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Positive Feedback ISSUE 72
TechDAS Air Force One
Stereo Sound is an A5 sized quarterly magazine (issue No. 189, 2014 Winter, 520 pages) that has been published in Japan for over 40 years and is considered in the land of the samurai and Sony to be the final and absolute authority on audio. The language of publication is still somewhat of a challenge to me—I may know five or so Japanese words by now—yet I have read many of its reviews in their English translation. Such "cheat sheets" are released by the representatives (agents) of Japanese manufacturers.
The reviews are nothing like those we know from European and American audio magazines. The main featured products are reviewed and discussed a few times in various sections of a given issue. The main presentation is a record of an in-depth discussion held in the "Stereo Sound" editorial office by all its editors and based on their auditions carried out in the editorial listening room or at home. These auditions are carried out in turns by two editors at a time, sitting one behind the other. Each product has a lead editor. The conclusions of this discussion are then detailed in subsequent product descriptions, mostly technical.
Stereo Sound is an extreme example of an audio magazine. If you think Stereophile and The Absolute Sound to be high-end, the Japanese magazine would need to be placed in the stratosphere, as even calling it top high-end would not quite do justice to what is published there. Of course, it features relatively inexpensive components, too, but these are rare occurrences rather than the norm. And what attracts the readers are the flagship products.
The more so that they have a lot to choose from, being presented with the true crème de la crème of the audio world. This is guaranteed by Japanese audio distributors who are also advertisers in the magazine. For years, one of the biggest has been Stella Inc. whose portfolio includes such premier brands as Constellation, Devialet, Einstein, Brinkmann, Vivid Audio, Tidal, Wilson Benesch, HRS, Argento and TechDAS. The last one is particularly interesting as it is a brand founded and run by Stella Inc. which, in my strong belief, has designed the best turntable in the world.
Only a year ago, TechDAS was a virtually unknown name for the vast majority of non-Japanese people. Very "technical" and "angular", it was immediately linked to the name that is, in turn, known to everyone—Air Force One. The name of the U.S. president's airplane was used to designate a turntable that was to become the "first among the first." An ambitious goal, especially given that it was the first such product from TechDAS; actually its first product ever. Every new manufacturer usually needs to pay its dues before reaching a level where skills and knowledge are complemented by experience that, combined, turn audio components into something more than a bag of electronics in a metal box. To quote Jeff Rowland, "it takes years to understand the complex relationship between component parts and the end design. Audio design is an art form that requires a lifetime to master. There are no shortcuts." How very true, indeed.
Any concerns we might have about the Air Force One, or AFO for short, are dispelled as soon as we look behind the curtain to see who is behind all this, tinkering, soldering and putting it together. The man perched over the table is Mr. Hideaki Nishikawa. Hideaki-san began his professional career in 1966 when he joined Stax to work there for the next ten years, developing electrostatic headphones. Then he designed turntable tonearms for the next few audio manufacturers that were fortunate enough to employ him. His main pride is the Black Widow, which he designed for Infinity. He eventually joined Micro-Seiki as Technical Department Manager. Soon he became the Sound Business Director, so he was the person responsible for shaping the acoustic imprint of products from this Japanese company. Summing up the 12 years he spent there, he cites the SX-8000II turntable with air bearing and vacuum hold-down system as his statement product (Ken Kessler, "TechDAS Air Force One", Hi-Fi News & Record Review, March 2013, p. 25). The Air Force One is a compilation of all the best design solutions from the SX-8000II, using the latest material processing technology and virtually unrestricted research budget. Stella owners "only" wanted him to design his best turntable ever.
Micro-Seiki is a legend that has the status of a "cult" company. It has its own fan clubs and dedicated websites, such as www.micro-seiki.nl (Dutch website in English). Its more expensive turntables very rarely appear on the secondary market and if they do they fetch exorbitant prices. The Air Force One is nothing but cheap, either. Looking at its design, however, it is not difficult to understand why. This is not another "audiophile" product that mainly appeals to us with a brand reputation (which is new here) or design solutions with difficult-to-pronounce names that are hard to find in scientific literature (because they do not exist, and their names are pure PR gimmick). Its quality is guaranteed by the authority of Mr. Nishikawa, while the solutions applied are solid hi-tech engineering.
