Clearaudio Concept record player Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn, Cobra, and Castellon turntable, tonearm, and stand; Graham Phantom II, Kuzma 4Point tonearms; Ortofon A90 cartridge.
Digital Sources: Playback Designs MPS-5 SACD/CD player–DAC, BPT-modified Alesis Masterlink hard-disk recorder, Sooloos music server, Pure Music software.
Preamplification: Ypsilon VPS-100, Einstein Turntable's Choice, Lejonklou Kinki & Kinki 3 phono preamplifiers; darTZeel NHB-18NS preamplifier.
Power Amplifier: Musical Fidelity Titan.
Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Specialties MAXX 3
Cables: Phono: Hovland/Graham MG2 Music Groove. Interconnect: Fono Acustica Armónico, Stealth Sakra, TARA Labs Zero, ZenSati. Speaker: Fono Acustica Armónico, TARA Labs Omega Gold, ZenSati. AC: Isoclean 1000, Shunyata Research King Cobra Helix CX, TARA Labs The One Cobalt.
Accessories: Shunyata Research V-Ray II Reference, Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0, TARA Labs Power Screen power conditioners; Oyaide AC wall box & receptacles; ASC Tube Traps, RPG BAD & Abffusor panels; Finite Elemente Pagode, HRS SXR stands; Symposium Rollerblocks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Furutech DeMag & deStat LP treatments; Loricraft PRC4 Deluxe, Nitty Gritty 2.5Fi-XP, VPI HW-17F record-cleaning machines.—Michael Fremer

Clearaudio Electronic GmbH
US distributor: Musical Surroundings
5662 Shattuck Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 547-5006

volvic's picture

Going to stick my neck out but I have to think that the Concept would probably sound as good as a Linn LP12 Majik (the basic version) for less money than the Linn costs, which shows what great value and quality entry level turntables have become.  I know some will disagree but as someone who has owned an LP12 this has been my observation over the years.  Here come the arrows!

soulful.terrain's picture


...that clean Bergmann look! Love it!

WillWeber's picture

If done well, simplicity has a lot to offer, and little to go wrong. Or compromise.

This Concept design appears elegant; as yet its reliability is unknown.

The price/performance gets good marks from reviewers who mostly rave about this ‘table. I wonder though about the tone arm suspension. It is indeed a simple design with few parts and little to wear (sounds kinda naked). What is the tradeoff? Is it firm to its tangential holding assignment (now stop those thoughts)? Or does it react to the changing drag of needle-in-groove as the music density ebbs and flows (sorry)? If so, this would be the relative equivalent of micro speed changes of the record, which might account for the slight lack of dynamics and transient attack Mr. Fremer reports.

BTW: My wild guess is that anti-skating is provided by torsion of the filament, which would indeed be a touchy adjustment on the anchor end.

Simple and elegant; I am tempted at this price point. Just wondering how it compares to other giant killers near this class like the VPI Scout, Rega P5, Pro-Ject Xperience, etc. Been holding off on vinyl hardware to see how the hi-def downloads market goes, ever since my trusty old Dual 1229Q had its final flight. That old bird was the inverse of simplicity, an alternate fashion of elegance, sorely missed by my vinyls.

Stephen Scharf's picture

I have a Concept and it is a fantastic TT for the money. Most importantly, it sounds like music. The arm is fantastic, and IMO, worth $1500 alone. Hands down the best TT for $1500 or under and it punches way above it's weight class; sounds better than a P5 and a Scout if you ask me; almost as good as my Michell Gyro SE MKII/SME V deck. Fremer's review is accurate, and if he says the Concept doesn't plumb the depths of detail and weight of LPs the way the best TTs do, it's beause those TTs cost 20X to 100X as much as a Concept. Remember, his reference is a Continuum Caliburn, for goodness sake. 

Compared to your Dual, it will rip the arms and legs off your Dual, and blow the rest into the weeds. 

WillWeber's picture

Thanks Stephen for your feedback,

You do point to my problem with Mr. Fremer's review. His bar is so high that nothing without rockets can scale over. I'm sure he is accurate, but he does not compare the table to earthly models. However, I am glad he was assigned this review, that alone is an indication of the respect that the Concept must have among the staff, and if he has only minor complaints that's quite significant. And yup, I didn't expect that my 35 year old Dual would compete (now defunct, already dismembered after encountering a careless piano tuner) . You see, I was not planning on spending big to replace my analog rig until the HD digital market shakes out. But this new table may change the equation, and has me rethinking. Your comments are helpful.

What cartridge did you put on your Concept?



Stephen Scharf's picture

Hi Will, 

My Concept is actually a dedicated mono only deck, so I am using a Grado Reference Sonata1 mono cartridge on it. I have heard it with my stereo Grado Reference Sonata (not the 1 series) and it was very good with that, dynamic, full, punchy with excellent bass and very musical but not the last word in detail. The 1-series Grados are even better, so I expect a Grado Reference Sonata1 stereo cart would also be excellent (the newest series 1 Grados have much better detail, smoothness and upper octave air, a big improvement over the original series). The Concept is also reputed to work very well with the Clearaudio Maestro Wood, and the Benz wood-bodied moving coils, so I expect any of those would be a great match. I also expect it would work well with one of the Soundsmith wood-bodied moving iron designs that have a medium compliance cantilever. 

Get it; you will not be disappointed. It's a *killer* table for the money. 




WillWeber's picture

Thanks Stephen,

The Maestro and the Benz Woods are actually at the top of my list. Nice to have some confirmation about this. Here we apparently have one of the "best" MM compared to a very fine MC, my amp can take either. Wish I could audition them on my system. It's very detailed and revealing, yet smooth as silk, musical transcendance. It would not be satisfied with lesser groove moves.

Interesting news about the new series Grados, I am not so keen on the traditional Grado softness. So I will check out the latest.



Et Quelle's picture

Maybe with a cart that cost more than the table, you will experience that slam. Isn't a table just a set for a cart to perform? Goldring Legacy or Transfiguration Axia?