Turntable Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Dec 26, 2016  |  10 comments
Canada-based Fluance is an eighteen year old loudspeaker manufacturer specializing in home theater systems. The company’s speakers have a luxurious look that belies their reasonable prices.

I’ve not heard any of them but the reviews are positive in sister publications Sound & Vision and Innerfidelity.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 09, 2015  |  11 comments
Souix-Falls, South Dakota based George-Warren Precision Sound manufactures and sells direct but one model turntable. After spending a few months with it, I’d say one is enough.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 24, 2017  |  20 comments
Editor's note: AnalogPlanet (and Stereophile) policy is to review products as sent to us unless they are broken and/or clearly defective. In this case the speed was "off" but the 'table was neither "broken" nor "defective" so we chose to review "as sent".

The importer wrote to say the unit was sent with "the wrong pulley" and as stated in the review, we allowed for the possibility that the 'table had been previously used for reviews or for some other purpose. However, without trying to sound too harsh, if you're going to send out a product for review, it's important to check out its functioning before shipping and that would include making sure it's running at the right speed.

As the importer points out, the Kid Thomas previously reviewed ran at the correct speed but clearly this one did not and it was what was sent so there was an obligation to review "as sent" just as there was an obligation to ship a properly functioning review sample! I know this might sound "harsh" but I'm always thinking of the consumer who buys and uses without checking speed accuracy and ends up listening at the wrong speed.

AnalogPlanet readers' thoughts on this are most welcome.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 29, 2017  |  18 comments
It’s doubtful Pro-Ject could have produced a high performance, feature packed, beautiful to look at turntable like the Classic SB Superpack and priced it so reasonably ($1499 including $449 Blue Point No. 2 cartridge) were it not for surging turntable sales and Pro-Ject’s place at the top of the high performance turntable market (“high performance” meaning not counting the plastic mass market cheapies).

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 25, 2014  |  14 comments
Just as moving downhill is easier than going up, scaling down an expensive design is far easier than building upon a modest one.Yet Pro-Ject, which began in1990 with a homely, grey/black Soviet-era Czech Republic-made “people’s ‘table”, has managed quite well to both upgrade its budget offerings and to produce mid-priced ‘tables of distinction.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 22, 2020  |  54 comments
(Schiit just announced it is producing a new pulley that will run the turntable at the correct speed and will send them free to all existing customers.)Executive decision: no Schiit jokes, ok? Especially since the Sol turntable is so well conceived, designed, executed, made in America and remarkably priced at $799 including a $119 Audio Technica AT-VM95EN cartridge.

That said, if you want an “open the box, plug and play” type turntable, the SOL might not be for you. On the other hand, if you buy one with the cartridge already installed, Schiit makes the Sol reasonably easy to set up.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 03, 2013  |  7 comments
For a company whose initials stand for “Scale Model Equipment” the massive turntables SME builds are anything but. The company, founded in post WW II England, began as a manufacturer of scale models, then popular in the engineering trade.

SME founder Alastair Robertson-Aikman was an audio hobbyist who one day decided to apply his engineering acumen and put to work the talented designers and machinists in his employ to produce a tone arm for his own use.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  52 comments
The original Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable introduced in 1972 enjoyed a thirty-eight year, six generation run. Technics sold more than 3.5 million of them. In October of 2010 just as vinyl was staging its unlikely comeback, parent company Panasonic pulled the plug on the SL-1200 Mk6.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 20, 2019  |  29 comments
Hermann Thorens founded his company in 1883 to manufacture music boxes in Switzerland. Cylinder-based phonograph manufacturing began around the turn of the century. In 1956 the company introduced the TD-124—the company’s first high performance turntable and one that among collectors is still in demand. The company moved to Germany in 1966 and merged with EMT. The classic TD-125 followed in 1968.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 15, 2020  |  36 comments
Back in 1972 the original Thorens introduced the TD 160, a triple spring-suspended sub-chassis design that quickly became a long-in-production classic and the blueprint from which many other turntables, er, sprung—Linn for instance.

The original AR XA turntable designed by Edgar Villchur and introduced way back in 1961 for $58 was, to the best of my knowledge, the first to place the platter assembly and tone arm on the same sub-chassis isolated by a three point spring mount from the rest of the turntable (and from the outside world).

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 06, 2014  |  55 comments
Investors in U-Turn’s Kickstarter-funded Orbit turntable get more than their money’s worth in this remarkably well-designed record player manufactured in Woburn, Massachusetts.

One can only imagine why the principles chose the name U-turn™, but I’d like to think it means a reversal of direction from the low resolution MP3 digital hell into which a generation or two has been led, back to high resolution vinyl heaven.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 21, 2018  |  37 comments
In the recent story about the week I spent with Technics' new SL-1000R turntable, the difference between what's commonly referred to as an arm's "effective length" and how Technics uses the term in its literature led to some confusion and a series of conceptual errors on my part for which I take full responsibility.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 14, 2011  |  1 comments
Trends in turntable design shift back and forth over time, each "advance" turning out to be a mostly sideways move. Over its long history, VPI's founder and designer, Harry Weisfeld, has moved the analog goalposts back and forth as he's refined his thinking. His early turntables were mostly standard spring-suspension designs of normal size. By the time Weisfeld produced his fully tricked-out TNT model, which was originally designed to stably hold the heavy moving mass of Eminent Technology's ET2 air-bearing arm, he'd moved to a massive, oversized, sandwiched plinth with isolating feet at the corners. He first used springs and, later, air bladders originally designed to cushion a tractor-trailer's load, and which he'd found in a trucker's supply catalog. Via an O-ring, the TNT's outboard motor drove one of three pulleys that protruded from holes in the plinth, and attached to a T-shaped subchassis that, in turn, drove the other two pulleys via two additional O-rings.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 10, 2013  |  39 comments
Imports crowd the $1500 turntable price-point with entries from Rega, Pro-Ject, Music Hall, Clearaudio, JA Michell, Marantz (made by Clearaudio), Acoustic Signature and some others.

Until VPI surprised the turntable world last year with the Traveler, the only American-made ‘table manufactured at this price that I can think of is the SOTA Comet, which comes with an OEM Rega tonearm.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 06, 2006  |  0 comments
"Hello, I'd like to apply for a Federal Grant? For what? Oh, to design and build a new, high-tech, very expensive turntable. What's that? It plays records. Yes, that kind of turntable. Of course they still make records. Why? How much time do you have? Oh, I forgot—you're a federal employee, you have all day! Well, I didn't mean to insult you. It was a joke....No, I'm serious about the turntable. You do? What kind of music? When are they from? RCA Record Club? Classical Music? 1950s and '60s? Yes. I'll give you $5 each. I know it's generous, but... How much money do I want for the grant? Coupla hundred thousand dollars. No, our turntables will never be used to play Marilyn Manson records—Marilyn doesn't do vinyl. It's in the mail? Thank you. I'll come get the LPs tonight."

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