Analog Corner #304: SAT XD1 record player

Let's begin by discussing what SAT's XD1 Record Player System is not: It is not a Technics SP-10R in a sci-fi–inspired plinth—although the XD1's engine does begin life as the SP-10R's basic drive system, which is stripped down to a handful of essential components, reimagined, reengineered, and rebuilt to much higher mechanical standards.

Marc Gomez, SAT's designer, holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering and materials science. Before dedicating himself to creating the SAT tonearm—by far the finest sounding and performing arm I've yet encountered (as unanimously corroborated by Stereophile readers who bought this very expensive product unheard as a result of my review)—he was involved in a variety of projects for, among others, the European Space Agency and various European automobile manufacturers.

Even if it's not broken, why not fix it?
The XD1 is a compact disc player, though not a player of compact discs (footnote 1).

Its sculpted, satiny beauty goes beyond skin deep. The XD1's metalwork, and that of the SAT tonearms, is machined at a Swedish workshop that makes parts for Hasselblad cameras.

Gomez says that in designing the XD1, he focused on four main areas: isolation from external disturbances, speed stability, rigidity, and vacuum hold-down.

When Mr. Gomez began conceptualizing his design a decade ago, it was immediately clear to him, he says, that direct drive was the best way to spin a platter. His reasons were these: A direct-drive motor's rotational speed is just 33.3, 45, or 78rpm compared to several hundred rpm's required in the typical belt-drive design, and with direct drive the spindle is not laterally loaded as it is in belt-drive designs, so it receives only torque, not an off-center force. The amount of torque available means the 'table is less likely to drag during heavily modulated passages, something direct-drive advocates claim happens with most belt designs.

Gomez says the drive-unit is no an off-the-shelf motor designed for generic industrial applications. Rather, it is conceived and built from the ground up to drive the XD1 (except for those few elements he kept from the SP-10R motor, footnote 2). He says it's better balanced than the motors typically used on belt-drive and idler turntables.

These claims are hardly novel: If your old Technics SL-1200, which also uses a direct-drive motor, could talk, it would make the same claims. Nor did Gomez address the oft-cited disadvantages of direct-drive systems, which include motor "cogging" (torque ripple), noise, and "hunting and pecking" as the quartz-locked system readjusts to maintain speed consistency, a sort of analog "jitter" that belt-drive advocates claim is sonically more pernicious than the slow, gradual speed shifts a belt-drive table is more likely to experience.

1220acorn.2

Gomez says that the inertial forces created by the unbalanced motors found in belt designs increase as the square of the rotational speed, which he says means they are more than 100 times greater in belt designs than what he measures in the direct-drive motor.

So, for instance, a typical belt-drive motor turning at 330rpm would have 10× the rotational speed of a direct-drive motor doing the same thing; the inertial forces, Gomez says, will be squared. That would mean that the vibrational characteristics of the XD1 motor are lower by a factor of more than 100. That, too, would be true of the "plain vanilla" SP-10R and probably your old SL-1200 as well.

Belt-drive advocates would counter that the belt does a very good job of isolating the platter from such vibrations. My opinion: The best examples of both technologies work very well.

What else is going on to bring the XD1's price—without a tonearm—to €150,000, or $177,435 at the current exchange rate as I write this? (Cynics will reply, "profiteering.") As with his tonearm designs (footnote 3).

Gomez seemingly suffers no price contraints in his efforts to increase rigidity and decrease unwanted vibrational energy. After all, what is vinyl playback but the transduction of vibrational energy into electrical energy? And what does the most damage to that transduction than the creation and/or transmission of extraneous vibrations?

The extensive mechanical and electrical modifications performed on the Technics motor elements include an all-new, internally mounted platform that greatly increases both system stability and isolation. There's a purpose-built, massive, three-point supporting bracket that provides "accurate, residual stress-free coupling." (We should all be so lucky.) The bracket connects to the turntable chassis through a high-area, friction-damped surface.

I remember, though not well, seeing in a presentation a comparison between the SP-10's stock motor's support system and the system Gomez has produced. The first seemed an afterthought; the second, a fortress.

A "preloading" system further increases the motor assembly's rigidity. The stator (the stationary part of the rotating system) couples rigidly to the chassis at three points above the motor bracket, adding a critical increase in stiffness. The couplings are preloaded after the motor is assembled in the turntable chassis and then locked, to maintain the settings indefinitely.

