High End 2012

The dominance of turntables over computer audio was obvious at High end, and a related trend was also afoot: spinning records on turntables with gorgeous black plinths. Perhaps the biggest and shiniest of these contenders. . .

. . .was the new top-of-the-line Pro-Ject Signature, priced 9900 or about $12,000. This is a new price level for a company that practically owns the world market for economically priced turntables. But Pro-Ject has cut no corners with this statement product, which features a magnetically decoupled bearing. The piano-lacquer plinth supports two motors and a belt-driven flywheel. The black plinth also holds a touch screen, which displays turntable speed and allows full adjustment. A second disc-shaped plinth made of aluminum sits below the platter and supports the magnetic suspension. The whole package is supported on what Pro-Ject labels Sorbothanepillows that are magnetically decoupled from the support surface. The unipivot tonearm has every conceivable adjustment, including on-the-fly VTA and micro-adjustable overhang. Yes!

Another attractive black turntable at a lower price was the Air Tight Acoustic Masterpiece, which accommodates two 'arms and comes equipped in the US with a Jelco SD-750 for $6000. As shown, the Air Tight was dressed up with an optional 9" SME tonearm.

Not to be outdone, Franc Kuzma was showing a new mate for his world-class 4Point tonearm. Looking a bit like a black Linn on steroids, down to sporting a lid, the aesthetics of the Stabi M turntable (price to be determined) may need to grow on some audiophiles. Its a truly masculine-looking design that makes no apologies for its muscle. The display was static, but if looks are any indication, this may be the turntable/tonearm combination to beat regardless of cost.

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