NASA award-winning aerospace engineer Aleks Bakman has put his skills to use in a very different field. He has created a precision turntable that plays vinyl records. What is unique about this turntable is that it promises near-perfect, distortion free sound, thanks to its design.
In conventional turntables, the spindle shaft does not rotate perfectly. The resultant wobble causes the audio output to distort. Unless the distortion is significant, it is unlikely to even be perceived by the average music lover.
But Mr. Bakman’s creation surely does not target the average audiophile, unless s/he is rich enough or otherwise willing to spend US$150,000 on this precision turntable.
This turntable is named One degree of freedom (“Onedof”) turntable because, according to the designer, the bearing allows the platter only one degree of freedom- steady rotation about the vertical axis.
The aluminium alloy platter alone weighs 22.6 Kg. The platter assembly is supported on a specially-designed bearing that automatically centres itself. Instead of a spring, this turntable boasts of a non-resonating liquid suspension made of viscous oil.
This further reduces acoustic blurring caused by spindle distortion. The belt-driven turntable is also said to be the first of its kind. The brushless drive adjusts its position on the fly. The drive is also remarkably precise, with a reported velocity error of less than 0.00001 percent of velocity value per revolution.
Any resonance arising from the O-ring drive belts is cancelled by a microprocessor that generates a counter-phase signal to cancel out any noise signals generated by the mechanical systems.
The pertinent question to ask, though, is how good the original recording is on the vinyl. After all, the turntable can only reproduce without noise what has been recorded.