Dare you look over the other side of the fence, look over at those high end turntables that could make any wallet palpitate with sheer fright and heart attack?
Today, we will be inspecting the world of high end turntables oft ignored, and listing out four possible options for those with the bank balance to stay buoyant on audiophilic seas.
Table of Contents
- Before You Purchase
- Linn Klimax LP12
- Rega Planar 10/Apheta 3
- Vertere Acoustics MG – 1
- Clearaudio Ovation
- Final Tones
- FAQs High End Turntables
Before You Purchase
Before going ahead, unless of course you are only looking at such a list of high end turntables torturously, we ought to stop and digest a few key things, criteria that we ought to consider when purchasing any piece of audio equipment like this.
Everyone’s specific circumstances are of course different and should be treated as such but there are some things that just about anyone looking for a set up that works well and performs its functions properly will want to pay attention to, to do with the nitty gritty aspects of what exactly make these products work in the first place, as well as how well they might conform to what you are seeking in making them your own.
For all the benefits that a cheaper turntable can offer, there are a fair few things that will be missing from the whole package, especially for those more audiophile listeners used to the actual vintage record players from years of yore.
For example, you are likely not going to find many of the intricate extra details and parts that make high end turntables such a valuable and sought after commodity in today’s day and age, despite the high price point and how much a record player cost. This includes but is not limited to tonearm weights and any other extra that will be of a similar use to listeners aiming to get the best possible sound from their record playing experience.
While any audiophiles would recommend that you make the changing of the stylus cartridge a top priority on a cheaper turntable, if you are to choose a high end turntables as your steed of choice with which to roam upon the wide open plains of tone and tune then you will rarely have to purchase and install your own cartridge stylus.
There are a variety of different inner machinations in high end turntables, with some seeking to take the belt drive to its absolute limit, and some attempting to do the same with the direct drive.
Belt drives are best suited for the dampening of vibrations, the rubber of said belt doing a remarkable job of absorbing external vibrations to reduce the amount that are translated onto to the record and the stylus during the playback experience.
Inversely, the direct drive has a faster startup speed and stronger torque, with the motor directly under the turntable platter, better suited to the DJ within us all. They also come with an almost clinical speed control, though the differences between the two mechanisms at this price range will be more negligible than it might otherwise be.
Some high end turntables will come with speakers already built into their physical mechanisms, which at this price point you can really trust. Some are even quite exemplary, so if you are not intending to outsource the vinyl audio to an external speaker setup, then you are going to want to look for a record player of this variety that comes with speakers attached that can step up to the task.
If you are, however, looking to send the vinyl audio from the record player to an external set up and through to some external speakers, then you will need to make sure that this is possible first, in making your position on the turntable vs record player debate known. Spending so much on one of these high end turntables could prove a fatal error if it does not quite connect with a setup that you already have ready to go.
If this is your course of action, the main way to do so would be to send the vinyl signals through an RCA output and outwards to the stereo. These extra cables are relatively cheap, especially in comparison to the price of some of these high end turntables, and as easy to setup as just about anything else you might need to use cables with.
In this day and age, Bluetooth is another of the main options for outsourcing the vinyl audio of the record player. This does, however, come with an inherent dip in audio quality, seeing as the audio is being sent across the airwaves and not through a grounded cable or anything, all of which should be heeded before making any drastic financial commitments.
The main reason you are looking to purchase one of these high end turntables is to listen to your records on a stable and reliable system that will be able to play them well and with ease on your part. Any decent record player will help you do this without any problems, though some will be more reliable than others.
The high end turntables assembled here today will be able to spin those old discs of yours, no problems whatsoever. Some models you come across elsewhere might even be able to play CDs, spin cassettes, and even transmit and receive radio signals. If these multimedia aspects are not what you are after, for whatever reason (perhaps it simply seems like a little too much stress than it is worth or perhaps you are just not that way inclined), then you would do best to avoid these kinds of unit at all costs!
There are two or three main speeds at which records are commonly spun these days, so it would certainly be best for you to check whether the unit you are checking out has the speeds you are looking for. No doubt just about any record player you are looking at will be able to play the two main speeds, 33 1 / 3 rpm and 45 rpm. However, though not nearly as popular as it once was, the speed of 78 RPM is still around, thus if you have any discs that need to be spun at this speed you ought to make sure the product you are purchasing can do so before you make any firm financial commitments.
