Everybody has his opinion and I'm sure you'll hear plenty. But there's no set of meaningful answers to your curiosity. While it's probably true of everything that's audio related, it's absolutely true that with turntables and pickup arms, the execution of the design is what really determines the outcome. That's why we can have excellent examples of turntables and arms with vastly different design criteria, as well as bad examples of each design.
Acoustic Signature turntables
I do not see a lot written about these turntables by end users. Can anyone share experiences or opinions on reliability, use, and design considerations?
Some of my observations or questions (keep in mind these are naive as I have never heard these models and I may be wrong about assumptions made).
1. Why the multiple motors? This is the one I struggle in understanding. Is the AVC (motor vibration reduction) that they provide somehow enhanced when working across more than one motor? How is this different than other motor vibration reduction methods such as the Rega method? Whether additional noise or reduced drive capability, who knows (?). How long to get up to speed?
2. Standard bearing vs inverted vs magnetic. I suppose there will never be consensus but noticed AS steadfastly implements standard bearings that focus on the materials used.
3. Platter dampening. Their method seems to work well. However, I noticed comments about earlier models being overly damped. The dampening increases up the product line.
4. Very heavy platters compared to some competition. Even the lower models have very heavy platters so they seem to think this is important.
5. Subplatter vs no subplatter. AS seems to have moved to subplatter design for models that can take multiple arms. Did they always think this method was superior?
6. Tonearms. Not much out there about the tonearms. Seems once again standard design but focus on materials…carbon fiber and bearings.
7. Back to motors. AS uses AC motors. Kuzma insists on DC. I guess I can try to read up on the differences and why manufacturers prefer different types. Any thoughts here? I am probably not be smart enough to understand the finer points about turntable motors (lol).
8. Warranty. AS seems to offer the longest warranty. As with other warranties, what good is it if no design specs and performance tolerances are published? Seems few turntable manufacturers publish relevant specs these days. On one hand, I understand why in dealing with picky audiophiles and on the other hand, unfortunate.
Would appreciate additional thoughts. Thanks!
@plinko I have an older Acoustic Signature Triple X which is my end table. I actually bought it from a dealer here on Agon. It weighs in at 100 lbs and to me is the epitome of art and engineering. I can jump up and down near it on wooden floors or rap my knuckles on it and it doesn't skip a beat. 12" TS1000 carbon fiber tracks beautifully and is a thing of beauty. The build is rock solid and I have had no issues. Gunther has evolved these tables to a point where IMO they set a standard for performance. I'm not sure why there are not more write-ups on them but a few users have chimed in occasionally. Customer Service is good from his dealers so if you have a chance to demo one I would.
@lewm Aluminum, Steel and two layers of wood. Mine has a high gloss white finish that looks like multiple layers of paint. The platter alone is 24lbs. It's a Beautiful Beast 😊
I have a WOW with a TA-700 arm. Zero problems, I've had it 5 years. I think it sounds great, a big step up from a Rega RP3. It came with a Rega arm, I didn't think the TA-700 was a huge improvement over the Rega RB-202. Love the looks, mine is the gloss white.
Not sure if I want to do a few upgrades or buy a Sota Sapphire.
Thanks for the comments everyone!
I do have a chance to listen Acoustic Signature and will be doing this tomorrow (either Hurricane or Tornado). Always a leap of faith, though as the tables are in a different system than mine. That is why I am focused on design, reliability, stability of the company, etc…lots to consider.
I will also be listening to a system with a Kuzma Stabi R. What is so confounding are, in some cases, the diametrically opposed design principles. Some examples would be AC (Acoustic Signature) vs DC (Kuzma) motors, standard (Acoustic Signature) vs inverted bearings (Kuzma), multiple vs single motors, etc…. Much more has been written online about Kuzma vs Acoustic Signature.
I guess I should also consider Technics SP10 system. I am not attracted to huge wooden plinths or huge plinths in general and so won’t be going that direction.
Bob Graham is near me (TechDas) but not sure how I feel about air compressors and such and don’t know much about their tables either and where to see in person. I do really love the diminutive size of the TechDas V, which may be an option at the limit for me or perhaps even beyond my limit or needs.
@plinko when listening to each table, they will be in different environments, listen to the focus of instruments in the soundstage. I personally like DC motor driven tables better I think you can easily hear the stability and microdynamics better at least this is my experience.
Keep us posted once you hear each table/system.
