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Transrotor ZET 3 (New Version)
version with two motors

Price : 26 500 PLN (ZET3 + SME5012) ǀ 38 000 PLN (ZET3 + SME5012 + Konstant M2 Ref. + second motor)

Manufacturer: Räke Hifi/Vertrieb GmbH

Contact:Räke Hifi/Vertrieb GmbH | Irlenfelder Weg 43
D-51467 Bergisch Gladbach | Germany
tel.: +49 (0) 2202/31046 | fax: +49 (0) 2202/36844



Country of origin: Germany

Dystrybucja w Polsce: Eter Audio

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photographs: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Published on: March 1. 2012, No. 95

Not so long ago, in November 2011 (No. 91 “High Fidelity”) I reviewed for you the Transrotor ZET1 turntable in the attractive, white matte version (test HERE). As it turned out the review was not only for you, but also for me; this device, costing a bit over 10,000 zł, combined with the beefed up cartridge Miyajima Lab Kansui resulted in a sound, that would do no shame to a turntable costing 20,000 zł and more. Plus the cartridge. It was about the balanced combination of fullness and selectiveness; warmth and precision. And although the first two dominated, they gave it an absorbing and natural sound.
So it is not surprising that I listened to the ZET1 Matt White almost all the time for a full month. During that time I rarely ever touched my CD player, unless I needed to compare some other digital source against it. I perfectly understood the people for whom the audio world started and ended with the black disc. Disillusion crept in eventually, because the format has its problems and is not ideal, and the top digital sources now play music in a way that was never possible before. And it must be said that from that time I reviewed for example the following systems: MSB Technology (Signature Data CD IV + Signature DAC IV + Signature Power Base) and Accuphase (DP-900+DC-901), which showed new possibilities in – respectively – hi-res files and SACD discs. Regarding the CD, the Ancient Audio Lektor Grand SE, and my Lektor Air V-edition still “hold their ground”. But this sound created some kind of orientation mark in my brain.

So it was only natural that I was very interested, how the older brother of the ZET1, the ZET3 performs. They are very similar constructions, not decoupled, with heavy, quite high mounted platters, with motors attached to the plinth. In the ZET3 this is a sandwich construction – instead of a single layer of acryl we have now two layers separated by a 3mm aluminum plate. The platter in the turntable is higher and heavier. But such a change would only be a half-measure for me. I wanted to know what this construction can do in ideal conditions, in the most advanced form. After a few emails exchanged with Dirk Räke, the son of the owner and founder of Transrotor, we agreed that the company will prepare something like this. And so I received for review the ZET3 model with a 12” tonearm Transrotor 5012 (SME312) and two motors powered by the most expensive power supply Konstant M2 Reference. I added to that a better interconnect - Vovox Textura DIN-RCA IC phono, Pathe Wings PW-S620 clamp, and placed the cartridge Miyajima Lab. Kansui. We can add even something else – instead of one of the motors, a second armboard can be installed – we can then have a monophonic cartridge, or just another tonearm with another cartridge. This kind of solution is very popular in Japan, where music lovers can adapt a certain setup for discs from a given label.
To learn what two motors give, I started listening tests with only one motor, placed on one of the “petals” of the plinths and only later I placed two motors on both sides of the platter. In both cases the motor or motors were powered by the Konstant M2 Reference PSU.

To date we reviewed:

  • Turntable Transrotor ZET1 Matt White, review HERE
  • Turntable Transrotor Argos, review HERE
  • Turntable Transrotor Super Seven LaRoccia, review HERE
  • Turntable Transrotor Fat Bob S, review HERE


A selection of recordings used in the review:

  • Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby’s Greatest Hits, Decca Records/MCA Records, MCA-3031, LP (1977).
  • Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Study In Brown, EmArcy/Universal Music Japan, UCJU-9072 (2007), 200 g LP.
  • Czesław Niemen, Idée Fixe, Muza. Polskie Nagrania, SX 1570-1571 (+SN0770), 2 x LP (1978).
  • Dead Can Dance, Into The Labyrinth, 4AD/Mobile Fidelity, 140 g LP (2010);
  • Depeche Mode, Behind The Wheel, Mute 12Bong15, 12” 45 rpm LP (1987).
  • Depeche Mode, Black Celebration, Mute Records, DMLP5, Limited Edition, (2007), 180 g LP;
  • Depeche Mode, Wrong, Mute, BONG40, Limited Edition 4223, 7” SP LP (2009).
  • Eva Cassidy, Songbird, Blix Street Records/S&P Records, S&P-501, 180 g LP (2003).
  • Frank Sinatra, The Voice, Columbia/Speakers Corner, CL 743, Quiex SV-P, 180 g LP (1999).
  • Jean-Michel Jarre, Zoolook, Dreyfus Disques /Polydor Canada, Jar 5, LP.
  • Kankawa, Organist, T-TOC Records, UMVD-0001-0004, Ultimate Master Vinyl, 4 x 45 rpm 180 g LP + CD-RIIα + 24/192 WAV (2010);
  • Kraftwerk, Computer World, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 307, 180 g LP (2009);
  • Kraftwerk, Man Machine, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 303, 180 g LP (2009);
  • Nat „King” Cole, Just One Of Those Things, Capitol/S&P Records, Limited Edition: 0886, 71882-1, 180 g LP (2004).
  • Peter Gabriel, New BloodRealworld, PGLP13, 2 x 180 g LP + PGSV18 (thick vinyl) SP (2011).
  • Ralf Illenberger, Red Rock Journeys, Stockfisch, SFR 357.1020.1, 180 g LP (2011).
  • The Alan Parsons Project, The Complete Audio Guide To The Alan Parsons Project, Arista, SP 140, 8 x LP Box (1982).
  • The Sister of Mercy, First and Last and Always, Elektra/Mobile Fidelity, MOFI 1-006, Silver Label, Special Limited Edition No. 1382, 140 g LP (2010).
  • Wes Montgomery & Wynton Kelly Trio, Smokin’ at The Half Note, Verve/Universal Music Japan, UCJU-9083, 200 g LP (2007).

ZET3 with a single motor
The German turntable fitted with the Japanese cartridge sounds with an incredibly well balanced sound. The ZET1 is very warm compared to it. This means that the ZET3 has more open treble and midrange and the bass is better accented. But some of the “magic” with which the ZET1 presented the recordings, was gone. The cheaper Transrotor could momentarily take ownership of the listener and suck him in. The sound was a bit homogenized, not really differentiating, similar to EMI recordings from the 80-ties and – for example – the re-editions from Analogue productions. I do not say that they SOUNDED the same, but that they were modified in a similar way, where warmth and a kind of – very attractive – softness had the main role.
The ZET3 with one motor is much more precise, in which it resembles the Super Seven LaRoccia from the same manufacturer. Only here the sound is more vivid, more energetic. Bass can reach extremely far down and is fantastically controlled – this is the asset of mass-loaded turntables. In this case this does not result in excessive edgy sound, a sacrifice of saturation for the attack. Everything seems to be very well balanced.

A special ability of the ZET1 and the ZET3 is resistance against clicks. Those are always there, especially when the disc is old and used. But even when, like in the case of the single added to the Niemen disc Idée Fixe, the pressing quality is quite poor, and the carrier itself quite worn, it can be listened to well, and everything upon it can be heard easily. I bought this disc on ebay and it is in a very good condition – which is not the case with the single. The bigger was the difference during the listening session – both discs, although not yet washed (I could not wait to listen to them), sounded very coherent and without clear static. This was also the case with all the discs I quoted in the beginning, and with new editions, pressed on “clean” and “quiet” vinyl, the supremacy of the musical even above the mechanics of reproduction was overwhelming.
What is interesting, the motion noise was more audible than with the ZET1. Although in itself it is annoying, because this is a distortion, yet fascinating; it is one of the attributes of the vinyl disc, if we want it or not. The fact that the more expensive Transrotor showed this noise clearly and it was audible means that its treble is much more resolving and better defined. The differences between the individual pressings were surprising, because I did not hear them like that even with very expensive turntables. And the surprise was even bigger, because the clicks were minimal, and even when they are heard, they do not overwhelm the frequency spectrum, they do not thunder our ears, but pass by, not interfering with listening.

