March 2009 David Price, HIFI World Magazine - (5 Globes) (UK)
I would like to think that in 2009, we are past the stage in the debate
where journalists have to talk in terms of "the best turntable in the
world". I think there are as many of these as there are people in the
world, and never underestimate the power of human subjectivity and
individual taste to bring disorder to any type of reasoned debate! So, I
am not going to make dramatic pronouncements, rather I'll try to
explain why I think this is one of the great turntables in the world...
The Acutus has a very neutral sound, which is to say that it both takes
you very intricately in to the recording itself, and at the same time
rather removes you from it. By this I mean it is so incisive that it
gets past much of what is wrong with a particular
recording/mastering/pressing, offering a direct route to the music
without concerning you too much with how it gets there. By any
criterion, this is an astonishing feat and puts it in the company of the
world's very best disc spinners.
For example, when I first spun Steely Dan's 'Deacon Blue' from that
jewel 'Aja' LP, I sat there rather transfixed with Donald Fagen's voice.
There were moments when I would marvel at the warmth of that superb
bass guitar sound, and the brilliantly dextrous way it was played, or
delight at the sublime hi-hat sound which was about as realistic as I've
ever heard outside a concert hall with its shimmering harmonics and
supernatural air. But actually what locked me into this song was the
nasal, New York, Jewish whine that intoned, "I'll learn to work the
saxophone/ I'll play just what I feel/ Drink Scotch whisky all night
long/ And die behind the wheel"... It's the juxtaposition of Fagen's
bitterly acerbic, almost poisonous lyrics with Walter Becker's soft,
inoffensive melodies that makes this song so powerful, and Fagen's
plaintive vocal delivery tops it off brilliantly - and never have I
heard it so direct as with this turntable.
Moving to '1000 Knives' from Yellow Magic Orchestra's dark 1981 ambient
electronic 'BMG', and once again you could sit there and gasp in awe at
the clarity of one of the earliest digital recordings, the sumptuous
warmth of those arpeggiating Korg analogue synthesisers and crashing
Roland drum machines. You could marvel at the superlative bass grip the
Acutus displayed and it vast widescreen projection of the soundstage.
And you could smile at the thunderous dynamics, hitherto unheard, as the
brooding songs builds to a crescendo. But again I found myself
transfixed by what the song was doing, the emotions it was evoking and
where it was pushing itself. At the end I was left with a deeper respect
for its composer Ryuichi Sakamoto - and an insatiable appetite for
It's hard to review a turntable such as this, which is so clearly
brilliant in so many areas. Instead, the debate becomes not about its
relative merits but whether its particular nature suits you sir! As
for me personally, I think this about as close to the sound I am looking
May 2003 Michael Fremer, Stereophile Magazine (USA)
"What you end up with is an extremely compact, heavy, superbly isolated
record-playback system. like the SME 30/2, which I reviewed in the March
issue, the Avid Acutus is a no-BS, industrial grade turntable with a
truly effective isolation system. While the Acutus execution differs,
its basic design concept is similar to the SME's. The biggest diffrence
is in overall mass, and what you do with the energy: damp it out (SME)
or let it dissipate (AVID). The SME is a high mass, damped design, the
Avid a medium-mass, undamped one,though the Acutus platter is actually
May 2001 P.Panagopoulos, HXOS High-End Magazine (5 Stars)(GR)
"What impressed me most about the Acutus was how well-thought-out and
compact it is; how everything fits together so neatly. It's also
handsome, far more so than the SME 30/2."
"...the Avid is one dramatic-looking turntable."
"The Acutus didn't sound identical to the 30/2, but it certainly was
competitive in most ways. Depending on your tastes, you might prefer it
overall, though it couldn't match the 30/2's performance in some
respects it definately matched the 30/2 in the way music emerged from
jet black silence. That alone is a major accomplishment, and reminded me
of the Rockport System III Sirius Turntable, which I haven't heard
almost 2 years now. I'm unable to perform rumble tests, but I suspect
the Acutus would measure as well as the 30/2."
"SME detractors would say the 30/2 is overdamped, with too much weight
and emphasis in the base, giving the music a thick, leaden quality. I
don't hear that, but it's something you'll have to decide for yourself.
The Acutus' base performance was more remeniscent of the Rockport's,
which is still saying plenty. The Avid's base was deep, powerful, very
well focused, and rhythmically nimble..."
