The complete turntable package (Kid Thomas, Cornet 2, and external power supply) arrived in a single triple-walled cardboard box with an additional triple-walled internal cardboard surround. The assembly was divided into four sections separated by foam inserts. The lower section contained the platter, the second level from the bottom held the double plinth, and the third section from the bottom had accessories. The final top section contained three boxes that held the tonearm, motor assembly, and external power supply. Assembly of the ’table was fairly easy when following the instructions in the user manual. The manual mentions, whenever possible, letting the dealer set up the tonearm to get the best sound from the system. Without going through the cartridge set-up routine, there are some things to be aware of. All of the fittings are friction-fit and the adjustment screws are nylon (except the VTA/SRA fine-adjustment screw). Pear Audio recommends just enough pressure to secure the fixtures and no more. The distributor mentions that making screw connections too tight will result in brighter sound.
One of the many reasons vinyl playback is enjoyable to those who delight in the format is the hands-on experience: touching a record; placing the LP on the platter; positioning the tonearm; watching or hearing the needle seat itself in the record groove; marveling at the way such an old technology can bring so much life to music. While vinyl may not be for everyone, music played back on a finely tuned analog setup is something to behold for those inclined to experience joy from this wonderful audio-playback medium. The Kid Thomas adds to this hands-on nature of playing vinyl by literally requiring hands on the platter to give it a spin. The low-torque motor of the Kid Thomas is always on and always running. In order to get the motor’s spindle to move and sync with a rotating platter, the operator must give the platter a healthy nudge to get things going. What seemed like an extra step initially quickly became a satisfyingly engaging step in the process of playing the LP. To stop the rotation, the same procedure is done in reverse with the placement of hands (fingers actually) on the outer side of the platter to slow it to a stop. This is a simple and effective platter start (and stop) tradeoff for the low-torque motor implementation.
A first listen to the Kid Thomas was conducted with the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze supplied by the U.S. distributor. This combination was played as set up by the distributor for a couple of weeks before I performed a full reinstallation of the cartridge. The initial sound was promising but the goal at that moment was to put some playing time on the ’table until a full cartridge setup could be performed.
Once the full setup of the Cadenza Bronze was complete, the sound of the Kid Thomas system was very quiet, full-bodied, rich in the midbass to lower midrange, and smooth albeit somewhat reduced in amplitude in the high frequencies. Resolution was very good on medium-to-loud music but low-level signals had a slightly opaque character. On Chris Isaak’s “Kings of the Highway” from his Heart Shaped World LP, the Kid Thomas blended his overdub vocals into a slightly diffused single entity. On the plus side, the bass (while a tad full in the power region) was big and powerful with a soft starting transient that was made up for by a larger development of the notes. Every LP played was delightfully listenable, approachable, and entertaining. The sound was how the ’table had performed at some of the U.S. audio shows—full, rich, musical, and never aggressive.
To kick things into a higher gear, the van den Hul Colibri XGP was drafted for cartridge duties. The established character of this particular cartridge is clarity, speed, low-frequency warmth, non-aggressive behavior (with careful setup), and well controlled (but generous) high frequencies. Playing “Kings of the Highway” with this cartridge tightened up the bass substantially and added more transient drive; guitars sparkled, with individual notes sounding better delineated; the soundstage became more saturated with energy; and Isaak’s overdubs were clearly discernable. Every aspect of the Colibri’s performance was on display to one degree or another.
Regardless of which cartridge was mounted on the tonearm, music never ventured into aggression, never lost drive, and never lost macro-dynamic impact. The soundstage was always wide and deep with the degree of saturation dependent of the cartridge installed at the time. The noise floor remained subjectively low—a trait not often found to this degree on sub-$10,000 ’tables. With either cartridge, it didn’t matter if the music played was jazz, classic rock, heavy metal, hip-hop, folk, blues, or classical. Whether solo piano or orchestral crescendos, the ’table performed with the same fundamental sonic character.
Having been able to contrast the Kid Thomas/Cornet 2/external power supply with different cartridge types, it is safe to say this analog combination serves as an excellent platform to play music and host your cartridge of choice (within reason and compatibility). Given the admirably low noise of the Kid Thomas, the materials-management approach to the design of this $5995 turntable appears to have been a success. The entire package offers subjectively quiet playback and reproduces music in a way similar to more expensive turntable systems. This system’s smooth playback, coupled with the level of silence displayed, earns a recommendation for an audition. Just be sure to choose the phono cartridge that fits your listening tastes—the reward is waiting.
SPECS & PRICING
Kid Thomas turntable
Type: Belt-driven turntable
Motor: AC synchronous
Dimensions: 19.6" x 14"
Weight: 70 lbs.
Cornet 2 tonearm
Type: Unipivot tonearm
Distance from tone-arm center to spindle: 222mm
Effective mass: 12.50 grams
Arm length: 295mm
Tone-arm effective length: 239mm
External power supply
Dimensions: 4.13cm x 2.55cm x 11.22cm
Weight: 5.7 lbs. (w/packing)
Price: $1995 Kid Thomas/Cornet 2/External Power Supply
Package Price: $9995