Design focus included the following criteria:
• Elimination of all unnecessary vibration and resonance
• Absolute rotational accuracy and concentricity
• Maximum quietness operation,
• Immunity from external vibration
• Mounting flexibility for all types of tonearm
• User friendliness and an elegant beauty
• A choice of platter material and type
• Silent, ripple free air pumps
It might be argued that the above list is wishful thinking, similar to the "I would like for the world to live in peace" speeches by each Miss World, Universe or Star Empire candidate. In this case, however, chances for each of the above lines to find its happy ending were much higher than elsewhere.
The Air Force One is a mass turntable, weighing in at 79 kg without the power supply, air pump, and air condenser unit. Its platter weighs between 21.5 kg and 29 kg (depending on the sub-platter choice), and consists of the main platter made of non-magnetic steel and an exchangeable upper sub-platter. The customer can choose the A7075 aircraft-grade duralumin which is supposed to be most neutral sonically, the SUS316L non-magnetic stainless steel for tighter bass response, or methacrylate for a softer sound. The unit that arrived for a review featured the aluminum version. The platter is suspended on a thin air film, with as little as 0.06 mm distance between the platter and the glass base surface underneath. Air cushion is the hallmark of top Micro-Seiki turntables, which found its logical development here. The air is supplied from an external pump, housed in the same chassis as the two 50-watt power supplies (separate for each phase) for the AC motor. The power supplies are controlled by a circuit sporting a microcontroller and quartz oscillator. The control circuit has been borrowed directly from the artificial heart's power supply, which can be found in the best hospitals. The motor is housed in a very heavy chassis decoupled from the turntable base and supported by its own isolation feet. The drive is transmitted via a flat 4 mm belt made of polished non-stretchable polyurethane. To some extent, it resembles a string drive.
Preparing the turntable to work requires experience and muscle. I seated the AFO on the upper shelf of my Finite Elemente Pagode Edition rack. You can also purchase a custom made anti-vibration platform from HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems), with milled out seats for all isolation feet. HRS is a company that distributes Stella products in Japan. After setting up the base and seating the platter using clever screw-in handles, the height-adjustable feet with air suspension system need to be filled with air. Two feet are located on the left side with the motor and the third one is on the right side. Pneumatic decoupling is reminiscent of that offered by the Acoustic Revive RAF-48H air board, except that here the foot resonance is designed for the specific turntable load. Air is filled using an excellent pump - I need to buy one for my RAF air boards. The next step involves leveling the turntable and adjusting the distance from the motor unit. Only then can the belt be mounted. The latter is very important, as evidenced by a fairly long belt-calibration procedure that is part of the initial setup and needs to be repeated when changing belts. The belt-calibration process is done automatically, after pressing a button, and involves checking belt tensioning. If it is incorrect, the motor unit needs to be repositioned before repeating belt-calibration. Once the turntable communicates that it is ready, you can start listening.
As I have mentioned earlier, the pump is used not only to supply air to the air bearing, but also to create vacuum under the record to hold it down to the platter. The AFO employs a "total" hold-down solution as the entire LP surface is clamped down, not just the center label area. Tapping anywhere on the black disc surface feels like tapping a stone.
So we put on a disc and a record 'clamp' on it, press the "Suction" button, then push the desired speed button the and lower the tonearm. I put the 'clamp' in inverted commas as it doesn't actually clamp anything but is used to set the resonant frequency of the main bearings. The rotational speed is reached in a rather long process. First the motor control circuit slowly accelerates the platter slightly above its normal speed before gradually slowing it down to a predetermined value. This is not really an "exhibition" turntable. Although where there's a will there's a way… Since I wanted to make use of the available turntable to the maximum, I came up with a rapid LP swapping system. I only pushed the Suction button, changing LPs "on the fly". I didn't have the slightest problem with it and the rotational speed would never change. Indications and messages are displayed on a small dot-matrix display.
TechDAS has recently added a phono cartridge to its product lineup but it was not available during this review. The company does not as yet offer any tonearm, though. The turntable reviewed by Hi-Fi News & Record Review had been equipped with two tonearms: the Continuum Cobra with Koetsu Blue Onyx MC cartridge and the EAT E-Go with Koetsu Gold Onyx (the pictures show a different tonearm so they apparently had been provided by the distributor). Both arms had been mounted simultaneously as there is an optional second tonearm base. RCM, Polish distributor for TechDAS, offers SME arms and Dynavector cartridges. Hence, I auditioned the AFO equipped with a pair that I knew from several other turntables: the SME Series V arm with MCS150 cables (priced at 16,900 PLN) and the Dynavector DV XV-1t cartridge (29,900 PLN).
