When archaeologists dig up the current layer of civilization a million years from now, they'll stumble upon anvil-heavy discs of silver and gold, delicate Lucite sculptures, strange materials juxtaposed with spindly arm-like tendrils — all sporting a wheel-like centerpiece. Were these intricately crafted edifices part of a temple honoring the invention of the wheel? No, dear archaeologist: they were turntables, altars to those deities with the most golden of ears, platforms upon which huge piles of currency were burned.
This was done all in the name of worshiping not the glorious music these contraptions were capable of reproducing, but the precision and regularity with which these wheels could spin, and the accuracy of the sound that can be picked up by their precious tonearms dragged across disks of vinyl. As a preview, today we dug up the seven most outlandish examples, discovering for ourselves the lengths to which audiophiles will go in pursuit of The Perfect Sound.
1. Vega Masterpiece
Get out your $46,730, audiophiles, because that's what you pay for this Vega Masterpiece. Its claim to fame is its resonance chambers, carefully placed to avoid any of those sound-killing unwanted vibrations. The reward? "Excellent dynamics and clarity."
2. Angelis Labor Gabriel
Listen carefully enough, and the sound of this four-armed monster might just match up with the singing of angels. Gabriel to be exact. The $64,000 question: Is it worth $64,000 to you? No question about it, though, this magnetically suspended turntable that floats on air is downright gorgeous.
3. Bluenote Piccolo
Now we're getting into the cheap seats, with this "entry level" acrylic turntable named after the tiniest of instruments in the orchestra. Its clear plastic platter is too precious to be called something as pedestrian as "Lucite," nay, it's Arnite©, "one of the hardest and toughest self-lubricating plastic polymers available." That means this turntable is going to rotate steady as she goes. Its relatively low price of just over $1,000 will assure you that you won't be singing too many blue notes once your wife finds out.
Go all-natural with this Audiowood, handmade by California woodworker Joel Scilley. He can take an old fave turntable and build a new platform for it out of burlwood or any other species of your choice, or you can get him to create your dream turntable out of whatever materials you specify. Its solid wood foundation keeps away the dreaded vibrations and acoustic resonances, and looks like a work of art at the same time. The pricing? You'll have to work that out with Joel.
5. Basis Audio Work of Art
The cocksure makers of this fancy turntable have the cojones to call it "Work of Art," and one look at it tells us that its name is probably justified. This $150,000, 400-pound beast is an engineering exercise more than anything else, built to tolerances of less than a few ten-thousandths of an inch. Its "self-contained Resonance Annihilator" is so carefully engineered, it's more sophisticated than the machines used to create the records that will play on it.
6. Continuum Caliburn
This baby's 80-pound platter levitates above its moorings, thanks to pressurized oil pumped up from within. Its $12,500 Cobra tonearm is equally sophisticated: "Created in three dimensions using Finite Element Analysis in concert with artificially-intelligent reshaping algorithms, the Cobra represents a breakthrough in how the structure and performance of a tonearm is designed." Yes sir, that's the kind of guff that makes us want to spend $112,000.
7. Goldmund Reference II
We saved the best for last, this $300,000 masterpiece that's so rare that only one of them is manufactured each year. Its 44-pound platter is made of five layers of precision-crafted materials — three are metracrylate (is this exotic plastic anything like "unobtainium?") and two are brass — and is spun by a cog-free motor that's more accurate than the finest Swiss watch. Amazing. We doubt there's any record that would do such a technological tour de force justice. That settles it. We'll have none of these. Instead, we'll hire a string quartet every weekend for the next 10 years.