Sperling Turntable Review Part 1

I had came to know about the Sperling Turntable about two years ago when both Mr. Ansgar Sperling and Mr. Michael Bonninghoff came to the KLAV show in Malaysia to introduce it. They explained to me that the Sperling turntable is made out of the finest parts and by the best companies in the respective business in Germany. The pulley itself is made by Carl Zeiss, the famous German camera and lens producer. You can expect military aerospace industry quality parts and workmanship as the metal parts in the Sperling turntable are done by them. The heaviest part here is the platter at 27kg and its of the highest density aluminum alloy which is normally used in aerospace industry. The purpose is to have a platter with the least ringing. Even the DC motor comes from the best producer there and according to Sperling, it uses non feedback but only current regulation in combination with a given bearing resistance to provide a stable rotation for the plater of that (heavy)weight. Finally but not the least, the wood on the turntable is hand picked, selected and provided by the people behind Kendrick Sound (Japan) whom are famous for (re)building replica JBL Paragon loudspeaker.
That turntable came into my room for a brief moment because of some mishap occurred during installation by the distributor, Swedish Statement. The unit was quickly rectified with German precision and speed. It did not come back to me but was delivered to more locations for events and ultimately landed on a fortunate audiophile.

Two years later, I brought a friend, a fellow member of Analogue Fellowship Facebook, to have a go and listen to the Sperling turntable set up together with some fine audio components; the behemoth of an amplifier, the Vitus MPS-201(I called this "the Mother of all amps" in our local audio magazine), the Vitus MPP-201 phonostage, the Vitus SL-102 linestage  and the Rockport Avior loudspeaker, at the recent KLAV show. In short, he likes what he heard and requested a demo at his place. That Sperling turntable was supposedly be sent over to my place for a spin for review. You can easily guess what have happened. That unit was delivered to my friend's place and was told that it may stay there. If that happened, I was promised another unit for review. Thus, the Sperling turntable review will be divided into two parts. 

Part One...

Here, I was invited to witness the installation and first listening of the Sperling turntable at my friend's system which I have come to know quite well. His system consist of the following gear; the Ikeda Kai cartridge (on loan), the Vitus RP-101 Phonostage (on loan), Wyred 4 Sound pre amp and mono amps and Revel Salon loudspeaker. The cabling are mostly from MIT. 

After a few attempts of fine tuning and that we are satisfied, my friend invited a number of Analogue Fellowship members whom have known his system quite well, to come for a listen. I guess that is how we share our joy here.

We started the session with something easy and usually that be a vocal track. The album selected is Nah Youn Sun's "Voyage" (Silk Road Music SRM008LP). Her voice was rendered with such high content of emotion and expression that all of us can easily recognized her style. The familiarity here is an indication of recognition of an artist's way and style. There are too many times that audiophiles would argue that a particular artist presented his or her voice so differently between different systems. Here, I can easily draw so close a similarity in her voice between the Sperling turntable in this system with my TechDas Air Force One in my system. Here, the Sperling turntable is able to elevate my friend's system to a higher high in audio reproduction. Next, we have Kit Chan (New Century Workshop NCKCLP001) sang my favorite track and we can easily hear her expression and vocalization of an entire sentence within a breath. 

"...within a breath..."

We know that, at times, the artist draws a breath to sing out the entire sentence. Within that breath of air the artist may have to carry the words of the sentence with in between pauses. How do we take those pauses? Many of times in many different system with many audiophiles, such pauses can be satisfied with "silence". The Sperling turntable allow us to hear and experience a presence of the breath still linger on through those pauses within the sentence. Kit Chan expresses herself so well in this area in the title track, "Triumph in the Sky" (Hong Kong TVB Drama series) that you can hear the breath and air still linger in those pauses to indicate so clearly that the sentence is yet to be completed. We continue on to spin more records of the same genre and the result remained constant. Etta sang her last album which was recorded in Germany that we spun on the Sperling turntable is able to showcase her ability to control her breath even at an old age. This is the clear advantage of the Sperling turntable's ability to spin that 27kg platter ever so quiet and stable (in term of speed)  to produce such low noise floor that even the slightest breath of air can be reproduced so vividly.

