TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable Page 2

The Zero can accommodate two 9"–12" tonearms mounted on massive titanium armboards drilled for your choice of arms. The review sample was supplied with two standard titanium armboards drilled for the Graham Elite and SAT CF1-09 tonearms.

Easy to use, little required maintenance
Once the dealer setup was accomplished, the Zero was practically maintenance free for the six months it spent in my listening room. You turn it on by turning a single knob, and then a screen tells you if air is required and where. The easily activated pump with attached air hose lets you "top up" the feet as required with four tire-like air valves located behind a front plate. Occasionally topping up the air in one of the feet was the only maintenance the Zero ever required.

Place a record on the platter, choose the speed, activate the vacuum hold-down, and in a surprisingly short time, the 'table locks in to the right speed (and tells you so on the screen), and you're good to go. Very good to go.

I attended the Zero's North American debut at The Audio Salon in Santa Monica in April 2019 a few days before AXPONA, and as I wrote, I went there a skeptic and left believing I'd heard the best vinyl playback I'd ever experienced, beginning with a level of background silence I'd never before heard, nor had anyone else in attendance. When the stylus kisses the record, there's a natural nothing. There is energy in the stylus/vinyl exchange, which the best turntables minimize. The Zero, performing like an enormous drain for unwanted energy, seemed to eliminate it completely.

Look at the measurements produced by both the shaknspin and the oft-used PlatterSpeed app. Both sets of measurements are what you might expect from a direct-drive turntable including maximum relative deviation low pass filtered of ±0.02%. That's impressive to look at but more impressive to hear.

Weight, gravitas, and the Air Force Zero sound
Regardless of arm (Elite with optional tungsten armwand or SAT CF1-09) or cartridge (X-quisite ST, Lyra Atlas Lambda SL and Etna Lambda SL, or TechDAS TDC01 Ti), all of which I am familiar with in other contexts, the Air Force Zero put its sonic stamp on all associated gear. You may say that it should have no sound of its own for that price, but in the analog world—digital, too, for that matter—every link in the chain has a sonic character, which to me is not the same thing as an amplitude-based coloration. 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.

I listened first to the TechDAS TDC01 Ti. I heard the long, sticky bass sustain and muscular bottom-octave control and attributed it to the cartridge, but later I heard that unmistakable quality with the other cartridges even as they maintained their own character.

In a recent webinar, Bernie Grundman talked about cutting Dave Brubeck's Time Out for Classic Records from the original three-track tape. (It's now on Analogue Productions—APPJ 8192-45—pressed from the same metal parts.) I've been playing this record in one pressing or another since the early 1960s.

The first two bass drum kicks, drenched in added EMT-plate reverb, produced decisive, emphatic force and communicated Joe Morello's intent to set off the tune with a bang that I'd never noticed before. After those first two kicks, you could hear him ease off the pedal. The bass sustain that followed the attack lingered more noticeably in the reverb. Morello's cymbal work was richer and fuller, with more wood and somewhat less brass sparkle, making it sound more natural and less hi-fi. The snare sound, too, had more nuance and natural detail. The Zero lingered on everything, producing gravitas and richness on piano and saxophone on a recording I'd always thought sacrificed instrumental solidity for reverb-drenched effect.


I wondered: What would the finger snaps sound like on Elvis's sinewy take on "Fever"? (Elvis is Back, Analogue Productions AAPP-2231, sat on the shelf next to Time Out, so no mystery where that idea came from.) The finger snaps were slower—almost suspended in time and far fleshier than I expected from long familiarity. Bob Moore's bass lines took on added attack weight and longer-lingering sustain, and Buddy Harman's ricocheting bongo hits sounded fuller and richer, almost like larger conga hits. At one point, Elvis sings "fever!" followed by two familiar kickdrum exclamation points; each produced depth-charge thunder.

I had a visitor recently who owns a very good stereo. He wanted to hear Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" wherein Herbie Flowers plays two bass lines: one on double bass and the other an octave and a third higher on electric. I'd not played this on the Zero, but oh man! The "sticky" double bass below and the light but precise electric above produced through the Zero a "Walk on the Wild Side" the likes of which I'd never before heard. I followed that up with what I knew would be an awesome kickdrum sound from the "Porky Prime Cut" UK edition of Squeeze's "Tempted" from East Side Story (AMLH 64854). It was beyond-expectations, slamming good. The next day, my visitor called and said, jokingly, in reaction to what he'd heard, "I hate your f...king guts."

Chasing the Dragon recently released an ambitious and meticulously recorded, produced, and packaged five-LP edition of the Bach Cello Suites (Chasing the Dragon VALLP014), most of which is performed by Justin Pearson, principal cellist of the National Symphony Orchestra. It includes two versions of the 3rd suite, one with the piano accompaniment written by Robert Schumann. (Robert Schumann wrote accompaniment for all six, but wife Clara is thought to have destroyed the others; somehow the 3rd survived.)

