TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable

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.

Yes, I know, some people are homeless. Others are hungry. Isn't it wrong to spend the equivalent of a suburban home on a means of playing records? It's a legitimate question, and I don't dismiss it, but it's not for me to say, except when it comes to my own choices. It's a decision each of us must make for ourselves. Now, where was I?

Nishikawa's ultimate analog statement
I'm sure TechDAS founder Hideaki Nishikawa has heard more turntables than I have, and I've heard a lot of them.

He received his mechanical engineering degree in 1963, when I was still in high school. He then joined Stax Ltd., where he was instrumental in developing that company's legendary electrostatic headphones. He was involved in other projects, too.

Nishikawa-san left Stax in 1980 to join Micro Seiki. As manager of the technical department, he was involved in the development of a long line of turntables including the company's statement product, the SX-8000, which remained in production from 1981 until 1990. Find an online photo (footnote 2) and you'll notice more than a passing resemblance to the Air Force turntable line, especially in the large metal platter topped with a double-lipped vacuum hold-down system. Also notice how the outboard motor drives the platter with a belt around its periphery.

821techdas.belts

Micro Seiki's slew of talented engineers produced turntables and tonearms for other brands and performed precision machining work for other industries, much as SME does in the UK and Ortofon does in Denmark. Diversification helps with a company's stability—hence its longevity—something every audiophile should consider when investing in high-dollar gear. What good is a lifetime guarantee from an out-of-business company?

In 1989, Nishikawa founded Stellavox (now Stella, Inc.), an importer (into Japan) of high-performance audio gear. In 2010, he started TechDAS as the Stella house brand.

Even if you're not a fan of TechDAS turntables, you have to admire Nishikawa's passion and decades of accomplishments and the consistency of his vision of what constitutes good turntable design.

Nearly a decade has passed since TechDAS introduced its first turntable, the Air Force One. Last year, I reviewed the updated version of that 'table, the Air Force One Premium, which is now second to the top of the TechDAS line. Six months ago, the formidable Air Force Zero arrived in many crates. Assembling it took a team of two several days, but since then, I've been listening to it and enjoying everything about it, from its impressive size, which at first felt almost cartoonish (a feeling that quickly dissipated when the stylus touched the record with a gentle "bip") to its ease of use and trouble-free, non-fiddly performance.

We'll probably see a few product enhancements throughout the TechDAS line. Maybe we can hope for a truly affordable model that retains the line's key features, priced below the current "entry-level" V, or perhaps a more compact, less expensive version of the Zero: call it Zero.1. But to me the Air Force Zero looks very much like the ultimate fulfillment of Hideaki Nishikawa's turntable vision.

The massive Zero took three years to develop, from inception to launch. Just watching the technicians unpack the Zero made clear the company's careful attention to detail. All of the many modules, feet, and platters, and the ultraheavy main subchassis assembly, were securely and efficiently positioned in stacks of subpackages within each crate. It took two people almost two full days to repack it for secure shipping, and of course it took much longer to set it up.

How many of these half-million-dollar, 725.5lb boats does TechDAS intend to float? I was told that TechDAS is at least halfway through a 40-unit run. The serial number of the review sample was 018.

821techdas.figs

0821-ShaknspinData-600

The TechDAS Air Force Zero's platter-speed statistics measured two ways: with the PlatterSpeed app and the Shaknspin. The low-pass filtered speed deviation is 0.02%.

The three-phase, synchronous Papst motors used in the AF Zero are new old stock, originally used to spin Revox tape recorder capstans. (The size of the AF Zero's production run was determined partly by how many new-old-stock Papst, high-torque, three-phase, 12-pole AC, synchronous motors the company was able to source.) TechDAS takes them completely apart and rebuilds them into highly modified motors that include a customized air-bearing spindle and flywheel. The rotor assembly floats, so no load is applied to its thrust plate, minimizing noise and producing the largest possible moment of inertia, which TechDAS has precisely calculated. The flywheel and rotor together weigh 5lb and produce a moment of inertia of 116lb˘cm2.

TechDAS's goal for the motor was to produce "virtually zero wobble" thanks to the combination of air and metal bearings, the "enormous" inertia generated by the flywheel effect, the extremely high S/N ratio made possible by the air bearing, and what TechDAS claims is the best speed stability and consistency of any Air Force turntable—the latter due to a new electronic drive circuit designed for stable, precise rotation with low vibration.

The new, multistep drive system begins with a sensor that communicates platter speed to the micro-processor. The desired rotation frequency is synthesized by a "Direct Digital Synthesizer" (DDS) with reference to a crystal oscillator. Each motor phase is driven by its own 50W power amplifier. A three-phase generator circuit creates the phase shift in place of the more typical capacitors, which are more error-prone and deteriorate with age. A torque-switching circuit adjusts motor voltage during startup or when changing speeds to quickly achieve rated speed, at which point the speed locks and torque is decreased to further reduce vibration.