Plinko, You are making this much harder than it has to be, and it’s hard enough to begin with, to choose a new turntable from the myriad of choices that are available. What you care about is how each of the parts functions as a whole. In each case you are buying the sum total of the designer’s choices. So I would forget about your 8 questions and just listen and choose a turntable, not a motor or bearing or etc.
But, as regards multiple motors on a belt-drive, there is a rationale for two motors set 180 degrees apart, so as to even out the side stress on the bearing well and spindle. Three motors is already overkill, in my own opinion, and the noise of one or two motors ought to be lower than the sum total of noise from 3 motors. Just my opinion as an inveterate DD aficionado. (Yes, by the SP10R, your best idea.)
Dear @plinko : I know you are not a " new comer " and 7 years you asked for a plinth for the SP10MK2 and you named here too.
Any TT in that price range are a good TT and that's why audiophiles buy it and due to those sales those manufacturers exist. As any other analog audio item all different TTs have its own trade-offs and you are an audiophile with your unique MUSIC/audio priorities and the TT is only a link in the analog rig and everything the same could be that the more important items are the cartridge/tonearm combinations.
Today there are not bad TTs and many really " surprising " ones like the RP10 with its bargain price.
In AS no one cares about AC vs DC because by design the external control motor develops its own electrical " wave ", it's immune to electrical fluctuations. Between others I own AS.
Btw, no one has any true benefit listening a TT in a way different room/system.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Thank you all for your comments.
@rsf507 , I finally saw two Acoustic Signature models today and listened to a system with one playing. Quite interesting to see in person. Beautiful, impressive tables. Lots to like.
@lewm , thought you would recommend the Technics. ;-). I don’t participate in the many threads here on turntable design but I have read most. In a situation where I may finally take step forward and spend some money, I find myself increasingly interested in the different design philosophies and find it fascinating engineers follow such diametrically opposed principles.
@rauliruegas , your Acoustic Signature table is still going strong, no? yes, I have been at this a while and I am no “spring chicken”. I unfortunately did not spend much time with the Technics. I was too involved and happy with my Lenco at the time. I am worried the AS would sound as if lacking in “drive”. I am going to see a Kuzma Stabi R this weekend…much more torque but with these heavy platters does it really make a difference?
@plinko from your experience with the AS tables what impressed you and what were any concerns? Just curious.
@plinko , To start off with I am not a big Acoustic Signature fan. Having said that and to answer your questions;
Multiple motors are a totally unnecessary expense and complexity. A single motor with modern controls and a platter the right mass or angular momentum can not be beaten.
Bearings with magnetic or air thrust mechanisms are bound to last longer and be quieter. I prefer magnetic as air bearings have compressors that will fail long before any good mechanical bearing will.
I prefer AC motors as they automatically torque correct to follow the established frequency. DC motors will not although DC motor control has come a long way.
There is no such thing as an overly damped platter while a ringing platter is a horror show. Many platters are adequately damped by their mats. I prefer single piece platters as I always lean towards simplicity.
A platter can be too heavy depending on the motor. They are also slower to start up and slow down. Many platters are now grotesquely oversized. I think it is that male bigger and louder thing.
You missed two features that are important for the absolute best performance and that is an isolating suspension and vacuum clamping.
@mijostyn , thanks for your comments
Multiple motors are indeed a major concern with the AS tables although possibly better for bearing life as the pull on the bearing is minimized.
For magnetic bearings, do they have any possibility of changing over time? I do not want to be in a situation in the future of managing the height of the motor spindle to a bearing/subplatter/platter that has changed in height. I also do not like the idea of managing air bearings over time.
I thought the main reason for a heavy platter was inertia and would also be the same reason to take longer to get up to speed. My concerns here about high mass tables are about overdamping and a less than exciting sound. The two AS tables took about 35 seconds to get up to speed. Kuzma says 2 seconds for the Stabi R. I would guess torque is a factor and higher in the Kuzma tables (?).
I eliminated suspension for the typical reasons…the movement/swaying and changes in position over time and/or realignments needed. SOTA was eliminated because I cannot see one in person…no dealers in all of New England, sadly. That is an absolute must…I have to see some examples from the brand in person. Clearaudio was eliminated because concern about magnetic bearing and stability. TechDas seems to have been eliminated as perhaps out of my price range, air bearings, and other factors. I may be completely wrong in this way of thinking and not saying these tables are flawed in any way. I don’t know and part of the real why I started this thread.
