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Shindo 301 Turntable Review

Pushing the Art of Listening to Vinyl, Part 1:

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The Shindo Vinyl Playback System is one of those rare products that defies being broken down into how the midrange, bass, etcetera sound. Its presentation of music is very holistic. That applies to the frequency range and the soundstage. The Shindo turntable system allows my system to simply sound so right. It’s not what most audiophiles mean by immediate or palpable. It’s simply like my system has a more flesh-and-bone sound, or put another way, a much more organic sound. I found it very difficult to evaluate it as in audiophile terms and in the end felt that to do so would be an insult to this work of auditory art.

Most everyone who hears the Shindo 301 for the first time is shocked by the sound. I think this is because we are accustomed to a sound that only sounds its best when restrained. We are simply not used to a system that can sound as alive, energetic, has the realistic dynamics, and power of the 301 without it sounding strained. Especially since the Shindo 301 can do all this without you having to give up the nuances, detail, soundstage, and quietness of modern turntables. If there is another turntable out there at any price that can do all of these things, I haven’t heard it.

Wrong Question!

I loved the bass of the Merrill-Scilla, the transparency of the Clearaudio turntables with their magnetic bearings, the drive of the Clearaudio Innovation with the high torque motor. Does the Shindo 301 give me all that? Well, let me answer that for you with a story. Back in January, Becky and I went to New York to see the Westminster dog show. While I was there I went over to visit fellow music lover Robert Lighton. He related the following story to me, names have been left out to be nice to the musically challenged.

Robert said it happened at an audio show in the Audio Note UK room. Someone had brought in an original Mercury Living Presence and he said while it was playing there was a hush that came over the room like someone had sucked the air out of the room. When it finished he said people just sat there in disbelief. Robert said he followed a well-known reviewer out into the hall and asked him what he thought of the performance. Robert was talking about the music, but the reviewer answered, “I don’t see why everyone gets so worked up over that little two-way speaker”. Wrong Question! It’s wrong because the point isn’t about the bass, or the midrange, the question is if you were able to emotionally connect with the performance.

You see it doesn’t matter if the Shindo 301 is as transparent as the Clearaudio CMB Anniversary, or if it has the drive of the high torque Clearaudio Innovation, or if it has the deep and powerful bass of the Merrill-Scilla. The answer, if you have to know, is the Shindo 301 is almost as transparent as the Clearaudio’s with the magnetic bearing, it has more drive than the Innovation, and while I’m not sure it goes as deep as the Merrill-Scilla, it surely has better bass. Still, those are the all answers to the wrong questions.

The right question is, how musically compelling is a system that uses the Shindo 301 for a source. The answer to that question is simple. Without a doubt with it in my system, I hear the most musically compelling recorded music I have ever heard.


I’m going to get in trouble with some of you again, but that doesn’t matter. With this turntable system I have to talk about the most wonderful quality of vinyl, its listenability. I’ve already mentioned the special quality the Shindo has of sounding relaxed and natural, while not giving up anything in the way of dynamics and detail. I’ve spent hours listening and sometimes wondering what gives it this quality. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can identify at least two things. First, with it in my system everything is just so quiet. The music doesn’t so much explode out of a quiet back ground as it did with the Clearaudio turntables. Instead, with the Shindo it just appears in my room. Second, it has a special way of letting the air on the recording sound like it’s the air in your room. The result is it transforms the listening room into whatever the space was where the recording was made.

These two traits allow you to listen more like you do to live music than you do to recorded music. You don’t know that you listen to live music differently. Sure you do, unless you’re a complete audio nerd, you do. When you listen to live music your rarely have to think about the music. Instead, you become part of the music and that is exactly what happens in my system with the Shindo 301 system.

3 Responses to Shindo 301 Turntable Review

  1. Rafe says:

    Thanks so much for a brilliant, well thought out and written review.

  2. foongchinfee says:

    I recently heard a garrad 301 plying music thru Macintosh pre and Macintosh 224 power tube amp wired to a pair of jbl L300 speakers. The sonic experience was so memorable that I bought his unit of spare garrad 301. I m retired and not rich but I bite the bullet and bought it. No regret till this day cos I think I can almost relate my experience with what was written by the reviewer.

  3. Vencel says:

    It would be interesting to know how much of this impression created by the turntable, by the tonearm and by the cartridge. Without knowing it I think it is useless to compare to any other vintage turntables, like the TD-124. I never had the possibility to listen to a Shindo 301, but I guess that the difference between a Shindo 301 and a properly refurbished and upgraded TD-124 using the same tonearms and cartridge would be very small. For sure there would be differences, but I assume rather small and be subject of personal preference. To summarize I would say that it is only possible to compare different turntables if they are being tested in the same (preferably independent) audio chain, using the same tonearm and cartridge. I understand it is hardly possible. Anyway thanks for sharing your experience.

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