821techdas.motor

A strong motor is needed during startup because there's a lot of mass to move: The Air Force Zero doesn't have a platter; it has a stack o' platters. On the bottom of the stack is a 15¾", 80lb platter made of nonmagnetic forged stainless steel; above that is a 43.5lb, 12.2" platter made from the same material; the drive belt, which is made of "polished and non flexible polyurethane fiber" and isn't stretchy, wraps around this platter. Above that is a 40lb, 12.2" platter made of cast gunmetal, a form of bronze. The platter second from the top is also stainless steel. It weighs 48.5lb.

The top platter comes in two versions. The standard version is titanium with a "special surface hardening treatment." It weighs 13lb. For an extra $50,000, you can get a tungsten top platter that weighs 50lb. Both are topped with a soft mat and vacuum-holddown lips. The upgraded platter was supplied with the review sample.

821techdas.secondplatter

The total weight of the platter assembly comes to 229.3lb with the standard titanium top platter and 266.7lb with the upgraded tungsten top platter. Altogether, the main chassis, including the motor unit and with the heavier top platter, weighs 765lb.

The five stacked platters are "held as one," not by mechanical couplings but by air pressure, a system similar to the vacuum LP hold down. When properly set up, all the platters are, of course, level, including the top surface. When the air pumps are activated, this 266.7lb mass (with the upgraded top platter) floats and rotates on a 10µm layer of compressed air! Plus, the entire assembly is air-suspended on the four corner pods.

The power supplies and the various pumps occupy three additional chassis weighing 84lb. The machined stainless steel base frame weighs 220lb.

821techdas.frame

All of which raises an obvious question: What kind of rack do you place such a heavy turntable on, especially one with an asymmetrical footprint? The VXR stand made specifically for the Zero by HRS adds $52,000 to the price.

Rereading what I just wrote makes me think of Rega Research's Roy Gandy, whose approach to turntable design is precisely the opposite of Nishikawa-san's.

Gandy's ultimate goal would be a no-mass design; for his ultimate 'table, the limited edition Naiad (about $41,000 with arm), he settled for a superlow-mass, ultrastiff carbon-fiber composite chassis. Wouldn't a head-to-head comparison be interesting?

Logistics
Fitting this enormous turntable into my room required that it be placed on the opposite side of my room from where my equipment rack sits. Phono preamps were placed close to the turntable. I used two 5.5m runs of balanced Tara Labs Zero Gold interconnect cable to get the phono preamp output across the room to the line preamp.

I borrowed a 6m length of AudioQuest Hurricane AC cable and plugged it into the PS Audio PowerPlant 15, since I'm still waiting for the final permit for the transfer switch bypass. Because so many boxes needed power, I used an RSX Technologies Power8 multioutlet, fully shielded extension box fitted with eight solid copper AC receptacles and no sound-damaging surge protectors.


Footnote 1: According to Zillow, the average US home price is $287,148, a 13% increase in just one year.—Jim Austin

Footnote 2: As I write this, there's one on eBay, offered at $40,000. Some audio products hold their value.

COMPANY INFO
TechDAS, Stella Inc.
51-10 Nakamarucho, Itabashi-ku
Tokyo 173-0026, Japan
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
volvic's picture

It was so much fun reading how it all got put together. Three platters!!! Amazing! I do prefer the smaller Air Force turntables because they are slightly smaller and look less bombastic than this one. I also think that if this was mine I would probably blow out my back reaching to put that record on the Three Platters!!!! Such an amazing statement product.

a.wayne's picture

Who would have thought at such a price there would be options , any higher and they might attract the pentagon...

stability , sound and drive in such unstable of times...

Regards

ok's picture

to have come this far in order to properly read crappy vinyl records.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Sour grapes. pal.

When some rich & willing drives his half million-dollar Mercedes to shop "crappy vinyl records", someone can only afford riding subway to shop CDs.

Too bad....

Jack L

thatguy's picture

But for some reason I just love over the top, crazy engineered things. I almost didn't read this review because it isn't something I'm into but it was so much fun.

Anton's picture

We are getting closer, but still not there. Next time, I'd like to see the whole thing in a hermetically sealed "clean room" enclosure with a complete air/particle filtration system.

If this baby is used in some trashy room environment that requires the operator to use any sort of dust brush or anything along those lines, it's simply a waste.

For that kinda cash money, they should go the whole monty and properly enclose this baby. We'd only be talking about an extra 20 grand...I can't imagine they aren't already setting them up this way.

That is absolutely not asking too much.

https://s.alicdn.com/@sc04/kf/H5f8b9efe9e624354abbbd43fb55b56d9M.jpg_300x300.jpg

They should also require the user to wear a proper clean suit to operate it.

https://factorysupplyoutlet.com/tychem-tk-encapsulated-level-a-suit-rear-entry-lime-yellow-large-1-ea-ca/?cmp_id=9688856311&adg_id=100551729118&kwd=&device=c&gclid=CjwKCAjwmqKJBhAWEiwAMvGt6JO9KMv1zrnu7OeJkc45V-gW1byxiUhtVScKnwUQT9y_Ras9Imas_RoCx3EQAvD_BwE

It's time we start taking vinyl playback seriously.

Jack L's picture

Hi

I don't know what "seriously" means by you. Hopefully we don't have to mortgage our house to buy the half-a-million-dollar TT that SERIOUS.

