How To Buy: High-End Turntables
If money isn’t too tight to mention and you’re looking to splash out on a top-quality turntable, then you’d best let resident hi-fi guru Paul Rigby guide you around what’s on the market…
Looking to spend some of that extra Christmas money on a top-quality turntable? Here are some of our picks, depending on your budget and other requirements…
High-End Turntable Buyer’s Recommendations
Which high-end turntable should you buy? Here’s a broad selection from three different price bands. This is just a suggested list of some of our favourites. There are lots of others that we’ve not been able to include due to space reasons. All prices are correct when going to press.
Unfinished Business £3,000-£9,000
Turntables where the retail price point may just be the start of your journey
One of the best direct-drive turntables in the world, featuring superb engineering – but not straight out of the box. Even if you don’t upgrade the arm (and you should consider that), this is a starter package. With the additions of a new headshell, platter mat and stabiliser, £1,500 cartridge, better phono and mains cables, the sky’s the limit. Final price? At least £6,000. With a new arm? Around £8,500.
XERXES 20 PLUS
The Xerxes includes a VCS 2S control system, a separate box featuring a speed control system, plus a Nima arm and Corus 2 cartridge but, to really get the best out of it, I’d suggest upgrading the tonearm and cartridge. So add at least another £3,000 to that price for optimum results.
The MT5 provides a strong and forthright design, but it requires a cartridge of quality if it’s going to show its true colours and achieve ideal sonic balance. Replace the supplied sample with a new cart. When you do, the MT5 absolutely soars in sonic terms. Add £1,500 to £2,000 for that cartridge.
High-end turntables shipping to you for less than £10,000
There are several models of tank that would feel slightly uneasy standing next to the excellent VPI Prime Signature, such is the sturdy build quality on show here. But it’s the sound quality that is the gold-star element in the Signature Prime’s armoury. It’s as solid as a rock and oozes detail, but blends this successfully with impressive clarity.
Michell is one of the most respected hi-fi outfits in the world and a company that still works out of an engineering shed that looks as if it has time-warped back to the 50s. The Orbe is the company’s flagship, but you tend to buy it without a cartridge. A rather nice Koetsu Black K would suit the turntable well, so add £2,000 to reach the £6,000 mark.
The stylish MG-1 arrives with the MkII SG-1 motor drive and Vertere SG-1 tonearm. Looking at the design, you’ll note the two-layer plinth and sub-chassis, featured to reduce veiling noise. When running, the turntable offers plenty of pace, but also very impressive dynamic range. The price above includes £2,000 for a suitable cartridge.
To The Stars! £10,300-£35,000
Dream machines that exceed that magical £10,000 mark
One of the best turntables in the world and criminally under-recognised to boot, the Live Sovereign has been the subject of recent motor, power supply and speed control upgrades. It’s not one of LLV’s favourite decks for nothing: the sound is stunning. An incredible design with amazing insight in sonic terms.
Again, one of the best turntable designs in the world. You can upgrade the power supply to Reference standard to lift it into the £20k category, but the standard model is just superb. Robust, beautiful engineering and a well-designed sprung chassis. A genuine dream machine.
Utilises a range of innovative design points, including two identical high-mass platters, one above the other, rotating in opposite directions at the same speed to remove torsion effects. Arrives within an imposing and rather impressive structure, and with a similarly impressive sound performance.