Manufacturer: RÄKE HIFI/VERTRIEB GmbH
ny turntable consists of few main elements: chassis, platter with main bearing, motor and tonearm with cartridge. These are just few elements but the possible combinations are many. Each of the is available in many versions, variants, finishes, made using different technologies. There are suspended designs and mass loaders, belt-drive and direct drive, there are uni-pivot tonearms and those that use cardan bearings – so many options already and it is still just a tip of an iceberg.
But often each manufacturer chooses his favorite solutions and sticks to them. Something of significant importance must happen to change his mind. One of such companies is the German Transrotor based in Trangisch Gladbach. Its owner, Mr Jochen Räke, is an 'old-school' engineer, so to speak, and he had developed several patents on his own that are slowly but surely still developed and improved.
He focused his efforts on non-suspended mass-loaders. He builds them of acrylic, aluminum and brass and for some products he also uses a polymer called POM. He is a bearing specialist and he uses his ideas, such as TMD (Transrotor Magnet Drive) in more expensive models. This solution transfers drive from a lower part (driven using belt by a motor) to the upper part using magnets placed between these two parts. This solution minimizes transfer of vibration between motor and platter/record, hence stylus of a cartridge.
Transrotor does not make its own tonearms. Instead they modify arms made by Japanese Jelco and British SME. They actually carefully select the best among delivered arms, they disassembly them and assemble them back with a lower tolerance. Arms used by Transrotor receive new names such as: Transrotor TR-800S (Jelco SA-250), TR-5009 (SME 309) and TR-5012 (SME 312). It's possible to order decks with SME M2-9 and M2-12 tonearms. In the past Transrotor also offered its decks fitted with Rega arms, but since too many of these were rejected during selection they decided not to use them anymore.
Even those who know all that are surprised every year in Munich (during High End show) by – Johen Räke and his son, Dirk (a member of Krakow Sonic Society, read HERE), with some novelty. Using all these well known elements they still manage to put something new together. Also last year one could find some new products in their room. But the most important premiere they saved until now – Jupiter is unlike any of other models offered so far so it is safe to call it a complete novelty.
Yes, it is still a non-suspended mass-loader (made of acrylic and aluminum) with a synchronous motor and a belt-drive. But it is the details that make it truly interesting. When you look at it from above you should see a different shape, and after a closer inspection you should realize that this design is an example of a different mechanical approach too. The acrylic chassis is shaped into an oval. It's center of gravity was moved towards tonearm base and when you look at it from above you can see that the opposite (to the tonearm base) edge of the chassis is hidden under the platter. Also the main bearing is decoupled in a different way. A high quality hydro-dynamic bearing is bolted to the chassis. A different solution is used in different models where bearing is decoupled using three feet.
In Jupiter the main bearing is support with a solid pin that that sits on a ceramic ball. Same solution is used in anti-vibration feet by brands such as Finite Elemente and Franc Audio Accessories. An aluminum disc, with rubber washer underneath, is placed directly under the ceramic ball. The supported point lays directly in axis of a main shaft which changes completely dispersion of resonances. There are two more feet supporting the chassis with steel balls underneath and with large knobs on top that allow to easily level the chassis. One has to place two large discs under those steel balls. It might look as if the platter stands on one foot, kept in vertical position by chassis, while two other feet support tonearm. Motor is placed separately, next to the chassis.
When designing this deck manufacturer came up with idea for an upgrade – I guess the idea came from their experience from building Zet 3. Together with Jupiter, or later on, one might also buy additional base. It is not just a platform one puts deck on. It reorganizes the whole mechanical design. The base features chromed, brass pits that match deck's feet. In fact these 'pits' are elements of feet integrated with this base, that add more isolation between turntable and the surface it is placed on. When one uses this additional base motor moves to a cut-out in the chassis situated close to the main bearing, hidden under the platter. One has to use a shorter belt too.
Records used for the test (a selection)
The more Transrotor products I have a chance to listen to the more sure I get that my and Mr Räke's priorities are quite similar. Taking all differences into account my first choice would still be that what I heard listening to Argos, Zet 3, and now Jupiter. All these turntable have some things in common – they all offer very liquid, rich sound and something I like to call „funk”. Music is presented as a whole – listener doesn't have to put elements of the presentation together as what he gets is just music. It comes at a cost – sound is not as selective as it could be, not as resolving either and the range is not as extended as offered by some other turntables. I can only highly recommend paying this price, because some elements of the presentation can be corrected using some other means, but if presentation is not enjoyable nothing will change that.
That's what you get with Jupiter. One might call its sound: warm, but only if one means lack of any brightness and not lowering of tonal balance. Yes, it is not particularly well developed but it is the cartridge that should take most of the credit for that and not the turntable. But the truth is that while listening we don't care about treble, bass and so on, because what attracts attention first is a large scale, rich presentation. The key part of the range is definitely midrange. It is not about emphasis in this part of the range but rather about 'bigger' size sounds in the midband, as if midrange used some enhancement drugs.
Vocals, mostly male ones, but female too, sounded really well, they were rich and palpable. The amazing Johnny Hartman, accompanied on I Just Dropped By To Say Hello by among others Hank Jones, Illinois Jacquet, Kenny Burrell and Jim Hall, sang with particularly deep, rich voice. Just as Mel Tormé did on original release of the album with Marty Paich. They were „crooners” and they sounded like it. Not so well developed treble plus particularly rich midrange created an impression of a very palpable, intimate musical experience. But these two elements do not dominate the presentation, which is very important, of course.
