Simon Yorke Series 9 turntable

10.01.2012..

The drafter designer Simon Yorke, an Englishman moved to Spain, is an artist whose electronics have a peculiar architecture. Each turntable is handmade and conceived to reach the aim of the most compact line combined with the simplest aesthetics. Basically, the Brit minimalism that we can also find in the analogue source, as to say: “what does not exist does not vibrate, does not transmit vibrations and does not damage the sound”.

It is not my intention listing here all the models of S.Y.’s turntables - all interesting by the way - but I just want to focus on the Simon Yorke Designs Series 9, which offers several cues to examine in depth.

 

The turntable, with all the heavy and delicate parts of the chassis, travels in a wooden box filled with a molded foam pad. There are plenty of useful accessories: screwdrivers and hex keys, syringes and oils, counterweights and antiskating leads and, of course, the precious template jig and the heavy clamp that I suggest to use ever. The only missing thing is the mirror required to adjust the azimuth.

The set-up is illustrated in a succession of photos added to this review. The design is extremely original and elegant. Its profile reminds me one of the Star Trek star ships and the definitions: aerodynamic and slender. Aerodynamic for sure, but not light though. The body of S9 weighs about fifteen kilos and, if at first sight it does not seem so heavy, actually it is.

The Yorke Series 9 is a compact, mass-loaded turntable with a traditional bearing pivot. The unipivot tonearm has a medium-light mass and a counterweight antiskating. The freestanding motor is belt-driven. Everything would seem easy and linear, but there is much more to say.

The S9 has a stainless steel circular plinth into which a hole hosts the bearing sleeve and the bushings. Let us say that the centre of mass of the S9 is very low and supported by a four kilos aluminium counter platter that rides on the pivot.

The bearing pivot is very fine and tidy, with a fine lapping and with strict tolerances. Its revolving fluidity is truly extraordinary. Make a test: once the platter has been set, give it a jog with your hand. The platter will rotate by inertial force for such a long time that you will not believe it!

After having removed the rubber stopper from the bearing opening, I recommend to inject less than the suggested 2 ml of light-viscosity sewing-machine oil into the well. Let us say 1ml. Be sure to wipe away any excess of oil that might seep from the well so that the armboard will not be tainted.

Yorke also supplies a valuable graphite record mat. Such accessory, from the sonic point of view, is essential in terms of stability of the image, control of the resonances and transmission of the vibrations.

The chassis is stiff, heavy and composed of three different materials that oppose a sort of wall to the transmission of the vibrations.

Interesting the arm, a traditional unipivot. I do not like very much this kind of tonearm, although it has both faults and virtues. If on one hand there is only one point of contact with the chassis, therefore the smallest physical surface, on the other hand it is rather instable, since also the quite warp vinyls require to be flatten by the clamp and several counterweights are required around the arm in order to stabilize it. Those counterweights are harmful in the end because they spark off unavoidably resonances.

This arm is really very simple: only one cone-shaped counterweight to lower the barycenter and stabilize the rolls. It features a Teflon bushing fitted over the unipivot-bearing shaft just below the bearing point, on which rides a fork-shaped bracket attached to the bearing-cup housing. Thus, while the bearing tip is of the simplest hardened-steel-point type, which usually permits a wide range of azimuth adjustments, the bracket-stabilized design permits adjustment only to the headshell. The Teflon bushing provides a virtually frictionless ride for the pivot. A brilliant idea useful to solve in an easy way one of the main problems of the unipivot arms: the oscillation of the azimuth axis.

We should however verify what happens when this kind of fork touches the Teflon bushing.

In my opinion, Yorke has chosen the lesser of two evils when dealing with warp vinyls: it is better to control the oscillation of the azimuth and the occasional contacts of the arm, than leaving the cartridge free to oscillate and disband at the mercy of the imperfect groove that could cause aberrations in the sound image.

This arm has a medium-low mass that enables its adaptation to the most part of the modern cartridges. Very interesting is the headshell made of two shaped shields, which allows anchoring both the pick-up and the shell to the armtube. It would be a great idea, if not already foreseen, the availability of interchangeable arms with different mass, capable of adapting themselves also to extremely demanding cartridges, like the heavy esoteric MCs with very low compliance. To install a cartridge in the S9's tonearm, you have to attach the cartridge to it using the long bolts, helped by the template jig. You carefully slide the assembly onto the end of the armtube, pushing it back to where you think it should end up. Then screw in the two bolts to secure that position, being sure to get the correct azimuth.

To set the VTA (vertical tracking angle) just loose the grub screws that is threaded into a collar fitted to the armboard. The arm lift is excellent but there is no arm lock in the resting position, in completely adherence to the turntable minimalist philosophy. I suggest taking care when using the arm lift because the S9’fulcrum is shifted towards the pivot and makes the arm zone quite light and mobile.

