VPI are made in America
Gold sound has the all new VPI Traveler in stock...
Gold Sound has Pro-Ject Turntables...
Sumiko Pro-Ject RM 1.3
The Pro-Ject RM 1.3, Debut III Carbon and the Essential turntables are in stock... most of the time...
"Thanks for keeping the vinyl love alive! I'm going to stop there to peruse through your LPs." 12/5/12
Gold Sound has many new & used turntables, cartridges, phono preamps & accessories. We display 15 new 'tables, mostly from Europe or the U.S., plus over 20 guaranteed used 'tables. The 5 most affordable 'tables recommended by STEREOPHILE, as well as the 5 recommended by ABSOLUTE SOUND are here. STEREOPHILE & ABSOLUTE SOUND recommend over 80 Gold Sound turntable-related products. No other Colorado store has this selection of affordable through high end 'tables, plus cartridges, tonearms, phono preamps & record cleaners.
VPI is the most popular & best reviewed U.S. made turntable. We have 7 new 'tables with built-in phono preamps, starting at only $99, including an aluminum platter & tonearm, cables, plus a diamond needle magnetic cartridge. The built-in phono preamp lets you connect the turntable to any receiver, amplifier, most mini systems & even directly to computer speakers without a stereo system.
We have 5 new 'tables with built-in USB digital outputs, starting at only $139, including phono preamps, cables, dust cover, plus a diamond needle magnetic cartridge. The USB output lets you connect the turntable to a computer, which can record an LP onto a CD, hard drive or iPod file. You can record just the songs you want & skip tracks, if desired, when you play them back.
While many stores have forgotten or never discovered the joys of records, we've always sold more turntables than CD & DVD players combined. In addition to Colorado's best turntable selection, we stock many cartridges, mostly from the U.S. or Europe. We also have many record cleaners, phono preamps & accessories.
ABSOLUTE SOUND, 2/11, p. 54, said "Gold Sound simply had too many turntables to even begin to judge them. VPI Classic, Rega P3, Thorens TD158, Pro-Ject Debut III - the list is seemingly endless. Gold Sound premiered the Thorens TD309. It sure looked awesome & offered further testament to the boom in vinyl."
We just received Denver's first VPI Traveler, VPI's most affordable turntable for $1299 without a cartridge or $1499 with a $200 Grado cartridge. AV Showroom, 6/2012, just awarded the Traveller, "Best new product." Stereophile, 11/12 said "the Traveler isn't merely reasonably priced - it's a remarkable bargain, built to last a lifetime. And it's made with love, right here in the U.S."
When you buy a turntable here, we set it up, including mounting, aligning & balancing the cartridge. Other stores & internet sellers usually can't, won't or don't know how to do this. If the cartridge is not set up properly, the turntable will not sound right, plus the cartridge & your records can be damaged.
Denver's record stores, including Wax Trax & Atomic Records, highly recommend Gold Sound. These stores have tens of thousand of records, new & used. All are in Denver, five miles or less from our store.
Atomic Records, 340 S.Broadway, 303 691-3499
Wax Trax, 638 E. 13th Av., 303 860-0127
We know turntables. We have Colorado's best selection of turntables, cartridges & needles. These models are on display:
Turntables with tonearm, diamond needle magnetic cartridge & cables
AUDIO-TECHNICA, with diamond needle 60 with phono preamp only $119
60USB, w/Phono preamp & USB out, $149
120USB, direct drive, 33/45/78, like Technics 1200,
pitch control, strobe, w/Phono preamp, USB out, $289
MARANTZ, made in Europe with cartridge
42, automatic, only $329
PIONEER, PL990, with cartridge, Phono preamp, pitch control & strobe $165
PRO-JECT, made in Europe with cartridges
ESSENTIAL, only $299
ESSENTIAL w/Phono preamp & USB out, $399
4 Colors in stock! Red, Black, Green & Yellow CARBON DEBUT w/USB & phono preamp, $498
RM1.3, Cool looks, great sound, red & black, $498
VPI, all U.S. made, cartridge optional/
TRAVELER & CLASSIC,
TURNTABLE of the YEAR,
GOLDEN EAR AWARD
CAMBRIDGE 540P & 640P phono preamps
CREEK 9SE Moving Coil phono preamp
MUSIC HALL USB Turntable
ORTOFON Cartridges: OM5, OM10P, 2M Red,
2M Blue, 2M Bronze & 2M Black
PARASOUND Z Phono preamp
Speed Box, Pro-Ject turntable power supply
Phono USB phono preamp with built-in Analog- Digital Converter
REGA TURNTABLES: RP1
VIBRAPODS: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
VINCENT Phono Preamps, PHO8 & PHO111
VPI CLASSIC turntable with stainless steel tonearm.
PHONO CARTRIDGES: Audio-Technica, Benz, Clearaudio, Grado, Ortofon, Sumiko
PHONO PREAMPS: Clearaudio, Creek, Grado, Lehmann Audio, Parasound, Pro-ject, Vincent
PHONO PREAMPS with USB output: Parasound,
RECORD BRUSHES: Audio-Technica, Clearaudio, Disc Washer, Hunt, SpinClean
RECORD CLEANING MACHINES: Clearaudio, Oki-Noki, VPI
TONEARMS: Clearaudio, Ortofon, Rega, VPI
TURNTABLES with built-in phono preamp: Audio-Technica, Marantz, Music Hall, Pro-Ject
TURNTABLES with built-in USB output: Audio-Technica, Music Hall, Pro-Ject
TURNTABLE CLAMPS & other ACCESSORIES: Clearaudio, Thorens, VPI
4,000+ LPs; plus many CDs, DVDs, pre-recorded cassette & reel tapes, plus new LPs, CDs & tapes for sale: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Opera, Big Band, Country & Folk. Local sales only.
WHY LPs ARE SO POPULAR
CD sales have steadily dropped as turntable sales have strongly increased. People of all ages & backgrounds buy turntables. Some are in their teens or twenties & buying their first sound system. Some are much older & have had records records & turntables for many years.
1] LPs SOUND BETTER
An LP sounds better than the same recording on CD & much better than an MP3. Neil Young & many other musicians greatly prefer the sound of an LP over a CD. A musician who has made many analog & digital recordings said that analog sounds better for strings, voices & piano.
"The Rega P3 turntable immediately explained why the current crop of new, young vinyl devotees are so immediately captivated. The Rega produced big solid images on a soundstage of exhuberant size. Tonal balance [is] rich & warm. MP3s have a thin, smeary, constricted sound. Hearing the musical riches delivered by a Rega [or any decent budget rig] must be akin to first seeing HDTV." STEREOPHILE 8/08
"The most dramatic revelations [of turntables' superior sound are] 3 areas.
DYNAMIC changes much closer to real instruments.
STAGING LP dimensionality highlights a sense of space dramatically better. It's not even close.
