Kuzma Stabi S turntable, 4Point 9 tonearm, and CAR‑40 MC cartridge

Equipment+
Categories:
Turntables,
Cartridges,
Tonearms
|
Products:
Kuzma 4Point 9,
Kuzma CAR-40,
Kuzma Stabi S

The 4Point 9 is a recent award winner of this parish, having been tested in issue 155. It too has the same uncompromising build of the Stabi S. This four-pivot arm features two points to allow vertical movement, in a manner similar to a double-unipivot design, the second pair allow horizontal movement. All four are designed to have minimal starting and moving friction, and zero play in any playing direction. The larger 4Point arms have a separate tower arrangement allowing for on-the-fly VTA adjustment; the 4Point 9 is a simpler design and the arm base is fully integrated into a single tower. This means the arm is still adjustable for VTA, but through loosening an Allen bolt rather than turning a knurled knob. Personally, I favour the ‘less is more’ approach.

The CAR-40 cartridge was also tested at the same time we looked at the 4Point 9 but was not the main focus of the review. It’s a high-mass design in an aluminium body, custom made to strict Kuzma specification by a very reputable producer in Japan The CAR range all use a similar body (with a unique aluminium stylus guard that needs to be bolted in place), varying in coil wiring, cantilever material, and stylus profile. The CAR-40 is the first model in the six-strong range to feature 4N silver coil wires, but with a boron cantilever and a microridge stylus profile (the two higher-end models move to sapphire and then diamond cantilevers). Aside from a single high-output model, all have an almost identical 0.3mV output.

In fact, we used this trio of components in testing the 4Point 9 but didn’t really express just how well they worked together, as that review focused on just one part – the arm. This time, it’s how they work as a sum of the parts.

In fact, they work better than you might expect. Better than I expected. Possibly even better than Franc Kuzma himself might have expected. The turntable has an unflustered approach to music, taking the emphasises and inconsistencies out of turntable replay, creating a neutral platform for records. Those who want some immediacy to their sound in order to  impress their friends will want to look elsewhere, but if you want a right-sized, correctly-scaled musical presentation that captivates, the Stabi S is excellent. The 4Point 9 arm adds a fluidity and openness to the sound that only adds to that neutral platform of the turntable. The best way I can describe the sound of this arm is that it seems to work with the grain of the music like a fine cabinetmaker, giving everything a brilliance and elegance that is waiting to be brought out. Meanwhile, the cartridge is just sublimely musical and tonally accurate, with excellent front-to-back imagery and effortless dynamic range. 

Put the three bits together, though, and the magic starts to happen. The only difficulty for a reviewer is describing that magic because you can only really make notes while you are changing records, and then you are too keen to change records. While you are listening, you are gripped by the Kuzma’s performance. The Kuzma trio here never puts a foot wrong, with bass that is as tight as it is powerful and dynamic, a midrange that disappears, a treble that soars, detail as if you are standing by the cutting lathe, and all those filigree micro-details that are so beloved by audiophiles as a sign of good performance are portrayed with complete fidelity. For all that, it also presents that music qua music; not as some experiment in soundstage height or microdynamics. Which is why you can play audiophile records back-to-back with the spiky Jane From Occupied Europe by Swell Maps [Rough Trade]. 

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