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Review: Clearaudio Concept Signature Turntable – Enhancing the Analog Experience

Review: Clearaudio Concept Signature Turntable - Enhancing the Analog Experience- Dive into the audiophile realm with the Clearaudio Concept Signature turntable – where innovation meets sonic excellence for immersive listening.

Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of turntable technology, the Clearaudio Concept has long held its ground as a beloved entry-level model, captivating music enthusiasts worldwide. Now, with the introduction of the Clearaudio Concept Signature, the Erlanger-based company aims to set a new standard by enhancing the performance of its iconic turntable. The Concept Signature doesn’t seek a revolutionary overhaul but builds upon its predecessor’s success, focusing on refinements and additional features to cater to the evolving tastes of more discerning audiophiles. This review delves into the subtle yet impactful upgrades, the configurable options, and the overall sonic journey offered by the Clearaudio Concept Signature.

Evolutionary Excellence in Design

Retaining the signature aesthetic appeal that made the original Concept a milestone, the Concept Signature introduces various improvements under the hood. With an emphasis on maintaining the beloved external design, Clearaudio’s approach is akin to an evolutionary leap. This turntable beckons to the audiophile’s innate pursuit of a “little bit better” while preserving the charm of the tried and true. As we explore the intricacies of the Concept Signature, we aim to unravel how it redefines the boundaries of entry-level turntables and caters to the cravings of the most demanding and ambitious music enthusiasts.

Clearaudio: Pioneering Precision in Audio

Founded in Erlangen, Germany, Clearaudio is a stalwart in high-end audio equipment. Since its inception, the company has been synonymous with precision engineering and an unwavering commitment to delivering audio experiences that transcend expectations. With a decades-long legacy, Clearaudio has become renowned for its turntables, tonearms, and cartridges, seamlessly blending craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. The brand’s pursuit of sonic perfection has garnered a global following, making Clearaudio a beacon for audiophiles seeking the purest, most immersive sound reproduction. As a testament to its dedication to innovation, the Clearaudio Concept and its successor, the Concept Signature, showcase the company’s ability to marry tradition with progress, consistently setting new benchmarks in the ever-evolving world of high-fidelity audio.

Specification

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS:Polished and tempered steel spindle in a sintered bronze bushing, running on a Teflon thrust pad.
SPEED OPTIONS:33 ⅓, 45 rpm
DRIVE UNIT:Decoupled and resonance-damped 12V DC motor.Flat belt-drive plug-in power supply unit, designed for worldwide use with all networks and power frequencies.„IMS light – Innovative Motor Suspension“
(Suspension design of the motor using O-rings)„TSC“ Tacho speed control (speed monitoring)Automatic compensation of friction and temperature changes
on platter bearings and belts
BEARING:30mm / 1.18-inch main platter, made out of synthetic material with high-density and excellent dimension / precision CNC machined aluminum sub-platter.
PLATTER:30mm / 1.18-inch main platter, made out of synthetic material with high-density and excellent dimension/precision CNC machined aluminum sub-platter.
SPEED ACCURACY
(MEASURED):
± 0,05%
POWER CONSUMPTION:Max. consumption: 3.6 watts
Consumption in operation: 1.92 watts
Standby: 0.74 watts
Off mode: 0.0 watts (switched off at the rear)
TOTAL WEIGHT:Approx. 7.5kg (incl. tonearm and cartridge)
DIMENSIONS (W/D/H):Approx. 420 × 350 × 125 mm (with tonearm)
DIMENSIONS (W/D/H):Approx. 16.54 × 13.78 × 4.92 inches (with tonearm)

Evolution, Not Revolution: Honoring Tradition in the Clearaudio Concept Signature

To refine an already successful product, Clearaudio adopts an “Evolution, Not Revolution” philosophy by introducing the Concept Signature. Rather than undertaking a radical transformation, the Erlangen-based company chooses to build upon the strengths of its renowned Concept turntable. This deliberate approach recognizes the timeless appeal of the original model while embracing the inevitability of progress in audio technology.

The Concept Signature maintains the external aesthetics that garnered widespread acclaim for the Concept, showcasing a commitment to the familiar silhouette that has become a symbol of Clearaudio’s identity. This strategy acknowledges the adage, “Never change a running system,” acknowledging the Concept’s success as a benchmark in the turntable market.

