High End 2015 • Hot Product

The modular nature of turntables, so often a small bunch of bits bolted together, has meant that add-ons and upgrades have always littered the path to analog nirvana -- some more considered, more structured and more successful than others. With the ever-rising price of high-end performance threatening the aspirations of audiophiles and financial well-being of manufacturers, it’s no surprise that upgradability is back on the agenda with a vengeance. The latest proponent is Kronos Audio, which has followed the arrival of the more affordable Sparta turntable with the launch of the Sparta 0.5 ($15,000), a model that is quite literally half of its namesake, at least in terms of the company’s signature drive system. It provides a single-suspended-chassis, single-platter version of the existing $21,500 Sparta design -- essentially the top half of its bigger brother.

But the good news for the (relatively) impecunious audiophile is that a $7500 Sparta Upgrade Kit converts the 0.5 into the “full Monty” Sparta, complete with second chassis and counter-rotating platter, thus significantly lowering the initial barrier to the ownership of true Kronos Audio performance -- or at least spreading the pain.

Meanwhile, the Sparta 0.5 also exists as an attractive and intriguing new standalone product at a very competitive price point, promising to be more than just a stepping stone to that higher plane.

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