Assessing turntable upgrades II – Pink Triangle DC motor upgrade

Standard intro and disclaimer

High resolution digital recordings of hifi system upgrades can be used for subsequent comparison to provide a more reliable method of assessment than trying to apply and assess the update at the same time. Other benefits are the possibility of external validation of conclusions, and letting others hear the kind of changes that are possible for a given level of effort or expenditure.
It should be understood that no assessments are being made with regard to the relative performance of analogue vs high-resolution digital.

To avoid any copyright issues I’m restricting my recordings to 1 minute for vocal work, and 2 minutes for classical. My test recordings are as follows.

Female vocal, easy listening
Don’t know why – Norah Jones, Album: “come away with me”
Cold cold heart – Norah Jones, Album: “come away with me”
I’m alright – Madeleine Peyroux, Album “Half the perfect world”

Male vocal, pop
Paper walls – Marc Cohn, Album “The Rainy Season”

Classical
Schubert Symphony no.5 in B flat major, D 485, Album “Frans Schubert, Symphonien Nos. 5&6, The chamber Orchestra of Europe with Claudio Abbado”.


Test purpose
There has been much debate about the relative merits of AC and DC turntable motors. In this test I assess the changes due to fitting the funk firm V-Drive DC motor upgrade to a Pink Triangle export.

The turntables under test were

  1. Pink Triangle PT TOO (AC motor)
  2. Pink Triangle Export (with DC motor upgrade)

In both cases the same SME IV tonearm, Dynavector DV10x5 high output MC cartridge and Graham Slee gram amp 2 SE phono stage were used. When testing the Export, the bearing and platter were transferred across from the PT TOO to reduce the number of variables in the test.

Test preparation
Before each test session, the turntable was warmed up by playing one side of an album.
The phono stage was left running for 30 minutes before the start of the test.
Recordings hve been captured as 24bit, 96kHz WAV files using a SoundBlaster X-fi PCMCIA soundcard and a Dell Inspiron laptop.

Test method
For each turntable :

  1. Ensure that the downforce and arm height settings are set to the same values.
  2. Make the recordings listed above.

Results
Caveat: these are high resolution recordings taken from a high performance audio system, and are intended for download. The differences are unlikely to be audible through the embedded player and typical computer speakers.

PT TOO

Arm height front 13.5mm, rear 13.5mm
downforce 2.1g

dont know why – pt too
cold cold heart – pt too
Im allright – pt too
paper walls – pt too
Schubert-D485 – pt too

Export

Arm height front 13.5mm, rear 13.5mm
downforce 2.1g

dont know why – export The export is definitely brighter in the treble and seems punchier in the bass too. Bass depth seems about the same. There is more emphasis on ‘s’ sounds with the export, but it feels like it is revealing what is there rather than causing it, as the CD version clearly has this emphasis too. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it sibilance. I’ve always thought that there is something attractive about the way the pt too handles female vocals, but I think the export tonal balance is more even.
One minus point though; it feels to me that in a couple of places on this recording the export speed is drifting a little.
cold cold heart – export The extra body to voices is quite attractive on the pt too, but the overall balance is a little dark and bass-dominated in my system. The export sounds more evenly balanced with more air in the treble and subtle percussive string details more apparent.
Im allright – export Export definitiely preferable here, the voice being a bit overpowering in the pt too recording. the bass has slightly
less power but has equal depth and the recording feels tauter and punchier.
Paper walls – export The pt too has a little more body to the voice which is nice, and more powerful and solid sounding bass, very low frequencies being more noticeable. However, the upper bass can become a little overpowering on this track. The export bass is better matched with the rest of the recording (although missing a little low frequency power) and the treble has a nice amount of additional detail on guitar strings and cymbals, but is never overpowering.
Schubert-D485 – export I think that the export is probably a flatter frequency response, and listening carefully I think the bass does go as deep, however the lower frequencies do have more solidity with the pt too, and strings a bit more body. Both are nice.

Conclusion
There were very obvious changes to the overall tonal balance of the system when moving to the turntable with the DC motor. It should be noted that while every effort was made to keep the number of variables in this test to a minimum, the two turntables have different top plate materials, slightly different rear suspension setups and different belts. I didn’t move the motor into the PT TOO because I didn’t have time to fit it properly. The general consensus in discussions on other forums is that the PT TOO and standard Export (AC motor) sound very similar.

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6 Responses to Assessing turntable upgrades II – Pink Triangle DC motor upgrade

  1. scully says:

    I love the way PT’s sound, although there is no real sonic signature, the sound is unmistakable. Very nice!

  2. diyaudiotest says:

    Hi Scully, I agree. I’ve had mine for 20 years and I still love it.

    Simon

  3. Jim says:

    Great test, best my pc has ever sounded!. Both PT’s sound excellent and hard to tell apart. I have a few t/ts except a PT which will be my next aim. Well done.

  4. Gabor P.Nagy says:

    If my PT TOO would sound this way, I would sell it asap. You should seriously consider to upgrade your phono stage. Sorry to say that…

  5. diyaudiotest says:

    Hi Gabor,

    Thanks for your comment. Though you don’t rate my phono stage, the test shows a clear difference between the two turntables. The aim of the test was to allow people to judge whether the DC motor upgrade is worthwhile.

    Simon

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