"...such low noise floor..."

At this stage, all the listeners here acknowledged that the Sperling turntable is a silent operator and its ability to produce a very low noise floor thus allowing immense amount of detail to pass through the system. I am impressed with the Sperling turntable's performance in this area and that the desire to listen to more records continued. 

We played some jazz pieces from Toshiba Pro-Use Series Direct Cutting, "Exciting' Latin!" (LF-95013) where the vivid imaging of T.Misago and his Tokyo Cuban Boys was nothing short of impressive. So much so I ran back to my system for a listen. Here, the Sperling turntable's low noise floor is the result of its ability to present each instrument vividly with rich harmonic layering and structure, even in complicated tracks. I did not lose track of each instrument and it's harmonic layering and structure, even though the entire band came in all at once. To me, the imaging presented is not only with three dimensionality but with added layering of textural detail and weight. This is not nick picking into each image within the presentation here but that it's obvious enough for me to note it. There is a friend among us there that voiced out to me in private that I may be going into too much detail in enjoying the music (or the Sperling turntable's performance). He suggested that the presentation is what should be looked at, among other factors. I prefer to look into the performing resolution of a component that, to me, cannot be hidden and should not be taken advantage of.  A presentation of reproduce music by an audio system can be easily manipulated and affected by other factors that may not be part of the audio system. In addition, we are there to know the contributions of the Sperling turntable to our friend's system. 

Speed Controller of the motor unit that is sensitive to the touch...

At a particular time in our listening session there, I started to notice some oddities in the music being played. I asked that the speed of the turntable to be checked. I was right but to my surprise, the speed ran ever so slightly high. A slight adjustment was made and this is conveniently achieve with the available of 2 levels attenuators for both 33.33rpm and 45rpm. The main level attenuator allow major adjustment to the desired rpm then the second level attenuator allow fine adjustment to perfect the rotation of the platter. There is an instance here that a slight adjustment to a finger touch, all within the reading of 33.33rpm of the strobe disc, that the presentation was so much improved. We have this tested with Kit Chan's vocal expression. There is a noticeable more layering to her emotion in her voice. The air surrounding her voice sounded more pronounce and the separation between her and the accompanying musicians more distance. This feature is not an inconvenience but one that enhanced the performance and increased the value of the Sperling turntable to any given audio system. 

A Big Bang to end the session...

After a many spin of our favorite records, we all voted to play our last call with Reference Recordings' Dafos (RR-12) at a much louder volume level. The presentation did not lose its poise and distinction at higher volume level. I would say that the Sperling turntable allow and encourages the listener to pump up the volume level. The tonal balance of each instrument in the presentation was clean and without any particular emphasis or exaggeration to any particular bandwidth. This allow the detailing of each instrumentation to maintain its clarity and presence with appropriate weight as the volume level goes up. You can experience a presentation that is closer to a lively event, as if the musicians are jamming with you in the middle of it all. 

"Nothing went out of control here"...

We enjoyed it so much that we encored the track, "The Gates of Dafos" just to hear how deep the final slam hit the room. All concluded that the addition of the Sperling turntable into our friend's system provided so much improvement in all areas of his system, especially in term of noise level, detailing, control, timing, dynamic, transient and ultimate slam! 

Thus, the musicality of the system went up, not by a few notches, but by a league and that made us all too happy.

Sperling spear headed the deal...

There is no question that the Sperling turntable is among the finest component in the audio system in question and one of the top tier analogue performer. It's extreme low noise level and the lack of any character that allow the other connecting components in the analogue system to have the platform to perform to their respective best is already a factor and value of the highest order for a turntable. I am glad that all of us there are able to appreciate this value and lend confident to our new owner of one of the finest turntable, the Sperling.

Next stop, the Sperling turntable in my system...(Part 2)

The availability of this review will depend on the actual arrival of the new unit, Sperling turntable with ebony wood to my place (...unless it is hijack by another purchaser). I was told that this ebony wood version is very special and likely will sound quite different from the general version. 

Dato' Danon Han