Kuzma’s nomenclature is slightly off. The baby of the Stabi turntable range is the S and the top of the line is the XL, so you might expect that the two in-between would be (in price ascending order) the Stabi M and Stabi L. The Stabi M exists, but it is one step down from the XL and this new model is called the Stabi R. Worse, because it’s a modular design, it should have been called the Stabi M and the bigger one the Stabi L. The audio industry is full of joined up thinking, said no-one, ever.
Forget the names, the Stabi R was first seen at Munich 2018. It’s a square plinth akin to the transcription turntables used in radio stations up until only a few years ago. And unlike many of the other designs in the Kuzma line-up, features a fully integrated power supply system: the larger Kuzma M features a similar speed control layout – on its front panel – but demands an external power supply to drive it, where the new Stabi R connects to the juice directly by means of an IEC cable.
The platform is inherently modular, with a series of armboards (called ‘arm wings’ by Kuzma) designed to slot into grooves in the side plates of the Kuzma R. It can use just the one arm on an arm wing, or two with a second arm wing, or – with a combination of arm balconies, and outrigger armboards attached to Allen bolts on the corners of the deck, up to six different arms of anything between 9” and 12”. Naturally there are also a wealth of alternative plates, wings, balconies, and the like with Linn, Rega, and SME arm bases alongside the Kuzma, as well as a series of plinths for turning the Kuzma R into a scaled-down Kuzma M, and even the option to paint-match your turntable to the canary yellow of your Lambo, should the desire take you.
We went for the more basic option; just a basic silver plinth, with a single matching silver arm wing made for a 9” Kuzma. We brought the recent 4Point 9 tonearm (reviewed in issue 155 and handed the award for Tonearm of the Year in 2017) taken off a dual arm Kuzma SD and fitted it with a Kuzma CAR 40, as I suspect this will be the starting place for many prospective Kuzma R owners.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The Kuzma Stabi R is a very compact turntable made from a solid block of aluminium with an internal electronic power supply fed direct from the wall. Drive is provided through a DC motor and a proprietary, non flexible drive belt.
The main platter is a constrained sandwich design consisting of three layers (aluminium – acrylic - aluminium) in order to minimise vibration and maximise the damping effect of the platter itself and that of the LP. The inverted ruby ball bearing minimises friction and noise within the thrust bearing and is supported on a special low noise compound material.
The design may be modular, but it owes a lot to designs like the Kuzma M and Reference models. And like all Kuzma models, it’s simplicity itself to build. Simply lift the deck out of its box, lay it on a flat and level surface (one that is capable of holding its 36kg mass). The four feet are adjustable to fine tune level (place a spirit level on the platter to check when installed). Give the bearing housing a glug of oil, and then lift the large, volcano-shaped inner platter into place, apply the belt, place the outer platter on the inner platter, then mount the arm wing to the right hand side, using the appropriate holes on the side to lock it in place. If this sounds like a complex process, you haven’t tried to install a truly high-end turntable!
One trick to note in installing the Kuzma R is that the turntable platter itself is heavy and when installed runs very low relative to the top plate of the plinth. This means when installing the main platter, hold the relatively heavy design with palms to the sides as you seat it, rather than holding the platter in a regular grip. When it comes to installing your own Kuzma R platter, gripping it will result in skinned knuckles.
Kuzma is increasingly switching from AC to DC motors in its higher-end devices. The R is the cheapest model to date to include a DC motor. This requires one of the tautest belts around, in part in order to preserve speed stability (a squidgy belt will mean the DC motor may hunt for the right frequency). The blue belt is almost indestructible in daily use, so placing it beneath the platter isn’t likely to cause a problem any time soon. The overall build is solid, as the turntable is built from a solid billet of aluminium.