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Sound: The price tag of the Transrotor is so loaded that it loses all touch with reality. It does not relate to sound. This is why I shall reference my impressions not against price but other turntables; my experience in the recording studio; and in some ways to live sound, the latter only in part because once you compare even the best of hi-end devices to concerts, you will know that these are two separate events.

A recording relates to what we experience each day only via the selective 'diaphragm' of the recording studio, the recording gear and the mastering engineer’s manipulations. A direct transfer of live to home is impossible. The whole affair is somewhat Platonic in spirit as we only see a reflection of the real world - but I think that’s exactly what we do.

Perhaps I equivocate too much. Especially over the PC-1 Air Tight, the sound with the Transrotor was mostly better than live. If concerts took place with minimal amplification or none at all, then we might talk about a similar experience. As long as most concerts are too loud however, with poor pro sound and us not in the ideal seat to begin with, to me music over the Argos was better than what I hear live.

The most important trait of this turntable is how it disappears from the experience. This only happened to me once or twice before—with the Continuum Audio Labs and SME 30A—but never to this extent. I know, I know. Only the SME was at my home and then only shortly. While I did hear the Caliburn a few times, I never did so in my own system. Still, I am confident that when dealing with an audio system, the Argos is the one which most disappears from the equation. I thus would not be surprised if after a short demo, somebody would profess that he or she can’t hear just why it costs so much.

That person would be correct. The German turntable almost cannot be heard. I think that the fulfillment of the core postulate for a turntable—-mere mechanics assisting a diamond tracker—is here achieved. That’s why the sound of the Argos is incredibly composed; not quiet but composed and without emotions. This does not mean it is clinical or withdrawn. It has to do with clearing out the foreground. Everything is more audible here and less ambiguous but not because the details of the recordings are rendered superior.

In that regard, the SME 30A, Avid Reference and Bergmann Sindre are actually better; as are other Transrotor decks like the Tourbillon 07. Yet over the Argos music sounds much better because its elements are left alone, not randomly modified. With the Argos we have the sensation of dealing with something utterly natural - timbre how it was recorded, dynamics that were encoded etc. There is absolutely no impression that the music has to work its way through mechanical audio gear. The music becomes very free, very resistant to interference by technology.

This makes it hard to talk about specific sonic characteristics like timbre which could be attributed to the table. A change of cartridge resulted in big changes as did phono preamplifiers. Yet the turntable itself remained a bit in the shadow of the items I attached to it. If I had to characterize the Argos—somewhat forcibly so because I had no good reference point—I would say that it was a bit dark. Visibility elsewhere can be better. Just a moment ago I talked about the brilliant reveal of all the elements. I will now add to that the best resolution I ever encountered. Even so and in general, the sound was a tad darker than from the SME or Caliburn. The change was similar to coming from a recent, albeit brilliant, pressing back to a good original. It seems that the new records (especially the 45RPM versions) offer more detail, as though they extracted something new when in fact the originals had the true value, perhaps by sounding less forward but more balanced and saturated for it.

This could well be heard when comparing the Miles Davis Kind of Blue Miles 50th Anniversary edition to a borrowed original. The cymbals on the new version were brighter to seem more real but the original showed them to be more natural, less technical and with a fuller harmonic envelope. This also pertained to the Argos. It seemed more natural than others not because there was more to its sound. This is not about quantity. Because everything is better, it’s the quality aspect at play if I may call it that. I listened extensively to the Mobile Fidelity remasters of Sinatra Live In Paris and Sinatra & Strings. In both cases they sound better than the originals I think (what a sensation) and the digital versions should be ashamed of themselves altogether. I was especially impressed with the first disc. Although dynamically somewhat worse and with a llighter performer presence, it remains an outstanding recording.

The problem even good turntables tend to have is a flattened perspective which somewhere loses the full depth of the venue acoustics. Closest to the Argos, really only a hair removed, was the SME for a real achievement. However, the Transrotor differentiated the distances, the timbres, the height of the instruments, their individual volumes better. Although the difference was not large by any means, it occurred in such a critical area that after listening to the German turntable, there really was no comparison.