Grand Prix Audio Monaco Turntable

FYI, Hi Fi Plus (an excellent UK audio magazine) just did a very thorough review of the Monaco turntable. I have had the turntable for a year and think it is incredibly transparent and very involving - you really get pulled into the music. I could never explain why I found the turntable so engaging, but I think Roy Gregory has done a very good job of explaining why. I have had the VPI HRX and am very familiar with a number of the high end tables (e.g., the SME 30 and top of the line Brinkman)and thought those tables were very good, but I never had the same connection with the music as I do with the Monaco
Robert, exactly my experience. I thought that Roy Gregory did a fantastic job in reviewing the GP Monaco, very unlike an earlier review published in the US, which was so NOT representative of the GPM's capabilities. This review underlines what an incredible turntable Alvin and his team have put together that basically plays so right.

I'm only recently starting to understand by listening to old technology based high-end tables what kind of colorations many of our dear traditional audiophile friends have gotten used to.

03-21-08: Mtkhl567
I'm only recently starting to understand by listening to old technology based high-end tables what kind of colorations many of our dear traditional audiophile friends have gotten used to.
...which may help explain the persistent, fanatical devotion to the Technics SL12x0 turntables.

I'm not going to be silly enough to say my Technics is in a league with the Monaco GP, but I share that sense that music played on it is "... transparent and very involving - you really get pulled into the music."

I find my DD rig most compelling; I can't let it play in another room for long--it beckons me to sit down in the sweet spot and be transported.
I think the review was a very well written assessment of the table. Roy Gregory seemed to really "get" the virtues of the technology and I am happy he felt so strongly about it. As a dealer for Grand Prix Audio, I really think Alvin Lloyd deserves this kind of "rave" for all the effort he has put in to designing a product that started from a clean slate.

Congratulations to GPA!
I just read the RG review in HIFI+ and I see no real difference in the overall review compared to Fremer's review in Stereophile.

Both state the GP is SOTA sound wise, however slightly in the lean category, which to some is heaven and others (me) not so much heaven. Being compared tonally to the clearaudio is not so good thou.

Both indicate to use with tonally even (read slightly warm) cartridge's for the GP to sound its best.
Downunder, Gosh those Stradivarii are beautiful to behold! Wouldn't the GPM pair quite well with your speakers and amps, since the latter are both on the "warm" side (in a good way of course)?
I have not read the new issue of HIFi+ yet but do remember the Fremer comments. Just curious if anyone has tried the GPM on something other than the Gran Prix table. Specifically, I am thinking in terms of something like the Halcyonics which is superb.
Hi Lewm. thanks,

I would not decribe the Strad's as warm at all. they are transparent and have a tight bass
- now the speaker I have before was very warm - Vienna Mahlers - mainloy due to the over generous bass and mid bass

I'm afraid I diagree with your interpretation of the Hi Fi Plus review. You should re-read it. Mr. Gregory clearly did not think the table sounded lean. In a number of places he praises the table for its weight, harmonic development and decay. His point is that the table lacks the colorations (e.g., bass bloat) of typical belt drive turntables and that some people may prefer the colorations. An interesting analogy he uses is where a drinker of P.G. Tips (a mass produced tea bag in the U.K. (like Lipton, but much better)who typically puts sugar in the tea is given Twinnings Earl Grey without the sugar. The Earl Grey is clearly a better tea, but the drinker prefers the cheaper tea with the sugar. This was the type of experience I had when I moved over to the GPA. for years I had the VPI TNT HRX table. A great table, which was exciting to listen to. Friends of mine insisted that that the table was colored and I told them I could not hear the coloration. When I first moved over to the GPA (which I did while I still had the HRX) at first I thought the table sounded lean. It felt to me that it was not as "exciting" as the HRX. Well, it only took a few hours of going back and forth between the table to realize that in fact I was hearing everything, and particularly the bass, much more clearly and without added bloat. The bass was far more articulate and the leading edges across the spectrum were much clearer. Does that make the HRX or other tables that add warmth or slam bad tables? Not for the people that enjoy the sugar in their tea. The switch to the GPA is consistent with the rest of my audiophile journey. I have decided to continue to move towards components that add less to the sound while still remaining musically engaging. For example, I moved from pure tubes to a hybrid amp and pre-amp (Tenor 300s and Manley Steelhead phonostage) and stayed their for awhile because I could not find solid state amps that didn't add color, but were also musical. Eventually I found amps that had both attributes (the Dartzeels) and I feel that with the GPA I have also found that combination.

