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Acoustic Signature STORM

Price (in Poland): 19 300 zł (deck only, arm is an option)

Manufacturer: AS-Distribution GmbH

AS-Distribution GmbH | Salacher Str. 88
D-73054 Eislingen | Germany
tel.: 71 613-898-135 | fax: 71 613-898-137



Country of origin: Germany

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba

Date of publication: 01. March 2012, No. 94

Acoustic Signature's turntables are usually heavy (the more expensive the heavier), although relatively not so big. In the company's portfolio you will find classic shaped turntables or the ones that have a round shape as Storm does. The company also offers two versions of the Tango phonostage plus some accessories – felt-mats, record clamps and weights, and so on.
There was a chance to see them, touch them and listen to them during the last Audio Show 2011. One of those turntables was used during Michael Fremer's („Stereophile”) seminars.
For this review I received the Storm, third model from the top in the company's portfolio. There are two more expensive models: Thunder and Ascona. All of them are non-suspended mass-loaders, using DC motors run by a precision oscillator that produces a perfect sine wave at 12VAC, and the same build material - aluminum.
The Storm is in fact a deck so to use it we need a tonearm – during my review the deck was equipped with the SME 309 arm. What's more, there is a possibility to mount more than one arm – two or three, 9” up to 12”. Additionally one might buy one of the offered record clamps – Grip or Load. I did not use any of those during the test.


Recordings used during the test (selection):

  • Giant of Jazz. Reeds-Part I, EmArcy, MG 36050, LP.
  • Billie Holliday, Songs For Distingue Lovers, Verve/Classic Records, One-sided, 2 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP.
  • Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Study In Brown, EmArcy/Universal Music Japan, UCJU-9072, 180 g LP (mono).
  • Count Basie&Tony Bennett, Basie&Bennett, Roulette/Classic Records, SR 25 072, 45 rpm, 4 x one side, 180 g LP.
  • Czesław Niemen, Katharsis, Polskie Nagrania Muza, SX 1262, LP.
  • Depeche Mode, Fragile Tension/Hole to Feed, Mute Records, 12BONG42, 2 x 180 g, maxi-SP LP.
  • Frank Sinatra, The Voice, Columbia/Classic Records, CL 743, Quiex SV-P, 180 g LP.
  • Gerry Mulligan&Thelonious Monk, Mulligan meets Monk, Riverside/Analogue Productions, 1106, 2 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP.
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Equinoxe, Dreyfus/Polydor Deluxe, POLD 5007, LP.
  • Kraftwerk, Techno Pop, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 308, 180 g LP (2009)

Already the first record I put on platter - Techno Pop by Kraftwerk - brought to my mind memories of another recording on different medium, namely Savage’s Tonight remaster (review HERE, interview HERE). It was a nicely mastered digital (CD) re-edition with the source material taken from... vinyl record. You should listen to it for yourself – then you would understand my excitement each time I listen to it. It is a very special edition that unlike most recordings of this kind of music does not sound bright or rough. But this recording has it's own sound signature, one that I immediately recognized when I started to play Kraftwerk using the Storm. I should not have been surprised – Damian Lipiński, the person responsible for the transfer of material from vinyl to CD and for remastering of Savage, used an Acoustic Signature turntable (if you want to read more about it please refer to VinylMagic).
What is this „signature” about? Long story short – it is about combining a few components: high dynamics, strong attack and impressive frequency range. This set of features is the same regardless of whether particular record comes from the 50ties, from Polskie Nagrania label, or it is the newest 45 rpm single side pressing. When you put all that together you should receive a very precise sound that is neither warm nor neutral. In comparison the Transrotor Zet 1 Matt White that I reviewed recently delivered boldly warm „analogue” sound, while the Pro-Ject RPM 9.1 and 10.1 models, following direct-drive machines tradition (see – Technics SL-1202 MkII) try to offer maximum precision which results in the sound that was closer to what one usually gets from a digital source.

The Storm is neither „warm” nor „cold” sounding. Although it sounds more like the Pro-Jects, the Thorens TD 550 and the Kuzma Reference. I mean it offers the same good rhythm, the same powerful attack, and the same nice „flow” of music. Records weaknesses are not „covered up”. If you put dirty or old record on the platter the Storm will show you that quite clearly. It does not emphasize the weaknesses but rather shows them as they are, while separating them from music itself. I already mentioned that several times – high quality turntables are capable of separating all those non-musical elements they pick up from the groove, so that we don't hear them as a part of music, but as something „alongside” music.
This German turntable works in this fashion – it shows you the truth about the signal extracted from the groove without hiding noise and cracks (and unfortunately rolling off some treble at the same time), as the already mentioned Zet 1 did. But it separates the „dirt” read from the groove from the music. It can offer even more. When we listen to LPs with material transferred from old 78 rpm shellac records, there are even more cracks and pops coming from the original source – the „78”. One of such records is Frank Sinatra's The Voice with recordings made in 1945, issued in 1946, and recently re-issued by Classic Records on super-quiet vinyl - Quiex SV-P. The Storm was able to separate three layers on this mono record – tiny pops & cracks of LP, pops & cracks of shellac and finally the music. I could hear the shellac pops & cracks in the front, music behind them and far back LP's own p&c. Amazing!

