It was particularly pleasing to see so many new (to me) turntables on display this year. Strange, though, since there's nobody buying any of this antiquated stuff anymore (ha!) Although Pluto Audio's product literature says that the Netherlands-based company has been in business since 1974, I've never crossed paths with them before. My loss. The 12 Special Series 2 turntable ($6800), 7A tonearm ($4300), and Pluto Mk.II Lab 1 moving-coil cartridge (reportedly a tweaked-out van den Hul Frog, ribbit) sounded rather impressive, with aesthetics to match. The rest of Pluto's product line consists of the 10A and 11A turntables, 9A tonearm, and a selection of accessories, including titanium and stainless-steel record clamps, a cartridge alignment protractor, vibration control supports, a battery-powered turntable power supply, and an attractive air/carbon fiber isolation stand ($4300).

A true newcomer to the U.S. analog scene is Singapore's Loth-X, boasting an eye-pleasing line of turntables designed by Jagdeep Singh (a familiar name to those who frequent the Analogue Addicts internet mailing list). The Othello, at $1395 including the Loth-X arm (apparently, a modified Audioquest PT-6), appears well-positioned to compete with other excellent entry-level 'tables like the Basis 1400, Michell Engineering Gyro, and Rega Planar 25. Featuring a cast acrylic platter, Teflon/Graphite bearings, and a polished, case-hardened stainless steel bearing shaft, the Othello seems a lot of turntable for the asking price. Loth-X's other offerings include the Carmen ($3595 with Loth-X arm) and the top-of-the-line Aida ($7195 without arm, $11,695 with the Dynavector DV507 tonearm). All models feature a polished, clear acrylic plinth, 24 VDC Swiss-precision motor, and adjustability for 33 1/3 and 45 RPM replay. The complete Loth-X lineup is imported into the U.S. by O.S. Services.

New Jersey's Audio Advancements has begun importing the Amazon line of turntables from Germany. Three models are available: the Reference ($11,000, including the MØrch Precision DP-6 tonearm, in gold finish), the Model One ($5950, including the MØrch Standard DP-6 tonearm, finished in chrome), and the Model Two ($3950, including the MØrch Standard UP-4 in chrome). All models feature an inverted ceramic ball bearing, acrylic platter and plinth, and belt drive via a rubber "string". The Reference and Model One both include an outboard, battery-powered motor assembly, which includes a battery status indicator and fine adjustment for 33 1/3 or 45 RPM. The Model Two contains an integrated motor coupled to an external DC power supply.

Musical Surroundings, U.S. distributor for such illustrious analog brands as Aesthetix, Basis, Benz-Micro, Graham Engineering, Koetsu, and Transfiguration, has brought its own affordable, standalone phono stage to market, called the Phonomena. For a mere $600, the Phonomena offers a surprisingly wide array of features, including adjustable gain (40-60 dB in 16 steps), adjustable loading (30 Ohms - 100 kOhms in 128 steps), adjustable capacitance, and dual mono layout. An optional battery power supply is said to be under development. Owners of the Basis 1400 or 2000 turntables will be glad to hear that the Phonomena was designed to fit neatly beneath either, freeing up valuable shelf space. If the Phonomena sounds as good as it looks on paper, Lehmann Audio's Black Cube may have some serious competition for the title of Best Under-$1000 Phono Stage.

Lauerman Audio Imports, the U.S. representative for the ever-popular Rega Planar brand of turntables, has begun importing a striking line of turntables from a new U.K. company called Avid.


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