Linn Klimax LP12
To begin this list of high end turntables, we have a classic that is still standing the test of time into the next century and beyond.
The name Linn Products precedes them, as they are an engineering company that manufactures hi fi and audio equipment like no other. Founded by Ivor Tiefenbrun in Glasgow, Scotland in 1973, the company is perhaps best known as the manufacturer of the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable, a close relative of the Klimax LP12, though they ought equally be remembered for being one of the first audio manufacturers introduce digital music streaming using the internet, an act almost at odds with their manufacture of boutique audio equipment.
From its introduction in 1973, there have been very few changes to the turntable design of the LP12, which still remains in production, though the sound quality has been significantly improved through retrofittable upgrade kits, which tend to introduce more stylish and higher quality building materials.
What makes this the Sondek version of the LP12 is the fact that the original model has been paired with an Ekos SE tonearm and Kandid moving coil cartridge, both of which upgrade the original specification of the turntable considerably. There are also other add ons, such as the Urika phono stage, Radikal power supply and Keel sub chassis, all of which combine to provide an utterly holistic listening experience that will never be forgotten.
- Beautiful and dynamic presentation is perfect for the audiophile who is wanting the experience of high end turntables without sacrificing any of the aesthetic beauty and sophistication that comes with owning and using a turntable from years of yore.
- Exemplary dynamic range will be worth every penny to some.
- Build quality and attention to detail is almost unparalleled and will no doubt fit in with just about any interior decoration or domestic environment.
- The price point is pretty large, but you would not be checking out this list if you were not either masochistically interested or willing to spill the coins.
Rega Planar 10/Apheta 3
Much like Linn Products, Rega have been operating on the front line of audiophile equipment for several decades, since around the same time in the early 70’s in fact. Rega began seeing success during this period in constructing tonearms and turntables, though have been designed and constructing and manufacturing complete stereo systems since the early eighties to similar acclaim.
‘We manufacture a vast range of hi-fi products including amplifiers, phono stages, cartridges, CD players, loudspeakers, and a wide range of accessories to name but a few. Rega designs and assembles every product by hand in our custom-built 38,000 square foot facility in the South East of England, using a team of highly trained and highly skilled technicians who take great pride in the work they do.’
The Planar 10 is among the company’s flagship high end turntables, and can either come without a cartridge or can be paired with another of Rega’s flagship products, the Apheta 3 cartridge, which is oft considered this turntable’s ideal partner. They both enable each other, allowing each to present the trademark transparency of tone and dynamic expression that Rega are so famous for.
- A real and crystalline sound palette will leave just about any naysayer convinced of audiophilia’s ability to transform the listening experience and turn a song from one thing into a complete other.
- Rhythmically focused and able to rewrite the code of anything sent its way, whether it be rhythmic or not. There is, however, this particular emphasis which really does a number on songs with an inherently rhythmic focus.
- The engineering and production is beyond the realms of impressive, and kudos must be given even if only for the amount of time and care that has obviously gone in to this thing.
- The actual physical appearance is rather striking and thus will likely divide opinion. At such a high price point, this will undoubtedly be a deal breaker, too.
Vertere Acoustics MG – 1
Another lifer in the game of audiophilia, Vertere have a long and storied history in the annals of records music, operating for over 35 years, accruing experience all the while. They originally got their start in producing high end cables and now know a thing or two about high end turntables and the like.
The desire to make a statement can be found merely in the physical appearance of this tank of a turntable, but also speaks to their mission statement as a whole:
‘The fundamentals of a record player are pretty much set in stone… However, just because those are the basics, that doesn’t mean there’s only one way to achieve them… That’s why you’ll find our record players look different, both outwardly and in some of the engineering solutions you’ll probably never see. It’s all a matter of stripping down the engineering to those fundamentals by considering the absolute essence of how a record player works – from re-examining the way a cartridge gets its energy to ensuring it extracts maximum information from a groove that’s trying to throw it off track over a thousand times a centimetre.
And this particular model is no exception, delivering a clinically clean and interesting sound that will do justice to just about any vinyl record you should choose to spin upon it. Much as with a belt drive, the plastic acrylic structure of the turntable helps to absorb and thus reduce external vibrations and the influence they can have on sound fidelity and the sanctity of a listening experience.
- The resulting sound is clean and clear, crystalline and detailed sound that would put just about any digital recording/reproduction to shame, reinventing the way you hear your favorite records and once again allowing you to experience them anew.