The church recording (to analog tape) in five sessions in two venues, using a pair of omnidirectional microphones, is sonically spectacular in its lifelike instrumental timbres and 3D spaciousness. The Zero's presentation of this recording, compared to the rendering produced by the SAT XD-1, demonstrated the Zero's special mid to mid-low frequency weight, power, and drive and its unique ability to slow down the notes—something that works to benefit Mr. Pearson's workmanlike, somewhat light-hearted reading compared to János Starker's more brooding, powerful, and gravity-bending performances—either the late-'50s mono version for EMI reissued by the Electric Recording Company (ERC 33CX1656) or the Mercury box reissued by Analogue Productions. The notes float by in one reading and tear your heart open on the two others. I'd played and enjoyed the mono ERC on other turntables, but the Zero's "stop time" presentation created an unmistakable, well-defined small studio space in which Starker appeared more convincingly than I've ever heard from this vintage mono recording, produced by attack certainty, sustain generosity, and prodigious decay into a black that digital reproduction, for all its extended dynamic range, for some reason can't produce.


IMPEX's mono reissue of Frank Sinatra's Columbia Records swan song Sing and Dance With Frank Sinatra (IMP 6036) is a "must have" for any Sinatra fan. Originally a 10" record, it is reissued here as a 12" with additional tracks. Sinatra pivots from faded teen idol crooner to hip, swinging sophisticate. You can feel in these performances how Frank unfolds his newfound rhythmic abilities. He's creating a new Frank live as he leans into the microphone and lets it rip. Through the Zero, the added weight and grip helped create a presentational ease and certainty that resulted in a serene listening experience, on this old recording and on every record I played, even on hard rock and heavy metal records. The Zero's stillness and certitude helped deliver every musical genre's full weight and meaning, minus the distractions created by less precise reproduction.

It may seem contradictory to note that a turntable with a base price of $450,000 has a recognizable sound, but if you get to hear the Air Force Zero under conditions commensurate with its performance capabilities, you'll quickly understand that it's not contradictory at all. The turntable is recognizable because 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. The AF Zero is not a flashy-sounding "show off" turntable.

The Zero is the most speed-consistent belt-drive turntable I've reviewed, and with its air-bearing platters and air suspension, also the quietest, best isolated, and most inert, with stable sonics, quiet, and exceptional detail resolution with no added grain or unnatural, mechanical edge definition. The Zero was also trouble- and hassle-free for six months and as much fun to use as it was to hear.

Let's just add it up: $450,000 for the base turntable. Add $50,000 for the tungsten top platter. Add $52,000 for the HRS stand, $14,250 for the Graham Elite arm, and an extra $9000 for the titanium armwand. That comes to $575,250.

Just to play records? Yes. Just to play records. Add another $50,000 or so for the SAT CF1-09 second arm and then go buy a few cartridges.

For those who can afford such an extravagance, I say, why not? And while you're at it, feed the hungry.

TechDAS, Stella Inc.
51-10 Nakamarucho, Itabashi-ku
Tokyo 173-0026, Japan

volvic's picture

It was so much fun reading how it all got put together. Three platters!!! Amazing! I do prefer the smaller Air Force turntables because they are slightly smaller and look less bombastic than this one. I also think that if this was mine I would probably blow out my back reaching to put that record on the Three Platters!!!! Such an amazing statement product.

a.wayne's picture

Who would have thought at such a price there would be options , any higher and they might attract the pentagon...

stability , sound and drive in such unstable of times...


ok's picture

to have come this far in order to properly read crappy vinyl records.

Jack L's picture


Sour grapes. pal.

When some rich & willing drives his half million-dollar Mercedes to shop "crappy vinyl records", someone can only afford riding subway to shop CDs.

Too bad....

Jack L

Michael Fremer's picture

It does not properly read crappy CDs, or any CDs, which is virtually all of them. See? Two can play the same stupid game.

thatguy's picture

But for some reason I just love over the top, crazy engineered things. I almost didn't read this review because it isn't something I'm into but it was so much fun.

Anton's picture

We are getting closer, but still not there. Next time, I'd like to see the whole thing in a hermetically sealed "clean room" enclosure with a complete air/particle filtration system.

If this baby is used in some trashy room environment that requires the operator to use any sort of dust brush or anything along those lines, it's simply a waste.

For that kinda cash money, they should go the whole monty and properly enclose this baby. We'd only be talking about an extra 20 grand...I can't imagine they aren't already setting them up this way.

That is absolutely not asking too much.

They should also require the user to wear a proper clean suit to operate it.

It's time we start taking vinyl playback seriously.

Jack L's picture


I don't know what "seriously" means by you. Hopefully we don't have to mortgage our house to buy the half-a-million-dollar TT that SERIOUS.

In fact, I've already started enjoying big-time vinyl music some 6 years back starting from scrape: a couple of used classical music LPs I picked up from a thrift store for a buck a pop back then.

Now I already got 1,000+ stereo classical music vinyl LPs which keeps on adding up as I shop my neighbourhood well-known chain thrift store nearly every week.

I am very gratified that I switched from CDs to vinyl as my priority music entertainment back then. IMO, only vinyl music can bring home music closest to live performance.

Though I enjoy bigtime vinyl music (a few hours a day on my days-off down my 700sq ft basement audio den), I've not spent much on playbakc equipment. So am I not "serious" enough dollarwise ???

Thanks goodness. I am a smart audio consumer, capable of DIY to save tones of money.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

Apparently, in developing your ability to evaluate and pursue value you have lost your ability to recognize satire.

Jack L's picture


Yea, apparently so.

Could be due to my study & work in engineering so so long.

I owe whoever got offended in my apparently being too-straight-to-the-point an apology. Unintentional for sure.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

It’s quite possible that no one was offended. Just as most (all-one) of us recognized that Anton’s post was satirical, most also recognize that your post wasn’t due to malice, but to your satire recognition defecit.

