Gearbox Develops Kickstarter Funded Innovative Turntable

Gearbox Records, best known as a mastering studio equipped with a vintage tube-based cutting system, announces an innovative new turntable with built-in vacuum tube-based phono preamp and auto-Bluetooth streaming.

Crowdfunding is via Kickstarter. The Kickstarter price is £399 (currently around $490), with post-Kickstarter price to be around 10% more.

Features include:

British built belt driven sub platter assembly and legendary (Rega OEM) tonearm
Audio-Technica Cartridge
Built in vacuum tube phono stage with RIAA equalization curve
Push button selected 33 1/3 or 45 RPM
A/C Synchronous motor with super high precision motor control circuit
Acrylic platter and case
RCA Line Out
Universal AC to DC power supply compatible with US standard 60 Hz, 110/120 VAC or European standard 50 Hz, 220/240 VAC
Small and neat dimensions for tight spaces: 30cm x 15cm x 20cm
Vibration Damping Feet
Bluetooth on board
Analogue to digital converter on board with wifi for server connectivity
Clear or turquoise with cream colourways

News of this new turntable from Gearbox comes as U.K. Record sales reach a 25 year high.

For more about the new Gearbox turntable, watch the video:

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... optional?

In the video, the turntable is shown sitting on a board hanging from the ceiling. What is the susceptibility to feedback when this turntable is installed on a more typical floor-mounted equipment rack?

gearbox's picture

This is the design prototype. Feedback is pretty ok on good wood surfaces. It is not a sprung platter, so no bounce. The tonearm is the excellent Rega one, so nicely damped. The final production model will have thicker acrylic, so be even better.

Gearbox Records

AnalogJ's picture

Kickstarter projects are tough. This one is seeking $104,000+ dollars in order for it to kick in. They're at $7,000+ currently. If they don't get the larger amount by early February, it doesn't happen at all.

The unit itself is cute, but in the video, they're showing listening to it through headphones. You have an enclosed polymer box. What happens when someone plays music loud through loudspeakers and the box is affected by resonances? The built-in phono stage and connectivity is a good idea, but how good will this be in the real world, particularly for the money (What with Pro-Ject, MMF, and Rega offering good budget tables)?

gearbox's picture

The casework is acrylic, so pretty dead to feedback. We are happy with the results so far. Looking forward to the even more robust production model. It easily matches the TTs you mentioned and actually comes close to higher level ones.

Gearbox

AnalogJ's picture

It's not the material, it's the closed box resonance I'd be concerned with.

But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, right? I'd want to see how it does with more energetic material through full, dynamic loudspeakers.

snipercat's picture

First and foremost, I am not going to represent myself as any kind of true audiophile that has tens of thousands of dollars to spend on gear. I will say that I have an attentive ear and can recognize what goes between the lines when it comes to the values of a company. First look at Gearbox Records as a whole. This is a mastering studio that has the very definition of perfection at its glowing heart. I met these guys at an indie label market and subsequently attended an open house during christmas. Those that attended were treated to their process and philosophies on the how they choose to represent their artists. It was hours later that we were treated to a listen of this through their house system. If there was a marketing angle in this it was so subtle as to be non-existent. As my dear mother used to say: "the best don't advertise." You can look up all the specs of their house system on their website if you want an exact inventory of what we were listening to it through. We listened to the first track of their Applewood Road release and if there is such as thing as liquid sound it existed in that listening room. Permeating into your soul as music is meant toThe only time I listened with headphones was when the owner handed me some WIRELESS headphones to show the clarity.
Secondly, I want to make it clear that I do not represent this company in any paid capacity. I was just really really lucky to be at the right place and at the right time. I do VERY much have an interest though. I backed it so I want it. And without backers I won't get one. So please, take a closer look. Tell your friends. The only dissatisfaction I have is I don't have one now.

jeni83's picture

I wish I could know how it sounds. The size would be major selling point as I know a lot of people don't have massive listening spaces. A tube pre-amp at that price point seems pretty neat. Any idea what the quality of the analog to digital conversion is? I guess I'm not expecting much more than 44/16 for the price but who knows.

gearbox's picture

It was hard for us to show the sonic character on a video. It sounds excellent. We would not want to put our reputation on the line with poor sound. Of course, you still need to put it through an amp and speakers, so these will have an influence too, but tonally, the tube makes it magic. We have done back to back tests with Audio Note TT2 with Io1 cartridge going through their SN8 step up and M6 phono and Tomei 211 amp. Also against out EMT 948. It is not as far off as the price differential would suggest. Just to clarify, this TT does not "rip" from the vinyl. Too unstable and clunky and many TTs do this already. We are merely digitally fingerprinting the vinyl with a low bit stream over wifi, like Shazam. You then have the option to add the track to your playlist on Spotify etc. The track that goes in there is from the Spotify library. The turntable simply automatically recognises what you are playing and lets you play!