Albums auditioned during this review
• Meditation – Mischa Maisky / Pavel Gililov, Deutsche Grammophon/Clearaudio LP 477 7637, 180 g LP (1990/2008).
• Thorens. 125th Anniversary LP, Thorens ATD 125, 3 x 180 g LP (2008).
• 2 Plus 1, Teatr na drodze, Polskie Nagrania Muza SX 1574, LP (1978).
• Bajm, Chroń mnie, Wifon LP086, LP (1986).
• Brendan Perry, Ark, The End Records | Cooking Vinyl | Vinyl 180 VIN180LP040, 2 x 180 g LP (2011).
• Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Study In Brown, EmArcy Records/Universal Music Japan UCJU-9072, 200 g LP (1955/2007).
• Depeche Mode, Leave in Silence, Mute Records 12 BONG 1, maxi SP (1982).
• Falla, The Three Cornered Hat, Decca/Esoteric ESLP-10003, "Master Sound Works. Limited Edition", 200 g LP (1961/2008).
• Frank Sinatra, This is Sinatra!, Capitol Records T768, LP (1956).
• Kraftwerk, Autobahn, Philips 6305 231, LP (1974).
• Krzysztof Komeda, Dance of The Vampires, Seriés Aphōnos SA04, 180 g LP (2013).
• Maria Peszek, Jezus Maria Peszek, Mystic Production MYSTLP 014, 180 g LP (2013).
• OMD, English Electric, BMG | 100% Records 38007923, 180 g LP (2013).
• Orchestral Manœuvers In The Dark, Architecture & Morality, Dindisc 204 016-320, LP (1981).
• Skaldowie, Podróż Magiczna, Kameleon Records KAMPLP 2, "Limited edition blue wax", 180 g LP (2013).
• Skaldowie, The 70s Progressive German Recordings, Kameleon Records KAMPLP 3, "Limited edition", 180 g LP (2013).
Try as I might to avoid evaluating right at the start of audition, it always ended up the same way. I would begin to describe the sound only to blurt out, halfway through my third sentence, something that clearly showed my attitude to the Air Force One turntable. I gave up fighting it once I realized that I was unnecessarily stressing. Knowing how much money you need to shell out for it, knowing its design and realizing whose "child" it is, you have the right to expect certain results and my opinion won't change that in the least. Audio components are not created in a vacuum but result from a combination of designer's knowledge, experience and artistic hand, financial resources, access to necessary technology and perseverance in the pursuit of the goal. And no review, even the best, will ever change that.
Yet even knowing all this, one is still unprepared for what this Japanese Mechagodzilla brings. A similar thing happened to me during our group audition of the dCS Vivaldi digital system (see HERE) and, earlier, the Studer A807-0.75 VUK reel-to-reel (see HERE) that played analog master tapes. The Air Force One is the third vertex of an equilateral triangle which describes the potential of today's audio technology. Alongside the dCS and the Studer, it is top of the tops.
As I said, it could have been expected. Still, I had no idea that it would be so unsettling. For a very long time, I have not reviewed a turntable that would be so distinctive in design and offer sound that escapes classical analysis. Naturally, its sound can be described and even rated. It's just that its audition opens up new pathways in our brain that we were unaware of. Our current reference point is below it and we need to look from the top down at everything that we have heard so far. It is thus a boundary situation where I am somewhat in the dark, looking for the right adjectives and metaphors, and coming up with new ones.
To say that the sound is phenomenal or outstanding is to trivialize it. Of course it is and there is not much to get excited about. What's actually more important is HOW the sound is the best—not "to what extent" or "in which aspects", but HOW it describes the records' sound, HOW it renders the events that took place in front of the microphones, and HOW it interprets them.
For there is no doubt that it does it its own way, by a specific adaptation of the signal etched in the grooves of the vinyl disc. The AFO shows the sound better than it is in reality. No, it's not a mistake, or a slip of the tongue. I have heard something like that a few times before, but it always happened in a recording studio, while recording music in the studio or in a concert hall. Skilful microphone selection and setup, and proper mastering make it possible to create before the listener a collection of events that do not exist in reality. This is done by such adaptation of what is in front of the microphones that best conveys music presentation devoid of the visual aspect, which constitutes about 90 percent of normal human perception of the world, scaling it to the listening room dimensions that has nothing in common with the concert hall. It is an art, and that's why the best albums can sound spectacular when played back at home, while some are nothing but rubbish.
