Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 14, 2022
hfnoutstandingA handful of turntable brands lay claim to the first suspended subchassis model, but few, unlike Thorens' TD 150 from 1965, were mass produced. Here's its great grandson

Thorens CEO Gunter Kürten is true to his word: when we first met at the Tokyo High End Show in 2019, he hinted that the hugely-important, wildly-popular three-point suspended-subchassis, belt-drive TD 150 of 1965 might make a return in updated form. This wasn't your typical case of just exploiting retro because the TD 150 was more than a best-seller for Thorens. It was a breakthrough in the evolution of turntables.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 08, 2022
hfnvintageThis compact '70s deck packed some clever tech when it came to speed control, but is it now an underappreciated classic? Time to find out as the GA 202 is put to the test...

When designing any turntable, ensuring that it maintains the correct and consistent speed is of paramount importance. Numerous techniques have been tried over the years, some with greater success than others. The Philips GA 202 Electronic turntable reviewed here was one of the first popular models to feature a motor controlled by an electronic servo, bringing easy operation and improved performance. This was the deck's key feature, but there were other striking aspects to the design.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 07, 2022
hfnoutstandingPrecision manufacturing, state-of-the-art materials and magnet technologies combine in this new addition to the 'Exclusives' MC range – the ultimate blend of art and science?

Talk about alpha to omega: we've looked at two Ortofon cartridges this month, the £295 2M Bronze supplied with Thorens' TD 1500 and now the MC Verismo moving-coil, at £5349. It's the latest MC in Ortofon's 'Exclusives' series, which already includes the £6999 MC Anna Diamond [HFN Oct '19] and £3799 MC Windfeld Ti [HFN Jan '18], but with an open body shape first pioneered in this Danish brand's MC A90 [HFN Sep '09].

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1997
hfnvintageThere's a glowing new object in the hi-fi galaxy – the Quasar turntable. Ken Kessler makes space for a deck with a sound as sweet as sugar

Gorgeous. That's the word I kept hearing, every time someone noticed the Quasar LE turntable while it was in for review. And one of the first to utter it was the owner of a Michell Orbe, itself no canine. What these individuals cooed over is one of the prettiest LP spinners to come along since the first Oracle. And that's one hell of an antecedent.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 21, 2022
hfnvintageIn 1975 one of the leading makers of budget turntables unveiled a fully automatic mid-priced deck with mighty ambitions. How will the package shape up today?

Any mention of Dual turntables usually brings one of the many incarnations of the company's CS 505 to mind. The original '505 was a typical Dual design, taking its cue from the basic turntables that had been around since the 1950s by being built on a sprung-steel plate. It was a budget deck, which sold mainly to those looking to take their first step on the audiophile ladder. But Dual made more ambitious models too.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2022
hfnoutstandingThis Brit-brand's range of audiophile pick-ups grows yet again with a sub-£1000 model slotting between its entry-level MM and flagship MC. Will the Sabre cut through?

In the heated-up marketplace that is 'LP Playback Circa 2022', and as with the ModWright PH 9.0 phono stage, we are also experiencing a surfeit of cartridges, tonearms and decks. With so crowded a playing field as this, Vertere – about as iconoclastic a manufacturer as analogue has seen in recent times – has to make its Sabre cartridge stand out from the rest. The company has chosen to address a usually neglected niche: true high-end moving-magnet designs.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 25, 2022
hfncommendedBudget-conscious vinyl fans wishing to digitise their prized record collections will want to sample this sleek, affordable turntable solution from an illustrious German brand

Like any company that can trace its lineage over one-and-a-quarter centuries, German turntable brand Thorens has had its share of high and, well, not-so-high points. Now under the ownership of ex-ELAC MD Gunter Kürten, the last three years has seen a revolution in the brand's ambitions, with a burgeoning product range to match.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 04, 2022
hfnoutstandingWith a range of affordable turntables and a trio of MM pick-ups already in its catalogue, the launch of a premium MC has been long-anticipated from this supremo of the vinyl LP

One thought dominated my recent rediscovery of the old Decca (now London) cartridges: there was much to be said for record labels also manufacturing playback equipment. As had Decca, EMI, RCA, and a few others in the past, Mobile Fidelity, aka MoFi, has continued to demonstrate this synergy through its portfolio of turntables [HFN Jul '19 and Jan '20], phono stages [HFN Mar '20] and three MM cartridges. The UltraGold is the first MoFi MC, and at £1499, it raises the brand's price point.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2022
hfnvintageThis compact '80s turntable took the fight to market leader Technics by driving down the price of automatic track selection and programmable repeat. Is it a big hitter?

