There’s an established hierarchy in vinyl replay that is almost inviolate. The expenditure goes from top down; spend most money on the turntable, then the arm, then cartridge, and so on. This comes from the days when the Linn LP12 held a nation of audiophiles in its thrall; I remember one magazine said (only half-jokingly) that if you were going to buy a system with limited funds, you should buy a LP12 turntable, and start saving for the amp and speakers! While this was an extreme example, the idea that the turntable should be the most significant investment in a vinyl-replay chain is still a pervasive and respected way of system building. This turntable begs to differ.
Kuzma has a substantial range of turntables, arms, and – most recently – cartridges in its portfolio, allowing for logical hierarchical systems ranging in price from the nursery slopes of high-end right up to the peaks where additional oxygen is required. And typically, that means a turntable like the entry-level Stabi S is most likely to be used with the unipivot Stogi S arm, and maybe the CAR-20 cartridge, or even an MC or MM design from Ortofon or similar. That’s the established way and it works unquestionably well.
This time, however, we paired that entry-point Stabi S with the far more up-scale 4Point 9 arm and the CAR-40 moving coil cartridge from the brand. Making the arm by far the most expensive part of the system, and the deck trailing not far behind the cost of the cartridge. OK, to facilitate this, we part-pimped up the Stabi S with its natural maple platform and optional external speed control, but this is only a couple of steps removed from the base model.
A quick refresh on all three components is in order. We first looked at the Kuzma Stabi S back in Issue 10, and since then 12” tonearm compatible versions, two arm versions, and most recently a double-height platter have been folded into the basic design. But, it’s effectively the same turn-of-the-century design; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Stabi S is perhaps the simplest turntable on the market. It comprises two brass tubes, a bearing, a motor, an inner and outer platter, and a belt. The brass tubes have rubber O-rings at either end as an alternative to feet. The standard AC motor housing has an on-off switch, while the expensive external PSU uses a housing with a captive cable connecting to the external power supply with a locking DIN plug. This makes for an extraordinarily well-built product; other turntables might be more ornate, but the Stabi S has the kind of well-trained powerlifter solidity of build to it. You could imagine the Stogi S being air-dropped out of the back of a Hercules to bring aid to the musically starving; it wouldn’t even need a chute! It comes supplied with a dust cover as standard worldwide, but unique to the UK Audiofreaks includes the optional brass record weight and composite support as part of the package, too.