Recommended Components 2024 Edition Turntables



J.Sikora Reference: $47,000 w/o tonearm
This Polish company's top-of-the-line turntable is a nonsuspended, high-mass design, weighing 253lb. The dynamically and statically balanced platter alone weighs 40lb! Drive is with four square belts spun by four Papst DC motors. MF found that the plinth was immune to knuckle raps and motor start-up noises and wrote that the Reference was very quiet. He decided that this J.Sikora 'table had been superbly tuned to extract deep, well-controlled bass free of overhang or excess. The measured speed accuracy was impressive, as was its isolation from the outside world. Using J.Sikora's own KV12 VTA tonearm ($8995) as well as SAT and Kuzma tonearms, MF couldn't find fault with any aspect of the Reference's sonic performance or its machining and physical presentation. He summed up: "For those willing to make the expenditure, add the J.Sikora Reference to the list of great mass-loaded turntables at this price."(Vol.45 No.7 WWW)

OMA K3: $363,000 including power supply and Schröder SLM tonearm
MF described this idiosyncratically styled, massive, and very expensive turntable as looking "somewhat like the Guggenheim Museum topped by a heliport and a construction crane." Even so, he was impressed by its performance, with the 11.1" "aluminum girder" Schröder tonearm fitted with Ortofon Anna D, Lyra Etna l Lambda SL, and Lyra Atlas l Lambda SL phono cartridges. He described the K3's sound as "fast, clean, detailed, highly resolving, super-transparent, effortlessly dynamic, and capable of producing unparalleled transient precision and depth-charge-deep bass 'wallop' that's fully extended yet totally free from overhang." He concluded, "As with any truly great audio product, regardless of price, the OMA K3 turntable speaks with a singular voice." Offers 33 1/3, 45, and 78rpm speeds. Dedicated stand costs $40,000. (Vol.44 No.10 WWW)

SAT XD1: $238,500 without tonearm; $307,500 with CF1-09Ti tonearm
This extraordinary and extraordinarily expensive Swedish turntable begins life as a Technics SP-10R direct-drive motor system, which is stripped down to a handful of essential components, reimagined, reengineered, and rebuilt to much higher mechanical standards. Mark Gomez focused on isolation from external disturbances, speed stability, rigidity, and vacuum hold-down. There are "pods" for two armboards. The platter's top layer is made from a "proprietary advanced technical polymer infused with carbon-fiber micro powder and UHM carbon nanotubes." The XD1's price includes a custom, low-profile, Minus K–based "negative stiffness" isolation platform, and the control electronics are housed in an outboard chassis machined from a single block of aluminum that sits on 10Hz-and-up isolation feet. The result, with SAT's CF1-9Ti tonearm, was better than with MF's long-term reference turntable, the Continuum Caliburn: "With 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." MF concluded that the SAT XD1 with the CF1-09Ti tonearm (€76,000 when purchased with the turntable) was the best-sounding, best-engineered, best-built turntable he's had in his system to date. (Vol.43 No.12 WWW)

SME Model 60: $74,900 including the Series VA tonearm
This suspended, mass-loaded, belt-driven, flagship turntable comes preinstalled with SME's Series VA tonearm, which is not available separately. The Model 60's price depends on the finish: a honeycomb finish adds $7000; a diamond-polished finish adds $14,000. Offers 33 1/3 and 45 speeds only. "Intense dynamics and tight, powerful bass extension have long been hallmarks of SME turntables, and the Model 60 pushes that reputation even further," wrote MT, adding that the Model 60 "also offers a sense of ease and effortlessness." He summed up the Model 60 by writing "This turntable is capable of extracting an astonishing amount of music from the record groove. It should be considered the new real-world reference against which other turntables can be judged." On Paul Miller's test bench, the turntable's sintered bronze bearing, with its oil-damped ball, was so precisely machined and polished that both through-groove and through-bearing rumble were truly state-of-the-art. The tonearm, which has a cast-magnesium-alloy armtube, featured a "freedom from complex resonance, and general clutter [that] was quite remarkable," concluded PM. (Vol.46 No.8 WWW)