I listened to some old Polish releases surely not representing any special sound quality and Transrotor proved that it was able to treat them in a neutral way, without emphasizing their problems. An example - Geira album by Halina Frąckowiak. It's her second album and it was composed and played by SBB, Polish group at their prime. Same year this band released another album Ze słowem biegnę do ciebie with a much more progressive music then anything they recorded before.
Sound quality on Frąckowiak album is pretty poor, treble is rolled-off – I believe - already at 5 kHz, there is not too much bass either (to be clear - I played the first release in mint condition). But the music is very interesting and it tells a story of its own. Jupiter played it in a very nice way. Technical issues of the album were there but presentation focused on music as such. A bit dull sound was 'enriched' with a three-dimensional midrange and a nice, rich bass.
This turntable is fully capable of a very good differentiation – I experienced that playing high quality records such as Benny Carter's Jazz Giant, a unique release by First Impression Music – the vinyl version of Tsuyoshi Yamamoto's Autumn in Seattle, or finally a double album Transit by Polish duo Skalpel. Being fed with high quality material Jupiter delivered a silky, but rich, 'present' treble, and powerful bass. Music was vivid, large scale and inviting listener in. Depth of the soundstage is not particularly impressive. But the whole presentation is very palpable with leading vocal or instrument placed in front of speakers' line (if it was recorded this way).
Price that we pay for it is not really high, but we need to be aware that it has to be paid. Bass control is not that good as it could be. It is not softened but the attack is not particularly fast and when needed sounds are not stopped as fast as they should. And there is a soundstage, that is not particularly deep. As it turned out some of these aspects could be improved with upgrades proposed by manufacturer. Just like it is possible with Zet 3, also with Jupiter it is possible to turn it into more advanced, hence more expensive version.
I'm not even considering the most obvious upgrade – replacing the cartridge. I believe that this particular setup is optimal. Despite the fact it is an inexpensive MM cart I suppose that it was carefully chosen by Mr Räke. I did not try another potential upgrade, that I had with Zet 3, meaning I did not replace the main bearing with a TMD one. Why? Because Jupiter features a truly high quality bearing so replacing it with TMD would not cause such spectacular improvement as it had for Zet 3 – standard bearing in the latter is not of such a high quality as this one. This upgrade will make sense when all others are already implemented.
A natural point of reference for Jupiter is Zet 3. Wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me which one would I chose and most likely I won't have an answer for you. But if you push me hard enough I'd probably point to Jupiter. Mostly for aesthetic reasons – it's smaller and sleeker then upgraded version of Zet 3. They sound similar although not the same. Zet 3 delivers larger scale, more selective sound and deeper soundstage. Jupiter focuses more on music, on delivering is a nice, all-round sound no matter what kind of music it has to play. There are fewer pops&cracks with Zet 3. Jupiter's owner will have to clean his records more often that Zet 3's.
OK, forget about all that – if you are to choose between these two first decide which one you like more, then have a listen to find out which one satisfies your expectations. I know this does not sound like a professional advice but it is a practical one. If you choose Jupiter, you'll get a nice looking, good sounding turntable that will allow you to enjoy music, a lot! You can upgrade it later but it's a choice. Just buy more records and enjoy listening to them.
I've already described most elements of the turntable in the beginning of this text so there is no point of repeating that. Jupiter comes already with tonearm and cartridge installed and adjusted, so almost ready to play. One has to set proper VTF. Package includes a simple protractor that allows user to set overhang and azimuth if one replaces cartridge with a different one. Another template helps to place a motor in a proper distance from platter. Motor is connected with external power supply – it's a small transformer in a plastic enclosure with a mechanical, backlit switch. Motor's housing feature a small on/off switch.
A belt has to be placed on a smaller diameter pulley on motor's axis (for 33,3 r.p.m. speed) or on bigger one (for 45 r.p.m.). To change speed one has to manually move belt from one pulley to the other.
Platter is made of aluminum and it weight 7 kg. It features a vinyl mate on top, and the bottom of the platter is not flat, but has concentric rings, which improve its mechanical properties. Same solution is used in other Transrotor's models, such as Zet 3, for example, although Jupiter uses a smaller, lighter version of the latter. Platter is placed on a large (Ø 60mm) bearing, that acts also as a subplatter. An AC motor should be placed next to the deck, on the same surface. Its housing is made of brass and is not particularly tall.
Acrylic armboard is placed on aluminum pillars above decks chassis. Turntable features a 9'', gimballed, S-shape TR-800S tonearm with detouchable headshell. Lets be smart like Japanese and buy a higher quality headshell from one of specialists such as: Phasemation, Oyaide, ZYX, or some other one. Or even better lets buy a few of them to use one with each cartridge we have. If you do so you replace one headshell with another one, adjust VTF and voila! Japanese use nice, plastic boxes for headshells with cartridges installed in them.
Specifications (according to manufacturer)
Chassis: acrylic, thickness (with feet) 30 mm
- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE
- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: fuse – power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) – wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4
- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One