National Audio Show 2013

The original Rock turntable, with its distinctive damping trough, was created at Cranfield University in the UK, but it was licensed by Townshend Audio, which has been building the iconic design ever since. The guys at Cranfield also designed an almost equally controversial tonearm, and over 30 years later Townshend is putting this into production under the sobriquet Excalibur II. It has ball-race bearings, but Townshend takes the opposite approach to every other 'arm maker and selects the loosest examples available in order that a medium-viscosity oil will cover every surface to avoid metal-to-metal contact. Max Townshend describes this as "a floating bearing."

The small weight hanging behind the bearing only adjusts downforce; the mass of the cartridge and the 'arm’s substantial outrigger headshell are counterbalanced by a threaded weight between platter and 'arm bearing. The angle of cartridge is fixed, but the overhang can be adjusted by moving the armboard. VTA can also be adjusted in the same manner.

If the Excalibur II is as ground-breaking as the Rock turntable, we could be in for a perceptual leap in vinyl playback. At 4000, you’d expect little else.

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