SAT also developed a motor-damping system, located at strategic points around the stator and said to reduce high-frequency vibrations that would negatively affect resolution. Because the damping causes the motor to vibrate less, it can more accurately rotate the platter. Gomez told me that the XD1's mechanical design is a "determinant factor in the resolution and dynamics conveyed by this turntable."

1220acorn.controller

Gomez places the control electronics in an outboard chassis machined from a single block of aluminum, sitting on 10Hz-and-up isolation feet. This heavy chunk of machined aluminum must surely reduce airborne disturbances, and those feet will eliminate most structure-borne vibrations. Plus, the chassis complements the turntable's aesthetics.

1220acorn.arm1

The tonearm supplied with the XD1 continues the original arm's CF1 designation; now it is either the CF1-9Ti (9") or the CF1-12Ti (12"). The 9" version I received appears outwardly identical to the original CF1 arm but adds a titanium tube running through the armtube; the original carbon-fiber armtube was already superstiff. In addition, the CF1's removable carbon-fiber headshell had been stiffened at the joint with an aluminum frame not found on the original SAT arm. In the new arm, the aluminium in that frame has been replaced by titanium.

1220acorn.headshell

For buyers of the XD1, the additional stiffness comes at a moderately stiffer price. XD1 buyers pay €50,000 for the CF1-09Ti; at today's exchange rate, that's approximately $59,000. The standard CF1-09 costs about $56,000. Purchased separately—to install on your Rega P3, perhaps—the CF1-09Ti costs €76,000, or approximately $90,000. The 12" version, if you buy it with the turntable, costs €60,000 ($74,000), and if you buy it separately, €80,000 ($94,500). (Sorry, your Rega P3 can't accommodate a 12" arm.) The standard CF1-12 currently costs $71,000. The price difference reflects Gomez's priorities. He told me he prefers to sell the Ti arm to buyers of the XD1.

The isolation system, chassis, and tri-leg structure
The XD1's price includes a custom, low-profile, Minus K–based "negative stiffness" isolation platform—one of two components that constitute the turntable's dual-complementary isolation system (footnote 4).

The Minus K provides a very high level of isolation from 1.5Hz to 100Hz. Multielastomer-based suspension modules, matched to the turntable's mass and built into the XD1's three legs, provide isolation above 100Hz. They can be replaced with modules of different calibration if a heavier platter or tonearm becomes available. The feet also allow for precise platter leveling.

The high-density monoblock chassis, machined from a single piece of a magnesium-aluminum-silicon alloy, also provides isolation. Gomez says that several sharply machined edges along the chassis and leg contours diffract sound waves, reducing their sonic impact. Smaller curved, chamfered surfaces replace the large, flat surfaces found on most turntables.

The three massive legs were designed via Finite Element Analysis simulation and VDoE (Virtual Design of Experiments) technology, which you can learn more about on Google once you scroll past the Virginia Department of Education.

A unique armboard–turntable interface
A "key" type "drop in" system, stiffened with bolts, produces what Gomez claims is a 100% accurate, rigid interface between the two armboard "pods" and the side of the chassis. The design produces repeatably reliable geometry: With an arm and cartridge preinstalled on an extra armboard, you can install it in minutes and be sure of accurate alignment.

A platter matter
The XD1's standard platter weighs 26.5lb; the vacuum hold-down version weighs 33lb. Both are precision-machined from a "precipitation-aged Mg-Si-Al alloy" similar to what's used to produce the chassis. Both feature tall sections that "nest" the top platter and a flywheel ring of Swedish brass.


Footnote 1: Swedish Analog Technologies, Gothenburg, Sweden. Tel: (46) 736 846 452. Web: www.swedishat.com.

Footnote 2: To learn more about the stock SP-10R, see my interview with Technics CTO/Chief Engineer Tetsuya (Tony) Itani, which I conducted at the 2017 Tokyo Audio Show when the SP-10R was still in prototype.

Footnote 3: You can read about Gomez's approach to designing tonearms in the review of his original arm here.

Footnote 4: You can read an interview with the inventor, Dr. David Platus here.

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
volvic's picture

Just when you think vinyl reproduction cannot possibly advance any further you read this review. Would love to one day hear this turntable with recordings I am familiar with. Love the looks.

