Recommended Components Fall 2022 Edition Phono Accessories

Phono Accessories

AcousTech The Big Record Brush: $36.95
With grounding wire: $52.99
This large-handled brush has soft bristles of both natural hairs and conductive synthetic fibers, and makes dusting LPs nearly foolproof. The 5.5"-wide bristle area easily spans the width of any LP's grooved area. Version with ground wire ($52.99) does "a pretty effective job of dissipating static electricity," Mikey said. (Vol.31 No.9)

Acoustical Systems Arche 5D headshell, Regular: $749
Acoustical Systems Arche 5D headshell, Lite: $899
Acoustical Systems Arche 5D headshell, Ultralite: $1049
Another sign of the analog revival: perfectionist-quality cartridge headshells, once common—remember the Orsonics shell of the 1980s?—are repopulating the Earth, a key example being the German-made Acoustical Systems Arché. Precision-machined from aluminum and steel and available in various finishes, the Arché offers adjustable vertical tracking angle and azimuth, and taken together, its two adjustments for overhang—one at the headshell plug, the other by means of the Arché's movable platform-within-a-platform—offer a wider range of adjustment than most other headshells. AD also noted that the slightly heavier-than-average Arché is a better match for the low-compliance cartridges he favors—now, though, it comes in three weights, from regular to extra-light. Expensive, but nonetheless highly recommendable. (Vol.41 No.5 WWW)

Acoustical Systems Smartractor alignment protractor: $749
XL version: $949
As close to a "universal" phono-alignment protractor as one is likely to find, the Acoustical Systems Smartractor, which resembles a draftsman's beam compass, can be used with any conventional tonearm with an unambiguous pivot center. It offers the user a choice of four traditional alignment schemes—ie, ones distilled from the work of Erik Löfgren, who more or less invented the two-point alignment schemes used by the vast majority of manufacturers and hobbyists—and one brand-new one, developed by Acoustical Systems' Dietrich Brakemeier, called UNI-DIN. AD praised the "ergonomically friendly" Smartractor as "exceptionally well made" and "a breeze to use," and expressed a preference for its Löfgren A DIN alignment scheme, although he intends to experiment further with UNI-DIN. Now two versions, regular and XL (Vol.37 No.2. Vol.41 No.11 WWW)

Aesthetix MC Demagnetizer: $230
Battery-powered, reasonably priced, seems to do the job as well as any of them, decided MF. (Vol.25 No.7)

Audio Additives digital stylus-force gauge: $49.99
The Audio Additives comes in a nice black box and includes two AAA batteries and a 5gm calibration weight. It has an easy-to-read touchscreen display, a nonmagnetic case, and accurately measures a cartridge's vertical tracking force down to 0.001gm. Precise and a pleasure to use, said SM. (Vol.35 No.11 WWW)

Audio Intelligent Enzymatic Formula: $25
Alcohol-Free Premium Archivist's Formula: $25
Super Cleaning Formula: $25
Ultra-pure water: $16
MF: "The AI fluids are reasonably priced, easy to apply and (especially) to spread, clean extremely well, and leave no audible residue." "Simple, effective, and distributed by kind people," said SM. Prices are for 16-oz bottles: Enzymatic Formula, $25; alcohol-free Premium Archivist Formula, $25; Super Cleaning Formula with research-grade isopropanol, $25; Ultra-Pure Water (claimed to be 50 times purer than distilled water), $16. Distributed by Missouri-based Osage Audio Products, LLC. (Vol.30 No.12, Vol.35 No.4 WWW)