TechDAS Air Force Zero: $550,000 (as reviewed w/Tungsten platter); $500,000 w/Titanium platter
TechDAS founder Hideaki Nishikawa's ultimate analog statement, the Air Force Zero is limited to a production run of just 40 units. Weighing 725.5lb with its ultraheavy main subchassis assembly, it combines rebuilt, new-old-stock, high-torque Papst motors driving multiple massive platters with a customized air-bearing spindle and flywheel. LPs are held in place with a vacuum hold-down system. Using SAT and Graham tonearms and his reference phono cartridges from Lyra and X-quisite, MF found that the Zero "let through each cartridge's timbral and dynamic character while imparting its own unique and immediately recognizable weight, sledgehammer 'slam,' ultragenerous sustain and decay, and the blackest backgrounds I've heard a turntable produce. . . . no other turntable, or none that I've yet reviewed, so effectively sinks unwanted and extraneous noise while passing the musical goods with effortless ease, often in the most subtle and nuanced ways." (Vol.44 No.9 WWW)


Acoustic Signature Montana NEO: $33,995 w/o tonearm
Non-suspended, mass-loaded, triple–belt-driven turntable with a constrained-layer–damped, 55lb aluminum-alloy chassis sitting on height-adjustable, gel-damped feet. The outboard power supply features a vibration-canceling system that combines hardware and software to control the three 24-pole, two-coil AC motors. Offers 33 1/3 and 45rpm speeds. With the Montana NEO fitted with Acoustic Signature's TA-7000 NEO 9" tonearm—see "Tonearms"—and an Ortofon A95 phono cartridge, MF found that with a 1980 orchestral LP, the timbral, spatial, and dynamic presentation was "warm and inviting and intensely three-dimensional." He added that the "well-damped but not overdamped, fully controlled, supremely well-focused, rock-solid stable presentation produced a memorable 3D picture." This was similar, he noted, to his impression of the A95's sonic character; changing to an AudioQuest Etna Lambda 𝜆 SL produced "a more generous, rich, full midrange and midbass, a presentation that added spatial context and richness to vocals and acoustic instruments." MF summed up the Montana NEO/TA-7000 NEO combo as "a neutral and revealing carrier." (Vol.45 No.1 WWW)

AMG Giro MK II: $8500 without tonearm
Significantly upgraded compared with the original Giro that HR favorably reviewed in 2017, the MK II features a thicker, 40% heavier platter, which gives it a substantial increase in mass and rotational inertia, hence improved speed stability. Drive for 33 1/3 and 45 is still via belt from a DC motor, with a switch-mode supply supplied as standard. (An outboard linear power supply is available as an optional upgrade for $1200.) Tonearm is still AMG's 9W2—see Tonearms—with its wiring terminated in a DIN socket. The Giro doesn't come with a standard tonearm cable; rather, AMG offers four levels made for them by Cardas: the Basic ($300), Standard ($600), Reference ($1500), and Turbo ($2250). The review sample came with the Reference cable. MT found setting up the Giro straightforward but noted that as the turntable doesn't offer any isolation, care needs to be taken choosing where and on what to place it. Using a Benz SLR Gullwing phono cartridge, MT commented on the excellent retrieval of recorded detail offered by the AMG "without muddling the sound or glossing over details." He was also impressed by the player's speed stability, commenting that with a close-miked piano recording the Giro was "able to combine tonal richness with the solidity you get from piano chords when there's no insecurity or waffling about pitch." (Vol.45 No.12 WWW)