ZEZET3 with two motors
I waited for this impatiently, because this is not a very common system, and everything that is rare is an occasion to learn, to know more. But this was not the only reason for my impatience. I do not know if you read this from the previous paragraph, but the simple exchange of the ZET1 to the ZET3 for me was not, how to say it – well, not sensible.

The ZET3 is a better turntable than the ZET1 in each and every aspect. I have no doubts about that. It can be heard that this is a turntable built around a good idea, and it is based on a successful construction. But in every enhancement of any idea, in every upgrade – and this is the ZET3, we have a more rigid plinth and a heavier platter – there is a problem. A perfidious and difficult to explain problem: a simple, not thought through improvement usually means a worsening. I mean mechanical improvement of the construction of the devices, loudspeakers, cables, etc, based on good ideas usually destroys what was achieved in the basic model, not offering anything in return. The ZET3 is not the best example for this “truth”, as this is truly a better turntable, but the increase in quality does not compensate the loss of a few elements, in my opinion, key ones.
It is about the fact that the ZET3 does not have this magical midrange as the ZET1. Its sound is much more resolved and selective, but also a little contoured, I mean, the bass and treble is a little stronger than the midrange. This can be a little compensated by exchanging the mat below the disc for another one. To check that I used a very nice mat from the company Pathe Wings, made from cork and felt. And yes – the midrange came out and the top and bottom frequencies were softer. But the resolution of the sound disappeared, so this was in reality a step backwards. This is not the way to follow.
A good move was to position the motor on the optional cylinder. I placed the motor in the cutout on the left side of the turntable. The sound got a little more quiet and softer; I mean it was not that contoured anymore. I think that this is a good move for everybody who owns a ZET3 and does not want to spend a lot more money on it – it is enough to buy a support for the motor (cylinder).

Adding the second motor pushed the things much further. Yes, now the sense of changing the ZET1 for the ZET3 was clear. Earlier – not so much. The sound was soft and deep as in the ZET1, and it was at the same time more precise, not as homogenous. Because homogenization of the sound, reducing it to a common denominator – warm, nice and soft – was at the same time the asset as well as the flaw of the other model.
The ZET3 does it much better. The thing that bothered me initially, the not so good musicality, a problem of underlining the attack, contour, now disappeared. But the resolution remained. Listening to top quality pressings, like the absolutely fabulous recordings from the box Organist Kankawa (Ultimate Master Vinyl, 4 x 45 rpm 180g LP) it is hard to believe that so many things can be put into the vinyl groove – extra-musical elements, singing of the musicians, their movements were very clear and in front of us.
But this was not the most important thing for me, not this… I do not know how it is with you, but when I can play the music loud, without irritation and fatigue, when it is calling for louder, then usually this is a good sign. From talks with many producers, acoustic engineers, etc, it seems to be related to lesser load of our brain. We often do not realize that, but that what we hear at home has nothing to do with live events and our brain does a good job of translating that so that we understand it. The better the sound, the better the illusion of “reality” in front of us, but this is always an illusion, an approximation.

Anyway, with two motors we will be much more relaxed, as if we were less tired. This is why we can play louder, and reach deeper into the recording, without tiredness and irritation. Even more so as the sound was very well balanced, slightly soft and yet very selective. It was also immediately audible that the sound comes forward a bit, it is palpable. This beautifully promotes human voices, like Sinatra from the disc The Voice, but also Peter Gabriel from his new, digitally recorded (24/96) disc New Blood. It can be heard that the latter recording is not as cool as the Sinatra’s (this is bad – Sinatra was recorded in 1947!), that this is not the same presence here and now, but this was also not brought to the front as a flaw, I did not have issues with listening.