Jack L's picture


OK. Now I know where you came from.

While we are on the very topic of USD500,000 TT, Anton highted his conclusion that we should start vinyl PLAY BACK - SERIOUSLY.

My interpretation to it is we vinyl guys should spend more serious money on Vinyl PLAY BACK - turntable.

Sorry, maybe due to my lack of humor or poor English, I do not find it "satirical" at all.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

Anton’s post (especially with the demand that users wear clean suits) can only be satirical or the submission of a mad man. If you didn’t find it satirical then you should have refrained from responding as only a mad man would knowingly enter into a conversation with another mad man,

Jack L's picture


Sorry to disagree !!

There is the third option from Anton's statement" "SERIOUSLY"

He never suggested we should go for the $500,000 TT at all. He just stated "seriously". meaning we vinyl fans should spend more money to upgrade our TTs. To me, this is a pretty modest & decent suggestion.

If acquiring a $500,000 TT were the behaviour of a "mad man", then Jeff
Bezos should have been the maddest man on earth to spend billions for a 11-minute trip.

The person who successfully bid a seat therein for $19 million but could not make it & his bid money was then donated to some space-related institutes.

The person who replaced his space-shuttle seat was a 19-year old high-school boy, who later claimed he spent "much much less the $19 million" to take over the seat.

So as per your "mad man" perspective, there were already 3 very very mad persons on earth whose names were published worldwide.

Jack L

scottsol's picture

The madness is not related to the expense of the items, but to obsessive ideations such as requiring a clean suit.

Jack L's picture


Yes, I think we were talking about 2 different issue: hugh price tag (mine) & "requiring a clean suit (yours).

Yet in my reply to Anton's post above, I did caption clearly the price issue: "it's time to start taking vinyl playback seriously", with NO reference to Anton's sarcastic remarks.

We all know it was a joke by Anton. He concluded decently his post by suggesting we vinyl guy should start upgrading our TT to higher models, overriding his joke. Hence my following up post above.

Jack L

Jack L's picture


Sorry to disagree !!

There is the third option from Anton's statement" "SERIOUSLY"

He never suggested we should go for the $500,000 TT at all. He just stated "seriously". meaning we vinyl fans should spend more money to upgrade our TTs. To me, this is a pretty modest & decent suggestion.

If acquiring a $500,000 TT were the behaviour of a "mad man", then Jeff
Bezos should have been the maddest man on earth to spend billions for a 11-minute trip.

The person who successfully bid a seat therein for $19 million but could not make it & his bid money was then donated to some space-related institutes.

The person who replaced his space-shuttle seat was a 19-year old high-school boy, who later claimed he spent "much much less the $19 million" to take over the seat.

So as per your "mad man" perspective, there were already 3 very very mad persons on earth whose names were published worldwide.

Jack L

Michael Fremer's picture

Doesn't travel well on the "Internets" and therefore should be used with caution.

jjljr's picture

sorry Mike ... I'm a huge fan of Analog Planet and Stereophile, and I'm a big believer that no one should tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned (or inherited) money. If anyone with a spare half-mil wants to blow it on an 800# record player, he/she should have the right to do so.

Except ... no ... he/she shouldn't. The difference in sound quality between this and a $25-$50k turntable is inaudible to damn-near everyone on the planet. (MF excluded, which is partially-why we read his stuff). I can almost-understand spending this much $$ on a Ferrari or a Bentley - hell, at least someone else could see it and perhaps be jealous. But this is absurd - almost as absurd as dropping another $50k for the stand.

To anyone considering an Air Force Zero purchase: you actually have the ability to make a significant difference in the world. Donate that half-million to your local community college. Or to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Or to your local food bank. Just don't light it on fire ... which, effectively, is what would happen if you buy this turntable.

thatguy's picture

Think of all the things you could spend less on and then donate the rest. If everyone reading this gave up their next nearly inaudible audio purchase and donated the money it would likely greatly exceed the cost of this turntable.

I would bet that nobody that buys this is going to be altering their spending on other things to buy it. Given the income level they'd have to be at to buy this; I can't imagine they aren't already donating large amounts to multiple causes. This is basically mechanical art. How is this purchase instead of a new piece of regular art a bad thing? How many people does this turntable company employee? How are their lives affected by these jobs and how many causes do they contribute to?

People plunk down millions for bad paintings all the time and that money doesn't trickle down to a company full of employees and parts suppliers like this.

Jack L's picture


If half-a-million-dollar TT were "insane", then how would you describe today's richest man on this planet: Jeff Bezos' 11-minute
space trip ?

The successful bidder spent USD19 million to acquire the 4th seat of the space-shuttle with Jeff, could not make it.
His seat was then taken by a 19-year-old high school boy who claimed to have paid "much less than 19 million dollars" to take over.

The 19 million dollars were then donated to space-related institutes. !!!

Half-a-million dollars vs 19 million bucks ? From sublime to ridiculous ! Right ?!

This is a real world. Take it or leave it !

Jack L

scottsol's picture

You wrote, “ $25-$50k turntable is inaudible to damn-near everyone on the planet”. This perfectly sensible since such tables aren’t affordable for damn near everyone. So what’s the problem?

Michael Fremer's picture

You'd immediately hear what this turntable does I'm quite certain. Secondly, I know a few people who own these and they are active and generous donating money and time to progressive social causes. Can walk and chew gum.

