SOTA STAR Sapphire Turntable Care and Feeding

I'm seriously interested in a used SOTA STAR Sapphire Series III Turntable with Vacuum, Electronic Flywheel and SME Series IV Tonearm, that is close to me and a very reasonable price.  It would be a big step up from my current Pro-Ject X2B, but I want to make sure it is not too technical for my dinosaur brain before I pull the trigger.  How difficult it is to get set up?  Once it is set up, do you need to constantly fuss over it or just the occasional check?  I have an upgraded Joliida JD-9 phono pre-amp.  Would this pre-amp be sufficient for the SOTA  or would I need to upgrade that to do justice to the SOTA?  Any other quirks of this turntable that I should be aware of?  Thanks in advance for your advice.


John Cotner

New Ulm, MN


I've been thinking along the same lines.  More cost, equipment and fuss for a benefit I may likely not hear.  Pretty cool idea, though. 

Vacuum can be pretty powerful.  I found a review that says the Sota Star pulls 5 inHg vacuum or 2.45 psi initially and then drops to 3 inHg while playing.  This is a low enough vacuum to avoid damage to the record.  That's a fairly light vacuum.  (One atmosphere is 14.7 psi).  The record surface area minus the spindle hole is 113 sqin.  That means a 2.45 psi vacuum will generate 277 lbs of force.  That is not inconsequential.  And like I said, it pulls my Eric Clapton disc down flat.  I use the Sota Clamp with my vacuum platter.  Belt and suspenders maybe...

Think about it:  do you really expect the amount of vacuum created by the pump will take out even small warps inherent in a disc?  A hold down clamp is much more effective in that regard, imo, although even with that the amount of pressure would dissipate the further you get away from the spindle.

Yes, this is basically my experience as well. Significant edge warps on 180g vinyl are harder for the vacuum to "suck down" versus a heavy ring clamp (VPI and Clearaudio's both work very well here). However, for most records, the vacuum does a nice job sucking down small air pockets (over the middle of a record) that can remain even with ring clamping.

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I owned a Star Sapphire III as my only TT for 10 years or so.  I found the vacuum clamping to be generally effective for edge warps.  What bugged me is whether I could hear an effect on SQ that I found to be not so copacetic, although very subtle.  But you know how "we" audiophiles are about stuff like that. I own a peripheral ring clamp but would never dare to use it for fear of damaging the cartridge.  I do use a record weight or clamp on the spindle, but I cannot kid myself that it does much to eliminate warps.  Anyway, it's amazing how much of a warp can be "played" without an obvious audible problem, is my experience since selling the SS III.