INSTRUMENT TONE The LP sounded much more genuine. SOUND & VISION 6/08
"The same music on a good condition LP sounds better than a CD & far better than an MP3 or i-Pod. The LP has better imaging, soundstage, plus a warmer, more natural sound. A violin or piano sounds more like the real instrument, instead of an electric violin or piano." TIME, 1/21/08
"I turned to the VPI Scout to see if a table could truly outperform CD players costing many times more - a statement I'd often heard. There was never a question of telling the CD/SACD from the LP; the record being fuller, more organic & 3 dimensional. Individual instruments embodied more reality & distinguished themselves more clearly. Trumpets & other brass had all the "blare," but none of the "glare" I was used to hearing. A more defined & solid sound stage emerged time after time, due to the LP's higher information density. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of "clicks" or "pops" & the very quiet background." HOME ENTERTAINMENT
"Between LP & CD, there's no comparison! The
CD sounds like a good hi-fi, but the LP breathes life into the sound, a far-from-subtle difference. Vinyl communicates the music's emotional pull better than any digital format.
You enjoy the music more on LP. One of the great Audiophile Truths: The best way to enjoy digital is never listen to analog. If you want to know why vinyl is still going strong nearly three decades after the introduction of the CD, listen to a great turntable." HOME ENTERTAINMENT
"I put the Linn aside & hooked up the VPI. Wow, what a difference a 'table can make! One record led to the next & I stayed up late listening. That hadn't happened in years. I was smitten & thrilled to get into vinyl again. The real clincher for the VPI: It's a lot more fun to listen to."
"You'll be in for a shock when you listen to a 1st class turntable. You'll hear oodles of texture, body, bloom & harmonics that CDs - & even SACD & DVD Audio never fully convey. The best analog is more transparent & its dynamics livelier & more life-like." STEREOPHILE 3/10
"The vinyl record [is] the only widely available, truly high definition home format; [it's] sonically & emotionally superior. CD's 20khz bandwidth limitations, 44khz sample rate & 16 bit word length is not enough to satisfactorily resolve the complexity, delicacy & emotion alive in the notes." HOME ENTERTAINMENT 9/08
WALL STREET JOURNAL 2/26/2011
"When the CD was introduced, it was called "perfect sound forever." The problem was that early CDs sounded thin, harsh & unpleasant. Vinyl records are a pretty good way to store information. Sound is inherently analog; converting sound to record grooves doesn't involve the information loss as their conversion to digital. With VPI 'tables, there's hardly any background noise; sound is 3-dimensional, detailed & has a liveness that CDs or iPods cannot begin to match."
"There's no reason why digital music must sound worse than analog. 10 years ago Sony introduced the Super Audio Compact Disc, that holds its own against vinyl records. But SACDs never caught on & the mass market moved in the opposite direction with MP3 & iPod. MP3 is a digital compression technology that throws away lots of information to reduce file size. It's quantity over quality. Listening to an iPod through a high-end audio system is painful & a big step backward from CDs."
2] VINTAGE RECORDINGS Most music on LPs is not available on CD. Whether you enjoy rock, jazz, classical or country, there's lots on LP that you can't find on CD. There's many new LPs made. Record printing plants are working around the clock to meet demand.
3] NEW MUSIC CHOICES DJs, audiophiles & collectors love vinyl. CD sales have dropped steadily & new record sales keep increasing.
"More & more labels are pressing vinyl & not just reissuing old stuff. Young bands are releasing LPs. Jack White, of White Stripes fame, loves analog, so his band Dead Weather's new record, Horehound, is on LP." HOME ENTERTAINMENT
4] BONUS FEATURES LP's larger size gives you better cover art, liner notes & sometimes posters & lyrics. There are books devoted to LP album art & posters. Reading a record's liner notes written by Leonard Bernstein, Nat Hentoff or the performer is a real treat.
Classical & opera albums often include attractive booklets with the story of the composer & his country, as well as the complete opera libretto in the original language & English, printed large enough so that it can easily be read. Seeing a large color photos of Tchaikovsky's piano definitely adds to the enjoyment of the music.
GROOVIN' ON VINYL, Turntables cool again with young, is in Washington Times, 7/28/2008. "A new generation of music lovers grooves to the sweet sound of vinyl. Turntable sales topped 32,000, [60% above the] 19,000 sold the same month last year. CD sales dropped 15%. Record sales increased 70%. A record's sound quality is superior to a digital file. Analog sounds much warmer & more natural than digital.
Madonna, U2, Led Zeppelin, Wilco, Amy Winehouse & others release vinyl albums. If you want a record collection that lasts a lifetime, you need a real turntable with a good needle that won't damage the record. It will bring so much more from the grooves that it will leave your jaw on the ground."
CHOOSING a TURNTABLE
At Gold Sound, we have over 36 years of turntable experience. In addition to the many turntables that we now stock, in the past we've had new Denon, Gemini, Marantz, Numark, SOTA, Stanton, Technics & more. The turntables we now stock are excellent values, durable & have earned praise from many reviewers.
As turntables increase in price, their many parts improve, including the motor, motor power supply, platter, base [or plinth], tone-arm & cartridge. Each part makes a definite difference. Just putting a better cartridge on a lesser turntable won't provide the performance of a better turntable. The turntables we stock have all withstood the test of time.
THORENS has been in business over 125 years.
GRADO & ORTOFON, over 50 years.
AUDIO-TECHNICA, over 40 years.
PRO-JECT, REGA & VPI, over 30 years.
CLEARAUDIO & MUSIC HALL, over 12 years.
Loading LPs to CDs, MP3s & iPods
Gold Sound stocks three different turntables with a built-in phono preamp, analog to digital converter & USB output. The USB output lets you connect the turntable directly to your computer & easily transfer your LPs onto your computer hard drive or to record on to a CD.
Our $149 Audio-Technica ATPL60USB automatic turntable has a built-in phono preamp & Analog-to-Digital converter with a USB port, Audacity computer software & a USB cable to connect to a computer.
We stock the $498 Pro-Ject Debut Carbon USB with a built-in phono preamp & Analog to Digital converter with USB port. Software is not included. Compared to the Audio-Technica, the Debut III has a:
1] Better cartridge, a European-made Ortofon OM-5E
2] Improved phono preamp
3] Better Analog to Digital Converter
4] Much nicer, more precise tonearm
5] One piece, solid mdf wood base [or
plinth] instead of plastic.
6] Three year parts & labor warranty
7] Handmade in Europe.
8] Optional, heavy lucite platter. This $129 option further improves the sound.
With the Debut Carbon, an LP will sound better than the same recording on CD. With lesser tables, CDs sound better than an LP. You can record vinyl directly onto a computer in any digital file format, which can import directly to popular programs like iTunes to enjoy music on a portable audio device. This is compatible with Windows, Mac OS & Linux systems.
We stock the $199 Pro-Ject Phono Box II/USB, a moving magnet & moving coil phono preamp & an Analog to Digital Converter with USB output. It has a brushed silver frontplate, gold RCA inputs & outputs & is only 4" wide x 1.5" high x 4.5" deep. Your present turntable can be used with your computer, as described above.
"A good record cleaner is a vital tool for any good collection. ABSOLUTE SOUND 10/08
VPI record cleaning machines make old records sound new again & even improve the sound of new records. Most noise on new or old records aren't from scratches, but by dirt in the grooves.
We also stock 3 more affordable alternatives.
1] The $15 Brush-it is a carbon fiber & velvet brush, which removes dust while reducing any static charges.
2] The $25 Discwasher includes record cleaning fluid, plus a stylus brush & a record brush. The fluid is $7 / bottle. Both are in stock now.
3] The $80 Spin-Clean totally submerges your records in a cleaning bath. Next to the VPI record cleaning machines, the Spin-Clean is the best way to clean records.
