Is the Townshend Rock 7 "the" giant killer?

The reviews I have seen of the Townshend Rock 7 (and many of the comments from owners) not only say that it's a great TT, but suggest it's a giant killer. Stated differently: it's hard to find anything in the $5K to $20K range that beats the Rock 7. Some reviewers say vinyl through the Rock 7 sounds more like master tapes than vinyl. I find this pretty hard to believe. Has anyone had direct experiences with the Rock 7, especially as it compares to other more expensive turntables? Thank you.
Its not as good as the WTL Amedeus or Versalex.
I love my Rock, but haven't compared it to higher dollar tables. I did A/B it with the other giant killer table that is getting much love: the Well Tempered Amadeus. You can see a thread with my impressions here:

The bass on the Rock is superb, and has only gotten better with my recent addition of the Moerch DP-8. Hell, that table sounded great with a Rega 301, though that tonearm was holding it back. Changing to an Audiomods arm and then Moerch arms really took it up a notch, especially in the treble.

I would love to hear that Helius Omega arm on the Rock, supposed to be an excellent pairing. But the Moerch DP-8 had such a great reputation in the bass, and Moerch has those exchangeable armwands of different mass which makes cartridge matching a breeze.
Notec - I have heard the WTL Amadeus and Versalex, and recently have heard the Townshend Rock 7. All are very impressive. I have not heard them in A/B mode and wondered if you have had such an opportunity? And even if not via A/B mode, what was it about the WTL tables that you preferred over the Townshend?
Always difficult when it's not in your own system. When i heard the GTA at a dealers with my own cartridge, I loved the sound. So much so, that I bought it to take the place of my Amadeus. That said, when hearing the GTA, it was with a higher end Shindo preamp. The GTA is close to home now, so I will soon know for sure. The Rock looks to be a very impressive table, and of course takes that damping a step further. With the Amadeus @ $2800, the GTA @ $3800, and the Rock at it's higher price point, I doubt anybody loses.
I owned a Rock 3 and was very impressed with the sound. the front paddle damping is for real. I regret selling it as the bass was as clean as I have ever heard, probably better than I have heard. And that was with a rega clone arm. And I would describe the sound as master tape like in that resonances that I would attribute to the turntable/arm/cartridge system seem to disappear. Just a very clean presentation in the good sense. Not hyper detailed or etched as you would find with a rising top end, just everything there without artifacts.
If the 7 is a lot better, then I could see it being a giant killer, the 3 was close.
I am also interestested in the reasons for Notec's opinion. Were these compared side-by-side? I compared the WTA and Rock 7 side-by-side and both were excellent. With a Rega 301 the Rock did some things better than the WTA (bass for example), while the WTA did better treble. Felt like a pretty lateral move based on personal preferences. And Robert Greene's description of the WTA being top-down vs the Rock being bottom-up rang true for me. BUT the Rega arm on the Rock was a real weak link for me when I made my comparison.

Notec, what arm did you hear on the Rock? This will make a big difference.

In fact, it would be appreciated if anyone giving impressions of the Rock specified the tonearm used.
I heard the Rock with a NOS SME IV.
Roscoeiii- Just to clarify, when you compared the Rock 7 to the WTA, was it a
GTA or standard Amadeus. I am hoping the top-down becomes top-downer with the GTA. I am luck enough for now, to be moving my Amadeus over to a second system. The GTA will replace it in the main system. Certainly the GTA would have been a more fair comparison with the Rock 7. That said, isn't the Rock 7 with say a decent arm over 6K ? Cheers-Don
Don, the price list of the Rock 7 is $3200. The review comparing the Amadeus to the Rock 7 had a Rega 301 mounted on it--a $500 value. With a bit of discount I suspect you can get this combination for between $3000 and $3300. So, it is actually fairly comparable to the Amadeus...
It was a standard Amadeus that I compared to the Rock 7 with the Rega 301.

And I would be very interested to hear how you think the standard and GTA Amadeus compare to each other sonically.
I think I am going to have to try out the Rock 7 at some point.
Come to Chicago and you can hear mine.
...and bring your killer amp.
4musica44107/Rosco - Never heard the TR7. My opinion is based on looks and personal preferance alone and the idea of getting around that trough thing every time to play a record seems disruptive to me. I like simple rectangular turntables on nice plinths. Sorry for the confusion, just loving the VERSALEX sound after years with a NAS.
If you have never heard it, it is pretty irresponsible to post "Its not as good as the WTL Amedeus or Versalex." That sure suggests that you have actually heard the tables in question. Shame on you.
I saw your post on Audiocircle forum - can you tell us what was your experience regarding sound difference between Moerch and Audiomods tonearms on Rock 7 please?
I've owned the Rock 7 with all the upgrades available (Excalibur 3 Arm, Adjustible mounting plate, Merlin 3 Motor and regulated Power Supply) for over a year now and I simply cannot get enough of it.