Anton's picture

This turntable was predicted in 2007...

Other than being overly optimistic regarding when it would happen, and the rate of "high end" price inflation, the rest seems pretty spot on...

https://www.stereophile.com/content/you-heard-it-here-firstdirect-drive-will-become-hip-and-again-high-end-audio-1

Glotz's picture

Full-on Phono Boner!

Also - do lasers shoot out of the tonearm like a Droideka from Star Wars?

Anton's picture

During a drought, it can walk on land between bodies of water.

acresverde's picture

Was there any sonic penalty for replay sans vacuum hold down? At 38K euro, I feel that feature needs to demonstrate its worth.

Michael Fremer's picture

One of the biggest benefits is that it can flatten many (but not all) edge-warped records. However, because of the lips, there was no way to compare with and without vacuum....without changing platters.

Ortofan's picture

... achieved when no constraints are placed on development, manufacturing and/or resale costs.
But, what sort of turntable and tonearm could Mr. Gomez produce if it were to be sold for only a few thousand dollars, instead of hundreds of thousands?

volvic's picture

I’d be curious to see what he could do.

a.wayne's picture

The Turntable Technics would have made if they were serious ..!

QSYSOPR's picture

Please do not feel personally attacked or offended, but the price is just ridiculous. For the price of the turntable and the tonearm one could buy a Bentley Continental GT which has much more sophisticated technique in it than this turntable.

PAR's picture

If you can afford this turntable the price is not likely to be of consequence. Why would you want to buy a Bentley Continental GT instead? You've already got one !

QSYSOPR's picture

OK you got me ;-)

thatguy's picture

I think the price probably makes it more attractive for those that would buy it. It brings exclusivity.

I do have to agree with the first post though that the price is crazy when you compare the technology and materials that go into a car that would be the same price. But to the person that would buy this it is about like a 'normal' person buying a $200 turntable, and for some like a normal person buying a candy bar from a vending machine. There are some drastically different versions of reality in this world.

Michael Fremer's picture

You do realize that's what people outside of our hobby say about everything priced above Sonos?

QSYSOPR's picture

This really isn't a satisfactory answer when it comes to putting the price right. I admit that I did not hear the record player and therefore cannot say anything about its quality. But I also have no doubts about the sound merits of the device. You will surely have enjoyed every minute with the device. But that can't stop me from classifying the price of the device in comparison to other products. Exclusivity cannot be a criterion. Snobbery does not help further and stupidity is also a form of exclusivity. What would you say if the device cost $ 500,000?

ChrisS's picture

...whatever they want.

It's equally stupid to charge $10.

If you can't afford it, walk away.

PAR's picture

...to me there is a serious ergonomic issue. I can imagine lots of sessions where only one side of a disc is played. Why? " When the record side is finished playing, you insert a supplied mini-Torx screwdriver into a tiny release valve on the other side of the platter, allowing air back in via those tiny holes; you may now remove the record. "

How many times is a mini-Torx screwdriver going to be mislaid or fall down the back of the equipment rack etc? This really seems a less then optimal solution in a turntable where everything should be as good as is possible. IMO the vacuum release mechanism needs to be a wholly integral part of the 'table. The idea of inserting something into a tiny release valve begs a question both in regard to ergonomics and in regard to the likely real life longevity of such a valve, accessed twice for every LP played.

Anton's picture

Most audiophiles never turn over a record, anyway.

Leaving "Jazz at the Pawnshop" fixed to the platter in a way that requires the use of a tool to remove it may actually be considered a feature to them.

"I'd love to play you my RCA especially shaded dog pressing of 'Gaîté Parisienne' for you, but, as you can see, 'Jazz at the Pawnshop' seems to be permanently affixed, for as to maximize the fidelity, don't ya know."

__

I think the most common condition for audiophile records for sale should read: "Side A, mint to mint minus on tracks one and two, mint +++ for tracks after. Side B, mint +++ appears to have never been played."

Besides, why fuss and worry about the wrench and the valve, that is for one's trusty man-servant to deal with as he plays your records for you, your majesty!

PAR's picture

Yes, audiophiles that are really not interested in music , only in the sound it makes.

Some years ago I was having a conversation with one of the UK's better known audio dealers. He was reminiscing about the time in the 1970s when he was a Linn and Naim dealer. At the time the two companies between them produced an active system which was just about the most expensive system you could then buy in this country. Around the cost of a family saloon car ( shows you how high end prices have moved since).

