Turntable Reviews

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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.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 12, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2020  |  17 comments
Judging by VPI's new HW-40 direct-drive turntable, middle age well suits the company that Harry and Sheila Weisfeld started 40 years ago in their Howard Beach, Long Island, basement.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 09, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2019  |  4 comments
AVM Audio, which has been in business since 1986 (footnote 1), chose last year to enter the turntable market with two models that reflect the company's brushed-aluminum/blue LED visual aesthetics.

It doesn't take a forensic turntable scientist to figure out who manufactures both of those turntable models. Clearly, Pro-Ject does (footnote 2)—although some audiophiles might recognize only a few key parts. Other elements, especially the two different tonearm models, may appear unique to AVM, having been built to their specs.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 20, 2019  |  23 comments
Some loss of innocence is expected with both age and experience. Because I tick both boxes, and in spite of my best efforts to the contrary, I'm often a bit blasé in the face of new review samples. I wasn't with this one.

A brief recap: At the 2018 High End show in Munich, UK-based SME announced that they had taken steps to reintroduce the classic Garrard 301, a transcription turntable that's been out of production for more than half a century. At the time of its introduction—production began in 1953—success for the British-built 301 was instant. It was also enduring; it stayed in production through 1965.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 07, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2019  |  13 comments
Since acquiring SME in late 2016, Ajay Shirke's Cadence Group has moved cautiously. First, it revamped and cleaned up the company's somewhat chaotic worldwide distribution. More recently, the new owners eliminated from the bottom of the line the SME Model 10 turntable, introduced in 2000.
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2021  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2019  |  2 comments
Haniwa's Dr. Tetsuo Kubo is an interesting fellow. If you go to shows, domestic or overseas, you've possibly encountered him in his room a space known for being strewn, shrine-like, with LPs that once belonged to The Absolute Sound's founder, the late Harry Pearson: Dr. Kubo was a fan.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 20, 2019  |  42 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).

Art Dudley  |  Aug 01, 2019  |  6 comments
Money, that unreliable buyer of happiness, has at times proven effective at delivering good sound. It can buy other things, as well: Audiophiles can swap cash for products that function as objets d'art, as status symbols, or even as canny investments.

But—do you think money can buy peace of mind for the audio enthusiast who frets over binding voice-coils, leaking capacitors, drifting resistor values, oxidizing connectors, aging or incorrectly biased tubes, and that most pernicious worry of all, distortion and premature record wear from incorrectly aligned phono cartridges? Sadly, most of those neuroses, some quite reasonable, remain unaddressed by cash almighty.

Ken Micallef  |  Jun 18, 2019  |  26 comments
I've been the proud owner of a Kuzma Stabi S turntable and Stogi S tonearm since 2001. The combination was an impulse purchase, made after seeing and hearing it in action at Stereophile's Home Entertainment Show at the New York Hilton. Even under unruly show conditions, the Kuzma player created rock-solid images and played music with serious jump factor. With its matte brass finish, tubular bell looks, and overtly industrial design, the Slovenian-made Stabi S/Stogi S was steampunk before steampunk. Looking back, it was one of my best-ever audio purchases.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 13, 2018  |  5 comments
I needed one black tiddledywink (not provided) to use Dr. Feickert Analogue's three-speed, two-motor, two-armboard Blackbird turntable. The tiddledywink was for covering the Blackbird's painfully bright power-on LED so that it didn't blind me when I cued up a record. The first night, in my dark listening room, this tiny indicator sprayed the wall behind and the ceiling above with more light than a bright-emitting 845 vacuum tube.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 06, 2021  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2018  |  3 comments
Turntable manufacturer VPI Industries is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Despite analog playback's ups and downs (pun time), VPI has managed not only to survive but to prosper and grow, thanks to a smart product mix that includes high-value, wet-wash/vacuum-dry record-cleaning machines that perhaps took up the revenue slack when, in the mid-1990s, interest in new turntables dipped—but the vinyl faithful still had millions of dirty records to keep clean.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 03, 2021  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2018  |  9 comments
Technics' sudden decision, in October 2010, to stop making its iconic SL-1200 direct-drive turntable, then in its MK6 iteration, took vinyl fans by surprise. At the time, although sales of vinyl and turntables for home use were surging, their use in clubs was falling as DJs moved to the digits. According to Technics (a division of Panasonic), production of the SL-1200 was stopped not because professional sales dropped, but because the factory tooling for manufacturing them had worn out, and retooling wasn't cost-effective.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 19, 2018  |  4 comments
Record players and the average consumer enjoy an on-again/off-again relationship—happily, at this moment in time, it is very much on—but to high-end audio enthusiasts, the turntable has endured as an object of near-talismanic importance. I think that's not only because the turntable continues to give us so much pleasure, but also because it seems so understandable—at its simplest, it's just a motor and a rotatable platter, attached to a board that also has some provisions for fastening a tonearm. End of story. Who among us has not, at one time or another, considered the lot of the turntable designer and thought, I could do that?
Herb Reichert  |  Feb 08, 2018  |  7 comments
In my October 2017 column I reported on two turntables, the Palmer 2.5 and AMG Giro G9, each costing $10,000 and up, depending on ancillaries. It wasn't that I wanted to get all Mikey Fremer Uptown on you; I wanted to refine my listening skills and familiarize my senses with what my own humble system would sound like with a pair of world-class record players.
Herb Reichert  |  Oct 03, 2017  |  70 comments
It's get-ting bet-ter all the time (it can't get no worse)—John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Remasterings of recordings make me angry—they mess with my memories of the songs I love, especially songs from the 1960s that I played in my bedroom on a cheap Garrard turntable through Lafayette speakers. Like my first girlfriend, these songs permanently entered my psyche and modified my DNA.

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