Analog Corner #304: SAT XD1 record player Page 2

The platter/turntable interface is designed with a specific gap, intended to create a laminar flow for constant drag and more stable speed. A tiny, exacting gap between the platter rim and the chassis—which if you ever get to see in action is an act of machining precision few manufacturers would dare attempt—prevents air flow and exterior interference, keeping the air trapped between the platter and the chassis undisturbed.

The platter's top layer is made from a "proprietary advanced technical polymer infused with carbon-fiber micro powder and UHM carbon nanotubes," which "keeps magnetic field away from cartridge for maximum resolution (footnote 5) and provides levels of damping not possible with other material formulations." Also proprietary is a "special micro-ridge profile with controlled pitch and height, designed to provide unprecedented record coupling to the platter."

Most vacuum hold-down systems require air to pass through the spindle and bearing, which requires bearing modification, a seal, and in many systems, constant suction. Gomez opted for a passive system that is self-contained and requires no air to pass through the spindle and bearing (see Setup and use, below). SAT also provides a firm-coupling, smooth-operating, precision-adjustable record clamp.

The actuation mechanism—even the aluminum buttons—is designed and manufactured by SAT specifically for this turntable. SAT describes it as providing "a refined touch and a soft actuation with a silky smooth and delicate feedback." I can vouch for that. Considering the 'table's cost, buyers are entitled to an ultraprecise, sensuous-to-the-touch interface—and they get it.

1220acorn.spinclose

Setup and use
The XD1 was designed to be easy to install for one strong or two average-strength people. When you buy this costly turntable, a dealer will install it. Mine was installed by Maier Shadi of The Audio Salon in Santa Monica, California, SAT's American importer. I set up the cartridges of course: first the Ortofon MC Century, then the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL.

Here's how to use the vacuum hold-down system. SAT supplies a small vacuum pump housed in a matching black-anodized chassis, to which is attached a long piece of hose terminated with a metal nipple. Put a record on the platter, then flip the pump switch and insert the nipple into an elastomer-ringed outlet on the side of the platter. In about 10 or 15 seconds, the air is evacuated through tiny holes atop the platter. Then you just turn off the pump and screw on the clamp—or you can clamp first and then vacuum.

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. SAT supplies a transparent platter cover to be used when you're not playing records, to keep it clean. I use a sticky roller to clean the platter before playing my first record of the day.

If you can afford the XD1, you can probably afford the extra €38,000 for the vacuum hold-down system, which brings the XD1's price, with a CF1-09Ti tonearm, to €238,000—or, in today's dollars, $281,970. That's about the same as a Lamborghini Huracán EVO Spyder, which seats two.

How does it sound?
When I reviewed the SP-10R in the OMA cast-iron plinth fitted with either the CF1-09 or Schröder CB arm and OMA's crystalline graphite mat, I wrote that it was the first turntable package since the Continuum Caliburn arrived an astonishing 15 years ago that I felt was almost its equal. It was an easy-to-recommend combination, especially given the considerable price difference, but it was not, ultimately, a Caliburn-beater.

1220acorn.side

A few 'tables I've reviewed through the years have topped the Continuum Caliburn in one way or another, but none matched its combination of enticing sonic attributes, the ones that hooked me in the first place and kept me hooked for a decade and a half.

I've heard various XD1 iterations at shows and demos as Gomez refined his design. The earlier demos were underwhelming, especially considering the price. But one evening at Munich High End 2019, after hours, as I spun records that I'd shlepped halfway around the world for a crowd in the Marten Audio room, I said to myself, "That might be the best-sounding turntable I've ever heard!" One attendee later said it was the best evening of his life.

In my room at home, the fully finished XD1 whipped the Caliburn in every sonic way. Easily.

But before we get to that, look at the Platterspeed app's measurements SAT's: the XD1's are superior to even the SP-10R's. The variations in speed are smaller. The amplitude is lower in the low-pass–filtered green-line ripple. Can you hear what's illustrated there? I'm thinking so.