When he installed the system he found that the purchaser only owned 12 or so records. Ten years later he revisited the same customer to add a CD player to the system. The customer still owned only the same 12 records.

Rodan's picture

I'm with you, PAR! Given the obvious thought and effort that went into the design of the SAT turntable, I found Gomez's implementation of the vacuum hold-down feature singularly inelegant and user-unfriendly (at least as described), especially given the €38K upcharge (that's over $45K at today's exchange rate). Yes, that price increment includes a different platter, but I mean really.

There are a fair number of turntables that feature vacuum hold-down and not one of them, as far as I know, sports such a kludgy approach. Usually, you press a button to engage the vacuum, play the disc, then press the button to disengage the vacuum to remove the disc from the platter. Check it out for yourself: it's not some mysterious new technology (I believe Michael's Caliburn uses vacuum hold-down). My main turntable has vacuum hold-down and it's a breeze to use. I know we of the analog species perform certain rituals (more or less arcane, depending how obsessive the patient) when we prepare to spin our LPs; however, I'm not sure that I'd want to subject myself to SAT's vacuum hold-down procedure no matter how rich I was.

All of that said, I believe vacuum hold-down is undeniably worthwhile: it presents the stylus/cartridge/arm system with an absolutely flat surface to navigate. And, most importantly, you can hear the improvement vacuum hold-down makes to LP reproduction. Maybe SAT will develop a less Rube Goldberg-like vacuum system in a future iteration/revision.

Michael Fremer's picture

By avoiding having to draw vacuum through the bearing, it's actually more elegantly done than on many designs. Yes the Caliburn has vacuum hold down, but it does go through the bearing....

Michael Fremer's picture

By avoiding having to draw vacuum through the bearing, it's actually more elegantly done than on many designs. Yes the Caliburn has vacuum hold down, but it does go through the bearing....

Rodan's picture

Thanks for the reply! I'll defer to your knowledge and expertise as to the engineering elegance of the SAT vacuum feature; it still seems ludicrously nonergonomic to me. However, I wonder if there's any difference in the SAT vacuum's effectiveness versus those that operate through the bearing; e.g., your Caliburn. Also, don't cutting lathes use vacuum hold-down? I'm curious as to how the feature's implemented on those machines. As always, I enjoyed your review.

Michael Fremer's picture

During the entire review period I never misplaced the Torx screwdriver and had I, anything small enough to fit in the opening would have done the job. It's really not an issue. However, the real life longevity of such a valve very well might be. Perhaps Mr. Gomez will address that issue.

tonykaz's picture

...to get vinyl to sound good?

Should we take for granted that this reviewer's superlatives are justified ?

Mr.Harry Weisfeld of VPI compares his Player to his Tape Machines, should that be the Standard for comparison's sake ?

Is the purpose of a player to make vinyl sound better?

Is it arbitrary for a human reviewer to be the Ears of Judgement ?

A beautiful record player made by a Camera Company's Machine Shop, keep in mind that Hasselblad's Lenses are made by Fuji in Japan and the Lens is the heart of the camera. ( and their Cameras are all Digital )

Do we need a thorough musical evaluation of this player, accompanied by an in-dept comparison to VPI's best player combination ( like back when we compared Oracles to Linns and exactly how reviewers compare loudspeakers and amplifiers now-a-days )?

This beautiful player might be the next great, lets find out, lets even have Mr.JA measure it!

Tony in Venice

ps. of course, a review like this is simply opinions. Are we politely nodding agreement?

Ortofan's picture

... the reference standard when evaluating analog disc playback equipment.

Recall the article by REG in the Absolute Sound relating the results of comparison tests between LP and master tape conducted with Doug Sax and Kavi Alexander. Their conclusion was that sound quality most closely matching that of the master tape was achieved when using a top-of-the-line MM cartridge from either Stanton or Audio-Technica. No MC cartridges need apply.

tonykaz's picture

The vast majority of 33.3 I've purchased, over my long life, were not ( NOT ) anywhere close to audiophile quality.

Back in the day, Record Companys churned out 33.3s in the millions. ( didn't we aspire to a "First pressing" ) ?