MatthewT's picture

"This observation will set off howling among some audio enthusiasts"

Long-time listener's picture

It's now necessary to spend $575,000 to raise the crappy vinyl medium to the same level of resolution and accuracy and noise-free performance (except when there's dust on your LP) as a $700 Topping DS90SE DAC. Congratulations on your conservatism.

Another comment nailed it: "To anyone considering an Air Force Zero purchase: you actually have the ability to make a significant difference in the world."

Sure, spend some money on yourself. But if you're going to just throw it away, other people's lives could be significantly impacted, and you could make the world a better place. Jeez, rich people sure can be a bunch of a------s, can't they.

Jack L's picture


Apple to orange comparison, pal.

Apparently you're a "long-time listener" of digital gadgets only, correct ?

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

But I grew up listening to a wonderful tube-driven Magnavox stereo, and I'd love to hear it again. So I know there are aspects of pure analog sound that are appealing. And yes, I like digital sources, though I avoid Class D amps. Have you heard the Topping D90SE, or the Holo Audio May, in a good system?

But for apples to apples: No $700 combination of turntable and cartridge could reveal the stunning transparency and beauty I hear with the Topping D90SE DAC listening to a well-recorded digital source, such as Pat Metheny's recent works for guitar quartet on "Road to the Sun." Maybe this $575,000 turntable could.

But anyway, using "feed the poor" as a jokey tag line is bound to create backlash. Between its poor recommendations, its gun-friendliness and this "let them eat cake" attitude, Stereophile is becoming increasingly irrelevant to me. I read it faithfully, as I have for decades, but sometimes wonder why. The last two items I bought based on its recommendations--the NAD M32 amp and the Aerial 5T speakers--were bad, expensive mistakes, neither of which deserved Class A listings as far as I could tell. I can only wonder how long the reviewers actually spent with them before pronouncing them "highly recommended" for the average consumer. So until Stereophile does something useful for me, I will probably remain fairly quick to criticize.

Jack L's picture

Hi. Long-time (CD??) listener

Apple vs orange, again.

A TT, be it $700 entry level or half-a-million-dollar state-of-the-art, does not process any music. It is just a vinyl record spinner.

How come you told us your $700 toy could get "the same level of resolution & accuracy & noise free performance" of the record spinner ????

Like you just told us the 'superb' performance of yr $700 bike can beat a half-a-million-dollar Mercedes SLR McLasren Roadster.

Wake up & smell the coffee, pal.

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

"A TT, be it $700 entry level or half-a-million-dollar state-of-the-art, does not process any music. It is just a vinyl record spinner."

The LP, like a CD or a FLAC file, is a storage medium. An LP requires a turntable and cartridge to convert (i.e., process) what's in the grooves into an electrical audio signal. Like a digital-to-analog CONVERTER. They both do conversion, or "processing."

"How come you told us your $700 toy could get "the same level of resolution & accuracy & noise free performance" of the record spinner ????"

The Topping D90SE is their top of the line, not entry level. It measures in general as well, and in one or two respects better, than the $4000+ Holo Audio May. In my experience, measurements correlate most closely to subjective, perceived performance in DACs. The level of measured performance that used to only be available with a $10,000+ Weiss Medea later became available in a $1000 Benchmark DAC. The price-to-performance ratio in DACs is changing.

"Like you just told us the 'superb' performance of yr $700 bike can beat a half-a-million-dollar Mercedes SLR McLasren Roadster."

Comparing a bike to a Mercedes roadster: Do you actually know what "apples to oranges" means, PAL?

Jack L's picture


Very true.

But did you notice this very expensive TT does not come with any CARTRIDGE. So how can it "process" any music from the record grooves with its own cartridge ???

Please read carefully before you open yr mouth, pal.

It was YOU who claim yr $700 DAC could match the sonic performance of the $500,000 record spinner !! So you did compare apple to orange (DAC vs TT)

Also measurement data are only a guideline of how would the component perform technically. The final judgement is by our ears.

"In my experience, measurements correlate most closely to subjective, perceived performance in DACs."

Sorry, I totally disagree to yr such above "experience".

Let me quote again Cheever's audio engineering master degree thesis:

In his thesis, he compared the sound of a single-ended Class-A tube power amp measured 5% THD vs a transistor power amp of much higher output power measured 0.005% THD. His panel found the tube power amp sounded much better.

Many years later, Cheever's above experience was verified by another party with different tube power amp & transistor power amp by ABX double blind test.

Listening, not measurement alone, is believing

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

So, we're in agreement on that, and if you can cool down for just a moment, you might recall that I said I loved the tube-driven system I heard growing up. Introducing euphonic distortion at some point can, to some extent, depending on many things, be quite pleasing. I think for recordings that themselves date from the analog era, especially somewhat poor mono recordings, I'd like to hear them on LP through a tube system. But I'm more into clarity and realism most of the time these days. And I don't think you want your SOURCE to have 5 percent distortion, do you? Followed by 5 percent distortion in your amplifier? No, you want your source to reveal all the detail and resolution possible before you do anything else with the signal, including adding 5 percent euphonic distortion.