Audiodesksysteme Gläss Vinyl Cleaner PRO X: $4699 ★
The fully automatic Vinyl Cleaner uses ultrasound-induced cavitation to clean records, much as an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner does for jewels. The entire cleaning and drying process is relatively quiet and takes about six minutes. A 20ml bottle of Audiodesksysteme's alcohol-free, biodegradable concentrate ($19.95) will clean at least 50 LPs, and the microfiber cleaning barrels ($99.95/four) are good for 500 to 1000 cleaning cycles. "The Audiodesksysteme was the most effective, easy-to-use cleaning machine I've tried," said MF, who bought the review sample. FK was stunned: The Vinyl Cleaner not only thoroughly cleaned his LPs, it significantly improved their sound, revealing nuances long hidden in the grooves. "If your stereo system cost tens of thousands of dollars and you play a lot of vinyl, you need to check this thing out," he said. AD said, "If there exists a more effective, easy, reliable, and utterly transformative way of cleaning LPs, I have yet to hear it. . . . [The] Vinyl Cleaner's build quality, like its effectiveness, is beyond reproach." He then bought his review sample. In 2015, Audiodesksysteme's US distributor, Ultra Systems, introduced two accessories: the A-Ring adapters allow 7" and 10" records to be washed in the Vinyl Cleaner ($125 for the two-Ring set). AD's verdict: "The A-Rings are not a perfect solution, but they did the job effectively and without too much fuss." In 2016, the Vinyl Cleaner was replaced by the Vinyl Cleaner Pro, which offers an extra drying cycle, and boasts an upgraded fluid pump and other refinements. (Vol.35 No.6, Vol.36 No.9, Vol.38 No.3, Vol.39 No.1, Vol.40 No.4 WWW)

Audiosilente idler wheel mod for Garrard 301–401 turntable: $110 plus shipping $$$
For owners of classic Garrard 301 and 401 turntables, AudioSilente's newly designed and manufactured idler wheel is a well-advised and perhaps even mandatory purchase. Reportedly the result of a yearlong development effort that included a long study of the correct density of rubber required for the application, the AudioSilente is an aluminum-alloy wheel to which is bonded a rubber ring of square cross section—this in contrast to the original Garrard idler, whose smaller metal hub is more or less encased within a larger rubber wheel. A slender steel rod is press-fitted through the center of the idler to form the upper and lower axles, with rounded tips and polished surfaces. The contact area of the AudioSilente idler is 4.6mm thick—precisely the same as in the original idler. AD tried the AudioSilente idler on his own 301 and discovered slight improvements, both audible and measurable, compared to his good-condition original idler. All in all, as either an upgrade or a replacement for a worn or damaged original, the distinctly affordable AudioSilente idler wheel is an excellent value, and highly recommended. (Vol.41 No.7 WWW)

Clearaudio Outer Limit Turntable Ring: $1600
Heavy, stainless steel ring acts as a speed-stabilizing flywheel, damps the record, and flattens outer-groove warps. However, MF cautioned, its weight means that you can use it only with turntables with massive platters and/or very powerful motors. MF also noted that a centering template would be a happy addition to the package. The Outer Limit was "a pain to center." Nonetheless, it "blackened backgrounds, solidified images, and made them 'pop' in three dimensions." (Vol.24 No.10)

DB Systems DBP-10 protractor: $65
Fiddly but accurate guide for setting cartridge tangency. JA's preferred alignment protractor. The DBP-10 can be used to gauge alignment accuracy at any point or points between 44 and 153mm from the record spindle. "A hell of a bargain," said AD. (Vol.33 No.6 WWW)

DB Systems DBP-6MC resistive loading kit: $65
This resistive loading kit is based on a pair of flexible Y-adapters, each having two phono sockets at one end and a single phono plug at the other. It comes with five pairs of color-coded resistive plugs (10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 ohms), as well as a pair of empty plugs into which an alternate resistor value can be soldered. "An ancient but eminently useful thing to have," said AD. (Vol.32 No.8 WWW)

Degritter Ultrasonic Record-Cleaning Machine: $3295
Designed and manufactured in Estonia, this fully automatic, cavitation-based LP-cleaning machine operates at an ultrasonic frequency of 120kHz. A 12" record goes vertically into a slot—an adapter for 7" singles is available for $80—and water from the Degritter's tank (capacity 0.35 gallons) is pumped into the chamber before cavitation and record rotation begins. There are three cleaning-time presets: quick (2:15), medium (3:45), and heavy (6:45). "Almost all the records I inserted over the months came out totally dry—and sparkling clean in ways that vacuuming cannot approach," MF wrote, adding that "a small number of records still had a tiny water droplet or two, always on the lead-out groove area. That's 'flawless' in my book." (Vol.44 No.1 WWW)