In fact, I've already started enjoying big-time vinyl music some 6 years back starting from scrape: a couple of used classical music LPs I picked up from a thrift store for a buck a pop back then.

Now I already got 1,000+ stereo classical music vinyl LPs which keeps on adding up as I shop my neighbourhood well-known chain thrift store nearly every week.

I am very gratified that I switched from CDs to vinyl as my priority music entertainment back then. IMO, only vinyl music can bring home music closest to live performance.

Though I enjoy bigtime vinyl music (a few hours a day on my days-off down my 700sq ft basement audio den), I've not spent much on playbakc equipment. So am I not "serious" enough dollarwise ???

Thanks goodness. I am a smart audio consumer, capable of DIY to save tones of money.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

Apparently, in developing your ability to evaluate and pursue value you have lost your ability to recognize satire.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Yea, apparently so.

Could be due to my study & work in engineering so so long.

I owe whoever got offended in my apparently being too-straight-to-the-point an apology. Unintentional for sure.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

It’s quite possible that no one was offended. Just as most (all-one) of us recognized that Anton’s post was satirical, most also recognize that your post wasn’t due to malice, but to your satire recognition defecit.

Jack L's picture

Hi

OK. Now I know where you came from.

While we are on the very topic of USD500,000 TT, Anton highted his conclusion that we should start vinyl PLAY BACK - SERIOUSLY.

My interpretation to it is we vinyl guys should spend more serious money on Vinyl PLAY BACK - turntable.

Sorry, maybe due to my lack of humor or poor English, I do not find it "satirical" at all.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

Anton’s post (especially with the demand that users wear clean suits) can only be satirical or the submission of a mad man. If you didn’t find it satirical then you should have refrained from responding as only a mad man would knowingly enter into a conversation with another mad man,

Jack L's picture

Hi

Sorry to disagree !!

There is the third option from Anton's statement" "SERIOUSLY"

He never suggested we should go for the $500,000 TT at all. He just stated "seriously". meaning we vinyl fans should spend more money to upgrade our TTs. To me, this is a pretty modest & decent suggestion.

If acquiring a $500,000 TT were the behaviour of a "mad man", then Jeff
Bezos should have been the maddest man on earth to spend billions for a 11-minute trip.

The person who successfully bid a seat therein for $19 million but could not make it & his bid money was then donated to some space-related institutes.

The person who replaced his space-shuttle seat was a 19-year old high-school boy, who later claimed he spent "much much less the $19 million" to take over the seat.

So as per your "mad man" perspective, there were already 3 very very mad persons on earth whose names were published worldwide.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

The madness is not related to the expense of the items, but to obsessive ideations such as requiring a clean suit.

https://static.grainger.com/rp/s/is/image/Grainger/5HH23_AS01?hei=1072&wid=1072

Jack L's picture

Hi

Yes, I think we were talking about 2 different issue: hugh price tag (mine) & "requiring a clean suit (yours).

Yet in my reply to Anton's post above, I did caption clearly the price issue: "it's time to start taking vinyl playback seriously", with NO reference to Anton's sarcastic remarks.

We all know it was a joke by Anton. He concluded decently his post by suggesting we vinyl guy should start upgrading our TT to higher models, overriding his joke. Hence my following up post above.

Jack L

Jack L's picture

Hi

Sorry to disagree !!

There is the third option from Anton's statement" "SERIOUSLY"

He never suggested we should go for the $500,000 TT at all. He just stated "seriously". meaning we vinyl fans should spend more money to upgrade our TTs. To me, this is a pretty modest & decent suggestion.

If acquiring a $500,000 TT were the behaviour of a "mad man", then Jeff
Bezos should have been the maddest man on earth to spend billions for a 11-minute trip.

The person who successfully bid a seat therein for $19 million but could not make it & his bid money was then donated to some space-related institutes.

The person who replaced his space-shuttle seat was a 19-year old high-school boy, who later claimed he spent "much much less the $19 million" to take over the seat.

So as per your "mad man" perspective, there were already 3 very very mad persons on earth whose names were published worldwide.

Jack L

jjljr's picture

sorry Mike ... I'm a huge fan of Analog Planet and Stereophile, and I'm a big believer that no one should tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned (or inherited) money. If anyone with a spare half-mil wants to blow it on an 800# record player, he/she should have the right to do so.

Except ... no ... he/she shouldn't. The difference in sound quality between this and a $25-$50k turntable is inaudible to damn-near everyone on the planet. (MF excluded, which is partially-why we read his stuff). I can almost-understand spending this much $$ on a Ferrari or a Bentley - hell, at least someone else could see it and perhaps be jealous. But this is absurd - almost as absurd as dropping another $50k for the stand.

To anyone considering an Air Force Zero purchase: you actually have the ability to make a significant difference in the world. Donate that half-million to your local community college. Or to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Or to your local food bank. Just don't light it on fire ... which, effectively, is what would happen if you buy this turntable.

thatguy's picture

Think of all the things you could spend less on and then donate the rest. If everyone reading this gave up their next nearly inaudible audio purchase and donated the money it would likely greatly exceed the cost of this turntable.

