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Let’s start with the tone arm or rather, the material it’s made of. There are a number of available versions. The main difference is the wand material. I received two versions - Panzerholz and Western Red Cedar (there’s also carbon fiber). Mostly I used the Red Cedar but I did exchange it for the composite wood arm during certain sessions. While I harboured early doubts that wand materials would be that audible, they vanished. When Jonas and Vidmantas explained how their wooden arm worked, they confirmed their opinion that American Red Cedar was best even though my assumption was that the harder more rigid ‘tank wood’ should be superior. After listening I realized that the Lithuanians were right. Cedar made the sound far more attractive than any other wand option. I don't just mean a different sound as one might expect. The sonic changes were more profound than merely a change in tonal balance (which was part of it too of course).

For one, the Cedar wand was quieter. A friend who’d had opportunity to listen to the Transrotor Argos and Bergmann Audio Sindre during my reviews of them felt that with the Black Stork, instruments were less real and not as well differentiated – despite the fact that these two decks ran AirTight's PC1 cartridge and the Stork the absolutely brilliant Supreme version of the same cart. I understood him up to a point. Yes the Bergmann offered a more open sound with better resolution just as the Black Stork did with the Panzerholz arm. Yes the Sindre delivered a bit more precise sound where particular layers were emphasized stronger. Still, in my opinion the Lithuanian turntable presented the same material more natural – more how I remember my listening session with the mighty Argos. This opinion of mine concerns the with the ‘less resolved’ Cedar arm.

Not to confuse you, I should point out that the Cedar arm offers a dense, somewhat dark but very well balanced sound. Here dark doesn’t mean a curtailed or withdrawn treble. This reminds me of Acrolink's 7N-PC9300 power cord. In general it makes the sound a bit dark and the tonal balance seems to move more into the shade - until some instrument in the upper bands present amazing, perfectly controlled attacks with brilliant reverberations. Usually such a sound is called vibrant. Today’s point is not about phenomena of particular moments but a permanent, very fundamental and consistent feature of the sound. The sudden appearance of a cymbal strike after what one thought of as a piece of dark sounds catches one off guard. One couldn’t see it coming. This was even more special with the Lithuanian table because groove noise was so very low. I’ve only encountered such low stylus noise with the Argos and in my friend's system with the SME30. And for context, the above turntables distinguish even better what's music and what's noise/distortion than the Lithuanian.

Altogether my time with this Eastern European table netted a very well balanced sound that was tonally extremely rich. Not everybody will love this but one can use another arm to get a more energetic extended bass. The Cedar arm offers the best bass quality. That was easily heard on the Depeche Mode single Oh, well or Boney M. records. The aural continuity was amazing and credit should go to both tone arm and deck. The latter offers surprisingly good quality and almost no impact on the sound to, in a sense, subtract itself from the equation. The Argos and SME are still better in this regard but the Lithuanian table definitely offered more than what I expected from such a simple design. I'm pretty confident that the men from Kaunas will find room for improvements but I already admire what they achieved very much.

The sound is very coherent throughout. This of course is some sort of approximation because while listening to Coltrane’s Giant Steps, we all realize that this is not the real live sound of instruments. Instead microphones were placed very closely, the virtual position of each instrument on stage was decided on by the sound engineer and not the actual placement in the studio during recording sessions. But as soon as during listening we accept something as real, it becomes the recreation of a real event even if particular tones are more casual and less interconnected than they should be. With audio ‘real’ equates to ‘continuity’. You must get used to it and recognize it. You simply can't compare live concerts with what you hear from loudspeakers. By definition those are two separate worlds.

Still, we should look for sonic ‘truth’ to tell us whether a particular audio system is closer to it. The Lithuanian turntable came very close. To achieve that, it followed its own path quite similar to another device I had a chance to listen to – the Hansen Audio Prince v2 speakers. Those offered a similarly dark sound (in a very positive meaning of the word) that conveyed a fantastic experience without trying to be best at bass extension, spacing, transparency and so forth. These devices don't even have to try because they commence from such a high level that’s beyond what many competitors will ever achieve even under the best of circumstances. Somewhat later into this game, you might realize that in fact some compromises were made for the greater good. Perhaps some resolution was sacrificed to get better coherence. Whilst comparing this aspect, you might find the Bergmann a bit more detailed and better at differentiating low-frequency tones. And it’s true. These are the advantages of the Sindre.