DS Audio Vinyl Ionizer-001: $1795
Put this wall-wart–powered "watchdog" near your turntable—within 2"—and it will reduce static electricity in the area, wrote MF. Expensive, but the unit's half-life is approximately 10,000 hours, or almost 3 hours per day for 10 years. (Vol.43 No.7 WWW)

Fozgometer V2: $400
The V2 version of this analog azimuth meter features higher sensitivity than the original version, which means that even with the lowest output cartridges, the tonearm wires can be plugged directly into the Fozgometer. MF compared the Fozgometer's accuracy against that of his digital oscilloscope and found that it wasn't meaningfully worse and that the result was far more quickly and easily obtained, especially using a free spreadsheet from WallyTools. (Vol.45 No.5 WWW)

K-A-B SpeedStrobe Digital Phonograph Speed Readout: $109.95
Easy-to-use strobe disc simplifies precision adjustment of turntable speeds from 331/3 to all of the variations on "78." "It's just fantastic," effused J-10. "It looks cool, and it's a snap to perfectly set the speed." (Vol.19 No.2)

Keith Monks Audio Works Mk.VII Omni record-cleaning machine: $6995
The late Keith Monks's son, Jonathan, has taken over production of this venerable classic, moving manufacturing to a dedicated facility on the Isle of Wight and expanding the line to include new models, new platter mats, new cleaning brushes, and specially formulated cleaning fluids. With its solid idler-driven platter, refined cabinetry, and improved internal wiring, the new machine outclasses the old. After cleaning a record, AD noted clearer instrumental voices and greater low-level detail. The Omni was "so easy to use—so pleasant to use—that the prospect of cleaning LPs became a happy one." English oak finish now standard. (Vol.32 No.5 WWW)

Keith Monks DiscOvery One Redux: $3795
The discOveryOne is both the newest and the least expensive record-cleaning machine from the company that created the genre. The new machine has at its core an off-the-shelf direct-drive record player, the tonearm of which is modified to accommodate both a fluid-evacuation system and a means of delivering and refreshing the nylon thread used to cushion the vacuum nozzle. Money is also saved by eliminating the automated fluid-dispensing system of older, more expensive Keith Monks machines, though that can be retrofitted to a discOveryOne for $700. AD observed that the new machine's vacuum-drying function was slower than that of its predecessors, but no less effective—and surprisingly quiet. He quibbled with some construction details and was puzzled that the stripped-down machine was actually larger than its stablemates, but nonetheless declared the discOveryOne "an accessory of notably high value—and notable worth." (Vol.37 No.4 WWW)

Kirmuss Audio KA-RC-1: $1075 $$$ ★
Charles Kirmuss bases his KA-RC-1 record-cleaning machine on a standard-issue Chinese-made cavitation (ultrasonic bath) cleaner, adding to it an original-design record-spinning apparatus that MF found to be "very good." The Kirmuss cleaning regimen requires each record to undergo multiple ultrasonic baths, alternated with multiple scrubbings with a goat-hair applicator brush and a reportedly anti-fungal surfactant, followed with a manual drying with a microfiber cloth; a "polishing" with a parastatic brush; and another, lighter round with the surfactant and goat-hair brush. MF found the Kirmuss approach worthwhile for records requiring a full restoration and considered the KA-RC-1 "reasonably priced," but he's sticking with his Audiodesksysteme and Loricraft machines for routine cleaning. (Vol.42 No.6 WWW)

LAST Power Cleaner for LPs: $49 per 3/4-oz bottle, with applicators
This small bottle of Freon-free cleaner is enough to treat 75 LPs. JE found just three drops sufficient to remove dirt, dust, and grime from garage-sale records, though he discovered that a subsequent wash with his VPI HW-17 was still required to reduce groove noise to acceptable levels. "A worthwhile companion to LAST's wonderful Record Preservative." (Vol.17 No.5)

LAST Record Preservative, with applicators: $55/2-oz bottle
Significantly improves the sound of even new records, and is claimed to make them last longer. "I unhesitatingly recommend LAST Record Preservative," said Mikey, whose records sound as quiet now as they did when he first started using the treatment, over 25 years ago. AD is not a fan, however, though he does admit that LAST, if used correctly, does no harm. $185/8oz, $350/16oz. (Vol.5 No.3, Vol.30 No.10)

