Clearaudio Reference Jubilee Turntable

hfnoutstandingStill featuring the iconic V-shaped plinth, this Jubilee update on Clearaudio's inaugural Reference deck features a Panzerholz plinth and magnetically-assisted ceramic bearing

Bunting must surely be in short supply. Along with the Royal Jubilee, we had SME officially celebrating its 60th birthday while Nagra rolled out the cake for its 70th – and now Clearaudio has released a product to celebrate its '40 years of excellence' (an anniversary that actually fell in 2018, but product delays are nothing new). The good news is that the result is the £17,500 Clearaudio Reference Jubilee turntable; the bad news is that production is limited to 250 units worldwide.

With its distinctive V-shaped plinth, this celebratory model doffs its cap to the company's first Reference turntable, released in 1993. However, the original acrylic is replaced in the Reference Jubilee's plinth with Panzerholz – the 'armour-plated' wood. This laminate material is sandwiched between layers of aluminium, and the bearing is located front and centre of the V. To the right is the tonearm base, to the left are operation buttons selecting Off, 33.3, 45 and 78rpm. The plinth sits on three spiked feet, all adjustable for levelling.

Hybrid Drive
At the very left corner can be found the 24V DC motor, suspended within a circular turret by 18 tensioned O-rings – nine above the motor and nine below. The turret has cut-outs for the belt to pass through, and is supplied with a cover to be used when the belt is in position.

The Jubilee Reference's motor drive electronics combine both analogue and digital technologies. A ring on the underside of the main platter works in conjunction with a sensor on the plinth to monitor the platter's rotation, using 1598 impulses per revolution. A 12-bit DAC generates a motor reference voltage, which is fed into the analogue motor control circuitry. This compares the feedback from the platter with the reference signal, which is then adjusted accordingly to keep the speed spot-on. It is possible, however, to override this and tweak each speed manually in fine steps.


Main ceramic bearing shaft is exposed here. Also with top off, the ‘high torque’ 24V DC motor is both positioned and decoupled from the main chassis via a series of 18 O-rings [top left]

The platter is a two-piece construction. The lower part is a 15mm-thick, 8.5kg stainless steel disc, and above this is a 50mm, 5kg POM (polyoxymethylene) main platter – both locate onto a central upper bearing housing. Naturally, the turntable makes use of Clearaudio's familiar Ceramic Magnetic Bearing technology, meaning that magnets in the plinth and the lower platter act against each other to support the bearing with minimal physical contact. The ceramic post provides a location feature and the platter effectively floats in the vertical plane, thus reducing friction.

Power to the Reference Jubilee's motor is provided by Clearaudio's small, cylindrical Professional Power 24V unit, now supplied as part of the package. That said, the simple plug-top type PSU mentioned in the user manual was also in the box and comparisons here proved very interesting.

For review, the deck was supplied with Clearaudio's £5000 Universal 9in tonearm, in its black finish. This features a carbon fibre armtube, and the model supplied is a new variant with silver internal wire and a DIN output socket rather than a captive arm lead. Also supplied was the Clearaudio VTA adjuster, a £630 addition which makes installation and adjustment that much easier; it's definitely an option box I would tick. There's also a £4460 Jubilee MC cartridge available and, when purchased with the turntable and arm, a 5% discount applies, bringing the total price for these three items to £25,612.

Arm Wrestling
The Reference Jubilee is beautifully engineered, as is the arm, but neither are exactly plug and play, despite the excellent user manual. The arm comes with a set of five different counterweights, and will accommodate a very wide range of cartridge weights and tracking forces, but as these are unscrewed from beneath they are fiddlier than some. In addition, the fine pitch of the weight adjustment screw requires considerable twiddling to effect a decent change. Finally, while I'm in grumbling mode, the cueing device could do with more damping – I found it a tad abrupt in action.

sqnote Musical Maestro
However, with all the faff out of the way it soon becomes clear that taking time with the Reference Jubilee's setup is amply rewarded. Used with my tried-and-tested MC Essence cartridge, Clearaudio's deck/arm combination proved to have a knack of picking the best aspects from a whole different range of musical styles, and serving them up in delicious fashion. Jack of all trades it certainly is, but it's also a master of many…

Clearaudio Electronic GmbH
Supplied by: Sound Fowndations, UK
0118 981 4238