While the Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas turntable ($5995) has a unique look, there are some things about its appearance that may seem very familiar. There is good reason for this because the Kid Thomas was designed by the late Tom Fletcher (of Nottingham Analogue fame)—as were all the Kid ’tables in the Pear Audio Blue lineup. Some of those visual similarities are the look of the motor pod, the dampening rings around the platter circumference, and the shape of the tonearm.
Peter Mezek, the principal of Pear Audio Analogue, was a longtime friend of Tom’s. The two worked together to create the Pear Audio Blue lineup. According to Mezek, Tom Fletcher wanted to advance the performance of his older designs; to do so, he started with a clean slate. According to Mezek, the new design ideas “led to great improvements in sonics, musicality, realism, phasing, coloration, etc., which would never have been possible trying to further develop the old designs.”
Pear Audio Blue’s production initially took place at the Nottingham Analogue factory (before Fletcher passed away). Today, all Pear Audio Blue products are hand-built by Mezek and his team in Slovenia.
One of the key principles in creating the Kid Thomas was the careful mix of materials. Pear Audio Blue’s goal is “sonic harmony.” The idea is to marry materials in a way that results in the turntable system that performs as a whole better than the sum of its individual parts. To achieve this, Pear considers the size and shape of all turntable and tonearm components, and their effect on music reproduction. Each part, no matter how small, is tested for resonance characteristics and listened to in the system for optimal performance. If a part doesn’t measure up, it isn’t used; if making something prettier results in poorer sound, a different finish is applied. One outcome of this approach is that less metal is used in the Pear Audio Blue ’tables and ’arm than in previous Fletcher designs.
The Kid Thomas has two plinths, each approximately 30mm thick, in an isolation sandwich. The isolation is provided by eight rubber feet recessed in cavities under the top plinth. (The plinth is made from an unspecified wood with properties that, Mezek says, Fletcher had been searching for most of his life.) The lower plinth has three height-adjustable support feet with smaller rubber feet attached underneath for additional isolation. There are two support feet in the front corners of the Kid Thomas and one in the center rear of the ’table. The front support feet have two small half-sphere-shaped rubber feet under them while the rear support foot has nine. There are two circular cutouts in the lower plinth for the platter bearing and tonearm wires to pass through. An additional circular cutout holds an insert with what looks like a flexible closed-cell rod that (when fully assembled) touches the bottom of the platter. The flexible rod is said to aid in maintaining speed stability. The upper plinth has one open circular cutout for the flexible rod. The two additional circular cutouts hold the lower bearing assembly for the platter and the tonearm base with mounting collet. When both plinths are properly aligned at their corners, a U-shaped cutout on the left side can be used to enclose the motor.
The motor is nested in a housing that is friction-fitted into an outer housing. There are three adjustable that allow for setting the proper height. The twenty-five-pound aluminum-alloy platter (approximately 58mm thick) has four concave grooves along the outer edge that hold rubber dampening rings. These rings effectively attenuate what would otherwise be a high-pitched metallic sound that can be heard if the platter is struck when the rings aren’t in place. Attached to the lower center of the platter is a bearing shaft that mates to the bearing assembly on the upper plinth. Once the proper amount of oil is added to the outer bearing assembly, the platter/bearing can be inserted to complete the main ’table assembly. The final piece of the platter assembly is a foam platter mat that provides additional isolation.
The Cornet 2 tonearm ($2295) is said to be a unipivot, but the actual design is a bit more complicated than a typical unipivot. The tonearm pivot comprises two short parallel metal bars (traveling in the same plane as the headshell to counterweight) that are located horizontally on either side of a roller bearing. The roller bearing sits atop a unipivot shaft. The roller bearing and horizontal bars restrict ’arm movement in unwanted directions and help keep azimuth settings stable. The armtube is made of carbon fiber with the long grain oriented between the headshell and pivot point. The brass counterweight is secured to the ’arm by a springy, friction-fit, open C-shape clamp. Tracking force is adjusted by sliding the weight back and forth in this spring clamp. The ’arm has a collar with height-adjustable screw for fine VTA/SRA adjustment, once VTA has been roughly set with the base collet. Offset angle and overhang, as well as provisions for anti-skate and azimuth, are also user-adjustable.
The optional external power supply ($1995) accepts connections from the ’table motor and the AC inlet. (There is a power switch on the rear of the unit.) The external power supply has a rotary frequency control on the front that allows the user to precisely set the speed of the turntable. Once adjusted, there should be no need to change the setting during normal use. The motor used on the Kid Thomas is a low-torque design that helps to reduce motor vibrations that otherwise could be transferred to the platter via the drive belt.