Some people may have gotten the impression from Fremmer's review, or some of the posts here, that the table is cold, analytical or lean sounding. I have lived with the table for over a year and I can unequivocally say that is not the case at all. (And, by the way, I don't think that was the message Mr. Fremmer was trying to convey in his review) For anyone living in the Westchester, NY area that would like to hear it or do a side-by-side test, I would be more than happy to host a night.

I don't disaagree with you, as you are clearly very happy with the GPA. I wish I could hear one over an extended timeframe.
My point is that both reviews were closer than most people think. IMO both said the table was state of the art, only somewhat leaner to some of the competition or their own tastes.

BTW, I like some sugar in my music, but that is more due to a lot of the pop/rock/alternative music I listen to. But never have sugar or milk in my tea - Earl grey is nice as is Chinese tea.

My memory is that the one thing Fremer didn't like was that he felt the GPA imparted a slight bright coloration that he attributed to the direct drive which he lauded in all other respects.
It's interesting to note that despite the clear measurable technological superiority of the Monaco table (speed stability and resonance control), certain people, including one industry expert, try and attribute coloration to its design.

The coloration heard is that of the combined associated equipment choices made that suit a personal taste and put in an environment optimzed to that personal flavor. Even the standard reference vinyl used will obviously sound different because they were never heard with such speed stabilty until played through the Monaco.

Recently I had the opportuntity to listen to the top VPI with Koetsu Urushi on the Verity Lohengrin II's driven by top Accuphase (A-45, C-2810) top MIT cables retailing at $250.000+! This table was easily beaten by the Accuphase DP800/DC801 combo. It would not have made me a vinyl convert. If I didn't have the Monaco, I would have used this experience as a reason NOT to get into vinyl.

But I realize too that if you like sugar in your tea, or music, its difficult to change. Here's my analogy. Kinda like stopping smoking, until you do it you don't really know how good food and fine wine really tastes!

Keep on spinning!

I don't know how you can be so certain that there is no possibility of any coloration in the Monaco design. If anything is "clear," it is that "measurable technological superiority" is a starting point, not an ending point, for observation. There are many levels of speed stability and resonance control that transcend the measurable. The Monaco is one of many admirable attempts.
It's interesting to note that despite the clear measurable technological superiority of the Monaco table (speed stability and resonance control), certain people, including one industry expert, try and attribute coloration to its design.

The coloration heard is that of the combined associated equipment choices made that suit a personal taste and put in an environment optimzed to that personal flavor. Even the standard reference vinyl used will obviously sound different because they were never heard with such speed stabilty until played through the Monaco.

Recently I had the opportuntity to listen to the top VPI with Koetsu Urushi on the Verity Lohengrin II's driven by top Accuphase (A-45, C-2810) top MIT cables retailing at $250.000+! This table was easily beaten by the Accuphase DP800/DC801 combo. It would not have made me a vinyl convert. If I didn't have the Monaco, I would have used this experience as a reason NOT to get into vinyl.

But I realize too that if you like sugar in your tea, or music, its difficult to change. Here's my analogy. Kinda like stopping smoking, until you do it you don't really know how good food and fine wine really tastes!

Keep on spinning!
Pieppiper, there is only ONE absolute measure of speed stability (ie the correct speed, the exact time it takes to go from a to b), and that is only correctly measured at the platter, and that is errors per million measurements. No rocket science degree required here. No other turntable measures speed accuracy at the platter level, so any claim to a speed accuracy figure is nul-and-void because its unverifiable. Now, when the GPA Monaco claims a maximum of 2 speed errors per 1 million measurements it means appr. 20 mintes of vinyl playback can be played without errors as Roy Gregory explained. It would be interesting to measure all other top tables out there with the same technology, I'll bet ya, they'd all fare miserably against the Monaco due to their older, lower performing technologies. And how does this best of speed stabilities express itself? Well in the most accurate and truest playback through the entire - yes entire - audio bandwidth as it was recorded and transferred to the vinyl disc. That is not coloration due to the Monaco. Coloration comes from all the other attached equipment, and resonances that impacts measurable speed stability. IMO therefore the Monaco is the MOST admirable attempt to date and audibly so.