Small Labels did small runs of Quality but of not-so-great material. hmm. ( I had an outstanding BagPipe Album from Scotland )

Just now, the Chief Guy at VPI is doing research into outstanding 33.3 playback. There is a YouTube Video done in Harry's house where he shows his Tape machines and has an Electronics Designer delivering a MC step-up device. VPI is chasing accuracy, not improving the 33.3 Sound Quality. ( I think )

I was a VPI Dealer and kinda love the Company's integrity.

However,

I always strived to significantly improve Vinyl's Sound Quality, even to the extent of relying on Koetsu connected to Vinyl enhancing electronics i.e. Electrocompaniet.

Doug Sax...

I recall those guys and their modest phono cartridge selections. Can we have one of the many 33.3 guys do a proper comparison with these transducers?

( Mr.HR. is said to be evaluating of a small number of Audio-Technica phono cartridges for a Stereophile Published Review ) .

In terms of 33.3 Vinyl sound quality, Steve G the "Audiophiliac" just did an insightful Video comparing 33.3 playback sound quality to digital sound quality. I have never before heard a "useful" comparison between these two formats. ( I say "useful" because Steve has mastered the subtle intricacies of the "spoken" American English Audiophile Language ).

Can we please have a few more philosophies of the great Mentor: Andy Singer ?

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... "chasing" accuracy and "improving" sound quality?

See this review for a comparison between LP and CD.
https://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/pdf/at150mlx_review.pdf

For a thorough evaluation of a phono cartridge, see this test:
https://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/vinyl/audio-technica-vm760slc-phono-cartridge-review/

tonykaz's picture

I pursue better Sound Quality.

Bob Katz, the Mastering Engineer, goes to extraordinary length to achieve Accuracy in his Music Playback Equipment. He wants to hear EXACTLY what is playing.

I don't want to hear exactly, I want it to sound better. If I can. I'll even EQ for my own hearing deficiencies.

I won't suggest one is better than the other, just that one is more useful for a Pro Audio guy and one is better for a wandering shirt pocket gear music lover wanting a little more music high.

Steve G. says vinyl sounds better if it was Analog from the start. I'll suggest that Vinyl gear is mostly designed to make 33.3 vinyl sound better than it actually sounds on a neutral ProAudio Mastering Rig.

Audiophile gear is known to sound better than Pro Audio gear ( the Pro guys tell me ) although Pro Audio Gear can sound outstanding.

I don't want to get all twisted up in this 33.3 stuff. The Vinyl guys can have it. I'm a memory card audiophile although I have admiration for Chad Kassem and his work.

Tony in Venice

Michael Fremer's picture

I compare the two all of the time.

tonykaz's picture

Thank you for mentioning.

Tony in Venice

PeterPani's picture

Since I own top notch r2r equipment and a lot of 15 ips 2-tr tapes, I can tell, regarding old mono recordings, yes. The better a recording is done the more MM equalls the tape. Overproduced recordings (not the early stereo ones) are different. In replay you must try to suck every information out of the media. Here MC preforms better (if you get everything! on the reproducing system right). So, I can agree MM is closer to tape, if the recording is done right in recording the substance of the music. MC is better for brainless recorded commercial mass products. So, you need both!

Michael Fremer's picture

There is really no comparison between the SAT and VPI arms. Not even close. Nor is the cost even close, but that's another story.

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for writing,

I think that I can understand your position and your opinions.

I'm referring to Mr. Weisfeld comparing his Player to his Master tapes and his Pro Tape machines.

It isn't even a question as to which one of you two is the higher authority, is it?

This is all about personal opinions.

My experience is that VPI has been consistent in delivering reliable quality.

Hmm, this SAT device might meet my agonising pursuit for better sound quality but I suspect the Phono Cartridge Transducers will be the providers of endless 33.3 nirvana.

I'll accept that you experienced what you say that you experienced.

I appreciate a good working Arm and will re-work the hell out of em to get them to a competency .

Tony in Venice

Michael Fremer's picture

You are my favorite troll! Particularly since you make the least sense in your criticisms of my reviews and your passive aggressivity is the best !!!!!!! Much appreciated.

JHL's picture

Should we take for granted that constantly gaslighting the reader in these comments threads makes for any more desirable outcome?

Jeez, Tony, give it a rest already. It's an audio magazine, not a armchair ethics and psych round table.