SPIN CLEAN RECORD CLEANING SYSTEM
ACCESSORY of the YEAR "The Spin Clean Record Cleaner is a pure manual design - nothing to plug in. A little elbow grease & fresh air do the work. Fill the yellow basin with distilled water, add a capful of cleaning solution & spin the record between the brushes. Ambient air & a couple of swirls with the supplied lint-free cotton cloths do the rest. lt's a truly green product - totally off the grid. The results speak for themselves - clean surfaces mean less noise & more fully resolved music." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/11; 11/12; EDITOR'S CHOICE, 3/11
EXCEPTIONAL VALUE, "Got the job done."
STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 3/11
RECORD CLEANING MACHINES
All of these have a motor-powered turntable platter, along with a vacuum that removes cleaner from the record. They include cleaning fluid. The machines are about as wide & deep as a turntable & somewhat taller.
CLEARAUDIO DOUBLE MATRIX PROFESSIONAL, $4000
This cleans both sides simultaneously, is bi-directional, variable speed & has an antistatic brush. Since it does not use a turntable, dust can not be transferred from the machine to a clean record side.
ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR "Offers an increase in convenience, reliability & functionality that puts it in a class of its own." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/12
"Foolproof; the most convenient option on the market. If you have a lot of dirty records, it is the cleaner I would recommend." ABSOLUTE SOUND 10/11
VPI RECORD CLEANING MACHINES U.S. MADE. All are machines the size of a turntable.
HW-16.5, $550, STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED, 4/11; PRODUCT of the Year
"Built to last; withstands great amounts of strenuous work over much time; made to satisfy its owner. After you've revitalized your prized record with a good scrubbing, your finished album is reborn & ready to be played, enjoyed & admired."
"All vinyl lovers need a record cleaning machine & there's no greater bang for the buck than this. Simple to use & highly effective, the 16.5 produces quieter surfaces from even heavily soiled LPs."
ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
"Solidly built & ultra-reliable, the 16 & 16.5 have been in continuous production for more than thirty years." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
"Essential for serious vinyl playback. Pays for itself: 1] extends LP life; 2] protects cartridge from damage from dirty records; 3] marked improvement in sound quality. Extremely user friendly & takes all the awkwardness out of wet cleaning. Surface noise reduced to negligible level. Biggest gains are sonic improvements: tonal qualities, soundstage, prescence & subtle background details. Images far more precise & transparent, playing more cohesive, creating a far more credible illusion of realism." HI-FI+
"Outstanding performer. The record surfaces are so microscopically clean & so pristine they look new." AUDIO
HW-17, $1300, "Industrial-quality, reassuring quality; fast, convenient, beautifully constructed, best record-cleaning machine; true work-horse." STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED, 4/11
HW-27 Typhoon, $2200, "Smaller, quieter & more attractive than earlier VPIs. Clean, efficient. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED, 4/11
"A good record cleaner is a vital tool for any good collection. The best combination of price, convenience & effective cleaning. Reduced noise, excellent fluid control, quick & reliable operation & pleasure to use." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
"The capable & efficient 16.5 remains the benchmark for affordable performance. The 16.5 trumps the competition. The Typhoon's vacuum pump is twice as powerful. Is the 27 quicker & easier to use? Absolutely. Am I cleaning more records more often? Definitely. Is it going to last longer? No question. The 27 is one serious machine." HI-FI+ #69
Gold Sound is Denver's only store with Clearaudio turntables. While the $170,000 Clearaudio Statement is widely regarded as the finest turntable made, the Clearaudio Concept is only $1500, including a Clearaudio cartridge. This turntable was awarded PRODUCT of the Year by ABSOLUTE SOUND & WHAT HI-FI. STEREOPHILE praises this turntable. All Clearaudio products are made in Germany.
Gold Sound is Denver's exclusive Thorens dealer. For over 100 years, Thorens has handcrafted superb European turntables with pre-installed cartridges & excellent tonearms. The 170 is fully automatic, both for tonearm start & tonearm return, plus has three speeds, 33/45/78 rpm, a rare & desirable feature.
All Thorens have electronic speed control; unlike many turntables, you don't have to change the drive belt to a different pulley. All our Thorens turntables have solid wood or MDF bases. This helps the sound, appearance & durability. Thorens is one of handful of world audio companies that has had the honor of a full-sized book devoted to their history. Thorens began in Switzerland in 1883. In 1966 Thorens moved to Germany. Thorens turntables over 50 year old, like the TD124, originally $99 in 1957, now sell up to $2000.
MICRO ACE SL, $700, "Wide-open midrange, plenty of definition & air around instruments & voices & tight, clean, bass. It can do a great job of walking that fine line between resolution & smoothness." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
MICRO ACE SL, $900, Rated exceptional value, in same class as cartridges for $3200 "Tracing & tracking impressive by any standard; produced solid images within a wide soundstage, astonishing amount of inner detail." STEREOPHILE 10/12
MICRO GLIDER SM, $1200, "Superlative tonal balance - lower mid & bass warmth, a lush midrange & a presence range & treble that have air & delicacy. The Glider is both faster on transients & more complex micro-dynamically. Gobs of low level detail & clarification of complex inner voices. For playback as musically expressive as it is honest, the Glider will set your system soaring." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
SLR GULLWING, $3000, "Very transparent, which makes music sound immediate & more produced than reproduced. It's a wonder at showing shifts in music's volume & inflection. It carves out a musical space as each recording demands & excels at micro & macro dynamics, while delivering lightning-strike transient response. Combined these strengths help bring you that much closer to the real deal."
ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/13
"Very quiet & transparent, stunning sounding. It breaks through room boundaries & time frames by delivering highly convincing facsimiles or all that it touches - chamber groups, orchestras, voices, jazz, rock, you name it." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
MICRO LP S-MR, $5000, Rated in same class as cartridges for $15,000 "Smooth treble, supple bottom end & profoundly well-developed instrumental textures." STEREOPHILE 10/12
CARTRIDGE OF THE YEAR "Superb transient speed & world-class low-level resolution, one of the most neutral, lifelike & least mechanical sounding statement quality m.c. on today's market - and at $5000, perhaps the best buy." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/12
"Very high resolution, very low noise, which can consistently reveal details you've never heard before from records you thought you knew by heart." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
BENZ LP S-MR , $5000, "More than holds its own in direct comparison with the very best cartridges we've reviewed. Here, for once, is a moving coil that seems nearly characterless - utterly neutral, very transparent to sources, exceptionally fine detailed, extraordinarily dynamic (at both the loud & soft ends of the spectrum), wall-bustingly wide in soundstaging, precise but not laser-cut in imaging & consistently lifelike in overall presentation. One of our reference cartridges." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
SAVE UP TO 40% by TRADING in your old CLEARAUDIO CARTRIDGE!