I agree with you that this measurable technological superiority is indeed a starting point, for Grand Prix Audio turntable design and hopefully all tt designers, imagine the improvements on this table GPA have in store! The rest of the comptetition better start waking up to a new champ, you know what they say about betting on old horses... shake up old paradigms!
Speed accuracy, speed stability, lack of stylus drag, lack of temp drift and other variables was all overcome in all intents of purpose by late 1970s' to mid 190's Japan Inc. direct drives, especially quartz locked ones.

Ability to spin an LP with a high level of accuracy at least to a point of being imperceptible to the human ear is nothing new. My Technics SL-1200MKII offers superlative speed performance and sped accuracy specs.

The Monaco has solved any sped issues, from there like every other turntable, cheap or expensive it's all about tuning the sound to give the end user a table that makes them happy. One will find that no table be it the $299 specials to the $100,000+ uber brands will be perfect. All will have things listeners may like or not. Of course one expects a higher priced table to basically perform better than a cheaper one, but this is not always the case. It's a black art vinyl spinning that is and price is only one loose indicator of apparent quality.

When I came back to vinyl after 16 years being without was initially brainwashed into thinking direct drive sucks. Boy was I wrong. It is not noisier than belts and it offers certain advantages no belt drive can give. I'm not saying belts can't work exceedingly well, but I am saying direct drive is not junk and has proven to work very well too. As I said Japan Inc. darn near perfected the speed performance of direct drives back in the 70's.

A great test to compare would be the Monaco vs the Teres Certus.
Teres Certus 460 looks like a nice piece of furniture for my grandfathers living room. But keeping to the discussion, those speed accuracy figures they publish are probably not measured at the platter level. Just for fun I will ask Teres this very question and see what they say. No comment about the Technics, other than I purchased 2 of them 20+ odd years ago for a friend who needed them as a discjockey for parties, you know the kind of music/rap you need to scratch to back in the 80s...

No, a great test would be, independent of course, in a top system against the Continuum Caliburn and/or RT Sirius III, but with multiple experts present.
Albert Porter and I compared his extensively rebuilt Technics SP10 sporting a SME 312 with his Walker Black Diamond, using identical Airtight PC1 cartridges. IMHO, the Walker "walked" all over the Technics in most respects EXCEPT for speed stability due to stylus drag which showed up only on one record where it was shockingly obvious. It is conceivable that the Walker could be tweeked to overcome this issue at the possible expense of isolation from the motor. That is the choice Lloyd Walker made.

A.J. Conti of Basis claims that his top of the line table, a motor controlled belt drive, compared favorably with the Technics.

My point is that to claim across the board superiority of the Monaco has more to do with religious fervor than sense.
Most Japan Inc. DD's of the late 70's and 80's had W&F with a load from a tonearm/stylus of .025%wrms or lower, .035% Din. at the platter on motor into the .008% wrms. speed error was typically .002% for most and drift from thermal temp. even lower.
I noted Certus vs Monaco because they are both pricey direct drive concepts.
Dear Piedpiper: +++++ " I compared his extensively rebuilt Technics SP10 sporting a SME 312 with his Walker Black Diamond, using identical Airtight PC1 cartridges. IMHO, the Walker "walked" all over the Technics in most respects " +++++

IMHO till you compare two different TT's with the same tonearm/cartridge combination your statement is not a precise and value one and more a " religious fervor that sense ".

I know the Walker one ( not so very well than Albert ) that is a great belt drive TT example ( that btw has the same speed stability/accuracy spec than the SP 10 ) but unfortunately we can't compare against any other TT because the Walker don't accept other tonearm.

Right now I'm running one of my SP 10 with out plinth and pneumatic AT footers directly in the Technics TT base, I already try it with Dynavector 505, Audiocraft AC 3300/4400 and MS MAX 237 ( with several cartridges ): awesome performance, better than the Walker? who knows: we need to mount any of those tonearms/cartridges ( including the SME 312 ) in the Walker and compare.

What I can say is that the SP-10 very " old " design ( 1982 ) is a top contender here and now after those many years that were build!!!!!!!! and still spinning/running flawless!!!!, my hat off to these Matushita/Panasonic/Technics great people.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Piepdpiper, its actually the amazingly common sense of the Monaco design concepts that made me a believer. But it wasn't until I listened to the table for about half a year that it truely convinced me to order one. Every table I listened to afterwards, more expensive (ie Walker), less expensive (ie VPI) fell in some way short of impressing my ears. You, should judge for yourself though. As I see it, it would not be your cup of tea, you're more of a sound from tubes & platter-pulled-by-a-string kinda guy. The full benefits of a Monaco might not show up in your current setup anyway. Next time you visit Albert ask him what he thought of the Monaco, he didn't want to say anything on the Gon on his own page. He too is aware of the power of his opinion, but I'm sure he'd tell you in private.

