“2016 was dominated by turntables,” writes Paul Rigby in online magazine TheVinylFactory.com. “The year began with the news that Amazon had sold more turntables than any other home audio product over Christmas. While these decks aren’t the kind you’d wish on your worst enemy, it’s clear the appetite was there.”
Indeed – and it shows no sign of abating. According to new data just revealed by the Entertainment Retailers Association, more money was spent on vinyl album sales than digital album downloads in the UK last week” (see full story: Vinyl is killing the MP3 industry).
So if you’re a digital die-hard who’s finally considering a foray over to the vinyl side, or a turntable toe-dipper who bagged an Amazon cheapie but now hankers after an upgrade, you’re in luck. “Turntable manufacturers of all stripes have been busy and very proactive, releasing a swathe of top quality designs that will suit all budgets,” notes Rigby. But how do you choose between them?
The top 15 list comprises three categories of five turntables each: budget, mid-range and high-end. In the latter category, aimed at “the listener who knows what they want,” is the Clearaudio Innovation Basic and the Timestep Evoke SL-1200GAE.
Clearaudio Innovation Basic: anything but basic
Clearaudio’s award-winning Innovation range of turntables got a new entry point in 2016, the Innovation Basic. Borrowing technology from the three existing members of the Innovation family – the Innovation, Innovation Compact and Master Innovation – the new Basic packs a raft of features into its elegant bijou form and delivers stunning performance at a more accessible price.
As you might expect from Clearaudio, in reality the ‘Basic’ is anything but. Its design and construction bear all of the brand’s hallmarks: intelligently-selected materials, precision engineering, painstaking craftsmanship and – of course – a bundle of innovative technologies. It features Clearaudio’s classic three-point design with a ‘sandwich’ construction of Panzerholz (a solid, bullet-proof wood) and aluminium. You’ll also find a decoupled custom-built high-torque DC motor with the company’s patented Ceramic Magnetic Bearing (CMB) and Optical Speed Control (OSC).
Discover the Clearaudio Innovation Basic
UK distributor Sound Fowndations will happily direct you to your nearest dealer.
Smart thinking: the Timestep EVOke
Devon-based Timestep has earned something of a reputation for its intelligent (and fully sanctioned) modifications of various iconic Technics turntables. Earlier this year, the company turned his attention to the newly-launched SL-1200 GAE deck and turned into a true audiophile model in the form of the Timestep EVOke.
The EVOke replaces the standard Technics arm with the superb SME IV, featuring the Audio Technica AT33PTG/II moving coil cartridge. It then adds an external power supply (which can run from 16rpm up to 80rpm) to create a Timestep-Technics tour de force – with technical measurements that almost equal those of the iconic Technics SP-10 MK-III.
Find out more about the Timestep EVOke
Check out The Vinyl Factory’s full list of the top 15 best turntables of 2016