The AFO shows the music in one take. There is no time to analyze it and it's not because a given track is somehow rushed in or because of its dynamics or pace, or some other descriptions that are simply worthless in this case. Actually, it's a bit like being at a live concert. We sit down in front of the speakers or put on the headphones (in my case it's 50/50) and do not analyze the sound but rather concentrate on musical and extra-musical aspects. At a concert, we sweep our glance across the hall searching for our friends, at the same time watching with interest other people around us. Listening to the Japanese turntable, we sweep through the music presentation, searching for similarities to what's inside us and looking for familiar emotions, while at the same time remaining open to new experiences.
Each record is a separate chapter sandwiched between the album's beginning and end, with an interlude that occurs when flipping the record over. We can immediately tell if we like a given material or not. Our experience allows us to be bold in passing quick judgment and if it turns out not to meet the minimum level of our expectations we simply forget about it (with no hard feelings). It happened to me with a few albums I would never listen to again. Never before had the quality of music material been so clear to me. It's true about sound quality, too, but the latter is simply not an issue of concern during this turntable auditions. We enter the world of music material like a child—without any expectations and open to new adventures.
Eventually, we arrive at the form of this presentation; we are audiophiles, after all. Even then the content, that is an attempt to convey what has been recorded and processed further, stays in the first place. But it takes on a different meaning because of the way that Mr. Nishikawa's turntable fills the gaps between the recording and the music. That is how I understand what happens when we let it do its magic.
The turntable sound is incredibly deep. That's the thing that throws us off as it can't be compared to anything else. Even a mediocre performance (live sound), from a back seat in the audience and with substandard acoustics, allow communication with the performer. However, such event is flawed and not quite satisfying in our reception. Often simply off-putting. Only the best experiences with live instruments, in other words a top instrument and top performer in top acoustics, can give something similar to what the AFO offers with any record. Let me repeat, any record. I will come back to that later.
Firstly, then, depth. In his review I referred to earlier, Ken Kessler says that for him this is as near as it gets to the sound of a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I would venture to go even further and to say that most tape decks sound inferior. They have poor electronics and are often not properly aligned, and the tape is poor quality. Although master tape would seem to be the sonic reference, there is something in the process of vinyl preparation and then its playback that makes its better suited for home listening.
Anyone who has ever dealt with a reel-to-reel tape deck and original tapes knows that it is a completely different sound to that we are used to in hi-fi audio. In some aspects it is actually inferior, I think. The soundstage is virtually absent, at least in our understanding of it. It is flat. The turntable adds three-dimensionality by deliberately highlighting certain elements while moving others further away, which results in what we describe as a sound stage. One might call it artificial were it not for the fact that its artificiality is similar to that of the work of art that no one calls artificial but rather inventive or creative. Often more poignant than objective.
In some way, the Japanese turntable presents the soundstage as a tape deck does. Selectivity of any other source, be it digital or analog, seems to be incomparably higher. Only twice have I heard something that proved it be gross and irreversible manipulation—the Studer (analog tape) and the dCS-up (digital). The AFO probably does it even better. It offers the kind of three-dimensionality that we've been waiting for, while at the same time doesn't isolate individual planes or even instrument bodies. And yet the sound is incredibly deep, with the bodies so natural and so "present" that we burst into nervous laughter, finding it hard to believe that we have been deceived for so many years. That is exactly what happens when we hear for the first time something that clearly beats all our previous experience. That is how we grow and mature.
Secondly, massiveness. Including a well-reproduced bass that provides foundation for the whole sound. There is no treble without bass and no vocals without an order in the bottom end. Many turntables handle it very well, to name expensive SMEs, AVIDs and flagship Transrotors. A few digital sources, headed by dCS, Ancient Audio and CEC, have also something to say in this department. The bass presentation referred to in this review is something different altogether. Deeper than anything else and better defined, it is at the same time the softest of all the above sources. The quest for high resolution, dynamics and definition continues in various directions, by perfecting various elements. Here, nothing seems to be perfected—we get a coherent, finished whole, in which it is difficult to discern anything as it is all part of music.
And thirdly, differentiation. High quality music reproduction needs resolution (the higher the better) and selectivity (in exact proportion). Apparently, however, it can be done another way. Or so it is impossible to speak of a "resolution" and "selectivity" as known from elsewhere. Here, the music simply flows. Instrument bodies are being formed and the planes are present. Differentiation is something "under" the presentation layer.