And pls NO MORE Japanese DD from the 70s! The world really has moved on since then...believe me, it has, just like EVERYTHING else on this planet.
I'm not sure why you have an issue with Japan Inc. direct drives from the 70's. Sure there were numerous low end models but Japan Inc. darn near perfected the direct drive table by the late 70's and each of the top named makers had shining examples of direct drives that would give many a higher priced, highly hyped and coveted tables made today a solid run for the money.

The very fact is not many of us vinyl spinners and audiophiles will want to nor can afford the money spent on a beautiful Monaco or Certus. But we also are tired of the low brow attacks on all too many audio forums on direct drives especially when all too many of the so called wonder tables made today from many of the cottage industry makers are overpriced and often over-hyped. I'm not saying name brand table today, belt drive or otherwise are not worthy, many are to be coveted but many of the more affordable ones would be hopelessly outperformed by many of those darn Japan Inc. DD's from the 70's. Japanese engineers were/are not stupid and they had the financial resources of large companies to help R&D these tables. Go to Vinyl Engine and the library, look up the brochure and manuals loaded on site of see some of the excellent better quality late 70's- early 80's direct drives from the numerous Japan Inc. makers.

If I had the money I'd love to hear a Certus or a Monaco to possibly buy. But I'm damn right impressed with my KAB modified SL-1200MKII (err. basically unchanged since 1979 model) and I enjoy from time to time looking on eBay at some of those beautiful Japan Inc. better quality DD's of the 70's and 80's.

If it works and works well it should not matter if its vintage or brand spanking new I say. After all its not like designing Moon rockets. :-)
Cmon Mtkhl567. " The full benefits of a Monaco might not show up in your current setup anyway."

No need to disrespect anyone's system here man!!

WE could all be listening to MP3's, so spinning vinyl no matter what TT is a joy.

BTW, How could you get to listen to a GP Monaco TT for 6 mnths before deciding to buy one?? I want the same deal you got.

I'm not taking issue with the wonders of the Monaco. I'm simply making the basic point that there are no perfect components, only different trade offs, even between VERY good designs; not to negate ANY hierarchy of quality. Neither am I trying to make undue comparisons between the SP10 and the Monaco, although the Albert's SP10 is VERY good. I have heard the Monaco although not in controlled circumstances. And, I wouldn't assume so much about my system's resolving capabilities, or my preferences. I can appreciate pretty much all well executed approaches for what they offer. No offense taken though.


your point is a given. Mine was more general. See above.
Dear Mtkh1567: It is no doubt that the Monaco is a today top TT like the Walker or many other out there ( including those " old " Japanese designs that I think you don't have the opportunity to heard/hear/try/test yet. )

What are the targets on a TT design?. well IMHO it has to be a design first where the TT can spin with accuracy and stabiity ( short and long run/time ) at 33.33, 45 and 78 rpm, second: it has to spin with out any internal or external distortion ( vibration, resonances, fast disipation, sound/bass feedback, platter resonances, etc, etc ) that means absolutely internal/external isolation, third: choose a material platter/mat that is/will be inert or that kill LP/platter-mat resonances, fourth: same that second target in reference to the arm board and fifth: precise/well made/high quality design execution.

All these targets are more easy to say that to achieve. Different TT designers have different approach to achieve those TT design targets ( and other ones ) and all of them share at least one TT subject: no one is free of " colorations ", there is no perfection here at least not yet and the Monaco is no exeption as good as certainly is.

IMHO and at this top level of quality TT performance and other than TT isolation the tonearm/cartridge " figure " is what could make the difference.

Regards and enjoy the music.
"those speed accuracy figures they publish are probably not measured at the platter level."

On a direct drive where else could the measurement be taken? Besides measurements would be pretty meaningless anyway. Yes the Japanese DD tables from the 80's perfected the art to the point of having superb measurements. The sound is also respectable given the price point, but they are not even in the same ballpark as the current start of the art. I think that the DD topology is inherently superior, but as with all high end audio equipment the magic is in the implementation.

