Are you an audiophile looking for the ultimate turntable experience?
Have you heard the term “reference turntable” thrown around but aren’t quite sure what it means?
Look no further!
In this article, we’ll explore the world of reference turntables and what sets them apart from the rest.
From the materials used to the design and engineering, we’ll delve into the details of what makes a turntable a true reference piece.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about the pinnacle of turntable technology.
What Is A Reference Turntable
A reference turntable is a high-end, flagship model produced by individual manufacturers. While there is no set definition of what a reference product is, it is typically considered to be the standard by which all other turntables are measured.
Reference turntables are designed with the highest quality materials and engineering to produce the best possible sound quality. Many audiophile turntables are made of a wood material called MDF, which provides a stable and resonant base for the turntable components.
One example of a reference turntable is based on the Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference Turntable, which was designed in 1964 by David Gammon. This turntable was used in various films and television commercials due to its exceptional design and sound quality.
The turntable employs an AC synchronous motor on a single-deck sprung mounting, driving the platter via a neoprene rubber drive belt. This design provides close to perfect speed, stability, wow and flutter, making it a measuring stick for anything else in an audiophile’s collection.
However, even reference turntables are not perfect, and it can be difficult to ascertain their quality unless you measure all of them, which is rarely done.
Introduction To Reference Turntables
If you’re new to the world of turntables, you may be wondering what a reference turntable is and why it’s considered the pinnacle of audio quality. Essentially, a reference turntable is a high-end model produced by individual manufacturers that is designed to produce the best possible sound quality.
Reference turntables typically include new options for stylus and platter materials, as well as updates to the motor and feet. These turntables are made with the highest quality materials and engineering to ensure that they provide the best possible sound quality.
While there is no set definition of what a reference product is, it is generally considered to be the standard by which all other turntables are measured. Audiophiles often use a reference turntable as a measuring stick for anything else in their collection, as it provides close to perfect speed, stability, wow and flutter.
It’s important to note that even reference turntables are not perfect, and it can be difficult to ascertain their quality unless you measure all of them. However, if you’re looking for the best possible sound quality from your turntable, a reference model is definitely worth considering.
Materials Used In Reference Turntables
The materials used in reference turntables are of the highest quality and are carefully selected to provide the best possible sound quality. One of the most commonly used materials for turntable plinths and some platters is medium density fiberboard (MDF). This wood material is heavy, durable, and absorbs vibration more than metal, providing a stable base for the turntable components.
In addition to MDF, some reference turntables feature platters made of specialized materials such as aerospace alloys. The Reference Anniversary turntable, for example, features a platter made of a highly specialized, very high density (60% more dense than titanium), non-ferrous alloy with extreme damping properties called EXIUM® AM. This alloy was developed by a French company in collaboration with the famous Ecole des Mines de Paris and is precision CNC machined into the exacting specifications of the Reference Anniversary turntable’s 6.5 kg/14.3 lb. platter. The end result is a platter that is extremely inert and the first ever audio component to be produced using this Exium® AM alloy.
The platter of reference turntables is also designed with additional weight and sorbothane damping to make it resonance-free. The Reference Turntables series, for example, features a platter upgraded with 12 brass inserts and one top brass insert under vinyl top plate to add additional weight and further stabilize the platter for even better speed stability.
Cartridges used in reference turntables must also be carefully selected to ensure proper balance. They must weigh between 3.5 to 7.5 grams to be balanced correctly.
Design And Engineering Of Reference Turntables
Design and engineering are crucial aspects of reference turntables. These turntables are designed to deliver the highest possible sound quality, which requires a meticulous approach to every component and detail.
One example of a reference turntable design is the Reference Anniversary turntable, which features a multi-motor drive system with dual high-precision, Swiss-made, decoupled, brushless DC motors. This arrangement optimizes both torque and speed accuracy, providing exceptional speed stability.
To eliminate negative effects from the motor drive system acting upon the platter, reference turntables like the Reference Anniversary use side-force-free belt drive technology. This design features resonance-eliminating chassis construction and geometry, three separately housed motor drive units, three independent belts, precision-machined massive tonearm mounting plates, and a hand-polished inverted bearing with a diamond-polished ceramic ball.
The massive stainless steel decoupling bases further enhance the turntable’s stability and performance. These engineering features ensure that the turntable reproduces the fine and sensitive information coming from vinyl without any degradation or distortion.
Reference turntables also require precision cartridge balancing. Cartridges must be between 3.5 to 7.5 grams to be balanced correctly, ensuring optimal performance and sound quality.
In addition to these engineering features, many reference turntables also feature aesthetic designs that reflect their high-end status. For example, the Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference Turntable was designed with the skill of an 18th-century clockmaker and manufactured from aluminum and acrylic to very high tolerances. The end result was a highly polished, highly accurate turntable that was also visually stunning.
Sound Quality Of Reference Turntables
Reference turntables are designed to optimize sound quality and sound character of the vinyl record. These turntables are generally a step above in quality and price of the mass-produced, usually plastic bodied turntables. High-quality features, build quality, and ease of set up and usage are some of the factors that make reference turntables stand out.
Reference turntables are made with materials that provide a stable and resonant base for the turntable components. This ensures that vibrations from the environment do not interfere with the sound quality produced by the turntable. The components used in reference turntables are also of high quality to ensure that they work together harmoniously to produce exceptional sound quality.
One example of a reference turntable is the Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference Turntable which was designed in 1964. This turntable is known for its exceptional design and sound quality. It employs an AC synchronous motor on a single-deck sprung mounting, driving the platter via a neoprene rubber drive belt. This design provides close to perfect speed, stability, wow, and flutter, making it a measuring stick for anything else in an audiophile’s collection.
Reference turntables are designed to bring out the best in vinyl records. They produce a warm and detailed sound that is not possible with mass-produced turntables. If you are serious about your vinyl collection, investing in a reference turntable is a must-have.
Conclusion: Is A Reference Turntable Right For You?
If you are a serious audiophile who is passionate about the quality of your music, then a reference turntable may be right for you. These turntables are designed to provide the highest level of sound quality possible, using the best materials and engineering available.
However, reference turntables can be quite expensive and may not be practical for everyone. Additionally, they require careful setup and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
If you are just starting out with vinyl or are looking for a more affordable option, there are many excellent mid-range turntables available that still provide high-quality sound. It is important to do your research and find a turntable that meets your needs and budget.
Ultimately, whether or not a reference turntable is right for you depends on your individual preferences and priorities. If you are willing to invest in the best possible sound quality and are willing to put in the time and effort to maintain your equipment, then a reference turntable may be worth considering.