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This review first appeared in the October 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Transrotor Crescendo in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Transrotor - Ed.

Reviewer: Markus Sauer
Sources: Digital
- Heed Obelisk DT/DA drive and DAC; analogue - Garrard 401 in Loricraft plinth, Alphaso HR100S arm
Ortofon Cadenza Black cart, Tom Evans Audio Design The Groove Plus SRX phonostage
Preamp: Tom Evans Audio Design The Vibe with Pulse power supply
Power amps: Bryston 4B SST, Symasym
Loudspeakers: JBL LSR 6332
Review component retail: €4.700 for the table, €5.980 as delivered system

Transrotor belongs to the German hifi scene’s true heavyweights. They are one of the three or four firms which both domestically and abroad maintain the archetypal image of ‘high end made in Germany’. During their very early days—they launched in 1971—there was a brief spell of collaboration with the UK’s Michell Engineering but founder, owner and manager Jochen Räke soon hit his own groove dominated by generous but masterful exploit of polished aluminium, acrylic, chrome and gold. In the fast-lived hifi biz, more than 40 years of success deserve serious applause. They also demonstrate that Jochen Räke must be doing a lot of things right.

Transrotor takes particular pride in being able to overhaul their older models. Many decks find their way back to the maker 10 or 20 years later and aren’t merely repolished to look like new but can be upgraded to latest-gen specs by request (replacement of bearings, motor controls and such). Son Jochen Räke has stepped into the company to oversee export management. For Transrotor those overseas markets continue to grow but domestic sales still account for about half the annual turnover. The most active export markets at present are China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Russia. The most popular models are the Dark Star, Fat Bob and Zet 1 - and now the latest Räkreation and subject of today’s report, the Transrotor Crescendo.

At 25kg that too is a heavyweight although Transrotor went the extra mile to style its optics such as to strategically conceal some of this massiveness. The three-cornered core chassis consists of an acrylic/alu/acrylic sandwich available in black or white. What appears like chrome trim inlaid into the plinth is actually a 5mm solid aluminium layer surrounded by 20mm acrylic on either side. As are all the Crescendo’s metal components, this aluminium core is carefully mirror-polished. Four bolts tie together the tri-layer plinth in bomb-proof fashion for effective constrained layer damping.

At first my eyes struggled with the deck’s geometry thinking it ‘somewhat nervous’. That was based on three details. First, the three sides of the triangle aren’t straight but slightly bowed. Second, they aren’t the same length to undermine standing waves aka chassis resonance. Third, one side of the chassis at least for ‘short’ arms gets overlaid by the arm board which adds its own curvature.

A few weeks in the living room later the ‘somewhat nervous’ visuals had morphed into gratification that this deck kept offering new perspectives depending on my viewing angle. It never looked boring or static. Incidentally, the plinth’s core shape generated the name since it resembles the musical notation for an increase in loudness as the Italian crescendo.

The same constrained-layer construction albeit with thinner layers applies to the arm board. During R&D this started as a solid acrylic affair but high playback levels could then induce mechanical feedback to have Transrotor revert to the tri-layer scheme also for this assembly. After loosening its bolts this board is broadly adjustable. Numerous inserts adapt it for various arms to be extremely flexible. 9-incher and 12-inchers are easily accommodated. This naturally includes the 10.5" variants whose popularity is on the rise. For €220 Transrotor supplies the necessary kit for most any arm currently sold. €799 secures a second arm board to fit the Crescendo with dual arms.

The 10cm tall platter is turned from solid aluminium billet. From beneath the platter has been hollowed out in various steps to accommodate the internal motor and drive pulley as well as to kill standing waves for acoustic inertia. Hitting the dismounted platter with a hard object generates a short metallic ‘pock’. Repeating the exercise with the platter mounted further shortens this sound. All that remains is the self sound of the hitting object (a ruler in my case). Clearly the platter/bearing interface exhibits good self damping. The platter’s side isn’t perfectly perpendicular but slightly bowed. Räke prefers that look despite making for more involved manufacturing. The platter’s top sports a machined central recess for a removable acrylic sub platter which receives the record. Räke finds this the sonically best solution. The platter surface inside this hollow sports fine grooves to prevent the sub platter from wandering during play. Included in the delivery is a record weight for coupling record and acrylic sub platter and to eliminate resonance within the vinyl. That this weight would be another massive mirror-polished aluminium part should go without saying, yes? Good form.