Analog Corner #282: OMA Plinth for Technics SP10, SAT CF1-12 tonearm, Doshi V3.0 phono stage

Last May I got a text message from my vinyl-loving electrician: "Hey Michael, I'm listening to WFMU and a young 12 year old analog genius is guest DJ-ing, Malachi Lui. He mentioned you, and talks about mastering and pressings—he's incredible. I imagine he's been in touch with you. Hope all is well, Craig."

Malachi hadn't been in touch, but his comments were all over AnalogPlanet's YouTube channel, and you'd never know they were from a 12-year-old. I responded to one, and shortly thereafter I heard from his mother, who said he really wanted to meet me, and that they'd drive over when it was convenient for me.

We set up a day and time just before Independence Day. I readied my video camera, in case the encounter proved worthy of YouTube. If you haven't watched the video, please do. I guarantee it will make your day, no matter how good your day is already going.

After that encounter, a generous reader sent me a Rega P3 to give to Malachi, which I surprised him with during a return visit. And Robert Marino of Athena Productions, a pioneer of vinyl reissues I'd not heard from in decades, was moved to send the kid a box of great records.

In the second video, Malachi references Howlin' Wolf and Captain Beefheart, along with Jack White, whose label, Third Man Records, recently reissued Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica (1969) on vinyl. Shortly after the second visit, Malachi and his family moved to Portland, Oregon. The man who'd sent the Rega 'table mentioned that Jack White was going to play Portland; I checked with Malachi's mother, and found out that they planned to attend.

So a surprise backstage visit with Jack White was arranged. It wasn't difficult—White had seen the video, and he, too, had been bowled over by Malachi's references to Howlin' Wolf and Beefheart. The turntable benefactor—a Grammy-nominated music supervisor based in L.A.—texted that White was "psyched" to meet Malachi, adding that his kids were "already a bit jealous because Jack talks about him so much." Probably a bit of hyperbole, but not much more than a bit, I'm sure.

The caption for the photo of the backstage encounter on White's Instagram account (officialjackwhitelive) reads, "Jack is telling Malachi that he is the future of audiophile sacred music appreciation." That's not quite accurate. Malachi is the present of audiophile sacred music appreciation.

Because now Malachi is writing for AnalogPlanet, reviewing records and equipment and being paid the going rate. His review of Jack White's Boarding House Reach is perceptive, his writing clean and well punctuated. But when he asked if he could review John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, I balked. "Come on, Malachi—you're 12 years old."

Read the review. I suggested that he add a section outlining the albums Coltrane was releasing even as he left this one in the vault, and Malachi turned it in the next day. But the words are all his, with scarcely an edit. It reads as if written by an erudite 45-year-old—or, as one well-known record producer pushing 70 texted, "Damn, that's what I would have written!" He then added: "If I could have been guaranteed a kid like that, I'd have had kids!"

Malachi's parents, who are fully involved in and supportive of all of this, have provided me with a far more balanced picture of this precocious youngster, whom my wife describes as "an old soul." When I told them that, on the phone and in the videos, he's a sweet, bubbly kid, but in e-mail communications he sometimes sounds like a busy, middle-aged business executive, his mom said, "That's him!"

How good is this kid? In September, I wrote and published a story that included links to 24-bit/96kHz needle drops of the same music, played using the same turntable, cartridge, and phono preamplifier, but switching among Swedish Analog Technologies' original tonearm (over $30,000) and their more recent LM-09 ($25,400) and CF1-09 ($48,000) models (see "Analog Corner" in the November 2018 issue). I invited readers to listen to the files and state their preferences and why, and to try to guess which file was recorded with which arm. I also posted a file recorded using the same music, cartridge, and phono preamp, but with a "mystery" turntable and tonearm.

The next day, Malachi responded. He'd correctly matched every file with the tonearm I'd used to record it, and his descriptions of each arm's sound eerily matched my own. (My review of the SAT CF1-097 had not yet been published, and he hadn't read my review of the LM-098 because his complimentary subscription to Stereophile hadn't begun). I told him by return e-mail that he was "the real deal!" He responded that he'd made the correct identifications in study hall, using his iPad speaker!

Malachi's family and their friends have told me how fortunate he is to have me as a mentor, but really—to have this remarkable yet selfless young man appear at this juncture of my life and career makes me think that I'm the lucky one. Joy has replaced the sadness experienced over the losses, in rapid succession, of Dave Wilson of Wilson Audio Specialties, Wally Malewicz of WAM Engineering, and loudspeaker maven Siegfried Linkwitz.