The risk is to rotate violently the turntable. By the way, the fulcrum is the entire surface of the base of the lower cylinder that contains the pivot, yet a large and flat support area. The bottom plinth ends with a light slab of a stiff plastic material that slides easily upon every kind of surface except on a coarse and porous one, like natural wood or raw marble. What is more, DO not place anything under the S9. I first tried it atop some rubber dampers at 1 Hz. I later tried a set of spikes and then graphite blocks of any dimensions and weight. Nothing doing! The S9 does not like any accessory. Only a massive and stiff rack. I have successfully employed my Moss 050, so I suggest stiff and heavy racks in order to obtain the maximum from this Anglo-Spanish analogue source.

Also the heavy and stable free-standing motor control unit is very interesting. A small lever turns off the motor and allows the calibration of the speed at 33,3 and 45,0 r.p.m. There are also two holes through which is possible to reach the screws to adjust the fine calibration of the rotation speed.

 

The draw on the motor puzzled me because I was expecting to see the silhouette of a Miura bull, Yorke’s deference toward the Catalan country. Instead, the draw is a kind of donkey. The curiosity was killing me so I emailed for info. Simon Yorke himself told me that when they moved their business from UK to Spain they decided that their record players should somehow acknowledge that. They came up with the idea of etching each S9 motor block with a Spanish motif and change it after 20 pieces. The first batch had a bull (about as Spanish as can be), the second batch featured a Catalan donkey (a charming animal, sadly at risk of extinction), and the third batch takes the image from Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain album. They do not know yet what to choose next. He added that every single motor block is unique and each image is individually etched by hand.

 

Setting the S9 is not very easy, even if the manual explains in detail all the operations and despite the shots made by ReMusic. I suggest asking to the appropriate staff if you are not an expert.

Finally do not forget to use always the precious and heavy supplied clamp.

 

I have used the S9 with my reference cartridge, the low-output Transfiguration Spirit and with my home system: Fidelity Research FRT 3G step-up and Stat Audio cable, KR Audio VA350 integrated amplifier and White Gold Sublimis cable, Klipsch Heresy I (USA, 1979-190) loudspeakers and Boomerang cables.

 

There are not many interpretative doubts about the sound of the S9, but do not judge it since the beginning. It requires a long run-in because the precision pivot with very strict tolerances has to be adapted to its natural seat. I also suggest leveling off the turntable to avoid tonearm/chassis misalignments.

Only after a fortnight, you can notice its great sonic character and its main and natural strong points: rise time and dynamics. The transient response is prompt and quick even when the orchestral paroxysm of the classical symphonic music tries to cause trouble to the entire system. The S9 is not intimidated and is capable of controlling every kind of mechanical and electrical strain generated and transmitted by this kind of source. The image is wide, deep and only in places let show the unipivot typology of the arm that reveals itself as a slight hesitation in the stability of musical actors.

The musical window reproduced by the Simon Yorke is fresh and spontaneous, with a transparent and bright tone that creates an event rich in detail and micro-dynamics. It is so easy to get involved by the music with a sensation of real presence of instruments and voices that become three-dimensional along several horizontal and vertical soundstages.

The Simon Yorke S9 is perfect for all systems requiring a good dose of energy, since it provides lots of details and dynamics. It gives back a vigorous and present sound, without slipping into a sketchy and essential sound that could be harmful for a good performance.

The Simon Yorke S9 turntable, like all the products of this label, shows something ineffable, intangible as this machine could transcend from being only a mere object and stands out with a human personality capable of communicate sensations and emotions. Not a precisely scientific device but a mysterious musical instrument that strikes the right emotional and passionate cords.

 

 

SCHEME SUMMARY

top score ✳✳✳✳✳ ReMusic Sparks

Tone colour ***1/2 | Generally correct with propensity for mid and high frequencies.

Dynamics **** | Very realistic, attacks and releases fast and controlled. Dynamic range rightly wide.

Detail **** | Natural and precise, it chisels the image with lots of details.

Clearness **** | Good level without particular colouring.

Image ***1/2 | Proportionate and steady. Appreciable three-dimensionality.

Rise time **** | Very quick and realistic transients. Attacks and releases well controlled.

Manufacture ****1/2 | Handmade. Genial for essentiality and simplicity. Precise manufacturing without flaws.

Price/quality ratio ***1/2 | If totally charmed, there is no price for it.

 

Official technical specifications:

Description: Belt-driven, non-suspended turntable with unipivot tonearm and DC motor. Speeds: 331/3, 45rpm (adjustable). Speed accuracy: not specified. Wow & flutter: not specified. Rumble: not specified.

Tonearm: pivot to stylus tip: 233.2mm. Pivot to turntable centre: 215.4mm. Offset angle: 23.64°.

Dimensions: Platter diameter plus armboard: 16" (410mm) W by 11.75" (300mm) D. Platter: 11.75" (300mm) diameter; weight 8 lbs (3.6kg). Weight of plinth with armboard: 14 lbs (6.4kg). Motor plus housing: 4.75" (120mm) W by 2.75" (70mm) H by 2.5" (65mm) D; 3 lbs (1.4kg). Total Nett weight: 25 lbs (11.4kg).

Packaged weight: 15 kg

Official Italian dealer: to DNAUDIO website

Official current price in Italy: 8.690,00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Roberto “The Rock” Rocchi's system

 

by Roberto Rocchi
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