It’s not often I get stopped in my tracks by a turntable. I should qualify that statement a bit . . . I’m a cheap date, and any turntable that isn’t a rectangular slab of wood will give me horny pains. But that said, I’m quite capable of walking past most of the chrome and acrylic monstrosities without going ga-ga.
I was walking through the main hall at High End, and Auris Audio’s new Bayadere 5 turntable and Hawk tonearm brought me to a halt. It just took a cursory once-over to see that there’s some serious technology and engineering going on here.
This report won’t be a listening session like almost all of my other reports, as Auris was displaying its ’tables in the loud, crowded main hall, which made an audition pointless. But I wanted to elbow my way into Doug Schneider’s product-coverage gig, because Doug knows fuck-all about turntables. Better that I tell you about this extremely cool unit.
Milomir Trosic and Jason Thorpe
I got the deep lowdown from Milomir Trosic, founder of Serbia-based Auris Audio. The Bayadere 5 turntable (€12,000) and matching Hawk tonearm (€5000 for the 12″ version) are beautifully machined. The arm tubes are available in carbon fiber, aluminum, or American walnut, and the arm base and headshell come in anodized black, silver, or red. The innards are where things get really interesting. The arm bearings are sourced from the dental industry. The bearings in dental drills must withstand speeds of 300,000 rpm. That might seem like overkill for a tonearm, but it points to a level of precision beyond the standard caged bearings that are used in most tonearms.
The Hawk tonearm does some cool tricks. VTA is adjustable on the fly, and anti-skating is achieved via a direct connection between the arm and the weight by way of another ceramic bearing rather than the string-and-weight method. More ceramic bearings are employed in the counterweight adjustment mechanism, which is also gear-driven. Azimuth is adjustable via a gear-driven thumbscrew. I got my nose down close to the Hawk tonearm, and the quality of the machining was beyond superb. I know I already said that, but it bears repeating.
The Bayadere 5’s plinth is machined from layers of Kerrock, a Corian-like composite material, alternated with thick layers of aluminum. The aluminum and Kerrock platter is driven by a synchronous AC motor with an external power supply.
Suspension is accomplished by rubber and aluminum feet, combined with a separate rubber suspension between the bearing housing and plinth. That bearing is composed of a ceramic ball meeting the shaft, which is terminated in cemented carbide metal. This material, sourced from Widia Products, has an insane hardness rating of 90 on the Rockwell scale.
We have a review sample incoming. I batted around the color scheme for the ’table that’s heading our way, since many combinations are available. We settled on a black turntable and red tonearm with carbon-fiber arm wand. The combination looks outstanding! I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Senior Editor, SoundStage!