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Mike Malinowski
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Walker Black Diamond Proscenium III turntable; Walker Reference Phono preamp; Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement Cartridge
Preamp: VTL TL-7.5 Reference Series II
Amp: Tenor 350M; darTZeel NHB-108
Speakers: Wilson X-2 Alexandria Series II
Cables: Silent Source Music Reference; Silent Source and Xtreme between Phono pre and preamp
Stands: Custom Renzetti racks, VPI Phono stand, Zoethecus, Walker Prologue amp stand
Powerline conditioning: Equi=Tech, Walker Audio Velocitor, PS Audio 300
Sundry accessories: Walker Audio Valid Points resonance control discs; ASC tube traps; Argent Room Lens; separate 100-amp sub panel feeding five dedicated cryo'd outlets; Loricraft Model 4 record cleaner; Walker Talisman
Room size: 29’x 19’ x 10 full ASC acoustic design
Review component retail: $89.955, $6.000 for upgrade

Let’s be honest. With the combined retail value of the Walker Proscenium Black Diamond III and companion phono stage exceeding six figures, the number of existing and potential customers is relatively small. But like a review of an exotic car, fine wine or an elegant Patek Philippe watch, there’s excitement to read about something that truly is a triumph of design and execution in an otherwise mass-produced world.

I was fortunate to purchase my Walker more than ten years ago when its price was (dare I say) somewhat affordable. Since then, the Walker Proscenium in its various incarnations has been my reference for more than a decade.  Having changed every other component multiple times, the Walker has been the constant and absolute musical foundation of my system.

Some manufacturers offer an annual new model parade resulting in meaningless model numbers like 7.03a. In general, I’ve found such upgrades to be a mixed bag, ranging from barely noticeable to dramatic. Whether you like their sound or not, upgrades from companies like Wilson and VTL are easily audible and always a clear step forward in enhancing their defined performance goals. Likewise Lloyd Walker doesn’t offer change for the sake of change. For more than a decade Walker has offered a mere handful of upgrades. The good news is that Walker’s upgrades offer significant improvements and are definitely not marketing gimmicks.

When it comes to reviewing upgrades, I worry though. For products like this that are owned by the reviewer, upgrade reviews are at times more difficult than original product reviews. Of course you want to give an overall description of the component as if it were being reviewed for the first time but in reality you are comparing the prior to the new version. Also human bias rears its head. Generally there is no way to temporarily upgrade your own reference components. Therefore the concept of a neutral review sample falls apart. In this case the upgrade was to my own personal turntable. I paid for it and I own the results. Do I now have a bias towards liking the upgrade? If it were ineffective, would I embarrassingly write that I made a stupid mistake? What if the upgrade was marginal? The best I can do is keep aware of the potential bias.

Then there are memory issues. Once the component is updated, you only have your recollection for comparison. It is simply not feasible to have two Walkers set up for a side-by-side comparison. We must rely on memory. To mitigate memory variables I spent a considerable amount of listening time in the days prior to the upgrade and then a considerable amount immediately afterwards. I also invited a few golden ear friends who were familiar with my system to listen to the new upgrade. In the end my worries were unfounded. The improvement in the table was significant and audible. I didn’t have to worry about subtle distinctions.

This is an addendum to my original Walker review. It was my first for 6moons and while admittedly a little rough around the edges, I believe it offered an insight into Walker’s obsessive genius in addition to the design and performance of the table. While I am not going to rehash the original review, I offer a brief overview. The singular purpose of any turntable is the conversion of modulated record groove to electric signal. The only thing supposed to vibrate is the needle in the groove. This means damping all other structural and airborne vibrations. Every turntable design must deal with this fundamental vibration and resonance control issue.