Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThe latest in a long line of 'affordable audiophile' turntables from a highly popular UK brand, the Planar 2 offers easy set-up, good looks and a taste of serious hi-fi sound

The 1970s were something of a high watermark for the vinyl format. Bolstered by Mike Oldfield's smash hit Tubular Bells, 1975 saw the highest ever LP sales in the UK, and this drove demand for turntables. At the time, the budget king was Garrard's rudimentary SP25, but soon the Japanese gifted us the fine Pioneer PL-12D, a deck that really raised the performance bar.

Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2011
The latest version of the budget classic features additional bracing and a revised tonearm Rega’s philosophy is that while the plinth has to be as rigid as possible, it also should be as light as possible. And seeking to maximise the plinth’s rigidity between tonearm and main bearing, a phenolic stiffening brace is added. On the RP3, the brace visible on top of the plinth is complemented by a second one below, forming a stressed beam assembly. The actual plinth is a piece of special light furniture board, finished to a very high standard by something akin to a printing process.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 09, 2015
Rega’s RP8 turntable uses what it calls ‘Double Brace Technology’. Here stiffening braces above and below the plinth provide rigidity between the turntable main bearing and the arm mounting. Thanks to this, Rega’s Roy Gandy was able to envisage a plinth construction that would be much lighter than in previous designs, so in the RP8 the plinth has given way to a very light skeletal chassis. From a functional point of view, the RP8 on its skeletal chassis is complete in itself but Rega has added a separate outer frame, using the same foam-sandwich construction, to support a dust cover.
Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 14, 2020
hfnvintageOne of many distinctive mid-priced turntables to surface in the 1980s, this dinky deck enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame, but then refused to go away. How will it sound today?

If we could warp back to 1984 we would find a hi-fi scene dramatically different to how it is now. Vinyl may have been in the autumn of its life as a mass music format, but it still dominated. With CD very much in its infancy, the LP was the only practical way serious music lovers could hear their prized albums.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 23, 2021
hfncommendedLaunched as part of a series including a CD transport and two amplifiers – one with onboard streaming – the Attessa turntable completes Roksan's most stylish offering

There are a few announcements guaranteed to make an audio fan sit up and take notice, one being the unveiling of a new turntable from Roksan. After all, the company burst onto the scene in 1985 with the Xerxes – a deck that is still going strong 36 years later in '20 Plus' guise [HFN Dec '11]. However, the new deck in question is the £995 Attessa turntable, and it forms part of a completely new Roksan range.

Andrew Simpson and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
Roksan's iconic vinyl spinner remains one of the most forward-thinking decks on the market and the latest version now comes with a raft of considered upgrades Back in the early 1980s if you were serious about vinyl replay and had the money, the obvious contenders to splash your cash on were Linn’s LP12, followed by rivals such as Michell’s space-age GyroDec or the left-field Pink Triangle. Despite drastically different looks, all three decks were essentially attempts to take the late Edgar Villchur’s ground-breaking three-point sprung suspension design to the next level. Then, in 1985, Roksan came onto the scene with the Xerxes, which promptly turned this perceived wisdom on its head. As Tufan Hashemi, Roksan Audio’s Managing Director, explained: ‘We argued that using a suspended or floating surface to support a record could not allow it to be accurately read, as the record itself would be floating.
Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 20, 2022
hfnoutstandingJapan is home to more boutique cartridge brands than any other hi-fi territory, and the Harmony, brainchild of vinyl addict Yasuo Ozawa, is a product of this artisanship

According to the dictionary placed at my elbow, the definition of 'harmony' is 'the process by which individual sounds are joined together or composed into whole units or compositions'. That, and the obvious association with the world of music, probably explains why it's appeared in the name of more than a few domestic and pro-audio brands and products over the years. This particular celebration of 'Harmony' comes in the form of Shelter's flagship moving-coil cartridge which, at £4300, is far from the costliest pick-up on the high-end scene.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 24, 2019
hfnoutstandingWith its aluminium-plated boron cantilever and precision elliptical diamond stylus, this hand-built Japanese moving-coil cartridge is a rare yet special thing to behold

All things considered, 1986 was an unlikely time to launch a high-end phono cartridge brand, and all the more so considering it happened in Japan. When I moved to Tokyo four years after Yasuo Ozawa started Shelter, what the Japanese call 'Analog Disc' was almost as dead as the proverbial Monty Python parrot. True, you could slum it around the seedier sides of downtown Shimokitazawa and Asagaya and find an isolated second-hand record shop, but the only news in town was the shiny new Compact Disc.

Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2011
The latest improvements to a long-standing classic are subtle but extremely effective After launching the turntable range 20 years ago with the Model 30/2, SME founder Alastair Robertson-Aikman followed it with a lighter version called the Model 20 – thinner in upper chassis and subchassis plates, with a smaller, thinner platter and other reductions in mass. In 2006 SME released the 20 in a widened version that would accept a 12in arm. It was a huge success, so the Model 30/12 appeared to equal acclaim [HFN Mar ’09]. In the interim, the external power supply had been upgraded, and was made common to all models, while 2010 saw the introduction of a new black platter mat material.
Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 06, 2023
hfnoutstandingSME's flagship Model 60 turntable was more than an aspirational torch-bearer for the UK brand – it set the tone for revisions that will trickle down through the entire range

Every hi-fi era has its buzzwords, and while variations on the theme of 'digital' and 'high-res' have permeated our collective consciousness over the past few decades, the 2020s have so far proved thick with references to 'trickle-down technology'. Brands have always launched flagship products to showcase technologies that eventually 'trickle-down' to middle and entry-level ranges, but nowadays there's almost an expectation that this osmosis of tech will happen swiftly, and wholesale.

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.

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2009
It was as inevitable as Rocky 2. As soon as SME issued the Model 20/12 turntable in 2006, enthusiasts wondered, would it be joined by a 30/12? Shortly before he passed away that same year, Alastair Robertson-Aikman revealed that it was definitely happening. And almost two years to the day after the funeral, his son Cameron announced the Model 30/12. Its name was a given.
Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2022
hfnoutstandingThis icon of British hi-fi is typically sparing in its celebration of milestones, but SME's Diamond jubilee demanded something very special indeed. And here it is...

If the engineers at SME felt the need for a motivational quote or two while working on the company's new turntable, Rolls-Royce co-founder Sir Henry Royce's 'Take the best that exists and make it better' would have been a good choice. This summed up the challenge facing the UK company in designing a successor to the previous Model 30 flagship – the result is the £49,950 SME Model 60, and it has a tough act to follow.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 07, 2019
hfnoutstandingAfter a change of ownership comes an unexpected new direction for this iconic British analogue brand – meet the world's most prestigious all-in-one turntable package...

Ten years after the passing of SME's founder, Alastair Robertson-Aikman, in 2006, the hi-fi world's most iconic precision engineering brand finally moved out of family hands to be acquired by Ajay Shirke's Cadence group. Former aerospace man Stuart McNeilis was appointed as CEO, and the company signed up a UK distributor, Padood (also handling Nagra), for the first time.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 12, 2020
hfnvintageIt was a deck designed to keep vinyl replay relevant in a market attracted to the convenience of CD. Did it succeed and, more importantly, how does it sound today?

One challenge faced by those designing hi-fi in the high-tech 1980s was how to re-package the LP in a way that would ensure it remained of interest to consumers in a future that was clearly going digital. Released in late 1979, the Technics SL-10 turntable [HFN Apr '19], with its parallel tracking, optical position sensing and slick packaging was one of the first components to address this issue seriously.

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