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Turntable + tonearm

Shape of Sound
T-2 + WT-10 | WT-12

Price (in Poland): 16 000 PLN

ul. Jarzębinowa 18
95-100 Zgierz | POLAND


Provided for test by: SHAPE OF SOUND


n response to a question sent from the user, the on-line language counseling of the Polish Language Dictionary gave the differences between three, often used interchangeably, terms - gramofon, adapter and patefon:

Gramofon is a device used to play sound from vinyl records, it has the widest range of meaning from the given three. Adapter in everyday language, refers to an electric turntable used to play shellac or vinyl records (also called "black"). This word also has a technical meaning, which is mentioned in the encyclopedias, please compare the term from the Encyklopedia PWN on-line - Patefon is a spring loaded turntable, produced from 1905 to 1920, it is an outdated expression., accessed: 09.08.2018

So let's use the editor's suggestion and see what the encyclopedic part of the Dictionary ... says about the adapter:

1. «a device in a turntable, used to read the sound recorded on a vinyl record»
2. "turntable"

Can you see it? First of all, the problem is that there are several interchangeable terms for a turntable in Polish language. Secondly, in the general definition 'adapter' is a device, while in the detailed and technical definition it's only a part of it, i.e. cartridge. This interesting shift of the meaning from one component - the adapter, or the phono cartridge - to the whole device - the turntable - takes place, as far as I know, only in Polish. Equally interesting is the fact that the name 'GRAMOFON' was borrowed by us at the very beginning, when these devices appeared in our part of Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and comes from the word 'GRAMOPHONE'.

A 'gramophone' is a term used in English-speaking countries interchangeably with the name 'PHONOGRAPH', meaning the invention of Thomas Edison from 1877, which allowed the recording and reproduction of a sound recorded on a thin film wrapped around a cylinder. The name 'gramophone' was registered as a trademark in 1887, and as a general name for products in the United Kingdom in 1910. Since the 1940s, the 'RECORD PLAYER' term has been used. Currently the most frequently used term is 'TURNTABLE', meaning – a table that turns'. In English-speaking countries the name of the device used to reproduce the recorded sound changed several times, in Poland it remained the same as it was a hundred years ago, and the 'adapter' was used only for a limited period of time, associated today with the years before the fall of the Great Wall in 1989.

| T-2

So there is some confusion in the nomenclature, and the Polish name dates back - as I said – to the most distant times. In English-language literature, which currently has the biggest influence on the audio industry language, 'record player' is used interchangeable with 'turntable'. And this term was used by Shape of Sound to create symbols for their latest turntables: T-1 and T-2.

The Shape of Sound was founded partially due to another vinyl enthusiast, Mr. Andrzej Kozłowski (AdFontes). As in the review of the Readleaf model once Marek Dyba quoted: "Ewelina and Piotrek built a turntable that amazed me...". And Ewelina and Piotrek are Mrs and Mr Krawiec, the founders and owners of Shape of Sound.

The model under review, T-2, equipped with two tonearms - 10'' WT-10 priced at 2,900 PLN and 12'' WT-12 costing 3000 PLN - is their latest design; I mean both the deck and the tonearms. It's big, impressive and looks really good. The tonearms made of wood Mr. Piotr on CNC machines in his workshop seem very interesting too. Also, the platter and the bearing he made himself, which obviously requires high precision and knowledge.

The deck (chassis) is outsourced to the same carpentry workshop that works for Avcon. It is composed of glued plywood sheets with a chamber milled inside. In turn, the motor and electronics come from Pro-Ject. The motor, however, was encased in an aluminum cylinder and decoupled mechanically.


The latest Shape of Sound product is called 'T' for a 'Turntable'. It is available in two versions: T-1 and T-2. Turntables T-1 and T-2 differ only with the number of tonearms. The chassis is made of layers of hardwood plywood glued together in the press under high pressure. In individual slices of the plywood, holes for the feet, bearing, drive and tonearms are cut out. Therefore, the weight of the chassis itself is around 15 kg. The deck can be finished with a clear varnish or we can stain it using any color. The whole rests on four adjustable feet, which enables leveling of the turntable.

