Turntable + tonearm
Scheu Analog PREMIER Mk2 + SCHEU CLASSIC Mk2
Price: euro (with 80mm platter) + 650 euro; 3299 euro (with 50mm platter)
Zietenstr. 4, 12249 Berlin, Germany
Manufacturer's webside: Scheu Analog
Country of origin: Germany
Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski
Thomas Scheu, the owner of Scheu Analog is a man, who was related to DIY community for years. But about twenty years ago, he started to think about creating a turntable, he could be selling commercially. So the model Premier was born, now available in two versions – the tested Mk2 and Mk3 – prepared for two tonearms.
On the technical side, those are very simple products. The turntable is a mass loader, not decoupled, with a motor placed separately. The material for the construction of the turntable was chosen by Thomas Scheu based on listening sessions and his personal preferences. It is acryl – black in the plinth (can also be transparent there) and milky in the platter.
Discs used during testing:
Looking at the not so complicated construction of this turntable, using solutions resembling those from the DIY community, I did not know, what to expect from the sound. Actually, after putting it together, what was not so easy (mostly due to the tonearm) I was so tired with it, that I left the turntable for two days – turning, but not playing any disc. That was not necessary. I do not know how this is done, but the Scheu analog sounds with a such classy, refined sound, as if it would be the absolute top of precision and material technology. Maybe exactly that was struck me in the beginning, the DIY approach to the problem, the individual handling of the product by the constructor, and maybe other reasons, unknown for me, resulted in such a sound.
I can say one thing from the very beginning – this German turntable sounds in a way, that defined the term “analog” used now not only for turntables, but also for other elements of the system. “Analog” in the sense of a strong, full, slightly warm, deep and absolutely unobtrusive, relaxing sound.
The sound of this system (turntable and tonearm) has a lot of depth. Each disc has a strong and full sound, but not by being pushed towards us, but rather by having a three dimensional shape and a solid, saturated sound stage, where the fluid connects all individual events into one, well working whole.
An important word is “comfort”. The German turntable places a comfy pillow under your back – because you sit already in a comfortable chair – and murmurs something to the ears. But – attention! – it does not put to sleep, but soothes nerves. The discs have a well differentiated temperature of the recordings, the energy inside them is transmitted well, as are the emotions, etc. In each case the emotions extracted from the disc resonated with my emotions, creating some additional value, something that makes a recording a true event. Well – I just remembered: I had the same chain of thoughts while reviewing the loudspeakers Hansen Audio Prince v2, which I remember as loudspeakers, which created best an illusion of the real event in my listening room. They were not as precise as for example the Ktêma Franco Serblin, or even Dobermann Harpia Acoustics, and yet they made the sound more credible, went deeper into the unconscious, not stopping on superficial impressions. If I would try to call upon a turntable, that would be closest to such a way of sounding, then it would probably be the dps-2.
It is similar with the Premier Mk2. When we analyze its sound in a cold, surgical way, it will seem warm. There is treble, sweet treble, and the upper midrange is slightly withdrawn. The midrange is most important here, because it full, thick, concise in the sense, that we have a collection of elements, that create something more than just a cloud of separate points, which we need to combine by ourselves.
I started my description from widely understood rock. But not the listening session – that I started with something different – I am always interested in how a human voice sounds, because although it is not the only important thing in the sound, it can define problems with other parts of the sound spectrum. And what is better than the voices of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole? I listened to the first one from discs re-mastered by Mobile Fidelity, mostly from Live In Paris, but also from the disc The Voice re-edited by Speakers Corner, material that was first issued on shellac discs, and later issued by Columbia as a LP. The voice of Sinatra was big, warm and pleasant. Interestingly it was not pushed forward, it did not cover the rest. I would say, that its large volume created a similar volume of the sound stage, together with the instruments, and the perspective from which I was looking at the vocalist was similar to what we have during a concert, so it was not “upfront”, with a large “avatar” manifesting itself in front of us, but rather forming a greater whole behind the line connecting the loudspeakers. I think, that it is a rather important finding, because this is not fully connected with “warm” sound, which we get during the analysis of the timbre. This usually promotes the voice, but usually at some cost, mostly at the expense of clarity and other elements of the sound. I could get convinced, that it is not the case here listening to discs boxed in The Nat King Cole De Luxe Set, bought by me in mint condition (still sealed) for 10 USD. This is a selection of four discs of Cole recorded with an orchestra, with rich arrangement, etc. Scheu Analog played it just like that – a collaboration of the vocalist, piano player and orchestra, and not solo performance of the vocal with accompanying instruments. Here the voice was also strong and full, but it did not deafen anything and was not overly promoted.
In general jazz will sound super-satisfactory, because it was enough to listen to the Japanese pressing of the disc Smokin’ At The Half Note Wesa Montgomery, or the monophonic disc from Clifforda Browna and Max Roach Study In Brown (both issued on 200g vinyl in the 100 best jazz disc series) to fall in love. Not without reservations – like I said, the treble is slightly sweet and not as open, as with for example the Avid Acutus Reference. This was clearly heard on the Brown disc, where Roach’s percussion was an equal partner. Scheu rounded off the cymbals, their attack. The timbre was splendid, but it was not a precision I remembered from the Avid or Transrotor Argos. The Air Tighta PC-1 Supreme showed, that we can influence this element to a large extent with the choice of cartridge. However I think, that the Shilabe Miyajima will be a better choice here. With a brighter, clearer cartridge the cymbals will be more precise, but we will hear the softening and withdrawal of the upper midrange stronger, and that would be not a desired direction. And although usually similarities amplify themselves, in case of the Scheu Analog and Miyajima they amplified their assets and not flaws.
In general I did not expect such a refined sound from such a simple construction. I am contradicting myself a little with this statement, because I always repeat, that the person behind the project is most important, but in DIY the influence of such people count twice. But I say just as it is. Although the company Scheu Analog is a normal, commercial enterprise, a manufacturer, and not a DIY company, yet many things from DIY philosophy are present in Thomas’ doings. This is why I call upon that. Music sounds very good with it, and this is what should be remembered. The sound is very well differentiated, especially – paradoxically! – in terms of dynamics and timbre, but it is not a resolved sound in such a way, as in other turntables I mentioned. The low, strong bass, but without the moment of attack, without the “drama” only completes that.DESCRIPTION
The plinth is constructed to be as small as possible, but at the same time heavy and stable. It has an oval shape – that shape guarantees minimization of the surface. We have two kinds of platter available for choosing – one weighing 7.5kg and 80mm thick (this is the version we tested) and a smaller one, 50mm thick, weighing 4.4kg.
The tonearm Classic Mk2 can be delivered in two lengths: 10” – spindle to pivot length is 227mm (the effective mass is 11g) and 12” – spindle to pivot is 293mm (effective mass is 14g). We can set the VTA, but classically – using a single screw mounting the pivot to the plinth. I will repeat – the tonearm is incredibly simple – this is a usual, aluminum channel bar, ending with a flat plate cut in the shape of a headshell.
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