1220acorn.meas

At first, for a few weeks, I simply enjoyed the XD1/CF1-09Ti combo with the Ortofon MC Century cartridge installed, hearing previously unheard bottom-end drive, extension, and tunefulness as well as seriously blacker backgrounds—something at which the Caliburn excelled. Virgil Fox-The Fox Touch (Crystal Clear CCS-7002 D2D) produced unmistakably superior and more muscular bass than I've ever heard here and an enormous soundstage that leapt out of the black.

Then I began a more methodical listen, keeping in mind that there are two variables here, the turntable and the tonearm (footnote 6). I played, and recorded in 24/96 PCM with my Lynx Hilo, a variety of tracks using the CF1-09/Lyra Atlas Lambda SL combo on the Caliburn, including the Alto Analogue Gil Evans masterpiece Out of the Cool (AA 008), The Ray Brown Trio's Soular Energy (Analogue Productions APJ-268-45), and an experimental 78rpm test pressing Classic Records produced in 1994 of an excerpt ("Troika") from Prokofiev's Lt. Kijé Suite (RCA LSC-2150), which Woody Allen used in his film Love and Death. (I think someone at last year's Florida Audio Expo fingered my 78rpm Pictures at an Exhibition. Please return it, no questions asked.)

Then I carefully moved the CF1-09 to the XD1's rear pod and made new recordings. That way I could directly and rapidly compare the Caliburn with the XD1. (Yes, these 24/96 files are good; no, they are not completely transparent to the source.)

Finally, I installed the Atlas Lambda SL on the CF1-09Ti and repeated the exercise. So now I had three versions of three tracks.

All of this only confirmed what I'd already heard, but now the CF1-09Ti tonearm's contribution was clear. Ray Brown's bass on "Teach Me Tonight" had a far more nimble and clean attack via the XD1 with either arm, as well as greater low-frequency extension and far faster and cleaner decay than the Continuum, which had an attractive, additive richness that by comparison sounded sluggish. No contest.

1220acorn.armpivot

The Out of the Cool and Lt. Kijé recordings confirmed what I heard live: With either arm, both recordings were far better served—timbrally, dynamically, and in terms of transient precision—by the XD1. And the bass was in another league.

On the Kijé, a sonically spectacular sleigh ride (especially at 78rpm), there are some deep timpani accents that I've been familiar with for decades. Yes, the IsoAcoustics feet improved what I heard through the Caliburn (via my Wilson Alexx loudspeakers, where the feet are), but through the XD1 the timpani slams went deeper and were far better focused and better separated from the rear-wall reverb. Instead of a diffuse "rumble," there was a rapid-attack image, a quick sustain, and an effervescent decay. Each hit decayed more quickly, which made them sound more real and less recorded. Their intensity surprised and startled compared to what I'd become accustomed to.

Was the XD1 merely a brash attacker, stingy with sustain and harmonic structure? Any fears I had of that were alleviated on the opening cymbal crash, which was sharp, explosive, and long-tailed, and via the "oompah" tubas and mellow horns that announce the young lieutenant. The timbral contrasts between the warm horns and the bright cymbals were greater than I can recall ever hearing on this recording.

The fast-moving "sleigh ride" section Allen used in his film features pizzicato strings, triangle, tambourine, sleigh bells, oboe, and finally a piccolo stating the theme. Comparing the three depictions of this section, the Continuum's was the warmest, the thundering timpani mushier and less well-defined, the cymbal crashes softer, and little evidence of the pressure wave produced by the air forced out from between the cymbals (something I'd not previously experienced before the XD1).

Through the Continuum, the pizzicato strings were softer and the triangle more velvety than metallic, with the individual strikes blending together. The oboe, too, was softer, and it lacked definition and presence. All this is in comparison, using a sonic magnifying glass.

All of this musical action was better defined in every way on the XD1, with either arm: wider dynamics, increased extension, superior timbral definition and resolution of inner detail. All of that was improved a few weeks ago when I installed the IsoAcoustics feet. Now it was magnified in intensity by the XD1.

