Design

My Favorite Flying Saucer: beam me up some rock, blues, and Dowland Scottie

A long time ago, in a faraway and mythical land known as Lakewood, New Jersey, I saw a demonstration of what was ground-breaking technology for that time. At a small theme park devoted to rockets and space travel, a working flying saucer was on display.

This was not a model. It was small, about the length of a Volkswagen Beetle in diameter and could seat one average-size passenger. The pilot flew the saucer around the parking lot at an altitude of approximately three feet off the ground, the maximum altitude it could achieve.

Operation was completely silent as the unit had no motors or jet engines. A system of electromagnets operating at the same polarity of natural magnetic field of the earth’s surface kept the craft aloft, levitated if you will. Maneuverability was impressive for the day, pretty much like that of a Volkswagen Beetle, sans stick shift.

The concept of magnets to achieve levitation was quite novel at one time and proved useful only for limited altitude. The greater the distance between like poles of magnets, the less opposing force. Also, the amount of battery power available for driving the saucer was short lived, and probably still is if the same design is used.

Since the aforementioned demonstration, scientists from around the globe have developed some very impressive flying disks, but not relying on magnetic force to keep them airborne. There is, however a very interesting use for the magnetic flying saucer technology, one that almost eliminates a problem audiophile designers have been wrestling with since the days of the first 33-1/3 rpm turntables. Enter the Mag-Lev Audio ML1 turntable.

The Mag-Lev Audio ML1 turntable

Although it looks likes like some form of magic trick or pop art from the 1960s, the Mag-Lev Audio ML1 levitates it’s turntable above its base via magnetic technology and rotates it using the same technology. According to Mag-Lev Audio, its patented technology achieves magnetic levitation and maintains precise platter speed and conformity via sensor-regulating software. This automatically minimizes, if not resolves a problem audiophiles have been kvetching about when comes to turntables: mechanical noise and vibration.

Patented technology achieves magnetic levitation of the platter.

Traditionally, turntables have relied on one of two different designs to drive the platter: belt drive where a dc motor drives a rubber belt around the base of the turntable and direct drive, whereby a single motor drives the platter directly, usually via the center spindle.

In both cases, the platter comes in contact with the motor either directly or through a belt and subject to friction and noise, albeit to low levels, but enough for an audiophile to balk at the specs.

As the ML1 levitates the platter, the only sources for noise come from air friction, which should be next to nothing, and any extraneous noise induced by and/or picked up from the tone arm. And, as you can see in the pictures, this turntable looks very cool in operation, a real conversation piece.

You may wonder how it sounds? Well, that’s purely subjective and hinges on external factors, i.e., phono cartridge, preamp, amp, speakers, personal EQ settings, etc.

You may ask, what happens should the power go out? Will the platter crash and cause untold destruction and devastation? No! An integrated uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system provides power to safely lift the tone arm, stop platter rotation, and return the platter to its resting position.

For even deeper illuminations and revelations, check out the ML1 datasheet and/or the ML1 user manual. And you may want to visit the Mag-Lev Audio website and see other versions of the ML1 turntable.

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