VIRTUOSO WOOD, $950, Rated exceptional value, in same class as cartridges for $3200 "Couldn't come up with one criticism of this wood-bodied version of the excellent Aurum Beta S. It shares it's transparency, midrange naturalness, extended treble & bass definition & dynamics, but adds an additional layer of detail resolution, sweetness & subtle low level articulation. [It] might be the affordable cartridge for lovers of jazz, classical & rock music. TheVirtuoso Wood's performance was so ear-openning that I recommend that anyone thinking of spending up to $2500 on a m.c. cartridge consider buying the $875 Wood instead." STEREOPHILE 10/12
MAESTRO EBONY V2, PHONO CARTRIDGE OF THE YEAR, $1199, moving magnet "The Ebony hews straight down the rich & wide middle of the sonic spectrum. Its overall balance brings symphonic recordings to life, unifying each section into the greater whole of the orchestra. Low-level detail is elegantly resolved, plus there's a lightness & speed to the way the Ebony resolves transients. As musical as they come, the Ebony should be required listening for moving-magnet & moving-coil fans alike." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/14
GOLDRING LEGACY, $1295, "Superb & quiet, loads of detail." Rated in same class as $3000 models. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED, 10/12
CONCERTO V2, $2400 "This is the entry-level cartridge in Clearaudio's "super-class of moving coils & super it is! The Concerto uses wood to add a touch of warmth & richness, yet retains the superb focus, resolution, transient quickness & top-end extension that have been hallmarks of Clearaudio's reference cartridges." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
STRADIVARI V2, $3500 "In our recent survey of 5 moving-coil pickups, the Stradivari received a "Golden Mean" award because it ideally mediates wamth & detail, control & relaxation, liveliness & listenability, at virtually no sacrifice in tonal neutrality. There is an organic rightness about this pickup that elevates it to reference-caliber." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
"The low-mass Stradivari has a body of aged Ebony & coils wound with 24k gold. Leaner, smoother, more litreral translation of the recorded event. Its decidedly smooth, liquid sheen produced a satisfying sense of musical relaxation." CLASS A RATED, STEREOPHILE 4/11
GOLDFINGER V2, $10,000 "The latest Goldfinger, with twice the number of magnets & lower weight coils, is astonishingly accurate in timbre, very fast, smooth & extended & (as is always the case with Clearaudios) extraordinarily high in detail with the widest, deepest & tallest soundstage of all coils." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
GOLDFINGER STATEMENT, $15,000
CARTRIDGE OF THE YEAR "The best cartridge Clearaudio has yet made & in [our] view, the best moving coil money can currently buy." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/12
"The sweetest, most musical Clearaudio ever, the Goldfinger Statement sounds ravishingly beautiful. It has that incredibly expansive Clearaudio soundstage & perhaps the deepest reaching, best-defined, most powerful bass of any moving coiI. At 0.9mV, it has enough output to drive any phono stage. The class of world class, our new ultra-high end reference." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
"PERHAPS THE BEST CARTRIDGE. Measured nearly 35db chan. separation & 0.20% harmonic dist., astounding figures. Ravishingly beautiful cartridge to listen to & the most phenomenal soundstaging I've heard with the best, deepest reaching, most powerful, most highly evolved, most completely natural bass I've heard - ever from an analog source. This cartridge simply blows the walls out, delivering an almost surround-like soundfield of unparalleled width & depth, with the added bonus of the most thunderous, floor & wall shaking bass I've heard. A snap to set up, its very high output 0.9mv output makes it an easy match to any phono stage & it tracks wonderfully." ABSOLUTE SOUND 10/11
GRADO ALL MADE IN N.Y.
BLACK, $60, "Admirable detail & treble
extension with good bass & ambience." HI-FI CHOICE RECOMMENDED 5/06
GREEN, $80, "Thoroughly enjoyable for nearly all kinds of music." BEST BUY, HI-FI CHOICE
"Warm, pleasant balance, sweet treble; Lively
overall presentation." ABSOLUTE SOUND
"Produces rich, open & expansive music. At it's price it simply can't be beaten!" SENSIBLE SOUND
PRESTIGE MC+, mono, $90, "Sledge-hammer bass & excellent imaging; a joy to listen to." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
GOLD, $220, "Rich, open & expansive." BEST BUY, HI-FI CHOICE RECOMMENDED "Warm, pleasant balance; lively; dynamically expressive midrange; engaging openness. Cost-conscious buyers will appreciate the user-replaceable stylus mechanism." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/12
REFERENCE PLATINUM 1, $350, "Nice midrange, lively; cartridge of choice for the most cost restrained." EXCEPTIONAL VALUE, STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED
"Markedly more refined sound than the Gold. Increased resolution; competes nearly equally with m.c. cartridges 3 times its price. Compared to the Gold, tighter bass, more neutrally voiced & much more authoritative; significantly better tracking. More top-tier performance attributes & delivers greater musical enjoyment per dollar than any other $300 cartridge." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/09
REFERENCE SONATA 1, $600, "Improved detail, transient speed, more seductive mids & improved hall sound very noticeable."
STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/08
"Wonderful; naturally sweet treble, refined tone colors & very good detail, particularly in the mids." ABSOLUTE SOUND, EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
REFERENCE 1, $1500, "Beautiful sounding; enormously musical." ABSOLUTE SOUND, EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
ORTOFON - Made in Denmark
"Ortofon, founded in 1918, is relatively large for a 21st century company specializing in phono cartridges, employing 65 people. The firm's heart & soul remain rooted in hi-fi. Even the least expensive cartridge is assembled from many tiny parts & requires much handwork. Making moving coil cartridges includes hand-winding coils over tiny armatures & under microscopes by highly skilled workers. My visit to Ortofon was impressive. Having the infrastructure for machining & crafting rubber parts [for cartridge suspensions] puts them in an enviable position in both quality & pricing. Ortofon seems to have perfected its MC technology. I bought an Ortofon cartridge as a reference." STEREOPHILE 3/10
2M RED, $99, THE GREATEST BARGAIN in a HIGH END CARTRIDGE; "One sophisticated cartridge for the money." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/09; 11/12
PRODUCT of YEAR, ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/09 "Screaming deal - entry level cartridge at its finest. It's like the Shure V15 with stronger mids." ABSOLUTE SOUND 7/08
"One sophisticated cartidge for the money" ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/13
2M BLACK, $719, PRODUCT of YEAR, ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/09 "Superb performer & value; compared to Shure V15 V, Ortofon is in its own world, plumbing the complexities of orchestral depth & dimension with a more resolved character & better soundstage precision & dimension. Its
Shibata stylus has a wider groove contact area & better stability, which extends frequency response & reduces record wear." ABSOLUTE SOUND 7/08; EDITOR'S CHOICE, 3/11
"Transparent, unravels the complexities of orchestral music; velvety finess & harmonic finish." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/09
"Lighter, faster, more resolved than Shure V15V. More transparent." ABSOLUTE SOUND 10/08
"Ridicuously good; bright open sound with surprising heft & slam." Rated in same class as $3000 models. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/12
SALSA, $375, BEST BUY, "Really involves the listener with clean, agile sound." HI-FI CHOICE 2/08
RONDO RED, $599, CARTRIDGE of the YEAR; "Its smooth, warm character is supported by excellent mids & a sweet if slightly soft top end. Easygoing & natural on vocals of all stripes." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/11; Chosen for ABSOLUTE SOUND's HIGH END AUDIO BUYER's GUIDE, Spring 2011; EDITOR'S CHOICE, 3/11
CARTRIDGE of the YEAR; only cartridge rated BEST BUY "Brings high-end detail & resolution; we loved it; delivers detail, power & resolution & is very well priced." HI-FI CHOICE, awards 2008
RONDO BLUE, $879, "Offers many of the advantages of higher-priced moving coils without breaking the bank - natural midrange, extended but not aggressive treble & strong bottom end. Dynamic presentation powerful, but delicate & nuanced, too. Particularly wonderful with voices. A great cartridge & a great value." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
"Smooth & warm; pleasant overall balance."
ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
RONDO BRONZE, $1099, "lmpressive freedom from surface noise & excellent detail; very strongly recommended." Rated in same class as $3500 models. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/10
CADENZA BLUE, $1599, "Detail, space, integrity & vitality; hard to beat at the price." OUTSTANDING PRODUCT; HI-FI NEWS 2010 YEARBOOK
CADENZA BRONZE, PHONO CARTRIDGE of the YEAR, $1999, "The Bronze has a slightly warmer, more romantic sound better suited to classical music, acoustic jazz & voices. We often listen to the Bronze for the sheer pleasure of its sonic personality [plus one of the] highest neutrality."
& openess without any brightness or stridency, plus very good soundstaging & dynamics. It approaches the sound of a mastertape & is a great value!" ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/14
CADENZA BLACK, $2499, "Here's a fast, tonally balanced, low coloration cartridge that has outstanding transparency, tonal neutrality & openess without any brightness or stridency, plus very good soundstaging & dynamics. It approaches the sound of a mastertape & is a great value!" ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/13
SPU Meister Silver, $1699, "Thunderous dynamic peaks; one heck of a fine pickup." STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/07
SPU Synergy A, $1799, "A bargain." A Rated, in same class as $15,000 models. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/12
MC WINFIELD, $3899, "One of the finest." A Rated, in same class as $15,000 models. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/09
"It will give you the closest approach to the correct sound. Suppression of surface noise & other impediments to clean vinyl playback is superior. Our new reference." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
"If you value high neutrality, high resolution, low coloration, low distortion & tracking ability to rival the best, this outstanding new moving coil - the pinnacle design from the longest established & largest cartridge maker in the world - is for you. Our new reference." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
OUTSTANDING PRODUCT "My desert island cartridge." HIFI NEWS 2008 YEARBOOK
MC A90, $4200, CARTRIDGE of the YEAR; "Clean, clear, fast, neutral & remarkably realistic. Far better transient speed & resolution than any moving magnet but without the added glare & bite of most moving coils." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/11; EDITOR'S CHOICE, 3/11
"Unsurpassedrhythmic swagger, dynamic exuberance, transparency & three dimensionality." Rated in same class as $15,000 models. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/12
MC ANNA90, $8495, "Rich, warm & beautiful in tone color." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/13
BLUE POINT SPECIAL II $399,"Improved resolution, superior 3-dimensionality, richer & more potent bass & smoother highs." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/13
PHONO CARTRIDGE of YEAR "Affordable, easy-to live with, high-output moving coil cartridge. Compared to others, it offers 3 compelling advantages: superior resolution of low-level sonic details, faster & more precise transient response & ability to produce broad, spacious, 3-dimensional soundstages. Significant improvements over Bluepoint Oyster, richer & more powerful bass & markedly smoother highs." ABSOLUTE SOUND RECOMMENDED 10/07; EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
BLUE POINT SPECIAL EVOIII, $499, EXCEPTIONAL VALUE, "Tight clarity, rhythmic certainty, excellent tracking," STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 4/07
"One of the best entry level, high output, moving cartridges." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
BEST BUY "High frequency refinement & nimble, artculate & revealing sound." HI-FI CHOICE
BLACKBIRD $1099, "This high-output moving coil is smooth yet detailed, with a wide soundstage & fine low-end authority. Midrange instruments are particularly seductive." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
"Strong bass power, extension & focus. Wide-open soundstage, plenty of detail & shimmering, well-balanced top end without brightness or edge." In same class as $1600 cartridges.
STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 4/09
PALO SANTOS PRESENTATION $3999, CARTRIDGE of the YEAR "Well balanced & neutral in the midrange. This beauty draws you into its naturalistic web & conveys complexities of timbre & space that are arresting & authentic." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12, EDITOR'S CHOICE, 3/11
"Its overall sound - smooth, sweet, but stil sunny & nicely detailed - makes it a great choice for the music lover with eclectic tastes who wants to bridge the gap between analytical & romantic sound." A rated, in same class as $15,000 cartridges. STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/12
"This beauty draws you into its naturalistic web & conveys complexities of timbre & space that are nothing short of authentic." Chosen for ABSOLUTE SOUND's HIGH END AUDIO BUYER's GUIDE, Spring 2011
OUTSTANDING PRODUCT, Hi-Fi News 2010 YEARBOOK
PHONO PREAMP REVIEWS
BELLARI MT502, $499, moving coil transformer, quiet background, sharp transients & taut, fast, well-defined bass, STEREOPHILE 10/12
CLEARAUDIO BASIC PLUS, $1000, MM or MC, made in Germany, "Everything a modestly priced phono stage should be; compact yet elegantly finished; superb isolation from hum & RFI; supernaturally quiet, delivering a spacious & delightfully resolved soundstage with heart-stopping bass resolution. EDITOR'S CHOICE, ABSOLUTE SOUND, 3/11
GRADO PH1, $500, made in New York, "Works equally well with high & low output cartridges. Open & easy sound with expansive soundstage, natural highs & bass with texture, tonal refinement & power." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
ORTOFON VERTO, $949, Moving Coil transformer, EXCEPTIONAL VALUE, STEREOPHILE 4/11
PARASOUND Z PHONO, $199, EXCEPTIONAL VALUE, favorably compares to $600 model, STEREOPHILE
"Excellently built & makes very nice sounds: large sound stage, excellent layering & bloom with remarkably good balance, dynamic range & detail." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
RECOMMENDED, SENSIBLE SOUND
Z PHONO USB, Phono preamp with USB output, $349 "Impressed by the quality & quantity of the heavy bass through the Parasound, as well as by the size of the soundstage & the wealth of recorded detail," STEREOPHILE 3/12
Rated in same class as $1600 preamp, STEREOPHILE 10/12
JC3 Phono preamp, $2350,
GOLDEN EAR AWARD, ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/12 - The only other phono preamp chosen was $19,000!
