I’m not trying to be contrarian here, but this no-noise thing is perhaps the Kronos’ least important positive aspect in its performance. For me, the remarkable thing about the Kronos is it exposes the ‘horses for courses’ idea as nonsense. There seem to be many ways to crack the vinyl nut at the high-end, but the Kronos is rare in it’s an all-things-to-all-people sound. It’s got that depth and across-the-frequency range accuracy that a good high-mass deck can provide without the top-end scratchiness that can sometimes create, and the bouncy, inviting, unforced sound of a lighter, suspended design. That means it performs magnificently when handed a slab of audiophile-friendly vinyl (like the 200g MoFi Muddy Waters Folk Singer album), creating an ‘in’ with the studio like you were standing behind the faders in the control room. It seems as if the vinyl fades away and you are left at the tape machine. But it also means it does the same with less hi-fi-approved pieces of music, like a regular copy of Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. Once again you could listen into the mix far more precisely and completely, hearing how that 1970s stereo flanger used on a Rhodes piano had a subtle but almost ‘pulsing’ effect as it moved between channels that doesn’t normally come across. And yet, for all this detail, it didn’t lay the music out cold on the slab; this was vibrant, up-beat, foot-tapping and all the things you associate with Golden Era Stevie Wonder. Move on to practically any recording from here (from the most structurally dense orchestral piece to fey girl with guitar singer-songwriter) and the same result takes place – you hear the detail, the sense of solidity, the ‘in the studio’ sense of ‘thereness’ rising out of that silent background… but you also get the sense of music as performance, rather than that ‘assembly of nice sounds’ that can plague top-end superdecks. Which is perhaps why I caught Boney M being snuck on the platter – it wasn’t me, honest – and what was surprising was just how a 36 year old, scratched to bits album that most people wouldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about can sound surprisingly fun.
I dislike reviews that reference other products, but in this case it’s hard not to. The Kronos has all the best bits from many turntable sounds and makes something better than the sum of those sounds. You have the depth a Kuzma, the control of a big SME, the scale of a VPI, the naturalness of a Well-Tempered and the boppy beat of a LP12. All rolled into one outstanding package. The Kronos joins a very small, very illustrious set of turntables that do it all and do it well. I can’t help but be a little bit jealous of those lucky 250 owners of the best pair of platters around. This one’s something special.