Speed accuracy is an overloaded term that often is misunderstood. The meaning is often quite different depending on the time reference. Average rotational speed is the accuracy of the speed over a relatively long period of time. It's basically how close to 33.333 rpm does the platter turn. In my opinions this is a relatively unimportant measure. Small errors in pitch are quite inaudible but this number tends to be focused on. Far more important is speed accuracy within a very short time frame. In other words how constant is the speed as measured within a 1 millisecond window. Short term speed variations are easily heard and are detrimental to good sound. Yet there is no measurement available for this type of speed accuracy. Wow and flutter measurements are low bandwidth and completely miss these more important, higher frequency artifacts.

Every turntable in the world has speed inaccuracies. In my opinion nobody has reduced these into complete inaudibility. For most of these inaccuracies there is no measurement method available. Further I doubt that most could be measured.
I am an owner of 6 EMT 948, 1 EMT 950 and 2 Technics SP-10MKII turntables. I have always endorsed direct drive and for good reasons. I have also owned many top belt drive and idler drive tables. Direct drive is clearly my favorite. This started many years ago when I was a club DJ in NY and I experienced what changing the pitch, or speed, did to effect the sound of the record. It is quite obvious even at a very minute level.

As a dealer for Grand Prix Audio and having been in many discussions with Alvin Lloyd at a somewhat early point in his design, I have a good understanding of what went into his design as well as the uniqueness of what he is doing. I am not trying to tell you to go out and buy a Monaco turntable or how I feel it performs against the other turntables I have owned and experienced. All I am trying to convey is the technology should be looked at with an open mind. This really has not been done before.

Go to the Grand Prix Audio website and read the "White paper". It is very informative and those who know Alvin know there is absolutely no marketing hype and everything reported is actual and true.

This will only tell you so much and all of this bantering is really immaterial until you actually hear it. Only then can you determine whether it is your "cup of tea".

Also, for those of you who would like a copy of the review, let me know privately and I will email it to you.

Best Regards,
Jonathan Tinn
Chambers Audio
Well said Jonathan, Alvin is going to post the HiFi+ review on his website too.

Dear Jonathan: There is no doubt that the Monaco is an outstanding build design and from the white papers has some different ways ( in some way, unique. ) to approach the TT design to achieve their goals.

For many years till today I'm always supporting the direct drive TT design over other TT drive designs and it for not other thing because its speed accuracy/stability.

Well, IMHO I think that it will be very interesting to find out if the Monaco is the best choice " platform " to go ( maybe it is ) making tests with different tonearm/cartridge combination ( as much you can ) ( I know that the Monaco people already do it, but they are the " owners ". ) that you/we already and really know its quality performance level in other " platforms " and evaluate those quality differences ( that for sure will be ).

There is a lot of research and know-how behind the Monaco that tell all of us that ( in some ways ) it is a " different " audio item ( for say the least ) and where Alvin and his team work are really proud ( you can read how are writing those white papers. )

Anyway, good for the analog audio industry that products like the Monaco appear because this fact can/could help to change and grow-up in the right direction ( quality performance ) the whole audio industry, we need something " fresh " and the Monaco is an example of that.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Les Creative Edge, your user name would suggest an appreciation for technological advance. Moon rockets, even you have to admit that todays space exploration is more advanced than back in the 60s/70s. Sure we can reach the moon today as we did then, but faster, safer, do more research, using smaller crafts and with more precision. We all foot that huge bill (by paying taxes), its the advance of human kind. The technology of the Monaco is kind of like that, an advance in vinyl music reproduction that didn't exist before. Now, net present value $20k back to your 1979 DD turntable, I wouldn't be surprised if the consumer cost would be all that different.

No doubt that the Monaco is a good example of using some current technologies. I was not trying to compare any turntable from Japan Inc. of the 70's and 80's directly to it. Only in that it is not rocket science in making a turntable that works well. In essence all that a turntable must do is spin a record at measured speed, do it quietly as it can and withing allowable tolerances. These points were generally made by the better to best Japan Inc. tables of the late 70's and early 80's.

