When I was a lad, spinning platters of vinyl were the pinnacle of high fidelity sound reproduction.
Yes – my young, Instagram-flashing, Tweeter-wielding, audiophile ‘padawans’ – that old-school media was called ‘a record’. Tiny irregularities in the waveform of the original sound were pressed into plastic or vinyl discs as a spiral groove. These small irregularities were picked up by a needle (stylus) tracking in that groove when the record spun on a turntable, to send analogue electrical signals to the amplifier and loudspeakers; thus playing back the original sound. Despite the advent of magnetic audio tape on reels or in compact cassettes, Compact Discs (CD), Mini-Discs, DVD, MP3 and many other media standards, the phonograph turntable has made a comeback for the ultra high-fidelity audiophile.
California-based audio manufacturer, Spiral Groove, announced on 20th September 2016 that their much anticipated Revolution turntable is now available to excite audiophiles with stupendous audio playback, sexy design and bold colours. With Technique and Aesthetics in one $18,000 package; why would anyone ask for more?
Audiophiles know that Spiral Groove already produced two award-winning belt-driven turntables: the $30,000 SG 1.2 and the $21,000 SG2.
Could the Revolution provide more for less money?
The designer and company founder, Allen Perkins, thinks so.
The Revolution turntable features the same inverted sapphire disc/hardened steel bearing, motor and drive system as the flagship SG 1.2 and SG2 predecessors. With a smaller platter than the older models and a larger body that allows the use of tone arms from 8″ – 12″ long, the arm board is removable with a groove between plinth layers, and special isolation feet. Much of the cost difference is because it is an easier design to machine.
Spiral Groove call their engineering paradigm the ‘Balanced Force Design’ approach, for the most elegant equilibrium of materials, performance, function, manufacturability and beauty. The Revolution features a three-layer body made from aluminium and Delrin, forming a dense, rigid and well-damped, non-resonant platform to which the working parts of the turntable and a tonearm (available separately) can be precisely mounted and isolated from one another. If you want to “keep it in the family”, Spiral Groove’s Centroid tone arm costs an additional $6,000.
The platter is of truncated pyramid design with a Delrin top plate, aluminium bottom plate and that ‘magic’ vibration-damping technology in their Strange Attractor isolation feet, which refract, reflect and ultimately dissipate unwanted mechanical vibrations. This simply means there is an isolated energy sink for stylus-induced vibrations and a stable platform for the record.
Keeping the electrical noise low, the Revolution uses a low voltage/low-torque AC synchronous motor with an outboard sine-wave-generator power supply. The motor is fixed to a one-piece machined mount decoupled from the rest of the turntable with elastomer material, for amazing quiet playback. Speed control is electronically selectable for 33-1/3 and 45 rpm.
This carefully-orchestrated integration of of high mass, extreme solidity, superior speed stability and a vanishingly low noise floor, all converge in the Spiral Groove Revolution to deliver a laudable level of playback fidelity.
Spiral Groove is distributed in the U.S.A. by IMMEDIA, which is also founded by Allen Perkins; supply and distribution by the same owner – smart move! If you really want a one-stop audio system, IMMEDIA also distributes Canalis loudspeakers and Strange Attractors vibration control accessories.
Before, he became a audio equipment designer, Allen Perkins was a jazz drummer. He described why his Spiral Groove turntables are special by referencing himself. “What I am is in the design. It is an extension of my personality. My sense of reasoning and decision-making lead me to certain choices that manifest in the turntables, just as they manifest in everything else in my life. If I look at a turntable, for example, I ignore all the hype. Instead, I ask about the basic underlying requirements of getting the record to spin steady without introducing extra noise, and play it back in a pure form.”
AlphaLuxe says: “You can’t ask for anything more”
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelog ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).