporary design, that built on the qualities of those from the past. Shaun had heard of maxon products from a colleague within the audio industry and contacted the maxon UK office. He says: “The support has been absolutely fantastic, from the first call, right through design and development, maxon have supported me all the way. When you are building someone else’s products into your design, you have to have complete confidence in their product and in their support and product availability, for years to come. You don’t want to switch and have the expense of finding a new product, possibly changing the design and the knock-on effect to the production timetable. maxon motor have been around for over 50 years and are well known in the record turntable business.”

Smooth speed, low noise, long life

maxon developed a customised product based on the RE-max 29 brushed DC motor and the ESCON 36/2 DC motor controller, with firmware specially modified for SMD Acoustics. Noise, both mechanical and vibration, are key to the design, in a record deck any sound from the motor is transmitted directly through to the record deck. The motor uses an ironless rotor construction, with no cogging, giving smooth speed, in addition to low noise and long life.

Speed control comes from the maxon ESCON 36/2 controller which measures the back electromotive force (EMF) from the motor thousands of times a second to make minute speed adjustments to the motor; allowing changes in temperature and load to keep correct speed and pitch. Shaun comments: „The ESCON software is a fantastic tool that offers brilliant potential. For future modifications it just means a software change, which is an easy process.” Shaun commented. After 3 years in development, the SMD Acoustics Turntable is now ready to go to market and industry experts are already raving about its quality.

Shaun concludes: “From the first enquiring email to maxon motor, we were treated like an important customer. Peak HiFi is a small company, and when we contact large organisations, we often don’t even get a reply! The level of responsiveness from maxon, even when we are only buying small quantities, is terrific. We are made to feel like one of the big boys and are treated like a person asking for thousands of units a year.”

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