Ode to This Thing I Found: Why I Love My Acoustic Solid Vintage Exclusive Turntable

What can this strange device be? / When I touch it, it gives forth sound / It’s got wires that vibrate and gives music / What can this thing be that I found?

Sometimes all it takes is a road trip to a favorite shop to find a turntable that will become an indispensable staple in your listening system. For me, a visit to a little family-run place in Niagara Falls, Ontario, called Electronic Depot is what begins this story. To be fair, I was there picking up something else, and I had no intention of leaving with anything more than that. Unexpectedly, a turntable caught my eye. It was a glorious sight — this silver shining thing. The first words I uttered were, “What is that?

After giving the table a demo with some of the shop owners’ personal vinyl — quick sidenote: owners Graham and Micki Lundy are two of the nicest people in the world! — I had to have it as soon as I could swing it. Leaving that day without that table in hand kind of sucked, but I was determined to make the deal happen. It took some creative trading and finagling, but a couple days later and by way of another road trip, that prized table ended up in the back seat of my car and on its way back to my Ontario home.

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It’s a rite of passage of sorts for vinyl enthusiasts and audiophiles alike to bring home a new turntable, isn’t it? Sometimes, the process is laborious, but once you hit the listening chair, it all makes sense. Since the day this particular turntable landed in my Zen Den, there has yet to be any consideration for a replacement. Sure, there have been cartridge changes, and there have also been several different phono preamps, amplifiers, cables, and speakers swapped in and out as well. Vinyl of every color, genre, and age has spun on the platter. Careful maintenance has been done obsessively with my lady-size white gloves in tow. The center of attention has not changed. It is my centerpiece.

With all that in mind, let me now introduce you to the Acoustic Solid Vintage Exclusive, a German-made turntable that is beautiful and badass — and it performs with silent reliability. Its current SRP ranges from $3,628 U.S. ($4,999 CAD) to $8,815 U.S. ($12,144 CAD), depending upon where you look — and you can find exactly where to look for official AS distributors across the globe at the end of this story. In the meantime, let me give you some background about Acoustic Solid, and how they’ve gotten to where they are today.

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The Backstory
In 1996, disillusioned with the range of turntables available in a market that (at the time) had all but given up on vinyl, German automotive production manager and record enthusiast Karl Wirth took to his home garage lathe. Wirth, an expert in mechanical design and production, put together a heavy-mass non-suspended belt-driven turntable. Given the moniker “The Solid One,” these homemade machines became quite sought after by his friends. With some reluctance, Wirth built more of them, and word got out. After comparing his creation against established turntables, he discovered that The Solid One could hold its own.

A distributor took interest in 1997, opening the door between the company, Acoustic Solid, and the general public. The brand became synonymous with traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology, resulting in incredible sound and quality. Based in picturesque Altdorf, Germany, Acoustic Solid currently exports their gear to more than 40 countries. They offer four distinctive turntable lines — Aluminum, Classic, Vintage, and Custom — and my table, the Vintage Exclusive, is what you see featured throughout this story.

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Features & Specs
The Vintage line is unique in the Acoustic Solid catalog, as it applies a modern twist to traditional design. It’s the only AS line in which the integrated motor is built into a solid frame with side panels. It can be finished in metal or covered in fine leather, but it is the sexy pressed stainless-steel finish that wins my heart. There is a hint of perfectionism in the aesthetic. The plinth surface is shiny and subtly textured with a precise quilt-like detail, with perfectly glossed sides and a 40mm (1.575in) aluminum platter. There is a simple black leather disc under a clear 5mm acrylic mat. (Inadvertent static is a thing of the past.) With the Acoustic Solid WTB 213 silvery carbon-fiber tonearm ($2,600 U.S. / $3,565 CAD), silicone string drive. and simple circular switch plate, this turntable is as much a piece of photogenic art as it is a solid piece of gear.

And when I say solid, I mean solid. The platter alone weighs 8kg (17.6lb). Without the tonearm, the Vintage Exclusive comes in at a respectable 22kg (48.5lb) in a 50cm (20in) x 39cm (15.5in) footprint. With the tonearm, the Vintage Exclusive sits 18cm (7in), balanced perfectly on three adjustable dampening feet.

