Issue 75


Old School:

Nakamichi 620 Power Amplifier

By Gerold O’Brien

The Audiophile Apartment:

Vandersteen’s VLR Wood Speakers

By Rob Johnson

Journeyman Audiophile:

Conrad Johnson’s MF-2275SE Power Amplifier

By Rob Johnson


On the go with music and celebrity photographer, Karl Larsen

By Jeff Dorgay

995: Sounds That Won’t Break The Bank

The Lounge Audio LCR mk.III phono stage and Copla step up device

By Jerold O’Brien

TONE Style

Silverware – A new way to rent autos!

The Record Tote

Quadraspire SVT Rack

The GamuT Lobster Chair

REL’s Longbow

Adult Underoos


Spin the Black Circle: Reviews of New Pop/Rock and Country Albums
By Bob Gendron, Todd Martens, Chrissie Dickinson, Andrea Domanick and Aaron Cohen

Jazz & Blues: Food, Cecile,Erik Friedlander and More!
By Aaron Cohen and Jim Macnie

Live Music: Lucinda Williams at the City Winery in Chicago.
by Bob Gendron

Gear Previews

dCS Rossini DAC

Graham Audio LS5/9  Speakers

Marantz HD-DAC1


AIWON Phono cartridge
By Richard H. Mak

Witch Ruby STD Linestage
By Rob Johnson

Koetsu Onyx Platinum Phono Cartridge
By Jeff Dorgay

Reimyo 999EX DAC and CDT 777 Transport
By Jeff Dorgay

Charisma Audio Reference One and Two Phono Cartridges
By Richard H. Mak

AVID Acutus Reference SP – UPDATE

I’ve been using the AVID Acutus Reference SP for about four years now and that’s a mighty long time in the world of hifi reviewing, where things can be a revolving door. Yet with all of the interesting turntables I’ve had the pleasure of using, the Acutus Reference SP remains my personal favorite.

It’s easy to exhaust one’s adjective gland, getting all excited about this shiny thing or that, in the course of a short review. But when you live with a turntable for a number of years and are still raving, that’s a big deal. When you spend enough money on a turntable to buy a nice used Porsche, said turntable should be just like that Porsche: something you look forward to using every day. The Acutus certainly passes this test with ease.

The performance is world class, and much like the Porsche 911, you can buy fancier models from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin (with MUCH higher price tags) but at the end of the day, none of them will really get around the race track any faster than a 911, and the 911 will reward you further by not being the least bit fussy doing it. This is a big part of the magic that the Acutus, and all AVID turntables offer.

Like the 911 or Knoll’s Barcelona chair, the Acutus also strikes a perfect balance of being well appointed and finished without being blingy or trendy. Personally, I enjoy the look of the table as much as I did the day I took it out of the box and never get tired of it. It is a classic bit of mechanical engineering that would be equally at home in the Louvre as it is on my equipment rack.

I must also confess that as much as I love analog, I hate fiddling with turntables. I am only an average setup guy on my best day and lean heavily on a few of my expert friends in the industry to double check my work, optimizing my setups when I am doing a critical product review. The Acutus is easy to set up and stays set up. This is as much a blessing to a reviewer that needs a consistent reference as it is to the consumer that wants to listen to music, not be a setup guru. However, if that kind of thing floats your boat, I do have a couple of LP-12s sitting around collecting dust I might interest you in…

All of this would be pointless if the sound wasn’t so damn good. Back when I wrote the original Acutus review, I was using a Koetsu Urushi Blue as my main cartridge. Since then, the Lyra Atlas, the Clearaudio Goldfinger and now the Koetsu Onyx Platinum all have graced the Acutus, and all have excelled there. This table is up to whatever cartridge and phono stage you can pair it with. Again, in the Acutus’ tenure, it has been paired with a number of lofty phono stages, costing nearly three times as much as the table. The price has gone up a bit in four years from $20k to $26k these days, but compared to a lot of tables costing a lot more, I still feel the Acutus is a steal for the price asked.

Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to sound, so it’s tough to call something “the best.” However if you want a table that has a big, weighty, dynamic, yet open sound, the AVID Acutus Reference SP might be the best turntable to suit your needs. It remains mine. I highly suggest you audition one at your earliest convenience.

A New York November to Remember!

The team at Innovative Audio Video is hosting special November events to unveil their fully renovated showrooms, each brimming with fantastic audio components. Kicking off the celebration on November 12-14, products from Wilson, D’Agostino, Meridian, Spiral Groove, and BACCH-SP will be the main attraction. Special guest representatives from audio companies will be onsite too, including sessions with Wilson Audio’s Peter McGrath, Meridian’s Ryan Donaher, Dr. Edgar Choueiri from Theoretica, and also Bill McKiegan from D’Agostino.

For more details on each day’s calendar of activities, check out the Innovative website.

The party continues on November 19-21, with more special audio treats. Naim Statement equipment, the new Spectral pre-amp, Avalon loudspeakers, and other gear will be on hand to see, hear and enjoy.

RSVP for the events of your choice here, or call them at +1 (212) 634-4444 to let them know you’ll be coming. We’re sorry the TONE team won’t be able to join you there, but please share photos of your visit!