Turntables

Galleries:
Continuum, Blue Pearl, Walker, Brinkmann, Teres, Clearaudio, Other,
AM&ff Club - Exotic Turntables

Audio Federation Dealership Magazine Music Guide Blog


2002: The 3 best turntables, and there is little argument about it here in the U.S. (an amazing thing, consensus amongst audiophiles! :-) are the Rockport Sirius III, the Walker Proscenium Gold, and the SME 30/2. All three are easy to use AFTER they are setup (only the SME is easy to setup) - which is a crucial requirement for many as they do not want to have to fuss with the thing every time an album is played.

2006 Well, that was then and this is now. There is much more confusion in the turntable world these days. The new Continuum at $90K and the Blue Pearl at $80K has hit our shores. Rockport is in the process of making a new 'statement' turntable. There has been a flood of $29K turntables into the market, many of very high quality: Brinkmann, Red Point, Immedia, Grand Prix Audio, etc. Just how much better are the $70K+ turntables?

 


Rockport Technologies -

Using an air-bearing tonearm and platter, the Rockport Sirius III ($70K) is considered the best turntable ever built. There is also a Sirius II (at about $30K, but it is the tiniest bit on the cool side) and the Capella (about $25K, but hasn't been built in a few years now). Andy Payor, the builder, is now focusing on making his speakers and no longer makes turntables anymore - but these are still considered the high-bar and are sometimes, infrequently available on the used market.

These turntables use air suspension for the platter and linear-tracking tonearm. The price includes the tonearm. The Sirius III got a rave review from Mike Fremer at Stereophile (see website) and is in general considered the best turntable currently available. But it is a close race...

Prices $20,000 - $72,000
Pictured Sirius III, Sirius III, and Capella II
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Air
Tonearm suspension Air
Tonearm tracking Linear (parallel)
Tonearms supported  
Record clamp Vacuum
Drive Belt, Direct drive
Platter  
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
Stereophile Sirius III
   

Continuum -

 

Prices $90,000
Pictured  
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension None
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking Tangential
Tonearms supported 1
Record clamp  
Drive Direct drive
Platter  
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
Stereophile  
   

Blue Pearl -

 

Prices $80,000
Pictured  
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension None
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking Tangential
Tonearms supported 1
Record clamp  
Drive Belt drive
Platter  
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor Yes
 
Reviewers Reviews
   
   

Walker Audio -
Pictured: Proscenium Gold Signature Turntable

This is the Walker Proscenium Gold ($25K or so, depending on options). This turntable also uses air suspension for the platter and linear-tracking tonearm. This turntable got a rave review from Jonanthan Valin at TAS who continues to be enamored with this 'table. Everybody who owns this turntable absolutely loves it and the builder, Lloyd Walker, continually works on improving the table and will setup your turntables in person (for a fee which the dealer should pay). Price includes the tonearm.

Prices $35,000 - $40,000
Pictured Proscenium Gold Signature Turntable
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Air
Tonearm suspension Air
Tonearm tracking Linear
Tonearms supported Walker only
Record clamp Tightenable clamp
Drive Belt
Platter Lead
Weight 245 lbs
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor Yes
 
Reviewers Reviews
Absolute Sound December/January 2003 (Proscenium Gold Signature Turntable)
Audio Asylum
December 2001
(Proscenium Gold Signature Turntable)
Audio Asylum
December 2002
(Proscenium Gold Signature Turntable)

 

Brinkmann -
Prices $6,000 - $20,000
Pictured Balance
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking Tangential
Tonearms supported Brinkmann, others...
Record clamp Screw on
Drive Belt
Platter Glass
Weight 40 lbs.
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor Yes
 
Reviewers Reviews
Stereophile  


Transrotor -
Prices $2,000 - $70,000
Pictured Gravita, Tourbillon Gold, Leonardo 25/40
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking  
Tonearms supported Graham 2.2, others...
Record clamp  
Drive Belt
Platter Acrylic
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 2
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
   


V.Y.G.E.R -

This turntable is hand-built in Italy and was imported and distributed by Acoustic Drreams.

