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  1. #1
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    As promised, my impressions of the Clearaudio Statement

    While its true there are guys who use their audio systems as jewelry and status systems, I have always approached the high end as simply a shining example of what can be done. Despite the fact that some gear falls into the incredibly impractical and "if-you-have-to-ask-the-price-you-can't-afford-it" category, it has always been a distinct pleasure for me just to simply have the opportunity to audition some of this stratospheric gear. Since I have known several audio reviewers over the past thirty years, I have had the good fortune to have exposure to quite a bit of this stuff in real world settings - as opposed to show environments which never really work that well.

    Two weekends ago, I visited one such friend who currently has a Clearaudio Statement along with the Goldfinger cartridge under consideration. For those of you unfamiliar with brand, Clearaudio is a German company that makes a wide range of turntables, tonearms, and cartridges ranging from the affordable to this NASA budget unit. The well, *distinctive* McIntosh turntable with the glowing green platter personally endorsed by Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, for duplicating her complexion is a rebadged Clearaudio design. They also bought the rights to Lou Souther's linear arm technology (I have an original TQ-1 myself) and has continued to refine and develop it much further.

    Over the decades, there have been many advances with acoustical and drive isolation, speed regulation, minimization of arm tracking error, etc. This unit combines all these in a unique, massive package. And I don't use the word massive lightly (no pun intended) in this case. At 774 pounds, even Governor Schwarzenneger would have trouble moving this thing around. Although I've got a few pics, they simply do not do the turntable justice. This thing is simply beautiful with attention paid to every detail. The controls are very simple with buttons for 33 and 45 rpm operation (push both and you get 78 naturally) and a digital display.



    There are two aspects of its operation that are not immediately evident by simply looking at it. First of all, the upper platter assembly - which is everything from the top down to the wood trimmed triangular section (including the Nautilus gym set of counterweights suspended from long shaft attached to the platter) is a pivoting design that operates much like a ceiling fan. Nudge it and the entire assembly will swing freely like a pendulum. Secondly, while the lower platter is belt driven by a Mars Rover Lander motor (no kidding), it does not touch the far larger upper platter. Instead, it is magnetically driven. Though it is difficult to see in this rear view pic, note the small gap between the two sections.



    The arm tower departs from previous Souther inspired designs in that it does not pivot upwards to clear the record. Instead, the entire tower moves fore and aft locking into either position. VTA is easily adjusted by large dials atop the tower. The result is even greater stability and isolation. Mounted is the Goldfinger MC cartridge.



    Ok, so how does this thing sound? I'll describe two very different recordings I heard. As for the rest of the system, this fed a Zanden phono preamp into a VTL 7.5 II line stage, VTL Siegfried amplifiers and Scaena line arrays with a quad of "depth charge" subs (driven by a Burmester amp) using Nordost Odin cabling. For digital sources, an EMM Labs CDSA se was used.

    I had brought a CDR sampler which included a band from the musical "A Little Night Music" by Steven Sondheim. Knowing that I liked that music, my friend played a 45 RPM rendition of "Send in the Clowns". This was a very different interpretation of the original by Glynnis Johns. It was by a male singer with a more intimate night club sort of setting. First of all, you could completely forget this was a record. There were simply no vestiges of any kind of record noise like pops, ticks, etc. The soundstage was very precisely defined: not super huge, but very well defined. Vocal articulation was superb. Dynamics were exceptional. I have never before heard such breathtaking resolution. You could play this system at whatever level you please including ear deafening - although I choose to listen at more modest levels than many folks.

    The other piece was one of my all time symphonic faves, "The Planets" by Holst. Naturally, the image and scale increased significantly. The brass and woodwinds were illuminated in such an incredibly natural light. You could figuratively watch the fingers of the bass players on their strings. If you are familiar with the work, Saturn is a very emotional piece with large dynamic swings. It concludes with a simply beautiful theme using harp, distant sounding brass, and is punctuated by the power of a first octave organ pedal note. Hearing it always leaves tears in my eyes. This time I was a bit choked up as well. Anyone who says you cannot get CD quality bass (either in extension or timbre) from vinyl has not heard a setup of this quality. Is this as good or better than the Caliburn, the Rockport or other ultra turntables? Who knows. What I can say with certainty is that this gentle giant can tell you what the lowly LP is capable of doing.