The LP sleeve-sized turntable, first seen in 1979 in the form of the Technics SL-10 [HFN Apr '19], proved such a success that within a year or so most of the major Japanese manufacturers had added one to their range. In a fast-changing world where digital tuners, remote-controlled amps and full-logic cassette decks were beginning to make traditional turntables look out of date, this new look helped maintain sales.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 27, 2021
Arguably best known for its high-end strain-gauge pick-ups, Soundsmith also offers a series of high- and low-output moving-iron/fixed-coil cartridges. Is the Zephyr a 'star'?

The so-called 'vinyl revival' has not only fermented an uptick in sales of both turntables and LP records but it's also created a renewed demand for cartridges of all shapes, sizes and types. Designer/audio artisan Peter Ledermann was far from alone in seizing the opportunity, sensing, very specifically in this instance, that many Bang & Olufsen turntable owners wanted to get their ageing record players going again. He successfully obtained a licence to restart production of these plug-in MMC pick-ups, and Soundsmith was born.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 23, 2021
hfncommendedLaunched as part of a series including a CD transport and two amplifiers – one with onboard streaming – the Attessa turntable completes Roksan's most stylish offering

There are a few announcements guaranteed to make an audio fan sit up and take notice, one being the unveiling of a new turntable from Roksan. After all, the company burst onto the scene in 1985 with the Xerxes – a deck that is still going strong 36 years later in '20 Plus' guise [HFN Dec '11]. However, the new deck in question is the £995 Attessa turntable, and it forms part of a completely new Roksan range.

Review: Ed Selley, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 26, 2021
While one Austrian/Czech brand may account for over 50% of 'hi-fi' turntables sold, this hasn't stopped other brands from offering alternative vinyl-friendly packages

With enthusiasm for vinyl showing no sign of diminishing, many companies are now launching record players in a bid to reel in buyers. For the most part this process sees them approach an existing turntable manufacturer and select anything between core components on which to base their own design, to a complete 'turnkey' unit, requiring only the application of branding and a name.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingWith the DS 003, DS Audio delivers its 3rd generation technology in a system one-tenth the price of its flagship Grand Master. Can it hope to offer a taste of its authority?

Attesting to what I firmly believe is a 'hi-fi truth' – that differing technologies have innate sonic traits, eg, valve vs transistor – is this latest DS Audio 'optical' cartridge, the £4995 DS 003 with matching energiser. It replaces the £5050 DS 002 [HFN Jun '17], so there's even a slight price reduction.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 25, 2021
Dubbed the 'most audiophile' Debut turntable yet, this deck/arm/cartridge solution takes over from last year's Debut Carbon model with a host of detail refinements

Like the Land Rover and Ray-Ban sunglasses, the Pro-Ject Debut comes in many flavours. What started as a pure entry-level product has been joined by enough siblings over the last 20 years that the new Debut PRO reviewed here can be regarded as the range's flagship and crowning glory. The numerous improvements elevate the price to £699, but even that hasn't undermined this record deck's bargain status.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 09, 2021
hfnoutstandingLinn's 'most affordable' route into the world of the iconic Sondek LP12 turntable is all the more convenient now its Majik deck is packaged with Clearaudio-sourced Krane arm

Meet the latest 'entry level' Linn Sondek LP12. As you can see, things have changed since 1973, where the first model came out of the (then) new company's Glasgow factory, complete with a fluted Afrormosia hardwood plinth and tinted Perspex dustcover. Or have they? Rather like the newest Porsche 911 sports car that looks similar to the original '70s icon, this has many of the visual clues of the first Sondek but much has changed under the skin – almost entirely for the better.

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