A 40mm thick aluminum platter that weighs 7 kg rests on an oil filled hydrodynamic bearing. The bearing axis made of stainless steel is supported on a ceramic ball with a high surface smoothness which together with Teflon bed and a little oil results in excellent sliding properties.

The T-1 turntable is equipped with one WT-10 arm with a length of 10 inches, while the T-2 additionally has a 12-inch WT-12 arm. The tonearm tube has a shape of a cone. It is made of beech wood and is adequately protected against the adverse effects of moisture from the air. The arms allow for adjustments for proper cartridge setup.

The tonearms' design is based on two sets of rolling bearings. In the vertical axis, the rotation was based on two single-row radial ball bearings. In the horizontal axis, we also used rolling bearings, but in an beveled configuration, which allows for eliminating backlash without impairing the rolling properties of the bearings and results in negligible resistance to the movement of the arm.

SHAPE OF SOUND in „High Fidelity”
  • REVIEW: Shape of Sound REDLEAF + NOJE | turntable + tonearm

  • The standard version of the Shape of Sound's turntable is equipped with one tonearm. However, an optional base can be purchased additionally, and such base was installed in the reviewed unit. Since the manufacturer adjusted and set up the arms for cartridges, which - in their opinion - work well with them, I did not change anything in the setup. And only at the end of the listening session I replaced Ortofon's cartridge with Denon DL-103.

    The 10" WT-10 tonearm was paired with the Ortofon 2M Black and the 12" WT-12 with Transfiguration Axia. Ortofon is a quite expensive MM type cartridge, the company's flagship model in the 2M series. At the time of this test it's price was around 2,300 PLN. It features Nude Shibata stylus. In turn, the Axia Transfiguration is a MC type cartridge with an output voltage of 0.38 mV, which the recommended loading of more than 20 Ω; during the test it was set to 200 Ω. It uses the Ogura PA (3 x 30 μm) stylus, and costs about 1500 USD.

    The T-2 turntable was compared to the Bergman Audio Galder with the Odin arm, and I during the test I used three different pairs of speakers: YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2, Harbeth M40.1 and Avcon Nortes Mk3.

    Recordings used for the test (a selec- tion)

    • Bill Evans, Bill Evans Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top Of The Gate, Resonance Records HLP-9012, „Limited Edition - Promo 104", 3 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP (2012)
    • Brendan Perry, Ark, Cooking Vinyl/Vinyl 180 VIN180LP040, 2 x 180 g (2011)
    • Brian Eno, Craft On A Milk Sea, Warp Records WARPCDD207, 2 x 180 g LP + 2 x CD + 24/44,1 WAV (2010);
    • 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;
    • Do świtu grali, Czy wiadomo jakie tam głębiny przepastliwe?, Obuh V32 , 180 g LP (2018)
    • Garbage With Brian Aubert, The Chemicals, Stun Volume | PIAS STNVOL011 ‎STNVOL011, „Record Store Day 2015”, 10” 45 rpm LP (2015)
    • John Coltrane, Giant Steps, Atlantic/Rhino, R1 512581, „Atlantic 45 RPM Master Series", 2 x 180, 45 rpm (1960/2008)
    • Leon Russell, The Montreux Session, Edel 0208394CTT, „Triple A Series”, 180 g LP (2013)

    Japanese issues available at

    Guided by the fact that the turntable was equipped with two tonearms, wanting to hear what the shorter of them could do with a cheaper cartridge and the longer with more expensive one, I divided the test into two parts. In each of them I tried to show the characteristics of the particular combination. It soon turned out, however, that the element with biggest influence on the sound is the deck.

