High End 2014 • TABlog

by Dennis Davis | May 30, 2014

Unless you are blind to the pleasures of analog replay, one of the remarkable things about any visit to the High End show is the incredible range and sheer number of turntables and tonearms on display. The first-time visitor from the US is bound to walk away from the show remarking on the fact that the show is frequented by a younger crowd -- and a crowd that includes a significant percentage of females. Once that sinks in, however, the next recognition is just how crazy these Germans (and other Europeans) are for analog.

Starting at the mundane and affordable, the range of turntables on display from Pro-Ject was enough to impress any initiate.

The historical buff can seek out any number of turntables long since retired but lovingly repaired, buffed and polished. One can explore almost the entire history of the Thorens line at the High End show, including custom plinths for run-of-the-mill Thorens classics. . .

. . .and that rarest of bird, the Reference Anniversary model.

That’s not to say that current top-end players were not in evidence. Kuzma 'tables, in all their incarnations, were easy to find, such as this XL2 with dual 'arm towers in the Living Voice room (in the small system).

This equally impressive TechDAS Air Force Two, launched earlier this year, bearing a Graham tonearm is to be priced at about one-third of the $80,000 Model One.

In the Allnic room, vinyl was being played on a Pluto Audio 10A Reference turntable. Based in the Netherlands, Pluto is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Reference 10A is an entire system including rack and comes in north of €50,000 depending on options.

Quite a bit different in design was the 47 Labs Koma with a Tsurube tonearm, in all its Rube Goldberg glory. Two aluminum platters, suspended by neodymium magnets, rotate in opposite directions by the use of an ingenious pulley system. The Koma turntable costs $12,000 and the Tsurube tonearm $2250.

Gramofon Zontek was showing off its decks, but it was the Delta tonearm in either lemonwood or ebony that really stood out. This 14.5" tonearm costs €3500 and can accommodate cartridges having an effective mass from 10 to 50 grams. It also allows for azimuth adjustment at the headshell, anti-skating adjustment and tracking-angle adjustment.

In the next room over, another German company, Primary Control, was showing off its own wood-based tonearm, the Primary Reference. Priced at €5000, it allows for VTA adjustment on the fly, azimuth and anti-skating adjustment and cartridge/tonearm damping using a counterweight mechanism.

Not to be outdone by the German manufacturers, Italian company Horo took the music motif a giant step forward with a turntable shaped like a grand piano and tonearm shaped and tuned like a violin bow.

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