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Price (in Poland): 8000 zł

Manufacturer: Audio-Fonica Sp. z o.o.

Paulina Banaszewska - Manager ds. Rozwoju
al. Śmigłego Rydza 20 | 93-281 Łódź | Polska

tel. +48 605 127 407

Manufacturer's website:

Country of origin: Poland

Product delivered for test by: Audio-Fonica

Text: Wojciech Pacuła | Photos: Wojciech Pacuła

Published: 1. November 2012, No. 102


s far as the Fonica name is concerned, Grupa Kapitałowa Complex S.A. bought the trademark FONICA at some point, and the current firm has nothing to do with former Fonica, except for being in the same business of making turntables. [...]
If you want to contact the designer I think it's best if you contacted an audiophile, who made foundation of this company happen – Mr Radosław Łodziato."

It's a part of the emails exchange I did with Ms Paulina Banaszewska, a Development Manager for Audio-Fonica Sp. z o.o., a company that now owns Fonica brand name. That was the first time I ever heard about Mr Łodziato so I googled him, which was pretty simple. On the Complex Holding webpage it says:
"The graduate of the Economic-Sociological Faculty of the University of Łódź, holder of Master''s degree in economics.
Since May 2006 the Vice President of the Executive Board of Complex IQ responsible for financial matters.
In the years 2004-2005 financial director in AON COMPLEX in Łódź.
In the years 1997-2004 linked with BRE BANK S.A. in Warsaw Branch in Łódź, where he was employed on the following positions: credit inspector, the head of credit department and credit risk consultant.
He was born in Łódź in 1973.
Interests: automotive industry, sports (shooting)".

Meaning he's my peer.
So how come that a successful businessman, a financial guy obviously, suddenly gets the idea of founding an audio company? And the one making turntables?

Reappearing of Fonica brand on a market is a big deal. It is one the of most recognizable Polish audio brands after all, that is kind of a symbol of analogue equipment for most people, let alone audiophiles. I'm betting that most of older HighFidelity Readers had a piece of equipment once with Fonica logo on it. I know I had. As a 15 years old I was digging dikes to earn money to buy myself a fantastic (at least then) GS 464 turntable with a simple tonearm, and a stroboscope to set the proper speed. Believe it or not but my brother is still using it today. Some of you probably had Adam (GS 424), Bernard (GS 434) or Daniel (G-1100 Fs) turntable – the latter equipped with sensors, automatic, that I had also used for some time in my life. But than the Compact Disc CDF-101 made by Fonica, the very first Polish CD Player was a reason why I didn't go to my prom. I had only so much money to go to the prom or to buy this CD Player – the choice was simple for me... Fonica is simply a piece of Polish audio history. Let's not forget the Bambino turntable introduced to the market in 1963 (WG 252 version) that was a king of all parties in our country in 1960ties, becoming a symbol of its times.

Łódzkie Zakłady Radiowe Fonica (ZWAT, ŁZR Fonica, T-4) was founded in 1945 as a sister company to Państwowe Zakłady Tele i Radiotechniczne in Warsaw. At the beginning they manufactured telephones and only in 1953 they released their first turntable - model G-53 (it will be the 60th anniversary next year!), that was in fact a first Polish mass-manufactured turntable ever. In 1956 company introduced the first turntable with an integrated tube amplifier. A year later turntables made 40% of total output of Fonica, which resulted in a decision to transfer the production of telephones to other company and focusing on audio related product. In 1958 company's name was changed to Łódzkie Zakłady Radiowe and 2 years after that, in 1960 they finally adopted the name Fonica.
1970ties were a period of company's prosperity due to licenses company bought from Telefunken, Thomson, and later from Tenorel (for cartridges). The demand for their products was so big that they had to outsource motor manufacturing to a company Silma, located in Sosnowiec. In 1970 Fonica manufactured in total 461 000 turntables.
The 1989, the year of a great political breakthrough in Poland treated this company rather brutally. They made only 1000 turntable a year. In 1991, after some strikes, the decision was made to close down the company. Some efforts were still made to find new investors, mostly in Korea, by three companies Kyungbang Ltd, Kyungbang Machinery and, since 1998, Daewoo couldn't bring the company to its previous greatness. Finally company was shot down in 2002.
For long 10 years there was nothing but nostalgia. And than this year (2012) out of a blue I received information about re-activation of Fonica, well the brand at least. It was sent to me by Ms Paulina Banaszewska, and was send on behalf of the new company – Audio-Fonica – the new owner of the brand-name (but not the logo) Fonica. The owner and main shareholder is the Complex S.A. As you can read in some company's materials: "The decision to re-activate the Fonica brand was a result of obvious increase of public interest in analogue records players."
That might have been one of the reasons but I'm pretty sure that it was Mr Łodziato's drive to preserve this historical Polish brand that made it really happen. Sure economical factor had to be taken into consideration too, but for such a huge company as Grupa Kapitałowa Complex, it was probably only a secondary one.

