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Brinkmann Taurus Turntable

Brinkmann Taurus Turntable

Writing this at the end of the summer 2020, and without spilling any political blood, let’s just collectively agree that this year has been at the very least, well, stressful. So how about something we could all use in the midst of this crazy rollercoaster? In the words of the above-quoted Joan Armatrading, how about the opportunity to really laugh? To really love. No 1967 Haight-Ashbury, Summer of Love type of thing. What we could really use is a simple, personal, mental pause where we can instinctively throw our heads back and feel something. Trust something. We need a lover, not just a friend.

In our world where down is seamlessly (shamelessly?) argued as up, this review will acknowledge our dystopia and put the listening/use impressions before any description of the product under review. If I were braver, I’d leave these opening introductory paragraphs till last and throw the conclusion up front, but all those who skip a review body to read the final few paragraphs would have their heads implode. I don’t want that on my public record, even though I’d be secretly pleased.

In Listening: Immediate Relief

Stress is really your CPU (that would be your brain) being overworked. It’s at max capacity. No buffer left. If you’ve felt that way (you’re human—you have), you know the way I feel about audio gear in general, but especially at this time in history. I don’t have the extra processing and time available to figure you out. If you’re damaged or complicated, high maintenance, or in any way a “project,” I’m quickly moving on with my life…without you (audio equipment that is). 

The Brinkmann Taurus turntable reviewed here ($14,990 plus tonearm) gets right to the musical point. There is no delayed gratification. Let’s call that immediacy. On most occasions, I found myself snapping my fingers, slapping my thigh, or doing whatever the music called for within 10 seconds of the needle hitting the groove (and frequently before I had a chance to sit down in the listening chair!). I put this characteristic of immediacy very high on my “needs to have” list, and I lead with it here because of our times, and because the Taurus checks that really big box without sacrificing the technical merits one would expect from a ’table in this category. Less stress. More music. Love at first listen. Just what we need. Just what I need!


Paul Bley is one of my favorite jazz pianists, and about as “free” as I get. There is something in his artistic and technical creativity that strikes me as thoughtful. Bley manages to connect with me as a listener. The Taurus (especially with the RöNt II tube power supply) brought me into Bley’s Open, to Love (1973, ECM) in a way that only great, substantial ’tables can. Really good turntables create a believable picture. They paint with engaging yet recognizable color and brushstrokes. But the very best open a wormhole into the recording’s reality. They bring you into the there rather than setting up an “observer/observed” opposition. And on this album I felt privy to every aspect of Bley’s creative thoughtfulness. Long, resonant decays played against a massive yet silent background. Beautifully delicate sounds of fingers reaching inside the instrument to directly brush strings. The weight and impact of hammers. Even the awareness of Bley’s Jarrett/Gould-like humming as a fellow participant in the experience. The Taurus had me into the silence (thanks ECM!). Believing it. Trusting it. Loving it.


A turntable is a mechano-electronic device (I think I just made that up). It converts little vibrations into an electric signal. We find its opposite in the loudspeaker at the other end of the chain, an electro-mechanical device that converts the electrical signal into physical movements that excite the air and create the soundwaves we hear, hopefully as music. The thing about the Taurus is that it presents itself more like a purely electronic device in the middle of the reproduction chain that anything (usually more colorful) at either end. It reminded me more of the Esoteric E-02 phonostage, for instance, than any other piece of equipment I’ve reviewed. As with the Esoteric, I consistently had the very reassuring feeling that I was getting the most out of the groove. Balanced and brilliant. Deeply refined and quiet. Giant yet invisible.

This uncommon balance and stability here served all music, all the time. Tom Waits’ brilliant concept of a “live/studio” album Nighthawks at the Diner (1975, Asylum) was reproduced with an eye-opening sense of the audience and space. My notes regarding the BSO’s performance of Debussy’s La Mer (1958, RCA) were embarrassingly complimentary: “Complicated rhythmic lines easily, joyfully unfolded.” “All that density without feeling heavy. All the cues. All the texture. No after taste or residual damage.” “Spectacular brass!” “A complete, colorful, dimensional, living soundscape.” It’s almost as though I was enjoying myself.


