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Turntable + tonearm + cartridge
Dr Feickert Analogue WOODPECKER
SME Model M2-12R
Benz Micro WOOD S H

Price: 12 000 zł + 3000 zł + 4750 zł (=19 750 zł)

Distribution: RCM

ul. Matejki 4, 40-077 Katowice
Tel: (32) 206-40-16, (32) 201-40-96


WWW: Dr Feickert Analogue, SME

Text: Wojciech Pacuła

Dr Feickert Analogue it is in fact just one man - Dr Feickert and his idea. Or couple of ideas – depending on how we define them. If we understand his goal as the best possible sound you can get from a turntable than it is just a single idea. But to achieve such a goal you need many means and there are many ways you can take so it takes lots of ideas to get there and each of them is just one small step towards final achievement. And that's how it is with reviewed turntable.

Woodpecker was introduced for the first time to the customers during High End 2009 in Munich. I managed to talk to Mr Feickert then and he was very proud of his new product. He shared with me several information that later were presented on his webpage: „Woodpecker was built as an answer to inquires from distributors and customers who had asked for a „classic” form turntable. Most peoples' association of a turntable is a wooden box – something like Linn or Thorens - platter and tonearm. And this just mine interpretation of such design.” Let's have a look at the other model - Twin, that we reviewed some time ago. You have to admit that its form is so distinct that it influences the room it is placed in. Besides choices made by a designer, technologies and solutions used are so different from other products available on the market that it makes Dr Feickert's turntable bit controversial for some audiophiles. So Woodpecker was created especially for them, still wanting to use this designer's expertise. As you can see the shape is almost the only thing it has in common with Linn or Thorens. Its plinth is composed of three layers. The outer ones, relatively thin, are made of aluminum but the inner layer is made of special polymer component. The platter is made of the same component and is similar to the one used in Twin model. It is a turntable with rigid suspension – motor is mounted in the back right corner – a classic solution. It is equipped with small power supply that can be plugged directly to power outlet. In the front you will find something that should be a standard in each turntable – switches that allow you to change the speed.

Along with Woodpecker we received a tonearm and a cartridge – the whole set had been selected by a distributor of all those three brands - RCM. The tonearm was a reason of a small delay – it is a novelty from SME – beautiful, 12” Model M2-12R. As you can see it has a classic „J” shape and complex two stage tungsten counterbalance system. Detachable S2-R aluminum head-shell with azimuth adjustment that allows fast interchange between cartridges and possibility of using Ortofon's SPU cartridges too. Cartridge that was brought with the whole set (RCM offers also service and setup for their customers and I always use their expertise…) is made by Swiss Benz Micro. In particular it was Wood S H, high output version of the cartridge we tested with Twin turntable. Wood line offers three versions of same cartridge, all with Benz Dynascan system with a Gyger S 5 x 100 μm stylus , cross-coils and wooden body (that's where the name comes from), that differ only with output voltage. But as listening experience proved, they differ also with the sound. Albert Lukaschek, Owner and chief Benz designer suggests 1000 Ω or more loading for S H and I would stick to that. I used for some time 47 kΩ loading and the sound was also fine but the best tonal balance was achieved with 1000 or 1400 Ω loading. So before you buy this cartridge you need to think about phonostage first. Inputs of MM phonostages that are also able to serve high output MC cartridges usually hava fixed loading of 47 kΩ. That means Benz Micro will not have a chance to present its top performance. To be honest the difference between 1000 Ω and 47 kΩ is not huge but still the first one is better. My RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC preamp gives me lots of selectable loadings to chose from.

There is a list of equipment I also used with this turntable: Denon DL-103SA and Air Tight PC-1. My reference devices were Transrotor Argos, Bergmann Audio Sindre and Goldenote Bellavista Signature.


