Recommended Components 2012: Part 1

Stereophile magazine’s latest Recommended Components listing is up again and we are happy to find a number of items that we represent being included this time around. Here is a summary of the esteemed products and a short excerpt of the comments made by the reviewers. Part 1 of this article focuses on turntables, tonearms and cartridges.

Turntables, Tonearms and Cartridges:  Class A

Dr. Feickert Blackbird – Easy to set up and use, the Blackbird is a mass-loaded design that can simultaneously accommodate two tonearms. A thick slab of thermally treated MDF is sandwiched between two aluminium plates to form the Blackbird’s attractive plinth, which in turn supports the 9-lb POM-C platter and houses the proprietary motor controller.




Tri-Planar Mk.VII UII – The bass was extended and lithe, and high-frequency transients were cleanly presented. The picture was airy and big….In any case, the Tri-Planar’s ability to resolve low-level detail was superb, and its tonal balance and frequency extension were exemplary.” Price includes 1m cable/RCA plug termination or 10″ wire to RCA-jack junction box.



Miyajima Shilabe – the Shilabe uses a patented “cross-ring” construction that centers the generator’s fulcrum within the coil. The Shilabe had a sound that was “full-bodied, deep, and extremely well-defined,” and offered “superbly coherent transient and harmonic presentation from top to bottom,” said MF. AD also enjoyed the Shilabe’s “consistently present, colorful, and downright chunky” sound.











Miyajima Kansui – the Kansui offered a meatier and more intimate sound, with forceful bass, rich textures, and solid images.















Ortofon Xpression –  Compared to AD’s original Ortofon SPU, the Xpression sounded just as solid, colorful, and forceful, but was more detailed, open, tactile, and revealing of nuance and technique. “The difference was real: Love my older Ortofon though I do, the Xpression was clearly more dramatic, with no penalty in texture or color,” said Art.










Ortofon MC A90 – Ortofon’ s “revolutionary” MC A90 moving-coil cartridge is built up of layer on layer of laser-fused micro particles, in a process called Selective Laser Melting, resulting in a dense but lightweight and non-resonant structure. The MC A90 offered a clean, tight sound with “unsurpassed rhythmic swagger, dynamic exuberance, transparency, and three-dimensionality.”












Ortofon SPU Synergy A – Compared to Ortofon’s SPU Classic A, the Synergy A was more extended in the bass and treble, with a better sense of scale. “US$1850 for any cartridge this good would be reasonable; for the last of a historic breed, the SPU Synergy A is a bargain,” said Art.










Class B

Ortofon 2M Black – Partnered with the budget-priced Audio-Technica AT-PEQ3 phono preamp, the “ridiculously good” Ortofon 2M Black produced a bright, open sound with “surprising heft and slam.”












Transfiguration Phoenix – The Phoenix traded the pleasant romanticism of the Benz-Micro ACE SL for transient certitude and greater dynamic scaling, said MF. Current production uses a heavier gauge of wire on coil with fewer windings and coil core material from the Orpheus L.












Transfiguration Axia – Compared to Transfiguration’s far more expensive Orpheus L, the Axia lacked spatial and textural complexity, harmonic resolution, and frequency extension, but produced clean, precise attacks and solid, well-focused images. “The Transfiguration Axia is easy to recommend at its price,” said MF.


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