I would bet that nobody that buys this is going to be altering their spending on other things to buy it. Given the income level they'd have to be at to buy this; I can't imagine they aren't already donating large amounts to multiple causes. This is basically mechanical art. How is this purchase instead of a new piece of regular art a bad thing? How many people does this turntable company employee? How are their lives affected by these jobs and how many causes do they contribute to?

People plunk down millions for bad paintings all the time and that money doesn't trickle down to a company full of employees and parts suppliers like this.

Jack L's picture

Hi

If half-a-million-dollar TT were "insane", then how would you describe today's richest man on this planet: Jeff Bezos' 11-minute
space trip ?

The successful bidder spent USD19 million to acquire the 4th seat of the space-shuttle with Jeff, could not make it.
His seat was then taken by a 19-year-old high school boy who claimed to have paid "much less than 19 million dollars" to take over.

The 19 million dollars were then donated to space-related institutes. !!!

Half-a-million dollars vs 19 million bucks ? From sublime to ridiculous ! Right ?!

This is a real world. Take it or leave it !

Jack L

scottsol's picture

You wrote, “ $25-$50k turntable is inaudible to damn-near everyone on the planet”. This perfectly sensible since such tables aren’t affordable for damn near everyone. So what’s the problem?

MatthewT's picture

"This observation will set off howling among some audio enthusiasts"

Long-time listener's picture

It's now necessary to spend $575,000 to raise the crappy vinyl medium to the same level of resolution and accuracy and noise-free performance (except when there's dust on your LP) as a $700 Topping DS90SE DAC. Congratulations on your conservatism.

Another comment nailed it: "To anyone considering an Air Force Zero purchase: you actually have the ability to make a significant difference in the world."

Sure, spend some money on yourself. But if you're going to just throw it away, other people's lives could be significantly impacted, and you could make the world a better place. Jeez, rich people sure can be a bunch of a------s, can't they.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Apple to orange comparison, pal.

Apparently you're a "long-time listener" of digital gadgets only, correct ?

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

But I grew up listening to a wonderful tube-drive Magnavox stereo, and I'd love to hear it again. So I know there are aspects of pure analog sound that are appealing. And yes, I like digital sources, though I avoid Class D amps. Have you heard the Topping D90SE, or the Holo Audio May, in a good system?

But for apples to apples: No $700 combination of turntable and cartridge could reveal the stunning transparency and beauty I hear with the Topping D90SE DAC listening to a well-recorded digital source, such as Pat Metheny's recent works for guitar quartet on "Road to the Sun." Maybe this $575,000 turntable could.

But anyway, using "feed the poor" as a jokey tag line is bound to create backlash. Between its poor recommendations, its gun-friendliness and this "let them eat cake" attitude, Stereophile is becoming increasingly irrelevant to me. I read it faithfully, as I have for decades, but sometimes wonder why. The last two items I bought based on its recommendations--the NAD M32 amp and the Aerial 5T speakers--were bad, expensive mistakes, neither of which deserved Class A listings as far as I could tell. I can only wonder how long the reviewers actually spent with them before pronouncing them "highly recommended" for the average consumer. So until Stereophile does something useful for me, I will probably remain fairly quick to criticize.

Jack L's picture

Hi. Long-time (CD??) listener

Apple vs orange, again.

A TT, be it $700 entry level or half-a-million-dollar state-of-the-art, does not process any music. It is just a vinyl record spinner.

How come you told us your $700 toy could get "the same level of resolution & accuracy & noise free performance" of the record spinner ????

Like you just told us the 'superb' performance of yr $700 bike can beat a half-a-million-dollar Mercedes SLR McLasren Roadster.

Wake up & smell the coffee, pal.

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

"A TT, be it $700 entry level or half-a-million-dollar state-of-the-art, does not process any music. It is just a vinyl record spinner."

The LP, like a CD or a FLAC file, is a storage medium. An LP requires a turntable and cartridge to convert (i.e., process) what's in the grooves into an electrical audio signal. Like a digital-to-analog CONVERTER. They both do conversion, or "processing."

"How come you told us your $700 toy could get "the same level of resolution & accuracy & noise free performance" of the record spinner ????"

The Topping D90SE is their top of the line, not entry level. It measures in general as well, and in one or two respects better, than the $4000+ Holo Audio May. In my experience, measurements correlate most closely to subjective, perceived performance in DACs. The level of measured performance that used to only be available with a $10,000+ Weiss Medea later became available in a $1000 Benchmark DAC. The price-to-performance ratio in DACs is changing.

"Like you just told us the 'superb' performance of yr $700 bike can beat a half-a-million-dollar Mercedes SLR McLasren Roadster."

Comparing a bike to a Mercedes roadster: Do you actually know what "apples to oranges" means, PAL?

Jack L's picture

Hi

Very true.

But did you notice this very expensive TT does not come with any CARTRIDGE. So how can it "process" any music from the record grooves with its own cartridge ???

Please read carefully before you open yr mouth, pal.

It was YOU who claim yr $700 DAC could match the sonic performance of the $500,000 record spinner !! So you did compare apple to orange (DAC vs TT)

Also measurement data are only a guideline of how would the component perform technically. The final judgement is by our ears.

"In my experience, measurements correlate most closely to subjective, perceived performance in DACs."