Clearaudio Reference Jubilee: $30,000 incl. tonearm
A belt-drive design that uses a POM main platter sitting on a stainless steel subplatter flywheel, the boomerang-shaped Jubilee features a patented Ceramic Magnetic Bearing and a Panzerholz plinth. An updated 9" Clearaudio Universal tonearm is included in the price and features a carbon fiber armtube. Also included in the price are Clearaudio's 1.6lb Statement Clamp, 1.5lb Outer Limit peripheral clamp and locator rim, and Professional Power 24V DC power supply. KM found that the turntable ran about 0.3% fast. He wrote that the Reference Jubilee's sound combined vivid detail retrieval, forceful dynamics, a delicate, refined top end, and a translucent midrange. Levels of resolution, clarity, transparency, and trueness-to-source left him vinyl-shocked and thinking, "So that's what's on this recording?" He added that the Reference Jubilee, Universal Tonearm, and Jubilee MC cartridge "combined staggering detail, energy, and forward-flow allied to a 3D stage that was large, deep, and transparent. The music it made was profound and life-affirming." (Vol.45 No.7 WWW)

Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird: $7495 ★
The standard Feickert Blackbird is a belt-driven turntable in which a Delrin platter is propelled by two (!) high-torque AC motors, with provisions for mounting two tonearms. Its plinth is an aluminum-MDF-aluminum sandwich done up in a black Nextel finish. As reviewed by HR, fitted with Jelco's knife-bearing TK-850L tonearm and optional DIN-to-RCA cable, and upgraded with eight inertia-enhancing brass platter weights and a glossy wood finish ($9345 total), the Blackbird ingratiated itself in no time: "I admired the Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird the minute I set it up. After a couple of weeks, I was ready to propose marriage." As Herb describes it, "bass through the Feickert-Jelco combo was tighter and more vigorous" than with his AMG G9 player (see elsewhere in "Recommended Components"), and compared to even his Linn LP12, the Blackbird impressed him by re-creating musical momentum in a way that was "noticeably more visceral." Five years after his original review, and having used the Blackbird with dozens of cartridges and three tonearms, HR commented that this turntable moved music forward with a force and momentum that he attributed to the "coercive pull" of the Blackbird's belt-drive motors. He also noted that another contributor to the Blackbird's quiet, solid sound was the way the platter mated the record. Promoted to Class A following Herb's long-term experience, in particular his revisit in Vol.46 No.11. (Vol.41 No.12, Vol.46 No.11 WWW)

Gold Note Mediterraneo X: $12,999 w/B-7 Ceramic X tonearm
This elegant turntable combines traditional materials with touch-friendly digital technology in arresting fashion, wrote KM when he first encountered the Italian Mediterraneo X at a show. Unusually, the belt-drive turntable's motor has two torque settings: high torque results in a performance reminiscent of direct drive; low torque is more in line with the sound of the belt drive. The B-7 Ceramic X tonearm uses a headshell made from 6000-series aluminum alloy for resonance control and a titanium wand, this stabilized with four high-precision ceramic ball bearings. A touchscreen controls power, torque, rotation speed, a cartridge timer, display brightness, and even cartridge selection. Once the Mediterraneo X was setbup in his system, using a VPI Shyla phono cartridge, KM noted that it was "one quiet record player. In my informal tests, tapping, poking, or rapping on its plinth during playback caused zero vibration/rumble/noise to its cartridge/tonearm assembly." He summed up his time with the turntable by writing "though smooth and quiet, it never strays into blandness or homogeneity. It boasts exceptional forward momentum and, with the right cartridge, faithful adherence to the recorded source. This Gold Note 'table delivers a consistent, flowing, nonmechanical musical experience." (Vol.47 No.3 WWW)

Linn Klimax LP12: $30,970 incl. tonearm, MC phono cartridge, phono stage and power supply
The fully loaded review sample was fitted with the Karousel bearing, a NASA-grade Keel subchassis ($3705), and the optional fluted plinth ($220). Also included were Linn's Ekstatik moving coil cartridge ($7150), Ekos Super Evolution (SE) tonearm ($5645), the machined-chassis version of the Radikal motor controller/power supply, and the Urika phono stage ($10,400 for both). HR found that the Klimax LP12 was dramatically better-sounding than his vintage Sondek. It offered "conspicuously quiet (deep black) backgrounds" and tempo, focus, and immediacy that were "near-laboratory quality." His conclusion was that the Linn Klimax record player "looks like a piece of heirloom furniture, is built to a very high standard of fit'n'finish, and is eternally upgradeable. Its substantial dealer base makes it easily and expertly serviceable in a way few other turntable brands can match. These facts alone make the Klimax worth its price." (Vol.45 No.6 WWW)