I hate to preempt the misplaced technical description, but (spoiler alert) the Taurus is a German direct-drive turntable. The more knowledgeable turntable hobbyists out there might have anticipated things like stability (ppm speed excellence) and electronic-like consistency from a well-built ’table with this drive technology. But does it have soul? Can it get down in the dirt a bit when required? Can it flow like a great belt-drive? Can it drive forward like a great idler?

Let’s put it this way. I grabbed my old grungy copy of the Allman Brothers Band’s Eat a Peach (1972, Capricorn), threw on “Les Brers in A Minor,” and proceeded to write down “Turn that up!” Took inspiration from that and reached for another Capricorn record (this time from 1974) from Elvin Bishop, Let it Flow. Boy, the Brinkmann let it flow. A physical, foot-stompin’ experience. The Taurus showed no shame in walking to the other side of the tracks, and thank God for that. 


Evenhanded brilliance. Just a breath of fresh air to listen to a ’table with seemingly no restrictions on differentiating dynamics and space. The Taurus feels both open and powerful, precise yet free. And that’s from way down at the bottom to way up there on top (frequencies, that is).

Celebrating my time with this latest Brinkmann, I cracked open an old bottle of bubbly (in this case the Royal Opera House Orchestra’s performance of Gounod’s Faust [1960, RCA LSC-2449]). All that classic RCA sense of space (i.e. less precise focus, but still very present) reminded me that the pains of the hobby and industry are occasionally worth it. Powerful orchestral climaxes here as open as a delicate triangle. A dimensional, believable soundscape. The feeling that you surrender to (fully trust in) the performance as something new—as an artistically creative event. This bottle was most definitely not spoiled. Musical inebriation. 

The Taurus can meet the moment. Beer or bubbly, it takes you there.

Low, Not Slow

The Taurus is notably effortless in the lower registers. It makes the slew of $10k-level ’tables I’ve had at home (from Roksan, Yamaha, Clearaudio, and the AMG Giro) seem rather inadequate in this area. This shouldn’t be completely surprising given the nearly three-times price difference, but it is nice to know the Brinkmann has some clothes. The Yamaha GT-5000 sounds indistinct down below in comparison, while my own Roksan Xerxes 20 lacks the ultimate power, substance, and scale of the Brinkmann. Again, one should expect this at these price points. I’m just telling you the Taurus gets the corporate “Exceeds” report in relation to my lofty standards for a reference ’table’s low-end performance.

The superbly recorded Talking Timbuktu (Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder, 1994, World Circuit) was recreated with stunning low-frequency conviction. So powerful and full without being forced. Almost so close to real you’re afraid the spell may be broken if you lift the needle. Think always massive but never forced. 

For the audio hobbyists out there, imagine the power and efficiency of a ported loudspeaker with the extension and purity of a sealed enclosure. The Taurus will recalibrate your expectations for the format if you haven’t heard something in its class. You’ll either be permanently wrecked psychologically for experiencing something you may not be able to afford, or you will be spurred on knowing that there’s so much more in the groove yet to be discovered. I try really hard to remain in the latter category, though packing up products like the Taurus to send back to the manufacturer does tend to put me in the former.

Compare, Contrast

I’ve attended and worked many audio shows as both hobbyist and as someone in the industry (retail, manufacturing, distribution). There are very few rooms over those years that stand out in my memory. Very few that I would consider noteworthy for one reason or another. At the 2005 CES John Devore had his loudspeakers paired with Shindo electronics and a Shindo-modified Garrard 301 as a source. I remember that experience. Elvis was physically pressed into the room. Substantial. Dynamic.

But here’s the thing. It was a sound. A compelling, memorable sound (obviously), but a sound nonetheless. Part of the involvement from wonderful systems like that is in what they actively do. Big, fruit-forward propulsion. You can sense the push. When executed on a level that the John Devores of the world inhabit, it’s “in your room” addictive. Highly entertaining and rewarding.

The Brinkmann Taurus is not like that. You don’t sense the sound or propulsion as separate features…at all. If I used the word neutral, I’d send everyone back to the safety of their camps, so I’ll just say that the Taurus disappears into the performance more without losing out on the engagement. No midrange push. More space. More a sense that you go there (wormhole) than they come here type of presence. Just as memorable, but it comes from a different place. Think of the Taurus as a big naturally aspirated V12 as opposed to an older turbo car with all that sudden (if delayed) accelerative force. Use that big V12 to power Jeff Buckley’s vocals on Morning Theft (Sony Music) and you are left with no other reaction than “Wow!” in the face of something so velvety and present. The Taurus marries big fun with big refinement as well as anything I’ve heard.