Sorry, I totally disagree to yr such above "experience".

Let me quote again Cheever's audio engineering master degree thesis:

In his thesis, he compared the sound of a single-ended Class-A tube power amp measured 5% THD vs a transistor power amp of much higher output power measured 0.005% THD. His panel found the tube power amp sounded much better.

Many years later, Cheever's above experience was verified by another party with different tube power amp & transistor power amp by ABX double blind test.

Listening, not measurement alone, is believing

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

So, we're in agreement on that, and if you can cool down for just a moment, you might recall that I said I loved the tube-driven system I heard growing up. Introducing euphonic distortion at some point can, to some extent, depending on many things, be quite pleasing. I think for recordings that themselves date from the analog era, especially somewhat poor mono recordings, I'd like to hear them on LP through a tube system. But I'm more into clarity and realism most of the time these days. And I don't think you want your SOURCE to have 5 percent distortion, do you? Followed by 5 percent distortion in your amplifier? No, you want your source to reveal all the detail and resolution possible before you do anything else with the signal, including adding 5 percent euphonic distortion.

Yes, turntables have to have cartridges. And cartridges have to have turntables. They BOTH contribute to the sound, and reviews of turntables, including this one, always discuss their contribution to the SOUND of the playback. Stop screaming over obvious points and try to see what others are saying. The LP, even with a $600,000 turntable-plus-cartridge setup, is not a superior medium to good digital playback--even at very, very modest price point. It's the ridiculousness of having to spend $575,000 in order to raise that medium to its ultimate level that tells you it's no longer a very efficient or competitive medium for producing good sound.

And by the way, until you have both read the measurements and heard the Topping D90SE, you have no basis for saying anything about how it sounds. You don't know what you're talking about.

Jack L's picture

Hi.

5% from the vinyl source, then "followed by 5% distortion in yr amp.."

So what? So you don't know the harmonic distortion generated by the
Loudspeakers is generally way way over 25% ????

Obviously you chose not learn from Cheever's master degree thesis I quoted in my above post to you. How come the tube amp with 5% THD sounded better than the transistor amp measured 0.005% THD ????

You got to understand whatever measured data get very little to do with what our ears perceived. Measurement of an audio equipment & our ears work differently from each other. OK !!!

"I am more into CHARITY & REALISM most of the time these days."

Me too. Whoever audio guy doesn't ?

FTY, my vinyl music sound so crystall-clear, see-through transparent, extremely fast transsient, micro-layered detailled, precise impaging & live-performance-like soundstaging.

Plus digital music can never YET deliver: emotion & enjoyment like attending a live performance.

Do please don't be so straight-minded into measuremnent data only.
Please use your own ears to judge the music, not be sidetracked & biased by the meassurement data read by your eyes only.

Enough said. Yet you are not alone, soooooo many audio guyes out there do think like you.

Listening with your own ears, not reading measurement data, is believing.

Jack L

ok's picture

..but modern speakers and headphones measure way down to 1% thd or much less - check out hifi news or soundstage network measurements for that matter - in case you're even capable of listening to (and believing in) what I'm talking about.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Really?

To verify yr hijacking my post here is "OK", please quote me one measurement review from Stereophile of one loudspeaker showing "down to 1% thd or much less."
Why refer other audio magazines, pal.

I read this typically 25% distortion statement from a published paper recently.

Jack L

ok's picture

..doesn't measure speaker thd so go where I'm leading you to old man and shut the fuck up.

Jack L's picture

Hi

When yr mom taught it's "ok" to open yr stink "fcuk" mouth swearing in the public ? Kid !

Stink !!!!!!

Jack L

ok's picture

and I apologize for my misconduct.

Jack L's picture

Hi oK

Your are welcome.

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

"Obviously you chose not learn from Cheever's master degree thesis I quoted in my above post to you."

Yes, yes... I now see the error of my ways ... I can only grovel in the dust before you in the sorry state of my abject ignorance. I -- and every reader of Stereophile, I imagine -- will from now on seek "transparency" only in systems such as yours, with 35 percent harmonic distortion (5+5+25). The more distortion, the better it sounds! What a fool I was!

I have been so blinded, beaten, and battered by the force of your superior, god-like knowledge that I will have to take some time to recover. I may not be able to write anything for a month or two ... But my silence should not be taken as rebellion; it is worship. All praise to Jack L! Praise him and rejoice in your newfound knowledge, all you heathens! Praise him!

Jack L's picture

Hi

Take it easy, please.

This is a social media for exchange of ideas. Why got offended ?

May I quote Warren Buffett's well noted quotation (2008)
"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

Nothing comes free. I work very hard to get myself here today.

Jack L

Ortofan's picture

... Wilson Chronosonic XVX speakers, he (and his wife) determined that the difference in performance relative to the Alexx model made an upgrade worthwhile.

Was the difference in performance between the Air Force Zero and MF's present turntable (SAT, Continuum Caliburn ?) not sufficiently great to also warrant an upgrade?