Luxman PD-151 Mark II: $5695 incl. tonearm
This new version of a classic three-speed, belt-drive turntable from Luxman impressed MT with its speed stability: wow & flutter were both just 0.02%. This is achieved with a DC motor fed from a "sophisticated" pulse-width modulation power supply. Although there isn't a suspension, when MT held a stethoscope against the top plate adjacent to the motor, he couldn't tell whether the motor was on or off: "It's that quiet." An optional dustcover adds $795 to the price. The LTA-309 tonearm features knife-edge bearings and a H4 bayonet-mount universal headshell, and is sourced from Japanese manufacturer SAEC. MT used an Ortofon Cadenza Blue and Luxman's own LMC-5 for his auditioning, and commented that with the Luxman cartridge a track from Willy DeVille's solo album "sounded tonally vivid and three-dimensional with a soundstage that was wide and deep but tidy." He found that while the PD-151 couldn't quite match the tautness and bottom-end slam of the "vastly more expensive" SME Model 30/2A, it more than held its own in most other areas. (Vol.46 No.3 WWW)

Pure Fidelity Harmony: $9995 including the Encounter Mark 4 Orgin Live Tonearm
This Canadian turntable's price includes the Conductor power supply, SS-10 Record Isolator clamp, three IsoAcoustics GAIA IV feet, and Origin Live Encounter tonearm. (This dual-pivot arm was reviewed by MF in July 2004.) The review sample's premium Quilted Maple finish adds $500. The 2", Ultra MDF plinth sits on a 19lb isolation platform formed from aluminum alloy and is said to be virtually resonance-free and completely neutral in sound. KM found that the Harmony fitted with the Origin Live tonearm and Pure Fidelity's Stratos phono cartridge "took me on a joy ride, exuding all the liveliness and pace, rhythm, and timing of any well-made low-mass 'table but with a neutral tonal balance and a vice-like low-end grip." KM's conclusion: "The Pure Fidelity Harmony brings a beautiful sonic signature to vinyl but with enough transparency to reveal the unique personality of each LP . . . The Pure Fidelity Harmony is one of the finest analog playback machines I've heard, worth every penny of its $9995 asking price." (Vol.45 No.12 WWW)

Technics SL-1200G: $4299.95 incl. tonearm, available in black or silver
Derived from Technics's limited-edition SL-1200GAE, the three-speed, direct-drive SL-1200G bears little resemblance to the original '1200 from the 1970s that had come to be a DJ favorite. It is an entirely new design "created for audiophiles." The original SL-1200's tonearm—"easily the chintziest thing about that turntable," said AH—has been reimagined, with a new armtube made of cold-drawn magnesium. The arm's gimbal bearings revealed zero wiggle or twist, noted AH, who also found that the turntable rotated at exactly 33 1/3rpm with just 0.014% wow & flutter. AH installed a Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua cartridge in the tonearm's detachable headshell and started listening. "In stock form, it sounded solid, agile, and impressively neutral, but also noticeably smaller, grayer, and more mechanical—with shorter note decay—than my Garrard 301/Schick/Box Furniture Co. record player," he wrote. After replacing the stock mat with a Trans-Fi Reso-Mat, "the Technics produced a far larger soundfield, with obviously greater resolution and instrument separation and less apparent noise." Replacing the stock headshell with either the DS Audio HE-001 or Schick graphite headshells improved tracking with the Dynavector "and lent the music more solidity and color." AH then switched the turntable's torque control from automatic to manual and reduced the torque by about a third of a revolution. "The turntable sounded mostly the same," he noted, "but its somewhat mechanical, uptight character was nearly gone; now the music flowed and shimmied more convincingly. I also heard improved sustain and decay." Overall, he could think of few turntables that offer as much value as the SL-1200G, adding that the quality of its engineering and execution "makes typical audiophile products look slightly homemade." (Vol.45 No.12 WWW)

