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Valhalla Electronics Minos LP12 Power Supply

Discussion in 'audio' started by Mr Pig, Apr 27, 2023.

  1. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    Valhalla Electronics Minos LP12 Power Supply

    About a month ago I bought one of these to replace the Majik PSU in one of my LP12s. There is very little about them on the net so I thought I’d type up some thoughts. These PSUs are often overlooked in favour of the more common lower cost options like the Hercules and even the older Linn Valhalla and Lingo 1 supplies. I think this might be mistake.

    The Minos costs the same as the Hercules but is a significantly more sophisticated device. Yes, it’s a two-speed PSU for the old 110v motor but this very densely populated little board hides much more capability than its rival, which is basically a tidied up Valhalla. Firstly, the Minos and its Zeus big brother are actually the same superbly made board. That means you can upgrade to the Zeus spec at a later date, which adds real-time monitoring of the platter speed and digital speed readout. It also makes the Minos a bit of a bargain in my opinion as the actual PSU is the same and even in Minos configuration gives you some pretty advanced features. Using the supplied USB cable you can change the default settings to alter the motor drive phase angles, frequencies and amplitude to reduce motor noise with your specific motor. Adjust the speed, you can even set a sleep timer! Pretty trick for £250. Unlike the Valhalla and Hercules, the Minos board has a big hole in it so can be used with the Karousel. It also runs cooler so will not bake itself inside your deck.

    Down sides? Yes, minor ones. Firstly, the switch. The internals of the switch are the same as the Lingo 4 but the case is different. Valhalla have used an alloy body, which doesn’t offer any advantage over plastic and means the switch does not lock into place. It is tacked down by a couple of tabs of double-sided sticky tape. Bit amateurish but the biggest gripe is the switch itself. Rather than use the same size of button as the Valhalla, Lingo and Hercules they’ve used a narrower one which just looks wrong. The other switches look like they are made for the job while the Minos switch looks like they cobbled something together and made it fit a hole that’s too big for it. The only reason I can see for doing this was to be different and result just looks stupid.

    The other gripe is a little more annoying. The connection blocks on the board which take the motor and mains power cables are significantly smaller than those on the Valhalla and Hercules with correspondingly smaller holes in them. The cables are a tight fit, forget putting mains cables into them without tinning the ends, and there is a real possibility that you could short cables together if not careful as the holes are very close together. It’s a slight nuisance and something to be mindful of but not a disaster.

    The board is simple to fit as it just clicks on like the Valhalla. Once working you discover another slightly annoying feature, the daft control logic. One short press pings the supply up to 33.3, as you would expect. And another short press to switch it off? Nope. You have to hold the button down for about four seconds to switch the power off. It isn’t very intuitive and you find yourself actually counting to four because, if you hold the switch for slightly too long, instead of switching off it spins up to 44rpm! Similarly, dropping down from 45 back to 33.3 requires a hold of four seconds? Nope, seven. Really guys, it doesn’t have to be this hard. At least they stuck with red and green LEDs instead of the blue of the Hercules although 45 is indicated by both lit up at the same time.

    There is no more bad news. Checking the speed, the factory settings delivered bang on speed requiring no pulley adjustment. Good start. But what does it sound like? Well this is a direct comparison to the Majik. No other changes or adjustments were made. Didn’t tweak the suspension, nothing. I wanted it to be a very level test. Also, although this is verses the Majik I have used LP12s for thirty-five years with Valhalla, Norton, Avondale etc PSUs so I have a fairly good idea of what these things do.

    Bottom line, the Minos is very good. What I hear is a cleaning and tightening across the board with no down sides. It doesn’t make the deck sound more clinical, like the Lingo1 does in my opinion. It manages to improve bass tightness and resolution without reducing bass weight. Clarity and ‘air’ seem better but it does not sound ‘cold’ and boogies very well. The all important toe-tap test is passed with flying colours, you constantly forget about sound quality and become engrossed in the music. The supply doesn’t seem to alter the fundamental sound of the deck at all, it just makes everything better. I can’t say it’s better than the Hercules as I haven’t tried one of those but I’d be surprized if the Hercules was much better than this. Add the extra functionality and Karousel compatibility and I think the Minos wins.

