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Paul Macklam reviews the stunning Motus II Turntable
Stefan Stromhetz may not be a household name in UK audio circles, but his small German audio company “STST” established in 1985, is certainly worth investigating if you are in any way interested in analogue replay. They have two turntables in their range, the Motus and the Motus II, the latter being the subject of this review. (The Motus is the non-suspended version)
The Motus II is (unusually) a fully suspended turntable employing a low torque DC direct drive motor. The motor and arm base are mounted on a fully sprung, suspended sub-chassis and the mass of the armboard, arm & cartridge is balanced by a clever brass counterweight system that is almost infinitely adjustable, to suit any arm/cartridge combination that I can think of. The suspension can also be fine-tuned (attenuated) by employing the variable leaf springs which are damped against PTFE pads.
Stefan eschews the philosophy of high-torque, quick start turntables, popular in the “broadcast” decks of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, and instead opts for a design which balances the platter inertia against a very smooth low-torque DC drive unit. This approach produces an extremely stable platter speed which lovers of classical piano music will no doubt appreciate!
The separate 18v power supply is a simple affair with just a power switch on the front panel. Speed adjustment of the deck is controlled by a toggle switch hidden away underneath the front of the plinth.
Plinth frame and top are available in a myriad of veneers, as well as other materials, such as carbon fibre, or aluminium. I chose Bubinga wood for the frame and a black carbon fibre top plate.
The fit and finish are first class and it comes with a Perspex hinged lid as standard, but I choose not to use it. Why would I want to hide something as lovely as this!
Setting the Motus II up is a little involved but not overly difficult. You do get a CD with pictures of the various stages which are a great help. Once set up though, that’s it, period. I haven’t touched it for over a year and it performs as perfectly as it did on day one. The suspension is extremely well controlled, the platter moving up and down with a reassuringly consistent piston motion. This is no trampoline type bouncy chassis that takes ten minutes to settle down!
STST also make a very interesting carbon fibre tonearm – the Vertex (£2,795) – which I’ve heard several times and always been impressed with, however I fitted my existing Audio Note Arm 3 with an Audio Note Io Ltd cartridge. A machined Delrin™ armboard is supplied to suit your arm of choice.
So, all set up and ready to go. How does it sound?
Well, it doesn’t really have a sound per se. It doesn’t impart any particular sonic signature, more like it reproduces sounds beautifully with an authority and presence that allows the music to flow. Bass is solid and authoritative, without being overbearing. The midrange has that liquidity that almost melts into the room and the higher frequencies are clear and precise, without ever being harsh.
Listening to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” the ever present double bass riff is simply stunning, the strings can be clearly heard vibrating until the note decays, while the female backing vocals are eerily in the room with you, moving closer with each refrain, you can easily distinguish the individual voices.
Moving on to Fleetwood Mac’s “Man of the World” the Motus II portrays the delicate opening guitar notes with a tonal quality that I believe one can only experience on vinyl. Peter Green’s voice pours from the speakers and when the lead guitar riff explodes, the attack and decay of the notes are an outstanding example of just what can be dragged from a 12” black disc.
I have yet to find a genre that the Motus II struggles with. Heavy rock, opera, folk, it just takes them all in its stride, although I can’t vouch for free-form Jazz. Well, you have to draw the line somewhere!
It is interesting to compare it with my Audio Grail 301, a fifty-something year old design icon that’s certainly no slouch in 2015! The slam and dynamics from the 301 are legendary, which is what makes it such fun, but the Motus II is in another league when it comes to sheer reproduction of tone and its quite exquisite musicality. Both very different beasts and each of them lovely in their own right, I’m very glad I own both!
In conclusion I have yet to hear any turntable at, or even near, this price level that comes close to matching the Motus II in terms of musical reproduction and I’ve heard a lot of turntables. Add to this an innovative suspension system which just works, superbly well and the rock solid stability of the direct drive DC motor and you have a package that should be good enough to last you a lifetime.
The 10 year guarantee is a nice touch too!
The Motus II is available from the UK distributor – Puresound
The price is a very reasonable £4,995.95 at the time of writing.
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