Latest News
Latest in Analog

The Best Tonearms and Phono Cartridges | Buyers Guide 2021

by Editorial Staff in Analog

The Best Tonearms [Editor’s note: Welcome to the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for 2021! This year we decided to mix it up a little by breaking up the Buyers Guide into sections, which makes it a far more manageable read. And oh, we know what you’re thinking–the best tonearms and cartridges? Have you seen the prices of those things lately? What we really need is the best tonearm/cartridge combo for under $100, amirite? Let’s clear this up: these are the best tonearms [...]


  • The Best Phono Preamplifiers | Buyers Guide 2021

    December 4, 2020 // 0 Comments

    The Best Phono Preamplifiers [Editor’s note: Welcome to the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for 2021! This year we decided to mix it up a little by breaking up the Buyers Guide into sections, which makes it a far more manageable read. And oh, we know what you’re thinking–the best phono preamplifiers? Really? Do people actually walk into a room where music is playing and say, “Wow, what that’s the best phono preamplifier!”? Let’s clear this up: these [...]
  • The Best Turntables | Buyers Guide 2021

    December 4, 2020 // 0 Comments

    The Best Turntables [Editor’s note: Welcome to the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for 2021! This year we decided to mix it up a little by breaking up the Buyers Guide into sections, which makes it a far more manageable read. And oh, we know what you’re thinking–the best turntables? Really? Everyone knows that modern ‘tables will never measure up to greats like the Garrard 301 or the Thorens TD-124! Let’s clear this up: these are the best turntables that we, the [...]
  • Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable | REVIEW

    October 30, 2020 // 0 Comments

    Debutantes Wear White Pro-Ject’s Debut Carbon EVO landed on my doorstep in what seemed like mere minutes after I’d been asking Managing Editor Eric Franklin Shook, “They want me to do a turntable review? But why not Dave, or Marc?” Though my serious journey into vinyl has only just begun this year, the Pro-Ject table was the perfect place to start. I’ve had a quick succession of lent tables, cartridges and phono stages in-house in the last few months, and under the careful [...]
  • Thorens TD-1601 Turntable | REVIEW

    October 23, 2020 // 1 Comment

        Which Thorens turntable is your favorite? The idler-driven TD-124, a sixty-year-old design that can compete with today’s finest? The TD-125 for its superb mechanical design and its extraordinary reliability? The TD-160 for bringing this exquisite engineering to a model that almost anyone could afford? How about the Thorens TD-1601? I really like that one, but more on that in a minute. I’ve considered a TD-124 over the last few years, one of those amazing and meticulous [...]
  • RCM Sensor 2 MKII Phono Preamplifier | REVIEW

    October 18, 2020 // 2 Comments

    RCM Sensor 2 MK II Phono Preamplifier Words and Photos by Dave McNair I’m one of those audiophiles that started my listening obsession with vinyl records. You know, those flat round black things that sound amazing unless they don’t. I love records. I hate records. It’s all so confusing. Listening to records using the RCM Sensor 2 MK II phono preamp takes all that confusion away. As a recording engineer (now mastering engineer) who started during the heyday of magnetic tape and [...]
  • Golf balls and squash balls, what have I gotten myself into? Literally! When Bernard Li, CEO of Charisma Audio, delivered the Well Tempered Lab Amadeus 254 GT table to me, I immediately questioned the sanity of my decision to embark on this review. The turntable itself is absolutely gorgeous. With its post-industrial look and aluminum top, the Amadeus captivated me momentarily, but as soon as Li started to assemble the $7800 Amadeus the alarm bells started to sound off in my head. Words and [...]
  • Glanz MH-124S Premium Tonearm | REVIEW

    September 27, 2020 // 0 Comments

    The Glanz MH-124S Premium tonearm review is the most difficult review I have ever done for two reasons. The first reason is the sheer beauty of the tonearm and its absolutely flawless sonic performance, making it very difficult for me to return the sample to Hamada San. The second reason is a more somber one. Three months into the review, my beloved brother-in-law took his own life after a silent battle with depression, leaving behind his two-month-old child and widow. For a couple of months, I [...]
  • Goldring Ethos Phono Cartridge | REVIEW

