In the development of turntables, well-known manufacturers sometimes pursue completely different approaches, and are often guided by intuition, of course supported by meticulous and complex tests. AVID HiFi is clearly committed to technology, strives for technical perfection in order to ultimately awaken passion through precise reproduction at the highest level.
For me, a very important point of the fascination for record players as a whole is that there is an immense variety in this field, as in few others. And in many different ways. For example, even in the basic construction of a turntable. Especially with record players, it is the case that developers are really free to develop their own ideas, and it seems that everyone can go their own way. Even if there are at least basic design principles, the various solutions on the market differ considerably in how the actual goal, the most inspiring sound reproduction possible, is achieved.
The particularly exciting thing about this is that some solutions not only differ from those of others in essential aspects, but in some cases they even seem to contradict each other. Nevertheless, the results usually prove the developers right, and there is an immensely “colourful” variety available in this market segment, so that ultimately every ambitious vinyl lover will find the perfect product for him.
One company that has been pursuing its special solutions very consistently across a long established and very broad product range is the English hi-fi manufacturer Avid HiFi.
Until recently, AVID HiFi could have been described as a pure producer of record players, but the company has long since expanded its range to include the finest electronics. But this should only be mentioned in passing, as this new range of electronics ultimately serves only to bring out the full potential that is possible with your own drives throughout the entire chain.
AVID HiFi, like so many other high-quality hi-fi companies, is based in the heart of England. It’s amazing to see the density of high-end hi-fi companies here, and it’s largely due to this that the finest solutions are developed and manufactured with such passion and dedication. After all, the developers here inspire each other, spur each other on, and there is a resource of personnel and thus knowledge from which everyone benefits in the end.
And AVID HiFi in particular is a company in which state-of-the-art technology and production engineering at the highest level play an immensely important role in the overall corporate philosophy. But the driving force is above all one man, namely Conrad Mas. Conrad Mas is, in the most positive sense of the word, a driven by his goal of achieving nothing less than the perfect reproduction of music, based, of course, on the reproduction of music by means of vinyl records.
If you look a little bit into the history of the companies, you will get a little insight into the way products are actually made, especially in the upscale hi-fi sector, it is usually the case that behind all this there is a person with a special passion, with special devotion and usually very high ambitions, and just as someone is Conrad Mas.
For decades now, Conrad Mas has been pursuing the goal of creating the perfect drive, with technology playing a very important role. His company in Kimbelton, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, is like a mechanical engineering company of the highest quality and precision. One might initially think that this is where precision engineering products of the highest quality are manufactured, which the company does because of the quality and experience it has gained over the years in production engineering, for example for other companies in the consumer electronics, automotive, medical and many more, but even this should only be mentioned in passing.
And in principle, record players, if you leave all the emotions aside, are nothing else. And it is probably precisely this – at first glance – very sober approach to solutions, the very pragmatic approach of Conrad Mas, designed for perfect technology, that ultimately distinguishes the AVID HiFi company. It is not an emotional approach, it is sober technology at the highest level that is used to develop products in perfection, which are ultimately capable of triggering deeply emotional reactions due to their impeccable properties. Emotion is achieved through technical perfection, in keeping with Conrad Mas’s aim of bringing out all the details of a record and making them heard, and not the record itself.
The fact that it is precisely this technology-oriented approach that Conrad Mas pursues can be seen, for example, in the fact that when you talk to him, you really do get an absolutely well-founded answer to every question about your drives, no matter how insignificant it may be. To put it bluntly, Conrad Mas knows exactly which screw is in which position, and why it is in this exact spot, and not a millimetre to the left or right. He can provide information about every component, about its material, about its shape and position, even about its surface treatment, because in this respect nothing is left to chance with AVID HiFi, nothing is done for “cosmetic” reasons alone, but ultimately contributes a part, small or large, to the overall result.
At this point, it must be explicitly mentioned that the company’s principle is simply: “The truth, nothing more, nothin less”.
All drives from AVID HiFi, starting with the “beginner” model, AVID HiFi Ingenium, through AVID HiFi Diva II SP, AVID HiFi Volvere SP, AVID HiFi Acutus SP and AVID HiFi Reference SP, follow this approach. And of course this also applies to our current test model, the AVID HiFi Sequel SP Turntable.
The AVID HiFi Sequel SP represents a special product in the English range, as it is the first turntable that really does have all the aspects that the company’s philosophy requires at the latest stage of development to achieve a truly outstanding result.
This is how the manufacturer describes the AVID HiFi Sequel SP itself as a true high-end solution that has benefited directly from the developments of the reference models. So even if at first glance the AVID HiFi Sequel SP looks quite similar to the AVID HiFi Volvere SP, the AVID HiFi Sequel SP is ultimately more than an upgrade of its little brother, as it benefits from a more sophisticated power supply and engine control system, as well as other design measures that are the direct result of the development of the aforementioned models, which are based above the AVID HiFi Sequel SP.
Roughly speaking, the AVID HiFi Sequel SP corresponds to a classic sub-chassis design, although it must be said straight away that this principle has really been consistently implemented here down to the last detail. The AVID HiFi Sequel SP can therefore be considered a prime example of this design principle.