MatthewT's picture

It's interesting to see how many ways he can say the same thing over and over.

tonykaz's picture

Just like all these "paint by number" formatted Audio reviews we're reading ?

Are you offering something inspirational or insightful ?

Show your word skills.

Tony in Venice

Michael Fremer's picture

Mostly "paint by numbers". Certainly more so than are my reviews.

tonykaz's picture

Again, thank you for writing.

I suppose that my writings are unabashedly critical but purposeful.

I wouldn't bother thinking about you and your workings if you weren't well worth the investment.

I like you enough to write about you.

and...

you typify the customer base that I once had. ( 1980s )

In my mind: 33.3 is the long tail of the Audiophile Hobby as it meanders into the 21st Century and beyond.

My great wonderment revolves around how these Giant Disc. Collections will be preserved and made widely available to the Billions of eager music lovers in 2050 ?

Thank you for carefully Curating Music's vibrant Culture. ( and the others like Joe Bussard, K.Micallef, Chad, The Vinyl Junkie, etc )

Tony in Venice

JHL's picture

Indeed. To TK all roads lead to TK...

CG's picture

Help me here...

I compared this system's Platterspeed app measurement to that of the Rega Planar 10. The actual numbers don't describe a giant difference. But, the uniformity of the peak to peak frequency excursion of the SAT system is much better than the Rega's.

Is that what Mikey was referring to with his "Can you hear what's illustrated there? I'm thinking so." comment?

Enrique Marlborough's picture

Fantastic this, yeah! it sounds!

Will it be better than a TT Origin Live .. with the new The Renown Tonearm...

Gojira's picture

Convincing reporting and documentation of the technical background, why this turntable is so good. I would be interested in whether Mr. Fremer has tested the TechDAS Air Force Zero, if so, how can it be compared with the XD 1? If the XD 1 were better, it would be a steal compared to the Air Force Zero's price. Anyway, I wish I was a millionaire, now I knew what to buy.

Anton's picture

If you were a millionaire, the table and arm alone would set you back 30% of your net worth...before you toss a needle on the arm or hook it up to the rest of your system.

Assuming you are not a millionaire now, would you still give up 30% of your net worth for this?

Ortofan's picture

... priced at a (mere) $22K.

Michael Fremer's picture

Is of course a beautiful piece of well-engineered machinery but sonically these are in different leagues.

JHL's picture

They're not interested in any of these tables, MF. It's just noise.

I hope you continue to review bleeding-edge tables forever. They have to be heard to be believed.

Ortofan's picture

... have you heard and how much are you prepared to spend in order to acquire one (or more) of them?

Which turntable(s) do you presently own?

JHL's picture

...neurosis, what's served by constantly chalking up the perceived peccadillos of others? Over their hifi's, of all things?

Ortofan's picture

... costs an order of magnitude more than another is in a different league sonically.

Is the sound quality ten times better than that of the SME, or the $20K Technics?
Is it a hundred times better than that of a $2K Technics?
Where is the point of diminishing returns for an analog disc player?

Are you going to buy an SAT turntable?

mcrushing's picture

I've also been wondering if Mike's AF Zero review will come to pass.

He's a bit cagey in mentioning what's about to arrive at his house in this review... If it's happening, Mike, when will you be able to spill it?

Michael Fremer's picture

Coming soon here, but one other competitive turntable review comes first...

volvic's picture

Dying to hear more reviews on this particular model.

mcrushing's picture

Excellent, looking forward to both those reviews, Mike!

Michael Fremer's picture

Coming soon.....I'm making space for it now

Gojira's picture

But then it would be good if you could test this turntable with a tonearm from SAT to judge the Air Force Zero perfectly.
I imagine that Mr. Gomez will be right in his decision to use a direct drive on his XD 1. The AF Zero uses a Belt Drive. I am very curious about this test! Will it be published on Stereophile online or in the print version only?

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

FredisDead's picture

This thing is butt-ugly.Coyote-ugly. Chew your arm off ugly. It has the same design as a moon lander. Unlike the moon landings, I think this really is a hoax. Mike fka Mikey seems to worship Mr. Gomez. Granted I have not heard it. Is that not part of Mikey's genius? Who has? Let's go ahead and pretend in never-neverland it is all that Mikey says it is. How many records are up to the level of advertised playback? Like skim milk, 2%? Udderly ridiculous.