    September 18, 2020 // 0 Comments

    I wasn’t supposed to review the Goldring Ethos phono cartridge. It merely hitched a ride with the Thorens TD-1601 turntable and arm combo that I have in for review. Anthony Chiarella, who represents both companies, had it mounted on the ‘table before it shipped. He told me that it was a match that everyone had really enjoyed while testing out the Thorens. Goldring? Sure, I was more than happy to keep the Goldring Ethos on the arm for the time being. 25 or 30 years ago, when I was deep deep [...]
  • Is the Andover Audio Model One the good old-fashioned record player I’ve always wanted? For the last couple of years I’ve pushed this idea, mostly as a result of spending time with retail customers and finding out what they expect in a new turntable. I’ve concluded that we need to bring back all-in-one record players that sound good and are affordable. Vinyl newbs walk into a “hi-fi” store because they want something simple, an easy entry point into the hobby. They don’t want the [...]
  • In reviewing the Sumiko Songbird phono cartridge, the little brother/sister to the Sumiko Starling I reviewed in The Occasional, I encountered somewhat of a dilemma. Is it wise to start off with the flagship product from a manufacturer’s line and then work back toward entry level? If you move in the opposite direction, working your way up and going on The Journey, you have the joy of discovering better and better performance along the way. If you go the other way, your observations will [...]
  • I originally intended to include this review of the Fern and Roby Maverick phono preamplifier as part of my testing of their Montrose turntable and tonearm. Things changed during the review process, however—what was once a plug-in module that slid into the back of the Montrose plinth had evolved into a two-chassis outboard unit with improved parts quality and some tweaks to the circuitry. That’s fortuitous since I was able to compare the two units, and I was one of the first people in the [...]
  • A few months ago, Dave and Carol Clark of Positive Feedback made a social media post where they told friends in the industry they were looking for a new turntable and asked everyone an audiophile’s favorite question—what should we get? The usual suspects made recommendations of the usual brands, and I decided not to hop into the discussion because, quite frankly, that was a very crowded thread for a few days. It didn’t matter, because they ultimately went with something that I’d [...]
  • I’ve got quite a large LP collection that I endeavor to keep as unsullied as possible. Goodness knows it’s not because I’m a mysophobe; one glance around my listening room is enough to dispel any notion that I’m Mr. Clean. But it’s a universally accepted fact that if you want to hear everything on your records and not be sidetracked by annoying snaps, crackles, and pops that can overwhelm the content—or at least minimize those annoyances—you must spin clean records. That’s [...]
  •   Having a Jeff Rowland Design Group product in my reference system reminds me, in a roundabout way, of one of the greatest hi-fi systems I’ve heard. This happened nearly a decade ago, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. I had just received my Trenner & Friedl ART monitors—yes, I’ve owned these little gems for almost ten years now—and I was invited to Bob Clarke’s Profundo room to meet Peter Trenner and Andreas Friedl. (This was the first time I had met Bob as [...]
  • Fluance RT85 Reference Turntable | REVIEW

    June 19, 2020 // 6 Comments

    The Fluance RT85 Reference turntable retails for $500. That’s very important to me from a historical standpoint, so allow me to elaborate. I came up with the $500 Rule for turntables back in 1998, during the early days of my original Vinyl Anachronist column for Perfect Sound Forever. The $500 Rule states that “you have to spend about $500 to get a turntable that out-performs every mass-market CD player out there.” This, of course, was back in those dark, almost medieval years when most [...]
  • Words and Photos by Dave McNair I had a fantastic time putting the most excellent Doshi Audio Tape Head Preamplifier through its paces. This latest version, labeled the EVO series, has some improvements over the previous Tape Head Preamplifier 3.0 series, but permit me to reminisce a bit first… A Long Time Ago In A Recording Studio Far, Far Away Sitting behind an enormous API console as I peered through the glass to watch the musicians in the tracking room, I heard the last bit of decay from [...]
  • LampizatOr Vinyl Phono MC1 | REVIEW

    June 7, 2020 // 2 Comments

    What the heck is in THAT thing? That was my first reaction to the huge road case I signed for from my delivery guy. My second reaction was “Dayum, I don’t remember there being an amplifier headed my way. This sucker is heavy!” Ohhhh, I thought, it’s the LampizatOr Vinyl Phono MC1. I flashed back to my days of helping load the van with all our band gear, and I channeled my inner roadie as I hauled the case back to the staging area, my garage studio, for unpacking. Words and [...]
  • ZYX Ultimate 100 Phono Cartridge | REVIEW

    May 31, 2020 // 6 Comments

    There is something about a curry. Sorry, but for some reason when I started making serious notes about the sound of the ZYX Ultimate 100 moving coil phono cartridge, I thought of food. I love Indian food. I find it incredibly satisfying. It must have something to do with the sheer number of spices that have to be skillfully blended to result in a concoction with the effect of a single, complex explosion of flavor to the taste buds. Words and Photos by Dave McNair Other culinary experiences are [...]
  • Hana ML Phono Cartridge | REVIEW

    May 31, 2020 // 3 Comments

    My first experience with Hana cartridges of Japan came at the 2016 Newport Show when I had organized my Down Under Audio exhibit rooms for Colleen Cardas Imports. My idea was this—after visiting Australia in 2015, I was determined to create an exhibit room (or two, actually) that had nothing but audio products from manufacturers based in either Australia or New Zealand. We built two systems, a simple one with Axisvoicebox loudspeakers and REDGUM Audio electronics and cables, and another far [...]
  • This review of the Palmer 2.5i turntable and the Audio Origami PU7 tonearm has been decades in the making. If you’ve been following the Vinyl Anachronist columns on Perfect Sound Forever over the last 22 years, you’ll know that I owe a debt of gratitude to Gene Rubin of Gene Rubin Audio. He’s the one who steered me away from the mid-fi gear I’d been using since I was a teen and started me on my true audio journey. Gene was especially helpful when it came to turntables—he sold me my [...]
  • ZYX UNIverse Optimum