This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Paul Candy
Source: Rotel RCD-971 as transport, Audio Zone DAC-1, PS Audio DL III DAC w/ Cullen Circuits Stage Three Mod, Pro-Ject RPM 5 turntable, Pro-Ject Speed Box, Ortofon Rondo Blue cartridge.
Preamp/Integrated: Manley Labs Shrimp, Audio Zone AMP-1, Pro-Ject Tube Box phono stage.
Amp: Manley Labs Mahi monoblocks.
Speakers: Green Mountain Audio Callisto (on sand filled Skylan stands), Hornshoppe Horns, AV123 Strata Minis, 2 x REL Q108 Mk II subwoofers.
Cables: Audience Maestro & Auditorium 23 speaker cables, Audience Maestro, JPS Labs Superconductor+ & Silver Fi interconnects, Stereovox XV2 digital.
Power Cables: Audience 'e' powerChord, Harmonic Technology AC-10 Fantasy, GutWire Power Clef², GutWire C Clef.
Stands: Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier rack.
Powerline conditioning: Audience aR1p AC conditioner, BPT Pure Power Center w/Wattgate 381 outlets, Bybee Quantum Purifiers and ERS cloth, GutWire MaxCon.
Sundry accessories: Grand Prix Audio APEX footers, Isoclean fuses, Caig Pro Gold, Auric Illuminator, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, dedicated AC line with Wattgate 381 outlet, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments.
Room size: 11' x 18' x 8', long wall setup, suspended hardwood floors with large area rug, walls are yer standard canuck drywall over Fiberglass insulation.
Review Component Retail (in Canadian currency): $2,379 for 9" arm & standard 50mm platter, $449 for 80mm platter, $1,319 for 9" Cantus tonearm, $120 for Charisma Audio Solid Record Stabilizer. (Note: due to strength of the Euro plus increased shipping costs, prices will increase in September.)

Of late, I've been reading Stephen Mejias's blog over at Stereophile with great interest, thoroughly enjoying his comments about his recent introduction to the world of vinyl. I know exactly what he's going through. At last check, it appears he's intent on buying every record he can lay hands on. I'd like to say that common sense will prevail and the buying spree eventually taper off. But it won't. I buy more vinyl now than I ever did. And it's not just me. At the rate my audio bud Jim is growing his vinyl collection, he's gonna require a bigger house. Or an intervention. The naysayers can whine all they want about all the inherent distortions and inaccuracies of vinyl playback and how perfect digital is ad nauseum. Maybe they are right in technical terms. But those of us bitten by the analog bug know that digital will never beat vinyl in terms of emotional involvement. I still enjoy listening to CDs and digital playback has improved greatly over the last 20 years. Yet I just don't get the same high as with vinyl, even with a cheap turntable.

What does occur after the initial rush of vinyl lust is the ever-nagging itch to upgrade. If you are a shameless vinyl hound with a modest turntable like me and are considering an upgrade; then consider Scheu's Premier II table. Granted, there are many decks in the $2,000-$5,000 range available. Which one to choose? I hope to sample several tables in that price range over the coming months and share my observations with you. Today's initial foray into mid-priced tables comes from Germany under the Scheu brand, initially offered in North America several years ago in DIY kit form under the Eurolab name. Currently distributed in Canada by Charisma Audio and in the US by Hudson Audio Imports, Scheu tables now ship essentially assembled sans tonearm.

With a background in tool making and experience in materials science, the late Thomas Scheu (pronounced shoy) built his first turntable in 1985. His goal was to offer a state-of-the-art turntable at an affordable price. After his death in 2004, his wife Ulla Scheu took over the company reigns and continues to develop her late husband's ideas and vision.
The most striking feature of the Premier II is the use of acrylic. In fact, apart from the motor, feet, internal wiring and bearing, the table plus the Cantus tonearm is essentially plastic all the way. However, there is nothing plasticy about the Premier II/Cantus combo's performance as we shall see. Overall, it is an impressive and attractive package with excellent overall build quality.

The Premier II turntable deals with speed stability and motor vibration issues with a massive platter driven by an external motor via thin thread belt. The Premier's standard platter is 50mm (2 inches) thick and weighs about 4.5 kilograms. Also available is a thicker 80mm (3.15 inches) platter at about 7.5 kilograms. This was included with my review sample. Arm bases for either a 9" or 12" tonearm are available. The acrylic base of the Premier II ships preloaded with lead shot and the entire assembly sits on three adjustable metal spikes. The total table weight is approximately 17 kilos with the 50mm platter and up to 23 kilos with the 80mm version.

I can't comment on the Premier's ease of assembly as my review sample was delivered and set up by Scheu's Canadian distributor, Bernard Li of Charisma Audio. However, Bernard emailed me pictures showing how the Premier's plinth and bearing assembly ship preassembled in well-protected packaging. While I was not given manuals for the Premier or Cantus, I was emailed copies by review end that indicated detailed instructions and pictures.

To keep bad vibes and motor noise to a minimum if not outright eliminated, a separate electronically regulated DC motor drives the platter via a thin thread to apparently suffer less resonance than the more common rubber belt. The motor's power supply is a wall-wart unit. There is a rocker switch for toggling between 33 and 45 rpm speeds and a pair of potentiometers for fine adjustments of both settings.