Designing one turntable is comparatively easy. Designing a range is much, much harder. You need to avoid making them too similar, but also making sure they aren’t too dissimilar. You cannot get away with ‘the same, just bigger’ anymore, but reinventing the wheel (or, in this case, the platter) can lead to wild differences between products. Franc Kuzma, designer of the turntable brand that bears his name, clearly understands… and has overcome these issues perfectly in the new Kuzma Stabi M.
First, let’s set it in context; the M stands between the Stabi Reference and Stabi XL2 in price, but closer to the XL2 in performance. It’s a very traditional looking deck (it has a large outer plinth and even a lid), just one that’s larger and heavier than most. It’s currently designed to only take Kuzma arms (a range of armboards is imminent) and is an ideal match for 12” arms and the company’s 4Point arm (as used in the review sample). And, for the appreciable future, the deck’s colour scheme comes in a choice of black, or black.
The combination of bigness and blackness does make this something of a statement piece. In fairness, it’s not that much bigger than a SME Model 20/12, but the addition of a heavy bent smoked plastic lid gives it substance. It’s considerably more aesthetically pleasing than early samples (which were often described as ‘agricultural’, as in ‘looks like a box of tractor parts’, or at best like a really big record cleaning machine), but it is still big and black and heavy. The size and weight call for a substantial equipment support, too; putting a 60kg turntable on a flimsy wall-shelf isn’t an option, and its half-metre depth and 610mm width mean it could overhang some smaller equipment tables, which looks odd.
The mass is a part of the Stabi M’s secret weapon. 12kg of its 60kg total weight is taken up by the platter alone (two slabs of 30mm thick aluminium, separated by an acrylic damping plate to be precise), and a lot more goes into the massive chassis, which is all made from solid aluminium (the reason why the whole plinth is finished in black rather than a polished wood, is that too is made from aluminium, and gives you an indication of just how massive the deck really is). That adds up to a lot of structural rigidity – no matter what that platter does, it isn’t going to influence the chassis and you’d need grenades to cause the chassis to influence the platter.
The platter itself features an inverted bearing with a ruby ball. This is housed in the ‘subchassis’ (more an isolated section of the total mass of the system).
If one part of the M’s arsenal is down to mass, the other is torque. Lots and lots of torque. The M uses a hefty DC motor mounted in a brass cup and aluminium plate arrangement, itself all supported in a suspended brass motor housing. While this is not a suspended deck, the main frame and motor system are hung from the top plate via four large elastic dampers. This is for fine tuning the levelling of the platter and armboard assembly. Everything is bolted together using thick aluminium blocks. The DC motor is so powerful, it can drive that massive platter to full speed in less than two seconds. Only DJ decks spin up faster, and they have platters that weigh as much as a sheet of paper by comparison. That the M’s motor can heft a 12kg platter to full speed by itself in two seconds is little short of amazing. As I said… torque.