“Twin – form meets function!” – this is how the description of this turntable, by Christian Feickert, the owner and executive of the company Dr. Feickert Analogue starts (please note the ‘European’ spelling of the word ‘analogue’ in contrast to the more common US version ‘analog’). The motto of the company is “precision meets form, musicality meets precision”. Not bad, even for such an experienced “analog man” like Feickert. Known earlier from tools like the fantastic (I use it for two years) tool for adjusting the tonearm and cartridge settings called Universal Protractor and the advanced software Feickert Adjust+ Tool, on the Audio Show 2007 he showed his beloved ‘child’ the turntable Twin. Presented as a prototype it called attention and provoked many positive comments. Because the Twin is not typical, in the sense of the sound, as well as the form. Its body is composed of many superimposed layers. Like Feickert states, one of the main assumptions made for this design, was to make it immune to vibration, also that coming from the speakers. To make this happen, those vibrations must be converted into heat in a mechanical absorption construction, or simply said – damped. This method is called by him MARC (Mechanical Anti Resonant Circuit).
It is enough to look at the pictures of this turntable to see, what is this all about. Its main part is a round chassis made from five layers of different materials: stainless steel on the bottom (17mm), then plywood (19mm), then another layer of plywood (19mm), steel again (17mm) and then a very thick platter from a special polymer, passed on POM, cut from one single block. Feickert underlines, that CNC machines allow for a precision of 1/100mm in all axes. In this version (with one tonearm) the whole is mounted on a rectangular subchassis plinth made from 30mm plywood. Between the two layers of plywood the base for the tonearm is mounted – there are two steel struts on which a movable platform for the tonearm is placed. It allows for mounting any kind of tonearm, but no longer than 12”. The motor is placed separately. At first the torque was transferred by means of a rubber belt, but for testing I received a version driven by a string. It is a bit louder, but it has different qualities than rubber, because we have somewhat lower vibration damping qualities, but on the other hand the motor shaft and the platter are tied together better, what allows for better speed control (the motor is controlled by a quartz stabilized processor).
The turntable was supplied for testing with one of the cheapest tonerams I seen it being equipped with, the Jelco Oil S-Shape, with 10.5” length, tested by us HERE. This is an inexpensive, but really nice toneram with a somewhat sweet and smooth sound. To complete the setup I received the Benz Micro Wood SL cartridge, and this setup was tested. But because I did not know two of the variables – the turntable and the cartridge – I tested the Twin also with other cartridges I had at my disposal, and I knew better, the Sumiko Palo Santos Presentation, Koetsu Rosewood Signature oraz Denon DL-103SA i DL-103R. As a long term reference I used the Dynavector Karat 23R, with which I heard all the turntables tested during the last five years. The gramophone preamplifiers were also not bad: as main device I used the brilliant RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, and for comparison I used the Accuphase C-27, Aaron Phono Module and the RIAA section in the Ayon Polaris II. It turned out, that the turntable is quite prone to external vibration (this is a rigid construction), and despite being placed on the splendid Base table, I use since some time, it profited much from placing it on an additional platform GroundIt DeLuxe 1 from Pro-Ject (in a version no longer manufactured, with lead inside – RoHS made Pro-Ject change the filling). This was possible, because the feet of the turntable are quite close to the motor.
The sound of the system, as this was the test of the whole system, is incredibly exciting. The same description came from Mr. Adamek, the distributor of the three mentioned companies. And I cannot deny it. Excitement I am talking about comes directly from the live and dynamic character of the system. I will even say more – because I tested a few other cartridges (Sumiko Palo Santos Presentation, Koetsu Rosewood Signature, Denon DL-103SA) – this is attributed to the cartridge and the turntable with tonearms equally. Together, those elements amplify this tendency, converting it into a whole new world. For example the Sumiko has a much more resolved treble and deeper stage, but it lacks some saturation of the bass. On the other hand, the Denon combined the juiciness of the Benz with the balance of the Sumiko, while being a tad worse from them in all aspects. Because the Benz added a kind of turbo boost to the whole. It is not even about underlining anything, because the Twin is a well-balanced device in general, and the emphasis is put on things in avant-garde, on that being on top. This may sound a bit enigmatic (I hope it doesn’t), but this is how it sounds. When Nat King Cole sings, from the disc Just One Of Those Things, then he sings as if he would have a very good day, as if this recording session would be something, he was waiting for and his dreams just came true. But not only him, the same happened with Depeche Mode Violator. This is completely different aesthetics and way of recording (Cole – a few tracks, no dubs, short sessions; DM – many tracks, a lot of dubs, almost a year long recording session), but the way of communication with the listener was the same, telling, that “this is it”. This gives an unusual emotional tension, felt with every nerve. I need to mention, that this is not completely natural, as some of the recordings are much quieter, more relaxed, let me just call upon the debut from Carol Kidd, re-issued by Linn some time ago, or the splendid (I recommend!!!) discs issued by the chief editor of the magazine “Image Hi-Fi”: Live At The Domicle Klaus Weiss Orchestra and Live In Weinheim Greetje Kauffeld. In all cases, the German turntable added something to the emission, so that those, mostly lazy sounds, got some extra verve.