You don't need to be vinyl veteran to hear that. The music is presented in a strong, rich fashion. The lower midrange is not so full of energy, as palpable as with Linn, Rega, SME, or Avid turntables – to name just few most obvious examples. One needs to be aware of that to know what to expect. It is not a „romantic” performance – we rather get everything served straight forward. Yes, „straight forward” is a good description of what we get.
Recordings usually have good dynamics, sound really lively. There is great rhythm and speed and in these aspects the Storm equals many other high quality mass-loaders. The sound of the piano is focused, decay very natural, i.e. not influenced by wow and flutter. That might also be an explanation for this very deep, powerful rhythm of many recordings. And I don't mean only the obvious ones like on Giants of Jazz. Reeds-Part I, with Lester Young, Ben Webster and so on (first issue) and Basie/Bennett (remaster), but also the much more difficult to perceive, hidden under other layers of sound, pulse of Equinoxe by J.M. Jarre, or Katharsis by Czesław Niemen.

The last one surprised me totally, even though I listened to dozens other records before this one (on the Storm). There is this amazing intro in the most beautiful track called Epitafium (Pamięci Piotra), with powerful strikes on cymbals (cymbal…), that is high pitched, vibrant, strong. And a moment later there enters, as if from the outer space, Niemen's dark voice. The Storm was able to combine it smoothly, nicely differentiating different character of those sounds. That's one of the strengths of this turntable – really good differentiation. What it does differentiate best are rhythm, pitch, and depth of the soundstage. So it delivers big sound, with strong rhythm and impressive soundstage depth.

Its strong presentation of treble also helps. I reviewed the Storm with two different Miyajima cartridges – the Kansui and the Shilabe, both offering rather warm, well saturated sound and even these combined with the Storm delivered strong treble. So you should choose your cartridge and phonostage wisely for this deck, most likely rather warm, „round” sounding. I found the B.M.C. Phono (that I reviewed simultaneously for „Audio”) a very good match for the Storm. It delivers powerful bass, nice dynamics, and also differentiation is at least good.
Against such background, the midrange might seem not well saturated. I think that it is not so much that a part of midrange is deliberately rolled off but rather that its energy is not that impressive. I'd say that midrange's emotional temperature is modest at most.

That's what you need to consider when making your decision whether or not to buy this deck. The Acoustic Signature Storm is a very well, truly professionally made product. The company also offers great customer service – for this review I needed a couple of additional things that had to be both posted and e-mailed to me, and the response from the Customer Service was very fast. Some of our Readers who own turntables from this company confirm its great Customer Service (reviewers sometimes might be treated better than customers). I don't need to tell you that Customer Service is a key element of each high-end company. The one of Acoustic Signature is exemplary.
The sound of this turntable is precise and accurate – simply „solid”. It's not exactly what is usually called analogue. As VinylMagic proves, such turntable can serve as a precise, reliable tool. Each potential owner needs to decide on his own whether this is „his sound” or not. But I could say the same about every audio product…

Review methodology
During this review the Storm deck was equipped with the SME 309 tonearm and I used two Miyajima Labs cartridges: the Kansui and the Shilabe. During the review I used the deck leather mat that came with the turntable but also the Harmonix TU-800EX mat. Each time when changing mats I adjusted the VTA. The motor is placed in the back left corner. Both the deck and the motor were placed on the Acoustic Revive RHB-20 Hickory platform, and the latter on the Base shelf.
I listened to whole records.
I used my own (recently upgraded by the manufacturer) RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC phonostage, but also 12 other phonostage units that I was reviewing for „Audio” in the meantime. Among others they were: the Array Obsidian PH-2, the Air Tight and the B.M.C. Each time the best loading for the cartridge was 200 Ω.


The Storm turntable from the German company Signature is a classic mass-loader, which means that no single component is decoupled from others. It weights 31 kg. Vibration damping is achieved via large mass. The base of the Storm is a round block of aluminum (45 mm thick) – its diameter is a bit bigger than the platter diameter.

The turntable has three aluminum, adjustable feet. On the right-hand side in the back there is an arm base that is attached to the chassis with Allen screw on the track. Thus the armboard may be pulled out to accommodate 12 inch as well as 9 inch tonearms. You can use up to three arms on this deck at the same time. The main bearing is made of hardened steel with hard tungsten carbide ball at its base. The manufacturer claims that they managed to come up with a special design of this bearing so that the rumble is extremely low. The housing of the bearing uses sintered bronze inserts, which do not require any oil. The contact point of the above mentioned ball and the bearing uses a proprietary material developed by Acoustic Signature's engineers called Tidorfolon.

The 50 mm thick, weighting 2 kg platter has diameter slightly bigger than that of a vinyl record, but its edge is beveled which makes record exchange easy. The aluminum alloy used for the platter is of a very soft grade which improves its damping properties. To improve dampening even more there are 8 cut-outs close to the outer edge of the platter filled with brass bolts with rubber rings on both ends. Furthermore, the bottom of the platter is coated with resonance-reducing material. You could place a record directly on the platter but the manufacturer suggests using a leather mat delivered with the deck. It is a quite nice solution but you can achieve much better effects with the Harmonix TU-800EX. It’s pricy but worth every penny.

The torque is transferred to the platter with a long, rubber (square shaped) belt from an aluminum pulley fixed on the motor axle. The motor is equipped with heavy, aluminum enclosure. The Storm uses a synchronous motor – 12 VAC. It is powered via a shielded cable delivering current from a special power supply called Alpha-S. It's a small box with an aluminum front, two toggle switches and a red LED. One switch turns the device on, the other changes the speed. The motor is not too powerful so it helps to give the platter a bit of spin while turning on. Inside the box there is an electronic module converting AC mains voltage to DC current and a precision oscillator that produces a perfect sine wave at 12VAC to run the motor, resulting in a perfectly steady and constant platter rotation

Polish Distributor:

Audio System

tel.: (22) 662-45-99 | fax: (22) 662-66-74



  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under Leben CS300