Main Features Turntable Roundup: Part 1
Turntable Roundup: Part 1
Written by John Crossett   
Sunday, 10 January 2010 23:33

Publisher Doug Schneider and editor-in-chief Jeff Fritz assigned me to a specific task: find as many new turntables as I could at this year's CES. So with that command in mind, I set off down the hall of the Venetian where the high-performance-audio exhibits were to see what I could find. 

Luckily, there were a number of models to choose from -- everything from an entry-level $500 turntable to a top-of-the-line $15,000 model, with most falling somewhere in that magic middle ground of between $1500 and $5000. So if you're looking to either begin or expand your enjoyment of LPs, you may find a new table somewhere in here for you. I'll start with the four most expensive turntables I found.


The first table that caught my eye was from Hanss Acoustics, a company I'd never heard of. The turntable is the T-60. One look at the picture above shows that their asking price of $6200 (minus arm), gives you a lot of 'table for your money. The T-60 uses a 42-pound platter surrounded by dual plinths. It also has dual motors for that double-flywheel effect. A 24-pole AC synchronous motor drives the platter over a ceramic bearing using opposing magnets. The table also has the ability to mount two tonearms, either with a Rega-type mount or an SME type. The T-60's body is a combination of aluminum and acrylic. Hanss appears to be making quite a turntable, and it's reasonably priced enough that many can aspire to owning it.


The JR Transrotor Dark Star has now been upgraded to the Dark Star SE version. At $4600 for the basic Dark Star and an additional $2000 (no arm) to make the SE, it's not exactly inexpensive. Still, like the T-60, it's something many people will be able to afford. The big difference between the original and the SE is the new bottom module that, according to Transrotor, creates more damping and adds mass. To my eyes, this is one fine-looking turntable.


For a mere $2000, Clearaudio's new Emotion SE with the Satisfy tonearm is a clear winner (pardon the pun) in terms of appearance, performance, and price. The SE version offers a new, thicker plinth for more damping, a 28mm platter, a new ceramic-magnetic bearing, and an acrylic body. I can see where this might just be all the 'table you need to enjoy your vinyl collection for years to come.


At the top end of the scale is the new Immedia SG-2, priced at a whopping $15,000 without tonearm. That ain't chicken feed, but when you hear what designer Alan Perkins has put into it, you’ll know you're getting a well-thought-out and well-designed turntable. The SG-2 uses an inverted bearing with very tight tolerances. The bearing has a Rockwell hardness of 94, making it almost impervious to wear. And the platter is a combination of phenolic/vinyl/graphite that is claimed to take record noise to vanishingly low levels. The plinth is dual layers of aluminum with an elastomer between for damping.

I'll take a look at some more affordable models next, so stay tuned. 

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