GOLDEN EAR AWARD "Built by Parasound but designed with the inspiration & insight of the legendary John Curl, the JC3 seems destined to embarass much pricier phonostages for the forseeable future. With a fully isolated dual- mono layout inside its full-sized chassis, each
channel is housed in its own extruded aluminum vault. As a result, backgrounds are eerily quiet; instrumental timbres are rich; channel separation is exquisite. There's a sweet kiss of romance through the the mids & an uncanny ability to extract & define low-level information in acoustic space. Capable of handling all but the lowest of the low output moving coils on the market, the JC-3 truly is an affordable examplar of Curl's passion for a format once given up for dead." ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/13
"Midbass attack is timbrally & texturally ideal; bass tight & punchy; midbass attack timbrally & texturally ideal, performing well beyond its price. Superb musical grip & control. At $2350, the JC3 is remarkably fine & easily held its own against preamps from $10,600 to $26,000. The JC3 represents the best current value in a phono preamp." STEREOPHILE 3/11
Class A Rated, in same class as $14,000 preamp, STEREOPHILE 10/12
PHONO STAGE OF THE YEAR "There's a riveting balance of extremes at play here - a kiss of romance through the mids & an ability to extract & define low-level information in acoustic space. There's a warm breadth of life in every musical image." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/12
GOLDEN EAR AWARD "Curl's earlier efforts, the Halo JC-1 amp & JC-2 preamp, had been overwhelmingly well received & phono stages are one of Curl's passions. The JC-3 is a dual-mono design. Each channel is housed in its own extruded aluminum enclosure & further isolated from the power supply with thick, low-carbon-steel partitions. The JC-3 is fitted with top-quality parts throughout. What continues to strike me about the JC-3 is its balance of profound silence & kick-butt energy, its kiss of romance through the mids & its ability to extract low-level information & define it in acoustic space. There's a warm breath of life in every musical image." ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/11
PRO-JECT Pro-ject Tube Box II, $449, "Sturdily built, attractive & compact; a relaxing, graceful sound; rich tubey sound, surprisingly quiet." STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/07
VINCENT Pho8, list $450; your cost $399; moving magnet & moving coil; black or silver finish. "Well finished & appointed; sturdy construction, high quality parts, hefty 3 pound external power supply. A level of build quality unusual in this price range. Quiet; sound is liquid, soundstage vivid & dimensional; you'll need a much bigger wallet to beat it." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
CLEARAUDIO, ALL MADE IN GERMANY
CONCEPT, $1400; with $200 Clearaudio m.m. cart., $1500; with $800 Clearaudio m.c. cart., $2000 "Really easy to set up; rich midrange & mesmerizingly 3-dimensional; sounded full bodied & fleshy, with smooth, natural natural sounding sibilants. The rich presentation provides a pleasing alternative to the flat imaging of digital sound. Fantastic in the midrange, where it's smooth, clean & notably transparent. Exceptionally attractive, easy to set up & better built than its price would suggest. It's a quiet, smooth performer that excels at midrange smoothness & transparency that makes speakers seem to vanish." STEREOPHILE 6/11
"The Concept offers a hugely rewarding analog experience at a very attractive price. Though its perfornance may not equal the very finest, its combined strengths in resolution, dynamics, low noise & sheer musical engagement won't leave you wanting. Terrific German build & finish; a hands-down bargain." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
"The Concept does everything but unbox itself. Preset at the factory, it features a svelt belt-drive chassis, a stunning friction-free, magnetic-bearing Verify tonearm & the Concept moving-magnet cartridge. The build & fiinish of this German-made 'table are superior. For sheer musical engagement & superb speed stability, it's the one to beat in this price range."
ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
ABSOLUTE SOUND PRODUCT of the YEAR
PERFORMANCE DC, $2799; Includes carbon fiber tonearm with magnetic bearings. "Startling transparency, openness & clarity."
ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
OVATION WOOD, $5500, Includes carbon fiber tonearm with magnetic bearings. TURNTABLE OF THE YEAR "Impressive clarity of definition, transparency to the source & excellent overall tonal balance. It all adds up to terrific value." ABSOLUTE SOUND 1/12
"A terrific deal. Very well balanced, with excellent detail that emerges from silent backgrounds, exceptional pitch stability & sweet extended highs. The Ovation niceIy bridges the gap between high-end sound & real world convenience." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
"Impressive clarity of definition, transparency & excellent tonal balance; a near ideal balance between weight & delicacy. Fine ability to focus on the heart of the music, weaving complex instrumental lines, while always remaining dynamically nimble & rhythmically precise. The upper end was sweet, extended & airy. I view the ovation as a major success. This easy to set up, maintain & operate package will bring its owners years of musical satisfaction." Featured on the cover of ABSOLUTE SOUND 10/11
INNOVATION WOOD, $10,000 "The dual-plinthed Innovation Wood combines stunning innovations with Clearaudio's ceramic/magnetic bearing (CMB) technology & lightweight yet extremely dense Panzerholz to damp resonances. It uses a massive stainless-steel subplatter, which when coupled with a new DC motor with optical speed control, results in superb speed accuracy. We have not heard any belt driven "table best the Innovation Wood in this critical area. Music emerges from a black background & has outstanding soundstaging & ambience retrieval when mated with a first-rate arm & cartridge. This is a terrific analog frontend of near-reference quality that raises the bar on what an $11,000 'table can do." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
STATEMENT, $170,000 "This over-the-top, 4' tall, 770-pound turntable/arm delivers an unmatched level of LP playback. Utterly quiet, stable & capable of extracting the finest detail. Simply astonishing levels of performance." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
"THE BEST. Cutting edge, beautifully built, a visual masterpiece. Magnetic drive for its heavyweight acrylic platters completely isolate the belt drive from the tables' motor. I liken the effect of hearing an LP through this mechanism to riding in a car on air, not on tires (no road noise!). LPs now have the same freedom from low frequency garbage that CDs do (or should). The bottom octave is reproduced with unprecedented transient response & articulation. A masterpiece." ABSOLUTE SOUND 10/11
MARANTZ TT15S1, MADE IN GERMANY , now $1699 "Attractive, quiet & well damped. Startlingly full, coherent, dynamic sound; a goodwill ambassador for analog." Rated in same class as $2200 turntables. STEREOPHILE 4/09
Music Hall USB-1, $249, 33/45 rpm, includes phono preamp, Analog-Digital Converter, USB output [easily transfers LP to CD, computer hard drive, lpod, etc.], Audacity software, USB cable, +/-10% pitch control, strobe & detachable RCA cables.
"LEAST EXPENSIVE RECOMMENDED TURNTABLE, "Solid stereo imaging" STEREOPHILE 10/12
PRO-JECT- ALL MADE IN EUROPE & INCLUDE TONEARM & CARTRIDGE
The newest Pro-Ject turntable is the $299 Essential which includes an Ortofon OM3 cartridge, a wood base & a wood platter. The Essential, our least expensive European-made turntable, is available in matte red, black or white.
The Pro-Ject RM1.3, $499, has many upgrades over the Carbon. The RM1.3 features a 1.25" thick resonance-optimized wood platter, a three-point wood plinth, plus an isolated motor assembly, optimized for low noise & speed stability. Three nylon cone feet reduce noise & vibration. The RCA cables can detach, permitting easy upgrades. [Many 'tables over $1000 don't have detachable cables.] It looks like a modern sculpture & is enhanced by your choice of a high gloss red, black or white finish.