Inside the stunning chassis, a sandwich construction of stainless steel, aluminum, and plastodem houses the Berger Lahr synchronous motor. it seems almost impossible that the delicate silicone string drive can move that heavy platter, but with the ground stainless steel axle, cast liner, and cast bearing dampened with Teflon washers and decoupled, it’s seamless. Wow and flutter aren’t even in the mix, as the motor smoothly and silently builds up speed as soon as the on button is pushed, and it holds steady until turned off. Changing from 33 to 45rpm while the platter is spinning happens without any hitches or hesitation.

A polished ceramic ball provides optimization of resonance, and microprocessor-controlled electronics ensure the nearly perfect 0.08% synchronization. The 240V power supply with an IEC connector cable gives a reliable 32V at 0.46amp maximum switching power. The detachable power supply rates at 120V 47-63 at 0.4amp. To the right of the platter, there is a simple circular on/off switch plate, where transforming between from 33 to 45rpm can be done on the fly, and fine speed adjustments made at the touch of a button.

An interesting feature of all Acoustic Solid turntables is that there is no anti-skate. This turntable does have built-in RCAs and a grounding wire, which is connected to the nearby phono preamp grounding post. Sadly, there isn’t a dust cover for the Vintage Exclusive, but that hasn’t really been a big deal to me.

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Setup
The Vintage Exclusive turntable package has the aforementioned Acoustic Solid WTB 213 carbon-fiber tonearm, along with an Ortofon MC Quintet Red low-output cartridge. With the 233.75mm (9in) 390g (13.75oz) straight tonearm rated with a 5-20g pickup, there really hasn’t been a cartridge I’ve tried on it that hasn’t worked well. Sure, having a detachable headshell would make cart changing a little less aggravating, but c’est la vie. Currently, I have a lovely Hana Umami Red cart installed.

Because of my fondness for low-output MC carts, careful matching of the phono preamp turned out to be worth the effort. To that end, I found the Gold Note PH10 and PSU10 with an RIAA enhanced curve, 470ohm load, and +3dB gain provide the most complete and balanced sound.

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For this evaluation, I’m running my trusty McIntosh MA252 and Zu Audio Dirty Weekend 6 Superfly speakers. For headphone listening, there’s a Manley Absolute headphone amp, and Focal Stellia, Focal Elear, and Hifiman Edition XS headphones, respectively. I did augment the Hifiman’s cable with a 10ft Pig Hog so it can reach my listening chair, as I like to switch out my phones.

Nordost Silver Shadow ICs, AudioQuest Golden Gate RCAs, Nakamichi 10 AWG speaker cables, and a Torus RM15 toroidal power transformer round out the system.

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Listening Sessions
Ahh, where do I start? Admittedly, I’m a classic rock girl at heart, but my vinyl collection — much like yours, I suspect — varies from soup to nuts. Listening sessions like these sometimes make time irrelevant, and there’s always room for one more. Thus, let’s pull out a small stack and find a few favorites that bring out the best in this AS turntable.

For hard-rocking tracks, Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s August 1974 LP on Mercury, Not Fragile, Tool’s August 2019 2LP effort on Tool Dissectional, Fear Inoculum, and Rush’s March 1976 offering on Anthem/Mercury, 2112, have all been chosen. For great vintage jazz, tracks from Thelonious Monk’s recently unearthed September 2020 Impulse!/UMe live-in-1968 LP Palo Alto and a 2018 Waxtime reissue of Billie Holiday’s 1958 Columbia classic Lady in Satin fit the bill. And, for headphone listening, selections from Joni Mitchell’s November 1975 Asylum LP The Hissing of Summer Lawns (seen below) are just right. Of course, I had to throw on Christone “Kingfish” Ingram’s 2023 Alligator LP, 662, to round out the blues.

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From the opening bass line of BTO’s “Not Fragile” (Side A, Track 1) to my fave track “Rock Is My Life, and This Is My Song (Side A, Track 2) to the instrumental “Free Wheelin’” (Side A, Track 5), the guitar tone is crisp, clean, and lifelike. Strong bass and drums are punchy and full-bodied. And then, as Tool’s “Pneuma” (Side A, Track 2) builds on the first LP of , fine detailed percussion is well-balanced and provoking as the guitar and bass fill in. Danny Carey’s drumming isn’t lost in the background, but instead rocks through with precision. The emotions build with front-and-center vocals, so the listener can feel the restraint in pulled-back sections.

A favorite experience of mine was sitting my Dad down with the Focal Stellia phones and cueing up the Side 1 title track of my minty-minty OG 2112 on the AS. The look on his face when he asked, “Is that running water?” still makes me grin. Dad has heard that album so many times, and yet he had never really heard the delicate stream flowing through the background.

