Most Promising Newcomers
Acoustic Signature Merlin turntable & tone arm
In the pantheon of fine turntable/tone arm rigs from the German firm Acoustic Signature, the entry-level models have traditionally been affordable, but not too many rungs up the performance ladder things start to get expensive in a hurry. What was needed, some felt, was an attractive, upscale step-up model that conveyed some of the look and feel of upper-tier Acoustic Signature models, but with a not-too-daunting step upward in price. At Munich, the firm rolled out a new turntable model called the Merlin (€2500) that exactly fills this bill. When fitted with an Acoustic Signature TA1000 tone arm the Merlin package will sell for €3700.
Avid Oxytone tone arm
Turntable manufacturer Avid showed prototype versions of its upcoming range of tone arms, the first ever from the firm, comprising the flagship Oxytone pickup arm, the middle-of-the-range Paroxytone pickup arm, and the entry level Barytone pickup arm.
Of these three, the Oxytone is by far the most striking design in a visual sense and is the one most likely to be paired with the flagship Acutus Reference SP turntable. According to Avid, the Oxtone arm follows much the same core design philosophy as the company’s turntables, where the objective is to control the flow of energy, “separating the good and bad vibrations at source, and giving the ‘bad vibrations’ a path-of-least-resistance to an ‘energy sink’ where it can be harmlessly converted into heat.”
With that objective in mind, the Oxytone arm uses an advanced 3D printing technique to create curved, almost sabre-like single-piece titanium arm tube with an internal bracing structure and an internal “energy-conducting beam that efficiently transfers bad vibrations to the sub-chassis.”
The arm, says Avid, incorporated “rigidly coupled bearings” and a unique preload system that keeps constant bearing pressure independent of temperature. The arm uses a so-called “bi-axis bearing configuration” said to position the counterweight “over the rotational axis, reducing damaging lateral inertia. Finally the arm provides a fixed-weight bias compensation mechanism, a magnetic mass compensator that “offsets bearing loading”, and an arm locking system said to allow VTA adjustment on the fly.
Avid says all three pickup arms will be in production but Q4, 2017, with prices TBC.
Bergmann Odin and Magne ST linear-tracking tone arms
The Danish firm Bergmann Audio is perhaps best known for its ‘entry-level’ (hey, it’s a relative term) Magne T.T. air-bearing turntable and radial-tracking tone arm system and for its flagship Galder T. T. air-bearing turntable, which is capable of carrying as mans as four tone arms. However, for Munich the firm chose to unveil two air-bearing/radial-tracking tone arms that are suitable for mounting on non-Bergmann turntables: the Magne ST arm (€3,450 - €5950) and the Odin arm (€5250 - €7950). The Magne ST is essentially a lightly redesigned version of the same arm supplied with the Magne T.T. package, but repackaged so as to be suitable for mounting on non-Bergmann turntables.
The Odin tone arm, in turn, is a top-tier effort intended for use on flagship, high performance turntables such as the Galder T.T. or equally fine turntable from other third-party manufacturers. Bergmann says a similar design philosophy guided creation of both the Magne ST and Odin arms, with particular emphasis on strong but simple construction, low resonance, and a deliberately limited parts count.
Burmester 175 turntable/tone arm/phono stage
More than just a high-end turntable/tone arm package, Burmester’s model 175 turntable is more of an ultra-high quality, turnkey analogue system. We say this because the 175 is not only a strong turntable/tone arm package in its own right, but also incorporates a built-in version of Burmester’s famous (and quite expensive) model 100 phono preamplifier. Accordingly, the 175 comes with a noise isolated, external power supply for the phono stage embedded within the turntable.
The table proper features a distinctive 4-motor/quad-belt drive system that is said to ensure “no irregular tension” on the turntable’s main spindle bearing. What is more, the system uses AC synchronous motors that “are driven by digital motor electronics which perform their task with a high-precision oscillator and perfect sine and cosine voltages.” Burmester claims the system yields rapid spin-up times and that the drive electronics are “completely immune to fluctuations in the mains voltage frequency.”
In turn, the turntable features a massive platter featuring triple-layer aluminium-bras aluminium construction, with the platter supported by a bearing “designed to be maintenance free for life.” The tone arm offers a carbon fibre/aluminium arm tube supported by hybrid steel/ceramic bearings. The model 175 weighs a stout 60 kg. The Burmester 175 will become available in late autumn of 2017 and is expected to sell for about €30,000.