Turntables, Arms & Cartridges

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 16, 2011
Ortofon's flagship moving magnet design offers superior spacial performance No strangers to the pages of HFN, Denmark’s Ortofon company remains one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of cartridges both for hi-fi and DJ use. Its best moving-magnets currently are the 2Ms, a four-strong series with interchangeable styli topped by this 2M Black, sporting a Nude Shibata stylus. It might appear that they all use the same body shell, with distinctive angular contours and internal generators with neodymium magnets, however the two best – the £280 2M Bronze with a Nude Fine Line stylus and this 2M Black model – are formed from a more rigid Noryl plastic/glass compound as well as employing better ‘engines’ featuring split pole pins with silver-plated copper wire. The 5mm-deep tapped fixing holes in the top of the body allow rigid bonding to an arm’s headshell.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 16, 2011
Clearaudio's most affordable moving coil design yet Clearaudio has a range of MM cartridges in its portfolio with price tickets to suit all pockets, but its moving-coils are decidedly high-end. So this new Concept MC is pitched at enthusiasts wanting a delicious moving-coil instead, and one that won’t break the bank. Its body is of aluminium magnesium alloy with a ceramic surface layer; it features a boron cantilever and Micro Line Contact stylus profile, with oxygen-free copper (OFC) coil windings in its generator. The angular body shape with centre line at the front makes it easy to align, threaded holes meaning that you don’t have to fiddle with screws and nuts.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 16, 2011
The latest member of the Acrylic series boasts performance to match the looks Part of Thorens’ Acrylic Series, the TD2030A sports a 33mm-thick plinth made up of two 15mm slabs of clear acrylic with a 3mm blue tinted layer sandwiched between. Looking edge-on, the plinth appears clear with just a thin dark line, but from any other angle, it’s filled with gorgeous colour, like the blue of the Aegean under a cloudless sky. The plinth stands on three imposing legs. These end in small pointed feet that screw in or out for levelling adjustment.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 16, 2011
As well as looking impressive, the Series 3 included some interesting features When JBE unveiled its Slatedeck in the late 1970s, it wasn’t just a turntable different for its time. It was a design that remains radical to this very day. Not only did its looks set it aside from its contemporaries (slightly Kubrick 2001 to our eyes) but it featured such niceties as a Japanese-sourced direct-drive motor system with a variable-pitch outboard electronic power supply – years before anyone else in the UK offered one at this price point. Construction was also unique, the solid non-sprung plinth was either manufactured from clear plastic acrylic, or (in sonic preference and name) slate quarried from North Wales.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2011
The latest version of the budget classic features additional bracing and a revised tonearm Rega’s philosophy is that while the plinth has to be as rigid as possible, it also should be as light as possible. And seeking to maximise the plinth’s rigidity between tonearm and main bearing, a phenolic stiffening brace is added. On the RP3, the brace visible on top of the plinth is complemented by a second one below, forming a stressed beam assembly. The actual plinth is a piece of special light furniture board, finished to a very high standard by something akin to a printing process.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
An entry level moving coil with many strong sonic qualities As the largest producer of phonograph cartridges in the world, Ortofon (which is Greek for ‘correct sound’) produces a wealth of models and ranges to suit every type of listener, from scratch DJ to discerning audiophile. The Vivo range represents Ortofon’s entry-level, low output moving-coil models, with the Vivo Red (£220) priced just below the Vivo Blue on test here. The extra outlay accounts for improved profiling of the Blue’s nude elliptical stylus which, according to Ortofon’s website, affords a wider frequency range and better tracking ability. The conservative looking casework is made from Lexan DMX, a rigid polycarbonate-based resin which houses coils made from 7N oxygen-free copper wire.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Sep 06, 2011
Cost effective and not without its charm Enjoying a renaissance within the audio industry in recent years, Nagaoka now describes itself as a specialist processor for a range of hard-to-cut materials including jewels, ceramics, tungsten carbide and magnets. This portfolio clearly builds on its heritage as a manufacturer of the diamond styli fitted to its range of cartridges. The MP-100 is the entry level model of the range. With this model you get a ‘superfine’ conical diamond tip attached via an alloy cantilever to a samarium cobalt magnet hinting at the other strings to the company’s bow.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
Some setup curiosities don't detract from a very fine cartridge Handcrafted in its Erlangen factory in Germany, Clearaudio’s products stem from founder Peter Suchy’s aim to offer ‘a complete range of all the necessary things in the reproduction of analogue music’… tonearms, turntables, amps, plugs, cables, records, racks and, of course, phono cartridges. Clearaudio offers an extensive selection of both moving-magnet and moving-coil models, with the reference Goldfinder MC cartridge costing in excess of £7k. Its MM types sit at the other end of the price scale and the Aurum Beta occupies the middle rung of a seven-strong range. Each is offered with a choice of aluminium or satiné wood body materials.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