    The tonearms obviously differ from each other - the shorter one offers faster, more accurate sound, while the longer one is more fluid and the bass goes deeper down with it. There is also a huge difference between cartridges. The hierarchy of "how important" each component is, i.e. how strongly it affects the sound, in opinion should be presented like this: deck, cartridges, tonearms.

    | Ortofon Black 2M

    It is the type of turntable that, realizing the vision of its creators, is strongly leaning towards it. It is about the implementation of a specific sound, which is not quite what is called "neutral", but it is - as I understand it - in accordance with the needs and vision of the analogue sound of Mrs. Ewelina and Mr. Piotr. It's, in short, a warm and friendly sound, with perfect harmonic compatibility.

    The system, because I'm talking about the whole proposed set, which consists of the deck, 10" tonearm and Ortofon cartridge, sounds captivating in its density. Already the first record I listened to, recorded during the Montreux festival, the Leon Russell The Montreux Session showed what it is all about. It was a fleshy, organic presentation in which the most attention was paid to the internal "compatibility", to the fluidity, while elements such as resolution and selectivity are presented to such an extend, that it's not a weakness of this turntable, but still far from what J.Sikora's or TechDAS products are capable of delivering.

    I started my listening session with the album recorded in Montreaux, wanting to return at least for a moment to the perfect concert of Van Morrison during the same festival, that I'd heard a few days earlier in the Stravinsky Hall. And I wanted to hear it the more that it was recorded by my friends - Dirk Sommer of Sommelier du Son and or Matthieu Latour, one of the directors of the Nagra company, whom I saw literally a few hours earlier. I do not need to add that the recordings were made using an analogue Nagra T tape-recorder.

    Anyway, the turntable presented the tendency that I am talking about, that is compliance at the expense of details, but it perfectly showed the energy of a live performance, where what matters is the pulse, rush, and so on. This is the sound that in such recording, and I would add also Bill Evans' concert in New York's Top of The Gate club, but also in new digital recordings like Ark by Brendan Perry, preserves something fundamental for music - its “punctuality".

    So the records sounded warm, nice and with drive, thanks to which the music lived, changed, pulsated and engaged. Just to be clear - it is a sound modeled to achieve a very specific purpose and character. If you are looking for objective truth and details, you should look for some other product. If, in turn, we are looking for something that is considered classic "analog" sound, which is associated only with vinyl records, then the Shape of Sound turntable will be the answer to such needs and preferences.

    | Transfiguration Axia

    Switching to other arm and cartridge one should expect changes in the sound - and that's what I got here. Even then though, the character of the deck and the material from which the tonearm's tube was made will prevail. Firstly, however, I should mention differences. The better cartridge and the longer arm opened up the sound to a certain extent and there was also a higher resolution. The bass was also better defined. It was a definite step forward, where as its reason I would rather point to the cartridge than the arm - the cartridge simply helped to show the tonearm's sonic character.

    When I listened to the Ortofon, I noticed not only what I already mentioned, but also some limitation of band's extremes and not quite as taut, quite as focused bass as I would have liked. Interestingly, and characteristic of products born from love for music, it does not impede listening to music. The presentation is colorful, strong, pleasant. Simply, the upper treble is warm and withdrawn, just as the lower bass range.

    One of the advantages of such a presentation is the almost complete lack of pops&cracks. In my experience, that how both, turntables with a thick wooden base and arms with a wooden tube, sound like. Here it merged into something more, and I got only music, almost without any side effects resulting from the imperfections of the medium.

    Moving to a better, more resolving cartridge, I expected an improvement, but I was also afraid of losing this almost magical ability to extract music without pops&cracks. Fortunately it didn't happen - the sound actually opened up, but it still had the same character.

    It's rhythmic, strong presentation with a large foreground and warm band extremes. It is the midrange that plays the most important role, regardless of what music you're listening to. I wished for a bit more resolution and selectivity, and more depth to the soundstage. But it's audio we're talking about, there is nothing for free, you get SOMETHING at the expense of SOMETHING ELSE. With the Shape of Sound T-2 turntable, we get unrestricted, joyful, warm and organic sound. Organic, because it is coherent and perfectly combined into one whole.