Thorens TD 124 DD: $11,999 w/TP 124 tonearm
The original TD 124 turntable from Swiss manufacturer Thorens, with its innovative drive mechanism that utilized both a belt and an idler wheel, was introduced in 1957. It became a classic and examples in good condition are much sought after. The current Thorens company, owned by former Denon manager and ELAC CEO Gunter Kürten, is based in Germany. Rather than manufacture an authentic reproduction of the 1957 TD 124, the TD 124 DD, available in a limited run of 500 units, is intended to maintain as much of the original as possible while updating its function in key areas. The biggest change is the use of a 12-pole direct drive motor. The TP 124 tonearm is also new. It features an internally damped aluminum armtube with a heavy brass counterweight to balance the 30gm weight of the Ortofon SPU 124 cartridge used by KM in his auditioning. (A second, lighter counterweight is included, along with a headshell, for use with more typical cartridges.) KM liked what he heard: The TD 124 DD "excelled at rhythmic punch and dynamics, producing music with vigor and drive. The 'table's low noisefloor made for stark dynamic contrasts as music burst from the subtlest ppp to the boldest fff." His conclusion? "The designers' most heretical move—replacing the original 124's peculiar drive system, which resulted in a turntable with fluidity and, well, drive—with direct drive has achieved an even more propulsive sound, with a somewhat larger soundstage and better dynamics." (Vol.44 No.8 WWW)

TW-Acustic Raven GT2: $12,500
AH described this German belt-drive turntable as "sternly functional . . . Everything about the 'table, which weighs 75lb and is made almost entirely of raven-black aluminum appears thought out . . . The GT2 is so precisely machined that lowering the very heavy composite-and-bronze platter onto the upward-facing bearing shaft takes not seconds but minutes." It took him several weeks to zero-in on the Raven FT's sonic character: the "'table did everything so well that I struggled to describe its sound. No single area of performance stood out or seemed overlooked," he wrote. Overall, "on record after record, the German deck was able to excavate spatial and instrumental detail, and imbue recordings with depth and dimension, as well as any I've heard." AH also noted that, unlike other belt-drive turntables, the Raven GT2 had a "nimble" way with rhythm and timing. (Vol.46 No.7 WWW)

VPI Avenger Direct: $36,000 with tonearm
The review sample of this American turntable came with the 12" gimbaled version of the FatBoy tonearm ($4500 when purchased separately), the aluminum JMW Full VTA Base ($1500 separately), a direct drive assembly/motor, a machined aluminum platter, a vented chassis, a stainless steel Periphery Ring Clamp ($1300 separately), three air-suspension Feet ($3450 separately), a VPI-branded alignment jig ($75 separately), a poly-weave platter mat, and one Signature record weight ($185 separately). With the Avenger/FatBoy combo fitted with an Ortofon Verismo MC cartridge and playing Henry Mancini's "The Days of Wine and Roses" (from Our Man in Hollywood), KM wrote that the Avenger Direct "mined all the musical detail, dimensionality, ambience, and opulence of the Mancini recording, but more importantly, it mined its emotions." KM didn't go into specifics regarding the player's sonic character, writing instead that "I can't help feeling it's cheap to reduce the VPI's performance to separate traits when its great strength is its presentation of such a unified, stirring whole." His conclusion? "I don't know what deed this Avenger is meant to avenge, but its place in the pantheon of great turntables is secure." (Vol.46 No.6 WWW)

