Kronos Pro Limited Production turntable – The Review

The name of the Titan
Kronos or Cronus is the name of the supreme god in Greek mythology. I asked
Louis Desjardins why he used the name for his brand. His simple answer to me
is that the Greek mythology is filled with music and their love for it. They
sang song and made music about their gods, heroes and important events
throughout times. There are already a few models of audio products employed
the name of gods from the Greek mythology. TriangleArt named their
cartridges, Zeus and Apollo.

Kronos is thy name
The Kronos turntable is the first which employ two platters rotating at
counter direction to achieve a ‘balance’. I talked to the designer and
founder of Kronos turntable about his design and concept. Can you imagine
that originally he wanted to named his turntable to one that relate to
‘balance’. He shared to me that his initial impression after hearing the
first note played from his turntable is “how balance the whole presentation
was from the single tone to the whole picture”. My first session with the
Kronos Pro Limited Production (hereinafter referred to as Kronos Pro Ltd)
turntable in my set up was a limited one. Thus a full review was not
possible. I do not enjoy the idea of penning down my experience of a
component’s performance with only two weeks. I prefer at least two months to
write a full review. The local distributor was not in a position to loan me
their flagship turntable for that pro-long period to complete a full review.
So, my questions then is whether should I purchase another turntable at this
time and if so, is this the turntable to have? I already owned an extra
Graham Phantom 2 tonearm and 11 cartridges that I wish to play or hear for
some times. I knew that I will get another turntable to accommodate my
collection above. To be frank, I was contemplating a bigger and better
turntable compare to those I owned; the TechDas Air Force One, the
Clearaudio Statement and the Linn LP12 Lingo-ed. Earlier I sold my SME 30/2
and TWA AC-1 with the Night Raven three (3) motors system for the TechDas.
That is one decision that did not haunt me.
I did not give any reply to the local distributor when I called them to
collect the Kronos Pro Ltd turntable. Why? I already knew that the Kronos
Pro Ltd turntable is special and to my ears, definitely much better than the
SME 30/2 and the TWA AC-1. My ‘but’ is it better than my rest? Then I
realized the other possible option(s) can cost several times the price of
the Kronos Pro Ltd turntable. Another two weeks later, I placed my order for
the Kronos Pro Ltd turntable with the arm board ready for my Vertere
Reference tonearm.

Possibly the most expensive Kronos Pro Ltd turntable combo?
I contacted Touraj Moghaddam, the founder and chief designer of Vertere
Acoustics of my intention to place his prized design, the Vertere Reference
tonearm on the Kronos Pro Ltd. He sent me an SME adapter for the Kronos arm
board for easy installation.
Louis Desjardins was on hand to assist in the transfer of the Vertere
Reference tonearm together with the attached TriangleArt Apollo MC cartridge
from my TechDas Air Force One to the Kronos Pro Ltd turntable. I wanted the
listening of the Kronos Pro Ltd to be on equal ground with the TechDas Air
Force One. After the installation and some adjustments of the tonearm and
cartridge, I told Louis the price of the Vertere Reference tonearm which is
almost equal to the Kronos Pro. I added that this combination of the Kronos
Pro Ltd turntable with the Vertere Reference tonearm is possibly the most
expensive combo for his set up. Louis did not argue with me on that point.

The Canadian’s first response.
Louis has been to my place before when he installed the Kronos Pro Ltd that
resulted in my first impression of it (at Mono & Stereo). He knows his
turntable well and what it is capable of. At this second visit, the new
elements are the Vertere Reference tonearm, TriangleArt Apollo MC cartridge
and the Telos Audio Ground Noise Reducers. I knew from Louis’ facial
expression that he is listening to his Kronos Pro Ltd turntable performing
and singing very differently. After some tracks played, the designer asked
what have I done to my system that it sounds so much improved from his first
encounter! I knew how great the Vertere Reference tonearm is (the review at
Mono & Stereo) and how much it can elevate the analogue set up performance,
especially given a great cartridge like the TriangleArt Apollo MC (the
review at Mono & Stereo) and an ultra quiet and stable turntable. Then and
there I knew what the Kronos Pro Ltd is. It is not just special but much
more.

Every designer for his own?
Almost every designer of audio component(s) is a music lover to begin with.
They have an audio system at home and spent some times with it to enjoy the
music they love. Then they found something is not right with certain
component but realize that the better component out there is beyond them or
that nothing is good enough. Then, in their free time, the mission begins to
design that component to sound the way they want or to them, suppose to
sound. After some months or years, the creation births forth (I am sure that
was how Victor Frankenstein made his monster). At first, that creation is
purely for his own consumption but then some friends came over and heard it.
The encouragements came and courage built up. Thus, the business began. This
story was told to me or I have read it somewhere, the beginning of almost
every designer. I respect that. Hence, when any of them come into my audio
room and claim his creation is the best et all, I tend to give them the
benefit of the doubt. But, they are those that push further and claim that
the others’ are just wrong in design or sound. There is always the old
saying,’ the taste is in the pudding ‘.

