CES 2009: Turntable Lust Part I

CES 2009: Turntable Lust Part I

Ultra-high-end turntable systems helped produce some of the finest sounds of the show. The use of magnetic suspension to float platters, magnetic drive, twelve-inch arms, exotic materials, sophisticated stands to isolate ‘tables from structural resonances were in evidence at this year’s CES. There were many beautiful turntable systems to behold and here's the first batch of them.

Clearaudio (see picture above. I can assure you that the Statement was completely vertical although this photo gives it a leaning Tower of Pisa look) was demonstrating its Statement ‘table ($150,000), which uses both magnetic drive and suspension, with their Goldfinger v2 cartridge ($10,000), Aesthetix electronics and Vandersteen Model 7 loudspeakers. While the Statement is not new, it was the first time I heard it in action. Its ability to extract low-level details was uncanny.

Another German company, Transrotor introduced its own statement ‘table, “The Argos,” ($250,000) which also uses magnetic drive, but its remarkable Cardanic Suspension automatically adjusts to keep the Argos isolated from structural vibrations and level even in an earthquake. It's an incredible "hoot" to see it in action.

The SME 30/12 (pictured above, $50,000 with SME V-12 arm) coupled with a production version of Sumiko’s Palo Santos Presentation cartridge ($3,500) was producing a large, focused soundstage with wonderful coherency and fine detail through a jet-black background, using Audio Research electronics and the delightful Vienna Acoustics “The Kiss” loudspeakers in the Sumiko room. Its new V-12 tonearm is essentially a Series V arm extended to 12”, with dynamic-tracking force, a non-detachable headshell, and the Series V’s counterweight mechanism. Like the 20/12, the 30/12’s chassis is more massive and extended to accommodate a 12” arm, yet all the damping happens in the 30/12’s four towers, instead of the center. The SME V-12 arm will be available separately for $7,000.

Bergmann was demonstrating its “Simdre” turntable system with an air bearing platter and linear tracking arm. What’s different about this system than other linear tracking systems, in my experience, is the ease of set-up. I went through the set-up process and it looked surprisingly easy. Better still, the Bergmann front-end, coupled with German Physiks speakers was producing a huge soundstage with space between the performers across a black background, and I couldn’t hear the in-room air pump.

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