Analogue Sources – A Baker’s Dozen from Munich High End 2016


Pro-Ject Classic turntable & tonearm

Pro-Ject turntables have long been known as class leaders in terms of performance for money, but at Munich the firm rolled out a new model that is so elegant in it appearance, so well-conceived in its overall design, and so very affordable that we suspect it will probably sell like free beer on St. Patrick’s Day.

The model in question is the Pro-Ject’s new Classic turntable and tonearm, which—lets’ face it—bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic Linn Sondek LP12, yet that is priced at €999, complete with the turntable, tonearm, and an Ortofon 2M Silver phono cartridge.

The Class is a belt-drive turntable featuring a chassis-over-sub-chassis design where the two are isolated by thermo plastic elastomer (TPE) dampers. The platter is made of aluminium damped with TPE, with a sub-platter that is similar to the one used on the Pro-Ject Debut. The Classic tonearm features an arm tube made of a sandwich of aluminium and carbon fibre. Cardan-type bearings, made of Zircon, complete the picture. As a final touch, the ‘table comes standard with damped and height-adjustable feet.

Technics SL-1200GAE direct drive turntable & tonearm

Part of the big news of the Munich show is that Technics is back with a vengeance and as analogue enthusiasts of a certain age might have hoped, this also means a re-birth (and complete redesign) of the brand’s classis SL-1200GAE direct-drive turntable, now priced at €2,999. A company spokesperson indicated, however, that the new SL-1200GAE is far better than the original SL-1200 ever was, as the new model features a twin rotor, cogless direct-drive motor, while the tonearm is now made of magnesium.

I couldn’t help but ask if we could expect to see a return of the legendary SL-10 direct drive turntable and the response was a sly, wry smile and the non-commital comment that the idea was, “under study.” Stay tuned.

Thales TTT Slim turntable & Easy tonearm

I have long followed the evolution of turntables and tonearms from the Swiss firm Thales (pronounced “Tahl-us”), but Munich marked the first time I have ever seen the firm’s least costly turntable/tonearm combination: namely, the battery-powered TTT Slim turntable and the variable offset angle, tangential-pivoted Easy tonearm, together priced at €11,000.

The TTT Slim features an ultra-quiet battery power supply with a built-in charging system that can be engaged when the turntable is not in use; importantly, the battery system allows roughly 20 hours of playback time between charges. In turn, the Easy arm offer most of the benefits (and none of the inherent finickiness or complexity) of radial tracking arms—specifically the characteristic of± vanishingly low angular tracking error, which the Easy holds to within ±0.4°.

Tone Tools Sprocket turntable & Dereneville DTT-02 radial-tracking tonearm

Tone Tools’ impressive Sprocket turntable, priced at €108,900, would have been noteworthy in its own right, but what really takes things over the top is the remarkable Dereneville DTT-02 electronically-controlled radial-tracking tonearm, priced at a stunning €120,000. The Dereneville is designed to eliminated the step-function-like, stop-go-stop-go motions to which some radial trackers are prone, instead using sophisticated arm tracking and motion-control technologies to ensure smooth, continuous arm motion that easily accommodates variations in groove pitch and can even handle those rare few records that are design to be played from the inner grooves outward (that’s right; the DTT-02 can play records in the normal outside-in direction, or vice versa, should the need arise).

What is more, the arm’s controls are designed so that users need never touch the tonearm proper or purposes of cueing or for position the stylus in the lead-in area at the beginning of a track. Plans are underway to give the arm capabilities for spotting inter-track spaces on a record, making it possible to program the arm to automatically play specific tracks on a disc.

VPI Avenger Reference-series turntable & Player Cliffwood-series turntable

VPI Industries President Mat Weisfeld is in the process of making sweeping changes in his firm’s product lines, two clear signs of which were seen at Munich. First, there was the new Avenger turntable, which serves as the first model in the firm’s Reference Line. The versatile Avenger can be configured in many different ways, with pricing ranging from USD$9000 to about USD$33,000, depending upon have liberally the options list is explored. Magnetic drive will be available on the Avenger.

At the other end of the pricing scale will be a new entry-level turntable, tentatively called the Player, which will serve as the centerpiece of VPI’s value-minded Cliffwood-series range (VPI turntables are manufactured in Cliffwood, New Jersey, USA). Final pricing for the Player is yet to be determined and several variations are envisioned, but an educated guess is that the basic Player could sell in the vicinity of USD$800, give or take a bit. 

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