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date: 11/15/2008

Verus Direct Coupled Motor from Teres Audio.

To boot up you have to press the button marked "0". 

Once pressed we get to entertain ourselves by watching the platter move back and forth for a few brief but erratic seconds. Then the platter stands still.   The "stand-by" LED  glows yellow and the table remains motionless awaiting your next input.  There is an "off" button that is to be used when we are done listening to records for the day.  Otherwise, the unit is designed to be left in "standby" mode thru-out the listening session.

 

I tend to play mostly 33-1/3 rpm Lps so I will almost always push the button marked 33 to start the platter.  But I could spin 45 rpm or even 78 rpm records.*

 

As the platter gains speed, the 'spin-up' LED glows red.  Once speed is achieved, the next LED, labeled "Locked",  glows green and now we can drop the stylus into the lead-in groove.

As a long time Teres owner I have to admit to some considerable curiosity when I first saw mention, then photos, of the Teres rim drive motor.  My experience with the Teres is that whenever Chris Brady, the principle force behind Teres Audio, has announced an upgrade within the Teres product line, it has always been worthy of serious consideration.

As can be seen in the photos, the belt drive, whether silk cord or vhs tape or mylar ribbon  is abandoned in favor of an O-ring fitted wheel that leans against the outer platter rim while driving it.  Teres calls it "direct coupled motor".  I call it rim drive.

 

Teaser: It doesn't take a very long listen to recognize some new sonic qualities brought about by this motor upgrade. Improvements are apparent with regard to dynamics that are more sudden and a rhythmic thrust that is more visceral and weighty.  More about the new sonic character further down the page. 

The Teres Audio website explains it like this:

"All that is required is the ability to position the Verus motor against the turntable platter.  The Verus motor simply leans against the platter and gravity provides the proper pressure...".

What I see is that the motor pod weighs roughly 3 lbs and has two gel pads for feet mounted off center  to the bottom plate, allowing the off-balance mass of the pod to lean forward against the outer rim of a turntable platter.  Btw, it doesn't have to be a Teres platter and bearing.  It could be any platter of suitable dimension.  There is no need for a strobe ring or optical sensor or feedback circuitry to measure and correct speed pitch.  Pitch is maintained entirely within the motor controller.

This motor and its controller are derivative of the design used in the top-of-the-line Teres Certus direct drive turntable.  It is important to note that the technology within these units is an about-face departure from the previous DC powered Maxon precious-metal brush motor with 12v battery.  The company website describes its Verus Motor Upgrade as a "non-cogging multi-phase permanent magnet synchronous motor"  Other details about the motor and controller include the following:

high resolution digital drive signal synthesis
supporting 33-1/3, 45 and 78 rpm speeds
motor torque is adjustable 16 steps

Setting up

:

In order to get the new motor upgrade into operation within your system the controller top cover must be removed.  Do this by unscrewing 8 philips-headed machine screws on either side of the case and then lift off the top cover carefully by hand.

Once the cover is off an interesting assembly of circuit boards populated with a modern-day array of components is revealed.  The items that we, as consumer-users, should be most interested in are the two switch banks located just behind the front panel.

The uppermost switch bank is labled S1 on the pcb.  It will be used to adjust the spin-up rate using rockers # 5,6 and 7.  The operation manual instructs us to adjust to the setting that nets the fastest spin-up but that does not stall out the motor.  As can be seen, I have # 5 and 6 in the closed position.  This is what worked for my acrylic/lead shot loaded platter.  I used a lead pencil to operate the tiny little rocker switches.  Once optimum spin-up is found we can move on to the next setup procedure.....pitch speed.

To adjust platter speed a strobe disk is used in combination with an incandescent light bulb that is plugged into the wall socket.  For those who haven't checked pitch speed with a strobe disk, all you do is run the platter at speed and shine the lamp on the strobe pattern you wish to measure.  In this case it was 33-1/3 rpm at 60 hz.  When the pattern appears stationary under the light, speed pitch is optimal.

Just below switch bank S1 is the switch bank we will need to use for setting speed pitch.  It is labeled S2.  To adjust speed pitch we can operate rockers 1 thru 8.  You can see what worked for me, every rocker open except for #7, which is in the closed position.  With this setting the strobe ring appeared to lock stationary at 33-1/3rd rpm.  Btw, Teres does not supply us with a strobe disk. Instead we are instructed to download a free strobe pattern from extremephono.com to be printed out on paper using our computer and inkjet or laser printers.  I had one already that I had purchased from KAB.  So I used that.