Gearbox

kozakjj's picture

Ha Ha hahahha ha Ha Ha hahahha ha Ha Ha hahahha ha can't stop

kozakjj's picture

Ha Ha hahahha ha Ha

PeterPani's picture

and installed a tube-prepre underneath the tonearm-board inside in the turntable-frame. It brings the MC-signal (Ortofon Jubilee) up to MM-level. It is an advantage to bring the signal to high level as close to the source as possible. Besides, today in a daily newspaper (Sueddeutsche Zeitung) they write, that Optima pressed 60000 records per month twenty years ago. Today they press this number in one day only! And according to this newspaper they could press more, but cannot because of a shortage of equipment and logistic. I wonder whether this would have happened without people like Mickey...

PAR's picture

I love the idea that you can find out what you are listening to on your phone. That's in case you didn't know when you picked the disc to play or missed the title written in big letters on the large cardboard sleeve or the fact that it is also written on the label.

What did we do before new technology?

gearbox's picture

haha. You are kind of right. We did this because we have a belief that tech and analogue are essentially the same thing! They can coexist. Vinyl for listening properly. Streaming for convenience. This product means people only ever need to buy vinyl and you have the lot. One step on from fee download code in your record.

Gearbox

JohnnyCanuck's picture

A 12" disc playing on a 6" platter? I don't think so.

gearbox's picture

What can we say? You are right. It will obviously not be as stable as a larger platter, but we are trying to offer something to people who do not have space for regular sized decks. Or want a second TT in the house with easy set up. It still sounds great....about equivalent to Rega Planar 3 level.

Gearbox

Concerto_7708's picture

Playing to the gallery perhaps. I like the unusual design and compact dimensions provided the designer/s had taken into account that some plastics sag, develop cracks and discolour over time as I didn't see any interior reinforcing, being the old pessimist I am.

Another thing. If any of these interesting start-ups make the grade and do well in the market, they should thank all vinyl diehards for 'flying the flag' since the digital revolution thought they'd killed vinyl.

This writer for one, never dumped my black discs. Instead, I enjoyed an uninterupted bonanza over more than 20 years to buy the very best in new and used vinyl and analogue playback gear. Here in Cape Town, one could literally find Garrard 301's tossed into pole-mounted garbage bins. To wit, I found my first grease bearing model sitting in a box on a guy's driveway, waiting for the trash truck.

Anyway, I wish the UK guys all of the very best and I hope they reach their February target.

gearbox's picture

You do have a point. I started Gearbox Records the label and mastering studio because I am one of the diehards. It was time to put sonic quality back into listening rather than the all you can eat mentality that seems to have afflicted both listening habits and production values. We have been going since 2009, and are still here (although it feels like only just a lot of the time!). Our TT project is a risky start-up, but I was not about to design competition to the many great hi-end tables out there, nor compete with the rubbish low end ones. The is designed for those who want better but can't afford the best, who might be limited on space (like my son) or audiophiles who want a second TT outside of the listening room (like me) which won't wreck precious records. To tie it in with nice design and some unique tech features makes this fun.

Thanks for your support though.

Gearbox (Darrel)

AnalogJ's picture

It LOOKS great, and it'd look great in a high design store or an electronics store. Best of luck with it!

Concerto_7708's picture

Hi Darrel

Thank you for your comment. I really hold thumbs that your product succeeds and acknowledge it takes b@lls, foresight, ingenuity as well as infinite endurance to bring an idea to a physical concept the public can view and hear. I indeed have personal experience of what it takes to bring an analogue-related product to market.

I wish you, your partners and investors all of the very best during this time and much success in future.

Concerto_7708

SET Man's picture

Hey!

It sure looks cute. I'm analog vinyl fan and I do love to see more new vinyls and turntables out, the more options the better for consumers right?

Anyway, this looks great, especially with tube in it and I'm pretty sure it will be a hit among younger hipsters in Brooklyn. The good thing is that I know that this won't destroy records like those all-in one turntables you see in places like Urban Outfitter, so that's a good start for younger people to get into vinyl.

