Format wars have become commonplace in the ever-changing world of technology. From DCC and MD to Blu-ray and HD DVD, people often jump on whichever new technological bandwagon that comes their way. But one format in particular has endured from the 1940s and stands strong to this day.
As an analogue sound storage medium, the Long Play (LP) has achieved cult status with audio purists on the prowl for perfect audio clarity. Like any other luxury hobby, the quest for aural excellence is one akin to that of the Holy Grail and to some, no less valuable. Just take Paul McCartney’s copy of The Quarry Men’s 'That'll Be the Day'/'In Spite of All the Danger' on UK 78–rpm acetate in plain sleeve for example — it is estimated to be worth £200,000. If that sounds steep, even for an original print, consider this — the 25 copies made from the original are said to be worth more than £10,000 each.
The beauty of music doesn’t come from just admirable sound reproduction but also from its medium. When it comes to putting on a record, we prefer to do it in a way that is a little more becoming than just hitting ‘play’ on the trusty iPod. The whole process from loading an LP to the crack of the tone-arm needle falling into place makes the entire aural experience that much more satisfying. After all, why insult the greatest artists of our time by playing their tunes on less than acceptable media?
As homage to these beauties of yesteryear, Billionaire.com brings you a list of glamorous gramophones that have caught our eye. With six brands with different tonal qualities and aesthetics to consider, there's an option for almost every audiophile. These aren’t just turntables — they are head-turners.
The Ultra-modern: TechDAS Air Force One
When it comes to technology, the Japanese have got it right. The TechDAS Air Force One gives you the best of both digital and analogue. And since its launch, it has developed a steady legion of people who swear by it. The tech behind it is what you’d expect from the Mecca of electronics – perfect audio reproduction and a futuristic exterior.
The Gold Standard: OneDof
The OneDof turntable is one that delivers a listening experience that is pure gold. It lauds itself on being the first to be self-centering in all directions based on a smart fluid technology. Paired with a non-resonant platter bearing, the OneDof is the benchmark for good sound. It also doesn’t hurt that it is plated in 24 carat gold.
The Retro Spinner: Continuum Caliburn
Many hold the Art Deco 1920s through the Modernist ’50s to be the pinnacle design years of the last century. The Continuum Caliburn embraces the sleek looks of that era while reproducing sweet audio quality that will have you swinging like you’re partying at Gatsby’s pad. But just because it looks retro, it doesn’t mean it is any less competent. This phonograph spins just as well as the others on this list.
The Minimalist: Bergmann Audio Sleipner
If you want all the bells and whistles of a gramophone sans overtly grandiose aesthetics, this might suit you better. Bergmann Audio’s Sleipner system is a minimalist’s wet dream — all the mechanical sense, including a floating platter centred with air, in a low-key sleek finish. Bergmann understands that for a certain consumer, the focus should be on the music and not on a turntable’s looks.
The Fantastic Teutonic: Acoustic Signature Ascona
The Germans are masters of engineering, whether they be cars or, in this case, turntables. The Ascona was designed outwards from the carefully designed resonance-free high mass platter. To ensure every piece meets Acoustic Signature’s precision manufacturing standards, the company produces almost every part of the turntable in-house.
The Bold and the Beautiful: Clearaudio Statement
Easily the most beautiful unit in this list, Clearaudio’s entrant makes a strong statement when it comes to producing exceptional turntables. Every aspect of this gramophone has been considered to ensure a piece that is as beautiful as it is aurally excellent. All that’s really needed is finding a space worthy of its presence.