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May 11, 2015

Axpona 2015

Kronos Limited Editon Pro Turntable

Take a look at the high end turntable offerings on display at the midewest’s premier high end audio show

By Gary Katayama

Why would anyone leave the beautiful spring beach weather in Playa del Rey to go to cold and drizzly Rosemont Illinois? Answer: to go to Axpona, the premier high end audio show in the Midwest. The following are some capsule reports on the best of the high end turntables I saw.

The first thing I noticed was the relative lack of vinyl playback capacity on the systems at the show. Most rooms went with some variety of computer front end. However, the vinyl front ends I saw were top notch.

Clearaudio Statement

Looking for the best? The mighty Clearaudio Statement is the one for you: http://clearaudio.de/en/products/turntables-statement.php

Artisan Fidelity

Weighing in at over 700 pounds, and at 50 inches tall, this table is a heavyweight in more than one sense. Yet it still has some of the most gorgeous, and delicate, design details, including the Statement TT1 tangential tonearm. This arm rides on jeweled bearings run along a glass tube of fantastic precision, resulting in error free tracking. The whole package is designed to showcase the splendid Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge. You might have to save up a little though, the package is priced at a cool $200K.
Another great turntable setup with a completely different focus was from Artisan Fidelity: artisanfidelity.com. They featured a selection of beautifully rebuilt Garrard tables, which sounded as great as they looked.

Prices ranged from $7500 to $59,000 for the gorgeous model shown on their website. You can see the quality and craftsmanship put into every table.

Another fantastic looking setup was one which I was not familiar with. GTT Audio and Video were showing the Kronos turntable, which was looking mighty fine (kronosaudio.com). Featuring a unique counter-rotating platform, and exuding quality workmanship, the Kronos is definitely a table to contend with. The Kronos Limited Edition Pro Turntable is $38,000 and the Kronos Black Beauty tonearm is $8,500.

Avid Acutus

Avid Acutus

Another set of tables I had not seen before was a trio from Avid of England: avidhifi.co.uk

Starting with the beautiful Acutus, at $27k, and progressing down to the Sequel SP at $10K and to the Diva II SP at $5k, these tables showed great attentions to isolation, and provided superbly black backgrounds to every record played. This is a line to keep an eye on.

A table I am very familiar with is the Transrotor Fat Bob (axissaudio.com/component/fat-bob-reference). This rather oddly named German table uses a massive 80mm thick solid aluminum platter to achieve a quiet background which would show off any cartridge.

I know Jim wanted me to look at the sexy (i.e. expensive) turntables but I had to mention the George Warren table (george-warren.com) featured in the Sonist/Snake River Audio room at a mere $3,400. Paired with Jonny Wilson’s high efficiency Sonist Recital 2 speaker (sonistaudio.com) I have to say I thought it was one of the best sounds in the show. The crowds in the room seem to confirm this. This table rocks!

Another reasonably priced turntable with an eye-catching design was the Funk Firm Vector 5: http://thefunkfirm.co.uk/turntables/funk_vector_3.html

A design derived from the legendary Pink Triangle turntables of the early ‘80s, the Vector 5 uses a unique belt-driven pulley system that balances the forces on the platform (hence the vector designation). With its radically skeletonized plinth, the Funk has a unique and appealing presence, as well as great sound, at a reasonable price ($2600)

I have to end with a report of great sound at a bargain price. The music hall 5.1LE with the music hall magic cartridge was rocking out the music hall room, naturally. At $995 complete how can you go wrong? Plus with the $199k you saved by not buying the Clearaudio Statement you can buy a new Ferrari 458 Italia to haul your latest record store finds.

Had a great time at Axpona, any record lover should try to attend a high end show at least once to see what is possible. For you southern California buffs, the Newport show is coming up soon and promises to be one of the biggest regional shows ever: theshownewport.com

Hope to see you there.


Gary Katayama is the owner of Affordable Audio. www.affordableaudio.net






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