From here it is all about tuning the table. In a perfect world it would be trying to make a turntable sound as neutral as possible be affected by external resonances as little as possible and be generally user capable in operation. Fact is all turntables new and old add colour or flavour to sound. All add noise and all will vary in user friendliness and some are better than others over any and all speed issues. Direct drivers from the 70's and 80's would all score among the best of any tables made new or old when it concerns speed issues. Japan Inc. tables of that era will vary wildly inability to do other things, control noise, control resonances etc. The best ones back then did an admirable job and as good as very many new ones today, many that are praised as good to great turntables today. Just because a turntable may be vintage does not mean it cannot perform as well or even kick the arse of numerous newer models.

To be fair to better to best vintage DD tables from Japan Inc. None ever sold for $20,000. not even half that even if you factor in inflation. The best generally went for between $500-$1000 given the year.If their manufacturers would reopen lines and build them as they were but brand new today, they'd be bargains for what they give a listener.

None of them would truly rival a Monaco or a Certus (I'd enjoy owning either if I could), but the again one did not have to spend the amount equal to a price of a small car to buy one of them. Just look at the Technics SL-12xx series. It verifies my point. I'm not saying my KAB arm rewired SL-1200MKI is a rival to a Monaco or to some of the other uber priced units. But for under $1000 it sounds great and would embarrass some other tables, again often other which are praised. In reality its ability to run an at and hold speed is not too far off that of even a Monaco. It is the most speed stable table I have ever owned, sure I have not plunked many thousands down on tables over the years but I'm glad I can get great performance without having to take out a significant loan.
Dear Henry: There is no doubt that today we have several technology advancements ( in a whole of world areas ) that 20-30 years ago we even imagine about.

The point IMHO is how those technologic advancements are/were aplicate on today analog audio items that because those technologic advancements these new analog audio items makes a real differences.

In my experiences the tonearm, cartridge and TT design are almost with no quality sound reproduction improvement over " old " tonearm, cartridge and TT designs ( maybe the Monaco do it. ) and an example of that is that you own and use an " old " tonearm design ( 1983 ) : Dynavector DV-507, that today still is a very good tonearm.

Henry we are not talking here of Moon Rokets we are talking of more " simple " products.

I applaud the Monaco people because against what many audiophiles think ( that the belt drive is the way to go ) they designed what they think is the right way to go it does not matters what you, the reviewers I or any one else think about and with this high quality level of build execution only can help for the whole audio industry ( including us ) re-think that if what they are doing are really helping to the quality sound/music reproduction.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I appreciate the discussion, the only way to know is to hear, no matter how much experience. And then there are differences in taste. I go for truest reproduction of the recording event and ability to play ANY kind of music well.

Btw the DV507 came out in 1984 and was updated by the Mk II in 2006. Analog picking order for me was 1. the Monaco tt, 2. the XV-1s cartridge and it only made common sense to take the DV507MkII as 3. the arm.

The March 2008 HiFi+ front cover headlines: "Grand Prix Redefines Turntable Sound" and who am I to disagree with these veteran experts. I guess it helps when welknown experts also hear what I heard after I made my purchase...
Dear Henry: +++++ " and who am I to disagree with these veteran experts. " +++++

IMHO, you like many other music lovers not only have a great/long audio/music experieces but more important: are not audio commercial/business oriented like almost every one " veteran experts ".
Henry you are " some one " !! don't you think?

Btw, I write 1983 because the 507 comes from the 505 where the 505 converts in 507 " suffer " only two changes: central pillar mount and arm lift.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I am someone indeed... and have no commercial interests either...and have a little experience too...AND A STRONG OPINION TO BOOT

RAUL, I wish I could meet you in the flesh...we shqre a passion, I could learn a lot from you!

Tonite its my wifes vinyl vault...Jean Michel Jarre original 80s grooves, oh how the Monaco/Dynavector shines... still putting digital to shame...

Mtkhl and Cohnaudio: Have either of you experimented with siting the Monaco on different stands, such as differences in the sound on the Finite Element vs the Grand Prix?
Fcrowder, I've only had it on my Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference rack. However, all the time I have heard the Monaco at my dealer (Transparent Music Systems) before I purchased one it was on top of a Monaco Grand Prix rack with a racing shelve and apex feet. It was IMHO the best match for the Monaco tt, unlike Mr Fremers experience, it made the table even more quiet and articulate, the pace was right on, supporting the strengths of the Monaco. To date I have not heard that excellent kind of playback in my system yet, although its the same as my dealer's, and I think it's partly due to the Monaco Rack system. The difference is mostly in the lesser details of the recording ambience, and detail cues of the recording space that I am still lacking...

