Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Affordable Merrill Turntable at Vinyl Nirvana

With the arrival of the stunning VPI Traveler turntable earlier this year, there's suddenly a lot of activity in the $1000 to $1500 TT market. At the end of 2012, you'll discover three spectacular analog rigs at that price point: the VPI, the Rega RP6 and the Clearaudio Concept. All three of these 'tables offer the kind of performance that were once only available from a $2000+ set-up, and all three are selling like hotcakes.

Now you can add a fourth 'table to this group of over-achievers, and it comes from an unlikely source: Merrill. Just recently announced by David Archambault of Vinyl Nirvana, the new Merrill Replica ES-R1 is based on George Merrill's now-legendary modifications of the classic AR turntable. Merrill has gone on to create some great--and sometimes very expensive--turntables of his own over the years, so it's exciting to see him offer his excellent designs to those who are just getting started in this fascinating hobby.

The ES-R1 offers the same type of suspension used in such decks as Linn, Thorens and of course AR, and for a very reasonable price. Two versions of the ES-R1 will be available: an unfinished wood version without arm or cartridge for a mere $995, and a "ready to play" model that comes with a beautiful wood finish, a Jelco SA-250 tonearm (a favorite of the Technics SL-1200 crowd) and an Ortofon 2M Red, which is probably the best $99 cartridge available today. This latter version will be available for an amazing $1595 plus shipping.

Both versions come with the following features:

*33/45 RPM
*Decoupled inner and outer poly platters.
*Oversized record support platter that can be configured to accommodate a clamping ring.
*Spring suspended poly sub-chassis with arm board.
*Poly drive pulley
*Laminated Plinth
*Oil well bearing
*Level Adjustable Damping feet
*Rubber cork mat
*Handcrafted wooden base
*Custom manufactured motor
*Base top black

Dave has been testing out the first model he received and is excitedly reporting the results on the various analog forums. He bought the unfinished version, and he is taking videos of the project as he completes each step. (You can see the progress here.)

If you're a fan of AR or Merrill turntables and you're looking for an analog rig that won't cost you a fortune, check out the Vinyl Nirvana site and then shoot Dave an email at!

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