Turntable Reviews

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Ken Micallef  |  Jul 28, 2021  |  6 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  |  6 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  |  10 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.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 17, 2020  |  74 comments
Let's begin by discussing what SAT's XD1 Record Player System is not: It is not a Technics SP-10R in a sci-fi–inspired plinth—although the XD1's engine does begin life as the SP-10R's basic drive system, which is stripped down to a handful of essential components, reimagined, reengineered, and rebuilt to much higher mechanical standards.
Julie Mullins  |  Sep 02, 2020  |  7 comments
Apart from the Beatles and Hendrix I heard in my audiophile father's basement, one of my earliest rock'n'roll memories involved a multipurpose record player at school. In third grade, six of us were moved as a separate group to a round table to watch a filmstrip in a darker part of a large, open-plan classroom. A clunky old record player in a self-contained carrying case with a half-dozen headphone jacks sat on the table.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 14, 2020  |  10 comments
German engineering acumen and machining excellence—acknowledged and admired worldwide—are nowhere to be seen on AMG's flagship Viella Forte turntable and new 12JT tonearm. That's because, while what's on the surface is cosmetically and mechanically well-turned, the design features and precision engineering that set AMG's turntables and tonearms apart are inside and hidden from view.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 02, 2020  |  22 comments
My most cherished intangibles—love, beauty, glimpses of higher realms—enter my awareness only after I prepare my psyche to receive them. Extended bathing, lighting candles, making tea, and preparing food are ritual work forms that prepare my senses to accept both pleasure and illumination. In like manner, collecting LPs and storing them properly, setting up turntables, aligning cartridges, and cleaning styli are ritual actions that prepare me for the high moments of focused musical pleasure only a black disc can provide.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 11, 2020  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2020  |  7 comments
At the 2017 Hong Kong High End Audio/Video Show, I found myself sitting next to a turntable manufacturer who shall remain anonymous. A Reed Muse 3C turntable ($20,000) with 3P tonearm sat on a display table across from us.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2020  |  19 comments
Designing and building a turntable isn't all that difficult. All that matters is in plain sight: Start with a base of wood, MDF, or acrylic; add some isolation "feet" for it to rest upon, and a spindle bearing such as any competent machine shop can fabricate, topped by a platter of acrylic or aluminum or suchlike. The motor can be an off-the-shelf AC synchronous type, fed directly by the electricity from a wall socket.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 18, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2020  |  54 comments
Lately it seems that the more Rega charges for one of its turntables, the less you get—and from Rega's performance perspective that's a good thing.

While some turntable designs pile on the mass, hoping to tame resonances and better isolate the record from the outside world, Rega has long advocated ultralow-mass designs. What's up with that?

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 06, 2020  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2020  |  46 comments
In 2013, when I first wrote about it (footnote 1), the TechDAS Air Force One ($105,000) was that company's best and most expensive turntable; it joined the handful of products that have earned an A+ in our semiannual Recommended Components feature—a rating that remained in place for six years. But too much time has passed since the Air Force One was auditioned by a Stereophile writer, so it has now fallen from that list.

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