On display from the Swiss firm Thales was the new Thales Easy tonearm ($5,800), which is the latest—and least expensive—of the firm’s pivoting tangential tonearms. For those unfamiliar with the concept, which to our knowledge was pioneered way back when by the Garrard Zero-100, the key idea is to have zero tracking error from a pivoted, not a radial tracking or so-called “straightline”, tonearm. Precision is exactly what you might expect from a Swiss watchmaker.
Triangle Art is a southern California based firm, which specialises in turntable and tonearm design and is headed by acoustics/physics/metallurgical engineer Tom Vu. The firm also offers a range of interconnects, power cords, and power distribution products but it’s plain to see that analogue audio is where Vu’s passions are centred. On demonstration at Axpona were Triangle Art’s stunning, mirror-finished Reference turntable ($6,000) and Signature turntable ($15,990). Both ‘tables were fitted with Vu’s Osiris tonearms ($4,995 - $5,800, depending upon arm length).
Hot on the heels of VPI’s critically-acclaimed Traveler turntable comes a new entry-level model, called the Nomad ($995), that we think will: A) blow minds, and B) make the perfect answer to the question, ‘How do I get started in analogue audio anyway?’
The Nomad constitutes a robust and elegantly minimalist turntable/tonearm combo that—get this—comes fitted with an Ortofon 2M series moving magnet phono cartridge, a built-in phonostage, and a built-in headphone amplifier. That users can get all of this good stuff in one go for a tick under $1,000 make the Nomad a bargain by any rational standard. Moreover, VPI has plainly spent a lot of time getting the individual pieces to harmonize with one another in a sonically synergistic way. (In fact, one online audio equipment retailer told me he felt the Ortofon cartridge provided in this package actually sounds better in the Nomad than in any other platform the retailer has tried to date). If our guess is correct, the Nomad may turn out to be one of the ‘magic’ products where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.