Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 05, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe company has introduced a second turntable package, priced to appeal to a new generation of customers and upgraders alike. Could it be the answer to all your needs?

It was the Synergy [HFN Mar '19] that saw SME strike out in a new direction, following its aquisition in late 2016 by the Cadence group. The company's first ever turntable package, the Synergy came with an arm derived from the SME IV, Ortofon Windfeld Ti cartridge and boasted an integrated phono stage made by Nagra. It also came with a £14,950 price tag. Now SME has reinvigorated its turntable portfolio still further with the introduction of a far more affordable package.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 31, 2019
hfnoutstandingIn production for over three decades, A-T's iconic 'OC9 moving-coil has evolved into a broad series to service the vinyl revival. We test the 'prince' of the new generation

None of us needs reminding that the enthusiasm for vinyl continues apace. Yet while manufacturers of turntables and tonearms were quick to serve this revitalised market, makers of pick-ups have taken a little while longer to catch up.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 29, 2019
hfnvintageA classic belt-drive turntable from a brand that time forgot, but is this fully-automatic, British-built mid '70s deck still worth seeking out? It's time to put it to the test...

Birmingham Sound Reproducers, or BSR, is a name that's scarcely mentioned in hi-fi circles today. Once the world's largest producer of turntables, the story of this company serves as a reminder of what a tough place the audio market can be.

Christopher Breunig  |  Oct 10, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1985
Christopher Breunig auditions the Well-Tempered Arm

What could be more apt than the UK launch of the Well-Tempered Arm at the end of Bach's tercentenary year? Ken Kessler brought you the first picture of this iconoclastic tonearm as part of his April '85 CES report and even before then, he had inveigled California-based designer William Firebaugh into letting us have a review sample.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 07, 2019
hfnoutstandingWith a nod to the past, plus the benefit of some 28 years' experience of design and manufacturing, Pro-Ject launches its most refined sub-£1000 turntable package yet

With that familiar sparkle in his eye, Pro-Ject's Heinz Lichtenegger unveiled a brand new CD player at the recent EISA Convention in Antwerp. What does this have to do with this new X1 turntable, you might ask? Well, he proudly explained that what he's now doing with CD spinners is precisely what he did with record players back in the early 1990s.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 04, 2019
hfnoutstandingMobile Fidelity, champion of audiophile vinyl, has succumbed to the lure of producing its own turntables, like record labels of the past: enter the MoFi UltraDeck

Back in the early days of audio, numerous record labels had electronics divisions, or vice versa. You would see the logos of EMI, Philips, RCA, Decca, JVC and others on both LPs sleeves and hardware. The logic was that they originated the material and could also control the entire chain, from artist to listener. So, who better to introduce its own turntables than Mobile Fidelity, for decades the most prolific source of audiophile LPs? Now you can spin its platters on, well, its platters.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 23, 2019
hfnoutstandingWith a heritage in broadcast and studio environments EMT has always married robustness with precision engineering, witnessed in this 'domestic' high-end MC series

Elektromesstechnik – under the abbreviation EMT – is a brand that needs no introduction to vinyl fans, not least because of the reputation its turntables earned as the workhorses of recording and broadcast studios across the globe. The company's cartridges share a similar reputation for quality, robustness and reliability, but so far these have been somewhat overshadowed by its record decks. That's a pity, because not only has EMT been making pick-ups since 1959 but it has buyers in all four corners of the world.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 22, 2019
hfnvintageSophisticated styling, touch controls and the promise of all the benefits of direct-drive using a sub-platter driven by a belt. Can this late '70s record player really deliver?

Think of CD players and Philips will be one of the first names to come to mind. This is not necessarily the case when it comes to turntables, even though the company has produced a multitude of models over the years. Its turntable motors could be found in the early Linn LP12 and many other similar designs, yet to most British listeners a complete Philips turntable, like the AF 877 seen here, is something of a novelty.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 13, 2019
hfnoutstandingTechDAS' Air Force III gets the Premium treatment, with upgrades throughout the design, a heavier platter and revised 'Air Condenser' – does it punch above its weight?

