REVIEW: The Thrax Yatrus Turntable A New King

By Jeff Dorgay

With turntables spiraling out of control, price-wise, a $100k turntable is no longer the talk of a madman that it once was. That said, I submit that a well sorted $20k-ish table/arm/cartridge combination is all you need.

I must confess, as a Thrax owner (We use their Enyo integrated), I’ve become a big fan of this brand. I like their functional elegance and build quality. There is a solidity to Thrax products that reveals a major pride of workmanship. The Thrax Yatrus does not feel like a me-too product, it feels like something that’s been designed and built with care from the ground up.

Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying “things should be made as simple as possible, no simpler.” I wish I could come up with something more insightful for the Yatrus, but this sums it up. Every aspect of this table is exquisite. It’s low-profile, aluminum plinth features constrained layer damping and looks gorgeous. Unboxing this table, you’d swear it cost a lot more.

Comparing the level of execution the Yatrus offers, this feels much like some of my favorite components from Nagra, Burmester, AMG and D’Agostino. Quizzing the few friends that did stop by to look and listen to this table all said (without hesitation) “$50k” when I asked what they thought the price would be. One even mentioned “Is this another one of those fancy 100-thousand-dollar turntables?”

Though I’m giving the review away a bit, you could probably tell some people you did pay 100 grand for the Yatrus and they’d believe you. In all honesty, my range of solid experience stops at the $50-60k turntables, yet I feel the Yatrus sounds as good as anything we’ve ever had in for review, regardless of price tag.

The Yatrus tips the scale at $15,500, with mounting for a 9-inch (or less) tonearm. Our review sample came with a Schroder arm that you can purchase for another $5,500. If you aren’t aware of Frank Schroeder, he makes some of the world’s finest tonearms, and there is almost always a waiting list for them. If you don’t already have a premium arm you’re in love with, I highly suggest purchasing these two as a package, find your favorite $3k – $10k phono cartridge and live happily ever after.

The sweet spot or quandary?

A handful of readers will snipe about a $20k table/arm cartridge, but perhaps this isn’t the droid for you. As I’ve said before, I suspect few people will jump out of bed and say (or think) “I’m going to buy a twenty-thousand-dollar turntable today.” Most music loving audio enthusiasts work their way up to a table in this range. You probably have at least a few thousand albums (if not more) in good shape and appreciate the difference between the grades in pressings. You may even own a good chunk of first-stamper this, first-stamper that records. And, you’ll have something to sell or trade in to make this move, so it won’t be as much of a leap as it sounds at first.

If you’ve gone far enough on your analog journey to think about jumping up to this level in analog playback, there are some excellent choices at your disposal. With a number of past benchmarks from this realm pushing $40 – $50k (an SME 30 is $45k these days) $20k for a destination level turntable isn’t crazy talk.

Getting down to business

Things have come a long way since the days of the early direct drive Technics tables. Motor and  power supply design along with superior parts and build quality no longer make direct drive a less than option. Considering the fantastic direct drive tables we’ve had here from Brinkman, Grand Prix Audio and Technics, I’ve come to prefer the weight and speed accuracy of a direct drive table. The Yatrus reinforces this even further.

The Yatrus is quick and straightforward to setup. Like other Thrax components, it comes packed in its own high-density foam lined flight case. You might think this extravagant, but it shows major respect on the part of the manufacturer. They don’t want your table to arrive damaged, and they think enough of their work to protect it thusly. No small point of contention in today’s world of mass production. Should you change residences, this is something you can put a few zip ties on and let the movers move it.

If you have any appreciation at all for machine work and fine detail, savor unboxing the Yatrus. Every surface on this table is machined to perfection – it looks and feels like what you’d expect under the hood of a Ferrari or Aston Martin. The surfaces and fasteners are of exceptional quality, and the knobs adjusting the turntable’s height are protected by a white, stick-on plastic. The slight matte finish makes for a table that won’t be full of fingerprints all the time, like some of those chrome and gold-plated monstrosities. Again, understated elegance wins the day. PS: if you are that qualityphile that geeks out on the experience, you’re going to love the single knob to turn the table on and set speed. (the Yatrus even plays 78s!)