Next we adjust motor torque.  To do that we move back up to switch bank S1 and operate rockers 1-4.  According to the manual there is no "correct" setting and that this adjustment should be made to personal taste.  I experimented briefly not noticing much difference between settings and so left things in the setting you see in the photo.  According to Chris Brady, the differences between settings are subtle but worth experimenting with.

The O-ring: The manual recommends the following O-ring. Mcmaster-Carr part number 9557K228.  Mcmaster-Carr describes this O-ring as being made from EPDM (Ethylene Propylene)  It's Shore hardness is reported to be: A:70.  As durometer readings go, that is not very soft.  At this date McMaster sells these O-rings in packs of 25 at a price of $5.31 per pack.  The unit came with an O-ring already installed. 

There are also some cautionary notes about o-rings and the Verus. 

Firstly, the O-ring needs to be mounted free of any twisting so that mold line is true to the grooved wheel. 
Secondly it is recommended that a new ring can be "trued" by holding the spinning (45 rpm) wheel with o-ring mounted lightly against a piece of sandpaper that is taped to the side of the platter. Obviously, the platter/sandpaper needs to remain stationary while the spinning o-ring lightly feeds inward against it, thus abrasively cutting the bits of mold flash and minor high points and creating a circular surface that is true and concentric to the motor axle.
Thirdly.  It is wisely recommended by the manual that once trued, the O-ring should not be removed from the wheel.

In practice I had no problem with the O-ring and motor unit.  It performed as designed throughout the review period exhibiting at all times constant speed pitch.

 

The signal chain:

Turntable: Teres 145 with acrylic lead shot loaded 27 lb platter.
Tonearm: Graham 2.2
Cartridge: Shelter 501 type II MC
Step up trannies: 1:10 Sowter
stage: George Wright Wpp100C
Integrated Amp: Classe' CAP151
Spkrs: NHT 2.9

An observation:

While holding a Discwasher brush to the spinning platter to clean the surface dust from the Lp, it becomes apparent that there is some considerable driving force that is motivating the 27 pound platter.  The brush appears not to slow the platter at all. This is one of those things any turntable owner will notice and make comparisons to.

Listening:

You can position the motor pod anywhere that is practical about the platter.  For listening impressions I chose to place it  toward the back so that it was mostly out of view.  That way I could just concentrate on the sonic character without adding any visual distraction or reference.  Then I set things up so that I could readily change between belt and rim drive motor pods within a few moments.  I played a number of familiar Lps, tending to play a track first by one drive then follow it up immediately by playing the same track with the other drive.  Thusly arranging a direct A-B comparison, if a little hard on the record collection.

Being that this upgrade is a rim-drive,  I was interested that I might possibly hear some of the well known sonic compromises common to the reputation of many idler drive turntables.  Mainly the low frequency residual noise known as rumble and then a rolled-off upper frequency extension.  Both of these faults are caused by motor vibes making their way up into the vinyl/stylus interface.  Listening intently as I might, I could discern neither of these.  The background noise heard with stylus on spinning vinyl is as inky-black by means of the Verus as it is via silk or tape drive.  There were no frequency roll-offs high or low.  The motor operates quietly and smooth.

Throughout the 3-week long review period I could discern no sonic trade-offs or any other negative artifacts.  Below are some of my general impressions of the new rim drive versus the Signature-2 controlled, battery operated drive. 

pitch steady, always
stronger rhythmic drive
Percussive sounds are more sudden and with greater impact
Sharper more energetic dynamic swings
Details, inner details are at least as good as with DC but sometimes seem better.
Full orchestra works are more involving
Small Jazz combo music seems to sound similar whether DC or Verus
Rock and heavy metal likes the Verus better for its weightier drive, sharper dynamic and more visceral presentation
Any music with a strong weighty rhythmic element, or tempo favors the Verus....obviously.