Back to those needle drops and those unidentified tonearms: Most responders, including Malachi, noted that the "mystery" file didn't sound as good as the rest, particularly in terms of background "blackness" and its overall soft sound. I produced that file with a Technics SL-1000R turntable—the one I reviewed in the November 2018 Stereophile and that's pictured on that issue's cover. I wrote in that review that the star of the SL-1000R—an assemblage of the company's new perfectionist-quality SP-10R motor unit with plinth and tonearm—was probably the SP-10R itself, though at the time that was just conjecture, as there was no way to judge each individually.

OMA SP10 Plinth System
Specialty audio manufacturer Oswalds Mill Audio, aka OMA, makes tubed electronics, horn loudspeakers, and, for well over a decade now, high-mass turntable plinths (footnote 1). These plinths used to be made of slate, but recently OMA has produced an iron plinth specifically designed for Technics' SP-10R and earlier SP10MK2 and SP10MK3 direct-drive turntables.


The SP10 Plinth System is a single sand casting of hypoeutectic or "gray" iron. This is not your grandmother's cast-iron skillet melted down and poured into a plinth mold, but a more recent development. Gray iron combines high mass with exceptional rigidity and vibration-damping properties. On the SP10 plinth's underside is a web of cast chambers, each filled with a vibration-damping polymer. The casting is CNC-machined to precisely fit the SP10's chassis as well as an opening for removable armboards, which OMA CNC-machines from torrefied (ie, thermally modified) Pennsylvania ash wood. (Torrefaction involves heating the wood in the absence of oxygen, which removes from it residual water and volatiles, to produce a material with no biological activity—ie, it will never rot or soften.)

OMA claims that torrefying ash wood produces a material that is both extremely dimensionally stable—it won't warp or swell or shrink with changes in temperature and/or humidity—and has "superior acoustical properties." The armboards can accept tonearms with pivot-to-spindle distances of 9" to 12" or longer, and can be precisely swapped out in minutes.

Holes in the plinth's feet are tapped for M6 hardware. OMA supplies "basic leveling feet," but of course your every footer fantasy can easily be fulfilled. The plinth, available in clear lacquer or black powder, weighs 110 lb not including the turntable, and it's big: 26 1/8" wide by 4 1/8" high by 20 3/8" deep. The price has yet to be determined but will be under $10,000, which means that the combined price with SP-10R turntable will be under $20,000.

Footnote 1: OMA/Oswalds Mill Audio, Fleetwood, PA, with a showroom in Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY. Tel: (917) 743-3789. Web:

latinaudio's picture

the reviews and the presence of Malachi on these "pages".
Apart from the Kanye West review, relentlessly attacked beyond reason, he is undoubtedly one of the sharpest and most accurate music analysts. I hope he comes back so we can enjoy again his opinions, whether we like them or not.
Greetings, Malachi !

Michael Fremer's picture

Will return ASAP

Stanley1's picture

After reading Malachi’s review of Kanye West, I lost all respect Fremer.
The article had all the depth of a troll trying to mock anyone who disliked Kanye’s music.

Anton's picture

I love Malachi, but he was doomed from the get go: the audiophile demographic is more Patricia Barber than it is Lil Peep.

More Kenny G than Kanye W.

More James Taylor than Tyler the Creator.

More Ian Anderson than Anderson Paak.

A whole lot more Gary Lewis and the Playboys than Plaboi Carti and if the old audio Muppets sitting up in the opera box perceive any slight against their dusty old Gods, woe be unto the new voice.

rschryer's picture

Sums it up well.

Not sure about the Kenny G part, though. :-)

Michael Fremer's picture

Will return to AnalogPlanet...It's not "if", it's "when".... and it should not be long...

Anton's picture

I give you solid credit for his presence.


latinaudio's picture

but does it have to be like this for life? New blood, new ideas, new artists (good or not) are necessary and inevitable to move forward. Rock and roll was born in July 1955, at that time my father continued listening to Xavier Cugat for the rest of his life and I began to admire Elvis and The Beatles. Wasn't it worth it?

shawnwes's picture

...but if it became the new tone of Analog Corner when Michael retires - and he will one day soon - he's 73 - I'd have to let my subscription lapse as there isn't enough depth there, at least not yet. YMMV.

Michael Fremer's picture

I'm 74, thank you! However, this kid's depth never fails to knock me out.

PeterPani's picture

there is no guarantee that things are stable for the rest of our lives. We compensate with buying records that will survive us (and funny - we are concerned that the needle will wear out our record collection before we die).

Long-time listener's picture

"Aural memories are supposed to be short..."