While researching, I read all the reviews, went to audio shows to hear it and its price point competitors, including the Amadeus, although no dealer I know has both the The Rock as well as the Well Tempered to A/B. But what I did hear was, at the price, astounding. I am amazed daily as I go through my collection of reference LPs and hear what this TT can extract and deliver from the grooves. The bottom end, well, I think I would have to spend five times this much to reproduce such tight, yet effortless bass... But it's near impossible to notice just one part of the sonic picture, since all the sound hangs together so naturally that within minutes you forget everything, close your eyes, and shake your head in disbelief. I can't help smiling when I listen.

I've been an Audiophile for decades and I've never stopped spinning vinyl as my main source. I believe that the more TTs a person has heard, the more they'll be impressed. Choosing a TT is not a perfect process. We rarely if ever have opportunity to A/B our final candidates in the same system. I took all I had heard and read, combined it with a leap of faith, and ordered one.

Nothing has ever come close. Jaws have hit the floor, people have shouted expletives at the speakers, and most just get lost in the music.

Is this TT a Giant Killer? Well, to my ears, my system as a whole, with The Rock as source, beats systems I've auditioned at multiples of what I've spent.

It's 3:00AM and I'm listening, for the first time on my upgraded system, to Café Blue by Patricia Barber, and I'm still in disbelief at what I'm hearing as I type.

Apologies for ranting on... If anyone takes a chance on this TT and ends up not concurring, they can list it here, it'll sell in minutes.
Apologizes to the OP, Ggavetti –– I responded to you, but wrote Roscoeiii by mistake –– that'll teach me to post at 3:00AM... I was too distracted by music to think straight! Anyway, I hope you get a chance to experience what Roscoeiii, myself and other Rock owners are raving about.


I just saw your post re: Moerch vs. Audiomods.

I didn't get a chance to do a lot of A/Bing the Moerch arms and the Audiomods. I do think, outside of the bass, that the big jump in sound quality was from the stock Rega 301 to the Audiomods. Audiomods gave improvement in the treble in particular. And besides that there was an increase in detail over the stock Rega. The 301 was outclassed by the Rock and was a limiting factor. But I would not say that was the case on the Audiomods.

The Moerch arms do improve on the Audiomods in ways you would expect from much more expensive arms. Again, detail is improved, and the Moerch arms, especially the DP-8, really bring out bass detail and impact on an LP. In a way I think most would find surprising for analog playback. From Audiomods to Moerch, you are entering another class of tonearms. But with the Audiomods you are entering the realm of tonearms well-suited to the table (not holding the table back).

Nice to read your impressions. Thanks for taking the time to pass those along.

Yes, I'd also guess that if someone doesn't like the Rock, it would sell pretty quickly and easily. I bought the only Rock 7 I had ever seen for sale used (from a dealer who got it as a trade-in). I have only seen one for sale used since. Impressive considering all the upgradeitis seen here.
well, thanks to you alon, roscoe and the others for the insightful comments. in the end i did not go for the rock 7 because while this thread was going i fell in love with the sound of the nottingham hyperspace with anna arm. used, it cost me $3K, which was a good deal and decidedly below what i would have paid for the rock 7 and a reasonable arm. still i very much have the rock 7 in my mind for either my other system or a future move.
That's what this entire crazy hobby is all about (for me, anyway)... Falling in love with gear that makes the sound that moves your spirit. Congratulations! It doesn't get better than that... until it does!

Cheers and happy listening.
Enjoy that Nott table. That is a table I'd like to hear.
Nottingham makes a good table. I have owned two versions of the Spacedeck and was very happy with them. That said, the WTA made the spacedeck sound "broken".

I am not sure what versions of the Nott you listened to, but the hyperspace with a top-of-the-line nott tonearm is darn good...I'd be surprised if there was such a big difference as you imply, but they certainly appear to be different tables on many dimensions.
I have had two versions of the Spacedeck. The last was the most recent version before the 294. It had the Ace-Space arm. It did sound very good, but the Amadeus is muuuuch better.

Just installed the hyperspace with anna tonearm....i find it to be amazing. note that the hyperspace is supposed to be much better than the lower models. i had a few friends over (long time audiophiles) and they were blown away by the airiness of the setup. i guess at this level it's a matter of taste.
Glad you are enjoying the new table.

Yes, at most levels it is a matter of taste. Which makes it important to try out as many flavors as possible to determine what works best for you.

I have heard a number of highly regarded tables. I preferred the Rock to the WTA in direct comparison, and while I didn't directly compare them I wasn't impressed enough by the VPI Classic heard in a friend's system to arrange a head-to-head comparison.

