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Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement Review

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Unpacking the Turntable

The table arrived in a very well built and very heavy wooden crate. I was pleased to see that the screws were all in straight and not only did they come out easily, they had also gone in straight so that putting them back in later was no problem. The rest of the packaging was exemplary. The foam forms are very substantial and I had no problem with them tearing or coming apart.

As beautiful as the pictures on the Artisan Fidelity website are, I was not prepared for how beautiful the table is. The review sample was the most beautiful turntable I have ever seen and the finish was simply beyond words. The paint job on the turntable itself was equally magnificent and screams quality.

Speaking of the setup, I used the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement with the optional Monarchy Audio AC Regenerator. The review table was configured for 50Hz/220v and the AC regenerator I wanted to use, so the only real change would be the turntable. I chose to use my AMG Viella 12 tonearm and SoundSmith SG-220 strain gauge cartridge for the review. The table uses Stillpoints for isolation so I set it directly on my Box Furniture Rack and did not use the HRS platform that I use under my AMG turntable, per Chris’ recommendation.

Over time Garrard 301s have come to be known for their solidity, body, power, dynamics, and drive. Many feel they do this in a way that is fundamentally different from other record players. The problem with the 301 though is the balancing act it takes to get the sound right. I have heard them dropped into cheap plinths and could hear rumble and the sound was just all over the place, very out of control. On the other hand I have heard them placed in heavy MDF plinths and they sounded dead and dull. The other popular thing to do is to put them in slate plinths. I know many like this sound, but to me it’s not alive or organic enough to make we want to listen very long. The one acceptation to this is the built-from-scratch new Saskia II turntable. The Saskia II is not in any way a Garrard, but the only idler drive turntable being made at this time that I know of.

I thus want to give high praise to Chris for going with a plinth that might not have all the newest materials, but which is tuned to sound alive, dynamic, and tuneful. I promise you this is not an over-damped sounding turntable, neither is it the least bit bright or overly tight sounding.

This turntable is one of only three turntables I have heard in my system that simply sounds right. It’s not quite as immediate or palpable as the AMG, but it’s magnificent in how fleshed out and organic it sounds. When playing LPs on the Artisan Fidelity 301 my system sounded alive, energetic, dynamic, and powerful. The table allowed my system to do all this without giving up hardly any of the nuances, detail, soundstage, and quietness of the very best modern turntables.

The Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement had that wonderful quality of vinyl, listenability, in a way that may be the best I have heard. It sounds so relaxed and natural, while having all the dynamics and drive that the Garrard 301 is famous for. I think being able to get both of these traits, along with the quietness the new bearing provides, truly makes Artisan Fidelity 301 Statement, a “Statement.”

Five Things I Really Like About the Artisan Garrard 301 Statement:

  1. How beautiful it is to look at and how beautiful vinyl sounds when played on it
  2. How solid it’s built and again how solid and powerful music sounds when played on it
  3. How precise it keeps on speed, one of the things that contribute to how solid it sounds
  4. How incredible the lower midrange and bass frequency ranges sounded while using it
  5. The look on visitors faces when they saw it.

I know two of the five visitors commented on how beautiful it looked. Let’s be honest though, when it comes to high end turntables, most of them are eye candy as well as ear candy. I much prefer this beautiful somewhat traditional look to many of the super futuristic, blinged out turntables.

Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement

Listening to Music on this Beauty

Rob Wasserman’s Duets was of course the first LP I played on the Artisan 301. I started on side two with Jennifer Warnes singing “Ballad of the Run Away Horse.” Wasserman’s bass was right there. It was full, powerful and surrounded inside and out with air. Warnes’ voice was just right and came to life as it only can with a great turntable and a great SET amp. On his duet with Dan Hicks the imaging was just right and Hicks voice has just the right amount of falsetto. Then on “Angel Eyes’ with Cheryl Bentyne there it was — that power, that drive, those dynamics that we all expect from a Garrard 301, but we also got the air and the detail I expect from a great belt drive table. I knew from this very first LP that this table was something very special.

The next LP I played one something very different, Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Americana.” This is one of my favorite LPs if the system is up to it. I have played it with less expensive vinyl setups and found it almost unlistenable. It is what I call grungy music; it’s raw and powerful. The Artisan 301 played this LP better than I have ever heard before. The music seemed to just flood the room with that raw power. Again the Artisan 301 was living up to the reputation of Garrard 301s and really exceeding that reputation more than I would have thought.