I think your experience is one example that illustrates how wrong this is. It's true that no one can retain an exact, "photographic" memory of how something sounds for more than a fraction of a second -- but that's not how memory, as we generally think of it and depend on it, actually works. We create a generalized impression of how our system sounds -- relative proportions of bass, mids, and treble, tonality, texture, etc. -- and compare that against what we hear when we make any changes. Our memories work by characterizing the nature of our experiences -- not by retaining exact replicas of them. So the idea that you have to do an instant A-B comparison to accurately detect changes isn't really true.

JHL's picture

That got a chuckle:


Aural memories are supposed to be short...


I remember the sound of a particular *tweeter* thirty years later. It simply conjures up the same adjectives it did 30 years ago. To forget that sound I'd have had to have forgotten all the words.


Our memories work by characterizing the nature of our experiences -- not by retaining exact replicas of them.

Precisely. Take the aural memory myth to its logical conclusion and you must now run to throw away your phone. That could be anyone on the line.


...the idea that you have to do an instant A-B comparison to accurately detect changes isn't really true.

Also correct. Spastic A/B swaps serve to shift the experience from the normal to the abnormal - would you please play that bar with these two different violins sixteen times. They serve to heighten the simplest of experiences - that there is *a* difference in a pursuit where everything *is* a difference - while diminishing its global effect in the frame of reference of the entire realm of music through one particular system at a time.

Having nil aural memory is one of those silly objectivist myths, like the one about being so suggestible that you really mustn't look at your gear while hearing it, or the unscientific supposition that component break-in is your brain acclimating to the sound of a new device. Here again perception - which is inherently tied to memory - works by characterizing the nature of our experiences. Without that we are functionally insane as well as, in this context, getting next to nothing out of the time spent.

Anton's picture

I agree.

I think my aural memory for 'critical listening' is basically a batched up bundle of recall of specific deviations or parameters, for good performance or ill.

Example: Recalling a speaker as too hot in the treble at a demo doesn't go away, and I think yields valid comparisons to new experiences.

Part of the fun of critical listening is filing experiences away for future reference.

Really nicely, said, LTL!

tiagoramossdg's picture

Which means I will look up Malachi's writing, especially after he has received such high praise. I'm also curious to find what is it that he wrote that caused such a stir.

I find the discussion on the comment section fascinating. It is an instance of an old problem: how do you introduce new people and new ideas into an institution, community or, in this case, hobby, without fundamentally changing its nature and all the good things you love about it?

My belief is that the solution has to do with speed. Change should not be welcomed too eagerly and anxiously. Novelty should be tested over time before it is embraced. Newcomers should learn the old ways before reinventing them. I understand that puts me in the "old white guy" team (despite the fact that I am neither old nor white), but I think lasting social institutions (by which I loosely mean voluntary associations of people over a shared interest, practice or goal) have struck that balance between ossification and extinction by rejection of novelty, and disfigurement or loss of purpose by embrace of novelty for novelty's sake. It is a fine line, and treading it requires intelligence. Thankfully, there is an abundance of that in this community.

Anton's picture

I wonder with generational change, how does a hobby publication manage that?

You bring up a cool issue.

Does Rolling Stone still attract twenty somethings, does it influence younger culture...or is it an AARP journal for older hipsters?

In our local club, we have some members in their 20's, some 30's...but we skew to 55+ taken as a larger group. We all party and hit Burning Amp together.

The members in the 20s and 30s read differently than I do when it comes to consuming media. The younger guys are avid tube rolling vinyl loving audiophiles, but they don't tune into many journals simply based on the Veblen nature of how many audio journalists in the hobby seem to be.

The younger folks are quicker to tune out the "this piece of kit was great, but the obvious wide chasm between this piece of gear and my reference 80,000 dollar digital front end puts it in its place," or "this third of a million dollar turntable may be expensive to some, but it offers value to the..."

It's daunting to think about the magazine's need for keeping us grey hairs safe from Hip Hop while hoping to attract a younger crowd.

I don't know how to pull that off!

At some point, we should see the average subscribers age start to come down. I wonder if there is any known data in this regard.

Michael Fremer's picture

I also have a 16 year old Canadian vinyl fanatic/Beatles fan Nathan Zeller writing for me. He's about to review his first piece of equipment and we are both really excited about that. It's a phono preamp from Canada. Yesterday he wrote that he'd bought a double 45rpm reissue of The Beach Boys "Surfer Girl" from another kid, and when they got to talking he told him he was writing for AnalogPlanet. That kid was a site fan too and now he's going to submit a review. He's an English major in high school so I expect he'll write well. Nathan told me he was in a record store recently and overheard two kids talking. One said the other "I wish I could go hear Michael Fremer's stereo some time." Now that blew me away! I asked Nathan if he'd gone over and told them that he wrote for AnalogPlanet. He didn't. Those Canadians!!!!!