Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
One of Germany’s heavyweight turntable makers lightens up, giving its stylish new baby an Italian-sounding name. So is the Barzetti more than just a fashion item? Perhaps, like me, you were brought up and nurtured on the idea that all the best turntables had a suspended subchassis, so that the platter was always bouncing freely on a set of springs. But if you always hated the way a suspended platter wobbles slightly as you put the record on, and the cartridge recoils from your touch, you’ll be receptive to the concept of Gunther Frohnhoefer, Acoustic Signature’s founder and designer. ‘When I was younger,’ he says, ‘I had contact with subchassis players, like the Thorens.
Andrew Simpson and Paul Miller  |  Nov 30, 2011
From Southern Germany comes a seriously heavyweight deck that's built on solid foundations. But will the Thunder's roar light up the skies or rain on the parade? Thanks to pioneering automotive inventors such as Rudolf Diesel and Karl Benz, German engineering has a long established reputation for ‘quality and innovation’. These qualities could also be used to describe the nation’s hi-fi industry where brands such as ELAC and T+A have been proudly flying Germany’s audiophile flag for decades, paving the way for relative newcomers like Acoustic Signature, with its ranges of turntables which are regular players in the superdeck league. The new Thunder boasts a number of features in common with the ‘milestone’ Ascona (costing £10k more).
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 21, 2014
Acoustic Solid is now back in the UK, and one of the first decks distributor BD Audio has chosen to bring to our attention is the Wood MPX. While its higher echelon turntables are largely constructed of metal and circular in appearance with additional arm and motor mounting pods, the Wood series are more conventional and plinth-based; five variants are available. The Wood MPX boasts a 70mm-thick plywood (rather than MDF) plinth. Its high mass, 60mm platter is driven by a freestanding synchronous AC motor via a rubber belt (notwithstanding the company’s description of it as a ‘string drive’ design).
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jan 15, 2010
Strange as it may seem now, in the early 1990s there was a period when you could go for months without seeing a vinyl-playing product reviewed in Hi-Fi News. Here in the UK, at that time, there just weren’t any new turntables to review. In Germany, though, things were different. Every time we visited the High End Show, which was then held every year in Frankfurt, we would see more turntables than you could shake a tonearm wand at, not just new turntable models, but enthusiastic new turntable manufacturers.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 16, 2011
Cosmetically identical, the latest revisions to the OC9 are all internal. For those wanting a taste of luxury at a sensible price there has long been Audio-Technica’s AT-OC9. First introduced in 1987 it has always been regarded a bargain of sorts, boasting robust construction, excellent tracking ability and a polished and pure sound. Certainly it was less romantic and mellifluous sounding than many cost-noobject MCs, but it was highly detailed and refined while possessing terrifically tight bass and vivid imaging.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
Some treble issues detract from the overall performance With nearly 50 years’ experience under its belt, Audio-Technica has established a reputation for building good value MM and MC phono cartridges. The AT120E is second from the top of Audio-Technica’s MM range, sitting just below the AT440MLA (£159) which has inspired its body shape and alloy tube cantilever. Where they differ is in the stylus, with the AT440MLA using Audio-Technica’s square MicroLine design, compared to the AT120E’s more conventional elliptical profile. The AT120E has a functional fit and finish illustrated by the lack of branding on its nose.
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.

John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Sep 06, 2010
You’ve got to take your hat off to Avid Hi-Fi. Its top-of-the-range Acutus deck, first introduced 12 years ago and enhanced with the launch of the Reference outboard power supply in 2006, is certainly one beast of a turntable. Resplendent in black and silver chrome that’s polished to a mirror finish, it makes for an imposing sight atop any audiophile’s equipment rack. Want to make the ultimate statement? The deck is also available to order finished in polished 24K gold plate, though for this you’ll have to add an extra 35% to the price.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Jan 04, 2009
It was a brave move going into business making record players in the mid 1990s when LPs were already relegated to niche status. As Avid’s founder and chief designer Conrad Mas is wont to point out: ‘My friends and family thought I was bonkers. ’ Conrad’s bravery, coupled with his belief that there was still a market for high-end record players that were immaculately finished and built to last, has proved well founded. From humble beginnings Avid has grown to become an internationally recognised brand name among vinyl enthusiasts.
Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2019
Employing a novel dual-pulley drive system and a bespoke 10in tonearm, AVM's first deck is a flamboyant addition to the rapidly expanding pantheon of high-end turntables

Ibuilt a unique record player for my son's 18th birthday,' says Udo Besser, Managing Director of AVM (Audio Video Manufaktur) GmbH, 'and that's what sparked the development of this turntable'. What then kept the fire burning, he told HFN, were the numerous requests for a vinyl spinner from his customers, adding that, 'also, turntables are my passion'. So Udo set about designing his own deck from scratch, and the £5490 AVM Rotation R 5.3 you see here is a clean-sheet design, new to the market.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
The Beogram 4000’s motor unit, arm and cartridge were designed together to work as one optimised system. B&O had considered building a conventional turntable with a long arm but this was rejected in favour of tangential tracking, the Beogram 4000’s most famous feature. The basic structure comprised a die-cast tray that served as the basis for the slim and elegant plinth. This housed another casting, which formed a floating sub-chassis.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2011
A cost-effective Swiss offering that gets to the heart of the music With a background in developing delicate instrumentation (including Swiss time pieces), turning his hand to styli and cartridges seemed an obvious step for music-loving Ernst Benz, who founded Benz Micro and subsequently released a number of high-end MC cartridges from the 1980s onwards. In 1994 Ernst retired, selling Benz Micro to his friend and long time product collaborator Albert Lukaschek who still runs the company today. The Swiss pedigree is obvious from the packaging and accompanying accessories alone, which include a circular bubble level and stainless miniature screwdriver. The Micro ACE is the third model up in Benz’s MC-only product line, priced alongside a low output version distinguished by its red casework, and the cheapest to feature a solid boron cantilever and line contact stylus, rather than conical or elliptical profiles.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Aug 30, 2009
One of those recurring fallacies is that a hi-fi component should be like a musical instrument. Really, it should be something quite the opposite. An instrument amplifies the vibration of a string, for example, adding its own tonal character in the form of complex harmonics. A hi-fi component, by contrast, is not supposed to add its own character, but is meant to reproduce the signal that it receives, without adding or taking anything away.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Dec 22, 2014
A masterpiece of stylish understatement, the flagship Balance 2 uses Brinkmann’s Sinus motor and belt-drive system as a way to update the earlier Balance model. The plinth is CNC-machined from aluminium and supports both arm bases plus the bearing; it sits on three spiked feet adjustable for levelling. The bearing is made of hardened stainless steel and rotates in sintered brass bushings, but it’s unusual in that the assembly is heated by a MOSFET device in order to ensure the bearing operates at a steady temperature. The 90mm platter is machined from a block of aluminium while a polished crystal glass mat is recessed into its top surface.
Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngSporting a unique modular design that accommodates multiple tonearms, a tube-based PSU for the motor and novel heated bearing, this super deck is far from run of the mill

Does the world really need another high-end turntable? That’s the question Brinkmann’s Spyder has to answer, because there’s already a surfeit of fancy vinyl disc spinners sitting pretty in this high value market. This deck needs to be special in some way then, and so it proved. Costing £9795 in basic form, it’s one of two belt-driven decks in the German company’s range of hi-fi separates, sitting alongside the Balance 2 [HFN Jul ’14]. Brinkmann also makes the Bardo and Oasis direct-drive turntables, which themselves are interesting and innovative things.

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