Next, let’s talk about the sound of Ellington Indigos on this turntable. Indigos is a favorite of mine, not for the sound but for its musical magic. This music is all about shading of tonal colors. The album has great brass, percussions, strings, and of course Ellington playing the piano. All of these instruments sounded tonally correct on the Artisan 301 and again the power of the big band just flowed into the room.

Let’s take a moment and talk about how certain instrument sounded when played on the Artisan 301. I’ll start with a drum kit. The bass drum and the toms sounded as good or better than any turntable has ever played them in my system. The snares and the cymbals sounded very good too. They had great tone and plenty of pace and rhythm. The air and space around them were better than any turntable I have used except for the AMG. I should say that they are both excellent in this way.

Plucked strings like guitars, basses and harps sounded very natural and full. On these instruments, the Statement allowed me to first hear the leading edge that sounded fast, quick, and dynamic. After that I could hear the decay and air inside and around the instrument. This table allowed my system to reproduce both acoustical and electric bass instruments with incredible impact as well as a fundamental rightness.

Bowed strings are a big test for any system. With the Statement my system played bowed strings with the sweetness and air of real life. For example one of my favorite recordings is King of the Cellist, Starker plays Kodaly. This is one of the most beautiful recordings of a cello I have heard. I find Starker’s playing to come across as quite intense, but full of feelings. Violins and violas sounded just as good as the cello, very sweet, never bright or strident. The Statement allows you to hear different layers and textures of the tones of the strings as you hear the bow pass over each of them. Massed strings were full bodied and extended while never being abrasive.

When it comes to horns and woodwinds the Statement did an exceptional job in my system. I love woodwinds. I own several Pete Fountain records; he plays a great clarinet. I love to hear the great saxophone players of jazz. On the classical side, flutes and oboes really appeal to me. To enjoy woodwinds through your system has to have great balance from the upper bass through the top-end. It is necessary to have more than balance though. These instruments move small amounts of air but this air is a very essential part of their sound. You can hear it when you listen to them live whether you notice it or not. If your system doesn’t let these fine details come through, the music will sound nice, but not lifelike. Then, there is the matter of coherency with woodwinds. It is often in the very area that crossovers messes up the sound. It’s like trying to get one sound from two different drivers that the amp doesn’t even see as one.

I mention all this because this is one area where the Statement is better than any idler or direct drive I have heard before. It can really let me hear woodwinds so that they sounded remarkably like live music in my system. Still, this is also one area where I feel the AMG is ever so slightly better.

Horns are even more demanding, both of the frequency range and dynamics. It is very difficult to get the explosive dynamics, the bite, and the body of a trumpet or cornet right without sounding edgy or just downright bright. This is an area where my system sounded exceptionally with the Statement as the turntable.

Last, with the Statement in my system voices sound very natural and alive. This was another area where the Statement bettered all idler and direct drive tables I have heard. Voices had great presence and body.

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8 Responses to Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement Review

  1. chop says:

    Put a Durand Arm on it Talea, Telos, ect…. and the statement might better everything!!! That will be a big advantage here you can use lots of different arms.

  2. Jack Roberts says:

    Well, I’m sure it would be great but the price of the pair would be a lot more money. Still point well made, but you can also put other arms on all the turntables I mentioned except for the Shindo.

  3. Larry Casey says:

    That very well might be the most beautiful turntable I have ever seen. Out of my reach but must be a blast to own. After listening to a classic Thorens 124 re-done by Shindo at pitchperfect I understand why folks go all in on these type of classics. That table is timeless and congratulations to the owner. Love my SOTA Cosmos but admit to lust on this deck.

  4. Sorensen says:

    I liked this review, the Artisan 301 is truely beautyfull and i would love to own it, but my rescoures do not reach this far.
    I already own, a Garrard 301 greasebearing, which i have restored myself into a DIY plint, i love the sound of idledrives, there is nothing like it, once you own one
    Modest upload of my systemsound:

  5. David Kellogg says:

    Hello Jack,

    I’ve read your reviews of both the Aesthetix and Allnic phono preamps. Would you be willing to contact me at my email address to discuss the differences between these two? I’m trying to make as informed a decision as possible for my personal system and these two are the contenders.

    Thanks very much for the time you’ve put into these reviews. Hope you have time to be in touch.

    Very Best Wishes,


  6. JohnM says:

    And what is the price of one of these deck/plinths please? Thank you.

  7. Jean-Michel Crettaz says:

    I assume: “CAD design and precision ultra high tolerance CNC” should say “Ultra low tolerance”… :))

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