Wand 14-4: $7875 with Wand Master Lite 12" tonearm; $5000 w/o arm
This New Zealand–made belt-drive turntable's name comes from its platter: the larger size (14") increases rotational inertia without adding significant mass; the platter has four layers including an aluminum/acrylic/aluminum sandwich (for damping), plus an acrylic mat to interface with the record. The 14-4 comes with a switching power supply; a battery supply is available as an option. A speed sensor under the platter automatically adjusts the speed; MT found the speed was spot on at both 33 1/3 and 45rpm. He used the 12" Wand tonearm with the 14-4 and warned that the arm's length means that the cartridge ends up hovering precariously close to the power and speed selector knob. "There are no compromises here, and few concessions to ease of setup and use," MT concluded. "But if you're willing to put in the work and deal with the setup anxiety, your patience will be rewarded with extraordinary performance. The Wand excels in areas I consider fundamental to musical enjoyment, such as tonal color and timing. There's nothing warm or sluggish sounding about The Wand, but because it's able to resolve detail so well, it never sounds thin or anemic. 'Vivid' and 'focused' are the words that keep popping into my head." (Vol.47 No.1 WWW)


Linn Sondek LP12: $3060 for turntable only ★
Since 1972, Linn has devised and offered for their belt-drive, suspended-subchassis flagship all manner of upgrades; commendably, all have been retrofittable. Some standouts: The Lingo power-supply mod of 1990 minimizes the LP12's propensity toward a slightly fat midbass and subjectively "adds an octave of low-bass extension," according to JA. The Keel one-piece subchassis, tonearm board, and Linn-specific tonearm-mounting collar of 2006 makes "an unambiguous improvement in the LP12's performance," according to AD. And the Linn Radikal mod—a DC motor with an outboard switch-mode power supply—impressed Mr. D with "more force, more momentum, and a little more sheer grip on the notes." At present, the least expensive LP12 package is the Majik LP12 ($4320): standard subchassis, wood-composite armboard, single-speed power supply, Pro-Ject 9cc tonearm, and a Linn Adikt moving magnet cartridge. Experience leads us to expect high Class B performance—superbly low measured rumble, excellent speed stability, and very good musical involvement—from an entry-level LP12, while previous incarnations of the full-monty LP12 have delivered true Class A sound. (Vol.7 No.2, Vol.13 No.3, Vol.14 No.1, Vol.16 No.12, Vol.17 No.5, Vol.19 No.2, Vol.26 No.11, Vol.28 No.2, Vol.30 No.10, Vol.34 No.6, Vol.39 No.6 WWW)

Mark Levinson No5105: $7500; with Ortofon Quintet Black phono cartridge $8500
Designed in collaboration with and sourced from a German manufacturer, this elegant-looking, high-mass (75lb), belt-drive turntable comes complete with a 10" tonearm that features a rigid, glossy, carbon-fiber tube. Michael Fremer found the No5105 easy to set up and use and, with a fast, detailed cartridge like the Ortofon Quintet Black, it produced sound that was rich, relaxed, generous, and typical of higher mass, damped-style turntables. (Vol.44 No.4 WWW)

MoFi Electronics UltraDeck: $2499 with tonearm
Decades after the first Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab record comes the first MoFi record player—the UltraDeck turntable with Ultra tonearm, both made in the US and created with design input from Spiral Groove's Allen Perkins. The UltraDeck's sturdy plinth comprises three aluminum plates bonded to the top of an MDF core, and its belt-driven platter—machined from Delrin and weighing 6.8lb—rides on an inverted bearing. Four height-adjustable feet, designed in collaboration with Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS), support the plinth. The Ultra tonearm has a 10" aluminum armtube, Cardas wiring, and a gimbaled bearing. According to HR, the UltraDeck, when used with MoFi's top-of-the-line moving magnet cartridge, the MasterTracker (a $2198 package; the MasterTracker is sold separately for $699), didn't provide the "deep 'black' backgrounds or enormous sound spaces" of the considerably more expensive AMG Giro G9 player, "but it did present me with an infectious, easy-flowing, liquid vitality." According to Herb, the MoFi combo "had stronger energy, achieved bigger dynamic swings, and was more detailed than comparatively priced 'tables from VPI and Rega." (Vol.41 No.2, Vol.45 No.12 WWW)