LAST STYLAST Stylus Treatment: $40 per ¼-oz bottle
Stylus treatment designed to reduce friction between groove and phono cartridge. Some manufacturers caution against it, claiming it migrates up the cantilever and attracts dust, thus clogging the armature. One reader suggests applying treatment to brush rather than stylus, which would reduce the possibility of over-applying. MF has found STYLAST effective, but expresses concern over possible cartridge damage. (Vol.18 No.12)

Little Fwend tonearm lifter: $249
From Norway comes the Little Fwend, an automatic tonearm lifter in the tradition of the fondly remembered Audio-Technica AT-6006 Safety Raiser: a damped, spring-loaded cueing platform that lies in wait for a tonearm to pass overhead and trip its trigger—an event timed to occur when the stylus is done playing an LP side and has entered the lead-out area. AD described the Little Fwend as "one of the most well-conceived, well-packaged, well-made audio accessories I've encountered." (But AD erred in saying that the Little Fwend is distributed in the US by Music Direct: the company is actually MoFi Distribution.) Recently upgraded with a Scotch Restickable Dot mount as a nonresidue alternative for people concerned about the finish of their turntable plinths (seems you can't spell analog without anal). (Vol.40 No.2 WWW)

Loricraft PRC6i: $2854
This upgrade from the original Loricraft RCM string-and-suction record cleaning machine impressed MF, who wrote that the new SME-built Loricraft "takes the design to a new quality level. It takes a quiet design and makes it quieter—so quiet, you can clean records in the room while you listen to music." The high-torque platter motor is far more powerful than on the original, and the arm that traverses the record is upgraded. The PRC6i comes with a bottle of L'Art du Son cleaning liquid concentrate, an application bottle, and an applicator brush. (Vol.45 No.4 WWW)

Lyra SPT: $60/1.5ml bottle
Includes a small, wedge-shaped applicator with which MF brushed a drop of this fluid carefully, back to front, along the stylus. Don't get any on the cantilever, he warned, and wait 10 seconds before playing a record. Pricey fluid said to lubricate the stylus, to improve S/N ratio and trackability, and to last for one side's playing time. Mikey thinks he noted a slight sound-softening effect, but wouldn't bet the farm on it. (Vol.23 No.11)

Massif Audio Design Prime Reference record weight: $895
This weight is made of mpingo wood, with a cocobolo top level, finished and buffed with German hard wax, and weighs around 11.4oz (325gm). Manufacturer Trevor Doyle believes this to be "The finest record vibration mitigation device on the market." MF listened with and without the weight on an Acoustic Signature Montana NEO and found that it tightened but did not overdamp bass, clarified but did not parch the midrange, and improved high-frequency transient focus and clarity. He noted that these improvements "were subtle, not mind-blowing," and they were better appreciated over time. (Vol.45 No.6 WWW)

Mat Chakra: €350
This thin, stiff, lightweight, moderately flexible platter mat is made from an undisclosed material with a sandpaper-like finish. With the Chakra in place MF found that, compared with OMA's polycrystalline graphite mat, the aggressive-sounding LP of Shostakovich's The Age of Gold Ballet Suite (RCA LSC-2322) offered a deeper stage, the massed strings had a touch of added warmth, and the woodwinds were a bit less shrill. "The first major orchestral explosion a few minutes in was far less aggressive," he wrote, and was "presented with greater realism and especially control—it didn't jump forward on the stage." (Vol.45 No.5 WWW)

Merrill G.E.M. Dandy Hydraulic Record Cleaner: $189
Designed to sit in a sink, the "rudimentary but ingenious" G.E.M. Dandy is an inexpensive manual record-cleaning rig that uses a proprietary cleaning solution comprising a degreasing detergent and an alcohol-based carrier, followed by a tap-water rinse. Made mostly of PVC tubing, the Dandy has a vertically mounted clamping mechanism that permits easy rotation of the secured LP. Also included are a faucet-coupling adapter, a protractor, and a length of clear plastic tubing with a pressurized water nozzle. "Until you get the hang of it," Mikey warned, "the G.E.M. Dandy can make a mess." Despite his best efforts, water invariably seeped into the Dandy's protective cups to wet the outside edges of record labels. However, the Dandy proved "terrific" for cleaning water-damaged and crudded-up records, MF concluded. (Vol.31 No.9)