HarryT's picture

British (B) vs Metric (M)
These measurements were found in the body of the review.
725.5lb (B), 116lb˘cm2 (Some weird combination), 50W (M), 15¾” (B), 80lb (B), 43.5lb (B), 12.2" (B), 40lb (B), 48.5lb (B), 13lb (B), 50lb (B), 229.3lb (B), 266.7lb (B), 765lb (B), 10µm (M), 84lb (B), 220lb (B), 5.5m (M), 6m (M), 9" (B), 12" (B), 10" (B)
What is the logic? Just curious.

michelesurdi's picture

a half mil plus of equipment reviewed in a single instalment?seems a bit stingy to me.

Briandrumzilla's picture

If one could afford this extravagant TT and loved vinyl that much, they should make the purchase. For perspective, a Hunter Biden painting will set you back $500g. In this fiscal point of view, the TT is a bargain.

Jack L's picture

Hi

No yet, my friend.

Wait until you get the chance to take a look at the USD450 million painting of "Salvador Mundi" (in Greek meaning Savior of the World), a masterpiece of Jesus Christ picture by Leonardo da Vinci 1500s.
It was auctioned by United Arab Emirates for its new museum.

USD450,000,000 for a canvas painting !!!!!!

A TT for half a million dollars? Okay for those rich & willing.

Jack L

PeterG's picture

Fascinating and awesome, but it's hard to think of this as a piece of home hifi. The concomitant effort would overwhelm the pleasure. You have to house this massive beast, plus the amps and speakers, have a large volume of pristine vinyl (if it's not pristine, why bother), and then coddle every disk.

A $20-30K DAC is much more likely to bring audio nirvana repeatedly

Long-time listener's picture

"A $20-30K DAC is much more likely to bring audio nirvana repeatedly"

Why $20-30K? You can get the Holo Audio May for several thousand, depending on which version you get, or better yet, the Topping D90Se, which measures equally well, for $700. Both can help you find Nirvana.

Jack L's picture

Hi

Yea, you WISH $700 can HELP you find music "Nirvana".

Good luck. May I suggest you do not hold yr breath yet !

Jack L

saronian's picture

Eventually…

butch.bond's picture

The people that will buy that table don't even have $450,000 in records, let alone an appreciable knowledge of what's on the records they DO own (if I had to guess based on previous experience)...

airdronian's picture

What an amazing device. Michael, was it hard to stop smiling while playing LPs with this ?

Reading reviews of these sorts of statement pieces is kind of like reading National Geographic for me. I like to see pictures of places I'll never get to. :>)

Thanks for the review, I hope you enjoyed the six months.

tonykaz's picture

Hubristic Elites waving the middle finger at the regular folks.

No-one will ever know if this system is a Viable transducer system because none of us will ever be able to spend any useful time with it.

We presumably have to take the word of a motivated review.

It might end up being a Solid device over the next decades or it may not-at-all like residential environments. ( especially humid basements )

It probably needs a Clean Room filtration and a trained technician to make regular service calls.

Editorially, I'd hope that Stereophile would focus on products for citizen subscribers instead of products for Oil Nation Dictators.

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. how often does it need an oil change, new belts and tune-ups ?, regular record players need all these things.

ps 2 ). I'm hearing that there are approx. 35,000 active buying record collectors ( who tend to buy multiple Sealed Copies )

directdriver's picture

I am a regular folk but it would bore me to tears if I have to read another Rega review. When will people understand these reviews are for entertainment purpose not as a consumer guide? If I have to buy something, I will do my own damn research. It's fun to read how rich people burn their money!

Ortofan's picture

... called "The Entry Level", covering equipment whose prices were compatible with the budgets of "citizen subscribers".
That column has since been retired. Make of that what you will.

On another note, are there still any active stamp collectors?

John Atkinson's picture
Ortofan wrote:
... called "The Entry Level", covering equipment whose prices were compatible with the budgets of "citizen subscribers". That column has since been retired. Make of that what you will.

That column - see www.stereophile.com/category/entry-level - was the creation of Stephen Mejias. After he left the magazine in 2014 to work for AudioQuest, we couldn't find a writer to fill Stephen's multi-talented shoes.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jorgitok's picture

"After he left the magazine in 2014 to work for AudioQuest, we couldn't find a writer to fill Stephen's multi-talented shoes". You are hilarious, defending your very expensive sponsors.

Long-time listener's picture

You can get measurements of many items at Audio Science Review. You can get pretty trustworthy listening (and partially technical) reviews from A British Audiophile or Pursuit Perfect System, and comparative listening discussions from Audio Excellence Canada. The first two cover entry-level as well as more expensive stuff. Steve Guttenberg on The Audiophiliac doesn't usually provide very in-depth comparisons and that hasn't been as useful for me. Though he did give a nod to the Buchardt Audio S300SE, which, along with others, helped lead me in that direction. The Buchardts are now providing me with a nearfield nirvana listening experience.

Putting information together from a lot of sources and taking your time is probably the best way to go.

PeterPani's picture

and must be quite annoying to use the backside-tonearm to land an extensive cartridge on the proper track of the vinyl.

Anton's picture

That arm is the charge of the back tone arm assistant. He answers to the general back table assistant who actually reports to the front tonearm squire, who is overseen by both the chief of the front tonearm and the general turntable committee that oversees and prepares all playblack.