"One thing I noticed almost immediately when I switched to the Avid
Acutus after a few months with the SME 30/2 was a slight increase in
surface noise on familiar records, accompanied by an area top end."
"The Avid Acutus was a superb sounding turntable by any standard - among the handful of best turntables I've heard..."
"For less than a third the price of the SME, the Acutus came remarkably close."
"Ultra compact, superbly engineered, and rationally designed, the Avid
Acutus more than lived up to its advanced billing, and to what I'd
expected from such a clever, carefully thought out design."
"A Bristish turntable that proves once more that not only has analogue
sound not been out-dated but is a constant challenge, as powerful as
"There are moments in the life of a reviewer that are unique. It is a
pleasure to come across a device that incarnates everything you
imagined,which for several reasons could not be accomplished. The Acutus
is not just an extraordinary case, it is a milestone in the history of
hi-end, where an implementation of "aesthetics" approach, from every
point of view meets a deep know-how, with respect to the subject "music"
in its deepest meaning."
"I cannot hide the fact that I was very impressed by this device which,
without costing a fortune (I have seen turntables costing a lot more
money, which do not sound or work this right), it encompasses exactly
what a turntable needs today in order to perform at its best."
"Together with the now established, SME V tonearm, it achieves an
overstepping performance that any other source will find difficult to
"This turntable is of wonderful manufacture. Without resorting to design
extremes, sporting rather copact dimensions, it presents a rigidly
"After closer inspection and based on the reproduction performance of
the system, I can assure you that in terms of performance of its
suspension the Acutus only has a few competitors."
"This turntable, together with the right equipment, "eats" for breakfast
anything digital on the market today. This is an undeniable fact. Apart
from this, it has all those attributes that will make anyone who has
listened to it lose sleep for days. Uninfluenced by all external
disturbances, as a solid "rock", it overcomes all the traps of analogue
sources' nuisances with characteristic ease.
"As a result, it has astonishinly effortless flow and musicality, which
only reality can compete with. It stops right at the top limits of the
recording. It literally collides on these, revealing where the limits of
the capabilities of the sound engineers, of the recording equipment and
even of the performers are.
"Forget "as if" or "sort of". This device is ruthless. It will take
everything to their limits, revealing all the points that can be
criticised. In the same manner it will reward anything that deserves it,
presenting it from a view of acoustic renovation and "fresh aura", with
healing effects on your senses."
"Its low frequencies extend to abyssal depths, having flawless control
but correct presence too. This means they are not to heavy, trying to
add poise, resulting in being slow and losing timing. On the other hand,
they are not superficial, even though they do have a tendency to sound
quick, which a lot of times is perceived-wrongly-as "control". They are
absolutely balanced and real. The same applies to its midrange that has
all the lyrical magnificence the black disc can contain."
"In all, it is needless for me to try to describe its behaviour at
diffrent areas as they are so interconnected and so homogeneous that can
be described as a "whole" only, and really in respect to their result,
the sole receivers of which are our sences."
"Listen to it. Give into its magic. Let it drag you to a totally sensual
musical world. Experience it even if you do not have the ability to
acquire it. It is an experience that maybe you owe to yourself."
May/June 2000 Chris Beeching, Listener Magazine (5 Stars)(USA)
"Visually the turntable is a striking piece of engineering."
"Setting up the turntable is particularly easy, made all more so by the
ingenious way the platter and subchassis assembly can be lifted off the
main chassis for arm fitting and cartridge alignment."
"Immediately obvious was the absolute stability of the musical material.
The size of the acoustic; the integrity and inter-relationship of
pitches; and the stereo image were all clearly and sharply defined, just
as in real life. Some-how the Avid seemed to offer an authority of
presentation, which not even CD managed."
"There has been so much written about bringing the performer into the
room that it has suffered overkill, but this turntable transports the
listener to the recording environment and-depending on the quality of
the pressing and production-lays bare everything that transpired."
"However, this is not at the expense of the "musicality" angle. While it
may be called "accurate," this turntable is definitively NOT sterile.
It is lucid, poised and refined."
"The second most noticeable attribute the turntable exhibited was a very
much lower degree of surface noise than I had experienced
before-completely independant of which cartridge was fitted."