Hope this helps you.
For those interested in the GPA Monaco turntable review. Here's the link:
Dear Henry: Thank you for the HiFi+ review's link of the Monaco, here in México we can't find that magazine, only when I travel to USA I can buy it.

My hat off to Gregory, this is a professional review made for a proffesional person ( instead the MF one, with all my respect to him, looks like an amateur one. ) no doubt about.

I don't want to make a " book " here. IMHO the most important subject on the review was ( between other nice things ) that first than all Gregory works hard to understand ( and I mean it ) why, how and where comes the " different " ( nearer to the recording/music ) very high quality Monaco's performance.
He try and he achieve a very high level of un-equalize his brain from what is the standard top belt drive TTs performance, he don't try that the Monaco can sound like all other TTs but he try that the Monaco performs like the Monaco with its own advantages and real differences.

He try several cartridges ( I love that Ortofon 7500, one of my reference cartridge ), phono stages, TTs, etc, etc.

I agree with him in several different aspects like : about TTs designs over the years ( does not change anything. I posted here about in the MM cartridge thread before the Monaco review. ), about the importance ( over the TT ) of tonearm/cartridge combination/matching, about the critical importance of the Phonolinepreamp that with the Monaco and other top TTs " becomes much, much more significant ".

The Gregory's review is a learning one ( for say the least ) in many important and critical areas, Bravo!!!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks for posting the review of the Grand Prix Monaco. HiFi+ will not be available in the US until May 2. I generally find RG's reviews to be fair and honest, but ocassionally wish that he would talk a little more about the interactions among various pieces of ancillary equipment, such as a power amp and the speaker under review, etc. In this case, he seems to have done a good job in that area. It would have been nice had he tried the Dynavector tonearm which is reputed to be a very good match for the table. Do you find that power cords and AC filtering have any impact on the sound of the TT?
Raul, I agree with you entirely. Now that you read the review, wouldn't it be
interesting to learn what that would sound like in your rig? Btw, for future
reference, at you can buy an eMagazine version of any issue,
and other backissues.

Fcrowder, that is another beauty of this turntable the power from the wall is not
used to drive the platter! The power of a small battery would work too! It uses
5V DC and thus no influence from dirty power, no impact from power cords or
conditioning systems. I tried, Gutwire, Siltech, PS Audio, and no difference from
my stock $1.99 supermarket cord.
Dear Henry: Certainly I will do it sooner or latter and thank you again for the HiFi+ link.

Obviously there could be no same Monaco level performance but my SP-10MK2 ( with out plinth, very important subject. ) is doing things very well and in many ways better than my BD ones.

Anyway here through the Monaco design all of us have a " different very high quality performer new kid on the street " and this fact is a welcome one to all audio industry!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
It is a pleasure to find this thread. In fact just few days ago I had never heard of Grand Prix Audio. I stumbled upon this turn table when I found out that this TT was used with all Zanden system at CES 2008. Then I read Hifi+ review by RG- a very well written and pretty thorough review, as always and find it real fascinating. I don't know if it is true or not but it was kind of embarrassing to find him uncover the fact that the Emperor (Typical high end analog sound) has no cloths!

Also glad to read that closest similar sound spectra is produced by the Clearaudio Master Ref Deck ( which I happen to own and love). I have lived with the Clearauido MR TT for more than a year and still amazed at the how transparent sound it reproduces. The sound is (MR) anything but lean. The bass is deep, tight and has plenty tonal colors rather than just sound warm , big and fluffy. High freq. extension also is there but nothing that stands out unless it is present in recording/note. Mids are 'big' and life like. Percussion notes are fast as well as well 'spread' (duration and substantial and enough mid/high freq content- don't know how else to describe. In other words there is no short high freq bursts but has some character that you can 'look' into. Closely mike triangles have distinct impact, body and reverb. The drum sticks sound substantial, present and woody I could go on and on))
In fact, occasionally I have wished for bass to be round and big but I know that real life acoustic bass has definition and varied tonal colors. On Electronic music, which I listen to a lot, the bass is practically earthshaking and I mean like 'center of earth bass'. I would call this sound anything but lean. I am not describing to toot my own horn but trying to get handle on well set up GPA's reproduced sound characteristics

If this sound characteristics is any indication then, GPA hifi+ sound report/review probably is right on mark. I have not read the MF report yet.