Records used for listening sessions:

  • Count Basie&Tony Bennett, Basie/Benett, Roulette/Classic Records, SR 25072, 4 x 45 rpm, special one-sided pressing, 180 g LP.
  • e.s.t., Retrospective, ACT Music+Vision, ACT 9021-1, 2 x 180 g LP.
  • Eva Cassidy, Songbird, Blix Street/S&P Records, S&P-501, 180 g LP.
  • Falla, The Three Cornered Hat, Ernest Anserment, Decca/Esoteric, ESLP-10003, 200 g LP.
  • Frank Sinatra, Sinatra&Sextet: Live in Paris, Warner Music/Mobile Fidelity, MFSL 1-312, No. 238, 2 x 180 g LP.
  • Frank Sinatra, Sinatra&Strings, Warner Music/Mobile Fidelity, MFSL 1-313, No. 199, 180 g LP.
  • Frank Sinatra, The Voice, Columbia/Classic Records, CL- 743, 180 g LP.
  • Jeniffer Warnes, The Well, Davisch&Warnes./Cisco, CLP-7009, 180 g LP.
  • Kraftwerk, Tour The France, EMI, 591 708 1, 2 x 180 g LP.
  • Nat “King” Cole, Just One Of Those Things, Capitol/S&P Records, S&P-508, 180 g LP.
  • Stan Getz&João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Speakers Corner, 009 8545, 180 g LP.
  • Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, Universal Republic, B0012906-01, 2 x 180 g LP.
  • Vijay Iyer Trio, Historicity, ACT Music+Vision, ACT 9489-1, 2 x 180 g LP.
  • Yama&Jiro’s Wave Girl Talk, Three Blind Mice/Cisco, TBM-2559-45, 45 rpm, No. 0080/1000, 2 x 180 g LP.

System based on Dr. Feickert's, SME's and Micro Benz's products sound very nice. That is a very short summary of quite a long review. Distributor, who delivered this set described its sound as „cheerful” – yes, that's also a good description. It's „cheerful” as it enthusiasticly melts into music, hooks with emotions enchanted in vinyl. You can describe this sound as an „analogue” one. It is not like your grandmother's radio set with quite limited frequency range – that is not „analogue” it is „vintage” - although that's how some define „analogue”. Tonal balance is quite specific – it was clear to me already after listening to the first record. Maybe credit should go to the music I listened to – joyful, beautifully issued swing. It was namely Classic Record's Count Basie and His Orchestra Swings/Tony Bennett Sings issued on four 200g 45 r.p.m. one-sided records. It's a must have for someone who loves swing from 40, 50, 60-ties. Just place it on the platter, sit comfortably on your couch and shortly there will be a huge smile on your face. This particular turntable played it wonderfully – great rhythm and timbre.

This set is not perfect – each element introduces it's own distortions but there is something special in its sound. There is some synergy between 12' arm and turntable – it plays the music in a way that will always involve you emotionally in it. You might call it a „trick” but it is justified. A short digression – I can't help it – communication has to go on several levels at the same time. A reviewer finds himself in schizophrenic situation when testing some audio equipment. On one hand he is supposed to describe and assess the equipment strictly according to chosen methods and on the other he gets carried away by music. Sometimes these are two don't come along. It takes a discipline to describe audio equipment when treating it as a scientific test. Analytical approach is highly recommended. Description of each aspect of the sound, referring them to the reference points and finally some summary – is all has to work automatically – no gaps, no discontinuities. If it doesn't work smoothly you need to take a break and repeat audition after some time. But the music is about emotions, about living it, and that is a process that takes time – sometimes it is just a time needed to listen to the recording once, and sometimes you need to hear it couple of times. So in fact you need to trade analytical approach for a holistic one – more of a summary than a breakdown. And here comes an internal conflict that every reviewer has to solve in his own way (assuming that he is aware of this conflict). That is why you get different review results of the same equipment from different reviewers.

This internal conflict was particularly difficult for me to solve with Feickert. So called long-term satisfaction of using it is much bigger than the sum of its all particular advantages. It doesn't mean that the sound is not good, or with some significant flaws. I am also not trying to „cover anything up” - you just have to give this set a chance and I am pretty positive that your conclusions will be similar to mine. As already mentioned Woodpecker's sound is simply joy to listen. I mean music played by it is. The sound is open, vibrant reminding me of a sound of Goldenote Bellavista. Italian system offers bit smoother, shiner sound. Not as precise, not so clear in lower bass and also bit sweeter. Feickert creates more precise picture but is not a master of resolution – Bergmann Sindre is indisputable winner in this category, not to mention Transrotor Argos. German turntable starts to build the sound from a general picture of each instrument – so much deeper than Bellavista. Its approach toward music reminds me of the Thorens TD160 HD that I reviewed some time ago for „Audio”. Precise, well balanced, saturated sound but without super-accurate envelope, no definite transient attack. The edges of instruments are not so precisely shown as with above mentioned turntables. Kuzma Reference with 313 VTA tonearm was a master in this particular aspect. Feickert, which you might find surprising, as it is not a decoupled, but a mass-loader sounds more like expensive models of Avid (like Acutus). My opinion bases on a very distinct rhythm it offers.

