Every spring, the editors of American audio magazine The Absolute Sound (TAS) round up their recommendations for the very best in worldwide hi-fi. German Clearaudio, whose motto has long been ‘take the best and make it better’, has proved the motto’s point with an impressive 14 products Awarded in 2022.
Clearaudio turntables scoop six Awards
The brand’s turntables are no strangers to awards, with the Concept series regularly featuring in What Hi-Fi’s Product of the Year, among many others. Three models from the series are recipients of the TAS Editors’ Choice Award.
“The Clearaudio Concept turntable package does everything but unbox itself,” write reviewers. “The build and finish of this German-made ’table are superior. For sheer musical engagement and superb speed stability, it’s the one to beat in this price range.”
The Concept Active, meanwhile “redefines what it means to be an affordable and accessible high-performance turntable in the here and now” and is “a rarity in the high end—a triumph of performance, pricing, and packaging.”
The Concept Black “is made like a fine Swiss mechanical watch… mistracking is rendered essentially theoretical, and speed stability is rock solid.” Here, we have “a model for how a mid-priced, belt-drive turntable should look and perform.”.
Moving up the range, the Clearaudio Performance DC (in Wood with Tracer Tonearm and optional Stradivari V2 cartridge) delivers a “compelling presentation” that “benefits any type of music, making [this] an excellent choice for multi-genre vinyl lovers who have all-over-the-map musical tastes.”
Moving up further still, to the Innovation series, Clearaudio’s Innovation Wood is one to beat: “the DC motor with optical speed control results in superb speed accuracy” and the reviewer “has not heard any belt-driven ’table best the Innovation Wood in this critical area. Solo instruments and voices have such rock-solid pitch stability that you’ll swear you are listening to a direct-drive ’table without the motor noise.”
The Master Innovation, meanwhile, is “a brilliant Peter Suchy design” and “an engineering masterpiece”. It was also The Absolute Sound’s’s 2019 Turntable of the Year.
A further six Awards for Clearaudio’s phono cartridges
At the very top end, the Goldfinger Statement is “a cartridge unlike any other” and “simply the best—which is to say, the most sonically complete—moving-coil cartridge [Executive Editor] Jonathan Valin has heard.”
In an earlier TAS review, Paul Seydor gave Clearaudio’s Stradivari v2 his personal “Golden Mean” award “because it ideally mediates warmth and detail, control and relaxation, liveliness and listenability, at virtually no sacrifice in tonal neutrality. There is an organic rightness about this pickup that elevates it to reference-caliber.” And now, an Editors’ Choice Award too.
The Concerto v2 “is the entry-level cartridge in Clearaudio’s ‘super-class’ of moving coils, and super it is! The Concerto uses wood to add a touch of warmth and richness, yet retains the superb focus, resolution, transient quickness, and top-end extension that have been hallmarks of Clearaudio’s reference cartridges.”
The Talisman v2 low-output moving coil “is one beautiful-sounding pickup… solid in all senses of the word, superb definition and clarity, and lots of heft and weight. Yet it’s also dynamic, with terrific rhythmic spring and timing.”
On the Charisma v2: “Like its name implies, you’ve either got it or you don’t. This cartridge has got it… It offers a full palette of tonal color vibrancy and timbral complexity, with classic midrange heft and bloom, electrifying dynamics, and top-end sweetness.”
Finally, the moving-magnet Maestro Ebony v2 is “as musical as they come” and “should be required listening for moving-magnet and moving-coil fans alike.” It “brings symphonic recordings to life, unifying each orchestral section into the greater whole” – and was also co-winner of TAS’ 2013 Phono Cartridge of the Year Award.
Two Awards for accessories
Two of Clearaudio’s high-end hi-fi accessories feature in this year’s Awards. The Double Matrix Professional Sonic record cleaning machine “retains all the convenience of the Double Matrix (simultaneous cleaning of both sides of a record) while adding ultra-sonic scrubbing to the original brush-and-fluid method” and is “a highest-quality record cleaner.”
The Strobo-disc and Strobe Light are “great tools for the serious vinyl junkie” and accurately measure your turntable’s speed while at the same time doubling as a cartridge break-in device.
The complete TAS Awards are published in the magazine’s March 2022 issue www.theabsolutesound.com