Michael Fremer's picture

Of course if you think this is "butt-ugly", that's your opinion probably not shared by anyone but maybe by a coyote. However, it is absolutely no a "hoax" of a product. I do not worship Mr. Gomez. I certainly appreciate his engineering expertise and both the build quality and sonic performance of his tone arms. I find that all of my records sound better than ever on this and on every great turntable I've reviewed and owned. Do you even have a turntable? Just curious....

FredisDead's picture

I do. The same two decks Art Dudley owned, but hyped up versions with Reed 3P arms. Saying that I am the only person in this hobby to believe it ugly says something about your tendency to hype and show bias. News flash-the Caliburn Cobra tonearm you used to love looks like what my grandma and yours would call a schmeckle. Or perhaps a putz! I don't mean to antagonize you or play provocateur. You acknowledged Mr. Gomez's previous efforts at motor units were not very impressive. Now he has it all figured out? The truth is that tiny operations have no choice but to charge their customers for their own lack of in-house production and their resulting inefficiency. They also lack the size needed for true R+D. The result in an overpriced Frankenstein like this.

volvic's picture

Insulting a designer who built something this precise by calling his work a hoax is childish. I certainly do not have the knowledge to build something like this. I respect and admire someone who puts his experience to make something that pushes the limits to what we are used to out of sheer passion. I tip my hat off to him and wish we had even more people like Mr. Gomez.

Jim Austin's picture

Granted I have not heard it.

I'm considering a new rule for comments on Stereophile posts: Don't be boring.

The XD1 is what it is--and what it is is obvious. It is an exceptionally well-engineered machine, produced in "boutique" fashion (which is to say, small quantity, with few of the cost-saving advantages that can come from production on a larger scale), which leads--as it does in similar products--to a price that is inarguably very high. There is a market for this sort of thing; otherwise, it would not be produced.

Of greater interest to me, as Stereophile's editor: It's an example of what can be achieved when price is no object. As such, it is of interest to many readers who would never be willing to pay the price of entry, even if they could afford it.

My wife tells me that when she was a little girl, she was taught never to say that a food at the table "tastes yucky." She was instead to say, "It is not to my taste." I suggest you embrace a similar approach because, as others have pointed out, aesthetic tastes differ. As such, one person's opinion--yours or mine--is of no particular interest.

I was kidding of course about the "boring" standard for comments; I just wanted to make the point that continued harping on these tired old themes is indeed boring. I suggest you raise your game.

But in labeling this product a "hoax," you've crossed a line. If you wish to make specific criticisms of this or other product--including high prices--you are free to do so (even if it is boring). But in labeling it a hoax, you are impugning the motives and character of the designer while providing no evidence to support your opinion. That sort of behavior is much more common among those who post anonymously--or pseudonymously. It is, as I have often said and written, like yelling threats and insults out the window of a fast-moving car.

I'm going to leave your message up as an example of what's not acceptable here. If there's some aspect of the motor design, or the bearing system, or the vacuum hold-down system (others have offered legitimate criticisms of a system that requires a wrench to change records)--have at it. But unsupported criticisms of motives and character--of fellow posters, Stereophile writers, product designers--of anyone--will not be tolerated.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

JHL's picture

...is not unlike impugning the motives and character of the reviewer, the editor, and ultimately, the owner.

It's a type of materialistic virtue signalling, probably powered by envy and a degree of contempt. It projects perceived faults onto strangers.

It's useless for high end audio. It's like harassing diners on the street until they profess your political slogan.

YNWaN's picture

Firstly, may I say thank you for the review, as always it was most interesting.

However, a number of issues about the design of the turntable strike me. SAT are obviously sensitive to the idea that the deck is just a Technics in a party dress. This isn’t surprising though given that their ‘extensive’ motor modifications really sound like just a posh mounting plate. Also, there’s no mention of the main bearing at all - is this the standard Technics design (one must presume so)?

Finally, the vacuum platter; as others have said it’s ridiculous that you need a screwdriver to release a record! Vacuum platters are not a new thing and there have been numerous problems with them. Problems with holding the vacuum, problems with evacuating the air evenly, problems with less than totally flat records, problems with flexible seals etc. The idea of having small holes in the platter is also a well trodden path and certainly nothing new. Michael, I know you are aware of all of this and I wish you had discussed it more in your review.

