GadgetyNews’ Jay Garrett pops along to London’s West 1 and the high-end emporium that is KJ West One for Hifi Pig for a session with the Kronos Pro turntable, Reference phonostage and power supply.

It was Strictly Vinyl time again at KJ West One. This edition welcomed the friendly and very approachable Louis Desjardins and his Kronos Pro turntable set-up.

KJ West One also displayed the “more affordable” Kronos turntable, the Sparta.

I was here for the Pro which was fitted in to the re-issued Kronos rack along with the Reference Phono stage and SCPS-1 power supply.

It looks gorgeous, but it is so much more than mere eye-candy.

Kronos Pro Turntable

For those of you who are unaware of the Kronos Pro then, well, where have you been for the last few years?

It was first released as an extremely limited edition. The engineering that has gone into this player is outstanding.

The turntable is of the suspended variety. These are usually seen as being better for isolation – both from mechanical and sound vibrations. These turntables are often preferred to rigid ones as they deliver a more organic sound and a softer presentation.

However, the suspended platter and tone arm present a significant obstacle – a pronounced blurring/phasing of the musical signal.

This is due to torsional forces. You see, in a suspended turntable design there’s a tendency for the sub-chassis – the bit that supports the platter and arm – to try and turn in the direction of the spinning platter.

Even though the sub-chassis will never actually spin there is an unsteady equilibrium that affects the deck’s ability to resolve the finest details.

Louis went the way of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” school of thought and added a second identical platter that spins in the opposite direction. This, he says, cancels out this movement, and so improves resolution.

The Black Beauty tone arm is still used but the deck now features a new carbon fibre arm board. This actually improves low-end resolution and gives the highs more control.

Naturally, those who already own a Kronos Pro can upgrade.

Motors

Kronos uses two high quality Swiss-made DC motors. DC voltage to the motors is produced from a fully regulated Class A dual power supply, CPU-controlled to maintain constant speed.

The Kronos controller does not use pulse width modulation, as this method of control produces jerkiness in the drives. Instead, the CPU controller receives speed readings from the platters via optical sensors and adjusts voltage to each DC motor in real time. This, we’re told, guarantees speed stability regardless of environmental factors, belt stretching or mechanical wear.

Kronos Reference Phono Stage

The Reference Phono Stage was designed in partnership with True Life Audio’s Velissaries Georgiadis based in Greece.

This family business has been hand-winding transformers for three generations. Louis described them as artisans and who am I to disagree?

The phono stage, as you may have already presumed, is not your standard affair.

The chassis features a solid copper top and bottom for shielding as well as its particular sonic contributions. The unit contains passive step-up transformers so there are no vibrations in the phono. The phono itself is in tuneable suspension fitted to the rack.

The separate power supply for the phono stage contains 6 hand-wound transformers and tube rectification. It is truly a work of art.

The Black Beauty tonearm connects directly in to the phono stage. When I say ‘directly’ I mean directly.

The same silver cable that connects to the cartridge goes directly to the step-up transformer. No interconnects or other extra connections are required. Just a single cable from the business-end of the tonearm right in to the phono stage.

A complete unbroken analogue solution.

SCPS-1

Also in the rack was the Kronos Super Capacitor Power Supply, or SCPS for short.

This optional power supply to the turntable has been covered quite a bit since its release but I shall give you the elevator pitch version.

The SCPS is basically a super high capacity DC accumulator. It provides pure DC power at a very low impedance.

You can actually unplug this from the mains and it will still power the turntable for a minute or so.

The chassis is machined from solid billet aircraft grade aluminium. It is nickel plated, so matching the turntable.

Needless to say, the SCPS-1 produces a lower noise floor without any interference at the source.

Demo

Louis played several LPs for those that had gathered.

The reproduction was amazing. It even kept me enthralled during an Elvis number, which is saying something. I won’t get into why I think he’s little more than a talented covers artist here.

He also dug out a Japanese pressing of Darkside of the Moon. Now, before some of you start rolling your eyes at this tired turntable tester, he also used this to demonstrate the twin platter.

He played a section with both platters spinning in opposite directions, and then with the lower platter disconnected. There was an obvious difference. That difference became even more noticeable once the secondary platter was spinning again.

Kronos Pro demonstration conclusion

When faced with a turntable that alone costs around £40,000 you would hope to be impressed.

Add in the tonearm, tuned suspension rack, SCPS-1 and Reference Phono Stage, this set-up is no minor investment.

But, if you are really passionate about your analogue rig, I very much doubt that this could be bettered. In that respect I am also referring to the engineering, execution and Louis’ dedication to analogue, not just the overall performance of the equipment.

Yes, this might fall under the ‘aspirational’ bracket of audio equipment for many, but that does not take anything away from Kronos. In fact, it just makes it even more special.

Jay Garrett GadgetyNews 

 

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