  • "Wikipedia", Łódzkie Zakłady Radiowe Fonica, see HERE
  • Michał Jadczyk, Andrzej Joński, Tadeusz Kowalski, Jerzy Wojtas, Technika naprawy gramofonów i wzmacniaczy, Wydawnictwa Komunikacji i Łączności, Warsaw, 1974.
  • Władysław Kutze, Tom kultury. Lata 60., Warsaw 2008.
  • Gerhard Weichler, Thorens. The fascination of a living legend, Engelskirchen 2006.
  • Wojciech Markiewicz, Zabójczy sukces, "Polityka", nr 32 (2153), 08.08.1998.
  • Koreańczycy ponoszą straty, "Rzeczpospolita", 26.05.1998, see HERE [dostęp 26.09.2012].
  • Audio-Fonica, company's internal documents.

    Records used for this test (a selection)

    • Air, Love 2,Archeology/Virgin/EMI/The Vinyl Factory, 53361, 2 x 200 g LP (
    • Andreas Vollenweider, Caverna Magica, CBS, 25 265, Halfspeed Mastered, LP (1983).
    • Bill Evans trio, Waltz for Debby, Riverside Records/Analogue Productions, APJ009, "Top 25 Jazz", Limited Edition #0773, 2 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP (1961/2008).
    • Brendan Perry, Ark, Cooking Vinyl/Vinyl 180, VIN180LP040, 2 x 180 g LP (2011).
    • Budka Suflera, Cień wielkiej góry, Live 2011 + studio 1975 (box), Polskie Nagrania Muza/Budka Suflera Productions, BSP 05-2011, 2 x 180 g LP + 2 x CD.
    • Chet Baker Quartet, Chet Baker Quartet feat. Dick Twardick, Barclay Disques/Sam Records, Limited Edition, 180 g LP (1955/2011).
    • Chico Hamilton Quintet, Chico Hamilton Quintet feat Buddy Collette, Pacific Jazz Records, PJ-1209, LP (1955).
    • Czesław Niemen, Postscriptum, Polskie Nagrania, SX 1876, LP (1980).
    • Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus 2011, Mute Records Ltd, 12BONG43, 33 1/3 rpm maxi-single (2011).
    • Depeche Mode, World in my eyes/Happiest girl/Sea of sin, Mute/Sire/Reprise, 21735, maxi-single (1990).
    • Diana Krall, All for You, Verve Music Group/ORG,ORG 006, 2 x 180 g LP (1996/2009); review HERE.
    • Eberhard Weber, Chorus, perf. Jan Garbarek, Ralf-R. Hübner, ECM Records, ECM 1288, LP (1985).
    • Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours, Capitol Records/EMI, 88654 12, 180 g LP (1955/2009).
    • John Coltrane, Giant Steps, Atlantic/Rhino, R1 512581, "Atlantic 45 RPM Master Series", 2 x 180, 45 rpm (1960/2008).
    • Kate Bush, 50 Worlds For Snow, Fish People, 72986615, 2 x 180 g LP (2011); review HERE.
    • Komeda Quintet, Astigmatic, Muza Polskie Nagrania /Polskie Nagrania, XL 0298, "Polish Jazz Vol. 5", LP (1966/2007).
    • Kraftwerk, Autobahn, King Klang Produkt/EMI, STUMM 303, Digital Master, 180 g LP (1974/2009); review HERE.
    • Kraftwerk, Techno Pop, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 308, digital master, 180 g LP (1986/2009); review HERE.
    • Mel Tormé, Oh, You Beautiful Doll, The Trumpets of Jericho, Silver Line, 904333-980, 180 g LP (2000).
    • Queen, Innuendo, EMI Records Ltd., 67988 13, 180 g LP (1998/2009).
    • Yaz, Upstairs at Eric's, Warner Bros. Records/Mobile Fidelity, MOFI 1-020, "Silver Label", Special Limited Edition No. 2044, 150 g LP (1982/2012).

