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Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement Review

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Five Questions to be Answered

Ever since I found out I was going to be reviewing this version of the Garrard 301, my mind kept wondering if having made the move from an idler to the AMG, what would it be like to go back to an idler. Having lived with the Shindo version of the Garrard 301 for several years I am very familiar with why people love idler drive turntables. So there were questions I wondered about after living with the AMG for a while instead of a idler. By the way, some manufacturers don’t like you to compare their products to other products, but as a reader of audio reviews I always wanted to know how one product compares to another. I’m guessing you do too. Here are my questions, in order:

  1. Is the Artisan Fidelity even in the same league with tables like a Shindo, AMG, Clearaudio and other world class turntables.

The answer is simple, yes indeed. It matches or surpasses any of these tables in build quality, beauty and most of all the way it plays music.

  1. Would the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement have more Drive, PRaT, and Power than the AMG?

You might find the answer to this question a surprise. The Artisan Fidelity 301 had great drive, PRaT was as good as I have ever heard from any source, and it indeed sounded very powerful, yet the answer is complicated. Let’s first talk about how the two table compares when it comes to drive and power. With some LPs the answer is without a doubt yes, the Artisan version of the 301 has more drive and sounds more powerful. Wait a minute though, with other LPs the AMG holds its own and sounds every bit as big, powerful and forceful.

Truth is this is a big difference in the two tables. If you want everything you listen to, to have lots of drive and power, than I have never heard any table that can do this like a Garrard 301 and none better than Artisan Fidelity’s version of the 301. The AMG on the other hand only sounds this way on certain LPs. On other LPs it the sound is small and delicate. The AMG lets the scale, the power, and the forcefulness of the sound to vary more from one LP to the other. I don’t know how you can be sure which recordings should be which way, but I think this will come down to the desires of the individual.

Now when it comes to PRaT, I’m glad to say that both tables carry the pace of the musical flow equally well on every LP I played. The Artisan 301’s sense of drive and power on every LP could lead some listeners to feel that it is the more rhythmic of the two tables. On the other hand the ability of the AMG to sound more delicate on certain LPs might lead some to think that it more consistently gets the timing of the musical performance more correct.

  1. Would the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement be as quiet as the AMG Table?

In light of the inverted bearing, the new platter, and the isolation of the Artisan Fidelity plinth, I wondered whether the Statement could it be as quiet as a great belt drive. The answer to this question is simpler. It comes very, very close, but in the end it’s not as quiet. This results in a sound that is not quite as transparent as the AMG, nor do I hear quite as much inner detail as I do with my AMG. Still, it is close and it offers the special sound of an idler.

So how did this difference in quietness effect the sound of my system? Well, it’s hard to put into words, but my task is to try. The Artisan 301 sounds slightly warmer in comparison to the more transparent sound of the AMG. The AMG lets you hear slightly more inner detail and a little more air in the treble region. The different in quietness doesn’t seem to have the same effect in the lower frequency range. The Artisan 301has more air in the bass and lower midrange.

The other area is in what I refer to as “what you don’t hear.” The AMG lets you hear the emptiness of the space in a studio recording and the sound of the venue in a live recording. By contrast the Artisan 301 has a dramatic since of space and air. It’s a wonderful vivid sound that’s incredibly fun to listen to.

  1. Would the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 sound as alive as the Shindo or the AMG?

The Shindo 301 had a greatly improved platter and bearing, it also had an exceptionally beautiful and well made plinth. If you’re a Garrard purist the Shindo is surely closer to the Garrard in function and sound than the Artisan Fidelity 301. The Artisan 301 is surely a more modern interpretation and sound than the Shindo. Whether this is a good thing is going to be a matter of taste and dare I say, devotion.

I share the above paragraph because to me all three turntables, the Shindo 301, the Artisan 301 and the AMG have a wonderful sense of immediacy. They all three have great dynamics. I also find all three equally emotionally involving. When it comes to micro-dynamics and transparency, I find the AMG to be slightly better. Many would just say it’s a more modern sounding turntable and that’s probably a fair assessment. With all the work that Chris has done to the Artisan 301, I feel that it comes really close to the micro-dynamics and transparency of the AMG.

One of the results of a system that is very immediate and very transparent is that it is also very revealing. I think this is why some people who I highly respect say that transparency is not as important as tone to them. I love tone, but I have admitted to being a transparency junkie. In my review of the AMG I said:

“I don’t know if either is a fault but some might think so — is that the AMG V12 is not forgiving of bad recordings. The Shindo Turntable system, similar to most Audio Note DACs, have the ability to help the sound of bad recordings. It’s more accurate for a turntable to let you hear that a recording is bad, but it’s also nice to hear them sound better. At this point in time, there haven’t been enough really bad ones to make me think twice about this wonderful record player. By the way, by bad recordings I’m not talking about nicks, pops, and other surface noise. The V12 is exceptionally quiet in regard to surface noise. No, I’m talking about recordings that are recorded too hot or have too much compression; you will hear either. Also, the AMG V12 is not quite as relaxed sounding as the Shindo, instead it is just so alive sounding.”

Again I need to say I find the Artisan 301 somewhere between the Shindo and the AMG. Part of this difference is that you can use the Artisan 301 with the tonearm and cartridge of your own choosing. I’m sure if you go with an arm like the EMT and use an SPU cartridge it would be much more forgiving than I found it using my AMG V12 tonearm and SoundSmith Strain Gauge cartridge. Truth is the Artisan 301 hits a great balance at this point.

  1. Would the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 with its modernization still have the Wonderful Organic Tonal Colors of a Great Idler?

This is a quality that allows a system to not only sound alive, but almost real and incredibly musically compelling. I think at this point the Artisan 301 is the winner. All three tables I have talked about do this well, the Shindo 301 being the most organic and the AMG being a little more alive. The Artisan 301 manages to come real close to match both tables at these two things and gives what I think is almost the perfect balance.

Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement

Conclusion

There are many good turntables and few incredible turntables. Like speakers even the best don’t sound alike. For example if you want to hear every little thing in those groves I don’t know anything that does it better than the Clearaudio Master Innovation Wood. If you want to get the ultimate in deep bass the best I know of is the Walker Black Diamond. If you want the most organic sounding turntable, that also has great drive, great bass, great bloom in the midrange then I know of nothing else that compares in these areas to Shindo turntable. If you want the turntable that gives you almost all these things, in other words the most balanced sounding turntable; the table that is really really close to the best in almost every area, then the AMG V12 is the best I know of. Now there is another table that competes with the AMG for a table that is nearly the best at everything. No, the two don’t sound just alike, but they are both really good. I could live with either very happily.

I want to close this review by saying what a privilege it has been to use this turntable. For a while I owned both the AMG and the Shindo but space and money were an issue so I ended up with just the AMG. If I had the space and money it would be a no brainer to own both the AMG and the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Statement. Heck if I didn’t already own the AMG it would be a very tough decision which table to keep. This is my way of saying if you are looking for a turntable in this price range, the Statement should be on your short list. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed if they purchased one.

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: http://youtu.be/Nvu9NAYix80?list=UU7SGtP7TqqLfKsNguzVyWFA

  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,

    David

  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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