    Hearing his review systems are always a most special treat. Knowing what can be achieved with home audio only serves to enhance my appreciation for listening to my far, far more modest systems.

    rw

  2. #2
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Wow. That is a beautiful piece of equipment in a "gearhead" kinda way...okay, actually it's just flat cool by anyone's standards. As a digital guy I admit to having heard analog systems that were simply amazing though cost prohibitive, including some of the lesser ClearAudios. I have no doubt that this bad boy could give any of them a run for the money.

    Hearing his review systems are always a most special treat. Knowing what can be achieved with home audio only serves to enhance my appreciation for listening to my far, far more modest systems.

    rw


    Isn't that weird how that works? I spent an afternoon with the new CLXs the other day and am merely awaiting Graham to send me some pics before writing a review. I had the same feelings when I got home...almost a renewed realization of the great capabilities today's technology can provide, shortcomings be damned.

    Great stuff. Thanks.

  3. #3
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    Wow. That is a beautiful piece of equipment in a "gearhead" kinda way...okay, actually it's just flat cool by anyone's standards. As a digital guy...
    Speaking of gearhead stuff for digital fans, the most beautiful CDP I've ever seen has to be from yet another German company, Burmester. I compared the 969/970 combo against a GamuT CD-1 which I eventually bought. The Burms were clearly better with a tad more resolution and more extension at either end, but I thought the CD-1 offered a great value given the price difference at the time ($56k vs. $3k).

    It is a top loader. You slide the middle section of the transport back, place the CD and twist the gold lock nut (sitting to the right) to secure.



    rw

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Thanks E-Stat for a great review and great photo's. I would love to hear a top tier turntable. I will never be able to afford a table like the Clearaudio but I always hope for trickle down technology. I am glad manufacturers make state of the art products and learn from them and bring the benefits to more accesible products. I may one day own a Clearaudio but not that one.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  5. #5
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Thanks E-Stat for a great review and great photo's. I would love to hear a top tier turntable. I will never be able to afford a table like the Clearaudio but I always hope for trickle down technology.
    Few folks indeed can afford or choose to spend $120k on a turntable! I'm certainly not one of them either. As you mentioned, however, there have been quite a few examples of trickle down technology from these kinds of ultra toys to the real world. Not to mention they give quite a fun ride for those who can play with them for just a while.

    rw

  6. #6
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Few folks indeed can afford or choose to spend $120k on a turntable! I'm certainly not one of them either. As you mentioned, however, there have been quite a few examples of trickle down technology from these kinds of ultra toys to the real world. Not to mention they give quite a fun ride for those who can play with them for just a while.

    rw
    True enough about the trickle down theory, the "lesser" ClearAudio gear is pretty darn amazing in it's own right. If I had the time or patience I would definetely consider them on the shortlist.

    'Stat, how did the Burmeisters compare to the dCS stuff?

  7. #7
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Hey E-Stat, can you tell us a little more about "The Planets" LP. I could stand a new copy. Thanks

    By the way, great review. I really like it, when reading a review and you can feel the excitement that the reviewer was feeling.

  8. #8
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    I guess the "trickle-down" theory is a valid one, but for the life of me, I simply cannot possibly justify the $150,000 pricetag on that turntable. For that price, it not only should sound better than anything around anywhere, but should remove the LP from its jacket, place it on the turntable, clean the record first and then play it. After playing, it should carefully remove the LP, put it back in its jacket, and store it away. It wouldn't be too much to ask for it to paint my house as well. Most of ClearAudio's products are fine items with eye-popping pricetags. This one takes "eye-popping" to an all new level.

    When I worked for Onkyo, there were several "showpiece" items the company would bring to the Consumer Electronics Shows that never made it into production. One was a turntable with a 4" thick, solid copper platter. It sure looked impressive though...

