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Edward Barker
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Turntables: Kuzma XL with separate power supply and Kondo Mains lead,  Garrard 301, 2 x Garrard 401, Systemdek Transcription
Arms: Kondo-wired SME V, Kuzma Airline, Cartridge Man Conductor, Hadcock 242 SE, Ortofon 212, Mission 774, Kondo wired Rega 300, Scheu 12-inch
Cartridges: Kondo Io-M, Cartridge Man Music Maker 2 & 3, Koetsu Urushi, Madrigal MC1, Empire MC1000, Shure V15
Phono amplification: Kondo M77 
Digital: Teac  transport, Audion prototype valve DAC
Tuner: Rotel
Preamp: Kondo M77 with phono
Power amps: Kondo Gakuoh PP
Speakers: Living Voice OBX-RW,  Proac Super Tablettes 
Ancillaries: Kondo KSL LP and Kondo KSL VZ interconnects; Kondo SPC speaker cable and Kondo KSL ACz power cords; Clearlight Audio NFT cabling; Silver Arrow cabling and mains leads; Audiomagic Mini Stealth conditioner, Incognito wiring on Conductor and Hadcock 242, Living Voice Mystic Matt, Boston Audio Graphite Mat, Kyrna isolators, Cartridge Man Isolators and setup tools, Dr. Feickert protractor. 2 x separate 30 amp mains wiring spurs.
Room: 16.40' x 14.75' x 11.12'
Review component retail: $1.800 for Stabi S

The Kuzma Stabi S has been one of my favorite turntables over the last few years. The chunky brass T-bar plinth is an object of great functional simplicity and beauty. There are no unnecessary parts or embellishments and I was not alone in finding the table sonically more than convincing.

While it doesn’t claim the last word in bass performance or detail and transparency, there is a naturalness and rightness to its tonality that even the best tables can find hard at times to emulate. In fact I don’t think I’ve heard Emma Kirkby sing Purcell's Songs and Airs with such purity and charm. I owned a Stabi S for several years and it had in effect become my main turntable, the one which got to wear the Kondo-wired SME V and Kondo Io-M cartridge. And needless to say that was a spectacular combination. 

This photo compliments of

But one did hanker after a touch more bass particularly after immediate comparisons with my Garrards. So when I heard that Kuzma had brought out a new sub-platter for the Stabi that was designed to increase inertia and was reported to substantially increase lower bass, the excitement mounted. Off went the cheque and soon the sub-platter arrived. 

It turned out to be pretty similar to the main platter, with a rough black paintwork over what I assume is brass or aluminium plate. A simple affair and I immediately went to work to fit it. This turned out to be more fiddly that anticipated, largely because the SME arm board didn’t quite fit over the T-bar plinth’s O rings anymore but after a bit of a struggle I finally got things working and put on a record.

And blow me down. I’ve had many surprises over the years in audio but I wasn’t expecting this one. Certainly I didn’t hear any more bass. What I did hear was a new flatness, a ho-hum deadness in the sound. The table’s charm, its air, its grace, its nuance and ability to capture the really delicate inner balance of a piece were just gone. Instead a more mechanical not to say agricultural matter-of-factness emerged. It was as if the accountants had taken over the orchestra.  Kirkby sang like this was the last time she was going to be bothered with this old-fashioned junk. Miles Davis, on the magnificent twin album Heard Around the World, sounded like he had jet lag. It’s not that timing wavered particularly. Piano notes weren’t all over the place. It wasn’t that bad. Just that everything lacked its inner energy, purpose and architecture of meanings.

Frankly, things got so bad that I became disenchanted with my precious Stabi. The Garrards were stomping all over it. Things rather quickly came to a head, stars aligned and I managed to exchange the Stabi and its plodding sub platter for a Kuzma Stabi XL. Okay, so I had to part exchange a kidney too but those are details. All’s well that ends well. But if you are looking for more bass authority for the Stabi S, don’t bother with the sub platter. My suspicion is that the bearing of the Stabi just isn’t built for the additional strain and the point is that turntables, particularly good ones, are very quick to complain when things don’t go exactly as they should. It’s a pity but there we go. 

Kuzma website