Kuzma Stabi R turntable Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Kuzma Stabi S turntable & Stogi S tonearm; Thorens TD 124 Mk.I turntable and Jelco 350S tonearm; Denon DL-103, Hana EL, Ortofon Quintet Bronze cartridges.
Digital Sources: Sony VAIO laptop running Qobuz and Tidal. Tascam CD-200iL CD player. Border Patrol DAC SE, Halide DAC HD, Western Digital T2 Mirror Drives (2).
Preamplification: Auditorium 23 A23 MC step-up transformer, Luxman EQ-500 phono preamplifier, Shindo Laboratory Allegro preamplifier.
Power Amplifier: Shindo Laboratory Haut-Brion.
Integrated Amplifier: Heed Audio Elixir, Parasound Halo Hint 6, Schiit Ragnarok.
Loudspeakers: DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93, Elac Debut B6, Klipsch Heresy III, Quad S-2.
Headphones: AKG Acoustics K612 Pro Reference Studio Headphones, Master & Dynamic MH40, Skullcandy Hesh 2 Over-Ear Headphones.
Cables: Interconnect: AudioQuest Chicago & Water & Yukon, Morrow Audio MA-1, Shindo Laboratory, Triode Wire Labs Spirit II (RCA). Speaker: AudioQuest Castle Rock, Auditorium 23, Tellurium Q Black, Triode Wire Labs American. AC: manufacturers' own.
Accessories: IsoTek IVO3 Aquarius power conditioner, Music Hall Aztec Blue & Mooo record mats; Spec AD-UP1 Analog Disc Sheet; Salamander five-tier rack; IKEA Aptitlig bamboo chopping boards (under preamp, power amp); Mapleshade maple platform (15" by 12" by 2") under turntable, 3"-thick studio-treatment foam damping (ceiling, walls).
Listening Room: 12' L by 10' W by 12' H, system set up along long wall; suspended wood floor, 6"-thick walls (plaster over 2x4), wood-beamed ceiling.—Ken Micallef

COMPANY INFO
Kuzma, Ltd.
US distributor: Elite Audio Video Distribution
4718 San Fernando Road, Unit H
Glendale, CA 91204
(818) 245-6037
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... exactly what was evaluated. Actually it was a $9595 turntable fitted with a $6675 tonearm, so $16K+. At that price point, KM should also listen to the VPI HW-40/Fatboy Anniversary and the SME Model 20/3A/Series V.

Also, how many owners of ~$16K turntables are going to be using them with ~$500 phono cartridges? If KM will be reviewing turntables in this price range on a regular basis, perhaps he should consider upgrading his cartridge - or arranging for the loan of one.

MhtLion's picture

Strongly agreed. Perhaps, it will make sense to use $500 cartridges alongside the more expensive cartridges as a comprehensive review. But, just using $500 cartridges entirely for the 16k turntable is.. doesn't make much a sense at all.

MhtLion's picture

Strongly agreed. Perhaps, it will make sense to use $500 cartridges alongside the more expensive cartridges as a comprehensive review. But, just using $500 cartridges entirely for the 16k turntable is.. doesn't make much a sense at all.

Jim Austin's picture

Ken was in a situation many potential upgraders will be in: He's got a cartridge proportionate in price (and presumably performance) to his current turntable and arm, but he's looking to upgrade. He can't afford to get the 'table and a really expensive cart at the same time. What will the experience be like until he's able to save up? Will the cartridge from his old 'table hold him back?

He found that the better 'table made a huge difference. That's interesting. If he bought the 'table he'd eventually upgrade and see even more improvement.

What Ken did in this review is totally legit. We should have done a better job framing the comparison; if we had, the logic of the review would have made more sense.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

... Linn, then spending all of your analog disc player upgrade budget on a new turntable/tonearm is the proper approach.
Others might suggest that greater sonic improvement would accrue by allocating some portion of that upgrade budget toward a new cartridge.

What KM did in this review may be deemed "totally legit", but it could also be argued that only half the job was done. Wouldn't it have been more interesting to determine whether or not simultaneously including the cartridge in the upgrade process was the better choice?

At a total (turntable/tonearm/cartridge) price on the order of $17K, a face-off could have been staged between the Kuzma/Hana combo and an SME Model 15A equipped with either an Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti or an Audio-Technica AT-ART1000. Is KM up to the task of hauling a second set of cinder blocks up to his apartment?

Jim Austin's picture

What KM did in this review may be deemed "totally legit", but it could also be argued that only half the job was done. Wouldn't it have been more interesting to determine whether or not simultaneously including the cartridge in the upgrade process was the better choice?

Yes, that could be argued. And no, it would not have been a better choice to "simultaneously includ[e] the cartridge in the upgrade process," as this would have created more confusion over what was responsible for the changes he heard: the 'table change or the cartridge change.

He could, of course, have changed out the cartridge for a more expensive (and also superior) one, to see how much additional benefit could be gained after comparing the two 'tables with the same cartridge. As I have already written, this would have been a legitimate choice. This gets complicated, though: You're now, in this second stage, reviewing a cartridge upgrade, not a 'table upgrade. To do this properly, you'd then need to use the new cart on the old 'table and get an idea of how much more of the cartridge's potential the new 'table exploits relative to the old.

Add to this the fact that even audio reviewers live in the real world--we don't always have on-hand exactly the equipment we might want, whether it be that preamp we listened to last year and would like to compare to this new preamp, or an optimally matched phono cartridge for a newly reviewed deck, and I continue to think that what we--what Ken--did was completely appropriate.

I do, however, appreciate your feedback and the respectful way it was offered. I hope this discussion convinces you that I take such feedback seriously.

