The Hub: RMAF preview: cutting edge Analog, part 2/2

We spoke yesterday of the enduring misfit that is the LP record, and how, like Freddy Krueger, it just won't stay dead. Hardware designed to extract every last bit of info from those tiny grooves keeps getting better, more elaborate and more expensive.

The TTWeights "Christine" described yesterday was decidedly industrial in appearance. Today's table, the Swiss-designed Lumen White "Mystere", distributed in the US by USA Tube Audio, looks more like a cross between an Eames lounge chair and an Audi. Sorry, that's all I can come up with. It is obviously a precision device, but does pay attention to its aesthetic impact.

Retailing at $98,000, the Mystere should cover all the technological bases, and does. It features a "proprietary, direct coupled drive train", which presumably means it's direct drive. Main bearing is an air-bearing, and the compressor looks serious enough to provide astronaut life-support for EVAs.

Speed-control is handled by a logic drive controller with "16 million times per rotation resolution". Really? Fifteen million wasn't good enough? The platter spindle is centered accurately (radial run-out) within 1 micron. Yikes. All the specs indicate a serious attempt to not just provide good specs, but to improve existing standards by an order of magnitude. Or two.

Lumen White's speakers have relatively lightweight cabinets, designed to quickly release impulse-energy; the Mystere follows that same philosophical path. At nearly 100 pounds, though, one wonders what the Mystere would've weighed had they chosen to make it massive! Incidentally, the controller/compressor weighs in at an additional 100 pounds.

As was true of the TTWeights Christine, the Mystere comes without a tonearm. It's interesting to speculate the kinds of arms that these two companies could come up with, but,hey: that's the kind of thinking that keeps a product from EVER getting to market.

USA Tube Audio will be showing the Mystere (mystery solved: pronounced mys-TEER) in room 1117 at the Marriott, Friday through Sunday at RMAF. Drop in, and tell Charlie we sent you.
The simplicity of the presentation is really beautiful, if it sounds as good... As the poet said "A man's reach should exceed his grasp. O'er what's a heaven for?"
Perhaps a look at the Rockport shown in the New York Times article on Thursday related to the work Sony is doing to capture sound from old 78's is worth a look. Seems there is a lot of stuff out there without tape masters, so Sony goes to the records themselves. Serious Sony is. Great picture of 'real' gear being used to get the last bit of sound from a record. Hopefully Sony will give us a list of all the gear, including the cartridges/phono amps being used.
Ya know, I need a $98,000 turntable as much as I need a mole that's changing color. But your prose is always amusing and engaging. I hope that you will continue with future installments.
I love turntables and these are great examples, but ......
"a man's got to know his limitations"
Thanks for all the comments.

Limitations? Well, if 98 kilobucks is too much, one can find plenty of less-grandiose choices, right here on the 'Gon!
Take a serious look at the Micro SZ-1T turntable: spend fifty grand on this one (if you can get one used) and forget about the overpriced Lumen. You get airbearing for the platter, airbearing for the flywheel, vacuum hold down of the disc AND one Micron precision as well..
I decided to drive to Newmarket and have a listen to 'Christine'. I will say I was very impressed. I do not know if I would ever spend that much on a table, and as luck would have it, Larry told me he was building a smaller, possibly better version. That was about three weeks ago.

Today I again took the hour long drive, this time with my favourite albums under arm, and prepared myself to sit down for a long listening session. May I say, without any hesitation, 10 seconds was all it took. The first album was Cat Stevens 'Tea for the Tillerman', oh my lord the goosebumps where overwhelming. Perfect pitch control, pinpoint imaging, and a rightness to the sound that left me speachless. Next up was Bruce Cockburn 'joy will find a way'. May I again say, goosebumps. The title of that album is bang on. Joy has found a way. Larry told me that resonance control in this new table, the 'Black Onyx', was being taken to the nth degree. No part of the table was being left to chance. This man is on a serious mission. We listened to Rickie Lee Jones, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jeena Lodwich and many more. Every album left me picking up my jaw. What impressed me as well, no woofer bouncing. We played Dire Straits Brothers in Arms, at really high volumes, and zero movement of the woofers. Having been a belt driven table guy for the last 25 years, I wasn't used to this.

I have gone from a Heybrook TT2 to a JA Michell Gyro Deck (mostly for the looks) to the Teres 340. As big a jump as the Teres was from the JA Michell, the 'Black Onyx now is from the Teres.

My deposit is given, and now I wait. It is going to be a good new year.