A sub-chassis construction is a structure with two chassis that are combined in such a way that they do not influence each other in any way. A drive constructed in this way has the immense advantage that it is comparatively uncritical in terms of installation, as it has a particularly “solid substructure”.
The amazing thing about the AVID HiFi Sequel SP is, and this applies in principle to all other products from AVID HiFi as well, that it is actually a very massive drive, at least in terms of the purely technical data, but the design is extremely delicate. The AVID HiFi Sequel SP, for example, measures 425 x 370 x 205 mm, and thus weighs no less than 12.6 kg. However, you don’t “see” this mass, rather the drive presents itself as a particularly slim, almost elegant and almost fragile record player. But be sure, there is nothing fragile about it, it is rather a solid construction that can be shaken by almost nothing.
It is precisely thanks to the meticulous development work of AVID HiFi, as already outlined in the introduction, that we are working at the highest technical level and that a construction optimised down to the last detail is used in all areas.
For example, the actual chassis, in this case the sub-chassis, is made from a cast aluminium part that in itself appears almost futuristic, and is characterised above all by the fact that enormous stability and strength are achieved here with the least amount of material. This housing is the absolutely solid basis for the turntable bearing as well as the tonearm base. As already mentioned, nothing has been left to chance here. Conrad Mas can – to put it exaggeratedly – talk for hours about the special design of this cabinet alone, and describe in all its details the measures taken here for the optimal dissipation of resonances and vibrations that are ultimately harmful to the sound. The same applies to the no less solidly constructed bearing, which in itself is a masterpiece of precision engineering, and represents a self-contained system via a solid connection of the record to the turntable by means of a screw clamp.
The basic structure of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP, which once again proves to be an extremely robust construction, is also a particularly solid continuation of this, making it clear at first glance that it provides the best possible foundation for the turntable. Three pedestals form the basis for the sub-chassis construction, which is realised via springs, and the motor also finds its place here.
One thing must be emphasised here: the AVID HiFi Sequel SP is certainly not a drive designed for absolute beginners, at least not when it comes to the construction of the drive. The AVID HiFi Sequel SP is not a product that can be taken out of the box, set up and put into operation in a few moments. Some preparatory work is required here in order to be rewarded with the best possible results in the end. In case of doubt, the specialised trade is of course the right partner here, although with a little patience and the appropriate care you can easily manage on your own, especially since a detailed “step-by-step guide” is very helpful.
Thus the assembly of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP does not start with the actual base, but directly with the subchassis.
As already mentioned, this is a lightweight cast aluminium chassis, which is optimally stabilised and extremely stiff thanks to specially designed struts, and has a special coating that helps to ensure that resonances are optimally dissipated. In principle, it forms the basis for the complete body.
The first thing to do is to assemble the tonearm, whereby the manufacturer himself offers a wide range of options in this respect, primarily tonearms from SME, although appropriate adapters are available for other solutions. Our test sample, for example, was equipped with a fine SME IV tonearm, which, as it turned out, harmonises very well with the drive.
The manufacturer recommends as the next step the insertion of the inverted bearing, starting with the assembly of the tungsten-carbite ball on the stainless steel conical bearing pin. The main bearing is then placed here, which has a sapphire bearing mirror. This is one of the most delicate assembly steps, and appropriate care must be taken. This also applies to the placement of the 6.7 kg platter, the next step in the assembly of the drive. Here too, a conical shape of the main bearing makes it easier to put the platter in place. The platter has a distinctive rubber ring that serves as additional damping and is therefore made of such solid material. In addition, a cork mat is included in the delivery, which is an integral part of the construction. This becomes obvious already at the next assembly step.
The next step is to take a record and fix it with the cork mat and screw clamp included in the delivery. This screw clamp represents an absolutely stable connection of the entire system of record, turntable and bearing, and is especially elaborately designed for this task. The outer rubber ring of the screw clamp is used to create a firm connection between record and cork mat or turntable. When screwing it on further, an additional inner ring is used, which ultimately creates a direct, equally firm connection with the bearing itself.
But back to the assembly of the turntable, it is now time to mount the pick-up system, and thus align the tonearm. This is the final step, but due to the special construction it can be carried out in a very comfortable way at a suitable workstation, possibly far away from the hi-fi system, in peace and quiet and with the appropriate precision.
Once this has been done, the turntable is removed, the sub-chassis is “briefly” put aside and the base is set up.
As already indicated, this too is extremely slim, but still solid, with three metal cylinders with inserted springs forming the basis for the sub-chassis construction of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP. Here it is necessary to insert the O-rings included in the scope of delivery into the recesses of the cylinders on the top side, the task of which will be revealed in a moment. But first of all it should be mentioned that the motor block of the drive is also mounted on this basis. This main chassis rests on height-adjustable feet, which provide an optimal basis for the absolutely horizontal positioning of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP.
