Turntable Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Aug 20, 2000  |  0 comments
Andy Payor hurls a briefcase full of engineering and scientific mumbo-jumbo at in an attempt to justify the $73,750 price of the latest and greatest edition of his Rockport Technologies turntable, but really—isn't this all-air-driven design a case of analog overkill? After all, defining a turntable's job seems rather easy: rotate the record at an exact and constant speed, and, for a linear tracker, put the stylus in play across the record surface so that it maintains precise tangency to a radius described across the groove surface. By definition, a pivoted arm can't do that, so the goal there is to minimize the deviation. That's basically it. Right?
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 04, 2005  |  First Published: May 04, 1998  |  0 comments
"My original goal was simply to design a better turntable than the Linn because at that time in the UK, Ivor Tiefenbrun was the man—he was the patron saint and all that. And all the hi-fi mags were full of Linns. He did for turntables, in a way, what Mark Levinson (the man) did for amplifiers."
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 23, 2007  |  0 comments
Simon Yorke is an artist, a machinist, an electronics wiz, and a political idealist. He's also an analog enthusiast who melds aesthetic and technical considerations into eye-catching, densely packed, compact record-playing devices that are ruggedly built and functionally elegant. His turntables' smooth, matte-gray, metallic finishes and efficient lines make them among the most visually pleasing ever made.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 15, 2000  |  0 comments
What do you want from a 21st-century record-playing device? I hear you: you want one that's compact, well-made, easy to set up, holds its setup, sounds great, and doesn't cost a lot.
Michael Fremer  |  May 15, 2009  |  0 comments
Much has happened in the analog world since I reviewed SME's flagship Model 30/2 turntable for the March 2003 Stereophile (footnote 1). Back then, spending $25,000 on a turntable (without tonearm) was an odd extravagance intended only for those seriously committed to the format, and who already owned large LP collections. Although new LPs were being pressed in growing numbers, the resurgence of vinyl was still spotty, and the long-term prognosis for the old medium remained in question.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 16, 2003  |  0 comments
Dense, compact, and built to run O-rings around the competition, SME's flagship turntable makes every other design I've encountered—with the possible exception of Rockport's System III Sirius—look almost homemade. I don't mean to insult the many fine, well-engineered designs out there, but I've seen nothing else to compare with SME's tank-like approach to spinning a record. Comparing the Model 30/2 to a tank isn't exactly fair: the machining is done to higher than mil-spec tolerances. I don't think anyone else building turntables today is capable of this level of construction quality, never mind design ingenuity and fit'n'finish.
Guy Lemcoe  |  May 11, 2017  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1993  |  6 comments
When Tom Norton asked if I'd like to review an entry-level turntable from SOTA, I responded with a resounding "Yes!" I've long felt that there's a conspicuous absence of affordable, good-sounding record players on dealers' shelves. With the AR ES-1 package deals no longer available and the Rega 3 now selling for $775, at $599, SOTA's new Comet promised to be stiff competition for the Basiks, Revolvers, Duals, and Thorenses of the world. Also, due to my tenacious embrace of vinyl, I try to encourage as many music lovers as I can to experience the satisfaction derived from LPs and the fun and excitement of collecting them. If I can point them in the direction of a competent, sanely priced analog rig, I'll consider a good part of my mission accomplished.
Paul Bolin, Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 26, 2003  |  First Published: Jul 26, 1990  |  0 comments
"Which way to the four o'clock tour?" It was already 10 minutes past the hour. I was late, but this was the last tour of the day. It would be a very long wait for the next one.
Steven W. Watkinson, Various  |  Sep 05, 2008  |  First Published: Feb 05, 1984  |  0 comments
The SOTA Sapphire was the first, and the most successful in terms of sales, of the new generation of high-end American turntables. As such, the SOTA can be viewed as leading this country's resurge ence of interest in high-quality turntable production. At the time of the SOTA's introduction in 1981, it was the only high-end turntable manufactured in the US. Since then American-made turntables have appeared from the likes of AR, Mapleknoll, Sonographe, and VPI.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 14, 2010  |  0 comments
Photograph: TONEAudio Magazine

High-end audio exists at the intersection of art and science. Either discipline can produce a good product, but it takes both to create the very best. The Sonic Frontiers gear I auditioned many years ago, for example, was technically sound, nicely built, and sounded good—just never as sublime as products from, say, Audio Research or VTL. On the other hand, an experienced, insightful designer such as Quicksilver's Michael Sanders can create wonderful products from humble circuits and parts, but be ultimately limited by the underlying technology. But when brilliant design, uncompromised execution, long experience, and artistry all come together, the results can be staggering.

Jonathan Scull  |  Aug 06, 2006  |  First Published: Oct 06, 1998  |  0 comments
The La Luce turntable's elegant form usually stops audiophiles dead in their tracks. Then comes a long, low "Wow." I'm hardly immune myself. And that's not even considering the sound, which has always been wonderful, as it was in the Joseph Audio/Cardas room at CES '98.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 20, 2019  |  41 comments
Unless a truly budget-priced Air Force model is in the works, the TechDAS turntable lineup now seems complete: The recently introduced Air Force Zero ($450,000) is at the top, and the "affordable" Air Force V ($19,500) is at the bottom. The Air Force One, Two, and III turntables, all available in both standard and Premium versions, sit in the costly middle.

There's no Air Force IV because in East Asia that number is considered bad luck—which also explains why Japanese golfers shout "Six!" when someone hooks a shot into an adjacent fairway (joke alert).

Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 24, 2014  |  0 comments
What I failed to make absolutely clear in my April column is that I really, truly, thoroughly enjoyed all three USB DAC–headphone amps that I auditioned: the Audioengine D3 ($189), the AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2 ($149), and the Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS ($199). Each offered a slightly different perspective on the music, but none could be accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, dumping several feet of snow on top of our car, or doing anything especially wrong.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 11, 2019  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1966  |  17 comments
This is an integrated arm-and-turntable unit using single-belt drive from a stepped motor pulley to an inside platter (under the main one), and having a three-point suspension similar to that in the AR turntable for isolation from acoustic feedback and floorborne vibrations. Speed change is accomplished by a two-pronged "fork" which, actuated by the speed selector knob, throws the belt from one step of the motor pulley to the other. The motor is a special synchronous type that is actually two motors in a single case. Their speed is determined by the frequency of the AC supply, so there is no speed adjustment.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 28, 1995  |  First Published: Dec 28, 1987  |  0 comments
There is something vaguely disturbing about the idea of an $8000 turntable and arm combination. That's more money than a lot of audiophiles have invested in records through the years. Total overkill! Or so it might seem. But the entire history of analog disc reproduction, from the first LP to the present, has been one of seemingly open-ended discoveries—of subtleties nobody ever imagined were frozen in those tiny grooves, of levels of quality no one ever guessed the medium was capable of. Yes, newer LPs are a lot better than the first ones, but that is only to be expected in any technologically advancing field. What is amazing about the LP is that, 40 years after its introduction, we are still finding out that all of them, from the first to the latest, are better than anyone could have imagined. An improved phono unit doesn't just make the latest release from Wilson Audio or Reference Recordings sound better, it does the same for every LP you own!

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