I have a Dutch EMI pressing of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here".  For this review I played side one, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".  Measuring with a Radio Shack spl meter I Allowed sound pressure levels within the room to reach the high eighties at peak moments. At this amplified level and during the quiet parts of the piece, background was quiet and free of noise. Dynamic swings were rendered suddenly with authority and slam.  The drum kit, hi-hat cymbals were crisply detailed and carried the piece forward with an intense rhythmic pace, as if to drive the whole thing.  Ambience, presence, aliveness.  All very good. In total, the presentation was involving, the conclusion inevitable and the performance, convincing. Total immersion.  It was as good as I've heard this piece within my listening room.

 To A-B compare this track against the DC/belt Teres doesn't seem fair.  The difference between the two separate performances of the same piece is apparent. Via DC/belt, everything just seems lighter and less intense, less involving, less immersive.

However, when moving on to Bach the differences are more subtle. Example:

Bach Brandenburg Concertos, English Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten, London ffrr jl42005

Side 2, No. 2 in F major, No. 3 in G major.

Differences between silk drive and the Verus drive are less obvious
Verus delivers a more deliberate sense of pace…but this is not hugely noticeable
Both DC and Verus deliver excellent articulate details, pace and tone. Both are very engaging with this music.

But with Mozart....

Symphony No. 40 G minor, Israel Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, London FFRR CS7068

Differences are more obvious with Verus having a stronger sense of driving motion.
Bass and mid-bass is weightier.
A more deliberate pace. 
Overall sound seems fuller.
Details are improved allowing one to identify better the individual instruments within the mass of instruments.
Quite obvious. By comparison, DC Teres, whether it be tape or silk is the same presentation only lighter. I'm tempted to use the term 'Mozart Lite'.

Dave Brubeck seems happy with the DC driven Teres and a belt on the "Time In" album. CS9312 

First track, "Lost Waltz" starts with Brubeck's piano leading in with a short phrase.  These first few notes waver making one sense that there is a problem with the equipment.  You'd be forgiven to expect that it is the Signature-2 Manfred circuit allowing this proverbial wavering piano note.  However, there is no improvement when playing the same track, same notes by means of the Verus Rim Drive.  The same wavery notes. .  FWIW it does it on my Thorens too. It must be within the recording.  But moving beyond that to the rest of the record... Lost Waltz is a piece that is in fast motion with lots of cymbals, bass drum and bass fiddle.  Some of it is quite weighty when the air movement created by the bass drum sends soft shock waves radiating outward at floor level . **  Yet the DC drive holds its own on this piece sounding just as convincing, forceful, involving and detailed as does the Verus motor.  Go figure.

Teres Verus vs. the Thorens TD124

I was very much interested in how the Rim Drive Teres compared against my current favorite, the Thorens TD124. To keep it short the list below sums the conditions and my observations.

Same tonearm, cartridge and signal chain.
Visceral rhythmic drive: comparable, similar.
Detail extraction: Verus/Teres wins handily producing many more nuances and fine details to create a richer, cleaner, more articulate and crisply defined sonic landscape.
The Rim Drive Teres has a "cooler" more analytical presentation while the Thorens is warmer and is at least as forceful, but softer and less defined about the edges of notes and sounds.

I think it might be apt to describe the Verus driven Teres 145 as being a turntable capable of providing much air surrounding individual notes, spectacular detail, inner details, tone and delicacy while also possessing the rhythmic visceral force and sudden dynamic swing comparable to that of a TD124. 

Current owners of DC powered Teres could expect the Verus Motor Upgrade to not change any of the positive attributes of their Teres, which are many but then add to the mix a more powerful sense of dynamic suddenness.  At times I thought there was slightly greater detail and inner detail while hearing the Verus Motor in comparison to the same turntable but DC driven.

I was looking for a flaw but could not find any. Except maybe that the retail price of the Verus Motor and Controller is currently $1600.00  Yet, while appraising the obvious build quality and content within the unit, it is easy to imagine that this was not an inexpensive product to build.

Btw, the price is lower as a trade-in upgrade for current Teres owners. Contact Chris Brady for that figure.

Conclusion: The Teres Verus Motor is another upgrade from Teres Audio that is very much worth your serious consideration.  Recommended if you can afford it.

 

Footnotes:

*  To engage 78 rpm the owners manual instructs us to press and release the 33 and 45 rpm buttons simultaneously.

** Much credit goes to the NHT 2.9's side firing woofers for this sonic effect, which is satisfying.

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