Tien Nephrite

Tien Nephrite – Direct drive turntable from Taiwan…

With the new Tien Nephrite the market start of the mark Tien Audio Ltd. is to be celebrated with the German selling ATR – Audio Trade Hi-Fi Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH almost, because this is to represent the essence of the innovations and exclusive technologies of the Taiwanese enterprise in form of an entrance model.


Tien Audio Ltd. is probably a brand that many in this country are hardly aware of. It is a manufacturer from Taiwan, more precisely from Taipei, which has dedicated itself above all to the development and production of record players and was founded by Jeff Tien.

The solutions of Tien Audio Ltd. have recently been taken care of by the German distributor ATR – Audio Trade Hi-Fi Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, so they should soon be known to a wider audience. Particularly since the offer of Tien Audio Ltd. can come up quite with remarkable characteristics, and with the Tien Nephrite also a drive is available, which one may not rank really into the usual category a riser drive, with Tien Audio Ltd. however the entrance at a quite attractive price makes possible.

There are two factors in particular that make the new Tien Nephrite appear to be an extremely interesting solution, namely the statement that this is a drive that combines the essence of the Taiwanese company’s innovations and exclusive technologies, and that these are precisely the technical features such as a direct drive and a sophisticated single-point bearing tonearm, which is available here in addition to a “classic” gimbal-mounted tonearm. The fact that the drive can also accommodate up to three tonearms is also a feature that is rarely found in this price class.

The drive has a very unusual and compact design, because it takes up hardly more space than the record itself. This is achieved by a so-called two-tier design, whereby the motor is of course housed in the lower part of the records made of Delrin plastic (POM: polyoxymethylene). Here a direct drive is used, which, according to the manufacturer, is a Japanese development. A Teflon slip clutch on the drive pin and a rubber ring on the platter are intended to prevent even minimal motor vibrations. Of course, the speed can be selected by a switch with either 33 or 45 revolutions per minute.

The turntable is made of semi-transparent acrylic and has as a special feature an adjustable three-point support to reduce the contact area and minimize resonances, so the manufacturer promises.

The tonearm of the turntable protrudes a little beyond the compact chassis, but this design has the advantage that not only one but up to three tonearms can be mounted here.

Ex works, one can already choose between two models, and at the same price, as the sales department emphasizes. You can choose between the brand new Tien Amari inch or the Tien Viroa LT. Both versions have their individual advantages and appeal to different users.

The Tien Amari Zoll is a medium-heavy gimbal-mounted tonearm with a 9 inch tonearm tube made of a titanium alloy, while the bearing block and the headshell are made of aluminum.

The Tien Viroa LT is based on the reference tonearm Tien Viroa and is designed as a single-point bearing tonearm with 9 inch tube. Here a carbon tonearm tube is used, but the bearing block and the headshell are also made of aluminum. The bearing tip is made of stainless steel, the corresponding bearing mirror is made of tungsten. It has pure copper internal wiring and, according to the manufacturer, like its big brother, the Tien Viroa, allows dynamic adjustment of lateral balance and anti-skating by means of two magnets.

The sales department describes the gimbal-mounted tonearm as a solution with a powerful and very structured sound image, the single-point mounted tonearm should sound more dynamic and lively. Of course, and this must not be concealed, the handling of a single-point mounted tonearm is somewhat more difficult and must therefore be carried out more sensitively.

The new Tien Nephrite is, as already mentioned, designed as a particularly compact drive, measuring no more than 35 cm in width and depth, and 11 cm in height. These specifications do not include a mounted tonearm, because, as also mentioned, it protrudes a little above the chassis. Despite these compact dimensions, the chassis alone weighs just over 9 kg.

The sales department speaks here of an entry-level drive, but can probably only mean the entry at Tien Audio Ltd., because with a recommended retail price of € 2,995 including tonearm (Tien Amari Customs or Tien Viroa Ltd) the drive is not necessarily in the typical entry level league. However, the price can be regarded as extremely attractive if the quality offered here is also included in the calculation by actually remarkable features. And compared with its larger brothers and sisters Tien TT3 as well as Tien TT5, which are to be had only starting from € 4.727,73 and/or starting from 13.647,06, it is actually an “entrance drive”.

Getting to the point

There are two factors in particular that make the new Tien Nephrite a very interesting solution, namely the statement that this is a turntable that combines the essence of the Taiwanese company’s innovations and exclusive technologies, and that these are precisely the technical features such as a direct drive and a sophisticated single-point bearing tonearm, which is available here alongside a “classic” gimbal-mounted tonearm. The fact that the drive can also accommodate up to three tonearms is also a feature that is rarely found in this price class.

Manufacturer:Tien Audio Ltd.
Distribution:ATR – Audio Trade Hi-Fi Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH
Price:Tien Nephrite mit Tien Viroa LT € 2.995,-
Tien Nephrite mit Tien Amari Zoll € 2.995,-

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