Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2010 • Hot Product

The Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. Model 101 turntable ($4000) has so many relevant design features that it's hard to know where to begin discussing them. The high points: its base is made of a "R.ubber E.lastomer A.coustic L.aminate" that gives the turntable part of its name, its platter is a bakelite composite resin, and its DC power supply features dual crystal oscillators that maintain exact and unvarying speed.

Used with an Ortofon AS-212S tonearm ($1649) and Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge ($2380) as the source for a Quad Classic II integrated amp and Quad 2805 speakers, the R.E.A.L. Model 101 sounded lithe and finely detailed, portraying ample space and image dimensionality. The midrange was especially noteworthy for its see-through transparency. On this system, Ray LaMontagne's God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise was a true musical highlight --of this RMAF or any other show.

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