Review: Amazon Reference Turntable
I do own this turntable now for approximately one year. It has been upgraded from the One Version by Mr. Janssen from Amazon Audio. He is a very nice and experienced Person and is providing an excellent service for his customers.
Before I did shift to Amazon I did use a TT from Townshend Audio named the Rock Mk. III.
Let me start the review first with a brief technical description of the TT. The Amazon Reference is a huge TT which is driven by a external Motor Unit (battery powered) using a string. It is extremely heavy. Compared to the One Model it is using a different bearing and a different platter made out of machined die casted non ferrous components.
This TT is extremely well made and a piece of high quality engineering. Not that much units are existing according to my information's. The main plinth of the TT is made out of two layers of black Metacrylat decoupled from each other by 8 Sorbothan plucks. On the upper layer the inverted bearing is assembled. On the top base of the brass housed bearing you will find a ceramic plate on which a small ceramic ball has to be placed. On this ceramic ball rests the heavy platter which is providing the second portion of the bearing itself. The bearing itself is completely free of any noise when you are turning the platter. Naturally you have to take care for a proper balance of the TT to avoid bearing noises. To enable you leveling the TT it provides the spikes located in the bottom layer. Also the Motor Unit which is equipped with a huge lead accu is equipped with four spikes to allow proper balancing.
Custom made arm bases (mounted with 4 screws on the rest) can be provided to fit to any tone arm specification by Mr. Janssen. To avoid mistakes in the mounting of the arm base the direction can be found by recognizing a small hole underneath the arm base. Shifting to another arm can easily take place by separating the upper layer off Metacrylat after lifting the platter from the TT.
Hence everything is proper balanced you have to take care for a speed adjustment using a strobe disc. For speed adjustment two small screws (one for each speed 33 and 45 rpm) is being provided in the Motor unit. In addition you will have also influence to the speed by changing the distance between the platter itself and the Motor unit. Out of my experience the TT is providing the best sound with less tension on the string so keep the distance as close as possible.
Mr. Janssen does recommend to use wood for the rest of the TT. My TT is placed on a Townshend Seismic Sink Stand because I did had very good experience with the decoupling results being provided from my Townshend Rock in the older day.
I am engaged in this Hobby now for more than 30 years. Still I am impressed about the production quality of this TT. Sure you will have to search a long time finding a TT with a higher quality. According to the smallest tolerances Mr. Janssen is allowing to be acceptable for him the sound of this TT is absolutely outstanding.
I did use this TT with an SME V, an Graham 2.0 while now it is equipped with an OL Illustrious Signature (see my review on that also, the arm on the provided pics is still the regular version of the Illustrious but not that much difference between the two arms is visible). Beside my Black Beauty I did use in the different setup a Grasshopper IV GLA and a Dynavector Te Kaitora.
I am interested in Jazz, Classic and Big Band Music as well as Blues and Rock Music from the older days. The important aspects for me are noise floor, soundstage, Rhythm and Dynamics as well as warm and detailed reproduction of female voices and a realistic production. I did hear a lot of the competitors to this TT and never found a combination that would be able to beat this TT according to the Quality of Music Reproduction he is providing.
It just makes you foot tapping when hearing this TT. I am sure the Rest of the setup is doing also a lot for this result but without this Piece of front-end and the sonic results it is providing the rest of my equipment wouldn't be able to provide such a reproduction. Really it is one of the best turntables in the world.
Even if money wouldn't be an issue I am sure that I would have to think about an replacement really long. The only weakness in my mind is the attraction the black Metacrylat is exercising to dust. Therefore you have to take care to keep this unit as clean as possible to avoid minor scratches from the surface. From time to time you have to polish it. It forces you to spend time on it to keep it as beautiful as it was hence it arrived in your living room. But for us as analog lovers also this time you have to spend keeping it in a wonderful condition will be a matter of our hobby and a matter of emotional involvement.
Highest recommended component.
OL Illustrious Signature, vdH Black Beauty and Grasshopper IV GLA, Tessendorf Phono Reference with Filter Power Supply unit, Chord Pre and Power Amp, Spendor SP 9/1 floorstanding speakers, XLO NF and LS cables
Townshend Rock Mk III
Linn LP 12