What I have yet to hear is a high mass table. But a high mass table will be out of my budget for a while...
It's much easier to find a used Rock 7 in Great Britain ( 240V 50hz motor ) than the US and at a much better price. I just bought one for 1000 Pounds plus 50 pounds shipping ( about $1650 ) including an Audio Origami RB251 arm. It's easy to run a 240V 50Hz turntable in the US by buying a good quality 12V to 240v 50hz power inverter ( about $280 ) and a good quality 12V linear power supply. The combo puts out a really stable 240V 50hz output and allows you to use 240v 50hz motor controllers such as the Heed Audio Orbit 2 which requires no mods to the turntable motor at all.
look on HiFi Wigwam in the classifieds forum. They come up once in a while.
I have read this thread with interest. I bought an elite rock for which I did a mini review. It is a better engineered table than the Rock 7 in some regards - better bearing in particular - far closer to the Cranfield concept. I have heard a nottingham hyperspace and it is very good - although it is warmer and more musical than to my preference. The Elite came with both a Jelco 250 variant (mission) and a really good pickering cartridge. The only thing i changed was the tonearm cable - i plugged in my Nordost Tyr. It lacks some of the air and magic of my Amazon Model One - but the amazon has a significant amount of better/fancier parts - Moerch arm/ shelter cartridge - both probably more exuberant sounding than either the Jelco or the Pickering cartridge. That said - I reckon the Townshend combo is perhaps more accurate.
I think the Townshend Elite can be massively improved with a two phase power supply and a a more powerful motor - I am trying to find a quiet and powerful AC motor - but i just can't seem to locate one
My friend Larry Weinstein (Hollywood Sound's owner and audiophile guru for more than 3 decades) always has in display both the WT Amadeus and the Rock 7 in his listening room with Lyra carts driven by RA Hera, Zeus, and Ares and connected to his "all time" pair of favorite monitor speakers, the unassuming Spiral Groove Canalis Anima.


Not to take anything away from the WTA which has very strong merits and I could very easily live with it but with the Rock 7, well........I have never experienced a more capable TT under $10,000.00.

The Rock 7 delivers eminent resolve, musicality, openness, and depth in spades!!!!

Trully amazing TT when set up properly and paired with state of the art ancillary equipment. To my ears, a giant killer indeed.
Perhaps at the expense of more confusion, Larry is now the distributor for Nott. It would be interesting to get his most recent thoughts.
I have a Rock because it is THE table for the Decca/London cartridge. I feel a system should be assembled from the two ends towards the middle. I sometimes see a guy looking for a speaker to go with his amp, or a cartridge to go with his arm. Transducers first, and I don't care what Ivor says!
Bdp24- How is it to live with from an ease of use standpoint. I did hear from previous owner , that it was not quite a SET AND FORGET table. He found it had some idiosyncratic tendencies he could not live with. He had a version 7 with a Helius arm. He did not go in to detail. Sonically, he thought it was outstanding.
The Rock just requires one extra step in playing an LP---swinging the trough over the record, which is no big deal. The concern people have about the damping fluid in the trough spilling onto an LP is unwarranted---it's very thick and gooey, not thin and watery, so doesn't "slosh" out of the trough. The "paddle" (it's actually a hollow tube) that is submerged in the goo never leaves the trough, so it doesn't drip any goo onto LPs.

Ergonomically, the biggest inconvenience of the trough is it's being in the way of the stylus for 1- cleaning it, and 2- visually cueing it to a mid-LP groove (the beginning of a song in the middle of an LP side), which I rarely do.

If you really want to have damping in a pick-up arm (almost mandatory with Decca/London cartridges IMO), the headshell is the most efficient and effective place for it. I've read that the research and development of the original Cransfield Rock was predicated on it's use specifically with the Decca cartridges of the time, and it's design was influenced by the needs endemic to the cartridge. But what is good for Deccas/Londons is also good for other low-compliance cartridges.

As for not being a set & forget record player, sure, it's not like, say, a Rega. But neither is any other high-performance table; think about what owners/users of the Eminent Technology linear-tracking arm have to go through to maintain that arm's performance. In comparison to an ET, the Rock is a breeze!
Bpd24- Thank you, I appreciate that. Perhaps some of the issue he had was with the Helius arm. I'm sure it's a wonderful table. Someone described the sound as Master Tape like.
The whole LP/cartridge/arm/platter/table/phono-amp system is very resonant and microphonic. The Rock turntable is one approach to making it less so. Damping is and has been used in lots of LP playing products, usually tonearms, including SME, Well Tempered, and many uni-pivots. Damping incorporated into a table is far less common, and as far as headshell-located damping, the Rock is the only one I'm aware of. The Decca/London cartridge is probably the biggest challenge any tonearm can face, and the Rock a really effective partner to any arm with a Decca/London mounted on it.