It is a very „flexible” turntable. Its „flexibility” has been achieved by some change of accents - they are placed in such a way that we don't hear the weaknesses, flaws at first – they are kind of hidden. It doesn't mean that the sound is dull, muffled, etc. – no! But it is possible to point out elements that make sound so liquid, smooth – it is an upper midrange. This system presents it in a bit warmed up, softened way. It seems to be an attitude of the table-tonearm set as the exchange of cartridge doesn't change that. The are no but natural sibilants, the sound is also very colorful. Sound is colorful and dynamics of low end is great – that's what makes it sound so good – starting with Basie and Bennett, Jennifer Warnes, up to The Three Cornered Hat by Falla in reference version issued by Japanese Esoteric. Voices are simply fabulous. And I listened to lots of these because voices are my cup o tea. Especially female ones… The upper range of piano's sound, like at Tsuyoshi Yamamoto's with Tetsujiro Obara - Yama&Jiro’s Wave Girl Talk - is slightly laid back. A bit less dynamic attack is a result of that. It is not really a weakness of this system – more like a characteristic attribute – you just have to keep it in mind. An interesting thing – lesser resolution doesn't effect music's perception. Quite an opposite – most recordings gained through that some depth that is characteristic rather for more expensive turntables. The Girl From Ipanema - an opening piece of Getz/Gilberto showed that very well. I have a Speakers Corner pressing which is quite a good one. Feickert made Astrud Gilberto's vocal sound as it had been recorded during the same session. A reference issue – surprisingly a digital one – Winston Ma's K2HD edition – shows voice and instrument as separate but very close elements. It is achieved by even better sound resolution, slight improvement of tonal balance, etc. On the vinyl the upper midrange of Astrid's voice presented with quite high level of noise, has been bit eased. That is why it sounds so natural. Just to wrap it up – upper midrange is bit eased, you might even say laid back. That changes the record's sound. Usually in a positive way.

I have also discovered one more attitude of this particular set – cartridge -tonearm – together they deal very well with distortions that usually appear near the end of each record. Also linear speed is lower than at the outer part of record so usually you will get simply worst sound from this part. Feickert dealt with this problem quite nicely. Even the first side of Thorens 125th Anniversary where the groves go literally up to the label sounded decently. It wasn't as good as the other pieces from the same side but you could listen to it with pleasure. The top range, especially mid- and upper parts sound strong and vibrant. Cymbals are very natural – nicely extended, no roughness and they sound rich too. Maybe they don't really sound too sophisticated – I hear that S L version of this cartridge does it better – but as for „high output” cartridge it is not bad. To be honest much better than Denon DL-103SA, a „classic” MC cartridge. Benz offers very nice sound but simply the top end doesn't have the resolution of above mentioned Wood S L. It is a price of higher output level. I would like to discuss bass range separately. It is extremely dynamic and clear, which doesn't happen to often, especially at this price range. There is a beautiful combination of bass great timbre and clarity. We get namely rich sound of double bass and electrical bass – dynamic or also bit blurry if necessary. Transient attack is not tough but nevertheless instruments sound like the control over this element was extremely good. Lower bass is rather implied than really extended. This particular combination of tonearm and cartridge simply doesn't allow such a low bass extension like top SME's tonearms with more expensive cartridges. It is not something you will hear from the very first moment as the great dynamics and timbre in the mid and upper bass „cover that up”. The basic sounds of double bass – the low end (even below 42 Hz) are weaker then the rest of this range. Fortunately there is no boomy bass – simply there is something missing in the lower end.

