One of the results is that “more” space is revealed, and that increased space is more open, tangible, and vivid. It is almost as if a previously undetected pall of smoke or mist had been removed from between and around every instrumental voice. Spatial queues were more specific in location, more accessible, and clearly discernable. It really was remarkable. Virtually every sonic attribute seemed somehow more refined, more honed, brought into clearer focus, and more lucidly delineated—most easily noted with dense or busy arrangements.
With the Sparta, records I’ve been listening to for decades were given new dimension, increased focus, enhanced clarity, and more credible tonality. I admit to being totally unprepared for what the Sparta was saying to me; it clearly shattered all my expectations and preconceptions, leaving me completely entranced with its sonic virtues.
When I first learned that I would be reviewing the Sparta, my initial concerns were focused on what complications might arise from the greater complexity of using two complete ’tables—specifically, the potential for an elevated level of noise and vibration generated by using two pair of motors, drive systems, bearing sets, and platters, the doubled (or worse) harmonics from two plinths, and the likely sonic detriment that a possible escalation in self-generated system noise and vibration might introduce.
While the Sparta’s dual motor/platter/bearing system is undeniably noisier than that of many other turntables in my experience, and is in fact fairly distracting when you are proximate to the ’table, the bulk of that noise seems to emanate from the motors themselves. I was quite concerned about this, initially. Yet at my listening distance (my listening chair is some 12 feet away), the motor noise was virtually imperceptible; and with music playing it was entirely inaudible.
Further, if there were additional sources of sonic contamination created by this decidedly more complex system, they were effectively being managed in a way that did not negatively affect any part of the Sparta’s overall sonic signature. My take-away is that the Sparta design, as complex as it is, is extremely well thought out and effectively executed. With the exception of the louder-than-normal motors, I have to give Louis credit: System noise, including the bearings, platters, and suspension, is remarkably low, and backgrounds are extraordinarily quiet.
Wrap It Up
I’ve been playing with turntables since my childhood, and I’ve been setting them up and modifying them since the early 1970s. While I’ve heard the Kronos PRO at shows since its introduction, it has mostly been in systems with many other components (including stands, cables, and conditioners) with which I was unfamiliar. Though it has always presented very well, given the conditions, I could never be exactly sure that I could ascribe the performance I heard to the Kronos PRO only. Such is the nature of show reporting.
However, now that I’ve had the Sparta on hand for some months, and have had time to really get to appreciate its remarkable contributions, I have been supremely impressed. Not to minimize any of the other optimizations and enhancements that Louis Desjardin has integrated into the Kronos ’tables—the high-performance motors, the precise bearings, the compound composite construction of both the plinths and platters, and the patented suspension system—but I believe that it is the implementation of the dual-platter, contra-rotational concept that has the most substantive effect in the Kronos design, and as such, is the single most significant development in turntable design in decades.
Honestly, once seeing and understanding it, as forthright and fundamentally simple as the idea is, it seems almost shocking that someone didn’t think of and apply this principle sooner. It is a game-changer. After living with my Redpoint Model D for seven years, and having steadfastly held off all other comers in its price range and above, I have traded in my Redpoint and now own the Kronos Sparta and Helena tonearm as my reference analog system. And I’ve never before been treated to vinyl playback from any system I’ve owned that is as clearly and profoundly moving as what I am now hearing.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Belt-driven turntable, contra-rotating, dual-platter design
Dimensions: 20" x 11" x 14"
Weight: 70 lbs.
Price: $21,500 (Sparta turntable); $6500 (Helena tonearm)
4035, rue Saint-Ambroise, Suite 414
Montréal (Québec) H4C 2E1