Out of production reference turntables

Hi Folks:

I am sure that there are a sizeable bunch of us who have no qualms about purchasing a piece of gear who's manufacturer no longer exisits but the sound and build quality is fantastic and reliable.

In the analog realm the modern turntable that is my benchmark for the sound I prefer is the VPI TNT.

When I was first seriously getting into this hobby, I remember reading about a few top end tables that, at the time, were considered the best. I would like to get some opinions as to how the following reference tables compare to gear made today using the VPI "signature sound" as a comparison.

1. Goldmund Reference
2. Forsell Air Reference
3. Rockport (any model except the Sirius)
4. Oracle

Thank you for reading.

This is just an opinion.The Goldmund is a little dark and slightly syrupy.Don't use the t-3 arm.The Forsell will require extra filters/moisture removal for its' compressor.Repairs done overseas/shipping $$.No exposure to lower coet Rockports,in this price range consider slimmed down Walker table.The Oracle doesn't do bass and is slightly light in the midbass.Maybe an Immedia RPM 1/2 would be a better choice.No experience with RPM arm,had a Wheaton or Air Tangent on mine.Hope this helps.
the goldmund reference is still up there with the very best, i agree the t3f was by far the weakest link on the combination, but the kuzma airline on the goldmund well.....
The Goldmund Reference was a wonderful table, but don't buy the T3F arm at any price....I've had a Rockport Capella now for 12 years and am done. Nice thing is Rockport is out of the turntable business, but will continue to support them and is very much in the audio business.....Just eleven of the early Capellas out there total so they are pretty rare....I had a Goldmund Studio with a Shreve Rabco on it and the Rockport ate it as must be 20db quieter.....Had a friend with a Goldmund Reference and his early Sirius ate the Reference with the Goldmund arms.....The Rockport as I say is likely 20db quieter than most anything else....Not sure I would do a big table (550 pounds) again as something like the RPM would likely do me fine and be a lot more portable.....CD sound has also improved quite a bit in the past 12 years so don't think I would recommend a huge table......No mine isn't for sale.....
Agree on the Goldmund.....fantastic table. The "syrupiness" can be tamed by putting it on a piece of granite/slate or a concrete floor. And I think a lot of the flavor ascribed to the table was actually due to the T3F arm, which I've heard be decimated by a Naim Aro and an SME IV.

Only heard a Rockport briefly and thought it excellent but tuneless. Never heard the Forsell.

The Oracle is OK, but doesn't belong in the conversation.


Anyone ever hear one of the tables produced by Tube Research Labs (designed by Paul Weitzel and brother of Record Research Lab's Brian Weitzel)?
"Only heard a Rockport briefly and thought it excellent but tuneless"......now there is a credible piece of info.....spoken like a true Naim 'crazy'.

the Rockport will simply reveal what the Lp, cartridge and phono stage is telling you. it really has no 'color' of it's own.

and btw, i like Naim 'mostly'.
Silly me. All these long years I thought the tunes were provided by the musicians. They actually come from the turntable! So do I need a different table for each key? Which one should I use if I'm playing Schoenberg or Webern? ;-)

I actually appreciate it when someone gushes about the "musicality" of a TT, or of any component for that matter. Lets me know right away that I should look elsewhere for neutrality.
Dear DH: If the VPI TNT has a " signature sound " then: shame of VPI TNT and this is for any reference TT ( Yes, I agree with Bob: the Oracle is not a RTT ). If you " have a signature sound " for a RTT then something is wrong: maybe the rack, table, floor, TT mat, etc... and have to check it. Remember that the target of a RTT is spin to 33.3, 45 or 78 rpm with out any kind of " self sound ". Yes, I know that lessers TT has a signature sound, but in a Refernce TT this is out of question: it has to be dead neutral.
Where you have a signature sound is in the tonearm/cartridge/arm board combo.
Regards and always enjoy the music.
I should perhaps clarify "tuneless." In hindsight, it's a bit over the top...

When I heard the Rockport it SOUNDED fantastic. It was wonderfully neutral, even, extended, and stable. But it did not separate musical lines as well as the Goldmund--on records I've engineered and produced, it was more difficult to separate, for example, the bass guitar from the drums than it was on the Goldmund. The Rockport did a better job of separating them in space.

The Goldmund, for me, remains the very best turntable I've heard. I just wish I could afford one.

Oh, Mike--ad hominem comments are always fun, but really, they say more about the speaker....



Interesting observations.

The Rockport seperated instruments better in space. That implies superior reproduction of the time domain. Perhaps due to better speed stability?

The Goldmund seperated instruments better in timbre or tonality. That implies superior reproduction of the mix of frequencies that gives each instrument its unique voice. Perhaps due to better control of the spurious resonances that can muddy clean stylus tracing?

