Teres Model 135 Turntable Review
Suggested Retail Price:$1350 less arm, add $425 Expressimo RB250 tonearm less cartridge
Description:The company's least expensive solid acrylic turntable
Manufacturer URL: http://www.teresaudio.com
The Teres Model 135 with Expressimo RB250 tonearm.
Having had the past six months to gain some perspective on this turntable I offer the following to those who would like to know what it's like to live with one of these beauties. This particular turntable is composed of:
1) a solid, heavy clear acrylic base resting on three BDR cone feet
2) a SUBSTANTIAL spindle bearing of a design said to limit drive-belt-induced-micro-rocking common to most designs.
3) a solid acrylic platter
4) a solid acrylic arm board.
The tonearm is offered as an option. I chose the Expressimo RB250 arm. This is a Rega RB250 tonearm modified by Expressimo Audio of Eureka, Ca. http://www.expressimoaudio.com
This tonearm is modified as follows:
1) plastic counterweight stub shaft is replaced with machined solid stainless stub shaft.
2) Rega counterweight is replaced with the Expressimo manufactured "The Heavyweight" counterweight that features an offset stub location placing center of counterweight mass to approximately the same vertical location of the cartridge stylus.
This table is offered as a "kit". As such it requires the purchaser to assemble the unit. The acrylic requires sanding and polishing to achieve the clear appearance seen in the above photo. For a detailed description of my experience with the assembly, polishing and setting up see this link: http:// www.theanalogdept.com/teres.htm .
Shipping & Handling: $57 (UPS, Colorado to Washington state)
Total: $1885.00 (rounded off to the lowest $5.00 by Chris over the phone) less cartridge or phono preamp
Date of purchase: April 15, 2002
Date of delivery: April 18, 2002 via UPS
This table offers a unique operation capability. Primarily due to the electronic controller in the motor pod, the platter can be started and stopped by man-handling it. Give the platter a push and it starts. Gently hold the spinning platter with your hands, and it stops. I find this very entertaining. The table's solidness and heft contribute to a feeling of substantial hardware when doing this. There is a push button on the motor pod that can be used to start, stop and change between 33-1/3 and 45 rpm. Operation is simple and intuitive this way as well.
Motor Pod: Solid machined aluminum case design with a bolt down top and anodized black finish.
Motor: Maxon 110189 precision DC motor
Power supply: Tamura wall transformer with cable. 120 Volts AC in, 14Volts DC out at 850 Milli-Amps
Drive Cord: Silk string with knot
Motor Controller: Teres describes their controller circuit as one that brings the platter up to the correct speed then switches to a mode that will only change the output voltage a few milli-volts per minute. This avoids hunting (constantly making small speed adjustments) Once locked in the Teres controller adjusts the speed only enough to compensate for the slow speed drift that occurs during operation. Teres describes this as a self calibrating DC regulator.
In practice, I have noticed that the motor will make corrections when physical mis-alignments exist between the motor pulley and platter. If a high degree of precision is not exercised in obtaining parallelism between platter and pulley, excessive force will be read by the DC motor controller and an audible slow-down followed by a correction will be plainly heard...! My experience has been that even though both motor pod and turntable are sitting on the same flat and level surface, alignment is not close enough to avoid these correction episodes. I have found that I can tune my alignment by placing shim material under one of the motor pod feet to gain an adequate alignment. I've noticed that Teres is now offering their motor pods with a new design of pulley. The speed correction episodes have been discussed at length over the Teres email list. I should note that had I complained directly to Chris Brady at Teres, he Would Have offered a replacement or made any effort to correct this condition. In the end, I preferred to find my own correction and now do not suffer these correction episodes.
Motor pod update October-2002: With the 'Signature Motor Controller Upgrade' now available at $65 to all current Teres owners, any issue with pitch stability has been eliminated. Additionally, sonic benefits derived from an even more rock solid pitch give substantial reason to reconsider my descriptions of an already excellent sounding turntable. Further, the Signature Upgrade has become the standard motor pod sold with all Teres turntables.
A two piece "Reflex clamp" is offered with the base kit. The clamp operates via a screw down thread on the center post. There is a solid delrin curved puck that fits over the spindle post and under the LP. This serves to influence a curving direction when screwing down the clamp over the vinyl LP. Also noteworthy is the absence of any platter mat. The intent is for the LP to be placed directly against the bare acrylic platter. In practice this system works superbly. I use this clamp always. In many cases, a slight vacuum will be observed when removing the LP from the platter. I can't imagine a clamping system better than this without going to the expense of a vacuum platter. Absolutely superb...!
What does it sound like...?
Considerable influence is offered by the choice of tonearm and cartridge. However I was able to make a comparison between my previous table and the Teres using the same phono cartridge. The cartridge in question at the time was the venerable Shure V15VxMR. This mm cartridge was used on my former table, a heavily damp-modded Thorens TD160 MK I using the standard TP16 MK I tonearm. Clearly, the Teres exhibited superior detail extraction in all frequencies over the vintage Thorens. Modified though it was, it could not produce the sense of natural timbre, ambience or sound stage definition offered up by the Teres. The Teres exhibited a precise sound stage with borders clearly sketched out in 3D space. Bass notes seemed tighter, more controlled but with slightly less slam that what was produced by the Thorens. Background noise seemed similar between the two tables. The Thorens isolates it's arm and cartridge through a spring suspended sub-chassis design, the Teres isolates by virtue of the physical characteritics of the materials and amount of mass in it's construction.
