that a new suspension tuning method (soon to be incorporated
in all of its cartridges), higher output, and the use of finer
gauge wire in the generator coils, has resulted in performance
that supersedes the venerable D.C. Lyra has another new
cartridge in the works, the Helikon, which should hit the
streets at $2500. Immedia was also showing the stunning new
RPM Revolution turntable ($10,000, gulp!), designed by Allan
Perkins. Besides its good looks, the Revolution is a
smorgasbord of high-tech materials. The platter has a
burnished graphite surface on top of a phenolic and stainless
steel sandwich. The bearing utilizes a sapphire disc and
tungsten carbide ball. The detached AC synchronous motor is
fed by an analog sine wave generator and an outboard power
supply. The arm mount is composed of an aluminum and stainless
steel cavity filled with lead. A one-touch control allows for
fine tuning of both 33 1/3 and 45 RPM. Sound impressive? It
is. Eric Clapton's Unplugged (an old audio-fool
favorite of mine) never sounded so good: rich, warm, and
natural (not bad for what's apparently a digital recording).
The rest of the system consisted of the RPM tonearm ($2895),
Herron Audio VTSP-1/VTPH-1 linestage/phono stage combo
($6900), GamuT Audio D200 dual-mono amplifiers
($5000), Audio Physic Caldera loudspeakers
($20,995/pair in mahogany), and cables by Analysis Plus,
Harmonic Technologies and Yamamura Churchill.
Big bucks, but stellar performance. Watch for an upcoming tour
of the Immedia factory and listening studios.
Prior to this
year's show, I hadn't had much exposure to the Michell
Engineering line of turntables imported from the U.K. by
Artech Electronics. But what I heard in Vegas from the Gyro SE
($1995 with Rega RB300 arm), I liked. The Gyro's level of both
physical and sonic refinement was impressive, especially
considering its reasonable asking price. Michell also debuted
two new products in January: The Orbe SE (Spyder Edition)
turntable ($3500, including arm board), and the Delphini phono
The Orbe SE,
based on the successful Orbe platform, eliminates both the
plexiglass base and dustcover of its more expensive sibling,
bringing it in at $3500, undercutting the Orbe by $700.
Improvements incorporated on the SE include single-point,
ball-contact three-point suspension towers, and springs that
the company says are easier to adjust. The Delphini phono
stage offers adjustable gain and load, accepting both MM and
MC phono cartridges (up to a maximum output of 3mV).
High-tolerance 0.1% metal film resistors and 1% polystyrene
and polypropylene capacitors are employed throughout, and the
case is composed of non-ferrous polished stainless steel and
acrylic. With any luck, reviews will be forthcoming.
Mook Monks, infamous for their Mpingo resonance-tuning
discs, were in Vegas with a truck load of wooden goodies.
While some might call the Monks' explanations of their
products' inner workings, pseudo-science, voodoo and
gobbledy-mook, their room, packed to the rafters with all
manner of tuning devices, sounded bloody good. Besides the
dots, discs, and other doodads, the Monk's were playing vinyl
on an Oracle turntable tweaked-out with resonance control
devices up the ying yang. The cartridge in question was the
Shun Mook Signature ($3500), a device I hadn't crossed paths
with before. The Signature's body is made from (surprise!)
Mpingo Ebony, the so-called "Singing Wood of Africa".
According to Shun Mook's white paper on the Signature, the
company had to come up with an entirely new fabrication
process in order to fashion the tiny wooden body parts,
something that I'm sure is reflected in the Signature's hefty
asking price. On the plus side, the Signature's respectable
output voltage of 0.34mV means that it should be compatible
with a wide variety of moving-coil phono stages. Whether or
not the company's theories of resonance control have any basis
in science, my ears tell me that they must be on to something
. The system fronted by the Signature (and terminated in the
Bella Voce Signature loudspeakers) sounded oh-so smooth and
natural. One of my favorites of the show, in fact.