These three aspects combined result in a deep, full and weighty sound that leaves no time to discuss tonality, treble or hardness. Treble could be described as honey-sweet and delicate, were it not for its huge energy and incredible reach into the recording. The mechanical aspect of reproduction, which is what is really described in audio reviews, here is hidden behind music and its presentation.
That well-recorded albums would sound well was to be expected. Even if I was surprised at what I heard, it was within my "event horizon". However, the jump in the sound quality of records considered to be a second-class league (in purely sonic terms) was shocking. I am trying to remain calm and not over exaggerate or use emotional gibberish, but what I heard on some old Polish vinyl LPs opened my eyes to things I had not even been aware of. I refer to Polish bands as we used to be out of luck for good quality vinyl in the country by the Vistula River. Now I found out that the sound engineer who had worked on Bajm's album Chroń mnie did a flawless job. Or that the depth, weight and three-dimensionality of events on the album Teatr na drodze by 2 Plus 1 was simply inimitable. The "boundary" conditions were clearly defined. It was evident where there was nothing more to do as the recording was limited by poor quality vinyl, recording studio or master tape. The same was true for records with inferior sound quality. Each of them sounded within the limits of its ability and, provided I liked the music, I accepted it without any reservations, carrying on as normal. If something good turned up, such as the two albums by Skaldowie from their psychedelic period previously unreleased on LP, it was a bonus but it didn't invalidate previous auditions.
AAA | DAA | DDA
Is that still "analog"?
The turntable makes it possible to assess the quality of recording and pressing with a previously unattainable level of certainty. No probably, but or it seems but the biblical yes yes, no no. I think that it helped me once and for all to sort out valuation, the basis for the description and evaluation when it comes to the source used for vinyl pressing.
As is known, a vinyl record stores analog signal. However, the signal used to master an acetate disc, which is processed to make a stamper for vinyl pressing, can be analog or digital. In the latter case, it needs to be converted to analog before the acetate master is cut on a cutting lathe. Before 1980 all material, except for very few rare cases, was fully analog from beginning to end. The recording process used analog tape recorders, analog mixing consoles and analog mastering equipment. All these records would be designated as AAA in the SPARS Code, implemented in 1984 by the Society of Professional Audio Recording Services (SPARS) for commercial CD releases. Then things started to get weird. Recording studios began to be equipped with digital recorders and the signal would be then converted to analog and mixed in the analog domain. Their SPARS code would be DAA (digital recording, analog mixing and mastering). With the development of digital audio technology, analog mixing consoles were replaced by digital and their SPARS code would be DDA. Today, almost all records are made in this way. Most of them are DDD, including digital mastering for CDs. Another possibility would be ADA where only mixing is done in the digital domain. When it comes to modern vinyl releases, still referred to as analog discs, they are analog by the name only.
Despite all that, digitally recorded and mixed analog discs can sound better than CDs. Why is that? First of all, vinyl masters use high-resolution file format like 24/48, 24/96, and even 24/192 (The Doors box set). There are also other reasons, which I will save for another time. When I listened to this kind of LPs on the Air Force One, I knew exactly where digital technology had pushed things forward, and where that push backfired.
Analog recorded and mixed discs sound better or worse but they are all smooth and natural. They are interesting in terms of their sound texture, very physiological dynamics and the shape of lead attack transients. Vinyl records pressed from a digital master sound either pretty good or terrible. The latter are usually cut of a highly compressed 16/44.1 CD master ("compressed" as in dynamic range compression, not lossy format compression). A vinyl LP from a well-prepared digital master sounds really good and once it is heard on a high-end turntable it is preferred over its CD equivalent. It is even more convincing on the AFO. This turntable proved that such records or this type of recording technology brought a dowry of better selectivity and clarity (I am talking about a rational aspect). At the same time - paradoxically – they leveled out the presentation and curbed its "vitality" (referring to an emotional aspect). Regardless of music type or record mastering company, the digital pedigree would leave its mark of increased deadness. Yet even in this case the turntable showed something I would never forget - it treated that as a minor inconvenience, bringing out as much music as possible.