    F-600 turntable turned out to be a hard to classify device. Usually all I need are just a few well known pieces, maybe records to describe like 90% of device's sound. The more expensive item the longer it takes, the more elements influence the outcome but in general the same rule applies – the first impression tells me most of what I need to know, and later I only get to fill in some blanks, only sometimes I had to slightly modify one or two elements of what I learned during first minutes with the device.
    It was different with F-600. At the beginning I was slightly disappointed with the sound. Maybe I was expecting too much, or maybe I just needed some time to realize what this sound was really about. Possibly both reasons played their part. So it took me quite some time to realize and to start to appreciate what Mr Radosław Łodziato did, and to understand what he had to do to get to this final result.
    The first, extremely important piece of information we get when starting an audition of a new turntable is a sound of a stylus touching the groove. Having heard this sound hundreds times with different cartridges and turntables I've learned an ability to deduct the sound of particular setup basing on this very sound.
    The first sound coming from Fonica was big, dark, warm and massive. In this very first moment there was no „visible” central element, also when it came to the whole soundstage, but this sound simply occupied a large space between speakers. And that's what you get when playing the record too.
    The first album I played was a digital remaster of Kraftwerk's Autobahn - I knew this recording by heart, also in this particular version. The disappointment I mentioned before came from a different (to what I knew) presentation with voices and keyboard's sounds fused into the background. When played using other, similarly priced and more expensive, turntables the soundstage is clearly layered, and each layer is clearly separated from others, and is more three-dimensional. That's what for example Transrotor Zet1 (see HERE) delivered, and I mentioned this particular device because the shape of Fonica's chassis might have been inspired by this Transrotor. Fonica delivered powerful, solid sound, no doubts about that, but it seemed to me that its selectivity and resolution weren't good enough. OK, sometimes you might sacrifice one in favor of other, but when both are poor there is no good sound. And the Fonica F-600 did not present neither, at least not at the beginning of the audition. I was pretty sure there was no need for any more mechanical break-in as I spinned the platter for over a week before I started to listen to the music, so in fact I was very close to packing it back to the box and sending it back to the manufacturer without writing this review.

    Fortunately I didn't do it – I decided to carry on the test following the procedure I adapted a long time ago, that includes multiple playbacks of the different tunes with different changes of cartridge's, and if possible tonearm's, setups.
    Already the second (Diana KrallAll for You) and third (Komeda Quintet, Enigmatic) record proved my first impression wrong. Next records allowed me to figure out why. To get there I had to change slightly VTA, and input impedance for Kanusi cartridge from 400 to 200 Ω. It took me 36 seconds to do that.

    It turned out that this turntable was fully capable of a differentiation between recordings depending on how the master tape was prepared. The basic difference was whether the master tape was digital or analogue. The pressings of digital tapes sounded were somehow tonally leaner (and it's not about a bass – I'd get back to it), dull. No, I don't mean they sounded bad. When you get used to such a sound you might find out that Autobahn, andTechno Pop, and Depeche Mode's remasters, and Yaz (Yazoo) might sound pretty nice, quite well actually. But when you compare to these above mentioned Diana Krall, and Analogue Productions remasters, and even (which is an exception) a Komeda's record (that I'm pretty sure was pressed from digital master tape) sounded clearly better. The top range was amazingly vibrant, crisp, rich, without being too bright. The phantom images had a much better, richer texture and more depth. This turntable doesn't deliver particularly wide soundstage, but the volumes of voices and instruments are rather large, and the depth of presentation also very good, and that creates a very good, although bit different than offered by most turntables (that can throw a really wide soundstage, wider than distance between speakers), perspective. Here the presentation is more focused, and more rhythm oriented.