Milty Zerostat 3: $119.95
"The gold standard of static-discharge devices," the ZeroStat is a gun-shaped gadget with two heavy-duty piezo-electric crystals and a patented compression trigger. Slowly squeezing and releasing the trigger produces a neutral static condition, thus removing static cling from record surfaces. Said to be good for at least 10,000 squeeze cycles. SM uses the Zerostat religiously: "Wouldn't want to live without it," he declares. Discounted at some retailers, including Amazon and B&H. (Vol.30 No.10, Vol.35 No.5 WWW)

Mobile Fidelity Geo-Disc cartridge alignment tool: $49.99
The size and shape of an LP, with a spindle hole at its center and clear instructions printed right on its surface, MoFi's Geo-Disc is a simple and affordable cartridge-alignment tool. Using the Geo-Disc to install cartridges on the VPI Traveler and various Rega 'tables, SM easily and consistently achieved accurate alignment. Diehard analog hobbyists will still want the versatility of more complex tools, such as the DB Systems DBP-10, but "the Geo-Disc is the only alignment protractor most vinyl enthusiasts will ever need," said SM. (Vol.35 No.11 WWW)

Onzow Zero Dust stylus cleaner: $39.99
"A circular mound of semi-gelatinous goop in a box, onto which you gently lower your stylus," said MF. Use is simple: "After a few seconds, you lift the stylus, and it's as clean and residue-free as the proverbial whistle. . . .Upside: no potentially dangerous brushing, and no fluids. Downside: if you like to leave your platter spinning, you'll have to stop it each time, or find another steady surface upon which to perform the operation." (Vol.25 No.3)

Orb DF-01ia disc flattener: $1300
Although MF found an earlier iteration of the Orb " difficult and perilous to use," that was not the case with this version. There are three heat settings (low, medium, and high) and three record size options (7", 10", and 12"). While Orb doesn't recommend the disc flattener be used for very thin records, records from Sheffield Lab, and "Super Analogue" discs, MF wrote that "most of your warped records will be flattened without damage by this essential accessory. . . . Every audio club ought to have one to pass around. Every vinyl fan who can afford it should get their own." (Vol.45 No.1 WWW)

ORB phono accessories: $350–$480
The Sakura handheld static-discharge eliminator ($350) is a variant of the Furutech deStat SNH-2, and the SFM-2 stylus-force gauge ($480) and CRE-2 Cartridge Exciter ($399) are variants of similar products from Air Tight. While pricey, the ORB Phono Accessories are beautifully made and work well, said Mikey. Available directly from www.twinaudiovideo.com. (Vol.33 No.12)

ramar record cleaning brush: $340
Handmade to order, the Ramar brush uses both goat hair and carbon-fiber bristles and is available in three wood finishes: "Tina," "Red," and "Joni." It "makes you want to brush even the cleanest of records," MF wrote. (Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

Record Doctor "Clean Sweep" brush: $19.95
Two brushes that appear identical, other than the Stasis being ivory-colored and the "Clean Sweep" ebony-colored. They have the same thickness (50µm) and number (260,000) of chemically inert nylon bristles. (Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

Rega RB808 spacer, 2mm: $45
This simple stainless steel spacer allows owners of Rega tonearms to adjust the height of their arms to accommodate non-Rega cartridges. Fidgety but worth the hassle, says SM. With the spacer in place and Dynavector's DV 10X5 moving coil cartridge mounted on his Rega P3-24, SM heard improved clarity, impact, immediacy, and soundstage depth. (Vol.35 No.11 WWW)

Rek-O-Kut Stylus Force Gauge: $22.
The Rek-O-Kut Stylus Force Gauge is a big, easy-to-use balance beam that comes with a total of 5.75gm in plastic weights, for use in various combinations. For cartridges designed to play at downforces of 3.5gm or more, the Rek-O-Kut is "a good, cheap solution," said AD. (Vol.32 No.2 WWW)