Yes, turntables have to have cartridges. And cartridges have to have turntables. They BOTH contribute to the sound, and reviews of turntables, including this one, always discuss their contribution to the SOUND of the playback. Stop screaming over obvious points and try to see what others are saying. The LP, even with a $600,000 turntable-plus-cartridge setup, is not a superior medium to good digital playback--even at very, very modest price point. It's the ridiculousness of having to spend $575,000 in order to raise that medium to its ultimate level that tells you it's no longer a very efficient or competitive medium for producing good sound.

And by the way, until you have both read the measurements and heard the Topping D90SE, you have no basis for saying anything about how it sounds. You don't know what you're talking about.

Jack L's picture


5% from the vinyl source, then "followed by 5% distortion in yr amp.."

So what? So you don't know the harmonic distortion generated by the
Loudspeakers is generally way way over 25% ????

Obviously you chose not learn from Cheever's master degree thesis I quoted in my above post to you. How come the tube amp with 5% THD sounded better than the transistor amp measured 0.005% THD ????

You got to understand whatever measured data get very little to do with what our ears perceived. Measurement of an audio equipment & our ears work differently from each other. OK !!!

"I am more into CHARITY & REALISM most of the time these days."

Me too. Whoever audio guy doesn't ?

FTY, my vinyl music sound so crystall-clear, see-through transparent, extremely fast transsient, micro-layered detailled, precise impaging & live-performance-like soundstaging.

Plus digital music can never YET deliver: emotion & enjoyment like attending a live performance.

Do please don't be so straight-minded into measuremnent data only.
Please use your own ears to judge the music, not be sidetracked & biased by the meassurement data read by your eyes only.

Enough said. Yet you are not alone, soooooo many audio guyes out there do think like you.

Listening with your own ears, not reading measurement data, is believing.

Jack L

ok's picture

..but modern speakers and headphones measure way down to 1% thd or much less - check out hifi news or soundstage network measurements for that matter - in case you're even capable of listening to (and believing in) what I'm talking about.

Jack L's picture



To verify yr hijacking my post here is "OK", please quote me one measurement review from Stereophile of one loudspeaker showing "down to 1% thd or much less."
Why refer other audio magazines, pal.

I read this typically 25% distortion statement from a published paper recently.

Jack L

ok's picture

..doesn't measure speaker thd so go where I'm leading you to old man and shut the fuck up.

Jack L's picture


When yr mom taught it's "ok" to open yr stink "fcuk" mouth swearing in the public ? Kid !

Stink !!!!!!

Jack L

ok's picture

and I apologize for my misconduct.

Jack L's picture

Hi oK

Your are welcome.

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

"Obviously you chose not learn from Cheever's master degree thesis I quoted in my above post to you."

Yes, yes... I now see the error of my ways ... I can only grovel in the dust before you in the sorry state of my abject ignorance. I -- and every reader of Stereophile, I imagine -- will from now on seek "transparency" only in systems such as yours, with 35 percent harmonic distortion (5+5+25). The more distortion, the better it sounds! What a fool I was!

I have been so blinded, beaten, and battered by the force of your superior, god-like knowledge that I will have to take some time to recover. I may not be able to write anything for a month or two ... But my silence should not be taken as rebellion; it is worship. All praise to Jack L! Praise him and rejoice in your newfound knowledge, all you heathens! Praise him!

Jack L's picture


Take it easy, please.

This is a social media for exchange of ideas. Why got offended ?

May I quote Warren Buffett's well noted quotation (2008)
"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

Nothing comes free. I work very hard to get myself here today.

Jack L

Michael Fremer's picture

Your DAC cannot under any circumstances produce music as can this turntable. And the kind of quiet it produces is of the choking in a vacuum kind. The people I know who have this turntable also spend their time and money on good things to make the world a better place. Choking on your own envy does not do that and that's what your comment does.

Long-time listener's picture

is being revised downward, and my estimation of your arrogance is being revised upward, because you're assuming you know things you can't possibly know. You assume I'm "choking on my envy." Envy of what? Of your money, yes. Of your turntable and stereo, no. As soon as CDs came out I got rid of my turntable and I've never looked back or had the slightest desire ever to own one again. So please don't attribute to me motives or feelings that you can't possibly be privy to in order to salve your own feelings. And you haven't heard my DAC.

Long-time listener's picture

is of the choking in a vacuum kind."

Wow. That does sound like nirvana.

Ortofan's picture

... Wilson Chronosonic XVX speakers, he (and his wife) determined that the difference in performance relative to the Alexx model made an upgrade worthwhile.

Was the difference in performance between the Air Force Zero and MF's present turntable (SAT, Continuum Caliburn ?) not sufficiently great to also warrant an upgrade?

Michael Fremer's picture

Afford this turntable nor do I have the space.

HarryT's picture

British (B) vs Metric (M)
These measurements were found in the body of the review.
725.5lb (B), 116lb˘cm2 (Some weird combination), 50W (M), 15¾” (B), 80lb (B), 43.5lb (B), 12.2" (B), 40lb (B), 48.5lb (B), 13lb (B), 50lb (B), 229.3lb (B), 266.7lb (B), 765lb (B), 10µm (M), 84lb (B), 220lb (B), 5.5m (M), 6m (M), 9" (B), 12" (B), 10" (B)
What is the logic? Just curious.

michelesurdi's picture

a half mil plus of equipment reviewed in a single instalment?seems a bit stingy to me.

Briandrumzilla's picture

If one could afford this extravagant TT and loved vinyl that much, they should make the purchase. For perspective, a Hunter Biden painting will set you back $500g. In this fiscal point of view, the TT is a bargain.

