Yamaha GT-5000 Turntable

hfnoutstandingThe front-end to Yamaha's 'Gigantic and Tremendous' 5000 series is not a digital player or DAC but a turntable, and one whose controversial arm harks back to the '80s

And then there were four... We enjoyed the Yamaha NS-5000 loudspeakers [HFN Jun '17] and were bowled over by the C-5000 preamplifier and M-5000 power amp [HFN Aug '20]. Now we have the source with which Yamaha has chosen to front its flagship 5000 series. Not only is it a return to high-end turntable manufacturing for the company, it also sees the reappearance of what is possibly the greatest model number prefix ever, the 'GT' standing for 'Gigantic and Tremendous'!

The £7000 GT-5000 has much to live up to. The original GT-2000 from 1982, which provides the inspiration for this new turntable, was a huge success, even though it was only ever on sale in Japan. It now enjoys a cult following and I will happily admit to owning a GT-2000 myself. However, Yamaha is at pains to point out that, much like the re-birth of the Technics SL-1200 in 2016, this is no speedy cosmetic makeover of the GT-2000. Rather, the planning of a new flagship turntable actually began in 2014, the GT-5000 project commencing properly in 2017.

Drive Surprise
The first step Yamaha took in realising the GT-5000 was to ask some of the designers of the original GT-2000 for their input. They then combined this historical know-how with a thorough back-to-basics evaluation of modern turntable design techniques. The driving force behind the new deck was always clarity of sound, and the end result is the fruit of many thousands of hours of critical listening.


One surprise is the use of a belt-drive system for the GT-5000. The GT-2000 was a direct-drive deck, but my experience of Japanese design over the years suggests that the final method will have been chosen for valid engineering reasons rather than simplicity's sake. And the belt-drive implementation here is first class. It sees a 24-pole, 2-phase synchronous motor gently bringing the 2kg brass sub-platter and 5.2kg aluminium main platter up to speed in a controlled manner, with no vibration or belt slippage. Pitch adjustment of ±1.5% is available, but as delivered the turntable was spot-on in this regard.

As for the plinth, this is an impressive construction based around four layers of high-density particleboard, weighing in at 14.3kg. Four feet are pre-fitted to the base and were developed in conjunction with the Tokkyokiki Corporation – a Japanese company with over 50 years' experience in vibration control. The feet are not height adjustable, so a level surface for the GT-5000 is a must.

If a change from direct- to belt-drive doesn't upset the purists, then the tonearm found on the GT-5000 surely will. It's a straight design with a 223mm effective length and is based around a complex multi-layer armtube.

Feelgood Factor
This armtube comprises an inner aluminium core that is copper plated both inside and outside. This is surrounded, in turn, by a sheet of carbon fibre, three layers of glass fibre and another top layer of silver-painted carbon fibre. Meanwhile, the arm's wiring features triple-shielded copper conductors and terminates in two sets of rear panel connectors. One pair sports unbalanced RCA phono sockets and the other balanced XLRs, which are perfect for connection to the C-5000 preamplifier's balanced phono input.


Intriguingly, the arm will accept a standard SME-style bayonet-mount headshell though neither armtube nor headshell have any angular offset. Fit and finish of both arm and turntable is, frankly, nothing short of stunning. The deep piano black lacquer has that almost liquid look that one has come to expect from the manufacturer of some of the world's finest pianos. Everything feels solid yet silky to the touch and even the slow way in which the platter comes silently to life is a delight.

Better still, the feelgood factor begins when you unpack the GT-5000, as there's the sense that much thought has gone into how a top-flight turntable should be presented. Both rubber and felt platter mats are provided, plus two counterweights for a range of cartridge weights. There's also a pair of handles that screw into the platter, enabling it to be lifted onto the sub-platter without risk of marking the plinth's finish.

Best of all is a stroboscopic disc, plus a dedicated strobe lamp that plugs into a socket on the rear of the plinth to provide accurate speed setting – the deck offers both 33.33rpm and 45rpm speeds – independent of mains frequency variations. Finally, the rear of the plinth has pre-drilled mounting holes (blanked off with glorious knurled screws) to take the hinges of the optional DCV-5000 lid, though this will set you back a rather eye-watering £849.

sqnoteFull Bodied
Having established that the GT-5000 was 'Gigantic' in its presence, I was keen to discover if it could tick the 'Tremendous' box too. With my regular Clearaudio MC Essence cartridge fitted [HFN Aug '17], and the GT-5000 connected to an Anatek MC-1 phono stage, Naim Supernait amp and PMC Twenty5.24 loudspeakers [HFN May '17], the result was a resounding 'yes'.

Yamaha Corporation
Supplied by: Yamaha Music Europe GmbH (UK)
0844 811 1116