SOTA Nova Turntable


Setup of the SOTA Nova Turntable

A major claim by SOTA is that the nova turntable can be reliably set up by following the clear, well written instructions. I agree with this claim. The whole setup from the time I started unpacking the table until I had it balanced, adjusted, on the shelf and operational took me around 4 hours. I could probably do it in half the time if I were to do it again.

The table came bolted to a plywood backing board with additional screws to secure the platter. It also had temporary shims to cradle the platter and pulley. The belt was factory installed.

The really unique and ingenious aspect of setting up the SOTA Nova turntable involves the use of a calibrated bag of lead shot to balance the sub assembly. You start by leveling the platter using the included bullseye level. You then perch the bag of shot on the ridge in the armboard well and re-level the platter. Then you rough mount the arm, armboard and cartridge and slowly fill the reservoir in the armboard well with lead shot until the platter is re-leveled.

What this does is it makes the arm assembly match the weight of the three other fixed undercarriage weights. This is why each of the four springs will have the same tensile load and it also ensures the center of gravity of the moving mass is coincident with the internal bearing surface. This is a major secret to the SOTA Nova's claimed stability and longevity.

As mentioned above, I was thoroughly delighted by the ease of setting up the SME 309 tonearm. The removable headshell and spring loaded adjustments are excellent. I also enjoyed that the VTA and HTA adjustments were controlled independently. I really like this tonearm a whole bunch and it is great for people who want to tweak and experiment with different settings. The only criticism I have is that the tracking force is adjusted by counting turns of the ball driver and if you don't have a balance to check the load, then the actual result may be suspect.

SOTA can also mount, balance and align the set up. If accessories are purchased through SOTA, set up is free. Check their website for details.

Once I had everything balanced and adjusted, I moved the table to the top shelf of my equipment rack. I placed the power supply/vacuum unit on the carpeted floor next to the rack. The vacuum hose and power lead between the power supply and the table are 12' in length in case you want more separation than that. I don't think that is necessary. I could feel a very slight vibration when the pump was operational but only if I placed my hand on the case. And I could hear just the faintest buzz from the unit when the table was powered with a record on the mat but only if there was no music playing.

I used my Sumiko Blackbird High Output MC cartridge for all my listening unless otherwise noted. Now that it is all set to go, let's talk about my listening impressions.