Sunday, August 29, 2010

ISOkinetik ISOdrive Turntable PSU and motor kit for Rega

Not sure how common it is for these kits to arrive without any instructions, but mine did. Repeated emails to the Ebay seller requesting instructions were ignored and a search of the net failed to provide any illumination. The Isokinetik site itself was of no assistance. So I decided to go it alone and post my experience here in case any other unfortunate audio addicts have the same experience.

First of all it helps to know that this kit is not made by Isokinetik itself. It is in fact a combination of the Rega P3 motor upgrade and the Heed Orbital 1 PSU. Is this a bad thing? Yes and No. On the up side is the fact that buying this kit from Isokinetik looks like it is a considerable saving compared to buying the Rega P3 motor upgrade and the Heed Orbital 1 separately. Saving money on audio gear is always a good thing.

But on the down side is the fact that Isokinetik don't tell you this. So if you have already done the Rega P3 motor upgrade, then you will be buying a motor that you don't really need. In my case this wasn't a problem as I was building a new Rega from all new component parts, the foundation being a brand new shiny red Rega plinth that I purchased in the UK.

Now the first problem with the kit, is that is ships with two PCB. One is already connected to the motor and it seems obvious that you should use it. The other comes unconnected and you spend hours looking at them both wondering how they fit together.

The first step is to de-solder the PCB from the motor and hide it in a drawer, or some where else out of sight. You don't need it. Forget about it. It is the Rega PCB for running from the mains power, not the PCB for running from the PSU. The PCB for the PSU only has one component on it -- a red Wima capacitor. Did you need to know that? Probably not.

The next things you do is re-solder the motor wires to the new PCB (the one with the red capacitor). This is pretty straightforward as the solder holes on the PCB are marked Grey, Red, Blue to match the wires on the motor.

Now you need to find yourself an electrical cable to run from the new motor PCB to the PSU. The kit does not come with cables. If you have a spare one sitting around doing nothing like I did, cut of the plugs at both ends to reveal the neutral blue wire and the live brown wire inside. Solder the blue wire to the hole on the PCB across from where the motor's grey wires were soldered. Solder the brown wire to the hole on the PCB across from where where the motor's red and blue wires were soldered.

This completes the wiring at the turntable end. To mount the motor and the PCB follow the Rega instructions which can be found here: These instructions will also tell you how to remove an old Rega Planar motor if that is what you need to do. But the instructions do not cover using a PSU. So if you have a Rega that has an onboard on / off switch, you will end up with 2 wires (usually black) that do nothing. Cut them back to their exit holes in the underside of the plinth and plaster some electrician's tape over them. They will never be needed again.

At the other end of the cable you will need to add the male IEC cable that the kit ships with. It is a pretty ordinary IEC and I had lost of problems with getting its internal clamping screws to secure the brown and blue wires. In the end I had to solder the brown wire to the live pin and the blue to the neutral. Once you have done this, plug the male IEC into the female IEC at the back of the PSU. Then plug another standard cable into the back of the PSU and run it to the mains. Do not run it to your mains filter board, if you are using one. It will suck the freaking life out of your system. The PSU needs to do its own filtering and it probably does it better than any mains filtering board you have.

So is that the end of the problems with this kit. I wish it was, but there is more. The Rega P3 motor upgrade comes with a neat, very nice metal pulley to replace the standard plastic one. This should fit snuggly on the motor spindle and voila you are in vinyl heaven. Not so this time round. The pulley which is 100% vital to making it all work slipped up and down the spindle like a doughnut on a knitting needle. Without even putting the belt on, the pulley would not spin. Checking online forums showed that this was not an uncommon problem, but usually on old Rega gear, not brand new stuff. The solution is to superglue the pulley to the spindle. Not ideal but it works. Considerable care must be taken in doing this. Clearly there are quality control problem here, probably with Rega, but Isokinetik and its sellers too.

There are a few more things that people should know about this kit. The PSU like much stereo equipment needs burn in time. How much I don't know. I have only had it working for the last 24 hours. Currently I think it needs 10 minutes warm up to get it working at its best. But then you have your turntable spinning for that time doing nothing.

So has it made any improvements to the sound? At this stage, I really do not know. I have done the Rega P3 motor upgrade on my Rega Planar and the improvement was excellent, running it through a mains filter board, and without a PSU. The kit sounds as good as that. Just. Only just. It will need to get better over time to justify the money spent. One thing it does which is totally added value is button on the front of the PSU that changes speed between 33 and 45. Oddly, Isokinetik don't promote this feature.

One really odd thing that I have noticed is that the PSU reduces the volume I was getting out of the amp and speakers. I cannot explain this and am totally puzzled by it. There is obviously no connection that I can see but it has happened.

After 48 hours of playing I can say that the music sounds crystal clear. What seems to be missing is the extra oomph that vinyl often gets. You know, it's the thing where the sax or trumpet or lead guitar comes shooting out of the speakers.


  1. Some truly wonderful work on behalf of the owner of this internet site , perfectly great articles .

  2. hi
    i just bought an isokinetic 2 too no instructions also .. but i bought it for a manticore mantra am in all sorts of quandry now as to fitting it to my turntable which works fine as is apparently one has to modify the turntables pcb? would you know if this is the case?