I think, that this is a departure from something known as “neutrality”. I remember perfectly how those discs sounded with the Kuzma Reference, the master of showing exactly that, what is carved on the disc, without adding anything to it. And although it lacked filling and emotion sometimes, which are the domain of the SME 10A, neutrality was almost perfect (in the sense of not adding anything, that is not on the disc, in the boundaries of reproducing only that, what was in the recording). The Twin is on the other side of the equation, it is not ‘neutral’ in the sense I described the Kuzma. The mentioned live sound (not by brightening, this is not the case) is a departure from the straight line, we call ‘reality’. But the thing is not in the distortion, it is always there, and always will be, but with that, what the constructor has done with it. Dr. Feickert emphasized the “communicability” and “emotionality”. This is not a romantic way of communication, made by emphasizing the midrange, suggesting intimate relationship with the event – this is nice and likeable, but can be fatiguing on the long run – but a slight increase of dynamics, microdynamics and everything that is responsible for the “immediacy” and rhythm of the recordings, this internal flywheel, that is hidden, but influences everything on the surface. Interesting is the fact, that the Twin never exaggerates. Listening to a disc we will know everything I just wrote, but it will not be placed in the center of our attention, being only some kind of music amplification.
And maybe in contrast to what I just wrote (but I will explain myself shortly) this is closer to a live event, than a neutral sound, in the sense of not adding anything from itself. I am just after the Monday concert from Patricia Barber in the Katowice Club Hipnoza. A fantastic concert in a small club, where I sat in the fifth row, confirmed again what I deal with, when working to set the sound of a concert: the dynamics of 99% of audiophile systems is so compressed, that we cannot talk about a “live” sound. There is sense in that, as we cannot transfer the scale of the live event to our listening room, but the microdynamics, responsible for the impression of immediacy of the sound, should be better. And the Twin goes down that path, in the direction of being so unconstrained as the “live” sound. I missed that element in the otherwise brilliant sound of the Kuzma Reference and even the SME 10A, good in that aspect, couldn’t do it.
But we need to set the main hi-fi coordinates, I mean call upon the “High Fidelity” standard of reviewing. The tonal balance is very even. With the Benz the emphasis is on the bass-midrange border, with the Sumiko on the midrange-treble and with Denon on the midrange. This points to an at least good “transparency” of the Feickert+Jelco for the surrounding elements. If I’d point to an aberration, then it would not be in the area of tonal balance, because this will depend really on the cartridge used, but it would be a kind of rough treatment of microinformation. I do not want to offend anybody, but finally, this is not the most expensive combination, and Feickert offers the Twin with two more expensive Kuzma tonearms, but this is not the summit of how the three dimensionality of Nat King Cole, David Gahan or the singers from the phenomenal disc Messiah Handel (Dublin Version, 1742) in the interpretation of Dunedin Consort& Players. With the last disc it was also audible, that maybe a heavier tonearm from Kuzma would be advisable, because during the tutti, there was a slight clipping in the voices of the singers, as if the cartridge would not follow the groove as well as with less loud fragments. But I have to confess, that this was the only disc where I noticed that. What can I add more? Bass goes down low, it is well controlled, although it has not such a precise definition as from the Transrotor La Roccia Super Seven TMD. The midrange is full and saturated, really nice. The treble depends most on the cartridge. Benz presents it in a slightly warm, slightly rounded fashion, similar to the Koetsu and Denon, but in a less resolved, and not as worked-out way like the new Sumiko. The Benz SL sounded best with the RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC set to 200Ω load and 0.4mV sensitivity.
The turntable Twin was manufactured by the German company Dr. Feickert Analogue, founded and led by Christian Feickert. Currently it is the only turntable from that company, and it is supplied with tonearms coming from other companies. On the company website we find propositions coming from companies like Kuzma, DaVinci, Mørch, Dynavector, SME and Graham. Since some time there is a version in preparation with a Jelco tonearm, and this is the version we had for testing. It is worth to mention, that this company was also chosen by another German manufacturer – Transrotor – as a suppliers of tonearms for its turntables, instead of the Rega RB250.
The motor is placed next to the turntable, and is mounted inside a thick “cup”. It is placed on a thick metal base with button used for its control. The rotating speed is microprocessor controlled, with a quartz reference point. You can change the speed between 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, and set it precisely. None of the buttons is described, and you have to refer to the manual to operate them. I think a minimal description would be handy.
The turntable was delivered for testing with the tonearm Oil S-Shape from Jelco, with a 10,5”. This might be an inexpensive, but is really a very nice tonearm, with a slightly sweet, smooth sound. It has a double pivot setup and is damped by oil poured to the upper cup. The signal is output by a company cable JAC-501, made from OFC copper, plugged by means of a classic DIN plug with gold plated pins.
The set was completed with a Benz Micro Wood SL cartridge. This is one of the newest products of this Swiss company. In the ‘S’ series we have three models – S L, S M and S H, differing with the output level. The tested S L has the lower output voltage – 0.4mV. Its body is made from wood called Bruyere, used also in the upper series – Reference S and Ruby 3. The coils were wounded in a technology patented by BM called “cross coil”. The cantilever is made from Boron and has a diameter of 0.28mm, what results in a very low effective mass of the moving system. The diamond has a Dynascan Gryger S cut.
CDs FROM JAPAN
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