    Sticking my neck out I’m fairly confident this is the best LP12 power supply I have used. At £250 I think it’s a bargain and I’d definitely buy it again. If it died I’d buy another one. I like it a lot. May change the switch though ;0)

    I posted pictures on an LP12 Facebook group if you want to see them: LINK
    Miss Ariel, RichardH, JonR and 6 others like this.

    SONDEKNZ Kiwi, now living in Hangzhou, CHINA

    A superb report!

    The MINOS has been begging for this type of exposure, so long overdue.

    Nice work.
    Miss Ariel, Mr Pig and Isobarik like this.
  3. per-Sony-fied

    per-Sony-fied Me in another jacket

    Nice one. I was not aware of these switch problems. I've opted In favor for the digital display switch to modernize the look of the deck & give me direct view of the speeds. I do not know as yet (still not up & running) whether the single push button switch with OLED display acts the same. Certainly a annoyance if it does. Also I agree with regard to fitting, there be no clips to hold it in place just some very thin sticky tape to hold it in place. My particular switch has a board fixed to it for the display that runs in a cut out within the switch plate. Sticky tape runs across this board & switch plate on the right hand side. Not to hold the board down but to fix the switch to the deck. The circuit board on this side does not sit flush within the switch but does push down if pressed but does not stay there! I wonder when I fit it whether the switch will sit flush or push up on one side. I guess it will depend on how powerful the sticky strip is.

    Whilst I was playing with the switch & trying to get it to fit in my top plate (would normally fit but my Tangerine Audio top plate switch cut out was a tad to small in comparison to the Linn top plate, causing a tight fit for the Linn switch), the display board on the back of the switch was mounted (or not) by two short screws of which one fell out! Upon refitting I noticed it did not screw down properly. Hence always loose (screw length to long). Not good. Later I noticed these two screws were not required as the small piggy backed board attached to the display board kept everything together & screwed down. So they were removed. Seemed pointless to have them there in the first place & no mention of this issue in the instructions..... pretty bad I thought.

    Anyhow despite the (very) slow task of fitting it (the deck is now in bits :)) I am looking forward to getting it all together & back up running so I can compare to my Lingo 2
    Mr Pig likes this.
  4. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    The choice of switch is annoying but it's not what I would describe as a problem. Once mounted it does its job. It would just be better if they'd gone with a different switch body and simpler control logic but it's not that big a deal. The positives greatly outweigh the niggles in my opinion. It's a very enjoyable supply, very happy with it.
  5. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    Just a quick update. I had an email exchange with Steve, the guy behind the Minos and Zeus, and he told me the following. The small button was used as they could not get larger ones but he plans to change to larger switches as soon as he can. He does't think that the control sequence on my example sounds correct. Why it might be different I don't know but I'm not bothered enough by it to do anything about it. Lastly, he plans on making the connection blocks bigger on a future revision.

    Great but these are all pretty minor niggles anyway. As it is it's a damn clever and great sounding supply for a great price. If it gets any better it's just gravy.
    dan m and windhoek like this.
  6. chiily

    chiily PFM Special Builder

    Glad you are enjoying the Minos Mr P. Great review BTW. I find the DIYAudio one really good, and very tweakable :)

    Is there a simple upgrade path to using a sensor on the platter?
  7. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    I don't know, I haven't done it. From what I can see I imagine it will be simple enough. The board has quite a few extra sockets on it so I assume it's just a case of plugging the relevant bits in and then maybe telling the board it's now running the speed sensor. There are installation instructions on the Valhalla website but I haven't read them all.

    By the way, you can also set the Zeus to count the number of hours the deck runs. Handy if you like to track stylus life.
  8. DinAlt

    DinAlt Member

    Hi Chiily,

    From the website I can see you can buy the Zeus switch and speed sensor as a kit which will plug directly into the Minos board. I spoke to Steve Cobham who owns the company before I bought the Zeus kit and he confirmed this.

    I’ve stuck a google review on their website if you’re interested but my thoughts after the first week are as follows:

    Installation - very simple, everything you need is in the box bar a screwdriver
    Sound quality (transitioning from a 30 year old Valhalla) my deck has never been quieter. It’s taken some getting used to how precise it is - its a much cleaner sound than the Valhalla and there is an improvement in bass extension. We’ve used the deck everyday since and my daughter now wants a deck of her own so we’re auditioning entry level players today :)

    With regards to the controls with the Zeus I have the internal version with the very nice oled swich. This is push to start, long push to stop, push and hold until the display flashes to change speed.

