Sunday, April 24, 2011

Concept of pleasant sound

Just like the Rega RP1, the Clearaudio Concept turntable is meant for the beginner - it comes with a moving magnet cartridge already fixed and the VTF and anti-skating are all set in the factory.


All you have to do after buying it from CMY Sound & Vision is plug in the power cord to the wall socket, connect the phono plugs to the phono stage, choose an LP and let the stylus read the grooves.

The cutting-edge component of the Concept turntable is neither the DC motor nor the black platter made of  Polyoxymethylene (commonly called POM) - it is the magnetic-bearing tonearm which is frictionless.




The clean look of the Clearaudio Concept turntable.


The sub-platter is larger than normal.

The DC motor has its own three-point suspension.

The minimalistic headshell of the Clearaudio Concept tonearm.

However, after close examination of the technology involved, it dawned on me that it appeared to be an upside-down Schroder tonearm. Instead of the magnets pulling the tonearm downwards, the magnets on the Clearaudio tonearm pull the tonearm upwards.

The magnetic-bearing tonearm worked well though and when you place the tonearm on the lifter before lowering it on the LP, the tonearm jiggles a little somewhat like a unipivot tonearm.

But once the stylus starts gliding along the grooves, the tonearm/cartridge combo becomes stable and its good tracking ability is clearly evident.

The plinth with rounded corners is solidly-built, the motor has its own suspension while the sub-platter is on the large side, and the entire package at RM5,000 seems to be value for money.


The magnet at the top pulls the magnet attached to the tonearm.
Note the string at the bottom. It appears to be an upside-down Schroder tonearm.

Though Rega’s RP1 is cheaper, it does not look as well made and it does not offer 78 rpm speed. Also with the Clearaudio Concept, you don’t have to remove the platter and adjust the belt to change the speed - you just have to turn a knob that offers 33⅓, 45 and 78 speeds.

Unlike other Clearaudio turntables that have acrylic platters, the Concept uses a POM platter.POM is a compound that is said to be very close to vinyl in terms of resonance characteristics.
Like other Clearaudio turntables, you don’t need to use a mat.

I listened to the Clearaudio Concept turntable with the Marantz PM-KI Pearl Lite integrated 70-watter amp, which has a built-in MM phono stage, driving the ATC SCM40s with MIT Shotgun MA biwire speaker cables.

The sound was clear with stable images and a large soundstage. The character was a bit laidback and the music was pleasant to listen to for long periods - nothing seemed out of place and nothing was in your face. The sonic signature of the Clearaudio Concept suited the Marantz very well since it seemed to be related sonically to the Clearaudio ‘family’.

I have noticed that with acrylic platters without mats, the leading edges of instruments like horns, electric guitars and piano are rounded off. The POM platter also displayed similar traits.

I decided to use a carbon-fibre donut mat from sLam Audio which restored the slam of the leading edges of music and gave the sound a more neutral tonality. It’s a question of preference and personally I prefer the sound with the sLam Audio donut mat.

Playing LPs on the POM platter without mat resulted in an easy-listening and very forgiving type of sound that anybody can live with - and even enjoy.



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