Like rocket salad and Pirates of the Caribbean, vinyl just won’t die. Unlike the other two however the latter is a good thing. As any audiophile will tell you at length, good condition vinyl is simply the best way to listen to music.
Rather than converting digital to analogue, it’s a straight analogue to analogue process. It means that what you hear is closer to the original artist then either CD or digital formats. The only downside is that you need something a little better than that old, beaten-up turntable hidden in the attic.
If you really want the best you need to pay for it; the same goes for these particular turntables. Advanced doesn’t quite begin to describe them. Obsessive is more like it. Regardless of how much that may be true however the results speak for themselves.
Continuum Obsidian (£35,000)
As far as I’m concerned this is one of the coolest looking turntables available at the moment. There’s plenty non-aesthetic things to love about the Obsidian too but you have to admit, it’s stunning. Fortunately those looks are matched by the sound quality.
One of the key selling points isn’t the extraordinary construction, the advanced materials or even the super quiet motor; it’s the tone arm. Dubbed the Viper, it’s an update of the Copperhead, one of the finest tone arms on the market and one that markets for around £20,000 by itself. Add in tungsten bearings and a new suspension system help the arm do its job by lessening unwanted background interference. Not bad for what was Continuum’s first turntable in five years.
Jadis Thalie (£45,000)
Mass is the name of the game with French audio manufacturer Jadis’ vinyl opus. The Thalie turntable weighs an impressive 176 pounds, mostly thanks to the vast majority of it being solid granite and damps any and all vibrations through sheer force of weight. It’s a simple method but from the sound of the Thalie a successful one too.
The success however isn’t entirely due to the weight. Precision machining plays a big part and having only four moving parts in the entire construction gives the entire turntable a more solid feel. It’s like the audio equivalent of marble countertops: the reassuring solidity of quality. As an added bonus it comes complete with a tone arm. Just make sure you get Jadis to set it up themselves; there’s no point putting your back out.
TechDAS Air Force One (£89,998)
The now-legendary Air Force One is insanely complex. There’s a good reason it’s among the most expensive and extreme pieces of audio equipment in the world. Look past the price tag however and you begin to see exactly why that’s the case. Where the Thalie relies on weight, the TechDAS rely on weightlessness.
A vacuum clamps the LP to the turntable ensuring that it won’t move or skip in any way and air suspension all but eliminates external vibrations. Given the sensitivity of a good needle and tonearm it’s a difference you can clearly hear. It leads to silences of a purity no other turntable can match. Then of course there’s the fact that it looks amazing. I mean come on; it puts the real Air Force One to shame.