Positioned in the 'lower half' of the burgeoning TechDAS catalogue, the original Air Force III [HFN Sep '16] delivered more compact dimensions, the capability to handle up to four tonearms and a substantial saving over the One [HFN Jun '13] and Two [HFN Apr '15] turntables. Even with its new, performance-gap-closing fitments in Premium guise, the price is two quid shy of £29,000 – roughly a tenth the estimated cost of the forthcoming Air Force Zero flagship and £17,000 less than the Two Premium. A bargain, then?

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 24, 2019
hfnoutstandingFollowing a flow of revolutionary, hugely desirable but astronomically-priced 'optical' cartridges, DS Audio introduces the DS-E1 – could 'E' stand for 'Everyman'?

This is the second review this month that's been tough for me to write if, in this instance, for entirely positive reasons. You see, the DS Audio DS-E1 is actually too good, and the asking price of £2295 is the reason. I do not want to inflict any hardship upon DS Audio, which offers three models above this, but, like an entry-level Rolex, Leica CL camera or Porsche Cayman, it begs the question: why pay more?

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2019
hfnedchoiceAffordable German turntables are looking set to repeat their dominance of the market they owned 50 years ago. Can Dual's top-of-the-range CS 600 raise the stakes?

A tough review for me to write, at least objectively: I'm rooting for the CS 600 to be something special because my first turntable was a Dual and I recall it with fondness. I want the CS 600 to be a champ like the all-conquering '505 was back in the days of the NAD 3020-based systems. But this new deck costs £1199 in black, or another £200 in gloss black or white (as reviewed), and the competition for turntables with tonearms is fierce around this price point.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 28, 2019
hfnvintageParallel tracking, optical position sensing and all in a slick package no larger than an LP sleeve. It dazzled in its day, but how does this '70s direct-drive deck sound now?

There is an argument which says that to recover maximum information from any recording the playback system should be as similar as possible to the arrangement with which it was made. For example, a tape deck identical to the one used in the studio should replay the original master tapes with the highest achievable accuracy.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 03, 2019
hfnoutstandingMarking the company's 40th birthday, the turntable mavens of VPI are right on song with an updated, deluxe version of their Classic direct-drive, the HW-40 Anniversary

Way back when, especially during the 1980s, direct-drive turntables were unloved by purists. How things change – just witness the high prices that vintage decks from Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer and especially Technics now change hands for. And with the latter's revived line of direct-drives turning out to be as hot as anything the high-end can offer circa 2019, the arrival of VPI's HW-40 Anniversary Edition direct-drive deck is doubly timely.

John Atkinson  |  May 21, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1983
hfnvintageThe Acoustic Research turntable is back! John Atkinson looks and listens

It is June 1982 and Compact Disc is still more science fiction than fact (although both sides have carried out their groundwork and preliminary skirmishing). The scene is the restaurant of Boston's classy Copley Plaza Hotel and a handful of British hi-fi journalists, fresh from the Chicago CES, are dining with Ron Fone, the (English) President of Teledyne Acoustic Research. Over dessert arises the subject of turntables and the question, 'Why doesn't anyone – apart from Rega, or Thorens – produce a good mid-price mass-market deck?'.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 07, 2019
hfnoutstandingAfter a change of ownership comes an unexpected new direction for this iconic British analogue brand – meet the world's most prestigious all-in-one turntable package...

Ten years after the passing of SME's founder, Alastair Robertson-Aikman, in 2006, the hi-fi world's most iconic precision engineering brand finally moved out of family hands to be acquired by Ajay Shirke's Cadence group. Former aerospace man Stuart McNeilis was appointed as CEO, and the company signed up a UK distributor, Padood (also handling Nagra), for the first time.

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