Turntable Reviews

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Ken Micallef  |  Jun 29, 2022  |  5 comments
There's an enduring debate among the turntable-tech intelligentsia between opposing theories of turntable design. Some designers, notably Roy Gandy of Rega, follow a less-is-more approach, building stiff, lightweight turntables that release energy rather quickly. Others, such as Franc Kuzma, whose Kuzma Ltd. manufactures my reference Kuzma Stabi R turntable and Kuzma 4Point tonearm, believe in heavy mass-loading to dampen vibrations, including transparency-miring resonances.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 21, 2022  |  6 comments
Lublin, Poland, is about 130 miles from Lviv, Ukraine, a town that has been in the news lately. That's about the same distance as Hershey, Pennsylvania, is from my desk in northern New Jersey, where I'm writing this. They are close. Russian missiles struck Lviv on March 18, 2022, and as I write these words Lviv is preparing for more intense bombardment.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 08, 2022  |  8 comments
Playing records is a delight-filled chore. The simple, quiet act of lowering a tonearm places one's mind at the ready for something marvelous to happen. Surely, this gentle ritual initiates a higher mode of psychic connectedness than poking absentmindedly at a side-facing equilateral triangle on a piece of cheap plastic.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  6 comments
What? Suddenly a new Japanese cartridge manufacturer? That's what I was thinking when Mockingbird Distribution's Phillip Holmes dropped three cartridges on me from DYLP Audio. Never heard of them—but then I'd not heard of MuTech either when Holmes sent me one of that company's $4500 RM-Kanda (now Hyabusa) moving coil cartridges, which I reviewed in the March 2019 issue's Analog Corner. If that cartridge is not on your moving coil radar, you ought to put it there.
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 30, 2021  |  11 comments
I enjoy few things more than setting up a turntable. Whether it's for myself or for a friend—whether it's a budget model with a layered MDF plinth and nonadjustable tonearm, or a megabuck, state-of-the-art behemoth—I relish the ritual.

Back in the day, I used to huff and puff, scream and shake, thanks to the heebie-jeebies I'd get when attempting to raise a turntable to ultimate performance. But with experience comes wisdom. My buddy and Sound & Vision contributor Michael Trei makes turntable setup look like child's play. I've learned by watching Mike that, when a turntable setup tries your patience, the thing to do is keep calm and carry on.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2021  |  10 comments
You may be moving to Montana. Acoustic Signature is not an overnight sensation, nor are its turntables driven by dental floss. If you're not a Frank Zappa fan, you probably have no idea what any of that means, so please Google it. I'll wait till you get back.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 28, 2021  |  43 comments
If you're going to spend a year-plus in COVID lockdown, it doesn't hurt to have a million dollars' worth of turntables keeping you company, right? That's been my good fortune. Sounds like a roomful, but it's only three: the SAT XD1, the TechDAS Air Force Zero, and the OMA K3 ($360,000, footnote 1).

You'll find this issue's cover girl either strikingly beautiful or homely. Visitor reactions fall strongly into one of those two camps, with nothing in between. I love the looks. Whatever your opinion, the K3's visual distinctiveness cannot be denied. The innards are equally unique.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 27, 2021  |  92 comments
The Air Force Zero turntable is very large for a turntable, but it is not as large as a house. At $450,000 for the base model, it does, however, cost as much as many houses and more than many others (footnote 1).

This observation will set off howling among some audio enthusiasts of a sort that never happens in the wine world, for instance, where well-heeled oenophiles routinely spend large sums for a short-lived thrill.

Ken Micallef  |  Jul 28, 2021  |  9 comments
In 1957, Switzerland-based Thorens introduced the TD 124 turntable, a record player destined to become a classic. (TD is an initialism for tourne disque, French for turntable.)

A Thorens brochure from that same year itemized the TD 124's "11 main elements that result in 41 advantages." It noted the turntable's "strongly ribbed, solid chassis, crafted in cast aluminum," and its two-part platter including a "flywheel [subplatter], crafted in stabilized cast iron, [which] possesses excellent characteristics for the magnetic shielding of the drive system, as well as great inertia." Continuing, it lauded the TD 124's "main bearing, fitted with a 14mm spindle made of hardened, mirror-polished steel," its braking system, leveling dials, surface-mounted spirit level, and four "mushroom-shaped, rubber dampers [that] guarantee smooth suspension in a built-in frame as well as decoupling from the base."

Ken Micallef  |  Jun 02, 2021  |  4 comments
My friend Courtney Grant Winston has led a storied life. A photographer by trade, Courtney has a gift for revealing his subjects' spirited personalities. He has photographed actor Morgan Freeman, Le Bernardin co-owner Maguy Le Coze, and celebrity chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alain Ducasse, and Anthony Bourdain. Courtney took the iconic cover photo for Bourdain's 2000 breakout biography, Kitchen Confidential. Courtney's father was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II and a childhood friend of Billie Holiday. The voice of Courtney's mother, Dorothy, can be heard in Billie the recent documentary, speaking about the celebrated jazz singer's final days.
John Atkinson  |  May 24, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2021  |  1 comments
The June 2021 issue of Stereophile included followup reviews of two recommended components, both which deserved further investigation of what they had to offer: the dCS Bartók D/A processor and the Schiit Audio Sol turntable.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 20, 2021  |  4 comments
"I got some Audio-Technica ATLP120X turntables in the other day, which had been back ordered for maybe 6 or 7 months, so I called to see if they had more. I was told there were 17,700 of that model on back order," a dealer I know told me recently in an email.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 31, 2021  |  7 comments
Before returning home from the EISA convention in Antwerp two years ago, I spent a quiet, relaxing afternoon in The Loft, a luxurious shared space reserved for first- and business-class travelers, presented by Lexus and Brussels Airlines.

In addition to surprisingly good food and free-flowing alcoholic beverages, some airport lounges contain some really useful traveler amenities, like private showers and beds. The Brussels/Lexus space went above and beyond. I thought I'd had too much to drink (which I had) when I peered into the room and saw a Mark Levinson audio system featuring the No.515 turntable that Harman introduced in 2017. It was Mark Levinson's first turntable ever, and it cost $10,000 without cartridge. It is still in production.

Ken Micallef  |  Mar 03, 2021  |  11 comments
Many established audio manufacturers owe their success, at least partly, to their components' signature sound. Consider the laidback "pipe and slippers" mien of my 1978 Spendor BC-1 loudspeakers, the rich tonal palette of my Shindo Laboratory amplifiers, or the celebrated drive and timing of late-'50s era Thorens TD-124 and Garrard 301 turntables.
Alex Halberstadt  |  Feb 23, 2021  |  19 comments
A few months ago, a friend asked me to recommend a record player. This friend knows and loves music as much as I do; when he visits, we spend our time drinking wine and listening to records. Last time, it was Scott Walker, Fela, Joni Mitchell, Jacques Brel, Burzum, and both glorious sides of The Chronic.

"How much do you want to spend?" I asked cautiously. His answer: $500, tops.

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