Float Like a Butterfly

Turntables remain the source device of choice for many audiophiles who prize analog sound, but friction in the bearings makes it difficult to keep the platter spinning at a constant rate, which is critical for high-quality playback. One solution to this problem is suspending the platter on a cushion of air, an approach championed by Bergmann Audio of Denmark in its new Sindre airbearing turntable, which debuts at CES next month.

The Sindre's airbearing consists of two aluminum discs separated by a thin layer of pumped air. The belt-driven platter rests on a 7-pound aluminum subplatter that is suspended by the airbearing, resulting in virtually no bearing noise and exceptional speed stability. The linear-tracking tonearm also relies on an airbearing of its own to avoid any friction in its movement. This seems like a great idea in theory, but I can't help wondering if the air pump makes enough noise to be distracting.

I've always thought that a linear-tracking tonearm is a great idea, since it keeps the cartridge at a constant angle that is tangent to the groove, and vinyl records are cut using a similar mechanism. If the airbearing pump is quiet enough, the Sindre should be a superb performer—and at $21,000, it had better be!