Turntable Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jul 15, 2020  |  38 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  |  56 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."
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 25, 2015  |  17 comments
For vinyl lovers, it’s important to know that Wilson-Benesch first began in 1989 as a start-up dedicated to building a turntable simply because it felt vinyl was a superior medium compared to CD. For that reason alone, the company should be venerated. W-B argued that new, emerging technologies like carbon fiber could further elevate vinyl playback.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 01, 2019  |  27 comments
Technics follows up on its successful re-entry into the turntable business (SL-1200 series, SP10R, SL1000R) with the SL1500C, a lower cost ($1199) direct drive turntable that features a version of the sophisticated coreless, single rotor direct drive motor used on its more costly turntables.

Michael Fremer  |  May 09, 2014  |  9 comments
Zorin Audio is a China-based company producing a series of tone arms and turntables that last year at an audio show impressed visually. The machining appeared superb and the designs sensible, but with sufficient innovation to draw my interest.

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