Only question is would anyone pay $20k plus for mere 40 pound puny looking TT which probably don't entitle you for any bragging rights- like say TWRaven or walker or even Clearaudio MR ;-)? (I am kidding of course. )
Okay, just read the Stereophile review also. Both review kind of indicate similar sounds signature (Top to bottom clarity) but at the same time could not be more similar based on Tone arm and cartridge choices. It is obvious that MF found the sound dry and etched based on his set up vs Roy found it right based on his set up. Who is correct? Probably both in the respective set up and systems tried.
Thanks for the link, I've been waiting for the issue to be released here, but no luck. Its always good to have a 2nd opinion.
So much talk about speed stability. Hi-Fi+ says the speed accuracy of the Monaco is better than .002%.

I'm posting something I posted in another thread. Below is my account on how you can achieve as much as .000083% accuracy with your own turntable.

Conversely, what if you manage to time the speed of the platter perfectly. I would think one should take into account the vinyl micro-slipping on the platter.


I have the same album for vinyl and cd. The cd plays on my headphones. The vinyl plays on the speakers.

I play the vinyl a split second earlier than the cd then I slow down the platter down by dragging my fingers on the platter. I do this until both are synced. You know this when you have the headphones on and the speakers seems to disappear completly in the background. It's a zen-like experience in itself.

So both are synced right now. If the drums are still locked synced after one minute. You are more accurate than the KAB speed strobe.

The KAB has a .03% error rate. A .03% error rate between the CD and the vinyl has a slight "reverb" sound. It's very obvious.

My profession is in the visual effects industry for tv/film. I did a test on Adobe After Effects on how a .03% error would sound. I did this by slipping an audio track one frame ahead of it's duplicate. Video is 30 frames per second. 1 frame error is .03%. Now I know how 'bad' a .03% error sounds like and use that as a baseline.

On my vinyl speed test. My vinyl was able to hold up to 6 mins. before it sounds like it has a .03% error, (or .03 seconds time shift between the cd and the vinyl)
6 mins = 360 secs.
.03 / 360 = .00008333

It takes several times to make the vinyl lock in with the cd before you can start timing how long it is synced. But after such, you can brag your turntable is accurate to ten thousandth of a second. :)

Would like to see how long you guys can keep both sources synced. Would make a great contest.
Very interesting, but speed accuracy to a reference is only part of the picture and much less relevant than speed stability, millisecond to millisecond.
Sure, if speed stability is in question then you should be able to hear one source run a bit behind,then eventually catch up again to achieve the .00008333% error after 6 mins. That should be something noticeable during the test but it didn't happen on mine. :)

I didn't get to add, ideally I'd like to have the turntable on the left side of the headphones and the cd player on the right side of the headphones but I don't have the right cables for such.
I would think that instability such as that caused by belt slippage would show up as momentary lagging on transients that would then not catch up. Instability caused by motor issues wouldn't show up at all in terms of noticieable echo, but would be much subtler involving tonal cleanliness especially in the high frequencies. This is what Michael Fremer was concerned might be happening with the Monaco.
If one has the time(because it is an extremely long article)the Peter Montcrieff article on his E-mag(IAR)has some thought provoking information,which gives creedence to the subject.Very long winded,but very good too!
when both speed accuracy and stability is achieved to a high degree the music attains a solidity and tonal integrity which must be heard to be appreciated. my Rockport System III Sirius direct drive motor......"yields speed accuracies on the order of 10 parts per million with absolutely zero torque ripple".

it also has a servo which totally corrects groove modulation on musical peaks. this aspect of speed stability cannot be stated too strongly. every belt driven tt and many direct drive tt's will be effected by groove modulation (kickback from the additional friction) and most listeners assume the effect of groove modulation is in the recording. it is only when you hear the recording played back without any groove modulation that it's affect is recognized. on musical peaks you might assume it's your amp or speakers are distorting.....but it's only the slight speed hesitation which causes the distortion and momentary loss of musical flow and cohesivness.

hearing a concert grand piano Lp played back at high volume on the Rockport is revelatory. lots of dynamics and overtones.....any non-linearities jump right out. then on anything else.....not the same.

Peter Montcrief's article summarizes the advantages nicely.

i have played CD's along with Lps on the Rockport....and the timing is perfect.....the problem becomes the space between cuts.....which do not always match.

there is more to tt performance than speed correctness; but music is mostly a matter of timing.....getting it right is much of the challenge.