Shaknspin: €260 (incl. shipping)
Hand-held, battery-powered device for measuring turntable speed that requires you to move it around in various directions to manipulate the settings. Small display shows average speed in RPM, average speed deviation, max/min speed variation, high-pass–filtered max/min speed variations, various wow and flutter measurements, jitter, and more. (Vol.44 No.9 WWW)

Soundsmith EZ-Mount screws: $39.95
Soundsmith's sets of knurled screws, designed to fit most brands of tapped cartridge, made installing cartridges much easier, said Mikey. Each set includes pairs of 10mm-long screws made of four different materials: nylon (1.04gm/pair), aluminum (2.06gm/pair), stainless steel (5.80gm/pair), and brass (6.24gm/pair)—so that users can easily match a tonearm's effective mass to a cartridge's compliance. (Vol.33 No.12)

Spin Clean Record Washing System: $79.99 $$$
Package includes a plastic vat, two brushes, two rollers, a 4-oz bottle of concentrated cleaning fluid, and washable drying cloths. Three sets of slots allow cleaning of 7", 10", and 12" records. Two velvet-like brushes clean both sides of a record simultaneously as the user rotates the record within the appropriate slot. Though "not nearly as convenient or as efficacious as a vacuum cleaning system," the Spin Clean Record Washing System "got the job done," said Mikey. Spin Clean claims a single vat of fluid can clean up to 50 records, but MF suggests refreshing the vat more often. A 16-oz bottle of fluid costs $19.99; a package of five drying cloths costs $19.99. (Vol.33 No.2)

Stasis Record Cleaning Brush: $29.95
Two brushes that appear identical, other than the Stasis being ivory-colored and the "Clean Sweep" ebony-colored. They have the same thickness (50µm) and number (260,000) of chemically inert nylon bristles. (Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

StylusTimer: $19.95
This inexpensive gadget keeps track of stylus playing time in hours. Press Start when you lower the pickup on to the LP and Stop at the end of the side. (Vol.43 No.9 WWW)

Synergistic Research PHT: $199/pair
What's smaller than the head of an M2.5 socket-head bolt, comes in four different colors, and is purported to make any phono cartridge sound better? The Synergistic Research PHT—short for PHono Transducer, and pronounced by its manufacturer as pot. This tiny tweak, the innards of which are a trade secret, is meant to be applied to an exposed portion of the top of an installed phono cartridge or, where that's not feasible, to the top surface of the headshell. All manner of sonic enhancements are claimed, and indeed, RD came away from his PHT experience saying that "soundstages were deeper and wider, aural images more precise, dynamics more startling." Different colors of PHT are said by Synergistic to represent different "strains" (geddit?); RD liked the black one best. His conclusion: "$199/pair for the PHTs, with money-back guarantee, is well worth it." (Vol.38 Nos.2 & 12, Vol.39 No.10 WWW)

Tonar "Tacky Cleaner": $37.95
Handheld, washable roller designed to be rolled straight across a record surface to pick up dust on the surface of and within the grooves. MF can "easily recommend it for hard-platter surface cleaning." (Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

Vinyl Flat LP Flattener: $159.99 shipped CONUS
Made in the US, the Vinyl Flat uses pressure, heat, and time to repair warped and dished LPs. The basic package contains two Groovy Rings (LP-sized sheets of black plastic), two heavy metal plates, a few pieces of hardware, a nice storage case, and a table of heating times and cooling cycles. The optional Groovy Pouch ($79.95) is a soft, specially made enclosure that uses carbon-fiber heating elements to surround the Vinyl Flat with gentle, even heat. Using his oven or the Groovy Pouch, SM was able to successfully flatten even severely warped and dished LPs, but cautions: "Be sure that your oven's temperature is properly calibrated before baking your precious LPs." (Vol.35 Nos.4 & 5 WWW)

VPI HW-16.5 record-cleaning machine: $1045
VPI has discontinued their HW-17 and HW-27 ("Typhoon") record-cleaning machines. Back to basics. (Vol.17 No.5, Vol.19 No.6)

