Clearaudio Concept MM
Clearaudio Concept MM
Clearaudio Concept MM

Clearaudio Concept MM: Truly a high-end vinyl player

Clearaudio Concept MM(MC) is a Hi-End class vinyl player that can surprise the listener with a truly smooth, smooth and transparent sound with a wide and authentic stage, an excellent sense of rhythm and excellent dynamics. The Concept Active MM version of the player differs from the MC in the presence of an MM or MC cartridge. The Clearaudio Concept player matches the best examples of vinyl sound in its price category. The Concept model became the best player of 2009 according to the British magazine “What Hi-Fi?”.

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Clearaudio Concept is a Hi-End class vinyl player that does not require additional adjustments and is ready to start working almost immediately. The amount of downforce on the tonearm, the adjustment of the pickup head, the installation of anti-skating – all this has already been pre-set at the factory. The player weighs 7.5 kg and has a specially designed anti-resonance chassis. An elegant table with rounded edges, which is surrounded by a decorative silver ribbon, looks especially good. The kit includes a level that allows you to correctly adjust the height of the legs to ensure an accurate horizontal position of the device relative to the surface.

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A low-noise DC electric motor transmits torque to the disc hub using a wide belt. The 30mm thick platter itself is made from tough and durable polyformaldehyde (POM). The polished spindle, made of hardened steel, rotates in a bronze bearing sleeve that has undergone a special treatment using a sintering process. The choice between rotation speeds is carried out using a switch, which is mounted in the lower left corner of the player table. Available in 78, 45 and 33.3 rpm. The power supply is a separate external adapter. There is also a grounding cord and a built-in cable for connecting to an amplifier.

The company draws attention to the fact that the Verify tonearm used in this model is mounted on a special magnetic bearing, which almost completely eliminates friction. The distance between the axle and the stylus is 222 mm, and the effective length of the tonearm is 239.3 mm. The model is equipped with a precision audiophile moving coil cartridge made of oxygen-free copper, which weighs 8.4 grams. The shape of the needle corresponds to the Micro Line type (ellipsoidal). If desired, the pickup head can be replaced, however, all settings will have to be made again. The same applies to the tonearm.

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The Clearaudio Concept table (case) is not so impressive and massive; on the contrary, it is elegant and graceful, although it weighs almost ten kilograms. Its height without a lid is only 3 cm. The body is surrounded by a thick plastic tape that looks like milled aluminum. In the manufacture of the chassis, special technologies were used to minimize resonances and vibrations. The highly shielded, low-noise motor operates on DC current. By the way, the player has a remote power supply, so the circuit is not afraid of interference from the power supply. A precision high-quality belt is responsible for transmitting rotation from the engine to the support disk. The latter is quite massive (3 cm thick) and is made of polyformaldehyde, popular for such purposes, called acrylic in the world. This material resists all kinds of resonances very well. The main bearing housing is made from sintered bronze and the platter spindle is made from hardened, polished steel.

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The inner bushing of the cup is bronze, with a Teflon insert at the bottom and a spiral groove on the sides; this groove ensures the circulation of lubricant in the bearing. The steel pulley and steel subdisk are a single unit; rotation from a damped DC motor installed in the housing is transmitted to the subdisk using a flat belt. The motor is small, quiet, but more powerful than one would expect based on its size. There are no rotation speed adjustments, but there are three speeds themselves – in addition to the usual 33.3 and 45 rpm, there is also a 78th speed. It is not entirely clear why it is needed, given that shellac records require completely different heads, but the presence of additional speed in itself does not hinder anything, and for some it may be useful. A main disk 30 mm thick, made of acrylic, is installed on top of the subdisk.

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There is no clamp included, and according to experience, the device reacts sensitively to clamping clamps with loss of dynamics. If you use them, then only in case of emergency; it is better if they are collet structures. There is also no mat attached to the disc, which, however, is quite consistent with the manufacturer’s concept. If you wish, you can try different mats, in my opinion, cork and similar lightweight mats are better suited to this device, and all kinds of ceramics, copper or glass are contraindicated. Felt or leather, by the way, also did not work – something in the sound became better, and something even worse – the integrity of the presentation was lost. In any case, you need to try and experiment with things like clamps, mats and vibration isolation, because these are the simplest and most accessible ways to adjust the sound.

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The turntable’s tonearm is more interesting than one might expect. It is more interesting, first of all, because of the design of the rotary unit. It was created based on the concept of complete decoupling. There are no bearings as such in the rotating unit – the tube from below is fixed and centered by a string, and from above, the tension of the string and the suspension of the entire structure is provided by a powerful magnet. Outwardly, all this looks unusual, but in practice it works – there are absolutely no complaints about the rotary unit, or rather about its operation. It is difficult to say exactly how the anti-skating adjustment is implemented, apparently, by adjusting the tension of the centering string. In practice, it is inconvenient to regulate anti-skating. It’s good that everything is set at the factory, but in other cases you need to lift the table and rotate the regulator located below on the tonearm support pad. There are no marks there, so you need to lift the table, rotate it, then check the result on the test disk, and so on until you get the desired result.

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As for the downforce adjustment, everything is familiar here, except that we can note the impressive range of possible adjustments. But without special scales you won’t be able to set the pressure. Hanging the tonearm tube “to zero” is not a problem, but then it’s more difficult, the counterweight is also devoid of any risks. There is no provision for azimuth adjustment based on external signs or even according to the manual, but you can probably adjust it a little by loosening the fixing screw that secures the non-removable headshell. The effective weight of the tonearm is unknown, but most likely the tonearm is a medium-heavy one. The only thing I didn’t like was the non-removable phono cable. It would be better if it could be changed without interfering with the design; another additional opportunity to influence the sound is definitely not superfluous.

Characteristics of Clearaudio Concept MM

Drive type: Passive
Supported disk rotation speeds 33.3 rpm, 45 rpm; 78 rpm
Automatic speed switching
Support disk material polyformaldehyde (POM)
Main bearing polished spindle made of hardened steel; bronze bushing that has undergone a sintering process; Teflon-coated thrust bearing segment
Thickness of the supporting disk 30 mm
DC electric motor, on bearings with reduced noise level
Verify tonearm (rotary; straight; anti-skating; distance from the axis to the stylus – 222 mm; effective length – 239.3 mm; cartridge weight balancing range : 2.5 – 17 grams)
Concept MM cartridge model and type (MM cartridge with oxygen-free copper coil; weight – 8.4 grams; needle shape – Micro Line; recommended tracking force – 2 g (+/- 0.2 g) ; frequency range – 20 Hz – 20 kHz; output voltage – 3.3 mV at 5 cm/s; material – aluminum-magnesium alloy with a ceramic layer)
Rotation speed deviation ±0.04%
Dimensions (WxHxD) 420x140x350 mm
Weight 7, 5 kg (including motor, tonearm and cartridge)

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