DEBUT CARBON, $399; $499 with built-in preamp & USB output, "The most significant upgrade to Pro-Ject's latest Debut is found in its name, which refers to the lighter, more rigid, single-piece 8.6" carbon-fiber arm tube that replaces the Debut III's aluminum tube. It doesn't excel in any one area but gets the basics so right that it's hard to criticize what's lacking." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
XPRESSION III, $699, "Features an acrylic platter, machined cone-feet, a carbon-fiber arm & other refinements rare at this price. Wide, deep sound-stage, clarity & smoothness." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 9/09; 11/12
BEST BUY "Well designed; revealing sound" HI-FI CHOICE, 12/05 RECOMMENDED
BEST BUY; "great value, remarkable" above
Sota, Technics & more. WHAT HI-FI, 3/07
RM 9.2, "RM9.2 can be had [without cartridge, $2499] with either a Blue Point Special EVOIII, $2749, a Blackbird, $2999, or with Sumiko's Pearwood Celebration II, $3999. The latter is remarkable: easy & relaxed, rhythmically incisive & dynamically explosive, warm & rich, yet detailed & transparent, making it one of the most musically satisfying." ABSOLUTE SOUND 11/12
REGA MADE in ENGLAND & include TONEARM
RP1, $445, Rega's newest & most affordable turntable. WHAT HI-FI, 12/10, 5 stars, Best turntable under $480 "Excellent budget product; terrific performer for the money; easy to use & set-up; fine build" includes Ortofon OM5 cartridge, improved tonearm & phenolic platter, l7xl4x4.5"
Best turntable under $800 "Compared to the P1, the RP1 delivered more drive, better focus & was more confident, purposeful & authoritative. The RP1 looks good, is easy to set up & plays records like it means it." STEREOPHILE, 4/11
SME ALL MADE in ENGLAND
20/3 Turntable & IV.Vi Arm, $17,000, GOLDEN EAR AWARD "Background quietness struck me as the best I had ever experienced. Impressive ease & authority, dynamic window & ability to project that eIusive character of life & vitality. The improvements in mass & damping have resulted in an equivalent increase in isolation. This earns the this 'table an easy place among the finest vinyl playback components regardless of price. It almost qualifies as a bargain." ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/12
20/12 Turntable & 312S Tonearm, $22,500, CLASS A, RATED IN SAME CLASS AS $150,000 TURNTABLES; "AMONG THE BEST BUILT TURNTABLES in the WORLD, weighs more than 75 lbs., has an oversized 14 lb. platter A& will take 12" arms. The SME offered a very Iow noise floor & stable image specificity." STEREOPHILE 10/12
THORENS ALL MADE in GERMANY
TD309, $1699, "Lean, fast sound with a clean midrange, sharp transients & a well developed soundstage. Thorens has packed this interesting turntable with good ideas, a host of useful features & generous degrees of adjustability", STEREOPHILE, 10/12 Rated in the same class as $8300 turntables
EUROPEAN TURNTABLE of the YEAR
"Excellent imaging, great bass, fine rhythm, absolutely outstanding." Hi-Fi News 2010 YEARBOOK
"This eye-catching turntable is clearly the most novel design to emerge from Thorens in the last decade. It is ready within minutes of unpacking & offers more than a glimpse into the world of the glorious vinyl sound, which is growing in popularity among general consumers & audiophiles alike. The TD309 is a stylish & affordable passport into the realm of the vinyl LP." HIFI NEWS 10/10
U.S. MADE; Models below include tonearm & base; cartridge & dust cover are optional
TRAVELER, $1399; $1599 with $200 Grado cartridge. The Traveler is the most affordable, U.S. made turntable. Features include:
1] 10" tonearm for reduced tracking error
2] 24 lb. total weight, reducing feedback or unwanted resonance.
3] 8 lb. platter weight, for better speed consistency.
4] Large AC motor, for better speed consistency.
5] RCA jacks, allowing easy cable upgrades.
6] Four 2" high conical aluminum feet, reducing feedback or unwanted resonance.
No other 'table anywhere near the Traveler's price has all these features, except for other VPIs. A Rega RP3, for example, has none of these features. The Traveler is available in a gloss red, white, blue for $100 more than the standard gloss black finish.
"Best new product." AV Showroom, 6/2012,
"Piano sounded far more delicate, natural & controlled than I'd ever heard. Outstanding low end control & awesomely silent backgrounds. I began sending delirious text messages to audiophile friends. Intoxicating, almost magical."
"Better clarity, prescence & authority than a Rega RP3. The Traveler was easily the best; spacious, open, silky smooth & well controlled, a wide, deep soundstage. The VPI kept time perfectly. I can't imagine a happier way of listening to LPs than with the Traveler. The Traveler isn't merely reasonably priced - it's a remarkable bargain, built to last a lifetime. And it's made with love, right here in the U.S." Stereophile, 11/12
SCOUT, $1800, "I turned to the Scout to see if a 'table could truly outperform digital counterparts costing many times more - a statement I'd often heard. There's never a question of being able to differentiate the CD/SACD from the record, the record being fuller, more organic & 3 dimensional. Individual instruments embodied more reality & distinguished themselves from one another more clearly. Trumpets & other brass had all the "blare," but none of the "glare" I was used to hearing. A more defined & solid soundstage emerged time after time, due to the higher information density on the LP. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of "clicks" or "pops" & the very quiet background. The VPI's less complicated design (basic black plinth, hidden motor, translucent acrylic platter & unobtrusive silver tonearm) was my wife's aesthetic favorite." HOME ENTERTAINMENT
GOLDEN EAR AWARD, 2008 "If you want to experience a huge taste of analog heaven without the formidable price, this deserves your attention. This simple, affordable table has an exceptionally quiet background & high signal-to-noise ratio, so music leaps out of silence into the room." ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/11
"My first turntable, a Linn LP12, had a somewhat congested sound that bogged down when passages became extremely complex. The Scout did nothing of the kind. It zipped through crescendos with depth & authority. Nuances & inflections were captured with eerie precision. I was impressed by its clarity. The Dynavector is one of the best cartridges available. The Scout is a frighteningly good performer." ABSOLUTE SOUND 6-7/07
"The VPI Scout proved to be embarassingly good. It performed very well in bass detail, power & extension down to the lowest frequencies. The Scout is noticeably better in these areas than many in its price range. The Scout proves that affordable analog is a very good deal without any expensive bells & whistles." Tony Cordesman, THE AUDIOPHILE VOICE 6-7/07
ARIES SCOUTMASTER, $2500, EXCEPTIONAL VALUE; RATED IN SAME CLASS AS $8,250 TURNTABLES "Impressive transient clarity & speed, low level resolution & rhythmic authority; a genuine bargain." STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 4/09
CLASSIC with JMW10.5i Tonearm, $2800, GOLDEN EAR AWARD, 2010 "VPI's best work is now relatively simple & easy-to-set-up, combining an excellent chassis, built-in motor & tonearm. Out-performing many units at stratospheric prices, it puts a premium on reliability. Remarkably neutral with a wide range of cartridges & even better with the SDS speed control & Outer Ring Clamp. The latter makes a major difference in getting the best out of used, badly stored & lighter-weight LPs." ABSOLUTE SOUND 6-7/10
GOLDEN EAR AWARD, 2009 "A steal at $2750, it does not suffer by direct comparison to the $150,000 Clearaudio Statement." The VPI Classic & Clearaudio Statement, costing 60 times more, are the only 'tables he awarded "Editor's Choice".
