Further highlights from US-based hi-fi magazine The Absolute Sound’s prestigious Editors’ Choice Awards for 2017, this time focusing on all things vinyl-grooving. From turntables to cartridges, Editor-in-Chief Robert Harley and his team of expert reviewers offer their top product recommendations from across the world of hi-fi.
Clearly the multi-award winning Clearaudio Concept turntable package, which “does everything but unbox itself,” was going to be in there. “Preset at the factory, this spinner features a svelte belt-drive chassis, a stunning friction-free, magnetic-bearing Verify tonearm and the Concept moving-magnet cartridge.” As the Concept’s legion of awards already testify, “For sheer musical engagement and superb speed stability, it’s the one to beat in this price range.”
Edging up in the price range, Clearaudio’s Ovation/Clarify combination is similarly rewarded. “Continuing the trend of bundling together ever more sophisticated turntables, arms, and cartridges into fine-sounding but relatively hassle-free combinations, Clearaudio recently released what may be the most ambitious such package yet. With a magnetic-bearing arm and Talisman v2 Gold cartridge, the Ovation is a terrific-sounding combo.”
Unsurprisingly, Clearaudio wins again at the upper end. In the ‘$10,000 and above ’ category the Innovation Wood turntable “combines some stunning innovations” including “a massive stainless-steel subplatter, which, when coupled with a new DC motor with optical speed control, results in superb speed accuracy. [The reviewer] has not heard any belt-driven ’table best the Innovation Wood in this critical area.”
The superlative and “ingenious” Sparta turntable from Canadian Kronos Audio receives a much-deserved award along with high praise indeed. “Reviewer GW was supremely impressed, saying that the implementation of the dual-platter, contra-rotational concept is the single most significant development in turntable design in decades. With the Sparta, records he’d been listening to for decades were given new dimension, increased focus, enhanced clarity, and more credible tonality. He bought the review sample.”
Naturally, Clearaudio’s cartridges loom large in the list, with awards for the Maestro Ebony V2, Talisman V2, Concerto V2, Stradivari V2 and the flagship Goldfinger Statement – “Simply the best – which is to say, the most sonically complete – cartridge.”
Japanese Transfiguration’s Phoenix cartridge, meanwhile, is hailed for ‘doing it all’ with aplomb.
“The Phoenix doesn’t stand out for its detail, speed, rhythmic precision, dynamic range, top- or bottom-end extension, or its neutral tonal balance. It stands out because it manages to bring all these things into a highly coherent, beautifully balanced package that is hard to stop listening to.”
For full details of The Absolute Sound’s 2017 Editors’ Choice Awards, grab a copy of the March issue.
To audition any of the award-winning products above, find your nearest dealer at:
Sound Fowndations for Clearaudio
Decent Audio for Kronos and Transfiguration