For over two years I've been trying to arrange an interview with an audio journalist from Japan. Little did I know in January 2012, when I started a series of interviews with audio journalists from all over the world, that it would be so difficult to get through to people from Japan (my first interview in "The Editors" series was with Srajan Ebaen, chief editor of 6moons.com and can be found HERE). For two years I've been hoping to make a breakthrough, with the help of my friends from Japan, including audio distributors and representatives of Japanese companies. However, trying to set up an interview for me with one of audio journalists they have been either politely declined or told "maybe someday". At the High End 2013 in Munich I accidentally bumped into Mr. Takahito Miura, a journalist for Stereo Sound and didn't let him go until he promised to think about giving an interview. With all due respect, he is still thinking. A possible explanation for this attitude can be found in the history of Japan as a country that has been closed to foreigners, self-sufficient culturally and focused mainly on its internal market. Audio journalists are considered demigods and they feel comfortable in that role. No wonder they have absolutely no need to go out of their own camp.
Listening to the Air Force One turntable, I can perfectly understand why. They simply know that their country boasts spectacular audio equipment. Maybe not everything, as for example they usually buy their speakers in Europe or the U.S., but most of their audio gear is flawless. TechDAS has designed a fantastic turntable. Not "perfect" or "ideal" as these are boundary terms that leave no room for improvement. I am convinced that sooner or later there will be something even better than the AFO even though I don't see any competitor for the here and now. Regardless of audio format and medium, the Japanese turntable offers the kind of sound quality that makes everything else look like a bad joke that deserves to be instantly forgotten.
Mr. Hideaki Nishikawa has said on several occasions that his design objective for the Air Force One was to achieve the best performance in a compact-sized turntable. It may be hard to believe looking at its technical specification, especially its weight (79 kg) and dimensions (600x450 mm), which doesn't include an outboard power supply and air pump, plus an air condenser unit. But once the turntable was seated on my Finite elemente rack, I knew what Mr. Nishikawa meant. There is strength and power in its body, no doubt about it. At the same time, the body is compact and rather low. I absolutely love it; its rounded edges make it look smaller than it really is and not much bigger than basic AVID, Transrotor, Pro-Ject or Thorens designs.
The Air Force One is a mass turntable, with air suspension and air platter bearing. The three height-adjustable feet feature full-air suspension system. The amount of air is adjustable for best resonance and vibration control. The air pump and power supply unit are housed in an elegant aluminum enclosure. The pump can be turned off but it operates so quietly that we won't notice it. The air condenser unit is housed in a separate black enclosure. It is maintenance-free. Coupling of the outboard units to the turntable chassis is via electrical and air conduits.
The turntable chassis is assembled as a three-layer sandwich that consists of:
• Base Chassis, made of A5052 pure aluminum
• Middle Chassis, which uses an even stronger A7075 high quality aluminum alloy. It is firmly sandwiched between the two outer layers to eliminate resonance
• Upper Chassis that is the visible turntable exterior. As the base, it is made of A5052 aluminum with hard anodized top surface.
The turntable is operated with white backlit control buttons. In the pictures the unit may look "plasticky" and kitschy. In reality, it is a real beast with great curvy lines. The overall finish quality is outstanding. The tonearm base is made of a soft-and-hard combination of ebony wood and A7075 duralumin. There are fittings to accommodate any tonearm.
The platter consists of the main platter that weighs 19 kg and is made of SUS316L non-magnetic stainless steel and the upper sub-platter which can be ordered in a choice of three different materials. It can be made of A7075 aircraft-grade duralumin (3.5 kg), SUS316L non-magnetic stainless steel (10 kg) or methacrylate (1.5 kg). The platter is mounted on a steel spindle. The surface of the base facing the platter's underside is of tempered glass, with a small cut out for a speed sensor. An included record mat is made of special material with shape memory properties and serves to eliminate static electricity. The main platter material is forge-processed (heat treated) to increase hardness and then precision machined at low speed to avoid magnetizing. Inside the platter is a 1.1 liter air chamber that is part of the vacuum hold-down system and produces damping effect to eliminate resonance between the main platter and the upper sub-platter. The drive mechanism is silent and can hardly be heard even when you are right next to the turntable. A massive AC synchronous motor is housed in a separate chassis that sports the same three-layer sandwiched design as the main chassis.
What we have here is a high-end build and finish of a high-end product - hi-tech at its best. After seeing the AFO, all other turntables look like they were made after hours in a small metal workshop.
Technical Specifications (according to the manufacturer)
Price (in Poland): 284,000 PLN (base, without a tonearm and cartridge)