Some treble issues detract from the overall performance With nearly 50 years’ experience under its belt, Audio-Technica has established a reputation for building good value MM and MC phono cartridges. The AT120E is second from the top of Audio-Technica’s MM range, sitting just below the AT440MLA (£159) which has inspired its body shape and alloy tube cantilever. Where they differ is in the stylus, with the AT440MLA using Audio-Technica’s square MicroLine design, compared to the AT120E’s more conventional elliptical profile. The AT120E has a functional fit and finish illustrated by the lack of branding on its nose.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
An excellent performer at a very creditable price New York’s Grado Labs is truly a family business with John Grado, nephew of founder Joseph Grado, taking the company’s presidency in recent years. Alongside phono cartridges, Grado also manufactures a selection of audiophile headphones to suit a range of budgets [HFN May ’11]. The Grado Gold1 cartridge updates the previous Gold model and sits atop Grado’s entry-level Prestige Series, with five other models beneath, all named after colours with corresponding coloured dots that sit either side of the stylus assembly. These six models should actually be considered as three pairs, each comprising a standard version and a higher-end variant drawn from the same production run, but which achieved a higher specification.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
One of Germany’s heavyweight turntable makers lightens up, giving its stylish new baby an Italian-sounding name. So is the Barzetti more than just a fashion item? Perhaps, like me, you were brought up and nurtured on the idea that all the best turntables had a suspended subchassis, so that the platter was always bouncing freely on a set of springs. But if you always hated the way a suspended platter wobbles slightly as you put the record on, and the cartridge recoils from your touch, you’ll be receptive to the concept of Gunther Frohnhoefer, Acoustic Signature’s founder and designer. ‘When I was younger,’ he says, ‘I had contact with subchassis players, like the Thorens.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Taking advantage of Ortofon’s latest cartridge range update, Pro-Ject offers a new keenly-priced plug-and-play turntable package that promises moving-coil bliss There’s always been a strand of hi-fi culture that says you have to suffer to be beautiful, an idea that you just have to go through a lot of mixing and matching, and twiddling and tweaking, to get good sound from the old vinyl LP. If you’re prey to this kind of thinking, an all-in-one, plug-and-play record deck solution just seems too easy. But why fight it, when the manufacturer will do it all for you? Pragmatic as ever, Pro-Ject offers a huge range of package options, from its basic Debut series upwards. If you’re just trying to stop your spending going much into four figures, you can try a package in the more refined Xperience series.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Apr 10, 2011
For its appropriately named Classic series of turntables VPI Industries of New Jersey has gone back to basics – and should score a hit with today’s vinyl enthusiasts Is it because retro is cool? Perhaps it’s the appeal of its almost plug ’n’ play simplicity… Whatever the reason (and I suspect it’s a combination of many factors, not least the ability for vinyl enthusiasts all over the world to communicate in internet forums) it’s a fact that lovers of the black stuff seem mostly to love this big, bold and brutish turntable, one that’s undeniably a throwback to the good old days when proper turntables were: well, big, bold and brutish. If you look back to our Nov ’09 issue, where we reviewed VPI Industries’ venerable Aries Scout turntable (updated to MkII status with improved tonearm and 35mm-thick acrylic platter), you will surely agree that it looks sleek and modern – very much a deck of the 21st century, one with its motor separated from the main chassis to minimise breakthrough of deleterious vibrations to platter and tonearm. The latest Classic series of turntables, however, of which this Classic 1 is the entry model, couldn’t be more different. THIRTY YEARS ON Thirty years have passed since founder Harry Weisfeld launched his first record player (the company started in 1978 by making record cleaning machines, and there are now three current versions) and consequently the Classics are being marketed to celebrate this anniversary of turntable production.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
The history of Garrard as a manufacturer can be traced back to World War One, when the famous jewellers to royalty wished to do ‘their bit’ for the wartime effort, ultimately setting up an ammunitions company. After hostilities ceased, the family was left with a small manufacturing plant in Swindon, which switched to the manufacture of wind-up motors for gramophones. From Tommy gun to turntables, one might say. .
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Sep 06, 2010
You’ve got to take your hat off to Avid Hi-Fi. Its top-of-the-range Acutus deck, first introduced 12 years ago and enhanced with the launch of the Reference outboard power supply in 2006, is certainly one beast of a turntable. Resplendent in black and silver chrome that’s polished to a mirror finish, it makes for an imposing sight atop any audiophile’s equipment rack. Want to make the ultimate statement? The deck is also available to order finished in polished 24K gold plate, though for this you’ll have to add an extra 35% to the price.

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