Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 25, 2020
hfnvintageDesigned to be worthy of the company's flagship Beolab 5000 system, this late '60s turntable was the last conventional deck to top the B&O range. How does it sound?

The argument for building a system using components from different manufacturers because 'no company is good at everything' is a good one – up to a point. Conversely, the Japanese heavyweights such as Sony, Technics and JVC were once able to put together a fairly convincing complete package, as could Philips (on a good day!).

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 04, 2020
hfnoutstandingAn air-bearing turntable and a parallel-tracking, air-bearing tonearm in a single, easy-to-use package for under £7000? Devotees of both will love the Holbo Airbearing

Every product type has its following, however focused. I am sure, for example, that there are devotees of hybrid amps with tube front-ends and solid-state output stages just as, among the niches in LP playback, audiophiles are tempted by air-bearing turntables and parallel-tracking tonearms. Made in Slovenia by Bostjan Holc, the Holbo Airbearing combines those two, and does so for an almost-inexplicable £6500.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 13, 2020
hfnoutstandingDespite shedding all 'non-essential cosmetic adornments' EAT's B-Sharp still cuts a dash in the world of plug-and-play turntable solutions. Does it sound as slick as it looks?

Conditioning has, I believe, led the cynics among us to assume that 'plug 'n' play' is a sexy euphemism for 'lowest common denominator' or 'user-friendly-enough for anyone to appreciate'. After all, this is what freed normal souls from going crazy with pre-USB computer peripherals. Today, it welcomes newcomers to vinyl, referring almost exclusively, in a hi-fi context, to turnkey turntable/arm/cartridge packages, because every other audio source has always been plug 'n' play.

Review: Jonathan Gorse, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 22, 2020
hfnoutstandingWith nearly a half century of MC experience under its corporate belt, Sumiko knows how to optimise pick-up performance: enter the Pearwood, an MC that tracks like an MM

Since it was founded in 1972 by noted audio designer David Fletcher, the US-based Sumiko Corporation has been making some of the world's most desirable pick-ups at its production facility in Japan. What's more, not only has it become one of the leading agents for audio equipment in North America but its UK presence has recently been boosted by distributor Henley Audio.

Ken Kessler  |  Jul 17, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1984
hfnvintageOrtofon's SPU cartridge has reappeared. Ken Kessler gives it a whirl

Paranoia is not a condition to which I subscribed prior to entering the brotherhood of audio writers. Ignorant of my near-leper status, it came as something of a shock to find myself the only valve-loving, moving-magnet cartridge supporter in the immediate vicinity. Thankfully, editor John Atkinson tends to offer advice and make suggestions, rather than threaten my physical well-being for failing to embrace the solid-state, and so decided that a review of a moving-coil cartridge would be a subtle way of sowing the seeds for my conversion. And he knows my weaknesses well: anachrophilia.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 10, 2020
hfnvintageA mid '80s deck designed to boost vinyl replay at a time when the convenience of CD was making all the news. Did it succeed, and how does it compare today?

The products we usually seek to feature in our Vintage Review pages are those that were among the first to introduce a new format, function, level of performance or design theme. However, this month our subject is the Technics SL-J33 turntable of 1986, one of the last in a series that had a footprint the size of an LP sleeve, which began with the SL-10 [HFN Apr '19].

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 17, 2020
hfnoutstandingSupplied with or without a partnering MM cartridge, this new 'entry-level' deck to the Vertere range comes equipped with a re-imagining of the archetypal flat tonearm

In a world of plug 'n' play convenience, having to manually configure a piece of equipment before it can be used is felt by some to be far too great a barrier to enjoyment. And perhaps in no area of hi-fi is this truer than vinyl replay. I know of many people who have consciously shied away from exploring the ol' black stuff because they believe it to be 'just too much hard work'. So any manufacturer able to help eliminate any of the perceived faff and complexity that comes with putting together and setting up a turntable – not to mention its arm – is onto a winner.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 26, 2020
hfncommendedNestling in the foothills of the Swabian Jura, southern Germany, the tiny municipality of Altdorf is home to some very big turntables from the boutique Acoustic Solid brand

Weighing 22kg, with a good deal of this mass being platter, the Wood Round MPX is the latest turntable from German company Acoustic Solid and fits neatly into its seven-strong 'Classic Line', sitting above the Classic Wood but below the Wood Referenz. The deck's appearance, with its three pillars, echoes the company's top 'Aluminium Line' models and also differentiates it from the rectangular decks that make up the rest of the Classic Line.