The system consisting of Feickert's turntable, SME's tonearm Micro Benz's cartridge is really some easily „digestable dish”. Like ...a pizza. I love pizza even though it is not particularly sophisticated dish but I often prefer this simple meal over much more dainty ones. Same goes for this turntable – you might get a better one even without spending much more. But the sound you get is so unpretentious, so nice and easy that it creates an impression of being tailor exactly for you. Unusual clarity throughout the whole frequency range, great dynamics, sophistication of sound – all those features make you perceive music in a very emotional way. It is not a perfect sound – it is quite easy to point out some flaws. But I am pretty sure that after an audition many of you will simply not care…


Dr. Feickert Woodpecker
Woodpecker is the newest design of Christian Feickert, Doctor of physics – that is where company's name came from - Dr Feickert Analogue. Woodpecker is a classic not decoupled turntable where all three elements motor, platter bearing and tonearm are rigidly mounted to the same base. Body's build is a Sandwich type – three layers, outer ones of 4,5 mm aluminum, and internal 51mm thick layer made of polymer for vibration control. Platter is made of same component, 46 mm thick looking much alike the one used in Twin turntable. By the way the disc placed on the motor also looks like made of same material. Such a consistency in using same component guaranties good vibration control. There is a very robust DC motor used, with 24V DC power supply . Transmission from motor to platter is carried through flat belt. You can use also a record clamp made also of the same component anty-vibrant material as the platter. Metal elements are nicely finished – mat anodized. The platter has been moved to the side of the plinth thus forcing motor placement more at the back. At the right back corner there is a place for mounting 9'' to 12'' tonearm. There are push-buttons in the left front corner controlling the speed – you can choose between 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, and there are additionally two small controls that allow precise speed adjustment. It looks good and is user-friendly. Woodpecker sports three adjustable aluminum feet with rubber rings – two in the front and a single one at the back.

Model M2-12R
SME's Model M2-12R is the newest proposal in company's range basing on the 3012 arms. As you can see it is a „classic” J-shaped one with two stage tungsten counterbalance system. There are several features manufacturer points out:

  • 12” stainless steel thin walls arm
  • removable, aluminum S2-R headshell
  • double draw-in pin bayonet fitting design ensures a rigid junction with the tone-arm
  • Unique headshell to tone-arm coupling readily allows cartridge azimuth adjustment
  • tonearm dumping
  • 23mm diameter steel pillar
  • Anti-skate control operates through Anti-Skate weight and filament, adjustable up to 5g VTF
  • Lowering/raising control gives smooth positive action. Height of lift can be adjusted
  • HTA adjustment (Horizontal tracking angle) +/- 12 mm
  • Tungsten-alloy balance weight
  • cartridges up to 38g can be used in S2-R headshell
  • Fluid damper FD-M2 is available as an optional extra
  • Internal wiring in LCOFC (Long Crystal Oxygen-Free Copper)
  • van den Hul's Balanced Hybrid Cable 1.2M audio lead with gold plated phono plugs

Benz Micro Wood S L
Benz Micro, model Wood S H is a High Output MC cartridge. It is another version of Benz Wood S L that was tested together with Twin. There are three versions of the same cartridge in Wood line you can choose from all of them with Dynascan 5 x 100 μm stylus, crossed coils and wooden body (hence the name), that differ from each other only with output voltage. Manufacturer suggests 1000 Ω loading or more. Body is made of exotic Bruyere wood, which is also used for more expensive models in Reference S and Ruby 3 line. Also the patented „cross coils” were sources from these models. A cantilever is made of single crystal boron – Ø 0,28 mm. Comparing to the older version the new one has a new Dynascan Gyger S stylus, better coil and suspension system.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
output level: 2,5 mV
boron cantilever: 0,28 mm
stylus: Dynascan
coil: „cross coil”
stylus tip: 5 x 120 μm
impedance: 90 Ω
suggested loading: >1000 Ω
weight: 9 g
compliance: 14 μm/mN
tracking force: 1,6-1,9 g
channel balance: 1 dB
channel separation (1kHz): >35 dB

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  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime (tested HERE)
  • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Preamp: Leben RS-28CX (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Polaris II, tested HERE)
  • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
  • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
  • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
  • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
  • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • audio stand Base
  • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).