Prices $70,000
Pictured Indian Signature, Indian, Atlantis
Platform suspension Optional
Platter suspension Air
Tonearm suspension Air
Tonearm tracking Linear
Tonearms supported  
Record clamp  
Drive Belt
Platter  
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor Yes
 

SpJ by Judy Spotheim -

The turntable is distributed by Cardas in the U.S. It has a reputation as being very lively and a little forward in the upper midrange, perhaps over-emphasizing defects in LPs (like pops and clicks).

Prices $16,500 (with tonearm) - $19,500 (with tonearm) (2000)
Pictured La Luce, La Luce CS Centoventi
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking  
Tonearms supported Graham 2.2, others...
Record clamp  
Drive Belt
Platter Acrylic with embedded columns of metal
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor Yes
 
Reviewers Reviews
   

SME -

The SME 30/2 - ($25K + tonearm) is one of the best, popular high-end turntables. This is a conventional turntable except that it has a nice built in suspension. SME is manufactured in England by a company (most of the other best tables are hand-built). SME is a subsidiary of a larger company that manufactures parts for aircraft instruments and business machines. SME makes 2 other turntables which have a reputation for being a little on the cool side and built like tanks (and perhaps somewhat boring looking). Mike Fremer (Stereophile) gave this table a rave review (using a Graham 2.2 tonearm, not the SME tonearm) in the February 2003 Stereophile - and wrote that this table may be comparable with the Rockport Sirius III.

Prices $6,000 (SME 10 with tonearm) - $25000 (SME 30/2 without tonearm)
Pictured SME 30/2A (with matching SME Series V tonearm), SME 10
Platform suspension Yes
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension No
Tonearm tracking  
Tonearms supported Graham 2.2, others...
Record clamp  
Drive Direct
Platter  
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
Second Beat / Beat Reviews (SME 10)
Manufactorer's site (SME 30)
   
   

Simon Yorke -

This turntable was Michael Fremer (Stereophile)'s reference turntable until 2003 when he switched to the SME 30/2.

Prices $15,000
Pictured Series 7
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension  
Tonearm tracking  
Tonearms supported Simon Yorke
Record clamp None
Drive Belt
Platter  
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
Hi-Fi News and Record Review April 1998 Series 7
Stereophile June 1998 Series 7

Clearaudio -

This is one of the most popular selling turntables - and one of the best looking. The use of 3 motors and a solid acrylic platter contribute to some sonic degradation according to some.

Prices $17,500 - $100,000
Pictured Master Reference (with TQ 1 parallel tracking tonearm)
Platform suspension None
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension  
Tonearm tracking Linear (parallel)
Tonearms supported Graham 2.2, others...
Record clamp None
Drive Belt
Platter Acrylic
Weight  
Maximum number of tonearms 3
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
Absolute Sound  
Basis -

This table, along with the SME and VPI, is one of the few tables that offers built-in suspension. It is also one of the few, along with the Rockport, that offers a vacuum record clamp (to hold the LP down).

Prices $1,200 - $10,600
Pictured Debut Mk. V (previously Gold Standrd), 1400
Platform suspension Optional
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking  
Tonearms supported Basis Vector, Graham 2.2, others...
Record clamp Vacuum optional (Debut)
Drive Direct
Platter Acrylic, composite
Weight 120 lbs
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor No
 
Reviewers Reviews
Stereophile Vol.23 No.1, January 2000 Debut Gold
VPI -
Prices $1,200 - $10,600
Pictured TNT Mk. V
Platform suspension Optional
Platter suspension Bearing
Tonearm suspension None
Tonearm tracking  
Tonearms supported TNT Mk. V
Record clamp  
Drive Belt
Platter aluminum and lead-filled acrylic
Weight 120 lbs
Maximum number of tonearms 1
Out-board motor Yes
 
Reviewers Reviews
   
   

 

 

Copyright Audio Federation, Inc..
 All rights reserved.