Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 09, 2020
hfncommendedThe new big brother to the successful X1 adds a host of improvements in order to justify its £300 price premium. But at this new price, it can be tougher to succeed

Sometimes a product comes along that really hits the spot, delivering a combination of performance and value that shakes up the hi-fi world. Audiophiles of more mature years will be able to reel off a number of these, whether it be the NAD 3020 amplifier of the late '70s [HFN Nov '12], the mid '80s Wharfedale Diamond loudspeakers [HFN May '18], or the Marantz CD63 MkII KI Signature CD player from 1996.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 31, 2019
hfnoutstandingWith its sintered titanium body, rare earth magnets, exquisite stylus and now a diamond cantilever, Ortofon's latest MC Anna is the very model of a high-tech flagship moving-coil

On the face of it, all that separates this new flagship pick-up from Ortofon's original MC Anna [HFN Oct '12] is the exchange of the latter's rigid boron cantilever for an even more rigid 'diamond' rod. The line-contact Replicant 100 diamond stylus, the 'wide-range armature damping' system (WRD), the sintered titanium body and rare earth alloy magnet are all, ostensibly, unchanged. Nevertheless, this 'Diamond' MC Anna is no mere blinged-up clone.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 26, 2019
hfnvintageWith its ultra low mass arm and cartridge system, the CS 606 was one of a trio of decks that was finally able to claw back sales from the Japanese. How does it perform today?

The fact that Dual couldn't achieve serious success in the middle sector of the British turntable market back in the late '70s was testament to how fast the hi-fi world had changed. That part of the market was becoming the province of Japanese companies such as Pioneer, Sony and Technics, which were making complex, technologically advanced turntables packed with modern, user-friendly features that people wanted to buy.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 17, 2019
hfncommendedTaking its cues from the PD-171 turntable, but with a more elegant aesthetic, the PD-151 is Luxman's first new deck in eight years. Does it sound as clean as it looks?

How deliciously ironic: two turntables this month from companies with vast experience in vacuum hold-down of the LP, yet neither of them possesses it. Continuum's Obsidian is a complete departure from its LP-sucking forebears, while Luxman's PD-151 is fundamentally a simplified PD-171 [HFN Dec '13] – the model which revived the brand's turntable line in 2011, but minus the vacuum function of yore.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 11, 2019
hfncommendedContinuum's third LP-spinning package, the Obsidian and Viper, departs from the template of its vacuum-equipped predecessors. Can the brand do 'conventional'?

Looks can be deceiving, especially if you first see a Continuum Obsidian turntable and Viper arm fully-assembled. Its three-legged, dust-coverless design recalls innumerable open-plan decks from affordable up to high-five-figure absurdity. Then you note the Continuum's price tag and realise it's of the latter: the Obsidian sells for £39,998, the Viper £11,998. Generously, you can save a grand buying the pair for £49,998.

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?

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