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Kaplan's Korner

May 8, 2016

Taking A Spin

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A PRINCE AMONG MEN

I saw Prince open for the Rolling Stones at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1981. He got boo’d off the stage. I couldn’t understand why because to me he was the 2nd coming of Jimi Hendrix. And I’m, a Zappa fan.

The loss of so many of my musical heroes this year leaves me with no place to go except back to their music, which is pretty darn awesome and soothes my soul and turns my tears of loss into tears of joy. Making sure there is music in my life brings me comfort and deeply listening brings me peace. So losing these artists hurts but their music heals. Not a bad deal.

A GEM AMONG TURNTABLES

Want to know what’s putting a smile on my face today? It’s George Merrill’s Gem Dandy PolyTable Turntable. The Poly Table is George’s $1,500 true high performance turntable. It showed up for review about a month or so ago. The PolyTable looks much better in real life than it does online. Not necessarily photogenic is what I’m saying. But in person I am totally impressed and even my wife commented on its good looks. That never happens. I literally have never heard her comment positively about the looks of a piece of equipment. This table is built solid. But there’s no box around it. The innards are on the outside. And it looks and
sounds awesome.

Set up should have been daunting for a klutz like me. I am only safety rated in the tool department to handle a butter knife. Fear and trepidation are my companions. I could break something!

Well guess what? I set up that turntable, installed that Jelco 750D tone arm and mounted my Grado Reference Platinum cartridge all by myself. It might have taken me a few days to get things dialed in but VTF, VTA and azimuth adjustments were made. Correctly. Eventually. You can hear the difference between eyeballed and dialed in, that’s for sure. Am I biased because I’m pretty proud of myself for facing my fear and setting up a turntable? Of course I am. Did I even have the table dialed in all the way? Of course I didn’t. A pro dialed it in slightly even more. And man does that rig sing.

So what is it about this table that knocked me out? Hard to explain. I had been messing with an AR The Turntable, really getting into that spring-isolated sound for a few months when the PolyTable turned up. Even though the PolyTable is not a spring design, the PolyTable seemed to take isolation to the next level. The combination of the motor, platter with integrated mat and anti-resonant material the darn thing is made out of and the overall design seem to work together. Saying the overall design and materials seem to produce fantastic results doesn’t explain anything. But the overall design and materials produce fantastic results. This table can be your foundation for a
long time.

I listened to the PolyTable with three different configurations. The first was with a vintage Marantz 240 solid state amp and the Music Reference RM-5 MK IV preamp. This configuration blew my mind with how lively and realistic it sounded. A great set-up. But I had to return the Marantz to its owner and switched to a 50 watt digital amp with the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter. The digital amp with the analog phono stage in the PS Audio sounded realistic with wide and deep soundstage. The third configuration was with the Rogue Audio Chronos Magnum integrated amp and the Zesto Audio Andros PS1.2 phono stage. That was the set-up that really impressed — as it should with that state of the art phono stage. I was doing a little business with a customer in the house and listening to Nautilus recording of The Three with Joe Sample, Ray Brown and Shelley Mann on the Rogue/Zesto rig. Things were pretty smooth until a snare drum crack got both of our attention. You know, when you look each other in the eye and go
“yeah, man.”

Well, yeah man. The PolyTable has something going for it. Look for the PolyTable as well as the Merrill-Williams 101.2 turntables at THE Show Newport this June 3,4,5. or Rocky Mountain Audio Fest or at George Merrill’s website, www.hifigem.com. I really don’t think you can go wrong. I have to make this turntable mine.






2 Comments


  1. SONDEKNZ

    Great review Kaplan!

    I also dig your from the gut writing style. I can’t believe after a few years, you haven’t received one comment on this review, so let me be the first.

    I’ve read a number of reviews of the various GEM DANDY POLYTABLE iterations and I think your review is as insightful as any of them – perhaps more so.

    I like the idea that for still sensible money, the GEM lets you step-up a quality 12″ arm rig. This has got to be good news.

    I just wish there were more reviews that compared the sound of the (say) GEM SUPER 12″ with the likes of a LINN SONDEK LP12 / ITTOK. I bet there are a bunch of guys – like me – who are wondering… Do I keep spending thousands on this old LINN with upgrades? (CIRKUS BEARING? ORIGIN-LIVE DC-MOTOR KIT? GREENSTREET SUB-CHASSIS? TIGER PAW TRANQUILITY? etc. etc. etc…)

    Or maybe one of these new GEM tables will just take me to a whole new level?

    Decisions, decisions.

    Anyway, your review has helped. Cheers!


    • rcnadmin

      Hi Sondeknz – Thanks for the feedback.

      I’ve gone nuts over the last few years and now I have a vintage 80’s LP12/Black Ittok and a SOTA Star Saphire with vacuum and an SME IV on it and a Merrill Williams REAL 101.2 turntable with an Ortofon TA 110 tonearm.

      I really love the sound of the LP12 and hear the musicality and pacing but its missing something. There’s less weight to the music compared to the SOTA or the Merrill Williams REAL 101.2. The new Super 12 version of the Polytable probably sounds close to the Merrill Williams REAL 101.2 making it an amazing value.

      I find it interesting that both SOTA with their top of the line Mellinia Turntable and George Merrill got away from spring isolation and moved onto this type of damping.

      Good luck out there!

      Cheers!

      Jim Kaplan



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