But it is not for me. Streaming sound from vinyls sound weird to me. If you're going to pay premium for LPs you might as well listen to it in it analog form as it was meant to be. As for the smaller platter, well, my 1902 Victor gramophone with 8" platter and play 12" disc just fine :)

Well, wish you guys best of luck.

capri345's picture

Darrel,

What is the preamp tube for the unit (I can't seem to find that spec)? Also, with the limited photos, how difficult is it to replace tubes?

I am keeping my eye on this one... nicely done.

Chris

gearbox's picture

It is an ECC82. We just have a JJ Electronics one on this prototype, but it will be easily changeable for a delicious NOS Millard or such like!

capri345's picture

I'm liking this more and more......

bongo-hifi's picture

I am a fan of everything Gearbox does and their AAA valve mastered LP's are terrific.
The venture into manufacturing a TT that utilises both Valve analogue and digital tech is interesting but I am struggling ultimately to see who this will appeal too.
As far as I can see its major selling point claim is its small footprint which is not so small however when you consider that a 12" record overhangs the turntable plinth so care would need to be taken on its placement in order not to damage the LP playing.
Those who most likely IMO would be interested in a small sized turntable are likely those with micro/mini/midi type systems and I'm not convinced that the audiophile pretensions, valve phono stage etc would be understood and valued in that market.
On the other hand those who appreciate and understand the audiophile elements of this turntable are IMO probably already using "normal" sized audio separates and would thus want a "normal" sized turntable without the inevitable compromises that will go with the aim of engineering an audiophile grade turntable into an undersized turntable.
Personally I'm not keen on the 6" platter and as I have pointed out above the actual space required will still be larger than the Plinth due to the LP overhang.
Does the valve in the phono stage run very hot? Could this heat convect to the record playing above causing warpage? Could the position of the valve cause noise/interference to be picked up by the cartridge?
This is a risky venture and welcome and applaud Gearbox for taking it, anything that promotes new interest in the vinyl format has to be a good thing so my personal reservations aside hope this project is a success and leads to further analogue hardware products from Gearbox.

gearbox's picture

Thanks for being a fan!

Just to answer your questions. The valve is used for sonic quality only not power and runs very cool. There is also a small breather hole on top. Infinitesimally small convection as to be a non-issue and the TT is silent,...much quieter than some motors on a couple of over £5,000 tables I heard recently! I have compared with my own TW Acustic Raven One/AN Meishu with SN-9 and Io1 cart set up at home and our Audio Note TT2 in the studio and it compares well for thousands less. Audiophiles with existing systems might like it for another room or to integrate with a Sonos set up they might have alongside their private listening room. I will have one at home on the bedside table, and my son wants one for university...so there are various demographics interested. Even if we dont fill the kickstarter, we are happy with the exposure it has given us, and frankly, the amount we have pledged in 10 days nicely endorses our internal business model and proves demand is there.

capri345's picture

Darrel,

Can you comment on the preamp stage a bit more? Output, MC/MM both? Etc....

Chris

gearbox's picture

it is for MM at the moment. I think if we get good take up from audiophiles who may want a second system, then we may do some mods to accommodate MC too. Not that it is clear cut that MC is always better. I have a vintage MM on one of my many turntables and it's presentation is forward but very exciting. Not as delicate as my AN MC but great. The tube is not doing any power stuff really....mainly tonal benefits. More than this , I would have to reveal our circuitry which is probably not wise on a forum. We are however slightly puzzled as to why it all sounds so good. This sounds bad but we break convention in so many places such as small platter,
sawn off tone arm, MM rather than MC etc etc, but we get no tracking distortion and it really sounds close to players 10 times the price. I'm going to get it on a vibration rig prior to large scale manufacture to understand more of the phyiscis because I think we've stumbled on a diamond.

Paynesgrey's picture

This is the first new turntable I have seen that wouldn't look more or less at home in 1979. There are an increasing number of people who do not necessarily have conventional systems. Digital music streamers and powered wirelss speakers and headphones abound at the same time analog is roaring. We have entered an interesting hybrid world of streaming digital AND analog. (I have a both a Bluesound Vault and a Clearaudio turntable.)

This prototype product bridges that gap in a way I have seen no other product yet do (and you can still use wires if you want). You don't have to be a hipster to appreciate both the diminutive footprint and the digital integration of this turntable; you just have to live in a snug apartment or have a small office where decent sound is wanted.

As one commenter said "it's not for me", but I still pledged because it's an interesting and unconventional idea and I know people for whom it would be a very complimentary component.

So I say "cheers", congratulations on a fresh idea, and the best of luck getting this product from prototype to market.

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