Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Dec 22, 2014
While the massive Statement continues as Clearaudio’s very top model, below it in the hierarchy comes this spectacular and impressive new flagship for the main Innovation Series. It is built up on Clearaudio’s familiar, elegant, three-lobed chassis members, each constructed as a sandwich, with a core of Panzerholz (an ‘armour wood’) between two sheets of aluminium. The Master Innovation is in fact built as two separate units with the proprietary multi-platter arrangement facilitating Clearaudio’s magnetic contactless drive system. The upper section is the turntable proper, with a 70mm-thick acrylic platter atop a 15mm stainless steel base platter.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 21, 2014
New to the Clearaudio line-up this year, this tidy-looking Ovation model sits at the top of its group of turntables that all feature a rectangular plinth. Borrowing from the Innovation range, the Ovation nonetheless brings several new technologies of its own into play. The plinth is made of aluminium layers sandwiching a layer of Panzerholz ply. (This is is claimed to offer considerable sonic gains over such alternatives as acrylic and standard wood.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jun 04, 2009
Only a fool – in these harsh times – would suggest that £2300 for a complete analogue package is a budget outlay. But judged in context, that amount spent on Clearaudio’s Performance turntable, Satisfy Carbon Directwire arm and Maestro Wood moving-magnet cartridge seems like a gift. After all, the tonearm on its own costs £870, while the cartridge sells for £645. Thus the Performance – sold only with the arm and cartridge – accounts for a mere £785 of the total package price.
Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 03, 2022
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.

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: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 03, 2023
hfnoutstandingFrom the man behind the iconic Continuum turntable comes this next-generation range, under his own brand, incorporating a 'negative-stiffness mechanism' suspension

Australia is not only home to some of the world's most fascinating animals but it's also the stomping ground of high-end heavyweights Halcro [HFN May '23] and Döhmann Audio, the latter responsible for the finely-engineered, and robustly elegant, turntable that graces the pages of this month's feature review. For Mark Döhmann, Director of Design, the 'Two' – one of a pair of decks in the Helix range, now in Mk3 guise – represents his latest thinking on the art and science of vinyl replay.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 23, 2021
hfncommendedStill in production since 1964, and instantly recognisable to audiophiles across the globe, Denon's classic DL-103 moving-coil pick-up gets the Anniversary treatment

Don't let the model name confuse you if our pictures assault your memory bank: this £499 Denon DL-A110 phono cartridge is the best-selling, much-loved sexagenarian DL-103, only with a slick headshell and packaging plush enough for a wristwatch. This anniversary offering joins Denon's AVC-A110 AV amp, PMA-A110 integrated amplifier and DCD-A110 SACD player [HFN Dec '20], the quartet marking the company's first-century-plus-10. (Oddly, there's no record deck…)

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Oct 04, 2009
Who better than a cartridge set-up maven to build a turntable? While any deck that accepts universal arms will, intrinsically, suffer an enormous margin for set-up errors when compared to decks with dedicated, integral arms, there’s something reassuring about the Feickert. . . especially for those who’ve used his set-up device.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingWith the DS 003, DS Audio delivers its 3rd generation technology in a system one-tenth the price of its flagship Grand Master. Can it hope to offer a taste of its authority?

Attesting to what I firmly believe is a 'hi-fi truth' – that differing technologies have innate sonic traits, eg, valve vs transistor – is this latest DS Audio 'optical' cartridge, the £4995 DS 003 with matching energiser. It replaces the £5050 DS 002 [HFN Jun '17], so there's even a slight price reduction.

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  |  Mar 05, 2019
hfnoutstandingReplacing the inaugural DS-W1 while benefiting from a host of trickle-down tech from the brand's flagship Master 1, the new DS-W2 'optical' pick-up is firmly in the limelight

When I first heard about DS Audio's optical cartridges, I wrote them off as 'dreamware' unlikely to end up chez Kessler. As it turns out, the audio gods smiled on me and I have, to my surprise and delight, managed to review just about all of them, watching the series evolve while using the Master 1 as my reference. Now, with the DS-W2 selling for £9995 with the equaliser/phono stage, the brand is delivering nearly all the performance of its flagship at half the price.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 23, 2023
hfnoutstandingUpdating the DS-W2 with a host of trickle-down technology from the brand's flagship 'dual mono' Grand Master, the new DS-W3 'optical' pick-up looks to steal the limelight

An object lesson in how to create a monopoly: make something no-one else can copy. As tricky to manufacture as CD players, electric cars, digital cameras and quartz watches might have been at the outset, competitors soon emerged for each. Not so DS Audio's 'optical' cartridges, which have captivated the high-end since arriving in 2015. Imitators have yet to emerge.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review: Paul Miller  |  Dec 26, 2022
hfnedchoiceEver worried about off-centre LP pressings? Neither did we – until we tried DS Audio's mind-boggling ES-001 Eccentricity Detection (and correction) Stabiliser

As I stated in a recent column: I'll no longer be making apologies for high-end pricing. So £5500 is needed to acquire the DS Audio ES-001 Eccentricity Detection Stabiliser, a highly specialised device that allows for the correction of off-centre pressings. It is, I believe, the first attempt at resolving this issue since the demise of Nakamichi's TX-1000 and Dragon CT turntables (1982-1993), which tackled the issue mechanically using a sliding two-part platter [see Vintage Review, HFN Aug '16].

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingFollowing its groundbreaking Master 1 optical cartridge, DS Audio introduces the Grand Master, and a two-box energiser/equaliser, to up the ante even further

In every field, not just 'hypercars' and luxury wristwatches, there's an extreme, cost-no-object pinnacle. From chefs' knives to sunglasses to fishing reels, there are items which push engineering and price limits, a phenomenon we are used to in high-end audio. Thus, with shaking hands (not a desirable state with this item), I installed the DS Audio Grand Master cartridge, at £11,995 surely the most expensive pick-up I have ever reviewed, if not the most expensive on the planet.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2023
hfnoutstandingHow to upgrade the 'ultimate' optical pick-up? By fitting the Grand Master with a single-piece diamond cantilever and stylus. We take the GM Extreme for a drive...

It's too easy to presume, just because only one change separates a new model from an earlier one, that assessing it will be a breeze. DS Audio's £18,995 Grand Master Extreme optical cartridge differs from its stablemate solely in its cantilever/stylus assembly. Aside from a different body colour for easier identification, I wrongly imagined that a side-by-side shoot-out with the earlier Grand Master [HFN Feb '21] would suffice, and that a couple of LPs' worth of listening would reveal all. Silly me.

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