Hearing your turntable

Some time ago my dealer asked me to listen to the newly arrived rega EBLT belt. I placed it in my P2 and did some comparisons.
I was surprised because although I was able to hear some minor changes in soundstage, I couldn’t detect any in pitch consistency. rega claims that the difference is audible on a P1 too. To me the EBLT was the same as the stock one.

This led me to think that what has always somehow kept me at a distance from fully enjoying vinyl was a sense of ‘sea-sickness’ coming from LP replay. Piano notes, which have fast and sharp transients and long decay, and sustained violin notes often sway a little, making it difficult for me to listen with full pleasure.

A couple of years ago I did an online test to check my ability to detect differences in pitch. Although I did it using a computer monitor’s tiny speakers, I could detect differences of about 6 cents - roughly 1/20th of a semitone. This could explain my sensitivity to non-perfect rotation.

I posted my doubts on another forum and some members suggested using a direct-drive turntable. Since after my demo of the Solstice - and some beautiful pics of turntables in the thread here - I have wanted to move to a better TT, I have two questions for you kind members:

  • Have you ever experienced something like my sea-sickness with some LPs? I know it’s also a matter of how accurately the disc has been pressed, but it happens frequently to me while listening along with people who hear nothing strange.
  • Have you ascertained a clear preference for belt, pulley or direct drive?

Thanks for all opinions.


I have placed a large, spare 220V-220V isolation transformer between my TT and the mains, and perhaps the issue has diminished a bit.

As someone so accustomed to live performance it’s clearly something you are highly sensitive to, and once you know the issue is there it’s hard to not hear it.

I wonder whether the Planar 2 is just not good enough for you. I don’t know if you’ve read the Rega book, but there are some fascinating insights into turntable design, including the pros and cons of idler, direct and belt drive.

I wonder if a practical approach to the issue, rather than a theoretical one, might be best. Perhaps you could borrow a Rega 8 or 10 from your dealer friend? The 10 has a very sophisticated power supply under digital control. By trying it you would at least know whether vinyl can avoid the instability issues. If it can, you could then investigate a range of decks.


Cannot say I have felt this… But I have been using a Linn LP12, since 1981.


Experienced this exact problem recently with my LP12 - A slight hint of wavering pitch sometimes heard on decaying piano notes. Thought I was going mad as nobody else really noticed it (or at least not enough to say the one thing that must never be said - your fancy stereo is broken).

It started to get worse though, and the problem was soon identified as a faulty Valhalla motor PS. As an interim fix I quickly cobbled together a transformer based supply (bit like a geddon). The result continues to amaze me with seemingly rock solid pitch stability and much more enjoyable music.

Can’t say I ever noticed this with may current P10 (no Reference EBLT yet, I think, based on manufacturing date), nor with the previous P8 or the P3 I had for decades before it.

However, my violin and piano listening is limited; though when I do, I don’t notice it.

Dunno about my ears now, but as a child I was tested when I considered learning violin and apparently had extremely good pitch distinction.

A P2 is not a suitable player if you are very picky about vinyl playback quality.

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You only have to put something that is badly recorded and produced for anyone to think that and there are many examples to choose from.


thanks for your suggestion. As Sudkiez also thinks, it’s probably my P2. I bought it when I planned to enjoy my vinyl again but had modest expectations. Now I realize that LP replay can be a superior source of musical pleasure, but the P2 is still my mental entry level… My dealer has all the regas, I may borrow a better model with no issues. BTW, I have a better cartridge than then stock Carbon, a basically brand new Goldring.


the LP12 has often been an object of desire. I love this type of design, I don’t know how you call it - floating sub-chassis? I would consider one if I decided to move beyond sensible budgets. Apparently needs a lot of care and tweaking though.

Mr. Tibbs,

your findings seem to match my ones with the decoupling transformer, even though my solution is not a better PSU. I had thought of it, but the P2 motor is an AC one, so the small plug-in thing is not a PSU but just a voltage adapter.


thanks. Yours is a P10, like Nigel’s I believe, so I think perfect rotation can be expected. As you wrote my P2 is probably not up my expectations.


and this is another kind of issue… But if we let bad recordings decide for our pleasure, I think it’s an even worse mistake than letting good ones do.