Music Hall Stealth: $1649
This three-speed, direct-drive deck comes fitted with an Ortofon 2M Blue phono cartridge. HR wrote that what he noticed most with the Stealth and 2M Blue was the "high level of tone correctness." HR was also impressed by the tonearm, which he described as exceeding his expectations. "During use, it felt precise and well-sorted. Its bearings felt just-right tight, and its arm-lift mechanism served me with ... ease and assurance," he wrote. Using Denon's classic DL-103—see "Phono Cartridges"—he found that the Stealth played his 45s more enjoyably than the Feickert Blackbird or the Linn LP12 Valhalla. His conclusion? "I can think of no record player under $2000 that I'd rather use. Or recommend." (Vol.45 No.10 WWW)

PTP Audio Solid9: $4650 as tested
The Solid9 ($2950 in basic form) is a restored, hot-rodded, replinthed Lenco idler drive design built in The Netherlands. A long, gently tapered, horizontally positioned motor shaft drives the bottom of the 8.8lb platter via a skinny, spring-tensioned vertical idler wheel. The Solid9 comes with a completely rebuilt Lenco motor and a restored drive mechanism attached to two thick, stainless steel plates that are flush-mounted in a Corian plinth. HR wrote that to his subconscious mind, "idler drive feels more solidly connected to the music's forward momentum than direct drive does." HR auditioned the Solid9 with PTP's optional outboard Audio Power Controller ($1100), the Solid Bearing upgrade ($350), the optional SCC height-adjustable feet ($250), a Sorane SA-1 tonearm, and a Denon DL-103 phono cartridge. This record playing system never distracted him from what was happening in the music, he concluded: "That's as high praise as I can give." (Vol.46 No.6 WWW)

Rega Planar 3 50th Anniversary Edition: $1695 w/RB330 tonearm, Neo PSU MK2 power supply & Rega Exact phono cartridge $$$
Because the 50th Anniversary Planar 3 is shipped as a complete package, the setup process is very simple. The cartridge comes preinstalled, and because the Exact uses Rega's proprietary three-point mounting, its position is fixed in Rega's preferred alignment. MT found that the Planar 3's running speed was "bang-on perfect." Comparing the Anniversary player with an original Planar 3 fitted with an Audio Note cartridge, MT found that "just about every element of the sound has been improved. ... The new Planar just sounds better sorted and like a coherent whole, providing a clearer perspective on the music making. This turntable has a real knack for allowing you to forget about audiophile affectations like imaging and soundstaging so you can just kick back and enjoy your records." Upgraded from Class C with the new version. (Vol.46 No.11 WWW)

SME Model 6: $8795 w/SME M2-9 tonearm SME Model 6 Classic: $9795 w/SME M2-9-R tonearm
SME's least expensive turntable uses an outboard power supply and a chassis CNC-machined from what the company says is a "unique polymer high-density resin material," claimed to have "superb resonance absorption." It sits on four elastomer feet made from a vibration-absorbing compound, but as these aren't height-adjustable, the user needs to make sure the turntable support is level. The belt-driven, 4lb platter appears to be machined from Delrin. The M2-9 tonearm—an MF favorite—can accommodate cartridges weighing 5–12gm, and azimuth, VTA, and SRA are all adjustable. As with all SME turntables, there's no dustcover. While MF didn't like the screw-down three-piece record clamp, he appreciated how the Model 6 performed with Ortofon Cadenza Black and 2M Black LVB phono cartridges. "The more I used it, the more I enjoyed its open, airy sound and its solid bottom end," he concluded. The Classic version substitutes the M2-9-R for the straight-pipe M2-9 provided with the original Model 6, which has a curved stainless steel pipe terminating in SME's familiar locking collet. (A headshell is provided, as well as an extra counterweight that can be threaded onto the arm's rear shaft if needed.) (Vol.44 No.5, Vol.45 No.4 WWW)

Technics SL-1200GR2: $2199.99
See Ken Micallef's review in this issue. (Vol.47 No.4)