All speculation on my part, since I haven't heard either table. But maybe useful to D.H., who's also trying to audition these tables without actually being able to hear them.
Dear Bob: The experience that you are sharing with all us ( Tks ) is true only and only if you hear both turntables with the same audio system, in the same room and with the same tonearm/cartridge combo. Other way it's only a irresponsible " fun ".
Regards and enjoy the music.
Bob, any generalized putdown like "tuneless"......especially based on a brief, totally unqualified and nonspecific experience......begs for an 'ad hominem comment'......don't you think? if you take cheap shots you gotta be able to handle the blowback.

being critical requires specifics to be credible. are you saying that 'all' Rockport's are 'tuneless'? how brief was your experience with the Rockport? was the Rockport in a system with another tt to compare with?

in any case, you clearly know your stuff and i don't want to make a bigger deal here than is reasonable. i have a few Naim fans as friends and i mostly like what they like......but they definitely have a particular perspective on things.

as a multiple Rockport tt owner that has owned a few other tt's i certainly have my biases too.

Fair points all. "Tuneless" was not one of my better efforts at diction!

Gotta agree on "they definitely have a particular perspective on things..." But then, everyone does... n'est-ce pas? And no, can't agree on ad hominems being justified....

Anyway, the Rockport I've heard belongs to a family friend in northern NJ. When I've heard it, the system (if I'm remembering right) was the Rockport, a Lyra Parnassus , Aesthetix Io phono preamp (among others), Levinson something or other mono's (20.6?), and more speakers than you could shake a stick at--Watt/Puppy, Sonus Faber Extremas, and so on. (I liked the Extremas the most, FWIW)

My take on the system as a whole remains the same--brilliant sonics, but not as "engaging" as others I've heard. Definitely the lowest noise floor of any TT I've heard. Substituting a Roksan TMS raised the noise floor, and diminished the sense of space and spatial separation, but improved the "engagement" factor. Granted, different arms and a different Parnassus. The TMS just sounded more....propulsive, if that makes any sense. The TMS also made it easier to tell if the players were having fun, playing together, etc. Why? I have no idea, esp. since the Rockport was clearly resolving more info.

In any event, back on thread, I'd say either the Rockport or the Goldmund would be a worthy reference table. Haven't heard the Forsell, so can't comment. And I stand by my remark on the Oracle--having owned one, it doesn't belong in the conversation.


Bob, thanks for the explaination. i now understand what you mean't. i must admit to not haveing heard a tt that is more 'propulsive' or 'revealing of the energy of a recording' than my Rockport. these issues are central to my musical enjoyment.....and i think yours too.

i also think that the Rockport gets into much more microdynamics than ANY other tt......which to me is more like 'live' music than other tt's. when you listen to the Rockport 'big events' get revealed as lot's of 'little events'. it can be 'off-putting' if your reference is your previous listening experience.

the extreme isolation of the Rockport does put more demands on the ancilary gear. if a cartridge is voiced for a tt/arm with more 'distortion' and then has 'none'.....'something' can seem missing. also, the air bearing arm does favor cartridges with low compliance......without which you do get a softening of the dynamics.

my Colibri has a very short, stiff canteliver that mates perfectly with the Rockport arm for explosive dynamics and lots of musical tension.

do you know the specific model of Rockport that you heard?
Mike, ever hear the Tube Research Labs table? If anyone has, it is probably you! :-) I know of it only in lore.
no, i've only read about that rumor on the web recently. i do know Paul but never heard him speak about making a tt. i've been out of circulation for the last year or so.....maybe it's out there.

Paul came to our local club meeting last year and did a 'live' recording there of solo 12 string guitar.....and played it back in a few different formats.....that was a treat. he is a pretty talented guy.....i have heard his amps a few times. he thinks his new DAC and transport is better than the Meitner....it may be (i haven't heard it).

i guess i better get back into the 'fray' if i want to maintain my reputation. :)
Considering Paul uses the ADC8 and DAC8, he may well know?
I owned a Goldmund Reference prior to the purchase of a Rockport Sirius and on changing experienced a rather dramatic improvement. I have two friends who own Rockport Capellas and both sound phenomenal. I had a problem with my 15 year old motor controller and Andy Payor was happy to help. With respect to the Rockport, there is very little to break.
jes45, my doubts about Paul's digital being better stem from the fact that Paul's context is while using a hard drive into the Meitner and into his dac. since Paul doesn't have a transport that will input consumer software into the Meitner (the best way) he has no way to compare actual performance with real cd's and sacd's. the Meitner approach to jitter control (slaving the clock into the dac and using the ST optical cable)is really unique.....and to my knowledge not used by Paul on his dac.....so in any case unless you can actually compare the 2 approaches fully optimized you would just be guessing.
Paul has his own transport which will be available soon. He has been using his proto-type for some time. Comparisons have been made.

I had no intent of upsetting you, I just wanted to share the info.
i hope i didn't give you the impression that i was in any way upset. in fact, it would be great if the SOTA is advanced.....and i can't think of a nicer guy than Paul to do it.

my point was that Paul was basing his opinion on hard-drive performance.....not consumer software performance.....at least up to that time. if since that time Paul has got a modified Philips SACD 1000 and compared the consumer level software performance of his DAC/transport to Meitner's then i would enjoy hearing about the result. i'm not sure that the PRO DAC8 will work with the modified SACD 1000.

if you can provide details about this comparison i would love to hear about it.