In Use

The Brinkmann Taurus is an exceptionally well built, minimalist gem. It’s one of those things that impresses the closer you get. It doesn’t have the same sense of occasion to gaze upon and use as other more substantial crystal-palace ’tables like a Spotheim SpJ La Luce, but you don’t feel cheated. Other than a tonearm lift-mechanism that tested my patience towards the outer rim, the Taurus was an easy and dependable partner. It’s a useable supercar. Fully modern in that respect.


This is a high-mass, unsprung, expensive turntable. With any ’table of this kind, budget for a good isolation platform upfront. Do not consider it an upgrade for a later date. Consider it an essential part of the equation. A certain percentage of you reading this right now would already be frothing at the mouth with dreams of chopping up tennis balls, filling things with sand and lead shot, or pumping up some sort of balloon or inflatable bladder to create your own isolation platform. My words will be powerless in the face of most of this…enthusiasm. For the rest of you, for God’s sake leave an isolation platform for this ’table to professionals with appropriate degrees and experience. See the sidebar for who I trusted with this critical role.

Brilliant? Irrelevant?

The Brinkmann Taurus includes a remote control for on/off and speed, and an option for an upgraded tube power supply called the RöNt II. These are two things that I thought in advance of the review were perfect examples of answers to questions that nobody ever asked. After all, I must be near the ’table to put a record on in the first place, so why the hell would I ever need a remote control? And tubes in a place that isn’t in the signal path? What kind of fashion statement is that?

I never used the remote…remotely. The only scenario I could conjure for truly remote use would be sitting down only to find out that you had the wrong speed chosen for an album (stuff happens). You could then just press the correct speed button remotely and not have to take the walk of shame back to the ’table. But really the remote serves to further clean up the minimalist shape and look of the ’table itself, as well as to allow you flexibility in exactly where you want the power and speed selection controls to sit. These are niceties rather than necessities, but the remote’s included with the ’table, so there you have it.

The RöNt II tube power supply is a different story. After a really good isolation platform (just get the HRS if you’re not already married to a brand), I would consider it the next most important, fundamental “upgrade” in extracting what the Taurus is capable of. I went back and forth between the regular solid-state power supply and the RöNt II (it took me somewhere around 30 seconds each time to make the substitution). Now, you should know I’m not a tweaker. I’m a skeptic by nature from a technical listening point-of-view. But I have to report that using the RöNt II made the experience of listening more continuous. A common context appeared of instruments belonging to the same performance and space, rather than as cutouts on an artificial stage. In my experience with the Taurus, you need the RöNt II to get the “flow” of a great belt-drive ’table. My enthusiasm for the way the Taurus combines fun and involvement with refinement is based on the inclusion of this damn tube box thing. It’s also visually too cool for school. I’ll say a bit more about it in the technical description to follow, but the RöNt II took the Taurus over that little invisible barrier between appreciation and love.

Cartridge and Arm

The ’arm used on the Taurus for this review was the Brinkmann 12.1, while the cartridge was the Brinkmann Pi. The Pi is essentially a custom-made effort with a Benz Micro moving-coil generator at its core, and I have to say it was very impressive. I worked for the U.S. distributor of Benz, and also retailed the product for many years. The Pi is more neutrally balanced than the “regular” Benz wood-bodied models, reminding me more of the nude Benz SLR Gullwing than the richer/sweeter wood varieties. I found myself very comfortable from the get-go with the ’arm and cartridge, and had no pressing reason to make changes. I have no religious views regarding 12″ versus 9″ ’arms, though I understand the strengths and weaknesses of each (tracking error advantage of the longer ’arm versus structural advantages of a short one). My general predisposition is to favor simple, short, well-constructed ’arms, but the Brinkmann 12.1 was a part of one of the most satisfying vinyl experiences I’ve had in my home. If you told me you were giving me the Taurus with that cartridge and that ’arm, I’d simply say, “thank you” and proceed to play and enjoy records.


