Kuzma Stabi turntable & Stogi tonearm Page 2

The Stabi's substantial dustcover is easily removed, though after playing records with and without it and hearing no appreciable difference in sound, I left it on and down for all subsequent listening sessions.

I was totally unprepared for the magnitude of difference I heard between my longstanding reference WTT and the newly installed Kuzma. Every sonic parameter that I placed stock in in assessing the performance of the WTT was redefined by the Kuzma. To say I was astounded would be an understatement. By the end of the first day of listening, I also felt the early tinges of guilt setting in, as I knew that the backlog of reviews I had promised JA were going to be even further delayed. I had favorite records with which to reacquaint myself first!

A then-frequent listening buddy and I were rendered speechless after the fine-line stylus of the Shiraz settled into the first grooves of my mint, promo copy of the El Norte soundtrack (Antilles IVA-4). I guess the silence from which the music arose struck us first—a silence which the WTT conveyed, though not to the same degree as its replacement. The lowered noise-floor of the Kuzma rivaled that of CD reproduction, yet what we heard (or, more accurately, felt and didn't hear) was significantly different from what we'd grown accustomed to with that format. This silence seemed darker, with more "there" there. It was less two-dimensional, less sterile—more, if you will, tangible. Uh-huh!

I know all you doubting Thomases will think I'm speaking in tongues or have spent too much time bareheaded in the California sun when I discuss a seemingly easily grasped concept such as silence using such words as "darkness," "thereness," and "tangibility." How can I describe a sensory phenomenon denoting an absence of sensation using qualitative terms? Simple. I just learned to listen more with my senses than my intellect. It works. In listening to El Norte, for example, it was easy to "visually" differentiate the several venues in which the recordings took place—the soundstage, the field, or the church—by the sense of "silence" unique to each of them, felt when the instruments or vocals stopped and the last decay of the notes faded away. Hmmmm. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Kuzma, more than any other turntable in my experience, was able to convey the "feel" of the venue in which a recording took place. Be it totally artificial (as found in much electronic music), completely natural (any Water Lily Acoustics recording), or somewhere in between (much popular music), I felt I was privy to the event not as a voyeur, but as a participant.

The Kuzma's soundstaging was as broad and as deep as I've heard, outperforming the WTT. If the WTT presented a view seen through a 28mm lens, the Kuzma widened the field of view to that of a 21mm lens. On all but the best "audiophile-approved" recordings, the WTT sounded congested compared to the Kuzma. With the latter as my analog source, I became keenly aware on recording after recording (audiophile or not) of musical information coming at me from well to the sides and far beyond the loudspeakers. It didn't take long for me to realize that playing records on the Kuzma was akin to doubling the size of my modest listening room! The question as to whether or not that presentation was "accurate" didn't enter my mind—I was too busy listening to and enjoying my records to worry about it. All I can say is that, given the spatial and sonic limitations imposed by my listening room, I never felt that the scale of a performance was sacrificed. Compromised? Perhaps. Nevertheless, the musical gestalt was always preserved (footnote 3).

Instrumental, vocal, and other images within the soundstage had well-defined outlines and were exceptionally well-focused. They were rock-solid and unwavering, presented in a near-holographic manner. For example, the opening drum-whacks on "Huanyo de Zampona," from El Norte, emanated from a precisely focused spot waaaaay back in the soundstage.

Just about any cut from the Emerald Forest soundtrack (Varèse Sarabande STV 81244) provided an object lesson in image specificity. The kaleidoscopic array of instrumental and vocal colors captured in the grooves of this magnificently recorded album hits your ears from all over, under, around, and through the huge soundstage. Each sound, be it a human voice or one or more of a myriad of strange and exotic Amazonian Indian percussion instruments, could be pinpointed in the mix with accuracy and ease—as if composer and musician Junior Homrich had handed me a placement diagram. Fine details were retrieved like crayfish being lifted out of murky pond-water in a nylon net.

I've listened to the title song on Andreas Vollenweider's Caverna Magica (...Under the Tree—In the Cave...) (CBS FM 37827) many, many times—not so much for the music content as for the sound. This recording is a box of sonic truffles, delighting the audiophile's ears much the same way the fungi equivalents delight the gastronome's palate. Neither the WTT nor the VPI Mk.IV (which preceded it in my system) drew me into the introductory "fanta-scape" as compellingly as the Kuzma did. I felt as though I was arm in arm with the anxious (and no doubt giddy) travelers as they entered Andreas's moist, mysterious grotto.

What really knocked me out, though, just as the effects ended and the music began, was my sudden awareness of the presence of a small thing, located about 2' above and in front of the right loudspeaker, that "fluttered" directly in front of my face and over to the left loudspeaker. That got my attention, and that of my two cockatiels, who, perched on my shoulders, were sharing that particular listening session with me.