WallyReference: $275–$335
The WallyReference is a 16mm-tall device that comes with shims. With the cartridge lowered, stylus sitting in the record groove (but turntable not turning!), the supplied "standup" height gauge is used to measure the distance from the record surface to the headshell's lower surface, which should be the same 16mm. Once that is achieved, using the shims, the arm height is adjusted so both the front and rear edges of the WallyReference blade rest longitudinally on the record surface. Azimuth can then be adjusted to ensure that the blades sit flat laterally—transversal—on the platter surface. SRA and VTF can then be adjusted, along with overhang and zenith angle using the WallyTractor Universal. The new, improved WallySkater can then be used to set antiskating. (Vol.44 No.8 WWW)

WallyScope: $1250
The WallyScope marries a high-resolution digital camera with an optical microscope on a platform designed for fine-tuning of height and focus while maintaining rigidity. As well as providing high-quality images of the stylus, the software lets you measure the angle between the stylus and the cantilever and the dynamic stylus rake angle (SRA). (Vol.45 No.5 WWW)

WallySkater Tonearm Horizontal Force Gauge: $260
A much-improved version of the original gauge, which was designed by the late Wally Malewicz. The new version was designed by J.R. Boisclair, working with Wally's son Andrzej, and allows you to accurately measure at two points, one near the LP's outer groove area where skating is greater and one closer to the record's center, where skating force diminishes. "This new WallySkater lets you both set antiskating more accurately and also check the efficacy of the antiskating system your arm uses," MF concluded. (Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

WallyTractor Universal: $395
This redesigned, circular version of the original wedge-shaped WallyTractor (no longer available) still offers engraved Baerwald and Löfgren arcs and parallel lines that indicate the radii where the tracking error is zero. However, there are now two sets of each: one for older IEC-conforming LPs and the other for post-1990 discs, which have a significant increase in innermost groove radius. MF's only criticism: "I wish the bottom surface was a little more grippy." (Vol.43 No.9)

Woodsong Audio Eddy-Brake Disc: $140
In his sad belief that the number of Stereophile readers who own a Garrard 301 motor unit might reach beyond the low two digits, AD proclaims the benefits of replacing that turntable's original eddy-brake disc—which by now is surely beat to hell—with this beautifully machined replacement from plinth specialist Woodsong Audio. The Woodsong disc is machined more accurately, from better-quality alloy, and is fitted with a better-fitting hub. And its installation on AD's own 301, which went smoothly enough, resulted in measurably better speed stability. Really, now: What's not to like? (Vol.39 No.3 WWW)

Woodsong Audio Plinth for the Garrard 301: $3600+
According to AD, "a good plinth can enhance nearly every aspect of a turntable's performance," and the Woodsong Audio plinth for the Garrard 301 motor unit is a very good plinth indeed. Designed and made in Idaho by woodworker-machinist Chris Harban, the Woodsong plinth is crafted from Baltic-birch plywood, Panzerholz, and manmade slate, and its internal surfaces are shaped in such a way as to leave very little room between plinth and the turntable's below-deck working bits. The consumer can choose a plinth with one or two articulated armboards, and can select from several veneers and finishes, "ranging from the merely pretty to the stunning." AD was very impressed by the Woodsong's appearance, the convenience and precision of its arm-mount provisions, and, above all, its contributions to the sound of his own Garrard 301: "this is one of the easiest recommendations I've ever made." (Vol.39 No.7 WWW)

COMMENTS
Auditor's picture

The text under the J. Sikora Initial is the same as under the J. Sikora Reference, which is obviously a mistake.

John Atkinson's picture
Auditor wrote:
The text under the J. Sikora Initial is the same as under the J. Sikora Reference, which is obviously a mistake.

Fixed. Thank you.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

lesmarshall's picture

I was very surprised to read that the Benchmark DAC 3 is no longer a Recommended Component . In the earlier 2022 edition of Recommend Components , it was an A+ component . Your stated reason for the deletion was because it was not auditioned in a long while . Well why not audition it then ? Also, why is an audition necessary ? It measured as one of the best DACs ever . Why would its measurements change simply because you have not auditioned it recently ? I understand its your policy , but it seems rather unfair to Benchmark that you no longer recommend it for that reason . I believe a much fairer policy would be that a highly rated component should only fall off the recommended list if it is auditioned periodically and you determine that its current level of recommendation is no longer justified based on the factors that you use to include a component of the recommended list .

JRT's picture

Les, toward some light hearted amusement, consider a reductio ad absurdum.

