When I first saw the Thales TTT-Slim Turntable and Easy Tonearm, my first thought was, “my word, a new version of the Garrard Zero 100.” The truth is only the tonearm reminds me of the Zero 100. If you’re not familiar with the Zero 100, it was built in the early 70s. It was advertised to have an ingenious tonearm with virtually no tracking error and a magnetic tonearm anti-skating system. While the design of the tonearm was amazing, the execution wasn’t. The table had way too much plastic and the tonearm just didn’t work all that well.
The Swiss-made Thales Slim Turntable, and Easy Tonearm combination couldn’t be more different from the Zero 100 in build and sound quality. The build of both the table and arm are what you would expect if built by the best Swiss watchmakers. Both are built in Thales’ workshop in Switzerland. The look of the turntable is exactly what the name implies. There are other small, simple looking but advanced turntables, but I think this one may be the smallest. Still, it is very advanced in design and very elegant in appearance.
Although I find the turntable most impressive, I think it is the tonearm that excites most people. The tonearm design sets out to combine the best of linear tracking tonearms with the strengths of the best pivot tonearms. It uses an arrangement of six bearing points that creates three null points for the horizontal tracking error, plus a zero point for the variable offset angle as well. This means the cartridge is guided along the ideal tracing line just like that of a parallel tracking tonearm. It is beautifully simple and so sophisticated at the same time.
Thales used their experience of building micro-bearings for high-end tonearms, to develop what they call TTF Bearings or Thales-Tension-Free bearing technology. This technology strives to combine the advantages of traditional jewel bearings with the benefit of the ball bearing. Thales says that TTF technology gives incredibly low friction values, absolute freedom of backlash as they use an integrated shock absorbing system.
The main-arm is made of aluminum while the guiding arm that provides the mechanism for the variable offset angle is made of carbon. The tonearm is connected by a right angle 5-pin-DIN plug. It comes with two different size counter weights to help you get the best performance from the widest range of cartridges (5 to 20 grams).
While the tonearm design may get the most attention, we shouldn’t overlook The Slim Turntable itself. It is designed to match the Thales Easy tonearm perfectly. Thales believes that a turntable with its tonearm works best when designed as if it is one single unit. They have designed a special fitting on the Slim Turntable for the Thales Easy Tonearm. The Slim has 75 parts that they have carefully designed to perform its job of playing LPs. According to Thales, this concept of total unity in design produces an LP playing system that is incredibly accurate, with rich harmonics and good tonality. All of this comes in a super-compact and sublime design never seen before.
Thales says the job of a turntable is easy to describe; it’s to turn a LP at the speed of 33 1⁄3 or 45 rpm. They say the real key to designing a turntable is what it should not do, and I agree. It should not have a sound of its own, it should not vibrate, and it should not be influenced by the mechanical tracking.
The turntable uses a short-belt-drive system that transfers the moment of inertia of the motor and flywheel effectively to the main platter. The rotary-speed of the motor and flywheel is 12 times higher than that of the platter. Thales says this allows The Slim Turntable drive system to combine the advantages of the traditional idle wheel drive (strength and constancy) with those of belt drives (silence and decoupling). The motor itself is a brushless DC design that provides a maximum output of 15 Watts, and which is mounted and carefully calculated to be decoupled from the rest of the turntable.
The Slim Turntable is a battery-operated turntable. The only time it needs to be plugged into AC is to charge the battery. It uses a very modern battery-drive system with peak capacity of 100 W that offers more than twenty hours of listening without connection to the charger. The battery fully charges in just a few hours.
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