Jack L's picture


No yet, my friend.

Wait until you get the chance to take a look at the USD450 million painting of "Salvador Mundi" (in Greek meaning Savior of the World), a masterpiece of Jesus Christ picture by Leonardo da Vinci 1500s.
It was auctioned by United Arab Emirates for its new museum.

USD450,000,000 for a canvas painting !!!!!!

A TT for half a million dollars? Okay for those rich & willing.

Jack L

PeterG's picture

Fascinating and awesome, but it's hard to think of this as a piece of home hifi. The concomitant effort would overwhelm the pleasure. You have to house this massive beast, plus the amps and speakers, have a large volume of pristine vinyl (if it's not pristine, why bother), and then coddle every disk.

A $20-30K DAC is much more likely to bring audio nirvana repeatedly

Long-time listener's picture

"A $20-30K DAC is much more likely to bring audio nirvana repeatedly"

Why $20-30K? You can get the Holo Audio May for several thousand, depending on which version you get, or better yet, the Topping D90Se, which measures equally well, for $700. Both can help you find Nirvana.

Jack L's picture


Yea, you WISH $700 can HELP you find music "Nirvana".

Good luck. May I suggest you do not hold yr breath yet !

Jack L

Michael Fremer's picture

Has ever brought to me any kind of musical Nirvana. At best they produce pleasant sound that my brain in short order tells me to ignore in favor of something more pleasurable, at which point I play a record. I understand you have other thoughts and I respect them, but clearly you can't clear the same space in your mind to do likewise. Poor you.

Long-time listener's picture

is dependent on equipment, then you've got a lot to learn, and it's no wonder you waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on antiquated technology. I experienced nirvana the first time I heard Strauss' Four Last Songs on my car radio. Nirvana, musically, is a combination of mood, receptivity, experience, knowledge, newness or unfamiliarity, and other factors. You, apparently, are receptive to music and nirvana only when it comes from stratosphericaly priced equipment. Poor you.

saronian's picture

Eventually…'s picture

The people that will buy that table don't even have $450,000 in records, let alone an appreciable knowledge of what's on the records they DO own (if I had to guess based on previous experience)...

Michael Fremer's picture

Hasn't sufficient bandwidth. The people I know who own this 'table have spent that on records but even if they hadn't, is that really the measure? (Answer: no).

airdronian's picture

What an amazing device. Michael, was it hard to stop smiling while playing LPs with this ?

Reading reviews of these sorts of statement pieces is kind of like reading National Geographic for me. I like to see pictures of places I'll never get to. :>)

Thanks for the review, I hope you enjoyed the six months.

tonykaz's picture

Hubristic Elites waving the middle finger at the regular folks.

No-one will ever know if this system is a Viable transducer system because none of us will ever be able to spend any useful time with it.

We presumably have to take the word of a motivated review.

It might end up being a Solid device over the next decades or it may not-at-all like residential environments. ( especially humid basements )

It probably needs a Clean Room filtration and a trained technician to make regular service calls.

Editorially, I'd hope that Stereophile would focus on products for citizen subscribers instead of products for Oil Nation Dictators.

Tony in Venice Florida

ps. how often does it need an oil change, new belts and tune-ups ?, regular record players need all these things.

ps 2 ). I'm hearing that there are approx. 35,000 active buying record collectors ( who tend to buy multiple Sealed Copies )

directdriver's picture

I am a regular folk but it would bore me to tears if I have to read another Rega review. When will people understand these reviews are for entertainment purpose not as a consumer guide? If I have to buy something, I will do my own damn research. It's fun to read how rich people burn their money!

Ortofan's picture

... called "The Entry Level", covering equipment whose prices were compatible with the budgets of "citizen subscribers".
That column has since been retired. Make of that what you will.

On another note, are there still any active stamp collectors?

John Atkinson's picture
Ortofan wrote:
... called "The Entry Level", covering equipment whose prices were compatible with the budgets of "citizen subscribers". That column has since been retired. Make of that what you will.

That column - see - was the creation of Stephen Mejias. After he left the magazine in 2014 to work for AudioQuest, we couldn't find a writer to fill Stephen's multi-talented shoes.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jorgitok's picture

"After he left the magazine in 2014 to work for AudioQuest, we couldn't find a writer to fill Stephen's multi-talented shoes". You are hilarious, defending your very expensive sponsors.

Long-time listener's picture

You can get measurements of many items at Audio Science Review. You can get pretty trustworthy listening (and partially technical) reviews from A British Audiophile or Pursuit Perfect System, and comparative listening discussions from Audio Excellence Canada. The first two cover entry-level as well as more expensive stuff. Steve Guttenberg on The Audiophiliac doesn't usually provide very in-depth comparisons and that hasn't been as useful for me. Though he did give a nod to the Buchardt Audio S300SE, which, along with others, helped lead me in that direction. The Buchardts are now providing me with a nearfield nirvana listening experience.

Putting information together from a lot of sources and taking your time is probably the best way to go.

Michael Fremer's picture

I recently reviewed a superb sounding phono preamp costing less than $800. I review products at every price point here, and on AnalogPlanet.

PeterPani's picture

and must be quite annoying to use the backside-tonearm to land an extensive cartridge on the proper track of the vinyl.

Anton's picture

That arm is the charge of the back tone arm assistant. He answers to the general back table assistant who actually reports to the front tonearm squire, who is overseen by both the chief of the front tonearm and the general turntable committee that oversees and prepares all playblack.

