The iPhone and iPad are truly elegant designs, but they are the rare exceptions in the rather drab world of consumer electronics. Most cameras, printers, computers, home theater receivers, and speakers are pretty sedate, but there is one product category that stands out: turntables. I've picked a choice selection that represents remarkable achievements in industrial design, and they're highly functional, exquisitely engineered products.
The Redpoint Model A turntable has an aluminum and composite Teflon platter, damped by silicone oil, and the turntable features a battery-powered 12-volt DC motor with precious metal brushes. The turntable weighs 90 pounds.
The Bergmann Magne turntable's "air" bearing allows the platter to float on a thin cushion of air. Magne means "strength" in Nordic mythology.
The Continuum Copperhead isn't a turntable; it's a radically designed tonearm, named after a rare, highly venomous Australian snake. The arm "wand" is eggshell thin, shaped with special contours and compound curves to minimize the resonance of the arm.
Precision engineering and classic design are embodied in the first turntable from AMG (Analog Manufaktur Germany), the Viella 12. The AMG turntable was created by Werner Roeschlau, who works with his son and other master machinists at their Bavarian factory located north of Munich.
In 1883, the Thorens family business was first registered in Sainte-Croix (Ste-Croix), Vaud, Switzerland by Hermann Thorens. They originally manufactured musical boxes and clock movements, and started producing Edison-type phonographs in 1903. The Thorens TD 2035 turntable is just the latest example of the company's long tradition.
The Rega RP6 is a classic British take on what a turntable should be. Rega is known for its excellent build quality, reliability, ease of use, and great sound.
The VPI Classic turntable and tonearm are made in New Jersey. It's a no-fuss, super-easy-to-use design, built to last practically forever.
The belt-drive Thorens TD 550 features a suspended chassis, and the turntable is large enough to be used with 12-inch tonearms, which are preferred by vinyl devotees.
The Unison Research Giro belt-drive turntable features a "resonance optimized" chassis that uses acrylic and three layers of cherry wood.
Spiral Groove turntables sandwich layers of stainless steel and aluminum as a defense against errant vibration. Spiral Groove makes some of the finest-sounding turntables I've heard to date.
Thanks to Dave Clark at Positive Feedback magazine for providing some of the images in this post.