Yet, beneath the familiar exterior lies a meticulous process of improvement. Clearaudio engineers focus on enhancing the nuances, optimizing existing features, and introducing innovations where necessary. The goal is to elevate performance without alienating the loyal customer base that has embraced the Concept over the years.

This evolutionary approach reflects Clearaudio’s deep understanding of its customers’ preferences and the industry’s natural progression. By respecting the foundations laid by the Concept, Clearaudio demonstrates a commitment to tradition and innovation. The Concept Signature, therefore, emerges as a testament to the company’s ability to evolve gracefully, offering a refined yet familiar audio experience for the discerning audiophile.

Under the Hood: Unveiling the Sonic Mastery of the Clearaudio Concept Signature

The phrase “Under the Hood” takes on a profound significance when exploring the intricacies of the Clearaudio Concept Signature. This turntable’s evolution is not just skin-deep; it delves into the very essence of audio engineering to present a sonic masterpiece. The external frame, natural or black anodized aluminum, remains a visual homage to the original Concept. However, the true marvels lie concealed within, reflecting Clearaudio’s dedication to enhancing the listening experience.

The POM (polyoxymethylene) platter steals the spotlight, a departure from the norm in this price range. Its vinyl-like properties contribute to impeccable resonance characteristics, optimizing music reproduction from the grooves. The improved motor decoupling, orchestrated by rubber O-rings, shields the Concept Signature from micro-vibrations, allowing for a cleaner and more immersive audio output.

A notable addition is the speedometer shaft, a testament to Clearaudio’s commitment to precision. This innovation facilitates real-time speed adjustments, ensuring optimal performance. Incorporating a hard power switch on the back within the new service module adds convenience and showcases the company’s foresight in facilitating easy part replacements during servicing.

In the evolution of the Clearaudio Concept Signature, every detail matters. Carefully considering elements like the chassis, platter, and motor control underscores the company’s dedication to audio perfection. Under this metaphorical hood, Clearaudio engineers have fine-tuned and optimized, crafting a turntable that pays homage to its predecessor and propels the listening experience into new realms of sonic excellence.

Configurability and Options: Crafting Your Sonic Canvas with Clearaudio Concept Signature

In the symphony of audio perfection orchestrated by the Clearaudio Concept Signature, the concept of configurability stands as a harmonious melody. Recognizing that each audiophile is unique, Clearaudio empowers users to tailor their sonic journey with an array of customizable options, transforming this turntable into a versatile instrument for musical expression.

At the heart of this configurability lies the natural partnership between the Concept Signature and the Verify/Concept tonearm, a cornerstone offering at an additional cost. The seamless integration of this tonearm, designed to complement the drive, lays the foundation for a personalized sonic palette. From here, users can embark on a musical journey that aligns with their preferences and aspirations.

The Concept Signature starts at approximately 2,500 euros, offering an entry ticket to an immersive audio experience. However, Clearaudio doesn’t merely stop at the basics. The journey can be further enriched by exploring options such as the wood frame, available in light or dark veneer, or the intelligent power supply for those seeking enhanced performance dynamics.

The allure of the Concept Signature extends to its cartridge options, with the Concept MM serving as a capable entry point. Users ascend the hierarchy and are invited to explore the Tracer tonearm or the Concept MC Signature system, each contributing a unique sonic brushstroke to the evolving masterpiece.

Clearaudio’s commitment to configurability is not merely a marketing strategy but a genuine invitation for users to shape their listening experience. Whether it’s the choice of tonearm, cartridge, or additional accessories, the Concept Signature emerges as a blank canvas waiting to be adorned with the preferences of the audiophile. Clearaudio empowers users to become conductors in this symphony of options, crafting a sonic masterpiece that resonates with their individuality.

Setup and Installation: Unveiling the Seamless Entry into Sonic Bliss with Clearaudio Concept Signature

Embarking on a sonic journey with the Clearaudio Concept Signature is not just an installation but an artful introduction to audiophile bliss. The process unfolds with an elegance that mirrors the company’s commitment to user-friendly experiences, ensuring that even newcomers to high-end turntables can revel in the pleasure of vinyl playback.

Upon unwrapping the Concept Signature, the user is greeted with a meticulously packaged ensemble of components. The initial steps are straightforward: affixing the belt onto the motor pulley and deflection roller, placing the turntable in its designated spot, releasing the tonearm from its transport locks, and connecting the power supply. This streamlined setup process positions the Concept Signature as an accessible gateway to audiophile delights.

