Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2019
hfnedchoiceAffordable German turntables are looking set to repeat their dominance of the market they owned 50 years ago. Can Dual's top-of-the-range CS 600 raise the stakes?

A tough review for me to write, at least objectively: I'm rooting for the CS 600 to be something special because my first turntable was a Dual and I recall it with fondness. I want the CS 600 to be a champ like the all-conquering '505 was back in the days of the NAD 3020-based systems. But this new deck costs £1199 in black, or another £200 in gloss black or white (as reviewed), and the competition for turntables with tonearms is fierce around this price point.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 28, 2019
hfnvintageParallel tracking, optical position sensing and all in a slick package no larger than an LP sleeve. It dazzled in its day, but how does this '70s direct-drive deck sound now?

There is an argument which says that to recover maximum information from any recording the playback system should be as similar as possible to the arrangement with which it was made. For example, a tape deck identical to the one used in the studio should replay the original master tapes with the highest achievable accuracy.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 03, 2019
hfnoutstandingMarking the company's 40th birthday, the turntable mavens of VPI are right on song with an updated, deluxe version of their Classic direct-drive, the HW-40 Anniversary

Way back when, especially during the 1980s, direct-drive turntables were unloved by purists. How things change – just witness the high prices that vintage decks from Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer and especially Technics now change hands for. And with the latter's revived line of direct-drives turning out to be as hot as anything the high-end can offer circa 2019, the arrival of VPI's HW-40 Anniversary Edition direct-drive deck is doubly timely.

John Atkinson  |  May 21, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1983
hfnvintageThe Acoustic Research turntable is back! John Atkinson looks and listens

It is June 1982 and Compact Disc is still more science fiction than fact (although both sides have carried out their groundwork and preliminary skirmishing). The scene is the restaurant of Boston's classy Copley Plaza Hotel and a handful of British hi-fi journalists, fresh from the Chicago CES, are dining with Ron Fone, the (English) President of Teledyne Acoustic Research. Over dessert arises the subject of turntables and the question, 'Why doesn't anyone – apart from Rega, or Thorens – produce a good mid-price mass-market deck?'.

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: 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.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2019
Employing a novel dual-pulley drive system and a bespoke 10in tonearm, AVM's first deck is a flamboyant addition to the rapidly expanding pantheon of high-end turntables

Ibuilt a unique record player for my son's 18th birthday,' says Udo Besser, Managing Director of AVM (Audio Video Manufaktur) GmbH, 'and that's what sparked the development of this turntable'. What then kept the fire burning, he told HFN, were the numerous requests for a vinyl spinner from his customers, adding that, 'also, turntables are my passion'. So Udo set about designing his own deck from scratch, and the £5490 AVM Rotation R 5.3 you see here is a clean-sheet design, new to the market.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 29, 2019
hfnoutstandingWho knew that TechDAS could follow the remarkable Air Force III with an even less-expensive, air-bearing, vacuum hold-down turntable? We welcome the Air Force V

Reason to celebrate: at £12,500, TechDAS's latest turntable – the Air Force V – costs one-tenth the price of the current Air Force One [HFN Jun '13]. Re-read that sentence. It means that the glory of owning one of the true upper-echelon turntables has been reduced by 90%. And you still get 90% of the performance.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2019
hfnoutstandingReplacing the inaugural DS-W1 while benefiting from a host of trickle-down tech from the brand's flagship Master 1, the new DS-W2 'optical' pick-up is firmly in the limelight

When I first heard about DS Audio's optical cartridges, I wrote them off as 'dreamware' unlikely to end up chez Kessler. As it turns out, the audio gods smiled on me and I have, to my surprise and delight, managed to review just about all of them, watching the series evolve while using the Master 1 as my reference. Now, with the DS-W2 selling for £9995 with the equaliser/phono stage, the brand is delivering nearly all the performance of its flagship at half the price.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngFollowing its ever-descending prices for its high-value turntables, EAT (European Audio Team) has issued the Jo No5 moving-coil cartridge to do the same for phono pick-ups

As if to answer my continued pleas for sane price tags, and my continued dismay at the fees charged for some MC cartridges, the inclusively named European Audio Team (EAT) has delivered what may be a game-changer. It was the talk of 2018's High End Show in Munich, not least because it looks unlike nearly any cartridge ever seen before. And another thing: the EAT Jo No5 sells for £999.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe Czech company beefs up its most popular turntable range with a deck boasting a sophisticated motor system and new S-shaped tonearm. Then there’s the new logo...

Recently I found myself chatting with a fellow hi-fi nut about the sheer number of turntables currently available. We discussed a few of our favourites and his final comment was: ‘Yes, a great selection; although about half of them are made by Pro-Ject!’ While we chuckled, I couldn’t help thinking he had a point...

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngLaunched in the late '70s as part of a new wave of shoebox-sized systems from Japan, this elegant deck packed plenty of groundbreaking tech. How does it perform today?

It wasn't until the 1970s that the LP reached its heyday. By then, most albums were stereo and the equipment needed to play them was widely available. In 1975, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells hit the high watermark for vinyl sales, confirming the format's dominance. At the time, most people still only had 'record players' – all-in-one turntables, amplifiers and speakers – but this was the peak of the decade's hi-fi boom, and people were scrambling to get their hands on proper, grown-up, stereo systems.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngA new name in turntables from Serbia and an equally new arm from Timestep in the UK make for a very stylish combination. But do they sound as good as they look?

It's not every day one comes across a turntable named after a film director but the Soulines Kubrick DCX really has been christened in honour of Stanley Kubrick. Soulines is no stranger to this naming practice, its other models being the Elgar and Satie (composers), Dostoyevsky (novelist) and Hermes (Greek god). Designer Igor Gligorov says he drew inspiration for the look of the £2995 Kubrick from the spinning, double-wheeled Space Station V depicted in the film director's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and that the name naturally followed.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngKiseki’s first all-new moving-coil cartridge since its return in 2011 isn’t just a fine transducer, it’s also affordable by current standards – enter the Kiseki Blue N.S.

Back when moving-coil cartridges stalked the earth, Koetsu occupied the top of the heap, and did so for at least a decade. But this purveyor of hand-made cartridges did not go unchallenged and, to its credit, Koetsu opened the door for a plethora of Japanese artisan moving-coils with equally exotic-sounding names. Among the most highly-regarded were the various Kisekis, the name meaning ‘miracle’, which could be regarded as either cynical or optimistic, so great was Koetsu’s dominance.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngTwo years since the rebirth of the iconic SL-1200, Panasonic's high-end brand is back with its flagship direct-drive turntable. It had to be special, and so it proved

The vinyl market hit rock bottom in 2009, but has been growing ever since,' says Technics' Tetsuya Itani, adding that, 'we foresee this trend will last.' And that, in a nutshell, is why one of the world's most iconic turntables has been relaunched. Panasonic – the brand's parent company – is not in the business of being nostalgic, remembering the glory days of vinyl, flared trousers and disco dancing. Instead, the reappearance of the SP-10 family is all about the here and now.

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