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My analog journeys

October 17, 2018

The Champ has left the building

Mid-way thru the year, I felt that some change is in order. While the Champion Magnum is a solid performer, there is an evil urge to go DC-powered for my main rig.

To raise funds to support this addiction, I had to take the Magnum apart and put back the old parts that I planned to use for another DIY turntable that never materialized. The old 30mm platter and its bearing (non-CMB) is back in the plinth together with the old Tangent linear tracking tonearm. I'm keeping the TT3 for the new turntable. The reconfigured Champion Magnum still looks good!


The 70mm platter and its ceramic magnetic bearing (CMB) has been set aside for a different sale.

It took me sometime to really let go, but I finally decided to give them to my friendly dealers and both were sold in record time! While at the dealers, I already placed an order for a Clearaudio Performance DC from the local distributor.

The Performance DC is my primary choice considering the cost with a list price of USD2,400 without a tonearm. While I have longed for the Solution and its natural upgrade the Innovation, the cheapest Innovation Basic Wood is USD6,400 and that is three times the price of the Performance DC putting it out of my league.

Patience is a virtue, so they say. With the Champion gone and my Harman Kardon HD-750 unwilling to read CDs, my main system is crippled. The Dali Zensor 3 sits there and is not going to play music for a while.

Vinyl playback has been relegated to my secondary system with the JVC QL-Y66F into the NAIM mu-so via the Clearaudio nano phono. Unfortunately, the nano conked out, leaving me with just streaming (Spotify and NAS) as my music source.

The arrival

Finally, the wait is over. Immediately after notification, I headed to my friend to pick up the box.

I didn't waste time upon arrival at home and I started unpacking the contents. As usual, the packaging of Clearaudio is world-class. 

Performance DC - What's in the box 

The TT3 linear tracking tonearm is now mounted on the supplied armboard but has not been properly setup yet.

TT3 on the Performance DC

The new ceramic magnetic bearing for the 40mm platter with the DC motor's spindle in the background.

Ceramic Magnetic Bearing

Here are the new elements of the Performance DC- the DC motor, the subplatter, and flat belt.

The subplatter

More new stuff, black synthetic material platter that is 40mm thick. It's not as thick as the 70mm I previously had, but thicker than the 30mm standard acrylic platter of the old Champion.

Black platter 

Now that all the components are in place, there is something I noticed and that is the TT3 is sitting very low on the armboard which will prevent proper playback. Thankfully, I had an extra mounting ring from my previous Magnum that I decided to keep. I used it to "lift" the TT3 into the proper height.

Lifting the TT3 

With this quick mod, playback is now possible but I have to consult with the distributor about the availability of the proper shim or what Clearaudio refers to as "heigth adaptor." This piece is part of the TT3 package but since I got this pre-owned, it didn't come with one.

After performing the necessary adjustments, I am playing the first record on my new turntable, the vinyl is album the Edenbridge, The Great Momentum.

But wait, there's more! A serious flaw has been revealed when I noticed the arm bouncing outwards to the last track as the stylus does not reach the lead out groove.

I tend to brush off the discovery at first but running after the arm on each and every playback isn't fun! While I collect data for reporting to Clearaudio, the height adaptor arrived from the distributor. This is now the proper hardware to lift the TT3 up.

The height adaptor

Going back to the issue, here's a short video that manifests the behaviour. Both the local distributor and Clearaudio has been made aware of the problem and the German manufacturer is adressing it. I will receive a blank armboard in exchange to the current one, for the meantime here's the fix.