Turntable Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Aug 20, 2019  |  11 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.

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.
Ken Micallef  |  Jun 18, 2019  |  25 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.
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.
Guy Lemcoe  |  Dec 14, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1995  |  8 comments
I first learned of the Kuzma Stogi at the 1993 Winter CES in Las Vegas. In VPI's room at the Sahara, a portly, black tonearm was sitting proudly atop the new VPI TNT Series 3 turntable. Pointing straight at me from the center of its massive, exceptionally stout frame was a tapered armtube the diameter of a swollen thumb. The fact that this unknown (to me) tonearm was chosen to sit atop a turntable as respected as the TNT told me I was looking at a serious new product. VPI's Harry Weisfeld was standing nearby, beaming as usual, to answer the barrage of questions that sprang from my lips as I leaned over for a closer inspection. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How much?
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.

Art Dudley  |  Sep 19, 2017  |  13 comments
We got our wish. Phonograph ownership is once again depicted as commonplace, even hip, in popular films, TV shows, and ads for other products. Turntables and LP jackets show up in photos in Elle Decor and Vanity Fair. New LPs are sold in stores in nice neighborhoods, and in malls with Cinnabon franchises and J.Crew stores. A shockingly high percentage of new record releases in which normal people are interested, and a few in which they are not, are now available on vinyl. For the first time in decades, I receive occasional gifts of new LPs—presumably because they're once again easy for nonenthusiasts to find and to buy—and the very few CDs I've received in the past few years have been homemade.
Michael Fremer, Herb Reichert  |  Jul 06, 2017  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2014  |  12 comments
Palmer Audio's 2.5 turntable, with its laminated plinth of Baltic birch and metallic features, looks Scandinavian but is made in the UK. It shares a few conceptual similarities with the turntables made by Nottingham Analogue, another British brand. The review sample had the optional side panels of cherrywood veneer.
Art Dudley  |  Jun 27, 2017  |  20 comments
Sometimes I feign interest in living in the Soviet Union of the 1950s and '60s. This happens mostly when I'm shopping for toothpaste at my local supermarket, where the toothpaste aisle is as long as a football field. "I don't want so many choices," I say in my Abe Simpson voice, "because all these choices are stupid. I wish I lived in the USSR: Shopping for toothpaste wouldn't take so long." But I'm only kidding.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 22, 2017  |  1 comments
My main task is to describe an audio component's basic character. How was it made? How did it fit into my system? How effectively did it deliver musical performances? My goal is to create stories that generate sounds and images in your mind—stories that will allow you to imagine how the component might perform in your system.

I can hear the moans from all you objectivist guys: Please, Herb, spare us your purple prose.

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.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 31, 2017  |  12 comments
UK, 1976: Upon its release, Rega Research's original Planar 3 turntable became the poor man's Linn Sondek LP12. It opened a gateway of affordability to the exotic world of high-quality British record players. Forty years later, the new Planar 3 turntable and its "light and rigid" engineering aesthetic, as conceived by Rega founder Roy Gandy, still occupy an admirably working-class, pro-music position in an audio world increasingly populated by gold-plated tonearms and quarter-ton turntables.

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