What sets this installation apart is the thoughtful design elements incorporated by Clearaudio. The counterweight, firmly anchored at the back of the tonearm, not only ensures stability during transport but also demands a deliberate effort to adjust, underscoring the precision required for optimal performance. Meanwhile, the magnetic bearing, safeguarded with solid foam during transport, provides resilience against potential shocks from the delivery process, ensuring the Concept Signature arrives ready to deliver its sonic magic.

The Concept Signature transforms from a carefully packaged entity to a ready-to-play turntable in ten minutes. Clearaudio’s meticulous attention to detail extends even to the counterweight, pre-adjusted to the hundredth of a gram. The user is greeted with a turntable that’s not just a piece of audio equipment but a finely tuned instrument, ready to extract the best from every groove.

The user-friendly nature of the setup process reinforces Clearaudio’s commitment to providing an accessible and enjoyable entry point into the world of high-fidelity audio. As the needle gently touches the vinyl, the Concept Signature beckons its user into a world where setup becomes an integral part of the musical ritual, marking the commencement of a captivating auditory journey.

Sonic Experience: Navigating the Enchanting Soundscape of Clearaudio Concept Signature

Beyond the meticulous engineering and thoughtful design, the true essence of the Clearaudio Concept Signature emerges in its captivating sonic experience. It’s not merely a turntable; it’s an auditory voyage that transcends the boundaries of conventional listening, inviting enthusiasts into a realm where every note, every resonance, is meticulously sculpted for sonic perfection.

The bass, a cornerstone of the Concept Signature’s sonic identity, unfurls with warmth and richness that rivals far more expensive counterparts. From the deep, resounding notes of Yello’s “Kiss the Cloud” to the intricate bass lines in Nicolas Jaar’s “Colomb,” the Concept Signature boasts a formidable low-end presence. While it may not reach the ultimate depth of more premium models, the energetic and impactful bass range lays a solid foundation, particularly for genres like rock, metal, and electro.

Moving to the midrange, the Concept Signature reveals its prowess in delivering a creamy and expressive tonal balance. The Verify/Concept tonearm, in partnership with the Concept MM or MC Signature cartridge, brings forth a melodic richness that elevates acoustic music, jazz, and classical compositions. For instance, Dominique Fils Aimée’s voice sounds more significant and resonant, creating an intimate connection with the listener. This midrange magic sets the Concept Signature apart, providing a depth and warmth that beckons the audiophile into a world of sonic nuance.

The Clearaudio Concept Signature maintains a neutral and stress-free presentation in the treble. Whether the steel guitar strings in “Keith Don’t Go” or the live album “Companion” by Patricia Barber, the turntable exhibits a delicate touch, allowing treble notes to glide pleasantly, sparklingly. While not inclined towards maximum jaggedness, the Concept Signature maintains musical flow and tonal elegance, making it a perfect companion for extended listening sessions.

Spatial representation is a pleasant surprise, with the Concept Signature projecting voices remarkably close to the listener. This immersive quality creates an involving experience, with a stereo panorama that extends widely to the left and right. The stage may not stretch deep into the space behind the speakers, but the intimacy and unity of the presentation contribute to the turntable’s unique sonic character.

In the audio world, the Clearaudio Concept Signature emerges not as a mere playback device but as an instrument that weaves a tapestry of emotion and connection. Its sonic signature, marked by a balance of warmth, expressiveness, and nuanced detail, positions it as a compelling choice for music lovers seeking a turntable that transcends the technicalities and resonates with the soul.

Spatial Representation and Overall Character: Crafting an Immersive Sonic Tapestry with Clearaudio Concept Signature

Spatial representation, a vital dimension of the auditory experience, unfolds like a finely woven tapestry through the Clearaudio Concept Signature. As the stylus delicately traces the grooves, the turntable exhibits a distinct spatial character that beckons listeners into an immersive sonic world.

The stage set by the Concept Signature unveils itself as both intriguing and unique. Rather than stretching deep into the space behind the speakers, the turntable opts for an intimate portrayal. Voices, instruments, and sonic elements are projected remarkably close to the listener, creating a sense of immediacy and connection. This spatial intimacy adds an engaging layer to the listening experience, making it feel like the performers are in the room, establishing a tangible connection with the audience.