A month later, I installed a Shelter 501 type 2 MC cartridge to the Teres. This resulted in a dramatic increase in detail extraction. With the Shelter, subtle, soft notes and sounds now became better defined. A sense of naturalness and with accurate timbre seemed more apparent. Soundstage became even better defined. I noticed the soundstage tended to be more forward and closer to the listener than before. I also heard improvements in dynamic transitional passages. Dynamics got faster and more explosive. This is a nice sounding cartridge. US list price is $800. It was offered directly from Japan at approximately $590 plus S&H. I found a US dealer who was willing to strike a balance between the two extremes in price.
Late October, I received the Signature Upgrade to the motor pod. This upgrade was highly recommended by the Chris at Teres and also by those who had purchased this upgrade. Cost was $65 plus S&H. At first listen my impression was of improved midrange. In particular, vocals and single instruments had a sweeter, more fully developed tonal texture. Coltrane's tenor seemed to take on an even more dissonant tone. Davis's trumpet had more bite and pinch when playing the SDMPWC album, side 2, "Teo". Bass seemed just a bit more solid, but not by much.
A week after listening to and liking the Signature Upgrade, I could wait no longer and found a new phono preamp to finish off the vinyl front end of my system. This unit is one that had been reviewed in a national audiophile magazine, "Listener" in the May/June 2002 issue, the Wright WPP100C. I had considered trying an EAR 834P with step-up transformer, a Tom Evans Micro-groove and had actually tried out a Musical Surroundings "Phonomena", however, the Wright took the sounds of this table to a significantly higher level, adding increased presence and aliveness to the mix. Bass was dramatically improved. My review of the Wright with this table can be found here.
Excerpt from the Wright WPP100C review:
In general I would describe the sound of the Teres/Shelter with the Wright as having articulate, fast transients while preserving delicacy and detail. There is no sonic coloration that I can detect, but rather the unit reproduces a natural, fully timbered, rich and revealing presentation of each instrument and voice. I've also discovered a pronounced aliveness to the sound. Reverberant passages evoke strong ambiant* sensations. Dynamics are fast and explosive. Rapid, dense musical passages are fully detailed.
Example: Moody Blues "In Search of the Lost Chord", "Departure". This is the intro into "Ride My See Saw" that features a synthesizer tone rising in pitch in a seemingly endless linear climb ultimately reaching a climactic crescendo at the end. This manages to raise the hairs on the nape of my neck repeatedly...! So far three times in a row. I like it when that happens.
The midrange is reproduced natural and alive. Vocals are natural and full with subtle neuances in texture. Highs are rendered fully and even impossibly fine detail is reproduced in a delicate sharpness. Bass reproduction is terrific with deep, extended, large, round, full low frequency notes delivered with concussive force. This definitely makes an improvement over the inboard Classe' phono stage that had seemed just shy of delivering low frequency satisfaction for this listener. This is also really a plus for the cartridge in use, a Shelter 501 type 2. This cartridge, while very, very good all over is known for lacking that last little bit of bass extension and slam that some audiophiles crave. With the Wright, there is no need for a cartridge upgrade just to get some more bass extension. It's here now...! As an example, one of the records I use to test bass extension is the soundtrack from the movie "2001 A Space Odyssey". The track is titled "Also Sprak Zarasthustra" but many simply know this as the theme from 2001. Whatever your reference title, there is a 30 hz organ pedal note in this piece that plays through, beginning to end. This very low note is delivered to good effect. While not seismic, the bass is delivered with greater force than before. I consider it a good thing if a system can reproduce this note at all. When the note gets more forceful as a result of an upgrade like this, I'm encouraged.
At first I compared this turntable to my previous table, a fully 'damp modded' Thorens TD160 MK I, which I had been tweaking for a period of months, and making great progress in extracting better sound from that unit. Link here for the modded Thorens.
The Thorens had developed into a very pleasant sounding and satisfying table to live with. With the Teres, however, there was a much more accurate, natural and detailed sonic picture than that of the vintage Thorens. The Teres seemed to come up slightly lacking in bass extension and slam by comparison, however.
The difference became even more exaggerated with the addition of the Shelter MC cartridge which added depth and detail to all sonic ranges except for the very bottom of bass extension. This changed for the better with the addition of the Signature motor upgrade which added a richness to the midrange and a slight increase to bass slam and extension. Then with the addition of the Wright WPP100C and step up transformer the sonic transformation seems complete. No longer will I make a comparison between this turntable and the old Thorens. Any issues with bass extension and slam are forgotten as this table now delivers the goods in a satisfying manner completely and in all frequencies. There is much to like.
Product Weakness:The motor controller 'did' require precise physical alignment with the platter to avoid a pitch correction episode. This anomaly was eliminated with the addition of the Signature Upgrade to the motor controller, now standard.
Product Strengths:Superior record clamping, highly detailed, accurate, live presentation.
Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier:Classe' CAP 151 integrated stereo amplifier, rated @ 150 rms wpc into 8 ohms.
Phono Preamplifier: Wright WPP100C with the Wright WPM100 MC step up transformer
Sources (CDP/Turntable):Teres 135, with modified Rega RB250 tonearm, Shelter 501 type 2 MC cartridge
Speakers:NHT 2.9 (rated @ 6 ohm)
Cables/Interconnects:Tonearm IC: Cardas, Phono Preamp IC: Audioquest Jade, Speaker cable: Monster
Music Used (Genre/Selections):Classic Rock, 50's and 60's jazz, some better known classical
Room Size (LxWxH):30 ft. x 12 ft. x 18ft (room photo)
Room Comments/Treatments:Vaulted ceiling
Time Period/Length of Audition:6 mos.
End of Review
1) This Teres was purchased direct from the manufacturer. Contact: Chris Brady, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph: (303) 466-1743
Addr: Teres Audio, 2190 Snowmass Circle, Broomfield, C), 80020