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Positive Feedback ISSUE41
Disk Master turntable
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
I consider myself the luckiest reviewer on earth. With every scribe from here to lower Mongolia begging for the E.A.R. Disk Master, I have it "up and running." Am I in fat city or what? Yes, it's beautiful! Yes, it's a joy to use! Yes, it's a precision instrument! Yes, it's the best turntable yet in my system! After countless VPI designs, Thorens, Linn Sondeks, and more, this magnetic drive masterpiece is a welcome music maker of the highest order!
I'll get this out of the way first. The suspension on this table actually works. I have never had a table in 45 years of audiophiledom with built in suspension that was really worth anything. The E.A.R. comes fully loaded with a terrific suspension that will allow it to ride on any steady, fairly level shelf well isolated from vibration. Even so, I put it on a Seismic Sink, and it was like gilding the lily! At $17k, it comes with what other tables costing way more just leave off. I remember when I had a Linn, I adjusted the suspension weekly, not that it ever isolated the table from vibration. What a pain. The Disk Master is adjusted only once when leveling… end of story.
It supports two arms quite elegantly and has SME and Helius cutouts on board. I used two Helius Omega arms designed for this table. I mounted one arm with my ZYX Airy 3x cart, but never did mount my Grado Reference, maybe later. The power supply and speed control is a slick chrome and aluminum box that allows fine adjustment and speeds for 33, 45, and 78 with the turn of a knob. I used a new Argentum Power Cord for the table power supply
Amazing to See
The Disk Master with magnetic drive brings the platter to speed in ONE revolution. It does not even slow very much when using the static brush. It is the best application of high tech engineering precision I've ever seen in audio. There is a space between the drive belt / motor wheel and the parallel wheel that runs the LP platter that's a full ¼ of an inch wide. The magnets must be robust. Plus, the top platter starts almost as quickly as the motor spins below. It's magic!
Here's what the manufacturer says:
The Sound of Silence
I have no idea what the E.A.R. may sound like as I do not detect any obvious or even subtle sonic signature. It's not warm or cool. It's not vivid or reserved. The ZYX just performed about 40-50% better overall on this table and with this arm than on my current VPI setup. I also noticed a much lower noise floor with the Disk Master along with consistently quieter LP surfaces.
The table is quite compact at under 50 lbs …no 700 lbs. here and no double hernias either. It also looks like a turntable should look and is super sturdy made of very thick metal bits. There are no crystal or glass sections, no carbon fiber pillars or retro juke box look a likes. Its adjustments are intuitive and it has small bubble levels built into key pieces to guide you as you set it up. If it sold for $30k or $40K, I'd not be surprised based on the top flight construction and engineering. At under $20k, it's a fabulous bargain and a lifetime keeper for anyone that loves LPs.
I like the idea that the Disk Master is not some giant beast of a contraption. Unless you put the table in another room which few of us do, the bigger the turntable, the bigger the sonic sail to catch air born vibration and to communicate floor born vibration to the platter. In the case of turntables, smaller is generally better and a hell of a lot easier to accommodate.
From Beethoven to Ellington, the E.A.R. was unflappable. The Corian platter covered in cork is very pretty and quite dead to the touch. All forms of vibration are less a factor with the Disk Master than any other table I've ever seen or heard. LPs just play like never before. This is one innately musical turntable. No clamps or vacuum suction here. The LP just rests beautifully flat on the generous platter.
I played several of my cherished RCA lacquers and heard truly glorious music. Inner definition and depth are enhanced. Individual musical lines are easier to hear. Distortion is very noticeably lower. Dynamics are bigger, both macro and micro. LPs consistently sound clearer and with less distortion at all frequencies.
The bass is bold, deep, clear, and dramatic. LPs with particularly big drum thwacks and beep bass fiddle bowing were reproduced with state of the art excellence. I listened to the E.A.R. on both the AudioMachina Maestros and Avalon Eidolons + REL Sub and heard the best LP bass of my life. I completely disagree with any criticism laid at the feet of the Disk Master regarding a supposed lack of superior bass reproduction. Utilizing the E.A.R. 324 phonostage, I got extraordinary bass definition to the lowest frequencies [16Hz on the Maestro's] with all the bass grunt in North America.
The Disk Master never so much as said peep while I played it. It's absolutely set and forget. After one initial speed control tweak in setup, you are on your way. Turn it on and off…that's it folks. It works like the old Timex…first time, every time. Well done Tim!
I spoke with Tim at RMAF and E.A.R. is ramping up production on the Disk Master in January. It's still a special order item I'm told, but at least your wait will be reasonable. It's worth the wait if you want perfect LP sound forever!
The E.A.R. Disk Master turntable is all you've heard about and more. It plays your favorite LP's with significantly less distortion and noise than any other table in its price range or substantially more. It is solidly built and needs little adjustment. It has no sonic signature to report. It is a bass champ! It will be available beginning in January in higher quantities for LP lovers. It has a suspension that really isolates and needs little adjustment. To own it is to love it. The E.A.R. Disk Master receives my highest recommendation for LP collectors who want and demand only the best. Robert H. Levi