Around 10 years ago now, we dubbed the Clearaudio Concept the best turntable over £1000 during our What Hi-Fi? Awards rundown, dubbing it an easy-to-use, nicely made unit that delivered sonic agility and poise in spades. We loved it, and we've been hoping for a sequel ever since.
That sequel, or "upgrade" as Clearaudio is calling it, has finally arrived in the shape of the Concept Signature turntable, a new player which the brand claims offers "an entry point into high-end hi-fi in which accessibility and ease-of-use are as paramount as sonic performance". The new spinner is billed as the complete "package", boasting a tonearm, and cartridge pre-set technical parameters to get you plugged in and playing within minutes.
The core of the new turntable is its resonance-optimised MDF body, or else you can upgrade to solid wood layers bonded under high pressure. The unit's top layer is made from a high-tech plastic designed specially to minimise resonances and improve audio reproduction.
The 30mm main platter sits atop a high-density, precision-machined aluminium sub-platter. The bearing comprises a polished and tempered steel spindle in a sintered bronze bushing, running on a Teflon thrust-pad.
The PD-191A's static balanced tonearm, for instance, is fully adjustable and comes equipped with special bearing technology for enhanced movement sensitivity and reduced tracking errors, with the turntable capable of playing at speeds of 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm. You can install tonearms from other manufacturers (9-inch and 10-inch models supported), while there is the possibility of adding a 12-inch tonearm using an external arm base that's sold separately.
The new turntable also features its own original, high-precision DC motor that Luxman says "achieves constant and accurate rotation control under various demands", as well as a reference clock for speed correction. The new motor is designed to work alongside high-mass platters and at precise speeds while ensuring a consistent, smooth sound.
Central to all of this is the PD-191A's 35mm-thick aluminium platter which weighs in at a rather substantial 5.2kg. The diamond-cut platter delivers "smooth and confident rotation", while also utilising heat and wear-resistant materials such as an engineered plastic thrust bearing to support the platter itself.
The rather attractive chassis, meanwhile, is constructed from rosewood-stained natural wood treated with a glossy finish that contrasts with the heavy metallic shine of the main aluminium platter. If you want to keep your turntable clean and tidy, a 4mm thick acrylic dust cover is sold separately when the 191A is purchased outside of the UK, although this is included in the price for UK customers.
The Luxman PD-191A turntable is available now for the princely sum of £11,000, which includes the headshell, tonearm and dust cover. You can attach your cartridge of choice to the aluminium headshell, while Luxman recommends its LMC-5 moving coil cartridge, which can be included for an additional £1,500. Altogether, that's even more costly than the recently released monster that is the Musical Fidelity M8xTT but more on par, cost-wise, with the five-star Rega Naia we reviewed recently. But with premium components and a precision-engineered design, the Japanese brand should feel confident of competing with the biggest competitors around.
Best record players: best turntables for every budget