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PostPosted: 23 Apr 2012, 16:22 
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Location: Arizona, USA
Hi Everyone, I just got a Sota Moonbeam turntable and thought I would give a short report on it. Sota is an American company that has been doing some rather exotic turntables for years. They specialize in vacuum hold down ones. Think in terms of very expensive. To cater to those of us that are not made of gold they have introduced two that are more conventional and a lot less costly. The Moonbeam is the least costly at retail of $750US. At first glance it looks both rather odd and crude. Really it is not when you start to examine it closely. The first impression is that it is on stilts. It has three tall (5-6cm) adjustable screw in feet. Also the platter (acrylic) is raised above the pilth by the thickness of the sub platter (perhaps 2cm). The board is quite large (about 45cm wide, 35 deep and 4 thick). Several finishes are available (see their web site). It is a composite of about 7 layers. The tone arm is a variant of a Rega. The overall look is spartan, but sort of European in style. There are no flashing LEDs, no auto start - stop and so on. It is all manual. I installed a Dynavector 10X5 (with a ruby cantilever and line contact stylus by Sound Smith). It took a little fiddling to get the anti-skating dialed in. This seems to be an issue with some Rega arms. I finally settled on a setting of 1 (gm?) with a tracking force of 2gm (recommended by Dynavector).

Speed accuracy is right on according to my strobe. The motor is a 24 pole AC one designed for computer use. It is quite sufficient to drive the TT. It is belt drive.

The sound from the combination was excellent. Gobs (new high tech term) of detail. Very quiet both in operation and when the stylus was in an empty groove.

My only beef is that the supplied (and in this case wired internally) RCA cables are bit on the cheap side. This is also a common feature of many OEM Rega arms and can be fixed if wanted.

A nice thing about the TT is that it will accept anything a Rega will. I am considering an upgrade for the future of a "Moth 251" or an "Origin Live" arm for it.

A good if not particularly inexpensive turntable, worth a look if you are in the market. Now I only have three others that are gathering dust.

Good listening
Bruce

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PostPosted: 25 Apr 2012, 12:46 
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Hey Bruce, thanks for the report. Which Rega tonearm is being used. My Rega P1 came with the Rega RB301 which is a decent inexpensive arm and I too was not thrilled with the cables. I got a chance to live with a new Rega RP3 for a while. It comes with the new RB303 which I found to be an overall improvement over the RB301. The cables are decent, but I would prefer RCA jacks so I could connect my own cable with reduced length.

Cheers

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PostPosted: 25 Apr 2012, 15:25 
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Hi Gio, The arm is a Sota OEM by Rega and looks like a cross between the RB101 and RM251. If I get the urge to upgrade I'm probably going for one by Origin-Live. They use a variation of the 251 for most mods. If I stick with the one that is there now I'll probably re-wire it. I found that the vertical tracking angle was not optimum for the Dynavector. The base end of the arm was a bit high. To get it level I had to use a 1.5mm shim under the cartridge. To be honest though I can't say that I hear any difference. Sounds great either way. A Grado Reference Platinum I did not need the shim.

Good listening
Bruce

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PostPosted: 06 Jun 2012, 10:23 
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Hi, In my never ending quest for nirvana .....I replaced the Rega arm on the Sota with a Origin Live Alliance arm. A very different critter from most arms. It says the bearings are in principle like a knife edge arrangement (but uses bearings). The result is an arm that is "loose" feeling and not super rigid like most are. They say very loudly not to mess with it as it is intended to be "loose". OL's purpose in this is to keep resonances to a very minimum and to avoid transferring anything in the platform from effecting the arm. Anyhow it mounted fine in the same hole as the Rega did (that was by design). An easy swap. It took a while to dial in the VTA and anti-skating but no issues. A well made piece of gear. I mounted a Grado Reference Platinum 1 in it. The sound surprised me. In most arms the Grado tends to have an overly robust bottom end. Nice for rock and such, not so good for upper end. Not so with this arm. Clean, smooth sounding throughout the whole range. Far better detail than I have heard from a Grado in the past. I would characterize the sound as generally mellow (no surprise there) but really nice to listen to. Not as hot sounding as some of my other cartridges (Benz and Dynavector). This is not a particularly cheap upgrade (about $375 total) but IMHO worth looking into if you are wanting to upgrade any TT that uses or can use a Rega arm. The OLs are built on request and are certain to use parts made in the nearby Rega factory for them. There is a similar look, but they are not like any of the Rega products.

Now all I need is more vinyl (500 or so is not enough :bawling: )
Attachment:
Origin Live 2.jpg

Good listening
Bruce


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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2014, 06:20 
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I am kind of knew to DIY or as I like to call punk rock repair. I to purchased a SOTA Moonbeam series 11 and replaced that tragic 100 arm with a Rega 202. Did you have any funky alignment problems? The paper protractor did not align well with the 100 arm much less the 202. I noticed the main mounting hole to be different with the 202. Did you just drop it in or modify the arm hole?


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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2014, 11:45 
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Hi, the paper alignment thing is IMO garbage. The hole on the plinth is in the right place for Rega and other arms like the Origin Live one I used. I found though that the typical alignment tool did not seem to achieve the optimum setting. I finally used a DB protractor to get spot on. It was pretty close with a Rega Baerwald one from vinyl engine (vinylengine.com) though. Very slightly different in overhang (about 1/64 inch). The VE protractor is on their site under tools. You have to sign up to the forum to get there though. It needs to be printed out. Be sure that when you do the measurements are correct. It has a calibration scale. If it doesn't measure correctly the protractor is not going to work. There are instructions to help with the printing. I covered my copy with clear plastic. It lets the stylus slide on the surface and not drag and possibly get damaged.

While we are on the Sota.....three things. If you start to hear a sort of low level grinding noise that seems to come from the platter or the platter wiggles it means that it needs more lubricant. It is a really viscus stuff and you can get some from Sota. If you use an alternate platter (the acrylic one from Pro-ject fits perfectly) you may have a clearance issue as the pulley can contact the underside of the platter. The pulley itself is just lightly press fit on the shaft and can be moved down without a lot of pressure (just slightly) to get the extra clearance. Finally it matters which side of the belt is on the inside. One way it runs a little slow. I found this out when I used a test LP and measured the frequency on a scope. The difference is about 1-2%.

Basically it is a fairly good turntable with a rather mediocre arm. If I would have known that in the beginning I would asked for one without an arm.

Good listening
Bruce

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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2014, 16:45 
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So it's a Rega table with the crappy quality of a Rega plinth/drive dialed out and decent construction put in?

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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2014, 21:40 
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Nice plinth, well made out of several layers of laminates, decent motor and a hole in the place that arms like the Regas use. Several other companies use the same spacing. Any of the Origin Live, Moth, and similar ones will fit without any changes.

Good listening
Bruce

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