Zephyr Apollo is the Next Generation Turntable to feature a touch screen, tangential reading capability, playlist selection and a unique auto-balancing dual stage actuator tonearm design which allows users to use their own cartridges without any complicated set-up and tuning.

The Design Complexity

Extreme sensitivity to speed and vibration

The Stylus reads a track which is 0.05mm wide. Each vibration is amplified significantly and very clearly audible if the stylus scratches the record. The speed of the record player has to be extremely consistent and any change in speeds/jitter/vibration during the play is very clearly audible when listen to the song.

Vinyl records Variation

Each record need not have the same track pitch. The records are not flat with a warpage of around 1-5mm.  The Tone-arm has to “float” on the records curvature and at the same time follow the curvature profile while exerting a small tracking force (around 2gm.f).  To complicate the process further, the record need not be black but transparent or colored.

Complex set-up technique

Current turntables have a lot of set-up required by the user and small changes (like change in thickness of the felt mat) can upset the set-up. Technical terms like VTF, anti-skating, Azimuth, wow & flutter , counter-balancing, cartridge compliance, etc. are all features necessary for the set-up but at the same time intimidate the user to such a point that they do not want to touch the system once it is set-up by the retailer.

System Leveling & Accessories

Existing designs all need to be leveled perfectly to enable accurate balancing for good quality sound. As such, users are forced to invest in high end stands, vibration absorbing leveling feet and a lot of accessories on top of an exorbitant price of the turntable.

General Functional Requirements

  • Must use a touch screen
  • The tone-arm must read the record tangentially
  • The system must be automatically detect the number of tracks on each record and present the user with a playlist
  • The system must be able to skip tracks on demand
  • Manual movement of the tone-arm should be made possible from the touch screen
  • The platter speed has to be controlled to +/- 1% and function at two speeds (33.3 & 45rpm)
  • User must be able to use their personal preferences of cartridges and set-up must be simple
  • It had to give a good emotional appeal and not “intimidate” the patient.
  • Set-up procedures must be made as simple as possible and eliminate all the complex set-up procedures inherent on current turntables
  • Mechanical Vibrations, electrical noise have to be eliminated as it is easily picked up by the amplifier
  • The tone arm must have auto-loading capability and auto-centering capability
  • The product has to look aesthetically pleasing

The Solution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • This aesthetically pleasing design follows a minimalistic design concept of “Less is More”
  • The platter speed is controlled thru a custom-designed low cost servo control feedback loop with the ability to auto-correct and maintain the speeds at any given instant.
  • The Tone Arm has a unique patent-pending design which auto-balances any cartridge assembled to it without any set-up or tuning. The system does not even need to be levelled!

  • The Vertical Tracking Force can be easily adjusted by turning a single knob and it can be adjusted it in real time with a load indicator on the touch screen.
  • The sensor arm employs a laser transmitter which reads the track gaps in a single sweep and allows the user to create a playlist of the tracks on the record.
  • A simple user friendly touch screen interface provides an easy to use operational flow

  • The Software is written in an open source programming language and with multi-tasking capability.
  • The system has been designed for Volume Manufacturing capability and it is estimated to produce at least 1,000 units in a span of 6- 9 months.

The Result

Zephyr Apollo, a new age turntable for “ANALOG SOUND with DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY”.  The next version features a mobile app with gesture identification such that the user does not even need to be near the turntable!

Watch Zephyr Apollo Playing on a SGD 200,000 Audiophile set-up!!!