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.
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.
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.
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).More articles from this editor