Did you ever learn violin?

Not true. Not at all true. Do not believe those who say it does.



No, the prospective teacher was an idiot and scared me off with predictions about how terrible it would be to practice sufficiently, and scared my parents by telling them how terrible it would sound for a long time. (First thing he said to me was “so I heard you are this prodigy with a fantastic ear, but even so you will have to practice until your finger tips bleed”. That’s the way to excite a 6-year old!)

Anyway, what I really wanted was to learn the guitar, and not classical, but this was frowned upon in the seventies in rural Austria :angry: So it ended up being the clarinet, which I hated with a passion and gave up after 5 years of only being allowed to play Austrian oompah folksy music (like this). Which my parents agreed to after I finally told them that this teacher used to pull my hair when I hadn’t practiced enough.

Glad these imbeciles didn’t manage to make me hate music altogether.

One of the biggest problems I find is where an LP is pressed off centre. Even very slightly off centre snd you’ll hear it on piano for certain. Only fix here is to re-centre the LP or to buy a Nakamichi TX-1000 or Dragon CT.

And direct drive is no fix either. Particularly as with older DD and quartz lock drives. You can get a sort of blurring as the components age which is in many ways worse than any belt drive. Recapping a DD circuit board can sometimes fix this.

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The term for the LP12 design is ‘suspended sub-chassis’, where the bearing and arm are suspended from the plinth and the motor.

The LP12 doesn’t need constant tweaking. What is essential is that it’s set up by someone sufficiently competent. Once set up it will stay in tune for long periods. By contrast, you can get a Rega out of the box and have it working in ten minutes - all you need to do is balance the arm, apply the tracking weight and bias and you are away.

With your aesthetic tastes I can perhaps see an LP12 fitting better, however the platter and arm of the Planar 10 are things of functional beauty and have a different sort of appeal.

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Maybe some tweaks on the P2 could ameliorate strongly the sound, as a new motor, a delrin platter, and a new top Rega belt.
@Bobthebuilder has tweaked a lot some Rega. He can advise.

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Thanks. I forgot to add that when I listened to the Solstice I never even started to consider the issue of pitch because the music flow was so solid, fluent, convincing that I took perfect intonation for granted. And it likely was there.
So I think that a competent power supply, an adequate motor and a sufficiently heavy platter could be a good starting point. Suspended sub-chassis is not an absolute requisite.

Nigel, I agree that a P10 is a very fine piece of equipment and I too like some quid of shine - as can be guessed from my current system. My dealer has one and it retails for over €5500: I guess the right point to start from is deciding how much I agree to spend for LP replay. You began with a P1 and ended up with a P10, so I suppose that the upper you go, the more you agree to ameliorate. As of today, my idea of a budget could be around €2500. Not enough for a new P10 let alone a Sondek, but maybe on the 2nd hand market.


thanks but I’d prefer to move to a new player rather than boosting the ‘cheap’ one I have.

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not only that, but I suspect - and I tell this to you as a lover of tape machines - that in some cases older equipment in the recording studio could have been responsible for record meowing. I remember when my friends and I used to record our own songs (in younger days): when the left-hand reel was almost empty and the right-hand one was full, rotation was uncertain. Something like it must have happened in at least two éclatant cases - Mama’s and Papa’s Monday, Monday, which suffers from such a pitch oscillation near the end to make me almost unsure of the key, and The Beatles’ While my guitar gently weeps, which no turntable on earth can cure of a last minutes’ meow.

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Once you get past a certain level of power supply stability (let’s say, a Lingo on an LP12, or a TT-PSU on a Rega) the errors in pressings start to dominate pitch accuracy. What I mean is that no TT is going to make an ever so slightly off-center record play with correct pitch.

Piano and violin, with their long sustained notes, make this very, very apparent. It is hard to find a record that is actually perfect, including some very good pressings, so do consider you may never quite get to what you can get with digital on this dimension, in those applications.

I still prefer vinyl, but I’m willing to ream out the center hole to find the arrangement that will get to most pitch stability, and even then have learned to live with some degree of imperfection.

I agree, and that is probably the reason why I am hesitating before spending serious money for a TT - much as I wish to have vinyl replay in my system.