The motor should be bolted to the base by two people. The three protruding axles with their white pulleys don't allow the motor to be placed upside down but with a bit of fiddling we bolted the two together. From the bottom of the motor part exited a USB cable to connect with the base. Next we mounted the arm board. This was suitable for the 12" arm provided with our review sample. Two bolts secured the arm board to the assembly. There were provisions for a second arm board as shown at our review's beginning and end. After removing the spindle shaft's protective cork, the ceramic spindle with its attached aluminum sub platter could be lowered onto the shaft. Under the sub platter sat one half of the magnetic bearing, the other was fixed to the surround of the shaft.

Fully assembled, set up and playing

As we saw, once the round belt mounts, all three motor axle/pulley assemblies tilt toward the spindle to provide sufficient tensile force so that the belt retains a firm grip. Tien Audio offer the TT5 model not with an acrylic but Delrin top platter which remains lightweight and is loosely placed atop the sub platter. Gravity and friction between the two bond them together.

Next was mounting the arm. When we opened the Viroa box, we were pleasantly shocked. Aside from the expected wand and accessories like mini Allen wrenches, arm lift handle and counter weights, the arm was prefitted with a cartridge since we'd asked for a suitable loaner. We'd just not expected this particular specimen. When we carefully lifted the arm from its tight packaging, we came eye to eye with a blue cartridge with Japanese characters on its front. The characters say seiryu which means blue dragon. This was a super-serious Top Wing from Japan whose mission statement reads "…when the sound quality of CD and LP made from the same master tape were compared, CD was superior in terms of soundstaging. We wondered whether superior soundstaging would ever be technically possible from LP and whether perhaps there was something in the production process which prevented success. This question led to our discovery that existing cartridges were not picking up all of the sound information which is necessary for complete sound-field reproduction. Conscious of the concept of soundstage reproduction, Top Wing develop and produce phono cartridges using advanced technologies and innovative materials."

Coreless principle at left | classic MM principle at right

More innovation was afoot for this review. Here creator Hiromu Meguro coined the fruits of inventiveness core-less straight flux. Meguro-san has a long audio history like the time he spent at Shinagawa Musen to help design the Grace F-8 and F-9 moving-magnet cartridges. Their kind are inexpensive while moving-coil cartridges which perform better cost more. That dilemma kept working on Meguro-san's head who came up with a solution. The idea itself bloomed a few decades ago but remained idle. Fortunately it recently materialized in the form of two Top Wing cartridges of which the Blue Dragon is one.