I’m an absolute fool for the backstory of Monk’s live Palo Alto, but putting on this album is a poignant step back in time. If you listen carefully, you can hear Monk’s chair squeak in “Don’t Blame Me” (Side B, Track 1), reminding the listener that this is far from a professional recording. It also reminds us that it’s the perfectly silent soundstage of the AS allowing such quirky album flaws to be heard loud and clear.

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The world melts away when Billie Holliday sings “I’m a Fool to Want You” (Side 1, Track 1), with the emotional connection to her voice and Ray Ellis’ orchestra. Delicate swells in the strings transport the listener (i.e., me!) to another place. The stellar AS resonance provides an opportunity to hear the layered dynamics and separated sound that headphones bring out.

Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns doesn’t get enough cred, imo. This album scratches an itch. Joni’s playful vocals on “In France They Kiss on Main Street” (Side One, Track 1) and “Edith and the Kingpin” (Side One, Track 3) are forward without being overpowering, while background details are comprehensible.

And then there’s Kingfish. Well, first, let’s just get it out there that this a fantastic album side to side, and the AS doesn’t disappoint. The emotional message conveyed in “Another Life Goes By” (Side 1, Track 4) gets me every time. From the dark, rich bass to the expressive guitar licks, every note and vocal is presented with realism.

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Conclusions
Unless you only stick with one genre of music, having a turntable that can do it all matters. Luckily, the Acoustic Solid Vintage Exclusive is a versatile turntable that can bring any music to life. The attention to the details both in build and componentry should put Acoustic Solid on your radar the next time you are considering a new turntable in the $3K-$9K U.S. price range. Besides, the Vintage Exclusive is a cool, compact, and stylish piece that grabs the eye first — but then it has you bringing out favorite tracks to hear again, as if for the first time.

The Acoustic Solid Vintage Exclusive turntable truly is a beautiful thing. And with that table tale of mine now properly told, let’s get back to the music. And I am thinking if you were mine / I’d never let you go / And that would be but beautiful / I know. . .

Company Contact Info
For more about Acoustic Solid, go here.
To find an authorized Acoustic Solid dealer, go here.

Author Bio
Shanon McKellar began collecting records when she was just a little kid. Music matters in every part of her life. A Canadian-born-and-bred vinyl enthusiast through and through, Shanon has been reviewing analog gear, albums, and reporting on trade shows since 2018. She also has a column reviewing gear and albums on ToneAudio. This is her first piece for Analog Planet — with many more to come.

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All photos in this story by Shanon McKellar.

COMMENTS
Steelhead's picture

Enjoyed your vinyl adventure about and with this table. Looking at it can see why you fell for it.

Being a Canadian girl please tell me you have some Tragically Hip vinyl to spin.

Fun Read, happy spinning.

Shanon_McKellar's picture

Why thank you kindly, and yes, there is quite a bit of the Hip and other great Canadian bands in the mix! Cheers

HiFiMark's picture

that the recent flaming post was deleted. I was more than a little torqued by the content and tenor so it's good that I decided to delay a response until I could be a bit more gracious.

Anywho... it's gone but I'll respond anyway.

1) I love the fact that you and other reviewers include terrific records of dubious recording quality. Why? Because our beloved golden ear recordings can sound GREAT on just about any rig. I really like to know how various record playing kits do at digging out what gold is imbedded in mediocre sounding records. That's at least as important a test methinks as what a player will do with Jazz At The Pawnshop, etc.

2) No, EVERY TONEARM IN THE WORLD DOES NOT HAVE ANTI-SKATING. OK, most do, including my VPI 3D printed, but I don't use it. Why? Analysis with my AnalogMagik shows this 10"arm tracks better without, and it sounds fantastic.

Who knew? Maybe the Weisfelds really do know what they are talking about...

volvic's picture

Great looking table and enjoyed your article. Keep em coming Shanon.
Cheers from a fellow transplanted Canadian.
Nick

Glotz's picture

Is in there I hope as well. Great Canadian band I saw a few years back at a small venue.

Anton D's picture

That plinth really reminds me of the steel restaurant counters and backsplashes I have worked around!

Nice and shiny!

creative coloring world's picture

These printable coloring pages are incredible! My kids absolutely adore them, and they've really boosted their creativity. Thank you for providing such an excellent resource!

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