Audio Pathways, from Richmond Hill in Ontario, presented what seemed to be a charmingly minimalist system. Two turntables and a chair? What less could you ask for. Another glance showed Focal Diablo Utopias ($12k) being driven by the no-analog-here Bel Canto Black stack ($50k). Strangely, there was no digital here. Ron Sutherland‘s Phono Blocks ($10k) were the only source of music.
The impression of starkly beautiful minimalism came from the single flower on the floor and the two Bergmann turntables topping the racks. On the right, the budget system featured a Magne System ($16,500) and an Ortofon Cadenza Red ($1300). On the left, the Sindre System ($28k) sported a Lyra Etna ($7k). Both turntables feature linear, air bearing tonearms. Both feature a belt driven by a DC motor. The Sindre adds more mass, a different combination of materials in the platter and subplatter, and a beefy, external motor control.
The direct, well scrubbed precision of the system was constant between both tables, but the Sindre/Etna combination quickly eliminated any doubt as to the value of the upgrade, not just with the overwhelming tone of the Etna, but also with a rhythmic eagerness and solid speed that I don’t normally associate with DC motors and belt drives. Rickie Lee Jones’ voice was solidly in the room — even through the expected electronic haze of listening to anything early on a show Friday.