While the stage may not extend extensively into the rear space, it compensates by opening up expansively to the left and right. In its sonic presentation, the Concept Signature transcends the physical boundaries of the speakers, creating a broad stereo panorama that extends beyond the confines of the audio setup. This expansive quality contributes to the overall sense of immersion, enveloping the listener in a three-dimensional sonic environment.

The overall character of the Clearaudio Concept Signature is a carefully orchestrated blend of warmth, expressiveness, and nuanced detail. Its sonic identity leans towards a balanced tonality, where the midrange takes center stage with a creamy richness that captivates the listener. This character is accentuated by the turntable’s ability to convey subtle dynamic shades, ensuring that every note and nuance is rendered with precision and finesse.

In audio playback, where technical prowess meets artistic interpretation, the Concept Signature is a testament to Clearaudio’s commitment to crafting a turntable with a distinctive character. Its spatial representation, marked by intimacy and expansiveness, coupled with an overall sonic signature that resonates emotionally, positions the Concept Signature as a captivating choice for audiophiles seeking accuracy and an immersive and engaging listening experience.

Usability and Technical Excellence: Harmonizing Precision with User-Friendly Design in Clearaudio Concept Signature

The Clearaudio Concept Signature seamlessly marries technical excellence with a user-friendly design, creating a turntable that not only sparkles with sonic brilliance but also invites enthusiasts into an effortless and enjoyable audio journey. The usability of the Concept Signature unfolds as a carefully orchestrated symphony, ensuring that even those new to the realm of high-fidelity audio can revel in its advanced capabilities.

The setup process, often a potential stumbling block for newcomers, is a testament to Clearaudio’s commitment to accessibility. Unpacking the components reveals a thoughtfully packaged ensemble, and the assembly, from affixing the belt to connecting the power supply, is streamlined for simplicity. The Concept Signature transforms into a finely tuned instrument within ten minutes, ready to bring vinyl to life.

Including a pre-adjusted counterweight at the back of the tonearm exemplifies Clearaudio’s attention to detail. This ensures stability during transport and simplifies the setup for users, allowing them to dive into the immersive experience without the need for intricate adjustments. The magnetic bearing, safeguarded during transit, speaks to the company’s dedication to protecting the turntable from potential shocks, ensuring it arrives in pristine condition.

Technical excellence permeates every facet of the Concept Signature, starting with using POM (polyoxymethylene) for the platter, a material akin to vinyl with advantageous resonance properties. The improved motor decoupling, speedometer shaft, and complex power switch on the back underscore Clearaudio’s commitment to refining the turntable’s performance. Often overlooked elements contribute to the Concept Signature’s precision in sound reproduction and resilience against unwanted vibrations.

The user interface, featuring a prominent rotary switch with blue LED segments, adds a touch of modernity without compromising simplicity. The choice of a “digital encoder” for future compatibility hints at Clearaudio’s forward-thinking approach, giving users a glimpse into the turntable’s adaptability for upcoming enhancements.

In technical excellence, Clearaudio Concept Signature emerges as a paragon. Its robust construction, thoughtful innovations, and user-centric design culminate in a turntable that not only delivers a sonic masterpiece but does so with an ease of use that welcomes both novice and seasoned audiophiles into the world of high-end audio. As users navigate the controls and witness the technical prowess at play, the Concept Signature stands as a beacon, demonstrating that the pursuit of sonic excellence need not be daunting but rather a gratifying and accessible endeavor.

Unique Features of Clearaudio Concept Signature: Elevating the Art of Turntable Design

The Clearaudio Concept Signature distinguishes itself in turntable design with many unique features that elevate the audiophile experience. Beyond its aesthetic allure, these features embody innovation, precision, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a turntable can achieve.