The ZET1 is a special turntable for me. It is not overly expensive, it is upgradeable, and with a good cartridge it has a sound that you do not have to be ashamed of. This can be a sound for ever. I think that this is the most successful design of this manufacturer. It has an ideal balance between sound and price, between construction and results. This is of course not the best Transrotor turntable, I am not saying that – the listening session with the Argos will stay in my head forever. I am only saying that this is the most SUCCESSFUL turntable.
The ZET3 in the basic version is better; I do not have doubts about that. But it changes the sound to such an extent that I am not sure if it is worth paying the extra money and resigning from what the ZET1 gives. I would rather buy a better cartridge and or phonostage, than to exchange the ZET1 for the ZET3. The thing is that the ZET3 beefed-up, upgraded, with accessories is a clear step forward, while keeping the character of the sound of the cheaper model. Everything is better, most of all selectiveness and resolution; softness remains almost unchanged. The timbre is very nice, well balanced, with a slight emphasis on the midrange. Clicks are very small and do not interfere with listening to music.
The only problem I was faced with in this configuration is a small noise, when the tonearm was in the resting position. You see – in classic constructions the motor is positioned far away from the cartridge on purpose. It is either in the back, on the left side, on the line connecting it with the platter axis and cartridge, or in the front on the left side, on the line connecting it with the platter axis and the tonearm pivot (depending on the theory applied). Here one of the motors is almost directly under the cartridge. And this is audible. The enclosure of the motor is very solid, and it shields it quite well, but probably this is not enough (at least in my system). When we move the cartridge to the disc everything goes quiet, and we do not hear it anymore in the loudspeakers. But in the resting position it is there. So let us remember, to lead the power cables to the motor correctly – not in the back, close to the signal cable, but in the front, or under the plinth.


The ZET3 turntable is a not-decoupled construction, with high mass, with the capability of using a single motor mounted to the plinth, or two motors, placed on optional, heavy cylinders placed on both sides of the turntable – standing on the same surface as the turntable.
The plinth is made from two plates of acryl divided with a layer of aluminum. This creates a 45mm thick sandwich. The acryl is black, and the aluminum has its edge polished. The plinth is cut in a characteristic way – it looks like a four leaf clover. In the front two petals we have the support – bolted from above, big rings with a steel pin, screwed into the plinth. The third pin is on the back. The pins are spherical on their ends, and are placed in even bigger disks. The disks are glued to silicone rings. This is the only place where a springy element was used.

In the middle of the plinth there is a wide and high (for a turntable) cylinder, weighing 4kg, which houses the inverted bearing of the platter. As I wrote describing the ZET1, it is interesting that the platter was mounted in such a way that the center of gravity is quite high, and usually it is different, the tendency is to put it as low as possible. The platter is made of aluminum – it is 72mm high and weighs 12kg (in the ZET1 it was 60mm and 10kg respectively). The bottom of the platter is not flat, but has concentric rings, which work as a flywheel. On top of the platter there is a layer of vinyl. The platter is supported on a small subplatter, which is made as one component together with the spindle.

The discs are clamped with an aluminum component. As I wrote, I exchanged the clamp for the Pathe Wings PW-S620 clamp – it is better, it has its mass closer to the platter spindle and is much better looking.
In the basis version there is one motor, synchronous (“double synchronic motor”), placed in a heavy element. In the version with two motors, those are placed on additional supports, placed in cutouts of the plinth. We get also a longer drive belt, which is placed on the platter and both motor pulleys. The motors are powered by a big PSU, the Konstant M2 Reference, which also synchronizes them. It also allows for an electronic speed change. The turntable weighs about 26kg and has the dimensions of 450 x 400 x 180mm.

The turntable is equipped with a long, 12” Transrotor 5012 tonearm, which is an OEM version of the SME 312 tonearm, mounted to a metal armboard. This is subsequently bolted onto one of the petals. From below we plug-in the interconnect – instead of the standard Van den Hul cable supplied with the SME tonearms I used the cable Vovox Textura DIN-RCA IC phono with Eichmann Bullet Plugs.

Distribution in Poland: Eter Audio

Eter Audio
ul. Malborska 24
30-646 Kraków

tel./fax: 0048 12 425 51 20/30
tel. kom.: 0048 507 011 858




  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under Leben CS300