Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 30, 2020
hfnedchoiceLike a winery with one grape but a dozen variants, Koetsu's latest Urushis challenge moving-coil veterans with subtleties – will the Vermillion leave us seeing red?

Urushi and I? We go wa-a-y back. It was in the April 1990 issue that I reviewed my first, never having seen such gorgeous lacquer on anything, let alone an MC cartridge. As with Sonus faber rewriting speaker design language, the Urushi was 'something else'. It wasn't the first time high-end cartridges exhibited aesthetics beyond the style of a cool profile – the body of Goldbug's Mr Brier [HFN May' 86] was egg-shaped wood, and pastel-anodised metal had been around for years – but this was jewellery.

Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Oct 04, 2009
Vinyl record-player design sometimes progresses, often just precesses, and always revolves. You could say that any ‘new’ idea comes round again every 33. 3 years, although in the case of the 12in arm revival, it’s more like 45 years. Be that as it may, the ever-increasing band of enthusiasts who must have extra inches now have yet another intriguing new option.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 21, 2014
The Kandid is a device purposed to work hand-in-glove with the Sondek LP12 turntable and Ekos SE tonearm combination. It replaces the Akiva, which has flown the marque’s flag for MCs for a good few years now. The Kandid differs in several significant ways, the most visually conspicuous of which is its new ‘naked’ generator assembly. It has long been known that cartridge bodies induce coloration.
Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 09, 2021
hfnoutstandingLinn's 'most affordable' route into the world of the iconic Sondek LP12 turntable is all the more convenient now its Majik deck is packaged with Clearaudio-sourced Krane arm

Meet the latest 'entry level' Linn Sondek LP12. As you can see, things have changed since 1973, where the first model came out of the (then) new company's Glasgow factory, complete with a fluted Afrormosia hardwood plinth and tinted Perspex dustcover. Or have they? Rather like the newest Porsche 911 sports car that looks similar to the original '70s icon, this has many of the visual clues of the first Sondek but much has changed under the skin – almost entirely for the better.

Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jul 04, 2009
There must have been at least a few moments in the 1990s when Linn came close to dropping the Sondek for good. In the brave new world of multi-room, AV and custom install products aimed at well-heeled Beocustomers, that old belt-driven LP spinner was becoming a serious anachronism. Then there came a sea-change, as, to its credit, Linn seemed to rediscover its musical roots, launching the Majik CD playing system, and at around the same time starting to wheel out the LP12 for hi-fi shows once more. Subsequently, the latest enhancements of the LP12 and the Ekos arm have been highlighted as ‘SE’ upgrades.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Dec 04, 2009
Simplicity! That was the slogan when Linn advertised in the 1974 Hi-Fi Yearbook. ‘Simplicity itself. . .
Andrew Harrison and Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2009
It’s no idle exaggeration to say that the Sondek LP12 has been a touchstone for record playback during the three decades-plus of its continuous production. And although Linn Products has earned its credentials as a progressive company by embracing new areas of business such as multiroom and AV electronics, and despite the low demand for record players compared to the heyday of the 1980s, the LP12 has stubbornly stayed in the catalogue. It’s a reminder of the company’s heritage but also surely a testament to the turntable’s abiding popularity, since Linn wouldn’t trouble itself to make something no-one would buy. Externally almost identical since 1973, many small changes have been made inside over the years in order to improve its sound, principally by tightening tolerances on metal components and substituting superior suspension pieces.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 09, 2015
This is a superb statement of intent from a classic Japanese name, clearly acknowledging that vinyl is well and truly back to stay. The PD-171 most certainly wears a retro look but incorporates some fine technology. The deck is belt-driven and the high-torque synchronous AC motor derives its power from a digitally-controlled oscillator, which feeds its output signal into dual DACs and amplifier circuits. As a result, 33.
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.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Oct 21, 2014
Lyra designer Jonathan Carr has devoted a large part of his life to developing a range of moving-coil pick-ups, and they’re expertly built by Akiko Ishiyama and Yoshinori Mishima in Tokyo. The Delos is the latest in a long line – the baby of the range it’s designed to be tonearm and phono-stage friendly: of medium weight and compliance it pushes out a claimed output of 0. 6mV at 5cm/sec. Recommended phono stage loading is from 98ohm to 806ohm (Lyra says the final value should be determined by listening).
Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngWith a radically different design to other MCs, Lyra's second-to-top cartridge has a sound unlike anything else around. Costly yes, but what price the pursuit of perfection?

Analogue addicts find themselves with a bewildering array of choices that extends way past which turntable and/or tonearm to buy. The world of cartridges is complex and potentially baffling, especially with moving-coil types. Many eventually progress from buying the big brands to trying out specialist makers – and it's here that we find Lyra. Its products inhabit a niche within a niche: they are all hand-built, low-volume devices that for nearly a generation now have sold largely to devotees of the brand.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 20, 2023
hfnoutstandingCoinciding with the 40th anniversary of the company's founding, Lyra introduces a refinement to the popular Kleos moving-coil cartridge – the SL with, yes, lower output

Has it really been 40 years since Jonathan Carr and Stig Bjørge founded what would become Lyra? Did I really play with a (Scan Tech) Tsurugi, launched in 1986 and which I still have, when Maggie was PM? As I have enjoyed Lyra cartridges for over half my life, including many happy hours with the mono Kleos, the £3095 Kleos SL arrived with positive anticipation.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2021
hfnoutstandingMark Levinson's second turntable, the No5105, has been designed to be a painless, all-in-one, 'turnkey' affair – but does it still tick all the high-end boxes?

Like that 'difficult second album', any sequel to the Mark Levinson No515 [HFN Oct '17] has to live up to a heady precedent. At £5799 less cartridge, or £6499 with Ortofon's Quintet Black S MC pick-up installed, the No5105 sells for just over half the price of the No515. While the inclusion of the cartridge does not save any money – certainly not always the case when buying a package – it does remove any set-up worries by being factory-fitted.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 09, 2015
It’s one thing to be a whizz at electronics, and another to do turntables. They’re a completely different sort of challenge. McIntosh obviously wanted to do something a bit different in a crowded marketplace, and has come up with a combination of user friendliness and ‘millionaire chintz’. Vinyl rookies will appreciate the pre-aligned cartridge already mounted in a prefitted arm.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 13, 2020
hfnoutstandingMobile Fidelity, champion of audiophile vinyl, has now wrapped up an EISA Award for its flagship UltraDeck – does the more affordable StudioDeck give much away?

It might seem that we played this one in reverse, reviewing Mobile Fidelity's dearer UltraDeck turntable first [HFN Jul '19], before working backward. A buzz in the underground, however, suggested that MoFi's less-costly, entry-level StudioDeck might be something of a 'sweet spot' candidate, so what could have been an anti-climax is anything but.

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