You didn’t thing the owner would have to deal with such minutiae, did you?

teched58's picture

. . . And what button do you push for the espresso to emerge?

Also, is that wand at the back the milk frother?

MatthewT's picture

To review gear I'll never get to see, let alone hear. The comments here will continue to be comedy gold.

Cooking Man's picture

Agreed. Full of self righteous sound and fury signifying,well, nothing. Why so serious folks?

dworkman's picture

Agreed, the comments are the best part of these cost-no-object reviews. Such a predictable pattern (including the eventual comments about the comments themselves!).

Cedex91's picture

In looking at the head photo, I can't help but see the platter as sized for 45s. When I mentally upsize the platter to a LP, you realize just how hulky this is.

Anyone planning on installing this on a suspended wood floor will need to preliminary investigation w/ a structural engineer.

Eliminating the factory stand and wall mounting this could be another option. Probably not...

CBHunter's picture

If some of you would stop wasting time by leaving anonymous comments on the internet where no one cares and get back to work in your corporate wage slave job, maybe you would one day afford this unit. I own one of these units personally, who are you to tell me how I spend my money?

Anton's picture

;-D

The part I like is that, here we are, a bunch of audio kooks who are way into the hobby of audio reproduction, and even we can become aghast at the wretched excess of our own hobby. That's quite an accomplishment.

Then, we have the audiophile Stockholm Syndromers who act like we are kneeling for the anthem by shaking our heads at 600,000 dollar record players.

Heck, for that money, people have failed to mention that it isn't a record changer. If your audio butler has to get up and flip sides every 20 minutes, or so, what a waste. Make it stack six, at least!

Oh, and those bubbling lights, more bubbling lights!

(For our more concrete members: I am using 'joking font.')

Ortofan's picture

... speed accuracy and stability of this turntable an order of magnitude (or two, or three) better than that of a $500 Onkyo?

https://www.analogplanet.com/content/onkyos-cp-1050-direct-drive-turntable-offers-extraordinary-speed-stability-attractive-retro

PeterPani's picture

the record player chasis with fixed tonearm could spin around a rigid platter ;)

Anton's picture

This table is superior with regard to "immeasurable" wow and flutter than a regular table.

If only they had upgraded to Vantablack for the finish, it would have even blacker blacks.

ok's picture

..inevitably leads to absurd; this kind of product is merely a form of wealth redistribution. More of it please!!

JoeE SP9's picture

If I had enough discretionary funds to buy the Tech Das I'd buy a new Lamborghini, a $100K TT and spend the rest on wine women and song.

Archimago's picture

Absolutely.

This stuff makes no sense even to multimillionaires I suspect. It's one thing to spend money to make something that can actually sound better, but there's nothing here to suggest that this thing is capable of any better rotational stability or significant resistance to vibration than turntables of orders of magnitude lower price!

One of these days, I think audiophiles will look upon this stuff with disgust rather than desire. With any luck, for the sake of this industry, that time comes sooner than later.

ok's picture

that "ultimate" rotation stability actually matters. In a fully analog (re)production chain - the only meaningful one for vinyl aficionados - the audible wow & flutter is an accumulative product of the original multitrack/master tape/n-generation copy/cutting machine/turntable speed inaccuracies. The final outcome is a chaotic pitch fluctuation mess that gives vinyl (or cassette) sound its distinctive atonal quality that so many people find beguiling.

mcrushing's picture

Been looking forward to this review, Mikey!

Particularly dig the way you describe the nuances you heard with the Zero, like the varying amount of pressure a drummer puts on a kick pedal or how clearly defined the bass parts on 'Walk on the Wild Side' can be. (Herbie Flowers has tone like NOBODY, man.)

I was at that 2019 demo and those details definitely remind me of what we heard that night. I remember being blown away by a trumpet solo on the 'Masterpieces by Ellington' record. There was this utterly palpable sense of the performer taking a step toward the mic as he started to play; with each note expanding from a pinpoint and taking on a shimmering harmonic quality as it exited the bell of his horn. I remember thinking I'd heard that before... In a jazz club.

So to the commenter who was incredulous about the average person's ability to hear the difference between the Zero and a $50k turntable, I'll have to respectfully disagree.

Another commenter pointed out that after having such an incredible table in your system for so long, a single review doesn't seem enough. That's maybe the harshest criticism... but I'll go ahead and pile on. Any chance you can share more about the Zero on Analog Planet? Perhaps you even have some vinyl rips you could share, so we can compare for ourselves?

Thanks in any case for the vicarious thrills.

Anton's picture

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9_3trBHkPf0/TTSb3o7hiUI/AAAAAAAAAQQ/31N0ltM_Cxo/s1600/Thorens+Reference.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/0c/6f/0e/0c6f0e6226d0e2ce4ca89d17ddf7c02e.jpg

Does this new Techdas come with a dust cover, or is that the turntable butler's problem?

JimS's picture

This is no different for a Ferrari La Ferrari owner driving to dinner a few times at 40mph and selling 3 years later for $3M with 800 miles on it, or a Bugatti that is just one of 60 cars in a collection. Those magazines review those cars too, but it’s all silliness. The 40 units will be bought by billionaires and never used the way Mikey listens.

rachelle juliet's picture

MF and friends : Nice review on that pricey BD TT/analog rig.

