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Walker addresses the problem with a combination of mass—-a crushed marble epoxy resin plinth with a solid lead platter—and air suspension. The tone arm is an ultra-rigid ceramic and everything is decoupled from the source via varying amounts of air pressure. Specifically, a higher pressure (44psi) enters a manifold forming an air bearing around the integrated linear tracking arm. The result is a rigid frictionless movement of the tone arm across the record. Low pressure air (4psi) through a ten-inch sub platter allows the 75lb lead platter to sit on a cushion of air and rotate without friction.


The platter is driven via a low-torque AC motor by a silk belt. The motor is enclosed in its own marble epoxy box and sits on brass isolation points resting on lead resonance control discs. The motor is controlled by the Walker Ultimate Motor Controller, a precision AC filter and speed control. An external air compressor system delivers high and low air pressure though a series of dampening reservoirs filtered for water, oil and impurities, then sent to the turntable for the arm, suspension and platter. The entire mass of the table itself rests on three air-suspension legs which are adjustable allowing for precise leveling of the tone arm. It is these legs that are the subject of today’s upgrade.

One thing that all of this mass and air buy is exceptional stability and accuracy. Using the new Sutherland Timeline laser record strobe, I was able to attain exact speed stability albeit with an hour of adjustment. Assuming that Sutherland’s claim of “two parts per million” accuracy is correct, by extension the Walker is  capable of the same accuracy. With fanatical attention to detail, the table is grounded in science but tuned by ear – Lloyd Walker's golden ears. After more than a decade of observing his methodology, nothing matters to Walker except the sound. Change for the sake of change does not exist in his universe. The core turntable system has gone years without material changes. In fact, this particular modification came about somewhat accidentally.

new chambers

Walker was experimenting with changes in the air suspension chambers—the air-filled bladders that are the ‘legs’ of the turntable supporting its weight—and isolating the turntable from mechanical vibrations. The initial goal was a reduction in air pressure as a means of extending the life of the air chamber pods. The side effect was an unintended change in the sound. During the development phase I got a call from Lloyd describing a dramatic improvement in the turntable. Even after more than a decade of Walker products I took the term ‘dramatic’ with a grain of salt. The table was arguably one of the world’s best already, with enough industry awards to fill a small room. The concept of improving the Proscenium ‘dramatically’ was not easy to swallow. We’ll see I thought.

The upgrade.
In simplest terms the modification consists of tapping into the high-pressure system at the turntable, reducing it from 44 to 22psi and applying it to a new coupling material in the suspension pods. The change in the Black Diamond III upgrade is that the suspension is now at one-half its previous pressure. This essentially changes the suspension characteristics including the resonance frequency of the entire system. While the upgrade is simple in concept, the conversion essentially required dismantling the turntable, modifying chambers, installing a new suspension, precision regulator, check valve and gauge. The entire process including reassembly and testing took the better part of a morning. By way full disclosure, Lloyd Walker lives close by. The parts for this upgrade were modified and installed on-site by him. In most other cases Walker will send the parts for the upgrade directly to the end user along with installation instructions.

After installation and now with three different pressures operating in the system, setup takes a tad longer than before as an adjustment in one pressure setting can subtly affect the others. One setup quirk is that the new suspension pressure requires patience and the pressure sweet spot is very small.  But if you take your time and move in very small increments you will be rewarded with something very special.

The Sound. Although this is an addendum to the original review and focused on the effects of the upgrade, I found my notes dancing between the comparative and absolute. Hopefully my comments will assist those who might be considering the upgrade and also help those who have never heard the system in its entirety. To be honest, I am awed by the vinyl medium. Conceptually today’s records are not that far removed from those of a century ago. Think about it - in the 21st century we are discussing a vibrating stone tracing a groove in a vinyl disc. Like many aficionados I have records that go back 30, 40, even 50 years. What amazes me is that with the advances of men like Lloyd Walker we are extracting new detail and improving the musicality of records recorded half of a century ago. Whenever I believe we have reached the pinnacle of the vinyl medium, along come Lloyd Walker and others who show us that there is still more musical gold in them thar hills.