Bass reproduction on the Kuzma was as good as I've ever heard in the past in my system—robust, full-bodied, and taut. Bass extension seemed limited only by the program material itself. For instance, the well-chosen notes of Charlie Haden's plucked acoustic bass on Rickie Lee Jones's early-'90s Pop Pop (Geffen GEFD 24426) rolled out of the loudspeaker's drivers to fill the room with rich, vibrant sound.

Pitch definition, articulation, and control were such that I could easily visualize the languid vibrations of the acoustic bass's worm-sized, dusty, low E-string. Here again, the Stabi easily upstaged the WTT in this regard, the latter sounding somewhat woolly and undernourished by comparison. Speaking of articulation, I clearly understood for the first time just what happened in the alley with the two-by-four midway through Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Tin Pan Alley," from his hard-driving 1984 Couldn't Stand the Weather (Epic FE 39304).

With the ready availability of compelling and important new popular music on LP (footnote 4), a virtual endless supply of excellent, inexpensive used LPs of all genres—and the superb Classic Records, Analog Productions, Mobile Fidelity, Cisco Music, and other reissues—music-lovers convinced of the virtues of vinyl playback have an unprecedented opportunity to indulge their passions and bask in the warmth and honesty of today's cutting-edge analog reproduction.

I know of no better way of taking advantage of this vinyl renaissance than with the Kuzma Stabi/Stogi combo. For three grand and change you get a superior-sounding, no-nonsense turntable willing and able to convey all the dynamics, dynamic range, rhythm and pace, nuance, and finesse which are the stuff of music. And, it's built to last into the next ice age.

If you match and mate the Kuzma combo with a good medium-output MC cartridge and a great-sounding, relatively inexpensive phono preamp such as the Ensemble Phonomaster or Michael Yee Audio PFE-1, you'll hear what's given rise to all the brouhaha.—Guy Lemcoe

Footnote 3: Moving to larger quarters would help restore the bloom and grandeur (which I miss) to large-scale orchestral works. So would moving into my own house, where I could set the gain to concert-hall levels without incurring my neighbors' wraths and inciting them to riotous acts against me. For now, though, I have to play the hand I've been dealt. When I make that move, though, I'd like to bring the Kuzma with me.

Footnote 4: For those willing to put aside their CD players' remote controls and pick up the phone, vinyl editions of many of the albums making waves these days are waiting on dealers' shelves all over the country.

Kuzma Audio Komponente
Elite Audio Video Distribution
PO Box 93896
Los Angeles, CA 90093-0896
(323) 466-9694

ken mac's picture

That is my turntable. Some 15 years and running....great...

spacehound's picture

Its only fault is that it wasn't made in a small garden shed using only a hammer and a hacksaw by someone your friends have never heard of, so it lacks 'HiFi' cred :):)

johnnythunder's picture

non-artisanal components from the 70s and 80s. Personally, I'm in the market for a new TT and the Technics is on my must audition list. I can't seem to find a bad review out there.

volvic's picture

I would go for the new Technics 1200G, as I have said numerous times on these pages, I have heard it and can't stop thinking about it. Sadly (well not really) I bought an SME10 and after searching long and heard also found an LVIII MK2 Ittok for my Linn so for now my shopping has come to a halt. I do have the older 1200 and will put an SMEIV on it but if I were you I would run and get that Technics - I was very impressed. Not that the Stogi is bad either, fantastic table as well, but that Technics....

spacehound's picture

Which was before CDs appeared, I nearly bought a Stogi.

But all these 'skeleton' turntables, lacking both a base and a dust cover are totally impractical in the real world, which has dust, dogs, flies dead and alive, and curious cats in it.

Sure you can make or buy a cover that covers the entire thing but then you are looking at a 'lash up' all day.

volvic's picture

Dust goes everywhere, I have an SME10 without cover and yes it attracts dust but so too does my Technics 1200 and LP12 both with dustcovers. In Manhattan dust is everywhere. Just buy a ginko cover for these skeleton plinth tables and you're all set.

Richard Thorens's picture

The plinth design reminds me of Soul lines "Elgar DCX" http://www.soulines.com/elgar-dcx @spacehound, I just got these custom vibration isolation feet for my son's technics 1210, and they worked great, https://mnpctech.com/turntable-feet-replacement-isolation/

JacksonCambage's picture

Specifications have been brought in front of the man for the movement and all its dynamics for the satisfaction. The role of the man and https://getessayhelp.org/college-essay-writing-help/ has even implemented for the use of the full employment and its branches for the individuals.