Now everything that finally belongs together, i.e. the base and the sub-chassis, comes together, whereby spindles on the aluminium sub-chassis are inserted exactly into the springs of the metal cylinders of the main chassis. This work step must also be carried out with the appropriate care, whereby one should definitely apply a little pressure to correctly engage the construction.
The already mentioned O-rings of the cylinders are now put over the corresponding anchorages on the sub-chassis, so that a secure, but still not firm connection between base and sub-chassis is established. This special trick ensures that the sub-chassis does not vibrate too much, that movements caused by placing the records on the base and handling the tonearm do not cause the drive to vibrate uncontrollably, but rather that these vibrations are immediately balanced. At the same time, no sound damaging oscillations and vibrations are transferred from the base to the sub-chassis, so that optimum decoupling is still guaranteed. Shocks and vibrations from outside thus pose almost no problem for the drive, and it is ensured that the AVID HiFi Sequel SP can be positioned comparatively flexibly and without excessive demands on the “base”.
In a nutshell, the AVID HiFi Sequel SP is a drive with three-point spring suspension for vertical construction, which is supported by O-rings against lateral vibrations. The vertical suspension is designed for 3.2 Hz (variable) and the lateral one for 4.5 Hz.
The real test of patience during the assembly of the drive is the final mounting of the turntable and the drive belt, especially since it is a so-called double belt.
For this purpose, a pin is used as a mounting aid and is screwed into a corresponding hole on the underside of the turntable. On the one hand, the belt is placed around the sub platter, on the other hand around this pin, the platter is turned over and placed on the drive in such a way that the pin is between the motor block and the left front cylinder of the base plate. This way you can pull the belt over the motor pulley with “pointed fingers”. Once this is done, don’t forget to remove the pin from the turntable…
Now you can set up the drive at its destination and make the adjustment for a horizontal installation. It is also necessary to connect the motor control unit or the power supply unit, which in the case of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP are housed in a separate enclosure.
This housing measures 250 x 215 x 95 mm and, in addition to a main switch, also has two keys for speed control. At the touch of a button, the speed is thus set to 33 1/3 or 45 revolutions per minute.
The motor control system uses DSP-based speed control to reduce vibrations to an absolute minimum and guarantee precise speed. The manufacturer refers to this as a DSP Vari-Speed control unit, which controls the hand-built 24 V AC motor of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP.
We have deliberately gone into so much detail on almost every step of the assembly of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP, as it brings out all the attention to detail, the countless design measures that the developers around Conrad Mas put in and used to create what is ultimately a famous drive.
The great thing is that all of these can be directly “experienced” by the user himself when he builds up his newly acquired showpiece piece by piece. In this respect, the quite complex, but in the end easily manageable construction is by no means to be understood as negative, quite the contrary. Such an effort, as it is offered here by AVID HiFi, is almost indispensable to achieve perfect results.
And this is exactly what the AVID HiFi Sequel SP can offer. Perfection in design and construction leads to perfection in reproduction, and thus the English manufacturer can fully meet its own demand to offer nothing but “The truth, nothing more, nothin less”.
We would therefore like to spare you, dear readers, at this point a disclosure of our personal music selection, because in the end it is completely irrelevant which discs revealed to us in the test that the AVID HiFi Sequel SP allows the pickup system to tickle out of the groove with flying colours exactly the information stored there. The only decisive factor is that it does this. And we can attest to this without a doubt.
We would also like to explicitly point out that the AVID HiFi Sequel SP has what it takes to bring out the special characteristics of the most diverse pick-up systems, and with flying colours. We have seldom experienced such striking differences, which are solely due to the choice of pick-up system. This is one more indication that this drive is committed to neutrality, working with the necessary calmness and restraint that is inherent in an unmistakable precision tool. And it is precisely as such that Conrad Mas understands his drives, which is why his solutions, including the AVID HiFi Sequel SP, are based on a design that has been refined down to the last detail and on the highest level of manufacturing technology.
Getting to the point
Our detailed test of the AVID HiFi Sequel SP showed only one problem: drives like the AVID HiFi Sequel SP, developed on such an amazingly high level, with such a sovereign, precise playing style, almost give the impression that it is no longer possible to sound exactly as it sounds, that you have perhaps even reached the end of a long search for the perfect drive. So it’s a good thing that the AVID HiFi Sequel SP always keeps a low profile and leaves enough room for further experiments with the pickup systems. After all, it is nothing more and nothing less than a tool for perfect music playback, but there should still be some room for experimentation…
With the AVID HiFi Sequel SP, the English hi-fi specialist AVID HiFi Ltd. offers perfection in design and construction, and this leads to perfection in reproduction. Thus, the English manufacturer can fully comply with its own demand to offer nothing but “The truth, nothing more, nothing less”.
|Manufacturer:||AVID HiFi Ltd.|
|Distribution:||IDC Klaassen International Distribution & Consulting oHG|
|The Good||– Extremely remarkable construction|
– fascinating detailed solutions
– absolutely stable and robust construction
– extremely elegant design
– remarkably flexible in its positioning
– amazingly precise reproduction
– allows experiments with various tonearms and pick-up systems
|The Bad||– No disadvantage apparent|