Country of Origin


Airbearing turntable system

Reviewer: Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Takumi TT Level 2.1 [in for review]; Holbo Air Bearing Turntable System [in for review]
DAC: Mytek Brooklyn; T+A DAC8 [loaner]
Streaming sources: Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop; Sound Galleries SGM 2015 [loaner]; Mytek Brooklyn Bridge [in for review]
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic; Gold Note PH-10 phono pre amp with PSU-10 external power supply [in for review]; SPEC RPA-MG1000 [in for review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submisson MKI; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL; Audio Alto AA LA17 [in for review]
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Kemp polarity checker; Akiko Audio Corelli,Costello and Phono Booster; Pink Faun LAN Isolator
Online music purveyors: qobuz.com, tidal.com, bandcamp.com, amazon.co.uk 
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs
Price of review item:  €6'500 excluding cartridge; ca. €1'900 for Benz Micro Ruby Open Air 2 but no longer available

Our love of vinyl has grown steadily over the past few years, from 'nice to have' to nowadays 'almost mandatory' – and this despite the ever more prolific digital sources at our disposal. Think drawers filled with literally thousands of CDs and a wide range of streaming sources. Whilst writing this, we could stream from the Internet to two Devialet Premier and a La Rosita Beta via WiFi. Sound Gallery's SGM 2015 was hardwired and ran HQPlayer to further enhance incoming hi-res tracks before handing ovrt signal to a T+A DAC8. The new kid on this block was Mytek's Brooklyn Bridge, a Jack-of-all-trades phono stage, preamp, DAC and streamer with wired and wireless inputs. We could run things from the Roon interface/middleware or from the MControl app. Web-based streaming sources included Tidal and Qobuz, both with the higher resolution albums and tracks preferred. Convenience was the buzz word du jour.

So why then our love for vinyl when convenience there is virtually non-existent? Well, it sounds so damn good for starters and secondly, the whole analog approach is so satisfying.  What gets you more endorphins: a click on a website's 'order' button followed by a few taps to make the Paypal payment; or the trip to a record store which offers new and more importantly, vintage vinyl? To make the analog analogy complete, you pay with cash, not plastic. Then the acquired treasure comes home with you and the playing fun begins.

Every analog recording sounds different due to endless factors like which studio did it, what were the microphones, cables, amplifiers, mixers, sound engineers, mastering decisions, vinyl pressing and perhaps even the phase of the 6th moon. Digital recordings are often made using the same standard software, workstation and processes to sound like any other. The song is different but the sound the same. Auto tune, anyone?

The newly acquired vinyl record now becomes the input to a complex chain of electronics which all reflect the owners' tastes. With a CD player, integrated amp and speaker setup, there is less room for personalization beyond budget. In a serious analog setup even on a budget, personalization is the main ingredient. Simple setups can be very satisfying. Here the cartridge sets the tone which needn't break the bank. We recall our review of the Takumi turntable with two different cartridges where a budget-friendly MM cartridge can do excellent for pop and rock.