Once you remove the table and level it via the three adjustment knobs on the plinth, all that remains is to plug the power supply in from beneath, gently lower the platter onto the main bearing, and affix the tonearm. Used with our Analog Magik software suite, the Schroeder/Lyra combination was set up to perfection in about 15 minutes. From box to record playing music took about 45 minutes and I was really taking my time.

The music

Fun as all this tech worship is, the Yatrus delivers musically on a grand scale. Using the Pass Labs XSPhono as a conduit, the first thing noticed is quiet. Cueing up a copy of Lou Reed’s The Raven, and heading straight for “Vanishing Act,” listening for the solo piano just hanging in the air is incredible. Great as this track is through the dCS Vivaldi, the Yatrus adds the extra tonal saturation and air that makes Lou Reed feel six feet from the listening chair. If your taste runs more to classical and acoustic music, this is where the direct drive tables jump to the head of the pack. The superior speed accuracy that a top direct drive table offers renders piano, violin, and pretty much any other stringed instrument with a solidity and delicacy that even the best belt drives have a tough time competing with.

Even if you aren’t a classical aficionado, I urge you to add a copy of Yarlung Records Debut, by the Janaki String Trio. The spirited playing, captured on these two 45 r.p.m. discs, cut by Bernie Grundman tell you everything you need to know about the Yatrus. If I could only play you one cut, to convince you how exceptional this turntable is, “Allegro con spirito” from String Trio in C Minor, Op.9 no 3 would do the trick. It might even make a classical music lover out of you.

The speed, texture, and space that the Yatrus offers up has such a simple beauty. There is so much delicacy to this piece, that either feels harsh and screechy on a lesser table, or lacking in texture. The subtle differences in weight between the violin, viola, and cello are easily discernable, even to a novice classical music listener like me. A similar effect occurs when listening to Crosby, Stills, and Nash via mediocre vinyl playback – their voices just seem to blend together, yet with through the Yatrus, the vocal shadings and phrasings that make each of these vocalists unique now feels like night and day. This is what you get with a top turntable, and what makes the Yatrus worth the asking price.

It’s also worth mentioning how well the Yatrus does with the lower end of the musical spectrum – another area that the direct drive tables tend to excel. A few long evenings of electronica and prog selections reveal recordings that you might have thought had one-note bass, yet now reveal texture where there was none before.

In the end, it’s about resolution. This table offers up such a high level of fine detail extraction, it will take you to a new world of analog enjoyment. As digital continues to improve, this kind of musicality is what still makes vinyl an incredibly tactile experience.

A best buy

I submit that unless you have (and maybe even if you do) a seven-figure system, you can probably live happily ever after with the Thrax Yatrus. This table is killer good, and the Schroeder arm is one of the world’s finest. The combination is so good, you can experiment with other arms, but I’d suggest staying right here. With so many mega turntables looking like an engineering project at best, and a shop class project at worst, the Yatrus ticks all the boxes for me. It’s finished to swiss watch level quality, it’s understatedly attractive, and it is highly musical.

If you live in an ecosystem that makes a $500k turntable a pittance, the Yatrus isn’t going to be cool enough. But if you’re a music lover that wants to retrieve as much music as they can from their analog music collection, and still has to keep an eye on the bottom line – this one gets my vote. For my money, this is the point of diminishing returns, and the curve goes up sharply from here. I can’t imagine needing more turntable than this. If I didn’t have an engine rebuild project inhaling 20-dollar bills like a room full of 80s party people inhaling coke in the bathroom, I’d buy it today. Don’t be surprised if you see the Yatrus returning in the next 12 months as a reference component when the party’s over. (manufacturer) (US Distributor)



PHONO STAGE Pass XS Phono, VAC Renaissance Phono

SPEAKERS Sonus faber Stradivari, with six pack of REL no.25 subwoofers

CABLES Cardas Clear