Turntable Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jul 12, 2022  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2017  |  0 comments
The Reed 3P tonearm, which I reviewed in my April 2016 column, was an impressive piece of imaginative engineering and manufacturing prowess. I asked Reed's importer, Axiss Audio, if I could hold on to the 3P—I was already planning to review Reed's Muse 3C turntable. I'm glad I did—the 3P ($5000) and 3C ($15,000) make an outstanding combination. (When the only complaint you have about a turntable is that the cable from its power jack to the power supply isn't long enough to reach the floor, you can be sure you're going to write a very positive review.)
Ken Micallef  |  Jun 29, 2022  |  5 comments
There's an enduring debate among the turntable-tech intelligentsia between opposing theories of turntable design. Some designers, notably Roy Gandy of Rega, follow a less-is-more approach, building stiff, lightweight turntables that release energy rather quickly. Others, such as Franc Kuzma, whose Kuzma Ltd. manufactures my reference Kuzma Stabi R turntable and Kuzma 4Point tonearm, believe in heavy mass-loading to dampen vibrations, including transparency-miring resonances.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 21, 2022  |  6 comments
Lublin, Poland, is about 130 miles from Lviv, Ukraine, a town that has been in the news lately. That's about the same distance as Hershey, Pennsylvania, is from my desk in northern New Jersey, where I'm writing this. They are close. Russian missiles struck Lviv on March 18, 2022, and as I write these words Lviv is preparing for more intense bombardment.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 08, 2022  |  8 comments
Playing records is a delight-filled chore. The simple, quiet act of lowering a tonearm places one's mind at the ready for something marvelous to happen. Surely, this gentle ritual initiates a higher mode of psychic connectedness than poking absentmindedly at a side-facing equilateral triangle on a piece of cheap plastic.
Michael Fremer  |  May 10, 2022  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2018  |  65 comments
It was great fun having our editorial coordinator, Jana Dagdagan, shoot a video profile of me in my listening room. As I write this, it's had more than 88,000 views. While the ratio of thumbs up to thumbs down has remained consistently around 10:1, some of the negative comments, particularly about our industry and about this magazine, do enrage me.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 05, 2022  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2018  |  0 comments
In February 2017, for the first time in almost 20 years, I visited Rega Research's factory in Southend-on-Sea, UK. I found a company that had added to its just-built factory a second building of the same size, had added an upper level within that space, and already was running out of space. Corridors and walkways were being used for assembly and storage.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  6 comments
What? Suddenly a new Japanese cartridge manufacturer? That's what I was thinking when Mockingbird Distribution's Phillip Holmes dropped three cartridges on me from DYLP Audio. Never heard of them—but then I'd not heard of MuTech either when Holmes sent me one of that company's $4500 RM-Kanda (now Hyabusa) moving coil cartridges, which I reviewed in the March 2019 issue's Analog Corner. If that cartridge is not on your moving coil radar, you ought to put it there.
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 30, 2021  |  11 comments
I enjoy few things more than setting up a turntable. Whether it's for myself or for a friend—whether it's a budget model with a layered MDF plinth and nonadjustable tonearm, or a megabuck, state-of-the-art behemoth—I relish the ritual.

Back in the day, I used to huff and puff, scream and shake, thanks to the heebie-jeebies I'd get when attempting to raise a turntable to ultimate performance. But with experience comes wisdom. My buddy and Sound & Vision contributor Michael Trei makes turntable setup look like child's play. I've learned by watching Mike that, when a turntable setup tries your patience, the thing to do is keep calm and carry on.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2021  |  10 comments
You may be moving to Montana. Acoustic Signature is not an overnight sensation, nor are its turntables driven by dental floss. If you're not a Frank Zappa fan, you probably have no idea what any of that means, so please Google it. I'll wait till you get back.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2018  |  2 comments
Bergmann Audio (footnote 1) launched its first turntable—the Sindre, which featured an integrated tonearm—in 2008. The Sindre's acrylic platter and tangential-tracking tonearm both floated on air bearings; it had an outboard motor controller, a separate air pump for the air bearings, and cost $21,000.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 28, 2021  |  43 comments
If you're going to spend a year-plus in COVID lockdown, it doesn't hurt to have a million dollars' worth of turntables keeping you company, right? That's been my good fortune. Sounds like a roomful, but it's only three: the SAT XD1, the TechDAS Air Force Zero, and the OMA K3 ($360,000, footnote 1).

You'll find this issue's cover girl either strikingly beautiful or homely. Visitor reactions fall strongly into one of those two camps, with nothing in between. I love the looks. Whatever your opinion, the K3's visual distinctiveness cannot be denied. The innards are equally unique.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 27, 2021  |  92 comments
The Air Force Zero turntable is very large for a turntable, but it is not as large as a house. At $450,000 for the base model, it does, however, cost as much as many houses and more than many others (footnote 1).

This observation will set off howling among some audio enthusiasts of a sort that never happens in the wine world, for instance, where well-heeled oenophiles routinely spend large sums for a short-lived thrill.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 03, 2021  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2018  |  9 comments
Technics' sudden decision, in October 2010, to stop making its iconic SL-1200 direct-drive turntable, then in its MK6 iteration, took vinyl fans by surprise. At the time, although sales of vinyl and turntables for home use were surging, their use in clubs was falling as DJs moved to the digits. According to Technics (a division of Panasonic), production of the SL-1200 was stopped not because professional sales dropped, but because the factory tooling for manufacturing them had worn out, and retooling wasn't cost-effective.
Ken Micallef  |  Jul 28, 2021  |  9 comments
In 1957, Switzerland-based Thorens introduced the TD 124 turntable, a record player destined to become a classic. (TD is an initialism for tourne disque, French for turntable.)

A Thorens brochure from that same year itemized the TD 124's "11 main elements that result in 41 advantages." It noted the turntable's "strongly ribbed, solid chassis, crafted in cast aluminum," and its two-part platter including a "flywheel [subplatter], crafted in stabilized cast iron, [which] possesses excellent characteristics for the magnetic shielding of the drive system, as well as great inertia." Continuing, it lauded the TD 124's "main bearing, fitted with a 14mm spindle made of hardened, mirror-polished steel," its braking system, leveling dials, surface-mounted spirit level, and four "mushroom-shaped, rubber dampers [that] guarantee smooth suspension in a built-in frame as well as decoupling from the base."

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 06, 2021  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2018  |  3 comments
Turntable manufacturer VPI Industries is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Despite analog playback's ups and downs (pun time), VPI has managed not only to survive but to prosper and grow, thanks to a smart product mix that includes high-value, wet-wash/vacuum-dry record-cleaning machines that perhaps took up the revenue slack when, in the mid-1990s, interest in new turntables dipped—but the vinyl faithful still had millions of dirty records to keep clean.

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