"Tonally, the Avid had no obvious flaws at all. Its presentation was
neutral, though with one suprise: the depth of the lower registers. This
was quite noticeable on recordings with descrete very low frequencies. I
do not mean the "obvious" lows of an organ recording,but the
low-frequency characteristic of a large recording space, such as a large
concert hall or cathedral. Because the bottom end was so clean, the
mid/low bass was also far more articulate and musical, and you could
easily differentiate between performed low bass/harmonics and the
resonance or reverberation characteristic of the recording venue."
"...a real sense of the recording venue came across quite disarmingly."
"The Avid Acutus is a performance package that offers what I consider
the most complete and thoroughly intergrated soloution to quality vinyl
replay. It will inevitably reveal the shortcomings in the arm and
cartridge chosen, and most likely will show up any shortcomings in the
amplification and speaker system."
"If a mere(!) $10,000 is your budget for perhaps the ultimate vinyl replay system, the Avid has to be heard!"
April 2000 Jimmy Hughes, HiFi+ Magazine (Score:12 out of 10)(UK)
"Designer Conrad Mas' uncompromising approach has produced a turntable that's essentially neutral, accurate, and truthful."
"...no one could fail to admire and respect the thought and care over detail that's gone into every apect on the design."
"First impressions were of a tight, sharp, lucid, and precisely focussed sound without an ounce of spare flesh anywhere."
"Detail was staggering. And if performance were judged solely on how
much could be heard the score would have to be ten out of ten. Sorry,
make that 12 out of 10."
"Clarity and control were beyond reproach."
"Stereo soundstaging was unerringly precise; lateral placement of voices
and instruments couldn't be faulted for solidity and stability."
"...the Acutus started making music, impressing time and again with its
amazing analysis, its vividness and lucidity. It was especially good on
simply-miked transparent recordings, where its incredible pin-point
detail and slide-rule precise-focus often had one enthralled. At times,
it was almost like x-raying the music, such was the clarity."
"The Acutus is a very revealling turntable."
"Buy an Acutus and you've a whole new record collection to listen to -
guaranteed. You'll discover new things on discs you thought you knew
"...low frequencies had the kind of firmness and control one associates with CD. Very impressive!"
"But on a direct A/B comparison I'll wager the Acutus is likely to sound leaner and firmer than most of its peers."
"One of the great strenghts of this turntable is its clean accurate
soundstaging. Instruments and voices are placed with the kind of
pin-point precision even CD sometimes struggles to equal."
"...the Acutus has the tightest most focussed sound imaginable."
"Build quality is stunning, and the deck is beautifully finished. Its
looks and feels expensive without being vulgar, yet there are no
unwarrented excesses. Everything's there for a reason: if you talk to
the designer he can justify even the tiniest detail. The sprung
suspension ensures excellent isolation, and the clever balanced spring
arrangment virtually eliminates yaw."
"This helps create rock-like speed stability."
"Listenen to the Acutus imparts feelings of certainty; precise, solid,
unflappable, it sound as though nothing short of an earthquake could
upset its equilibrium."
"Engineering tolerances are so close, there's no need for fine speed adjustment - the Acutus is spot-on."
"...it's the most incredible turntable you've ever heard"
October 1999 Jason Kennedy, HiFi Choice (Editors Choice)(UK)
"In all functional respects this appears to be an extremely well
thought-out turntable. it redfines the classic phrase inky blackness,
and does so in such unsubtle fashion that you often wonder, when you've
just let go of the arm lift, if the needle is on the record at all.
Suddenly there's sound;it makes you jump-it also makes you wonder how
much rumble there is on other turntables."
"...and dynamics leap out of the speakers."
"Its simply phenomenal-every familiar record I put on offered up new layers of sound."
"...be hard pressed to find an alternative at or near the price that is so competent across the board."
"Extremely capable design with no apparent short comings; don't even
think about selling your vinyl until you've heard it on this!"
October 1999 Temptation, What HiFi (5 star product)(UK)
"...cruises effortlessly through everything from jazz to rock, bringing music to life in a thrilling manner.
Sonic pictures have immense solidity, detail retrieval is exemplary, and dynamics and punch are huge."
June 1999 Steve Harris, HiFi News & Record Review (UK)
"impressive dynamics and very good detail retrieval, all founded on a
strong sence of stability-the only word I can use to sum up what must be
a combination of excellent speed stability with a low noise floor."
"...the Avid sound was positively dramatic, immediately loud and
impressive, and seemed to reveal and open up the acoustic space around
the instruments, at some points giving that feeling of a particular
instrument etched in space:a truly rock-solid image."