02. December 2021 · Comments Off on Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable · Categories: Hifi News · Tags: , , , , , ,


This year, Swiss brand Nagra celebrates its 70 year anniversary.

To celebrate this milestone, Nagra is adding to its legacy of products with the introduction of its first turntable and tonearm system, the Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable

The Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable and power supply


While often contemplated, it wasn’t until three years ago that the design and engineering of a turntable that would bear the name Nagra began. Limited to only 70 pieces Nagra is in the process of applying for several patents for the new innovations in the turntable.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable inside view


The heart of the Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable is its motor drive system. The motors employed in the Reference Anniversary turntable’s drive are high precision, Swiss made, three point decoupled, brushless DC motors. This massive motor drive system weighs 11.2 kg/24.6 lb. Expect additional details once the patent process is underway.


In addition to the innovative two motor system, the turntable features technology for absolute speed calibration. An accelerometer monitors the floating chassis to ensure that it is absolutely stable otherwise calibration does not take place. Calibration is done over a 20 second window during which time the platter’s speed is precisely calibrated during actual playback (stylus in groove). During this 20 second cycle the platter’s speed is compared with a high precision quartz reference. Any deviation from this absolute speed reference is corrected accordingly. An easy to read, distinctly Nagra modulometer on the turntable’s front control panel makes calibration (and pitch control) simple. During listening, no active speed control is employed. While listening, the motors are only running in a closed loop mode. By eliminating active speed control the “cogging” and associated ill effects on image stability generated by such active systems is avoided.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable


Attention to detail even extended to the belt used in the motor drive. For this essential part the designers took inspiration from the iconic Nagra IV-S tape machine. Because the original supplier of these belts is no longer in existence they undertook a chemical analysis of the belt composition and have faithfully reproduced this high performance part. They have decided to pay tribute to Nagra’s analogue recorder legacy by calling Nagra’s LP drive “Nagra IV – LXX calibre”.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable Reel to Reel inspired belt system


Another critical component is the turntable platter itself. It is this component which intervenes as the interface between the LP and the motor drive. In this case, Nagra exhaustively researched material science. This search led them to aeronautic/space alloys and specifically to a highly specialized, very high density (60% more dense than titanium), non-ferrous alloy with extreme damping properties. This alloy is called EXIUM®AM. It was developed by a French company (LBI Foundries) after a special request of the CNES (equivalent to NASA in France) and in collaboration with the Ecole des Mines de Paris. To produce usable material, the alloy, in molten form, must be spun in a centrifugal casting machine. From this stage it is precision CNC machined into the exacting specifications of the Reference Anniversary turntable’s 6.5 kg/14.3 lb. platter. The end result is a platter that is extremely inert and the first ever audio component known to be produced using this Exium AM® alloy.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable


Inspired by timepieces from the Swiss high end watch industry, Nagra were able to incorporate an anti-static, 22 mm/.87 in. thick transparent methacrylate top piece to the platter. As in a “skeleton” watch case, this allows the Reference Anniversary turntable’s motor drive system to be visible. Also, as in the inspiration watches, the words “Swiss Made” are engraved on the calibre. Likewise, parts of the drive mechanism appear in both Cote de Geneve and soleillage finishes. Additional engraving includes a reference diagram of the drive system’s belt path, importantly acknowledging Nagra’s founder, Stefan Kudelski, as well as Swiss horologic expertise.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable


The record weight included with the turntable was also the focus of intensive research and listening tests. Numerous permutations of materials and shapes were studied before a final combination of material and shape were settled upon. The result is a compact but heavy copper weight in a distinct form factor.


Integral to the performance of any ambitious turntable system is its suspension. In this case, Nagra engineers devised a unique solution that outwardly mimics the suspension systems of both the Nagra HD PREAMP and HD DAC X. Internally, however, is found a system combining both mechanical and hydraulic principals. The substantial suspension pillars employ both a spring mechanism and a highly viscous fluid contained in a “diver/chamber” configuration which, when combined, provide suspension and displacement in three dimensions.


The backbone of the Nagra Reference Anniversary turntable can be considered the chassis and sub-chassis. In this case, solid plates of aircraft grade aluminium and phenolic have been precisely CNC machined to form a low resonance, high rigidity, layered structure of aluminium/phenolic/aluminium preventing sound colouration from the system’s mechanical parts.


The Nagra Reference Anniversary turntable benefits from the development process of the Nagra supercapacitor based, HD PREAMP and HD DAC X external power supplies. While it is almost universally recognised that battery power supplies are far superior to power supplies connected to AC mains, it is not practical to use battery power supplies for higher power consuming audio components. Where practical, however, supercapacitor based power supplies provide all of the advantages of battery-based power supplies with the added advantage of accepting and delivering charges much faster and with higher current load and cycle stability than battery-based power supplies.

In addition to the utilisation of supercapacitors in the external power supply, the motor drive system was designed to utilise multiple supercapacitors at the source of demand – the motor drive itself – realising the benefit of having the energy source right next to the demand.


The Nagra Reference Anniversary turntable’s tonearm is comprised of only eight parts. Except for the arm wand itself, all other components in the tonearm were designed by the Nagra team and manufactured and assembled in Switzerland in accordance with the highest standards of Swiss precision.

The Reference Anniversary turntable was designed as a system. This means that the turntable and its tonearm were designed to work from the “ground up” as a unified playback system. Careful consideration was given to the development of a tonearm with performance capabilities commensurate with the turntable itself. The Reference Anniversary turntable’s tonearm wand is a combination of hardwood core mated to many carbon fibre layers, resulting in an ultra-rigid, extremely low resonance platform for both the cartridge connection and bearing mounting. The arm is a single 10.5” piece, meaning that there is no separate head shell (and concomitant deleterious joint). This eliminates the additional electrical and mechanical connections and resonance point that necessarily accompany a two part headshell/arm wand.

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable turntable

The tonearm’s bearing is a simple, CNC machined, hardened steel cone captured in a resonance isolating, silicone damped, ultra high density polyethylene receiving cup. The tonearm’s traditional counterweight is supplemented by a low hung, saddle shaped weight providing stability while minimising the tonearm’s effective mass. Precise alignment of stylus geometry in an LP’s grooves is critical. A sophisticated magnetic anti-skating mechanism was designed to achieve this goal. Unique in its design and execution, a patent will be pursued for this.

The vertical tracking angle of the cartridge is an extremely important alignment parameter. Users of the Reference Anniversary turntable/tonearm will enjoy the ability to easily and repeatably adjust VTA “on the fly”. An oversized, high precision, rotary collar facilitates smooth, fine adjustments, as with a Leica camera lens. This system permits up to 10 mm/.4 in. of vertical travel.

Extensive listening tests of multiple geometries and materials led the Nagra design team to Crystal Cable and the development of a custom silver monocrystal for the tonearm’s internal wiring. Cartridge azimuth adjustment is facilitated by a simple yet ingenious eccentric portion of the tonearm which, via an accompanying dial, permits precise adjustment of this critical parameter.


A limited edition of 70 units with pricing in the region of 170,000€.

Dimensions: W x D = 661 mm x 451 mm (26 inches x 17.7 inches) Weight = ~80 kg (~176 lbs.)

Nagra Reference Anniversary Turntable

HiFi Pig Says: Is this the ultimate turntable? It certainly seems like this is the pinnacle of Nagra’s swiss engineering expertise.


Get all the latest Hifi News with Hifi Pig here! 

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