""" including the company's statement product, the SX-8000, """

and where do you left this MS TT ( SZ-1 ) that in 1984 set you back: 1,718,000 Yens when in that same year the SX 8000MK2: only 1,050,000 Yens:

https://www.micro-seiki.nl/index_html_files/6257.jpg

""" Look at the measurements produced by both the shaknspin and the oft-used PlatterSpeed app. Both sets of measurements are what you might expect from a direct-drive turntable including maximum relative deviation low pass filtered of ±0.02%. That's impressive to look..""

Impressive but not real. This is what me and other gentlemans were on a dialogue about your speed review charts ( not only in this review but others too. ). This was posted by an admirer of MF:

""" As the App only worked with the Mac iOS of many variations ago.....Mikey has kept an old iPhone which can still operate the App.
The PlatterSpeed App had a few technical limitations.....
Foremost amongst these, was its dependence on a 7" record with an embedded 3150 Hz Frequency track to produce a test-tone which the App could process through its algorithm to produce the graphs and all the corresponding numbers.
To stamp hundreds of 7" discs with perfectly 'centred' HOLES is a nigh impossibility.
It's almost impossible to do it with a 12" disc!!!

This means that ALL the figures produced in their Chart Info are dubious and mostly UNREPEATABLE!!!!
I have Chart Infos for the same turntable/arm combination but with the 7" disc moved slightly producing different figures.
I even have Chart Infos produced with the same turntable but different arms ALL with different figures........

So what is my point......?
The GRAPH produced with the PlatterSpeed App is accurate and USEABLE when looking at the 'Green' Lowpass-Filtered Frequency.
If the hole was PERFECTLY centred.....this 'Green' line would be perfectly STRAIGHT......but only if the turntable was maintaining its speed PERFECTLY.
The wobbles in the 'Green' line are due to the hole's eccentricity as well as any speed aberrations.
So the best performing turntables are those with the most constant and even wobbles approaching as closely as possible a STRAIGHT LINE. """

So, everything " looks " ok but always exist a " BUT " and here why that " but ":

"""""Then there is the low pass filter that is applied to the raw data, this designed to remove the impact of the records eccentricity. It is somewhat a blunt instrument in that it also removes key data about the platters micro speed stability within each revolution.
It is possible to do multiple tests and pick the best or worst numbers to highlight whatever point you are trying to make. But what the low pass filter does is filter distortion as well. This distortion is a graphical representation of rapid speed changes. It is no longer visible and what we are left with is a smoothed average which is used to compute the low pass filtered numbers."""

and follows:

""" A far more accurate and useful metric of the speed accuracy of a TT is to simply look at the raw yellow trace, ignoring the numbers. How close is it to the ideal symmetrical, clean, constant amplitude, sine wave? Some of the TTs mentioned plot significant deviation from this ideal with quite rapid and frequent speed changes.

Remember that the yellow trace is the cartridge output plotted as frequency with respect to time, any distortion of the sine wave is a change in frequency, thus a change in speed. These speed changes would be superimposed on any music that was being played. With this in mind, I invite you to look again at all of the speed plots.

a TT producing a yellow trace that is a badly distorted sine wave is NOT speed stable, although its speed could average 33.333. I hope that this is self evident. """

All those means that the Zero that's the best speed stability MF ever saw in a BD is just terrible unstable and it's not me who said that but the yellow raw frequency plotted.

Even that I think is rigth of course that that gentleman post can be wrong .

Mr. Fremer, what do you think about? the Zero is stable or speed way unstable? .

I ask because the main target/characteristic on any TT design, no matter what, is: SPEED STABILITY that seems to me we can't find out on the Zero half million $$$ TT. At least not on those plots by what that gentleman said. Again he can be wrong and this is the real question: are we wrong and what we have to " see "/read is the filtered green plot?

It's a question, not who is rigth or wrong.

rachelle juliet's picture

Dear MF : What is measured in the first speed stability chart ( that's the same app of other many reviewed TTs. ) by the app is took by the playback cartridge signal but in almost all your TT reviews tonearm/cartridge combinations are not exactly the same.

So, non single TT chart has a real use to make TT speed stability comparisons.

As the other question I posted before here it's a question for you: what's your take on this different tonearms that affects the cartridge signal in all those charts?

Both answers coming from you are essential, critical and learning for we audiophiles that buy and read Stereophile magazyne.

Thank's in advance and best regards,
R.

rachelle juliet's picture

Dear friends : Coming from another audiophile next information gives us a direct response to may second question about what the speed chart app shows to us:

""" The following Plots are done with my 40 year-old Victor TT-81 DD Turntable (bought for $500) with the Test-Disc fixed in one location and the three differently positioned tonearms playing the Test-Tone.

https://imgur.com/IenvV9c

https://imgur.com/uh1HB1i

https://imgur.com/aCI6EKG """

Those charts tell us that that app is useless for make TT speed stability comparisons and even useless at all because with different tonearms and cartridges the charts will be different.

Kind regards,
R.

rachelle juliet's picture

Look this one on OMA K3:

https://imgur.com/itMMFTm

R.

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