CES 2009: Incredible floating record player

Audiophiles may be shocked to hear that Czech company Pro-Ject, known for the world's best budget turntables, used CES to launch a $6,000 high-end 'table called the Xtension. But hey, if Hyundai can produce a Lexus-killer, why can't Pro-Ject go after the likes of Clearaudio and Linn?

Pro-Ject's new Xtension turntable has a lot of the appealing simplicity that has made Linn's Sondek an audiophile favorite for decades. Under that Spartan exterior lie some interesting tweaks, though. First and foremost are five sets of opposing magnets: one set in each foot, and one under the platter. The magnets in the feet essentially float the turntable a fraction of an inch, isolating it from vibration coming from the rack or table below.

The pair of magnets below the platter reduces the effective weight of the 25-pound platter to a mere 5 pounds, according to a spokesperson for Sumiko, the U.S. importer for Pro-Ject. They don't isolate the platter, but they do relieve the strain on its ceramic bearing.

The Xtension's price includes a swanky, 12-inch tonarm crafted from carbon fiber. A digital readout allows precise RPM adjustments, and a sturdy cover protects the works from dust and flying objects.—Brent Butterworth