Vertere DG-1S: $4899–$6999 with tonearm, depending on options.
Designed by Roksan founder Touraj Moghaddam, the UK-built DG-1S, with its Groove Runner S tonearm, is available in three versions with varying combinations of cartridges and accessories, priced from $4899 to $6999. The review model came with the top Sabre package, which includes the Sabre moving-magnet cartridge, Redline interconnect cables, Techno Mat platter mat, three Iso Paw footers, plus an electronic stylus pressure gauge. The optional Challenger DC power supply ($675) can be used in place of the DG-1S's standard wall wart. MT was impressed by how easy the Vertere was to set up. He did find that the DG-1S ran about 0.4% fast, which he described as "not terrible but a little disappointing at the price, and not adjustable." However, the peak wow and flutter reading was excellent, at around 0.18%. "While the bass was fast and clear, it couldn't quite match the power at the very bottom end that you can get from my big, much more costly reference turntables," concluded MT. (Vol.46 No.10 WWW)


Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO: $599 with tonearm (US Version comes with a Sumiko Rainier Cartridge) $$$
This bargain-priced, belt-drive turntable comes complete with a carbon-fiber tonearm, a Sumiko Rainier moving magnet cartridge ($150 when sold separately), and a shielded, directional phono cable. The 3.75lb steel platter is damped along its outer edge with a strip of thermoplastic elastomer. AH found that the review sample, like Rega turntables, ran slightly fast, but also felt it didn't release notes "with quite the screen-door-hitting-them-on-the-ass urgency of the [Rega] Planar 3 (which costs nearly twice as much without a cartridge)." He also found that the Pro-Ject and its cartridge made surface noise more intrusive than many other record players he'd heard. However, AH summed up his time with this turntable by saying "If there's a design parameter more crucial than a hi-fi component's ability to hold our attention and enable us to feel things, I don't know what it is. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO does this consistently, emphatically, at an attainable price." (Vol.44 No.3 WWW)

Pro-Ject Debut PRO: $999 incl. tonearm & Sumiko Ranier Cartridge
Based on Pro-Ject's Debut Carbon EVO turntable, the belt-drive, non-suspended Debut PRO improves on earlier Pro-Ject models with CNC-milled aluminum parts, an upgraded bearing and tonearm with a hybrid aluminum–carbon fiber armtube, and what KM described as "a few more subtle but still beneficial upgrades." The price includes a Sumiko Oyster Rainier moving magnet cartridge. KM described the Debut PRO's presentation as featuring fast transients, strong dynamics, and crisp highs. "The Debut PRO is a lively, fun, exhilarating turntable; it makes records—or rather music from records—jump, boogie, and sing. . . . I was consistently surprised at the Debut PRO's ability to relay gobs of detail in a natural, compelling manner." KM's conclusion? "This ca $1000, handsome-but-unassuming record player proved to me what a manufacturer with decades of experience and expertise can do when designing an analog machine to a price point. The Debut PRO bowled me over with its dynamics, detail, soundstaging, spatial depth, and scale, especially with the more expensive [Sumiko] Wellfleet cartridge. The Debut PRO made the most of every style of music I put to it." (Vol.45 No.1 WWW)

AMG Viella Forte Engraved, Clearaudio Concept AiR Active Wood, w/Satisfy Black tonearm & Concept MM cartridge, w/Satisfy Carbon Fiber tonearm & Concept MC cartridge, discontinued. Do?hmann Audio Helix One Mk2, no longer in production, J.Sikora Initial, Kuzma Stabi R with one arm wing, Reed Muse 1C, Rega Planar 1, basic Rega Planar 3, not reviewed in a long time.

Auditor's picture

The links to the various types of products seem to be missing.

Auditor's picture

They're there now!

Dorsia777's picture

Rotel & Michi nabbed some Class A recommendations. Nice!

Rick57's picture

Can you remind me what it means when there is a star next to the name of a recommended component?

John Atkinson's picture
Rick57 wrote:
Can you remind me what it means when there is a star next to the name of a recommended component?

The star signifies that the product has been recommended for more than 3 years, due primarily to continued experience by one of the review team.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile