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DIGIstrobo Turntable Speed Analyzer
as reviewed Myles B. Astor
Easy on the Eyes
Every once in a while, an audio accessory gives one pause to consider, “why didn't I think of that?” One and possibly the most pointed example of just such a product were the original Mod Squad tiptoes. Those little pointed Aluminum cones sold close to 2 million units—and with a manufacturing cost of around $2 to 3—it doesn't require a Cray supercomputer to calculate the profit margin. That money would go a long ways toward constructing and outfitting a SOTA listening room and system!
The most recent accessory to trigger that AAHH-HA reflex is hifi4music's DIGIstrobo (Stay tuned for more analog products from this Italian company early next year). This rotational speed measuring device, specifically adapted for high-end audio purposes, takes all the guesswork out of accurately reading, setting, checking and rechecking (33⅓, 45 and 78 rpm) turntable speed.
Now it's no secret that many analog lovers are getting on in years. With their vision not quite what it used to be, adjusting the platter's speed with a strobe disc often proves a challenging exercise (That also goes for the layout of many high-end audio magazines employing tight kerning, ledding, and tiny font sizes.) While KAB's strobe disc simplified the task of adjusting the turntable's speed, one never had complete confidence in the speed being spot on. And as we all know, that little bit of doubt is enough to drive any hard-core audiophile crazy!
Any doubt regarding the platter's speed accuracy is completely removed by the DIGIstrobo. Inside every DIGIstrobo is a precise, quartz crystal speed control—sporting an accuracy of ±0.05% (or 0.1 rpm)—digital readout. But the beauty of this hand held unit lies deeper than just its accuracy. There's no need for a strobe disc. There's no worry of the stylus hitting the strobe disc while adjusting speed! The best part of the story is that it only takes a minute or two to adjust platter speed. Thanks to the suggestion of Ultra-Systems owner Robert Stein, turntable speed can be checked with the stylus in the groove at any time using the supplied reflective tape. This reflective tape is either placed on the side of the turntable platter—or if your table is so equipped like a VPI or Clearaudio—the ring clamp. hifi4music also supplies a small disc that is placed over the spindle for checking turntable speed (that works with VPI clamp), though most owners will opt for using the reflective tape.
For the technically inclined turntable owner, the DIGIstrobo also allows for assessing turntable speed stability. (Wow and flutter figures commonly range from 0.1 to 0.5%; this translates into speeds fluctuations from 33.1 to 33.5 rpm.) These figures can be obtained by pressing the memory store button function when finished setting up the platter's speed; the DIGIstrobo automatically stores the last speed, the maximum speed and the minimum speed. It's not a bad idea to let the turntable warm-up for ten minutes or so before measuring the platter's speed. The DIGIstrobo's ability to detect speed fluctuations was recently put to the test when switching from the belt driven VPI Super Scoutmaster to the latest rim drive Reference Super Scoutmaster (see upcoming review). Here the rim drive's speed stability superiority stood out; the Reference Super Scoutmaster's platter speed was close to rock solid compared to that measured with the belt drive.
Almost all modern turntables come with the ability to adjust speed—and for good reason. hifi4music's DIGIstrobo's makes realizing the inherent potential of every turntable a whole lot easier now. The DIGIstrobo is an awesome tool that belongs in every turntable owners tool chest! Myles B. Astor
Range: 2.5 to 100,000 rpm. Resolution: 0.1 rpm Accuracy: ±0.05%. Detecting distance: 50 to 250 mm. Sampling rate: 0.5 sec. Power supply: 3 AAA batteries.