Airtangent tonearm Page 6

I found the Airtangent to be my preference sonically as well. The smooth demeanor and wealth of new details of the Airtangent significantly contributed to its overall performance. The SME V was found to be more robust in the low end, and slightly more aggressive. It contributes a more forward and direct quality at the higher frequencies, and, while fast and detailed, falls short when compared to the Airtangent's extension and delicacy. Furthermore, the soundstage is not as ornate, or as rife with crucial details.

Spectrally, the Airtangent is smoother, with better extension at the higher frequencies. The SME V summoned a very solid foundation for the music and, most of the time, produced a more prominent balance in the lower ranges. To be sure, the Airtangent might be accused of some leanness in this area. I found it to be a better balance for me, however, as it blended more effectively with the equipment at my disposal. The added bonus was the transparency and definition of the bass frequencies. Yet it was in the midrange that the Airtangent did the most good. Every cartridge produced a more transparent presentation, and the Koetsu's legendary midrange richness became more apparent when mounted in the Airtangent. The lower midrange could be seen in a new light, adding impact and heft in a very palpable manner.

I'm completely taken with the Airtangent tonearm. But you don't have to be a CPA to realize that, for the price of an Airtangent, you can get the SME V and a top-flight cartridge. Of the three cartridges mentioned, only the Koetsu is above that budget—something to consider carefully.

Just remember that the Airtangent outperformed the SME V in a majority of cases, and, for all its complexity, is very easy to use. So what if you have to remember to turn off the air pump? That's more than compensated for by the end-of-record lift mechanism. For the consummate audiophile in me, the Airtangent tonearm is, in many respects, a dream come true. At the same time, it is also one of the finest products that I have ever encountered. For anyone who believes technology is something to be savored, the Airtangent is certainly served up most delectably. It is one of those rare products in which functionality, ergonomics, and aesthetics are blended with resounding success. The Airtangent is an elegant affirmation of just how synonymous high-end and high-tech can be.

Of course, I recommend it!

Krell Industries (1989)
None (2001)