"The Classic, correctly named, has been made even better with a few quite small changes, which give it an even smoother sound. The motor is grounded with an aluminum heat sink, the platter was changed to one piece of aluminum rather than two pieces with a damping ring attached to its bottom [to make it quieter] & the arm increased by 6mm for lower tracking error & better tracking. The price stays the same. I recommend the $200 stainless-steel arm for cleaner sound & the $700 stainless-steel record clamp that fits over the LP's outside edge." Harry Pierson, editor of ABSOLUTE SOUND, EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
GOLDEN EAR AWARD, 2009 " In direct comparison to the $150,000 Clearaudio Statement, it holds its own.If ever there were a best buy in "tables, this is it.", ABSOLUTE SOUND RECOMMENDED 6-7/09
2009 TURNTABLE of the YEAR, "Vinyl's retro master-piece; the turntable to take on even the top of the high end; a true audio bargain, a rare & wonderful thing; stability of pitch that is almost impossible to find else-where; excellent conveyor of musical flow; warm, rich & dynamic performer." HI-FI+, #68
"A very real part of the Classic's appeal lies in its inherent upgradability. Even a fully loaded Classic is remarkably affordable, as it plays in a league with five figure decks. The $1200 SDS power supply is a double whammy that attacks speed variation & motor noise. [It works with every VPI.] As well as electronically switching between 33 & 45rpm, it offers incredibly fine control of speed, a poise & focus, from a lower noise floor & a far more positive sense of exactly where each note is placed & spaced. It brings a level of refinement & precision that makes a mockery of its cost. Vocals are held more separate, with enunciation & inflexion much, much clearer, their meaning more direct. Musical phrases are more coherent & the "sentences" fit together better into a more comprehensible & effective overall shape."
"The $700 peripheral clamp, a precision machined ring of stainless steel that has a narrow lip running around its inner edge that adds a real sense of stable solidity & clarity, anchoring images & helping define the space between & around them. Delicate instrumental detail really shines, with the texture & shape of notes much more apparent. As good as the basic Classic is, the add-ons are much more than just icing on the cake. Record lovers & collectors alike owe it to themselves to hear just how much performance their money can buy." HI-FI+, #69
TOP TURNTABLE & one of the top 10 Products of 2010. "With the Classic I explored the deepest recesses of my vinyl collection & found a new appreciation for my oldies but goodies. The way the Classic does bass gives music a vitality that CDs never have. The rhythmic pulse is better, groovier & has more get-up-and-go. It's an eerily quiet turntable so records have signficantly lower surface noise, even compared to exotic tables that sell for double or triple the Classic's price. If you never heard a high-end table before, you'll be amazed by the difference. I'm listening to records I bought as a teenager & they're damned quiet. No, not CD quiet, but background clicks & pops don't intrude the way they do on lesser turntables."
"Between LP & CD, there's no comparison! The CD sounds like a good hi-fi, but the LP breathes life into the sound, a far-from-subtle difference. Vinyl communicates the music's emotional pull better than any digital format. You enjoy the music more on LP. One of the great Audiophile Truths: The best way to enjoy digital is never listen to analog. You need a great turntable, tonearm & cartridge to fully decode the magic in the grooves. If you want to know why vinyl is still going strong nearly three decades after the introduction of the CD, listen to a great turntable. The Classic would be the best place to start." HOME ENTERTAINMENT
"I put the Linn aside & hooked up the VPI. Wow, what a difference a turntable can make! One record led to the next & night after night I stayed up late, listening to LPs. That hadn't happened in years. I was smitten & thrilled to get into vinyl again; a great turntable." STEREOPHILE 3/10
CLASSIC III with JMW-3D Tonearm, $7500, "[The Classic] is now available with the JMW-3D epoxy Tonearm, the first "3D" printer product I know of in audio, which does a remarkable job of limiting vibration thanks to its seamless rigidity. Add a top of the line Grado cartridge & the end result is as close to any analog front end as I've heard." ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/13
CLASSIC III, $6000, CLASS A, RATED IN SAME CLASS AS $150,000 TURNTABLES; STEREOPHILE 10/12 clean, fast, lively sound marked by masterful attacks, outstanding microdynamics & lifelike textures. One of todays great values in analog audio. I don't hear how you can go wrong buying one."
GOLDEN EAR AWARD, 2013 "The regular Classic III with the VPI Stainless Steel Ring Clamp, VPI Record Center Weight & Classic Arm is one of the most neutral, accurate & musical turntables ever made & competes sonically with units three to four times its price." ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/13
GOLDEN EAR AWARD, 2011 "The Classic III has gotten some of the best & most deserved buzz for neutral, highly musical sound quality of any turntable / tonearm combo. The Classic is so simple that it is likely to be reliable & sonically consistent for years. Its tonearm is fully compatible with any modern cartridge & you can easily switch tonearm wands without having to readjust tangency each time. One more indication that the best analog can still compete with even highest-quality digital sources." ABSOLUTE SOUND 9/11
SUPER SCOUT MASTER REFERENCE RIM DRIVE, $10,000, CLASS A, rated in same class as $175,000 turntables; "Sound was fantastic with impressive bottom-octave heft; one of the best values of the true high end 'tables." STEREOPHILE 10/13
ANALOG COMPONENT of the YEAR "It's surprising to note that this costs nearly $24,000 less than the runner-up SME 20/12. The VPI won a decisive victory with more votes overall. It sounded fantastic with a punchy, aggressive bottom end & a precise top-to-bottom coherence." STEREOPHILE 12/09
HRX, $13,000, CLASS A, rated in same class as $175,000 turntables; STEREOPHILE 10/13
TONEARMS & ACCESSORIES REVIEWS
Spirit Level, $60 "Turntables sound their best when they are level - something careful listeners will want to check at set-up time & verify periodically. Remember: Furniture & floors sometimes settle over time. Use a good multi-axis spirit level such as this one to keep your table on the level." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
Strobo-disc & Strobe Light, $60 & $180, "Featuring grooves that create the additional stylus drag necessary to accurately measure your turntable's speed - while doubling as a cartridge break-in device - Clearaudio's Strobo-disc & Strobe Light are great tools for the serious vinyl junkie." ABSOLUTE SOUND 3/11, EDITOR'S CHOICE
Outer Limits Turntable Ring, $1200, "Heavy stainless-steel ring acts as a speed-stabilizing flywheel, damps the record & flattens warps. Its weight means you can use it only with turntables with massive platters &/or very powerful motors. lt blackened backgrounds, solidified images & made them pop in 3 dimensions." STEREOPHILE 4/11
VPI TONEARMS U.S. MADE
JMW-9, $1000, STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED, rated in same class as $2000 models 10/13
JMW-9 SIGNATURE, $1400 "Musical authenticity" ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
JMW-10.5i, $2300, "Beautifully made, highly revealing with some of the deepest, most powerful bass. Exceptional fine-tuning" ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
JMW-12.5i, $2600, "Beautifully made, highly revealing with some of the deepest, most powerful bass. Exceptional fine-tuning" ABSOLUTE SOUND EDITOR'S CHOICE 3/10
JMW-12.6, $3000, "Lush midrange, ultra-smooth top end & rock solid imaging & soundstaging. It seemed to have lower distortion than any other pivoted arm, but part of that might be the result of its smooooth frequency balance. Inner detail outstanding; ease of setup," CLASS A rated, in same class as $22,000 models; exceptional value STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/13
Classic JMW, $1600, "Upgraded version of VPI's JMW Memorial 10.5i, the Classic JMW, included & rock solid imaging & soundstaging. It seemed to have lower distortion than any other pivoted arm, but part of that might be the result of its smooooth frequency balance. Inner detail was outstanding; ease of setup," CLASS A rated, in same class as $22,000 models; exceptional value STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 10/13
VTA adjuster for Rega tonearm, $150, "Maintains desired rigidity while allowing a full inch of vertical adjustability. Nicely machined from aluminum & has a sturdy mounting collar." STEREOPHILE RECOMMENDED 4/11
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