    But what;s most important is that this is definitely not a dark, dim sound. Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans Trio from the first series Top 25 Jazz Analogue Productions (45 rpm), or John CColtrane's Giant Steps (double 45 rpm record from Rhino label), presented amazingly strong, rich, and very nicely differentiated treble. Although the latter record presented a bit less of that treble than the former, which proved that Fonica was fully capable of differentiating two various, but coming from the same time, recordings.
    But even if the „analogue” pressings sound better than the ones done of digital master tapes it doesn't mean that the latter become unlistenable or unenjoyable so you won't listen to them anymore. The advantage of F-600 is that despite it shows you the weaknesses of the recording (doesn't matter if that's a weakness of master tape, mixing, pressing or whatever), after get passed the unpleasant surprise of how poorly some records sound, and you get used to this way of presentation, you'll be still able to enjoy seemingly inexcusable EMI's re-editions made of digital master tapes like 2009 Queen's Innuendo, or three Frank Sinatra's records, (for example In The Wee Small Hours) from the same year (obviously not a good year for EMI's vinyls). Because even though these will sound worse than analogue, or even other, better digital remasters, they will give us a better perspective, a new experience we can learn from.

    So, even though I just said, that most records pressed from digital master tapes might sound bit better or worse, but usually not as good as from analogue one, you still can't just throw them all into a „trash” basket and forget them. I still heard in my mind a wonderful sound of Analogue Productions records, Komeda's record (which was a wonderful surprise!), Mobile Fidelity records from "regular" line (Silver Label is pressed from digital masters), or finally some original pressings from 1950ties and 1960ties, I still appreciated and enjoyed listening to a lot of the best records with „digital origin” like The Doors box (has anyone compared this one with the newest, analogue remaster from Analogue Productions?), ECM records like, for example Eberhard Webers's Chorus performed by Jan Garbarek and Ralf-R. Hübner, and many others. OK, maybe these did not sound as good as the best „analogue” ones, but still very good, so I could enjoyed those with satisfaction.
    And once you cross that bridge and see that at least some digitally recorded music delivered on vinyl sounds good, much better in fact that I thought it did after first Kraftwerk's record I listened to on Fonica, you might also become more open to the idea that some contemporary records pressed from hi-res digital masters, like for example 50 Words For Snow by Kate Bush (DAA, see HERE) might offer a hypnotic sound. The piece opening this record, Snowflake, includes not only Kate Bush but also her son, Bertie, singing. His bit childish falsetto was delivered by Fonica with incredible emotional depth, and I know very few turntables, even among more expensive ones, that can do it equally well.

    To find out what this turntable is capable of takes more time that it usually does – if you want to try for yourself remember to give it a try for a long time. What might help is an absence of pops and crack – many designs that are build to offer great detail and selectivity find themselves in a trap, as often pops and cracks come along with these qualities. But not in the case of F-600! And while at the beginning I thought that it was achieved by some treble roll-off, records of Komeda, Coltrane, or Evans proved me wrong, delivering strong, crisp, vibrant cymbals. Fonica delivers a truly dark background and a very smooth, silky even, sound. The sound itself might be bit brighter or darker, stronger/more directed, or slightly rolled-off but it is recording dependent. But unless you use some very dirty records, you'll never get much pops and cracks.
    Plus there is one more element that in fact „makes” the sound of this turntable – it's the bass. Large part of it is stronger than the rest of frequency range. It is well extended, maybe not so taut, but very rhythmic which I confirmed listening to many „club-like” remixes of Depeche Mode's recordings. The attack was immediate and well defined. A good presentation of punchy bass is usually delivered by heavy mass-loaders, and F-600 does it even better than most turntables at the given price tag. You can hear it even in jazz recordings but you can really experience it once you listen to some electronic music.


    Since mid-bass is stronger than midrange voices seem to sound bit lower than usually. I heard it with Bertie, Krall, or Sinatra. This modification was obvious and beyond discussion. It doesn't mean that the sound was ruined – all you have to do it to be aware of that and wisely chose other elements of your system.
    I also mentioned already some other weaknesses of this turntable: the width of the soundstage is not impressive, selectivity could also be better (by selectivity many mean just how detailed sound is, but there is more to this term than that), and the sound is rather warm.
    But what is really the most important thing is how do you perceive the sound as a whole, and not just some single elements of that sound. And the whole sound of F-600 is really, really good. It is not perfectly neutral sounding deck but it is clear that there is some concept of how it should sound behind all choices made by its designer. Sound of F-600 is rich, dense and strong. It differentiates various recordings nicely and makes the good ones sound remarkably well. There are very few cracks and pops, although surface noise is not so low and it is heard rather in lower than upper midrange. This is really nicely build and finished turntable, with an arm with very handy VTA adjustment, and it is a Polish concept. And it is sold under legendary brand-name Fonica. I must say it is a very interesting debut of this company (well it is a debut as only the name is familiar, company is in fact new). Congratulations!!!

