Brinkmann Balance Turntable

German designer Helmut Brinkmann is on a never-ending quest for audio perfection, in this case with perhaps the most imperfect of music playback devices—the turntable. As he explains on the Brinkmann Audio Website, “Vinyl record playback is an exceedingly delicate and massively complex undertaking”—one he tackles with mastery in the flagship Balance turntable, which has undergone constant refinement since it was introduced 28 years ago. The goal is to achieve true high fidelity and come as close as possible to attaining the illusion of a live performance. As any vinyl connoisseur will tell you, it takes precision across many moving parts to reach sonic nirvana. In addition to an accurate tonearm/cartridge/stylus assembly that conveys the subtleties of complex musical passages, you need a drive mechanism that spins the platter at just the right speed without wavering or contributing any noise of its own. Finally, the turntable must be virtually immune to vibration.

The Balance turntable ($23,700 base price) aims to meet the challenge with its signature 3.25-inch-thick, 44-pound platter, which is made of aluminum, lead, and copper and capped with an elastomer-bonded crystal plate. A brushless, dual-phase AC motor turns the platter via an O-ring and, in an unusual twist, the platter bearing is electrically heated to deliver optimum performance. No warmup period required. An all-new solid-state power supply comes standard, or you can upgrade to the newly redesigned vacuum-tube power supply ($4,300), which is said to remove outside line noise and contribute subtle enhancements to the overall sound. Brinkmann recommends the EMT-Ti moving-coil cartridge ($4,300), which has been carefully optimized for the Balance, and the turntable can accommodate most tonearms, including Brinkmann’s own 10.5 ($6,300) and 12.1 ($7,500). The final piece of this extravagant audiophile puzzle is a platform to support the massive platter, which will add another $1,200 to $3,500 to the tab, depending on the model. Bases made by Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) come highly recommended. The upshot: If you go for the works, you’re looking at well over forty grand. No one said a world-class turntable would come cheap.

Brinkmann Audio (distributed by On a Higher Note LLC) • (949) 488-3004 •