EXCLUSIVE: Soulines Announces Flagship tt42 Turntable
Serbian turntable manufacturer, Soulines, burst onto the turntable scene just a short decade ago. Its small but potent range captured enthusiasts' interest with its mathematical and science-based engineering approach, rather than being just another “me too” plinth, motor and tonearm design.
So much so, its Kubrick DCX turntable, the brand's flagship at the time, became my first real turntable after reading about the theory and design that formed its inception.
Roll forward several years, a pandemic later, and a forced lockdown around most of the world, founder and designer, Igor Gligorov found himself with the time needed to hone in on what will now become a new benchmark in the Soulines turntable range.
The tt42 is the result of the long-term idea of designing a high-end turntable that would offer high-end sound, while also being a mechanically balanced system, user friendly and with a beautiful aesthetic, according to Igor. The new turntable would also need to accommodate mounting two tonearms of any length and any mounting type.
Soulines' turntable naming convention is in honour of one of the creative personalities from the art world who has inspired Igor personally. He tells us:
This time we named the turntable after a number which usually has no meaning other than mathematical, but when placed in the context of the science fiction novel “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” by the famous Douglas Adams, where the number 42 is the answer to the “question about the meaning of life, the universe and everything”, the number 42 also gains a serious philosophical meaning.
As no one can tell which is the best turntable in the world, because we still don't know what that turntable should be like - what characteristics it should have, etc. Namely, we don't know how to formulate the question correctly what's the best turntable in the world. Similarly, it is also impossible to correctly formulate the question about the meaning of life, the universe and everything, and get some meaningful answer. So, the number 42 is the perfect answer to that question, as long as the question is formulated in that way. Until we determine what the best turntable in the world should be, the tt42 could be the answer!
In designing the tt42, Igor tells us he once again turned to 3D-modeling software, while employing the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence to attain a fully mechanically balanced system. Thus, the centre of mass of the turntable is placed onto the vertical axis of rotation of the main bearing shaft/platter. This is said to reduce the moment of inertia to the very centre of the mass.
To gain uniform vibration damping across the whole frequency spectrum, Igor employed various materials, each chosen for the plinth and sub-plinth components according to their specific mechanical characteristics. All the components are precisely CNC machined and hand-finished to the highest standards.
The platter is manufactured from 60mm thick acrylic, weighing 5.4kg and is machined from laminated cast Acrylic to precision accuracy. The massive aluminium sub-plinth and motor assembly are 3-point or 4-point coupled over differently sized rubber-cork washers for damping - gaining maximum control of the vibrations transfer through the complex plinth/sub-plinth/motor-pod assembly.
Both arm-pods and the main bearing assembly are tightly mounted directly onto the CNC machined aluminium sub-plinth, which is in turn 3-point coupled to the main acrylic plinth, once again utilising differently sized rubber-cork washers used for additional damping.
The inverted main bearing assembly is also CNC machined to the tightest of tolerances, with the bearing top hub machined from solid stainless steel with a brass sleeve insert and Delrin thrust pad. A polished stainless steel shaft holds the captive hardened steel ball bearing. The main bearing assembly and platter and manufactured in pairs to fit one another precisely, rather than manufactured in batches.
The tt42's drive mechanism utilises a powerful, high torque brushless DC motor and an integrated speed control electronic driver. The motor controller is a true analog device, says Igor, “providing constant speed and uniform rotation, which ensures perfect natural dynamics, timbre, timing and musicality of every record played”. A fine speed adjustment feature is provided for both speeds 33.33rpm and 45rpm.
Supporting the turntable are three adjustable oversized cone feet machined from solid stainless steel - allowing precise levelling and optimum coupling to the surface that it sits on. The cone feet are coupled to aluminium pods over rubber-cork washers of different diameters. In turn, the aluminium pods are 3-point coupled to the main acrylic plinth using differently sized rubber-cork washers for damping. Igor says this complex approach means any structural vibration breakthrough (from the environment through shelf/rack/stand) is minimised.
The two identical arm-pods consist of several parts: the upper part, the lower part, and the arm-board (SME x 2, Jelco/Linn/Ortofon, Rega/Origin Live/Audio Note/etc. mounting standard), which are all CNC machined from aluminium, while three sets of 4 spacers of different heights (15, 20, 25 mm) are made of stainless steel. A clever mounting system allows for easily changing the geometry for different tone-arms lengths, 9 or 12 inches.
The right arm-pod with an SME arm-board is factory fitted as standard. Mounting of the second (left) arm-pod which comes partially assembled is also said to be simple. Custom arm-boards will be available through Soulines, by request and upon sending technical drawings of the particular tonearm specific mount.
Final pricing is still yet to be confirmed, but a ballpark figure could be around AUD $25,000. We expect to see the Soulines tt42 in Australia before the middle of the year. Naturally, we can't wait to get our hands on a review sample.