National Audio Show 2012

These days there’s no shortage of new turntables to see at hi-fi shows, while in many cases the advent of affordable CNC machining has made the designers’ more florid flights of fantasy all too real. Where once the likes of the Oracle or Michell Gyrodek were expensive, luxury items, shiny sculpted spinning things seem to have become the norm. Which makes the clean, almost Scandinavian styling of a deck like the Palmer Audio 2.5-12 all the more refreshing. The massive plinth with its rounded corners is constructed from three layers of 1" (25mm) plywood, each shaped to accept the necessary internal workings as well as create a more random, disruptive structure. The front left corner carries an AC motor, fed from an external power supply and driving the platter via a round-section nitrile rubber belt. The platter itself consists of a 50mm thick slab of aluminum, with four 3/8" (10mm) copper plates bolted to its underside to help prevent it from ringing. It rides on standing bearing with a thick, 1/2" (12mm) shaft that runs on a tungsten carbide ball-bearing, supported by a hardened steel thrust plate and comes with a dedicated record weight. The corner-mounted feet provide leveling, while the cam-shaped aluminum plate armboard allows for easy and precise adjustment of tonearm effective length and overhang. Ownership will set you back 4500, but for that at least you get a visual statement that certainly stands out from the crowd.

The show demonstration deck carried an SME M2-12 tonearm (1325) and Lyra Delos cartridge (895), running through a Sugden MasterClass PA-4 phono stage (1630) and Mystro integrated amp (1349), its 50Wpc output driving a pair of Harbeth Compact 7 es-3 loudspeakers (2050/pair) -- a sensibly modest setup for the size of the room, yet one that still produced a calm, lucid and engaging sound, long on musical coherence, short on the edge and hype that can so easily lead to listener fatigue.

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