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Nagra’s $128K Reference Turntable Offers State of the Art Analog Playback

Nagra makes the case its new Reference Turntable will be the last one you’ll ever buy.

Nagra Reference Turntable Angle

Is there really a market for $128,000 turntables?

Whilst most of us might raise an eyebrow and bristle at the concept of spending that much money on a turntable, there are certainly enough affluent customers in the world who can pull the trigger on such an acquisition. That doesn’t make it a wise buying decision, especially when one can achieve state-of-the-art vinyl playback for under $30,000 with a number of options from SME, Kuzma, Clearaudio and VPI — but Nagra might be one of the few outside of that collection of established turntable manufacturers that can make a technical case for itself.

Audio Technology Switzerland is expanding its Nagra Reference line of products with a new turntable; the Reference turntable joins the limited edition Reference Anniversary turntable in Nagra’s flagship Reference line of products. 

In 2021, Nagra’s Reference Anniversary turntable extended the edge of the art in LP reproduction after four years and hundreds upon hundreds of scientific team hours, accompanied by exhaustive listening tests. It was a first step in a return to Nagra’s legacy of analog mechanical reproduction.

Now, following two additional years of research and development, along with Nagra’s absolute insistence on listening verification – Nagra has announced the launch of the Reference turntable for $128,000 USD.   

Nagra Reference Turntable Front
Nagra Reference Turntable

While often contemplated, it was not until six years ago that the design and engineering of a turntable befitting the name Nagra began. Working as a team, Nagra’s staff of extremely talented designers and engineers relentlessly pursued perfection in the fields of applied physics, mechanical and electronic engineering, as well as material science.

The Reference turntable is an analog product governed by immutable laws of physics and mechanics, very much like Nagra legendary reel to reel recorders. As such, it is not subject to the rapidly progressing and ever-changing developments of the digital domain.

This means that the Reference turntable will remain technologically relevant for generations. For many it will be a last turntable purchase and a product which is proudly passed down from generation to generation, just like many Nagra III recorders from the 50’s, which are still in active use today, the Nagra Reference turntable is a product for life. 

Nagra Reference Turntable Cartridge

Features

  • Massive 25 lbs. Swiss made CNC machined, dual decoupled, super-cap motor drive system
  • Spheroidal graphite iron shaft/bearing housing 
  • Maintenance free sintered bronze, high temp/pressure oil impregnated shaft bearing   
  • Bearing comprised of ultra-high polished, stacked carbide balls 
  • Aerospace grade aluminium/phenolic constrained layer damped platter
  • Alcantara platter surface 
  • Belt transmission inspired by the legendary Nagra IV series of reel to reel recorders
  • Non-resonant, high rigidity constrained layer chassis
  • Floating mechanical and hydraulic suspension
  • Pure copper record weight
  • Dual concentric carbon fiber uni-pivot tonearm with unique geometrical bearing profile
  • OCC copper tonearm wiring
  • Unique no-contact magnetic anti-skating
  • Camera lens-like “on the fly” adjustable VTA
  • HD size chassis linear power supply featuring oversized medical grade silent transformer and ultra-low noise regulators
  • Dimensions: W x D = 661 mm x 451 mm (26 inches x 17.7 inches)
  • Weight: ~80 kg (~176 lbs.)

The Reference turntable was designed as a system. This means that the turntable and its tonearm were designed to work from the “ground up” as a unified playback system. Careful consideration was given to the development of a tonearm with performance capabilities commensurate with the turntable itself.

For those who prefer to supply their own tonearm, Nagra offers an armless version of the Reference turntable with arm board options to accommodate most tonearms.

Nagra Reference Turntable with PSU front

Price & Availability

The Nagra Reference Turntable is shipping now for $128,000 USD.

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History

Nagra’s lineage dates back to 1951, when company founder Stefan Kudelski invented the first portable recorder, simply called the Nagra I. Nagra comes from a Polish word that means “it is recording”. The Nagra I was followed by an impressive trail of game-changing products that revolutionized the face of sound recording. Its impact has been tremendous in the field of art, science, ethnology. It changed the way we capture sound and brought a soundtrack to the world, making recordings where before nothing was ever captured.

Nagra recorders have been used to record sound all around the world. Their contributions to major Hollywood films have been recognized with multiple Academy Awards for achievements in sound recording. Nagra was there with the advent of space exploration as Nagra recorders traveled to outer space supporting NASA in the Apollo space program. This long tradition of excellence has been perpetuated for generations. Since 1998, Nagra has been synonymous with sound reproduction at home for demanding music and Hi-Fi lovers.

The Nagra I and Nagra II portable recorders made use of a Thorens spring winding mechanism to rotate the reels and the capstan. Electronics were used for signal recording and playback in this ground-breaking portable recorder. So Nagra early recorders share a common root with turntables. During the golden age of analog, the idea to make a Nagra turntable was often discussed. Stefan Kudelski even filed a patent in 1972 for a special tonearm tracking system.

About ATS – Audio Technology Switzerland 

Founded in 1951 by Stefan Kudelski, NAGRA has been designing some of the most influencing equipment in the audio industry. From the Oscar® Award winning NAGRA professional tape recorders to the multi-award winning NAGRA HD electronics, the company has continuously perpetuated the utmost excellence in electronics design and manufacturing. In 2012, Audio Technology Switzerland S.A. formerly Nagra Audio division was created. Still largely owned by the Kudelski family, Audio Technology Switzerland designs, manufactures and market NAGRA professional, high-end audio and security products. It continues the tradition of sophistication and originality that has established the prestige of the NAGRA brand all around the world for over 70 years.

For more information: nagraaudio.com

Related reading: The NAGRA HD Phono Preamplifier Costs $87,500.

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