Reed Muse 1C/3P Turntable Page 2

Among its features are VTA adjustment while the record is playing, as well as azimuth adjustment with the LP in motion – and wow (pun not intended), are these settings audible. The magnetic anti-skating, too, is user-variable while the record is playing, and one cannot overstate the value of all three capabilities when using cartridges with fine-line styli or types such as Deccas which are extra-critical about VTA. While I still find the 3P unduly demanding of the user's attention and the need for kid-glove handling – this is no SME V nor Rega RB3000 – the sound is truly fabulous, and cartridge obsessives will think it's Christmas every day.

sqnote Reed All About It
While I was tempted to play only records by Jimmy, Jerry or Lou Reed, et al, I eschewed gimmickry and went straight to one of this year's milestone reissues, the new One-Step 180g VR900 vinyl pressing of Isaac Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul [Craft Recordings CR00504]. While I was expecting the keyboards to reveal all, it was a matter of atmosphere and spatial ambience which made me forget about bearings in cups and other irritants. Quite simply, I couldn't believe the space around and the deep location of guitarist Harold Beane during the lengthy opening segment of the oft-covered 'Walk On By'.

It had me swapping cartridges (not easy...) just to confirm this 3D effect, from a Decca Gold [HFN Apr '01] to a Denon DL-103 [HFN Apr '70 to Jul '09] – the champions in this area. The effect was to create not just a cavernous sound but a disappearing act as the walls fell away. It remained consistent, too, via disparate speakers and even amplifiers. Who would suspect that a turntable would have that calibre of effect on soundstage?


A full four speeds are on offer, and an electronic inclinometer for accurate levelling (the deck has three adjustable feet), all indicated on a small LCD panel on the top of the plinth

This, of course, would matter not a bit if the music within that space didn't sound real, natural, uncoloured. Hayes' voice had all of the familiar textures, a total absence of sibilance (yes, even with the crispy-treble Decca), while the piano opening Side 2 was as vivid as the one in our front room. Dazzling stuff from a well-known album.

Go West
The Reed combination also demonstrated its own personality in the bass. So rich was it, so free of artifice, that I wanted to simply keep on playing Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul. But instead it was time to present the Reed package with a challenge: hard rock, – nay, nascent heavy metal – but of a dark, murky sound. It was begging the question asked of all high-performance gear – can it render a so-so recording more listenable... or simply less objectionable?

The hugely underappreciated guitarist Leslie West released a staggering debut called Mountain [Windfall 4500] before he created the band of that name. I have never heard a pressing that isn't thick-sounding, even when his searing leads break through. While the Reed Muse 1C deck and 3P arm could not remix the album, the benefits were not dissimilar to that sort of makeover for this 1969 release, as if a layer of muck had been removed or a better-generation tape had been found. Something else Reed's combination unveiled was low-level activity I hadn't heard before, benefitting in particular the bass and percussion which were otherwise responsible for the murk.

Puck And Play
With the remastered anniversary release of Paul McCartney & Wings' Band On The Run album [MPL Communications 602455435620], surely the sonic antithesis of Leslie West's Mountain, the Reed Muse 1C/3P was being fed something more worthy of its skill set. I am fully aware that luxury pressings are felt to give hardware an easier ride, hence the need to experience an LP like Mountain, but that's an argument no less rhetorical than using better cables or aftermarket accessories. Thus, it was with Band On The Run that I experimented with using various record pucks.


The 3P's underslung counterweight lowers the centre of gravity, further improving the stability of its 'multi-unipivot' bearing. The VTA/height adjustment dial is also easily accessible on the top pillar. The deck's 12V DC input socket is also visible

It was a reminder that even small gains can be audible, and they're desirable, too, if neither expensive nor irreversible. Before adding a heavy puck, it was apparent that the revelatory qualities of the Reed front-end were sufficient for exposing all of the changes in a new mix or remastering. As familiar as is Wings' LP, the sound was more lively, more detailed, and when it came to the lead guitar fills, more powerful with stunning attack, speed and authoritative transients. What I didn't expect to hear were – however small – the still audible gains from a puck.

All Is Revealed
This is no criticism of the Reed Muse 1C, in that it benefited from a heavy puck, less so a clamp. Even without either, the sound is gripping, involving and devoid of artifice. What is so noteworthy is that this Reed system reacted to every little tweak, which tells you – or me – that the 3P tonearm is a finely tuned, well-engineered device. Indeed, its response to aftermarket accessories is as one might expect of a component which exhibits, among its most admirable properties, absolute transparency and precision.

Paul McCartney's voice, the entire LP – it couldn't be more recognisable if they were family members speaking to me. But that is what made it a perfect choice for challenging the Reed Muse 1C/3P. If it could bring more to the musical event, reveal more, expose just a minor nuance or two, then it was reward enough for any fastidious listener with the necessary funds and the right ancillaries.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Despite the rise of streaming, audiophiles are still enjoying a surfeit of stunning turntables. So quiet, so dependable, so delightful to operate is the Reed Muse 1C that the quirks of the 3P arm cease to matter. Regardless of cartridge, the combination delivered amazing speed and detail while eschewing fatigue or aggression. If your idea of a listening session runs to six hours, you need to hear this.

Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
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