There is something cool about older audio technologies – it’s the large spinning parts and the engineering. But there are levels of cool – few compare to an old Studer or Nagra. The Kronos, with its three layer construction and counter-rotating platters, is a notable exception. However, it’s a costly, limited edition affair: partner it with an arm, cartridge, and phono stage of similar standing, and you’ll have a bill somewhere north of £60,000 for the whole vinyl replay chain.
The Kronos Sparta is a more attainable proposition. In fact, it makes the whole counter-rotating platters concept attainable in stages, because you can start with a Sparta 0.5 and then purchase an upgrade kit that includes the additional subchassis, platter, and motor required to turn this into a full-blown Sparta.
As the name suggests, the Sparta is stripped-down. “We were inspired by the legendary city of Sparta in designing this turntable,” says designer Louis Desjardins. “Our goal was to embody its values of strength, durability, and unwavering efficiency.” Although presumably without going into battle naked. Joking aside, I think the pared-back Sparta looks more business-like and purposeful than its bigger brother, and in some ways I prefer that to the larger, more ornate Kronos.
The Sparta features a solid frame base with four suspension towers and the motor housing, from which hangs the subchassis and platter (or platters) off o-rings: two per tower in the basic model. The Sparta 0.5 sports a single subchassis, with a mounting plate for one tonearm.
If you are upgrading the Sparta, you need to replace the bars inside the towers to accommodate the extra platter and sub-chassis, double the number of o-rings, (from two per side to four) on each of the four tower heads, and then use these to bolt the upper and lower subchassis together. You also need to unbolt a plate on the underside of the base, releasing the power connecting cable for the second motor, and adding length to the main motor, swapping out the stubby chrome motor tower with a taller one on the far side of the deck in the process. This also gives you an understanding of just how well-engineered this deck really is, and the fact you can perform the whole upgrade armed with two Allen keys and a screwdriver (supplied) is a mark of how the project is so well thought through.
In fact, the only aspect that needs a little care is making sure the two decks counter-rotate at the same speed. The flat power supply (designed to be slimline enough to sit under the Sparta’s base-frame) has speed control adjustment, but here’s the trick for upgraders – get the main platter up accurate first, then strip back and add the second platter and attach a small piece of masking tape marked with a vertical line to both platters. If they cross at the same points in every rotation, the two platters are perfectly aligned. If that crossing point begins to move, adjust the speed control of the second platter.