Knowing the XD1 would be broken down and crated in a few days, I spent the final few evenings, well past 2 a.m., listening to as many familiar records as possible, each a new experience—producing not just previously hidden details but, in most cases, entirely new listening experiences.

That's not hyperbole. Decades of playing XTC's 1982 double-LP masterpiece English Settlement (UK Virgin V2223) on the four fine turntables I've owned since 1982 (Oracle Delphi, VPI TNT, Simon Yorke S7, and Continuum Caliburn) have left an indelible sonic impression: monster earthquake bass and drum thwacks in front of a hazy reverb envelope starting with the opening track, "Runaways," and continuing through "Ball and Chain," "Senses Working Overtime" (the single), and the pounding "Jason and the Argonauts." I know we're supposed to have short audio memories, but I can definitely hear drummer Terry Chambers pleasantly overwhelming the sonic picture on "Senses Working Overtime," as Andy Partridge sings "And I've got one, two, three, four, five ... senses working overtime." It's not until the breezy "Yacht Dance" on Side 2 that Chambers lays back so that you can hear his kit cleanly. On that track, it's Colin Moulding's bass that overwhelms.

Adding the SAT tonearm to the Caliburn tamed this picture somewhat. Then, on the SAT 'table, every drum and bass element was in its place for the first time—ever. They were smaller, deeper, far more powerful, and controlled; the attack, sustain, and decay occurred on time. This allowed previously overwhelmed, blurred, and buried instruments to emerge in a clarified mix that produced greater musical excitement and zero listening fatigue.

A (masked) friend came over with preconceived notions about how some of his favorite albums should sound. All of them were shattered. We compared the SAT to the Caliburn on "Norwegian Wood," from an original UK pressing. When Lennon sings "She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere," Ringo pounds his bass drum. The SAT 'table produced tight, insistent hits. The Caliburn's were soft and far less well defined.

The XD1 shares some sonic characteristics with Rega's revolutionary RP10 turntable: ultrafast, clean transients throughout the audible frequency range; tight, fast bass; revealing midrange transparency; and overall sonic stability and focus. All these characteristics result, apparently, from careful attention paid to structural rigidity and the removal or prevention of unwanted vibrational energy.

As good as the P10 is, it's not an SAT XD1. (Nor is the SL-1200, despite the fanboy adulation.)

Conclusion
Antivinyl audiophiles who have gotten this far are shaking their heads in disbelief that anyone would spend this amount of money to hear an old technology that they are certain is nothing but rumble, pops, clicks, and constricted dynamics. But the rest of us know the magic produced when old, familiar records get played on an upgraded analog front end. Nothing in the digital world compares to the experience—at least in my experience.

Everyone has experienced an upgrade where familiar music's meaning, long hidden in plain sight, suddenly gets exposed. The XD1 did that consistently. I'm still hearing in my head the XD1's playback of Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (ILPS 9309) and Bowie's Station to Station (RCA APL1-1327), thinking, "I've really just heard those records for the first time. Oh, there's a second musical event hiding behind the familiar first one that I used to think was all that was there."

There's more than one contender for best-sounding, best-built turntable in the world. Another stratospherically priced one is arriving in a few days, and still another is scheduled for 2021, COVID-19 (or a vaccine) willing. For now, though, sleep deprivation makes clear that the SAT XD1 with CF1-09Ti is the best-sounding, best-engineered, and best-built turntable that's been here. I'm so glad that I'm still here to experience it!


Footnote 5: In an email exchange, Gomez pointed out to me—it's true!—that even nonmagnetic conductors interact with a magnetic field, if it's moving. Try moving a magnet past an aluminum can suspended from a string—or search for "Lenz effect" on YouTube.—Editor

Footnote 6: In a way, there's a third: my system's forward leap in performance when I installed the IsoAcoustics footers and the CAD Ground Control units.

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

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