The stiffer parts of the Motus II – including the subchassis – are made of composite materials, the overall aim being to absorb and diffuse vibration. Build quality is high throughout. I particularly like the way that the armboard is a large cap that fits over the cylindrical base in the subchassis. The Vertex arm can be had in nine, ten and 12-inch variants, but you’ll need the larger version of the Motus II for the longest arm. The arm combines a carbon fibre tube with machined Delrin bearing housings, headshell, etc. The only metal parts apart from nuts and bolts are the counterweight, its stub, and the main shaft. Adjusting downforce is a slightly tricky affair and fully dynamic in operation, there is no adjustable spring to aid this process. The headshell combines a hole and a curved slot, so overhang is fixed and only the angle can be adjusted, VTA can be tweaked in the usual way as can azimuth. The Vertex arm supplied had a short and vintage Audio Note (Japan) silver cable, which may (or may not) be available from Pure Sound, although similar alternatives exist.
15 DC Volts of regulated power are provided by a separate supply in a good quality housing that can remain out of site because on/off and speed switching are achieved with a switch hidden underneath the plinth. The only practical issue I encountered was that the line and weight anti-skate mechanism clashes with the lift/lower lever and causes the filament to come off its pulley, but it may be possible to adjust set-up to avoid this. It’s worth mentioning that despite appearances the Motus II is supplied with a dust lid, a very useful piece of kit in all but the most airtight domiciles.
The turntable was supplied with a Hana SL moving coil cartridge and I hooked it up to my Trilogy 907 phono stage with impedence set to 400 Ohms and medium gain. The result was beguiling tone from the off with good separation of instruments and voices and very juicy bass guitar. It’s not the most pacey sound, but has a degree of finesse that’s very appealing; image depth is also very good indeed. Compelling without being forward and assured without being ponderous it does a great job with Tom Waits’ voice on the track ‘Underground’ [Swordfishtrombones, Island]. The voice seems a bit more forward in the mix than I'm used to, but this enhances both intelligibility and intimacy. The sense of timing seems natural and easy, your foot doesn’t tap involuntarily, but the music flows in a convincing fashion. And then someone plays an electric guitar and the shine and attack of the notes pull you into the experience in full effect.
The Motus II has a similarly calm presentation to an SME Model 20 but with a rounder and richer tonal character; that is, it extracts more of the tonal depth from records. It likes a well-isolated stand however; a standard Target table doesn’t allow the STST to deliver the goods nearly as well as a Townshend Seismic Stand, but suspension or no 'twas ever thus. In an effort to find what the Motus II can do with a better cartridge I went through the fiddle of installing a Transfiguration Proteus moving coil and connecting this to Tom Evans’ Groove+ SRX MkII phono stage. This killer combo brought a lot more presence, shape, and texture to the musical picture, with voices sounding considerably better thanks to enhanced detail resolution across the board but most obviously in the treble. With Esperanza Spalding’s song ‘Judas’ [Emily’s D+EvolutionConcord] there was less emphasis on the groove than usual, but high levels of detail apparent in long reverb tails and rich articulation of the voice. The bass is sinuous and tuneful with excellent flow as one expects of this remarkable singer/fretless bass player. With this and subsequent slabs of vinyl, the degree of separation was in the premier league. The cartridge clearly worked well with the arm and proceeded to extract vibrant brass, rich voices, 'phat' bass lines, and plenty of variation in tonal character between the various sound sources in each mix. ZZ Top’s ‘I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide’ [Deguello, Warner Bros] isn’t quite as locked down in the tempo department as possible but more than makes up for it with lots of reverb and sizzle from drum kit and guitar. Cymbals are also particularly well served, but not because of any brightness in the presentation. The Motus II has an ease and effortlessness that’s rare when combined with high transparency; it’s precise without being emphatic and that makes for very enjoyable listening regardless of musical style.