    The Shape of Sound T2 is a "targeted" turntable. It was developed for a specific purpose, namely so that the music would flow freely and that you could listen to it during long, rather late at night than early in the morning, sessions. It does not split a hair into four pieces, it does not force listener to analyze the sound. It's a good and a bad thing, but that's how it is. It's great for listening not only to the best, sophisticated recordings such as the Russell's concert, but also to digital recordings, for example the Ark by Perry or 10" EPs by Garbage titled The Chemicals. It also works well with slightly worn records, giving them a second life. It seems to be a perfect implementation of designers' plan that will - I am sure – be warmly welcomed by many music lovers.

    The Shape of Sound T-2 turntable is a non-suspended, massloader. That is - the main bearing with the platter and the tonearm are fixed to the deck by means of a rigid links, without a soft suspension. The dissipation of vibrations in massloaders can be carried out in various materials, the most popular of which are: aluminum, acrylic and stone. Every now and then, however, this type of turntable features a wooden base, as it is a case with the reviewed model.

    | Deck

    The deck is made of several layers of plywood, combining to a total thickness of 115 mm. They are glued together in a hydraulic press under high pressure. Its interior has been milled in the same way as in the cabinets of the Avcon loudspeakers, because they also makes the bases for Shape of Sound. The surface can be finished in any way - in the tested unit it was colored with carmine to match the speakers. The model under review, the T-2, featured two arms, but it may support between one and three of them. Additional aluminum bases installed in milled spaces must be added before purchase.

    The 40 mm thick platter is made of aluminum. On the underside, a small circle has been milled into it, where a small sub-plate fits in, which is mechanically part of the axis. The bearing looks classic – there is a brass element with Teflon bed installed inside the aluminum element. There is a small ceramic ball on the axis. On top of the platter one places an old-fashioned rubber mat. A turntable is fitted with four aluminum feet, made by the company in-house.

    | Motor

    Torque is transmitted to the platter's circumference via a rubber square cross-section belt. The tension of the belt is rather loose, as if it was about maximum decoupling of the motor from the base. The engine itself is enclosed in a solid, large cylinder, and an aluminum pulley is placed on its axis. The speed is changed electronically. A small Pro-Ject Speed Box S is used for this purpose. It allows you to change the speed from 33.33 rpm to 45 and vice versa, and turn the rotation on using a button. It connects to the motor with a short, ordinary cable. It is powered by a small 18 V DC power supply.

    | Tonearm

    The new Shape of Sound tonearms are available in two lengths: 10" and 12". The former is a compromise between the long 12" and short 9" arms, the length particularly beloved by the Japanese. It features a tube made of varnished beech wood and it can have an effective length of 10" or 12". The tube is attached to a nice aluminum element with a gimbal. Its horizontal movement is possible due to precision German blade bearings.

    The arm features a brass, black-painted counterweight that slides over the aluminum shaft from the rear. The counterweight is decoupled from the arm with a Teflon insert and after setting the correct VTF should be fixed using an Allen screw. User can also adjust VTA - again using proper Allen key. The arm's head-shell is made of aluminum and it forms a whole with an element used to lift the arm. There is classic anti-skating solution - a weight suspended on a line.

    The signal is output through gold-plated RCA sockets. In the basic tonearm the sockets are located under the bottom edge and hidden underneath. It makes it much harder to connect the interconnect and it drove me crazy when I had to tighten the ground cable. Even more so considering that it is tightened with a tiny, ordinary screw. I would rather not do it too often ... In the second arm the connection is easier because the outputs are located from the listener's side. However, the ground screw is the same.

    This is a very nice, interesting design, using components that have been known for years. The whole makes a big impression with the precision of the workmanship and finish quality.



    - 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

    - 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
    System I
    - 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
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m); wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - 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