After a year of presidential elections and referendums, one thing is patently obvious: as a species, we can’t agree on anything. The same holds for turntable design; belt-drive, friction drive, direct drive... arguments of the superiority of one over the other, often spouted by people with little or no experience of the full spectrum of drive types, will continue for as long as people spin records. But what if there was some kind of meeting in the middle?
The Reed Muse 3C is that diplomatic solution to the eternal turntable conundrum. Or at least part of the conundrum, because the 3C can be quickly converted from belt drive to friction drive and back again. OK, so the conversion process is not instantaneous, so those demanding quick-fire AB tests will be disappointed, but this makes the 3C two decks in one. Cool!
The Muse 3C is powered by two direct current motors and by design is friction-driven; however, its major innovation is its ability to convert to a belt-driven system in minutes by replacing the traction rollers, putting on a belt, and setting a switch to its correct position. To prevent possible mechanical vibration, Muse uses traction rollers (be it friction or belt drive) of different diameters, spinning at different velocities and having mathematically non-multiple diameters to driving disc diameter. Disc speed itself is stabilised by quartz-based phase locked loop (PLL) system, so the Muse 3C’s average speed deviation depends solely on the parameters of the quartz crystal, and that means super-accurate speed control. The turntable drive mechanism is equipped with both mechanical and electronic protection systems, and as a consequence is both quick to start and stop.
In truth, the choice of drive system is likely to be made at most once per system, rather than a mercurial per-album change, because the changeover is a five minute under the platter change, and in reality, you’ll prefer one over the other in your system and stick with it, but that doesn’t undermine the concept one iota. Tthis is a turntable that fundamentally changes its character to fit your system in subtle ways, where you might otherwise end up having to buy a new turntable altogether. The Muse 3C defaults to friction drive, as the belt-driven system is more an optional experiment and in most cases friction drive is the better sounding option, but if the option to experiment is there, go for it! Whichever drive you choose, the Muse 3C is driven by a standard 12V external power supply, the kind you might find driving a laptop.
Reed serves up another innovative addition to the turntable canon: The Muse 3C features an electronic level that measures turntable slope/tilt angle, which allows user to achieve outstanding horizontal alignment without using additional tools.