  1. POM Platter: A standout feature is a platter crafted from polyoxymethylene (POM), a material with vinyl-like properties that contributes to exceptional resonance characteristics. This departure from conventional materials in this price range reflects Clearaudio’s dedication to enhancing the vinyl playback experience.
  2. Improved Motor Decoupling: Clearaudio’s meticulous engineering extends to motor decoupling, where rubber O-rings serve as guardians against micro-vibrations. This enhancement ensures the drive remains impervious to unwanted disturbances, allowing for a cleaner and more immersive sonic output.
  3. Speedometer Shaft: Introducing a speedometer shaft adds a layer of sophistication to the Concept Signature’s design. This innovation, measuring and adjusting speed in real-time through electronics, exemplifies Clearaudio’s commitment to precision and accuracy in playback.
  4. Hard Power Switch and Service Module: Including a hard power switch on the back, integrated into a service module, enhances convenience and ease of maintenance. This module houses the revised motor and self-calibrating speed control, providing a glimpse into Clearaudio’s dedication to user-friendly features.
  5. Wood Frame Options: Going beyond the standard aluminum frame, Clearaudio offers a touch of personalization with wooden frame options in light or dark veneer. This aesthetic enhancement allows users to tailor the turntable to their individual preferences.
  6. Configurability: The Concept Signature embraces configurability as a guiding principle. Users can sculpt their sonic journey From the tonearm and cartridge options to additional accessories like the Smart Power power supply, making the turntable a versatile instrument for musical expression.
  7. Digital Encoder Rotary Switch: The prominent rotary switch with blue LED segments serves a dual purpose. Acting as a “digital encoder,” it facilitates easy speed adjustments and hints at future adaptability. In forthcoming versions, it is slated to serve as volume control, showcasing Clearaudio’s forward-thinking design.

These unique features collectively position the Clearaudio Concept Signature as a trailblazer in turntable craftsmanship. By marrying technological innovation with aesthetic elegance, Clearaudio redefines what an entry-level turntable can offer and provides enthusiasts with a distinctive and customizable platform to embark on their audiophile journey.

Conclusion: A Recommended Analog Pleasure

In the world of turntables, the Clearaudio Concept Signature stands as a testament to the artistry of audio engineering. Its unique blend of innovative features, meticulous design, and user-friendly configurability transcends the confines of an entry-level model. The POM platter, improved motor decoupling, and speedometer shaft showcase Clearaudio’s commitment to precision, while the wood frame options and configurability open doors for personal expression. The Concept Signature isn’t merely a playback device; it’s an invitation to craft a bespoke auditory journey, making it an ideal choice for those who seek a turntable that marries technical excellence with an immersive and enjoyable listening experience.

In conclusion, Clearaudio’s Concept Signature redefines the classroom’s turntable expectations. Its spatial representation, overall character, and sonic prowess create a harmonious symphony that resonates with newcomers and seasoned audiophiles alike. As the Concept Signature takes its place in the audiophile landscape, it not only pays homage to the timeless allure of vinyl but also serves as a beacon, inviting music enthusiasts to embark on a captivating journey where every note is a brushstroke on the canvas of sonic perfection.

Reasons to Consider the Clearaudio Concept Signature:

  1. Sonic Excellence: The Concept Signature offers a captivating sonic experience with warm, rich bass, creamy midrange, and clear treble. Its unique spatial representation and overall character make it an ideal choice for audiophiles seeking an immersive and emotionally engaging listening experience.
  2. Innovative Features: Clearaudio’s commitment to innovation is evident in features like the POM platter, improved motor decoupling, and the speedometer shaft. These innovations contribute to the turntable’s precision and resilience against vibrations, enhancing the overall audio performance.
  3. User-Friendly Design: The setup and installation process is streamlined, making it accessible for newcomers and seasoned audiophiles. Including a pre-adjusted counterweight and a thoughtful service module with a hard power switch adds to the user-friendly appeal.
  4. Configurability: The Concept Signature’s configurability allows users to tailor their listening experience. With options like wood frame choices, tonearm selections, and various cartridge options, it provides a versatile platform for customization.

Considerations Against the Clearaudio Concept Signature:

  1. Price Point: While the Concept Signature offers exceptional value for its features, its price point may be a consideration for budget-conscious buyers. Other turntables in the market at lower price ranges still deliver satisfactory performance.
  2. Preference for Transparency: If you prefer absolute transparency and detailed insights into musical structures, the Concept Signature’s focus on warmth and full-bodied reproduction may not align with your sonic preferences.
  3. Limited 78 RPM Option: The exclusion of a 78 RPM option might be a drawback for enthusiasts interested in playing shellac records. However, Clearaudio justifies this decision based on their customers’ low demand for this feature.

In conclusion, the Clearaudio Concept Signature is a compelling choice for those who prioritize a harmonious blend of sonic artistry, innovative design, and user-friendly features. However, potential buyers should consider their budget, sonic preferences, and specific requirements to ensure the Concept Signature aligns with their needs and expectations.

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