The quoted material below was excerpted from the first version (published 01 May 1963) of Stereophile's recommended components, just the A,B,C rated amplifiers and preamplifiers:

Quote:

Preamplifier-Control Units
A: Marantz 7, McIntosh C-20
B, C: Dynaco PAS-2

Power Amplifiers
A: Marantz 8B, McIntosh MC-60 (footnote 5), Marantz 9A (footnote 5)
B, C: Dynaco Stereo 70

Footnote 5: mono amplifier.

Reductio ad Absurdum... Should the old gear listed above continue as currently recommended gear, or is it best left in its original context in the circa 1963 article? ...and why or why not? ...and is it a much too different set of cases for comparison? ...why? Would that old gear be good fodder for a listing of recommended vintage gear, and is that good subject matter for the current Stereophile readership? These are mostly rhetorical questions, but not all.

JRT's picture

Would you also include the essentially similar PAS-3, and then also the PAS-3X with updated tone controls, and then maybe also Frank van Alstine's improved Super PAS Three, etc.? The original short-list can grow large.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/recommended-components-1-0

https://www.stereophile.com/tubepreamps/1088vana/index.html

georgehifi's picture

It would be nice if the "title" of the piece recommended was clickable, so one could easily then read the full review of all these thousands of "recommended components" instead of searching like a ???

Just a thought??

Cheers George

liquidsun's picture

I must say I'm surprised to see Perlistens into Restricted Extreme LF category as I thought they were full range speakers.

Kal Rubinson's picture

For most, they will be full range but, as you can see from JA's Fig. 4, the FR is rolling off smoothly below 100HZ such that it will easily mate with a complementary subwoofer. I believe that was Perlisten's intent. That said, unless you are assessing the sound of low, low organ pedal tones, explosions or thunder, the bass from the s7t is clean, powerful and musically satisfying.

Robin Landseadel's picture

There's a lot of Dance Pop/Techno music that gives the lowest octave a workout. Managed to blow out the small bass driver from a Paradigm bookshelf speaker with a Sarah McLaughlan track---"I Love You" from the album "Surfacing"---a quiet ballad with a synth bottom without overtones, so there's pure, deep bass. Another good example would be the work of Bill Laswell, a producer/bass player.

Kal Rubinson's picture

OK but how is this relevant? On the one hand, I am not surprised that one can blow out the small bass driver in a bookshelf speaker. On the other, I doubt if it would do that to the Perlisten.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Blowing out the driver of a Paradigm Atom might not be meaningful save that I blew it out with a track that is low in level and undynamic. More to the point, it sounds like the speakers in question could use a sub. Of course, you pointed out that the speakers in question are designed to integrate well with subs. My Infinity 250 speakers, small floor-standing speakers, also requires a sub for deep bass.

What is meaningful is that there is more to the bottom octave than organ pedals and explosions. Lots of modern productions take advantage of digital recording/playback's ability to record/reproduce the lowest octaves of sound.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Yes, there is a lot more to the bottom end than I cared to mention but the distinction between the small Paradigm Atom and the s7t is that the former needs a sub (or a LP filter) merely to survive wide-band signals while the latter does not.

Did you read my comments about the Garage Door test? I doubt that either your Paradigm or your Infinity could compete with the Perlisten, with or without a sub.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Doubtless. My point was more about program material and really deep bass. In any case, my Infinity Primus 250s are aided by my Sonance Son of Sub. As the system is in a small room, it's probably as much bass as the room can take.

Anton's picture

I like to hit this issue and pretend all my Hi Fi gear is gone and I have to start over with my budget and this list.

Glotz's picture

Droooooool.. and I'm done FOREVER.

Soulution, MBL... heaven.

KEFLS50W's picture

It will be interesting to see if Stereophile catches up to the focus on active, integrated designs. The relevance of separates seems to be waning in comparison to these sexy and modern designs (many of which are good value to boot) from KEF, B&W, Q Acoustic, ATC, Dali, and others. LS50WII for example gives me access to high quality, high current class a/b amplification I would not have been able to afford with separates. On another note, why are REL subs not listed - they would floor the competition listed in terms of sonics and build quality. Sorry but SVS is a home theater product and KEF KC62 is for kids.

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