Regards, Mark

YNWaN's picture

I was looking through a few of Michael’s previous turntable reviews and, in particular, that of the Döhmann Helix One Mk2:

Quote:

However, the Helix One is far more than a massive platter spinning atop a Minus K isolation platform. My Continuum Caliburn set the 'table on top of a Minus K platform, producing many benefits, including in particular effective vibration isolation—but it also resulted in a bit of mass instability, an issue addressed in the Helix One design by integrating it within, not below, the turntable. This arrangement allows the 'table's mass to be distributed around and below the platform to produce better stability when the platter spins.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/dohmann-helix-one-mk2-turntable

It’s interesting that MIchael mentions this high mass relative to the support as a problem because the description of “a massive platter spinning atop a Minus K isolation platform” precisely describes the SAT turntable. In fact, the relative centre of gravity is particularly high with this turntable - certainly much more so than the Continuum Caliburn referenced.

scottsol's picture

The specs of the XD1 are less than 100 times better than the very similar Crosley C3, yet the price is some 25,000 times greater. I smell a rat.

https://images.app.goo.gl/stPRUrrj7eJuyfqZA

volvic's picture

I believe there are other variables that go into producing an item and the associated price attached to it than simply a few measurements. Your reasoning has been debunked on these very pages many times over.

scottsol's picture

Perhaps.

On the other hand, unlike some posters, I do have a sense of humour,

volvic's picture

Ah yes, getting the nuance sometimes is tough to pick up online. Cheers! NL

Jack Pot's picture

How can we, mere mortal audiophiles, reach the steps of Audio Nirvana without breaking the bank?
1. attend life performances, if possible, without electronic amplification: in pre covid19 times, I much enjoyed watching and listening to buskers at street corners. I always tipped them generously. Next step up: jazz venues and concert halls. Cost: next to nothing to a few hundred euros/yr. Start young! It will mould your sonic preferences in a most pleasing way.
2. at home, play vinyl-analogue or SACD-digital: they come close in “feel” to live performances. Both media make the subjective transposition from home reproduction to live performance effortless, almost second nature. CD is a very remote 3rd choice; streaming is still far away from achieving its potential. Life is just too short to bother with them.
3. the problem with SACD is the massive amount of resources that must be spent on auxiliaries (power management, racks, bases, footers etc…). These resources also benefit vinyl, but vinyl already sounds “right” (see 2. above) with modest outlays in auxiliaries. This is what makes vinyl such a cheap alternative to SACD!
4. On a limited budget? Go for vinyl. Ignore the silly propositions. If your taste was moulded by “non-amplified” life performances, you will immediately “identify” products that sound “right”. Companies like Clearaudio offer a vast selection of turntables that can be upgraded/ traded-in over the years. None is a “wrong” choice. I ended-up with a Master Innovation with parallel tracking-arm. A good audio-dealer is a must.
5. But first: invest in power management and racks. A good power conditioner will do miracles, and yes, so will good power cables. Worth every penny. Limit the number of equipment you have to power-up to limit the number of cables required. And sit your equipment on proper bases. They are transformative. Spend at least 50% of your budget on what I call the “foundation”. And: equipment comes and goes; good foundation lasts much, much longer. I confess that I bought many of my cables (power, interconnects, loudspeaker cables) 2nd hand. Also, my first “high-end” integrated amplifier was 2nd hand (Burmester). Again, only a good audio-dealer will help you with trade-ins.
6. Speakers come last: get “upstream” right, before going “downstream”. Speakers are so subjective, and… content dependent! Always audition “upstream” with the best speakers available at the shop. I somehow never got used to headphones.
7. some cheap and not-so cheap tweaks which even some audiophiles with High-End systems are unaware of: (i) clean the pick-up needle every 5 discs (ii) brush your records to remove dust before you play them (iii) experiment with record mats (iv) clean your records in an ultrasound cleaner or equivalent (see my comments on Fremer’s review of the Kirmuss) (v) replace the equipment fuses by audiophile fuses (so simple! and such improvement!) (vi) always use the brilliant Furutech Destat III before playing a record (15 s. job)
A system based on vinyl, a judicious mix of 2nd hand and new, emphasis on foundation and the application of some remarkably simple tweaks will land you right there, at the steps of Audio Nirvana. Without breaking the bank. It is a pity that reviewers so seldom discuss these subjects.

Enjoy the music!

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