    Test methodology

    I put the turntable on Base IV Custom rack, on wooden shelf and additionally on Acoustic Revive RAF-48H platform, but uninflated. It worked with 2 phonostages:

    During the test for comparison I used also a Pathe Wings PSW-650 clamp weighting 650 g.
    This time I listened to the whole records not just single tunes.


    F-600 is a new Fonica turntable. It is a brand name belonging to a manufacturer called Audio-Fonica Sp. z o.o.. It is a non-suspended design, with belt drive, and a motor with external speed controller. It is delivered with Rega RB300 tonearm additionally equipped with a handy VTA adjustment that might be used also „on-the-fly”.
    It is classified as a mass-loader and it uses mass to damp vibrations, but in fact it is not particularly heavy, weighting only 12,3 kg. On the other hand the weight is significantly bigger than is case of most Rega or Pro-Ject products.
    The design reminded me of a Transrotor Zet1, at least by the shape and material used for the deck's base. It is made of black acrylic shaped after four-leaf clover, and there is no additional damping. The 298 mm platter is also made of acrylic. There is also a thick felt mat placed on the platter. Other, metal elements are made of brass, which bring to mind products of Ancient Audio. Similarity goes even further as the Fonica's F-800 model reminded me strongly the one-time turntable made by Jarek Waszczyszyn (Ancient Audio) for known musician Jarek Śmietana: granite base, acrylic platter, belt drive and so on. Of course that's just some similarities that came to my mind – most likely Mr Radosław Łodziato had never seen AA's turntable (as there was only one piece ever made). You can see brass elements here and there and it, together with black acrylic, is responsible for visual impressions, very good one I might add. Three cones under the turntable (one in the back and two in the front) are made of brass, also the clamp is made of brass, the VTA adjustment, motor enclosure, and its controller's casing are also all brass. And the plaque with company's logo is brass too.

    The key elements of the base, an inverted sliding bearing was developed in-house, the „female” part is made of brass, and the „male” part is a small ball made of zirconium dioxide - a material that, according to manufacturer, has a strength comparable to that of a diamond. The bearing is lubricated with some dense oil. The roller with zirconium dioxide ball at one end is made of steel. The roller has been turned as a one piece together with a spindle. I think that the spindle has slightly too big diameter - Analogue Productions records fitted here nicely, but most others I had to push down quite hard, and than it was quite some problem to take them off.
    The clamp is quite heavy – it weights 932 g and it is shaped similarly to those of Pathe Wings. It is equipped with two rubber damping rings, plus the level on the top. To achieve perfect level you only need to make sure that the shelf you put table on is actually level. The three brass cones under the deck should be pushed all way in, as they do their job best than. These are also equipped with rubber rings that decouple them from the base.
    The motor is placed in a cut-out in the back left corner of the base. The cutout is quite tight, and padded with rubber band that on one hand decouples motor from the deck, but also keep it attached to it. The spin i transmitted to the platter from a small platter fixed on motor's ax, with a rubber belt.
    The motor seems to be an AC one. It is controlled by an external controller with oscillator, placed in cylinder shaped enclosure with on/off switch, a button changing speed, and two blue LEDs indicating current ( 33 1/3 or 45 rpm) speed, on top. The controller connects to the motor with a cable, that sports plugs the same as those used in Pro-Ject decks, and the controlled is powered from a 18V power supply plugged directly to power outlet.

    The tonearm is an OEM version of Rega RB300. This is a well known and appreciated design. The arm features a beautifully cast one piece arm tube and headshell, closely toleranced bearings, rigid bearing housings and magnetic frictionless bias compensation. The only downside is lack of VTA adjustment. But Fonica solved this problem designing their own solution – a very nice and handy one. Signal is delivered via gold-plated RCA sockets and no IC comes with the device, which might be a good idea as probably no one would use it anyway, but rather other one of his own choosing... The turntable is delivered in surprisingly small wooden case. I would suggest changing the way the hinges are mounted, as the transport company dealt with those already during the first shipment... The inside of the case is filled with stiff foam that protects all elements of turntable pretty well. I have one more suggestion for a manufacturer – he could think about some cover for this model, as both acrylic body and felt mat attract dust like hell.


    • 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 PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS [Custom Version]; review HERE