It’s quite likely that the lucky owners of a Taurus will have a dealer/expert properly install their ’tables (they should!). But the overall ease of setup is notable for the brave. Most products have little tricks of the trade that you need to either know or learn the hard way. Brinkmann has done a good job simplifying the design, and I was able to assemble the Taurus all by my lonesome with no foul language (a first, I think). This goes for adding an extra armboard as well, which is accomplished with a collar system attaching the board to the ’table’s plinth with just two bolts. Though I didn’t use a second ’arm, I did install the second armboard to test the installation process. Very straightforward. Many of you will use two ’arms with the Taurus, and it’s a very flexible ’table for this purpose. It’s not an afterthought as found with many other ’tables out there. I appreciate good design. Once again, less stress. Easier to love.

In Specific

Now that the review is almost over, it’s time to “introduce” the product under review (remember, it’s a downside-up world). The German company Brinkmann Audio was founded by Helmut Brinkmann in 1985 with the introduction of the belt-drive Balance turntable, which remains in production today. In 2007, Brinkmann introduced its first direct-drive table—the Oasis—featuring the drive system you will read about below. Alongside its electronics, Brinkmann offers two belt-drive ’tables in the Balance and the Spyder, and now three direct-drive ’tables with the Oasis Anniversary, Bardo, and (the turntable I’ve already described listening to) the Taurus. The Taurus is Brinkmann’s “reference” direct-drive. The Balance is its “reference” belt-drive.

The Taurus uses the same motor and 22-pound platter as the direct-drive Bardo below it, but adds a more massive 26+-pound, 40mm-thick, Duralumin, “resonance-optimized” chassis and a newly developed collar system that makes adding another armboard a snap. The idea is a ’table with further reach/scale than the Bardo. A ’table with more dynamic potency. And one with a remote…

Beating Heart

Identifying the essential heart of the Taurus is easy—it’s the drive system. There is just one bearing (hydrostatic, oil-filled) for the thing driven (the platter) and the motor that drives it. The two are coupled…directly. The turntable subplatter is effectively a part of the motor. No pulleys, belts, gears, or wheels. I’ve got to tell you, the simplicity of it appeals to me. No “turning this to turn that.” Immediate. Just like the sound.

The motor here is very interesting, and it is something designed and built by Brinkmann Audio in-house. Termed a magnetic direct-drive, this motor type is not new in general (you can find examples in vacuum cleaners, generators, washing machines, etc.), but Brinkmann has adapted it for the accuracy/precision requirements of a turntable. As mentioned earlier, the Taurus is the third ’table from Brinkmann utilizing this magnetic direct-drive system. Here’s Brinkmann on the method of operation: “The Bardo has a magnetic direct-drive motor that was developed by Helmut Brinkmann and is produced in our factory. There is only one bearing for the motor and the platter, a circular magnet is mounted into the bearing of the platter and is concentrically driven into rotation via coils on the circuit board under the magnet. An electronic circuit drives the coils via two magnetic sensitive resistors that react to the magnetic fields in a highly constant and slow circular movement.”

That is about as simple as you can make it. Four field coils at the bottom are used to create an electromagnetic field (the stationary “stator”), while the subplatter itself becomes the rotor. Voila! A drive/motor system. 

I’m not turning this review into a deep dive on the details of this, but I will note that this magnetic-drive system was created to deal with many of the issues (primarily cogging) inherent in early direct-drive turntables. The Taurus does not rule the platter’s rotational force with an iron fist like those early ’tables. Instead, it favors a “soft” approach with a low-power magnetic field. There is just enough power to maintain the heavy platter’s momentum. Less invasion. Quieter. Smoother. Combined with a low-friction hydrodynamic bearing and what I’ll call gentle (they term it proportional) regulation of speed, the Taurus has been given a beating heart. The life force of the Taurus is right here. It’s why it sounds the way it does—precise and smooth.