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.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2020
hfnoutstandingOne-time distributor of Grace, Kiseki, Supex and other brands from the vinyl vault, Sumiko is also a manufacturer with a legacy. Here's its new open-bodied MC flagship

One testament to the continuing love for vinyl is that the steady trickle of brand new cartridges making their way onto the market shows no sign of abating. The latest company to pep up the party is US-based distributor and manufacturer Sumiko.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 30, 2020
hfnoutstandingKeeping up with progress in Pro-Ject's Mistelbach headquarters is enough to make anyone's head spin. The latest deck to be updated is the Classic, four years after launch

As the undisputed juggernaut of the vinyl world, Pro-Ject's progress has been dizzying, particularly in recent years, and the brand now even has its own record label. So there's clearly a lot to celebrate as the company reaches its 30th anniversary this year. It all started with the Pro-Ject 1 – a cheap, no-nonsense, 'plug 'n play' record player launched when the received wisdom held that vinyl as a format was dying. Since then, the company has produced a huge array of different models – broadening its design strategy to ensure it can offer a turntable for every taste and budget.

Review: Jonathan Gorse, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 02, 2020
hfncommendedInspired by the Florentine Renaissance, this flagship turntable aims to combine avantgarde technological innovation with sumptuous Italian aesthetics

Think of Italy and one pictures a nation blessed with effortless style, eye-catching design and a strong sense of its own history. The Gold Note Mediterraneo boasts all these qualities, sitting atop the company's five-strong turntable range and costing £4990-£5445 (depending on finish) with the B-5.1 tonearm included. As well as the walnut plinth of our review sample, the deck is available in black lacquered MDF, white, and as a truly glorious alternative coated in an exquisitely-textured 24k gold foil. Sleek-looking and superbly crafted, when it comes to the spouse acceptance factor it's on a par with having George Clooney move in as a lodger.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 13, 2020
hfnoutstandingMobile Fidelity, champion of audiophile vinyl, has now wrapped up an EISA Award for its flagship UltraDeck – does the more affordable StudioDeck give much away?

It might seem that we played this one in reverse, reviewing Mobile Fidelity's dearer UltraDeck turntable first [HFN Jul '19], before working backward. A buzz in the underground, however, suggested that MoFi's less-costly, entry-level StudioDeck might be something of a 'sweet spot' candidate, so what could have been an anti-climax is anything but.

Martin Colloms  |  Feb 28, 2020  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1986
Martin Colloms gets to grips with the new SME Series V

The Series V tonearm is on sale at last, albeit in limited quantities. The fruit of many years of creative research, a handmade prototype 'V' was shown to prospective distributors at the American and German shows two years ago, but it has taken a long time to get the arm into production. Components were continually tried from prospective suppliers until the quality was right and when first shown in 1984, the price was targeted at what was then a very high level, at £750 or so. Some expressed doubts concerning its credibility at that price, indeed of any similarly-priced tonearm.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 17, 2020
hfnoutstandingAfter wowing the audio community with the Jo No5 moving-coil cartridge, EAT has unleashed the second in the family – the Jo No8. And it's an even bigger knock-out

Having previously dipped its toe in the water with the Yosegi moving-coil cartridge [HFN Mar '12] – effectively a rebodied-in-wood Japanese design – EAT stunned us last year with the Jo No5 [HFN Dec '18], selling at a sane £799. There's no shortage of amazing moving-coil cartridges on the market, but this was blatantly head-and-shoulders above the pack. It heralded a new range of MCs to complement EAT's expanding catalogue of turntables, arms, phono stages and its recently-unveiled integrated amplifier.

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