    Overall very happy and just done a side by side listening session with my 2021 node as an alternate source and theres no doubt which is better. Not just to me but my wife and daughter too (obviously this is a test of the whole LP12 vs the Node but really happy with result).
    chiily and Mr Pig like this.
  9. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Very nice sounding item, it's refreshing to hear of proper engineering development such as USB connection to allow system monitoring etc. This is not before time, for years now I've been vocal on here criticising manufacturers who claim bleeding edge technology for something that has been around for decades. Meanwhile we all have a computer in our pocket that is incredibly powerful and costs from only £100 up.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  10. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    It's sounds a bit glib but it's just better overall. A wholesale improvement and very big for the money. I'm genuinely surprised by now nice it is.

    Quieter, clearer but no loss of involvement or weight. I think the balance they've struck is bang on the money. I also like not having another box to find a place for. I know an outboard supply looks trick and might sound better but I kinda like having it all self contained.
  11. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    I think there is a balance to be found. If cars use genuinely cutting edge tech reliability suffers, you might get servicing issues down the line, sometimes playing safe is a good thing.
  12. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    I get that, and I'm no fan of t technology for technology s sake, but it grinds my gears when I see hifi manufacturers claiming that their XYZ contains incredible NASA grade power supply regulation when you look inside and it's the kind of psu that I was designing and building as a 6th former 30-odd years ago.

    Also, my £60 Nokia 1 smart phone has been utterly reliable, same as everyone else's, despite being battered daily. How many phones, out of the 30-40 million in use across the UK alone, have you ever heard of breaking down other than by being damaged? This is a phone, computer, camera, video player and recorder, and god knows what else.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  13. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    It's all smoke and mirrors isn't it? Apart from the electronics, just about all of the physical upgrades to the LP12 could have been done decades ago. It's taken them how long to make the bearing stiffer? I suppose it's worth remembering that most Hi-Fi manufacturers in the UK are pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Rega have been very clever in tapping into the expertise of much larger specialized suppliers rather than trying to do it all in house.
  14. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    It is smoke and mirrors. I do get it, we can't expect Linn or Rega to have the R&D spend of Sony Corp, but they should have moved on from the LM 317 and the 1980s. As you say, rega have been clever to use specialist suppliers, but that's what manufacturer s do. Or should do. I had a quality failure in a factory, got all the raw materials suppliers in and asked their advice. The starch supplier identified the problem, we fixed it, from then on in I could do no wrong and Steve's magic starch was the solution for everything from pie filling leakage to erectile dysfunction. Likewise I was involved in specifying some new hygiene equipment with a heavy engineering input, so I asked the engineering manager if we had enough expertise to make it work. "Oh don't worry about that Steve, we use specialist engineering design consultants to do all the maths on it, and contractors to install it, then it's easy."
    Mr Pig likes this.
  15. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Also, to be fair, I do now see manufacturers, especially of pro gear, getting into the 21st century. A mate buys oceans of kit, his latest is a digital amp offering sqjillions of watts for loose change. You adjust setup via an RS 232 cable I think, using your computer and software from the manufacturers website.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  16. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    The Minos/Zeus is very nicely made and clearly a high quality bit of kit. It's bonkers to think that you're getting this for £250 when Linn charge £400 for a Majik supply! Don't get me wrong, I was not unhappy with the way the Majik sounds but it's terrible value and the Minos makes it look very dated and primitive indeed.
  17. DinAlt

    DinAlt Member

    Well so much for entry level my daughter is now the proud owner of an RP 3 with an exact. Now to pick up a cheap connect or similar to hook it up to her Sonos system…
    Mr Pig and Alex S like this.
  18. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    Mr Pig, what an excellent review. Wouldn’t it be great if professional reviews were written like this - I know exactly what’s good and less good about this thing.
    chiily likes this.
  19. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    Magazines can't tell the truth. They need to serve their advertisers. You don't see products like the Minos/Zeus being reviewed in magazines as the people who make them don't buy adverts.
  20. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    Yes, I do understand, but thanks for your review.
    Mr Pig likes this.

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