RöNt II Power Supply

I’ve already noted that the RöNt II power supply is a nearly essential upgrade if you want to get the maximum out of this turntable. And I’ll tell you now that I’m very close to electrically illiterate. Which is another way of saying that I’m blissfully ignorant as to why tubes in a turntable power supply make any sense at all. Luckily, I can hear. And luckily, Brinkmann has offered a quick technical explanation that I will happily quote: “At first blush, it seems a crazy idea to use vacuum tubes for a low-voltage turntable power supply. So why do we do it? We found that the vacuum in the rectifier tubes not only isolates their plates from the cathodes, but also the power line from the drive circuitry. Because of this, the RöNt works like a high-class power-line filter for our turntables. The purification of the mains noticeably improves the sound in clarity, openness, and spaciousness.”

In my own words, I can tell you that the RöNt II is drop-dead drool-worthy in typical Brinkmann fashion. It seems excessive in price and design, until you listen. The two high-current PL36 pentodes and one 5AR4 full-wave rectifier are said to have a tube life in excess of 10,000 hours, so at least you don’t have that to worry about. Just make sure you don’t hide it. That would be a shame.

With the HRS M3X2 rack supporting it and the RöNt II power supply powering it, the Taurus physically presents itself as a beautifully built and executed product. The minimalist, purposeful design of the still-substantial plinth appeals to me, right down to the front inset power indicator. Everything feels like it belongs. The ’table doesn’t scream at you as much as simply rewards you.

In Conclusion

I know. I know. “Another rave review from the press. Let’s just file it away with all the others.” But consider the following. As I write this conclusion, the Brinkmann Taurus is gone from my home. The sexy RöNt II tube power supply? Gone, too. The HRS isolation platform? Back to the factory. I don’t owe any of them anything. I don’t know the people at Brinkmann, and in fact, for most of my professional retail/distribution career I sold against Brinkmann as a brand. They don’t need me and I don’t need them, and I’m way too jaded to waste my time writing about a “great product” to serve some expectant master.

Joan Armatrading’s 1976 eponymous album (I prefer “self-titled”, but the editors like eponymous, so I’ll save them the trouble this time) is one of my favorites, and Intervention Records has done a wonderful job with their re-release. When I let the needle drop on this one, I returned to my chair and literally threw my head back. It was one of the moments where you just involuntarily move in a way to take it all in. You instantly give all of yourself over to the experience. All of your intellectual, analytic defenses come down. You submit.

That submission is an important step beyond mere appreciation. It’s not just that the Taurus performed technical gymnastics beyond other (admittedly less expensive) turntables I’ve had at home; it’s that it let me love the experience. The Taurus gave me much needed moments where I could just put my head back and feel something.

I’ve had some experience with other big, fancy, expensive turntables. Can I right now definitively tell you that any of them is better than the Taurus? No, I cannot. Can I say that the Taurus is the best turntable you can buy at any price? Come on. You know the answer to that. Of course I can’t. But the best direct-drive Brinkmann manages to combine love and appreciation in a way that few can, and it’s a clear step above the best $10k–$20k ’tables I’ve experienced, fully justifying its status as a reference. It’s one of the only products I’ve heard about which I have no reservations. I actually miss it.

I’ll leave the last words to Lupe, the goat in the animated movie Ferdinand: “Is this love? I love love.”

Specs & Pricing

Connectors: RCA, XLR, or feedthrough for direct DIN
Drive: Magnetic field motor with “soft” speed control
Bearing: Lubricated, maintenance-free hydrodynamic journal bearing
Platter: 22 lbs., 40mm Duralumin; recess-mounted planar-polished crystal glass mat
Power supply:  “Performance” solid-state power supply standard; RöNt II vacuum-tube power supply optional
Dimensions: 16.5″ x 3.9″ x 12.6″
Weight: Total 48.5 lbs. (chassis 26.5 lbs.; 22 lbs. platter); power supply, 7.1 lbs.
Pricing: Taurus $14,990; 12.1 tonearm, $6290; Pi cartridge $2750; HRS M3X2 isolation base, $3975
Package Pricing: Table + arm $20,290. Table + arm + RöNt II $23,780
Pricing for my loving it: Table + arm + RöNt II + Pi + HRS, $30,505

Brinkmann Audio GmbH

SOUND & VISION (U.S. Representative)
Anthony Chiarella
(201) 690-9006


Allan Moulton

By Allan Moulton

Let’s just start with a confession of sorts. I enjoyed listening to the combined talents of Roger Whittaker, Nana Mouskouri, The Irish Rovers, Zamfir, and Chuck Mangione with my family as a youth (Allan winces).

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