From Serbia to the UK via Devon-based Timestep comes one very interesting turntable indeed. Mathematically inspired it may be, but the Kubrick DCX’s performance is full of heart and soul. Available individually or partnered with Timestep’s excellent T-09 high mass tonearm and T-01HS ebony headshell.
Introducing the Soulines Kubrick DCX
Serbia-based Soulines makes just four turntables and the Kubrick DCX is the company’s most advanced model. Its design is by inspired the space station in the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, hence the name. But don’t imagine that this is some kind of flight of fancy. The engineering know-how that underpins the Kubrick explains why this little marvel has confounded many a listener’s prejudices and preferences… “but it’s a belt-drive / has a skeletal plinth / an acrylic platter / a lowish-torque DC motor… how can it sound so good?”
One reason is the serious amount of attention to detail here. Designer Igor Gligorov, whose credentials span all angles (trained mechanical engineer, trained musician, experienced sound engineer) is very much a man on a sonic mission. The Kubrick’s design began with the same inverted main bearing and acrylic platter that Gligorov developed for the brand’s Hermes DCX model. Around these, he then created a new and highly rigid aluminium plinth and sub-plinth which are built from differently shaped sections, coupled together and strategically damped. This is where the space station analogy comes in, since visually the structure resembles a skeletal-style body in which three ‘legs’ of unequal length extend from a central point. The adjustable supporting feet at the ends of the legs, again machined from aluminium, are also differently sized. The design’s shape, its relative dimensions and the positioning of its various cut-out circles are all based on the mathematical Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence, the aim being to achieve uniform vibration damping and to reduce the moment of inertia in all three planes. So while the Kubrick DCX may look somewhat asymmetrical, it is in fact perfectly balanced, providing a high level of precision in terms of smooth platter rotation and steady tracking.
The inverted main bearing, machined from solid brass and stainless steel to extremely high precision, and the solid aluminium arm-board are mounted directly on the sub-plinth, which is in turn three-point de-coupled from the main plinth. The motor assembly, a high quality DC motor with fine speed adjustment, is mounted on the main plinth.
“It’s beautifully made,” says Timestep’s Dave Cawley. “Every surface and edge is finished to an exceptional level and the bearing and platter are so precisely machined that when you watch the platter side on, you can’t tell that it’s spinning.”
Another key to the Kubrick’s impressive performance is undoubtedly Gligorov’s holistic design philosophy. While most high-end audio manufacturers aim to procure the best possible components at the relevant price point, Soulines also places a particular focus on the relationships between the different components and how to ensure that they all interact together harmoniously as a whole. Key parts of the structure, including every platter, main bearing and spindle, are manufactured together as a unit rather than in batches in order to ensure total compatibility.
“The Kubrick’s neutrality and its superb timing mean that it does a masterful job of allowing your tonearm and cartridge to perform at their best and deliver incredible musicality,” says Cawley. “This applies across the board, from a fairly modest arm and cartridge combination to a seriously top-of-range set-up. So it’s a great turntable to put at the centre of a flexible system where you want to mix and match different elements, or a system that starts out quite modest but then evolves over time as your budget allows.”
A match made in Devon
Coincidentally, Devon-based Cawley also has a ‘Kubrick connection’. 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired him to pursue a career in electronics and he subsequently developed a friendship with Arthur C Clarke, author of the novel. (Note also Timestep’s PO Box 2001 address below, which is no accident!).
Cawley is offering the Soulines Kubrick DCX turntable as a package with his own Timestep T-609 tonearm and T-01HS ebony headshell.
The T-609 is a modern, cutting edge, high mass tonearm specifically designed to excel with moving coil cartridges and which Cawley created by borrowing some essential ‘DNA’ from the legendary Japanese Fidelity Research FR64S tonearm (from the late 1970s) and combining it with bang-up-to-date technology. The armtube is crafted from titanium and is a low resonance design. A stainless steel bearing block fitted with specially lubricated ultra-fine tolerance ABEC7 ceramic bearings ensures low friction, while frictionless magnetic anti-skating allows for effortless fine-tuning.
The T-609 is designed to partner with a fully detachable and interchangeable headshell, offering many possible options, one excellent option being the Timestep T-01HS, a commandingly solid design crafted from rigid ebony wood.
Customers can, of course, opt to purchase the Kubrick DCX on its own or indeed with any other desired combination of tonearm and phono cartridge.