In my case, I wouldn’t call this a macho, male thing but would admit there is a pride of ownership or objet d’art aspect to this. Although many people wouldn’t find anything artistic about these devices…
Btw, I also eliminated non suspended tables that do not have the motor, bearing/platter, and arm on the same plane or, at least I think I have. ;-)
Dear @mijostyn @plinko : I agree that we can't overdap the TT and even if we could that's a good notice.
In the otherside AS TTdoes not needs multiple motors, more than one is only an alternative for the owners. It's really need it more than one? certainly not. I used mines with one motor with out any single issue and this I do for several years. Even that I made tests time to time with a second motor playing and in no time my way of thinking about changed.
About motor torque per sé means nothing because all is relative to the overall TT design. The AS is low torque because has a heavy platter that under playing only needs little help to spin due to its very good inertia. Overall design defines TT characteristics.
When using my units I give it a little help with my hand just to start and spinn at 33rpm in no more than 10seconds. Not big deal..
@plinko , The magnetic bearings I am familiar with are very stiff. If you push down on the platter there is no noticeable give. In the case of the Sota what you have are opposing neodymium ring magnets, one on the sub chassis surrounding the spindle and the other on the mating end of the bearing which is machined into the platter. With the platter installed there might be a 1/64th" space between the two which is the equilibrium point between the magnetic field strength and the weight of the platter. Pushing down on the platter raises the intensity of the field dramatically. It is virtually impossible to make the magnets touch. The magnets will last a whole lot longer than you. The bearing would probably wear out first.
Heavier platters do have more inertia and that is a good thing up to a point then it is all about male testosterone levels. There are plenty of turntables with less massive platters that have SOTA wow and flutter specs. There is more pitch variation generated by irregularities of the record than there is speed irregularities of the turntable like warps and off center spindle holes.
Clear audio's bearing is fine with it's more expensive models.
There is more pride in knowing that your turntable produces the best performance by virtue of it's design. Watch this video all the way through. It will teach you a lot about turntables in general.
If you have a Kuzma dealer near by look at the Ref 2. Good table for the money. I think the Stabi M is his best turntable. SME makes fine turntables as does Basis but of all of then the Sota is handily the best value. For $10K you can have a great suspension, vacuum clamping and a state of the art drive system. Only Basis makes a similar turntable at this moment and it costs 3 times as much.
My current table is a thread driven high mass design with a opposing magnets on the plinth and platter to reduce bearing stress. I have both AC-thread (original) and DC belt drive on the same table, the later an add on from Galibier designs. I prefer the DC motor rigid belt from Galibier. It actually doesn't measure as good as the thread drive AC motor when analyzed with the Fieckert Adjust + but it is close. The difference in presentation I hear is that the Galibier motor and belt bring the performers into the room a little more and bring out dynamics compared to a little more laid back presentation of the original AC-thread drive. I have a feeling that the difference is more due to the better grip on the platter with the rigid belt drive from Galibier.
Kuzma also uses a rigid belt and DC motor design. I encourage you to audition the Stabi R/M or Ref2. I also had the opportunity to borrow a friends TechDas V with an SME 3012. You need to audition one of those too. I would have no concerns about the compressor as implemented by TechDas. It is totally silent. The TechDas imaged a little more precisely than either motor implementations on my table and kept the incredible dynamics. The vacuum hold down was also very nice.
Have fun and take your time. You cant go wrong if you buy what you liked hearing the best. My future table will likely be a Galibier, Kuzma or TechDas....
@plinko , If you are near Graham Engineering you are also near me. I live right across the border in southern New Hampshire. You are also not far from the Basis factory in Hollis, NH and they love to have visitors. IMHO the Basis Inspiration is a better turntable than anything TechDas makes. This may raise some eyebrows but when it comes to turntables simplicity is always best and TechDas goes about things in the most complicated fashion possible which has to lead to more reliability issues down the line.
When Life Gives You Lemons
When Acoustic Signature made their US appearance in 2002 with the Final Tool, I decided to take the plunge after the positive Stereophile review by Mr. Fremer. I planned to make this my last table and it was a financial stretch for me at the time. The warranty for the power supply was for two year years and wouldn’t you know it failed about 20 months in. I sent it back to Germany and used the repaired version for another year when it failed again. Mr. Froenhofer refused to give me further service for his ’lemon’ power supply. He even went so far to say there was something wrong with my electricity?!? On the shelf went this still new table.
