Main Features Turntable Roundup: Part 2
Turntable Roundup: Part 2
Written by John Crossett   
Sunday, 10 January 2010 23:53

In Part 1, I looked at the more expensive turntables that made their debut here at CES 2010. Many of them could be considered accessible for serious audiophiles who put a lot of value in spinning vinyl, but I'm aware that a large number of buyers want something even less expensive. So for this second part I wanted to focus my attention on the more reasonably priced models I found. These are ideal for someone who wants to get into vinyl for the first time, or for someone who simply wants a new turntable to wring a little extra out of their LPs. 


I’ll start with the least expensive: the Pro-Ject RM-1.3 from Austria. This new entry-level table is just what the doctor ordered for the analog novice. It's a full-featured 'table with integrated S-shaped arm and a Sumiko Pear l cartridge. It sells for a low $499 -- complete! What really makes the RM-1.3 stand out from the crowd is the isolated motor, something not usually found in this price range. You can also get the turntable in your choice of black, red, or white. Overall, the Pro-Ject RM-1.3 looks nice and is well priced -- a killer combination.


Pro-Ject also showed off their new, more upscale Xperience Classic 'table/arm/cartridge combination. At $1499, it's three times the price of its little brother, but look what you get for the extra money: a genuine 9" carbon-fiber, continuous-cast tonearm and a Sumiko Blue Point #2 cartridge. Just the arm alone will make a world of difference, but the upgraded cartridge is also going to go a long way toward making your LPs sing.


In the same price range is the new Concept turntable package from Clearaudio of Germany. Priced at $1400 with the Magnify tonearm, the Concept is one nice-looking turntable, in a classic sort of way. With a plinth made of MDF, aluminum, and a high-tech synthetic compound to damp resonance, the Concept appears to be a well-thought-out design that's still simple to set up and use. Another nice touch is the magnetically suspended tonearm for friction-free use. Once again, it looks as though Clearaudio has another winner on their hands with the Concept.


The last, but certainly not least, of the affordable turntables is an entry from the good folks at Thorens of Switzerland -- the TD 309 Tri Balance. The price is yet to be determined, but it's hoped to be at or under $2000 when released (depending on the value of the Euro). In a bit of a departure for Thorens, who have always made rather classic-looking tables, the TD 309 is quite a stunning piece. Complete with tonearm and a triangular plinth shape, it comes in either black or the very lovely red. The TD 309 is a suspended table, with the suspension found in its three feet. Thorens also made sure that the tonearm is more than adequately damped in order to keep unwanted resonances from affecting the sound.

CES 2010 proved that vinyl is still going strong, and from $500 to $15,000, I have no doubt that one of these turntables may be perfect for you.

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