My Best,

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

... when they upgrade to a new turntable/tonearm, reuse the same phono cartridge that was installed on their previous 'table?

Each time I've bought a new turntable, I've always bought a new cartridge to go along with it. Of course, the intervals between those acquisitions have been measured in years. I'm not in the business of evaluating new equipment every few months.

Given that Kuzma also markets a range of phono cartridges, it's curious that the importer/distributor for the line apparently missed the opportunity to include a sample of one of their cartridges with the turntable and tonearm. The CAR-30 model, for example, with a boron cantilever and a micro-ridge stylus, is priced at just under $2K - not unreasonable relative to the price of the turntable and tonearm under review. That would have allowed KM to also evaluate the effect of upgrading his cartridge, either in concert with or independent of the turntable/tonearm upgrade.
http://www.kuzma.si/cartridges.2

ken mac's picture

...as I have been directed, only one component variable is allowed during a review.

I know the sound of my reference system, so when a new component is introduced, the change is obvious. If two new variables are introduced, I can no longer gauge the difference to my reference system--it's been doubly altered. This is why in the review I first introduced the cinder block stand, then placed my Kuzma Stogi S/Stabi S on it to report the difference it made before placing the Stabi R on the stand (I used the Hana EL on both turntables). One variable at to time to avoid confusion, both in my brain and in the review.

Ortofan's picture

... simultaneously replacing your Stabi-S turntable and Stogi-S tonearm with the Stabi-R turntable and 4-Point tonearm?

Can you say with certainty how much of the change in sound quality you observed was attributable to the change of turntable versus the change of tonearm?

billyb's picture

Plus the new support rack. Good thing Art was looking out and reminded him to listen to his old deck on the new platform first.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Survey question ....... How many audiophiles who upgrade to $100k speakers and $50k amps connect them with a lamp cord as speaker cable? ........ Just a joke ...... No offense meant towards anybody :-) ........

billyb's picture

Jim,

The guys got a point, at least acknowledge that. Frame this - It makes sense to throw a 500 buck cartridge at a 16k table in a review of the cartridge itself, as this is a great way of seeing it's limitations. But to justify using it as the sole cartridge in a review of no less than a new Kuzma reference (because that's what it is) really eats at your credibility.
I'm gonna add that that review was boring as f**k. Honestly, there are way better blogs, you tube videos, etc out there if you want to wallow in the mundane points of delivery and set up of a piece of stereo equipment for 75% of a review.
How did it sound? I almost fell asleep waiting to find out. Finally at the end we are treated to a description of your record collection playing through a turntable you can't afford with a cartridge you can and running it all into a schitt integrated. No matter how you slice it you haven't done much justice to the subject of your review.

ken mac's picture

"Actually it was a $9595 turntable fitted with a $6675 tonearm, so $16K+." Which was clearly spelled out in the review.
I am by no means wealthy and don't have 2-4k carts sitting around. But the Hana ML is now in my rig, thanks for noticing! The Kuzma excels with any cartridge, however.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be KM could review the new Primare I35 Prisma integrated amp? ....... I35 Prisma was recently reviewed by Hi-Fi News favorably :-) ..........

Ortofan's picture

... Ry Cooder fan?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Get Your Lies Straight"? .......... Terry Evans with Ry Cooder :-) ..........

ken mac's picture

you betcha

doak's picture

From my experience with a Kuzma Reference tonearm

A general turntable/turntable review question:
Do turntable manufacturers ever provide wow & flutter specs anymore?
Do any mags still do their own measurements of such?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hi-Fi News does measurements of turntables, tonearms and phono cartridges :-) ..........

jgossman's picture

and comments from the same 12 people.

I check in for the first time in months to see what's going on in high end audio and people are going on about how a 500.00 cartridge CAN'T be up to snuff for that level table.

What if it's a world beater 500.00 cartridge like the old Grado Reference Sonata? What if you haven't heard a great 100.00 cartridge because you think it's beneath your equipment?

All other monied hobbies tend to consider more expense as a way of knowing what's out there when you can afford it. Audio is the only one where many of it's participants don't have any idea what's out there in the entry level (and how good it really is) because it's "beneath them" to see for themselves.

I'm from Kentucky and even the wealthiest among us appreciate a great 25.00 bottle of Bourbon or 6 dollar craft beer from the bluegrass state. High end audio isn't dying a natural death. You people are killing it by taking the fun out of it for people who aren't wealthy.

Okay, I'm done...

ken mac's picture

The Hana EL is a steal at $475. I am in no way apologizing for using it in this review or any forthcoming reviews. And to the idea that Stereophile doesn't review entry level components: Horse manure. Take a look at the top of today's page: Vanatoo Transparent One Encore powered loudspeaker system for $599.00, reviewed by our man from the great Pacific Northwest, Jason Victor Serinus, who typically reviews far more expensive gear than moi. Stereophile covers it all, with far more rigorous and demanding criteria than any hi-fi mag on the planet. Cheers.

jgossman's picture

I had to re-read my comment to understand your response. I didn't say anything about Stereophile's reviewing. Or the review in question. I commented on the responses. As in "there's no way a 500.00 cartridge should be in this review".

I have no idea where your comment comes from.

I'd go so far as to say I'm on your side. Maybe you should re-read my comment.

ken mac's picture

. . . reading and writing on the subway. Thanks for your response, and the correction.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be KM could review the new Revel Performa M126Be, bookshelf/stand-mount speakers, $4,000/pair :-) .........

volvic's picture

Time to sell the Stabi S Stogi table and upgrade. I can sympathize using a cheaper cartridge on pricier turntables, been doing the same on my rigs for far too long. Mine is the trusty Shure V15 Mark V, it's been so trusty and reliable that I haven't felt the need to upgrade on any of my rigs.....until now.

X