Lucky for me, the excellent fellows at Needle Doctor (now sadly defunct), felt my pain and corroborated AS’s lack of concern for their customers. They let me buy any table I wanted virtually at cost. I ended up with a Pro-Ject RPM 10 which has served me in stellar fashion to this day.
During the pandemic I was bringing my system up to endgame status researching everything I did not know about stereo. Along the way, I got the itch to explore PS and /or motor replacement possibilities for the AS $2500 aluminum brick sitting on the shelf for 15+ years. I stumbled across the Origin Live motor replacement kit. I studied their suggestions and determined that I could refabricate the AS motor pod to accommodate the OL motor. Success!
I purchased an Audio Technia mono cartridge, brought out from storage a leather mat and a retired iFi microphono 2 phono stage with an Sbooster PS and BINGO : LEMONADE! I would never have done this without the tragic comedy of errors. I now have a new toy that allows me to enjoy my several hundred mono LPs in stunning sound.
p.s. After having lived with this setup for a couple of months I became used to the sound, and it became apparent that this was underperforming sonically to my other front-ends. I decided to experiment with ICs post phono stage. The Audio Quest King Cobras were too constricting, like Papa Bear. The Anti-Cables were too open and uncontrolled, like Mama Bear. But the Kimber Kable Heroes were just right, like Baby Bear. It was stunning to experience this not predictable end result. Cable deniers : you are probably missing out. All is now well in audio heaven!
Dear @singingg : You bad experiences with the AS TT PS can happens with any TT no matters its price level and that kind of experience really can’t speaks for the AS high quality levels.
My 2 AS TT that are running today I bought second hand from an Agoner friend that by coincidence just posted in this thread @aoliviero and he better than me knows for sure how many years has my TTs.
I have each one running with one motor and running with ONE motor PS only that I modified with switchs for I can choose between 3 motors and that PS never showed any single trouble it’s spot on. Yes the 3 motors can run at the same time too, if need it.
It was not the issue of the PS malfunctioning, although I had several professionals look at it with much headshaking at the design. It was the issue that they would not stand behind their product and get me to a working table that would last decades, like any high end table should (ref. Pro-Ject above).
I think the initial Acoustic Signature Company was plagued with some internet issues that certainly tarnished their name. That said the company rebounded and I can say from personal experience their tables now are rock solid, incredible engineering and build quality and pricey to boot. If I had the $$ I wouldn’t hesitate purchasing one. Customer Service in the US has certainly improved as well.
@rsf507 , I demoed two tables (Kuzma Stabi R and Acoustic Signature Tornado). Quite hard to say anything relevant about the demos as I was completely unfamiliar with both systems. I did not hear any “red flags”. Surface build quality on both tables fantastic with Acoustic Signature surface build quality being massively impressive.
@all, I am not worried about Acoustic Signature. If I had a problem with the AS, I would have my wife talk to Herr und Frau Froenhoefer as she is a native of Germany. However, they may find her Cologne accent more peculiar than mine. ;-)
I found this video with Mr. Kuzma quite interesting…particularly the part where he talks about motors, torque, and platter run down time.
@plinko I'm sure you can't go wrong with either a AS or Kuzma tabke, both are 1st class. To me I'd prefer the DC motor also the AS is a bit "blinky" IMO but everyone has different preferences.
Keep us posted on what you end up with and enjoy.
I have setup several AS tt. In fact I just setup a Typhoon (triple motor) tt with a Reed 3p tonearm and a $4k Vanden Hal cart. It sounds amazing! I did tune it to the owner and their music. The cables need to break in fully on the Reed 3p tonearm but out of the box it sounds incredible. You will not be disappointed going with Acoustic Signature. This person went with the Reed because his cart is set around 1.4 gm. The Reed worked very well with the light TF. I used the Ortifon setup record to setup the anti-skate. It works great. I also, put a sticker and markings on the anti-skate knob and the weight so he can play with a few different options to see what they like the best. In the end. This is really great tt. I have setup using the AS Neo arms too. They are terrific as well. If you go with their carts setup is so easy. You line up the sides and front of the cart to the shell holder. Use the included setup tool and you are done. Easy as can be. I prefer Lofgren over Berwald so I used a Dr. Feikert to set it up. I hope this helped.