- The response of the inner machinations to the vinyl disc in question is rhythmic and dynamic, providing a detailed and complex response to all of the different kinds of sounds and timbres that are thrown its way.
- The build quality, though looking a little different aesthetically, is more than up to the task and you can tell that a lot of love and care went into it.
- The setting up of this particular piece requires a lot more evaluation and careful consideration, so should most likely only really be approached by audiophiles who know their way around more of the technical aspects of the record player and turntables, as well as specifically with high end turntables.
In contrast to the previous high end turntables in this list, the Clearaudio Ovation is decidedly more sparse in its appearance, choosing, instead of appearing antiquated or flashy on the surface, to hide most of its inner workings precisely where it believes them to belong, on the inside.
The clever solutions to engineering are present even on the surface, however, and it only takes one look to realise this. Though it does not come with a cartridge out of the box, Clearaudio manufacture an impressive range of cartridges which have the capacity to provide a whole host of different and varied tonal solutions to this spiritual problem.
The build quality is to die for, with the plinth that raises it off the ground comprised of two plates of aluminium which encase a layer of Panzerholz, a thick and dense wood that is heavily processed to offer unparalleledly strong properties, which some purport to be bulletproof. In this instance, it finds use as a way to dampen external vibrations more effectively than some other solutions might.
Despite the minimal aesthetic of this piece, the sound produced alongside an accompanying Clearaudio cartridge are varied and detailed across a whole spectrum of different examples it was provided with. There is character and punch that certainly is not so much suggested by the sober physical character of the turntable.
Thus, this turntable will be at home wherever you choose for it to be, amidst a fully functioning family dynamic, or in the expensive and luxury apartment of a yummy mummy and daddy. This stretches, too, to this turntable’s ability to metamorphose to just about any kind of music you can conceive of it playing, ranging from classical to hip hop to rock to pop to funk to skunk to punk to post punk to post rock and everything in between!
- The build and finish are superb and the care and attention to detail that went into each and every model’s construction and design is clear for all to see. This minimal design is quite the rage these days and will fit in just about anywhere you can fathom it being, a tasteful addition to any domestic space.
- The engineering within is innovative and, even though hidden away from the eyes of onlookers from the outside, is more than worthy of anyone’s praise, working hard behind the scenes to provide a holistic spectrum of tonal opportunities.
- The sound is energetically balanced between the sober aesthetic and the power that you might come to expect from an ever more expensive piece of kit, or at least from a larger sound system.
- Placement is crucial and if not done right can very easily lead to many of the above properties that set this turntable apart from the competition of other high end turntables melting away into nothing much at all.
So, there you have it! Hopefully you are somewhat the wiser about high end turntables, able to either talk about them cogently with a friend and fellow enthusiast or even to dive right in and make an investment!
FAQs High End Turntables
What is the highest quality turntable?
There is not one single turntable that is of the highest quality ever, nor is there one omnipotent and holistic answer to any such question usually. Rather, there are varying gradations and factors to take into account, and very often the answer among all of the high end turntables will undoubtedly come down to personal preference. We are all different and thus approach the world of audiophilia from different perspectives, with different and different preferences as to what goes in those ears. Therefore, each of us will be wanting our ideal turntable to do different things to varying degrees.
Are high end turntables worth it?
This will come down to personal preference, which is why it is always best to test musical equipment before making any bold financial commitments. If your financial situation is not the strongest in the first place, then chances are that a high end turntables just are not going to be worth the investment, as you could just as easily listen to your vinyl record collection on a turntable purchased at a fraction of the price. If you can afford it, however, and you are someone who feels the need to make such grand purchases to show off to your friends and family in order to be fulfilled, then by all means go right on ahead.
What is a good audiophile turntable?
There are a whole host of high end turntables from which to choose, and our eventual choice will come down to personal preference. My own choice, were I to have enough money to make such a choice, would be the Linn Klimax LP12, for I am inclined towards these kinds of older and more classic designs more, and thus it would fit in far better with the decorations in my house already. That being said, you might feel the utter inverse yourself and might feel more inclined towards the minimal and the modern designs like the Clearaudio Ovation.
What makes a turntable high end?
That which makes anything high end is usually the price point. There are scarcely any high end turntables which cost the price that they do and that simultaneously can’t deliver the goods, though it is all of course a spectrum. Any turntable offered at an astronomical price that cannot do what it purports to do just will not last very long at all before being laughed out of town.