Maglev analog turntable

What do Slovenians do when they’re not pushing forward the frontiers of light aircraft? Bring the technology of a Shanghai maglev train into your living room: a maglev turntable.

At just over $1,000 including tonearm and cartridge, this product is about 1/100th the price, adjusted for inflation, of the higher-end turntables of the 1980s (and see this 2007 WIRED for a $300,000 Swiss-made Goldmund).

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8 Comments »

  1. Jack D

    March 20, 2017 @ 7:44 pm

    1

    Spinning the turntable in the air looks cool but doesn’t really have a big advantage. What they should be doing instead is getting rid of the stylus and reading the grooves with a laser so that you are not destroying the record a little bit every time you play it.

  2. philg

    March 20, 2017 @ 8:13 pm

    2

    Jack: Using a laser to read an analog record has been tried. It turned out not to work well because a physical stylus pushes small particles of dust out of the way whereas a laser just amplifies them into crazy loud pops and clicks. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_turntable for some history.

  3. lvl

    March 21, 2017 @ 9:41 am

    3

    I haven’t had a turntable since the 80’s and it doesn’t seem like my most pressing concern even though I do like nice stereos, hifi, earphones, gadgets, mostly because I have a hard enough time finding time to listen or even go to many concerts… but this looks very cool and also like something made to LOOK cool. My old turntable was made for mass production by people who’ve done it before and had a built-in hard plastic cover that would protect against dust – I can only assume it wouldn’t look as cool if this one did.

  4. Jackie

    March 21, 2017 @ 11:13 am

    4

    It seems to me that dust is a problem that should be solvable thru filtering – the sound produced by a dust particle is clearly different from the musical background. Maybe there can also be advances in record cleaning – air or water jets that will blow the dust out of the way before the laser can read them, an ultrasonic bath for the record before you play it, etc. They are also working on optical approaches where you photograph the entire record at high resolution and “play” the photo. Using this approach even broken records can be played.

    Reading your original circa 2000 notes, for the most part recorded music has gone in a completely different direction (although one that some of your commenters predicted) – rather than worrying about the (slight) shortcomings of the CD format (and keep in mind, given the availability of cheap bandwith, processing and storage they could have improved the CD format by now) , 99% of people are listening to compressed files that have even more shortcomings on headphones and nobody gives a damn about amps and speakers anymore except maybe 3 old white guys.

  5. Andy

    March 21, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

    5

    Jackie,

    All these cleaning methods already exist. Wet record vacuum cleaners have been around forever. They work really well. Still probably not well enough for lasers.

    As to digital filtering on noise, well, that defeats the entire purpose of using a turntable where everything remains in analog domain.

    I personally gave up on turntables in the last few years, with Tidal HiFi and a decent DAC costing less than a decent phono cartridge (good phono cartridges start at about $4K and go up from there, great DACs can be had between $1K and $3K) I can no longer tell a difference in sound. Even compressed music sounds pretty good for background listening with a good DAC.

  6. philg

    March 21, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

    6

    Jackie: “nobody gives a damn about amps and speakers anymore except maybe 3 old white guys”. Painful but so true!

    They came for the music that could not be represented with 44.1 KHz samples at 16 bits and I did not object.

    Then they came for the music that could not be represented as a 256 Kbps MP3 and I did not object.

    So now we listen to 64 kbps XM radio streams…

  7. the other Donald

    March 22, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

    7

    My hearing is worse than MP3 audio, but I grieve for the youngsters who will never have a great synthetic audio experience. It is a first world problem though.

  8. Neal

    March 22, 2017 @ 12:28 pm

    8

    @the other Donald

    That’s what concerts are for.

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