  9. #9
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    'Stat, how did the Burmeisters compare to the dCS stuff?
    Have no idea. He's had tons of different players (currently has two different EMM Labs units), but I don't think he's ever had a dCS unit in the system.

    rw

  10. #10
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington
    Hey E-Stat, can you tell us a little more about "The Planets" LP. I could stand a new copy. Thanks
    I think it was the Previn version, but am not positive. From a musical standpoint, I really like the Ormandy / Philadelphia version from the 70s. The low end on the organ is not quite as impressive, but I prefer the phrasing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington
    By the way, great review. I really like it, when reading a review and you can feel the excitement that the reviewer was feeling.
    Thanks. For me what makes for a truly great system is the ability to suspend disbelief for a moment that you are really hearing the live event.

    rw

  11. #11
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    For that price, it not only should sound better than anything around anywhere, but...for it to paint my house as well.
    Or at least include a beautiful assistant to handle those mundane details.

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    ...there were several "showpiece" items the company would bring to the Consumer Electronics Shows that never made it into production.
    The amazing thing about Suchy's work is that this is production!

    rw

  12. #12
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    My apartment will not be able to support that much weight, but then again I'm sure owners of the Statement do not live like I do. Here I am eating from a can of corn with a TT that cost less than the pictured LP clamp....makes me wonder how many pebbles it takes to keep human beings alive. Anyone here wanna buy corn?

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Very cool.

    JRA

  13. #13
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    Wow, what a Statement. They'd have to come to your house and build it on the spot. Wonder who makes isolation cones for that baby As far as price, I think it's a bargain, it is half the price of the dress McCain's wife wore at the Republican convention. It's all perspective

    It would be very cool to be able to see it in person and especially hear it.

  14. #14
    RGA
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    The problem for me is when I listen to stuff in the upper price ranges like this - it opens the ears to what is possible. For most people we listen to what is the run of the mill audiophile kit - Rega Linn, clearaudio's regular line, etc and yeah fine and all.

    When I heard the older AN TT3 a while back at what was part of a $20k+ vinyl rig based on the Voyd Reference/Heleus arm etc it was quite a shock at how truly bad a Linn compares - and Linn is pretty darn good so when it can be completely destroyed it says something.

    I'm not sure it does us a service in some ways except to say that the technology is there for greatness. Really tough to compare unless it's in the same system and rarely are you going to be able to test out turntables in the $20k+ price ranges in some sort of shootout same system test.

    But it would be interesting to hears some of the top tables of different design goals head to head to hear the perspective each maker has. And while the prices can't really justify it it is fun to see things like moon lander bearings and 750+ pounds to lug around. The Rockports, TT3, and other 50K+ tables have those kinds of quirky bits that bring a small chortle and a tip of the hat to the extreme nature the designers go to to kind of out do everyone else in their own ways. Who knows I may get a chance to review one someday. But umm after the last amplifier I had in for review I think I may impose a weight limit and 750+lbs ain't ever gonna happen - not even for speakers .

  15. #15
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    The other piece was one of my all time symphonic faves, "The Planets" by Holst. Naturally, the image and scale increased significantly. The brass and woodwinds were illuminated in such an incredibly natural light. You could figuratively watch the fingers of the bass players on their strings. If you are familiar with the work, Saturn is a very emotional piece with large dynamic swings. It concludes with a simply beautiful theme using harp, distant sounding brass, and is punctuated by the power of a first octave organ pedal note. Hearing it always leaves tears in my eyes.

    rw
    Mebbe this should be placed in another thread:

    I've listened to a coupla versions of this peice, having the same visceral reaction as you, E-S, after the strains of Saturn wended their way accross my corpus callosum and so to the poor caudus equina (stretching the metaphor a bit....)

    Having been less than enthusiastic over Karajan's DG (with Berlin, et al.) and underwhelmed by Previn's Telarc (with the Royal S.O.) releases, I stumbled onto a Hyperion recording featuring Mark (the anything but) Elder leading the Halle Orchestra.

    Elder (as evidenced by his copious notes) obviously was well prepared to take up the baton and leads the Halle through a very dynamic and spirited performance that any Planets fan would appreciate. Added to the mix is Colin Matthews' Pluto, which was written in honor and appreciation of Imogen, Old Gustav's daughter, with whom Matthews was well acquainted and inspired. A reading of Holst's Lyric Movement and the original version of Neptune round out this very nicely recorded recording.

    ---Aa
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

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