You didn’t think the owner would have to deal with such minutiae, did you?

teched58's picture

. . . And what button do you push for the espresso to emerge?

Also, is that wand at the back the milk frother?

MatthewT's picture

To review gear I'll never get to see, let alone hear. The comments here will continue to be comedy gold.

Cooking Man's picture

Agreed. Full of self righteous sound and fury signifying,well, nothing. Why so serious folks?

dworkman's picture

Agreed, the comments are the best part of these cost-no-object reviews. Such a predictable pattern (including the eventual comments about the comments themselves!).

Cedex91's picture

In looking at the head photo, I can't help but see the platter as sized for 45s. When I mentally upsize the platter to a LP, you realize just how hulky this is.

Anyone planning on installing this on a suspended wood floor will need to preliminary investigation w/ a structural engineer.

Eliminating the factory stand and wall mounting this could be another option. Probably not...

CBHunter's picture

If some of you would stop wasting time by leaving anonymous comments on the internet where no one cares and get back to work in your corporate wage slave job, maybe you would one day afford this unit. I own one of these units personally, who are you to tell me how I spend my money?

Anton's picture


The part I like is that, here we are, a bunch of audio kooks who are way into the hobby of audio reproduction, and even we can become aghast at the wretched excess of our own hobby. That's quite an accomplishment.

Then, we have the audiophile Stockholm Syndromers who act like we are kneeling for the anthem by shaking our heads at 600,000 dollar record players.

Heck, for that money, people have failed to mention that it isn't a record changer. If your audio butler has to get up and flip sides every 20 minutes, or so, what a waste. Make it stack six, at least!

Oh, and those bubbling lights, more bubbling lights!

(For our more concrete members: I am using 'joking font.')

Ortofan's picture

... speed accuracy and stability of this turntable an order of magnitude (or two, or three) better than that of a $500 Onkyo?

PeterPani's picture

the record player chasis with fixed tonearm could spin around a rigid platter ;)

Anton's picture

This table is superior with regard to "immeasurable" wow and flutter than a regular table.

If only they had upgraded to Vantablack for the finish, it would have even blacker blacks.

ok's picture

..inevitably leads to absurd; this kind of product is merely a form of wealth redistribution. More of it please!!

JoeE SP9's picture

If I had enough discretionary funds to buy the Tech Das I'd buy a new Lamborghini, a $100K TT and spend the rest on wine women and song.

Archimago's picture


This stuff makes no sense even to multimillionaires I suspect. It's one thing to spend money to make something that can actually sound better, but there's nothing here to suggest that this thing is capable of any better rotational stability or significant resistance to vibration than turntables of orders of magnitude lower price!

One of these days, I think audiophiles will look upon this stuff with disgust rather than desire. With any luck, for the sake of this industry, that time comes sooner than later.

ok's picture

that "ultimate" rotation stability actually matters. In a fully analog (re)production chain - the only meaningful one for vinyl aficionados - the audible wow & flutter is an accumulative product of the original multitrack/master tape/n-generation copy/cutting machine/turntable speed inaccuracies. The final outcome is a chaotic pitch fluctuation mess that gives vinyl (or cassette) sound its distinctive atonal quality that so many people find beguiling.

Michael Fremer's picture

If you try listening with your eyes, you're bound to be disappointed. The people who buy "this stuff" love it and enjoy it. I'm afraid your conclusion about this turntable's performance indicates your inability to read with comprehension. Much about the design makes it resistant to vibration both external and generated internally as well...

mcrushing's picture

Been looking forward to this review, Mikey!

Particularly dig the way you describe the nuances you heard with the Zero, like the varying amount of pressure a drummer puts on a kick pedal or how clearly defined the bass parts on 'Walk on the Wild Side' can be. (Herbie Flowers has tone like NOBODY, man.)

I was at that 2019 demo and those details definitely remind me of what we heard that night. I remember being blown away by a trumpet solo on the 'Masterpieces by Ellington' record. There was this utterly palpable sense of the performer taking a step toward the mic as he started to play; with each note expanding from a pinpoint and taking on a shimmering harmonic quality as it exited the bell of his horn. I remember thinking I'd heard that before... In a jazz club.

So to the commenter who was incredulous about the average person's ability to hear the difference between the Zero and a $50k turntable, I'll have to respectfully disagree.

Another commenter pointed out that after having such an incredible table in your system for so long, a single review doesn't seem enough. That's maybe the harshest criticism... but I'll go ahead and pile on. Any chance you can share more about the Zero on Analog Planet? Perhaps you even have some vinyl rips you could share, so we can compare for ourselves?

Thanks in any case for the vicarious thrills.

Anton's picture

Does this new Techdas come with a dust cover, or is that the turntable butler's problem?

Michael Fremer's picture

includes a dust cover for the platter.

JimS's picture

This is no different for a Ferrari La Ferrari owner driving to dinner a few times at 40mph and selling 3 years later for $3M with 800 miles on it, or a Bugatti that is just one of 60 cars in a collection. Those magazines review those cars too, but it’s all silliness. The 40 units will be bought by billionaires and never used the way Mikey listens.

rachelle juliet's picture

MF and friends : Nice review on that pricey BD TT/analog rig.

""" including the company's statement product, the SX-8000, """

and where do you left this MS TT ( SZ-1 ) that in 1984 set you back: 1,718,000 Yens when in that same year the SX 8000MK2: only 1,050,000 Yens:

""" Look at the measurements produced by both the shaknspin and the oft-used PlatterSpeed app. Both sets of measurements are what you might expect from a direct-drive turntable including maximum relative deviation low pass filtered of ±0.02%. That's impressive to look..""

Impressive but not real. This is what me and other gentlemans were on a dialogue about your speed review charts ( not only in this review but others too. ). This was posted by an admirer of MF:

""" As the App only worked with the Mac iOS of many variations ago.....Mikey has kept an old iPhone which can still operate the App.
The PlatterSpeed App had a few technical limitations.....
Foremost amongst these, was its dependence on a 7" record with an embedded 3150 Hz Frequency track to produce a test-tone which the App could process through its algorithm to produce the graphs and all the corresponding numbers.
To stamp hundreds of 7" discs with perfectly 'centred' HOLES is a nigh impossibility.
It's almost impossible to do it with a 12" disc!!!

This means that ALL the figures produced in their Chart Info are dubious and mostly UNREPEATABLE!!!!
I have Chart Infos for the same turntable/arm combination but with the 7" disc moved slightly producing different figures.
I even have Chart Infos produced with the same turntable but different arms ALL with different figures........

So what is my point......?
The GRAPH produced with the PlatterSpeed App is accurate and USEABLE when looking at the 'Green' Lowpass-Filtered Frequency.
If the hole was PERFECTLY centred.....this 'Green' line would be perfectly STRAIGHT......but only if the turntable was maintaining its speed PERFECTLY.
The wobbles in the 'Green' line are due to the hole's eccentricity as well as any speed aberrations.
So the best performing turntables are those with the most constant and even wobbles approaching as closely as possible a STRAIGHT LINE. """

So, everything " looks " ok but always exist a " BUT " and here why that " but ":

"""""Then there is the low pass filter that is applied to the raw data, this designed to remove the impact of the records eccentricity. It is somewhat a blunt instrument in that it also removes key data about the platters micro speed stability within each revolution.
It is possible to do multiple tests and pick the best or worst numbers to highlight whatever point you are trying to make. But what the low pass filter does is filter distortion as well. This distortion is a graphical representation of rapid speed changes. It is no longer visible and what we are left with is a smoothed average which is used to compute the low pass filtered numbers."""

and follows:

""" A far more accurate and useful metric of the speed accuracy of a TT is to simply look at the raw yellow trace, ignoring the numbers. How close is it to the ideal symmetrical, clean, constant amplitude, sine wave? Some of the TTs mentioned plot significant deviation from this ideal with quite rapid and frequent speed changes.

Remember that the yellow trace is the cartridge output plotted as frequency with respect to time, any distortion of the sine wave is a change in frequency, thus a change in speed. These speed changes would be superimposed on any music that was being played. With this in mind, I invite you to look again at all of the speed plots.

a TT producing a yellow trace that is a badly distorted sine wave is NOT speed stable, although its speed could average 33.333. I hope that this is self evident. """

All those means that the Zero that's the best speed stability MF ever saw in a BD is just terrible unstable and it's not me who said that but the yellow raw frequency plotted.

Even that I think is rigth of course that that gentleman post can be wrong .

Mr. Fremer, what do you think about? the Zero is stable or speed way unstable? .

I ask because the main target/characteristic on any TT design, no matter what, is: SPEED STABILITY that seems to me we can't find out on the Zero half million $$$ TT. At least not on those plots by what that gentleman said. Again he can be wrong and this is the real question: are we wrong and what we have to " see "/read is the filtered green plot?

It's a question, not who is rigth or wrong.

rachelle juliet's picture

Dear MF : What is measured in the first speed stability chart ( that's the same app of other many reviewed TTs. ) by the app is took by the playback cartridge signal but in almost all your TT reviews tonearm/cartridge combinations are not exactly the same.

So, non single TT chart has a real use to make TT speed stability comparisons.

As the other question I posted before here it's a question for you: what's your take on this different tonearms that affects the cartridge signal in all those charts?

Both answers coming from you are essential, critical and learning for we audiophiles that buy and read Stereophile magazyne.

Thank's in advance and best regards,

rachelle juliet's picture

Dear friends : Coming from another audiophile next information gives us a direct response to may second question about what the speed chart app shows to us:

""" The following Plots are done with my 40 year-old Victor TT-81 DD Turntable (bought for $500) with the Test-Disc fixed in one location and the three differently positioned tonearms playing the Test-Tone. """

Those charts tell us that that app is useless for make TT speed stability comparisons and even useless at all because with different tonearms and cartridges the charts will be different.

Kind regards,

rachelle juliet's picture

Look this one on OMA K3:


Darrylizer's picture

The wow and flutter measurements are almost as good as my Denon DP-45F that I bought for 180 dollars. If you can afford it why not? It is audiophile art. But I'd rather spend 20,000 on a good turntable and cartridge and 430,000 on records and maybe a sandwich.

fallington's picture

You should be ashamed for granting legitimacy to a product this expensive that does not have auto stop and return.

Surge's picture

Disappointed that you plugged the AF0 into a PS Audio P15 - not only that, but you split one outlet into several, also not advised.
This probably is why you were not that blown away by the AF0 - the soft transients are a direct result of improper AC connection. You were starving the current demand of the motor.