Louis Desjardins is of no difference with the others, confident in his
design and the way he perceives musical playback. He has a strong sense for
musical playback. Being an audiophile for so many years, collector of many
fine records, loudspeakers and much exposure to reel to reel playback. Thus,
he emphasizes and believes in the energy stored in the music, may it be
emotion, artistry, or soul, and that must be able to portray or project out
through an audio system starting with the source component, the turntable.
He believes that the music must be able to express herself through the audio
system or at least, as much as possible. He wants the musical playback
experience to be as native and raw to the actual performance or the master
tape. The list of what Louis seeks in an audio system can go on and on. I
can assure you it’s not a short list. I can assure you too that my list is
not short either after being an audiophile traveling on this high end
journey for so many years. I think you know where I am going with this
story. Both of us are fanatical with our hobby.

Vision, design and reality meet…the man When you listen to the Kronos Pro
Ltd, you are listening to Louis Desjardins’ vision of what musical
presentation through a turntable which in turn through an audio system
suppose to be. Every designer will tell you the same but is his vision
yours? Thus born the colors in presentation and the beauty thereof.
Kronos Pro Ltd is designed to be the most “balance” turntable that its
designer is able to conceive. The counter rotation concept, the suspensions,
the bearing, motors system, materials used, the selection of belts, the
electronic, power supply and the clamp (I hope nothing is miss out) are well
thought out here to provide a package of a turntable that is “balance(d)”.

The counter rotation platters in this turntable alone is a fascination to
behold. I can testify to you it’s really more impressive when you test the
effectiveness of it. Louis told me that there are many turntables designs
aim to provide the lowest noise rotating platter in the audio market. You
just have to land your stylus at the groove of a rotating vinyl record on
that turntable and you will know how quiet it is. The Kronos Pro Ltd will
have you hear almost nothing as the stylus land at the groove of the record.
It’s that quiet! I have always thought the TechDas Air Force One turntable
is the quietest turntable in this regard but it is quiet to the extent of a
very slight ‘thumb noise’ as the stylus lands into the groove. I have to
quantify that the above result is attainable with proper alignment and set
up of the cartridge with the tone arm et al.

The suspensions in this turntable is another equally impressive feature.
Have the Kronos Pro Ltd sit on a stable platform without any ‘active and
aggressive’ resonance or vibration control. This is to allow only the
suspensions at the turntable to work. Then knock at that platform or the
entire rack for that matter, you will not hear anything through the
loudspeakers. It’s dead quiet here! I am sure many well designed turntables
will give you quite similar effect, but still not really there. (Please do
not knock the turntable off the platform to [dis]prove this point – your
money.)

I have the TechDas Air Force One turntable for more than a year and have
played it to most of my audiophile friends. They are always impressed with
its performance (there is no question there). There is a ‘but’ here. The
time that is required to wait for the platter to rotate to speed is a test
of patience. I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the stability
and accuracy of the speed of the TechDas turntables even in situation of
irregular voltage. I love to use the Sutherland Timeline to prove the
accuracy and stability of the turntable’s speed. Here, I will have you know
that my champion turntable in speed and stability, the TechDas Air Force
One, is challenged by the Kronos Pro Ltd, where it will get the same result
in much (much) lesser time.

Further testing the quietness of the Kronos.
I am sure that many believe in the importance of the turntable and maybe
more in the sound characteristics of a cartridge, but few do emphasize the
game changing effect of a tone arm, in the ultimate result of an analogue
system. I believe, only fairly recently, that prominent and profound design
efforts are spent on a tonearm. We have some new found gems here, ie;
Vertere Reference, Swedish Analogue Technologies (SAT) {both of which I have
reviewed for Mono & Stereo}, Thales, Schroeder, Acoustical System Germany,
and etc. Among these greats, I have the pleasure to try out three (3),
namely, the Vertere Reference, SAT and The Aquilar of Acoustical System
Germany on the TechDas Air Force One. All the tonearms were having similar
selection of cartridges, notably, TriangleArt Apollo MC and Koetsu Blue Lace
Platinum. I could not believe the differences that each tonearm is able to
provide to the ultimate result [The Aquilar tonearm’s review is in the
works]. I have heard the differences a tonearm contribute at other
turntables set up such as the Linn Sondek, Michel GryoDec, TWAs, SME 30/2,
VPIs, and etc, with tonearms such as SME V, Graham(s), Triplaner, Breuer,
Reeds, Linn(s), Rega(s), Kuzma and etc. The differences are notable there,
but not at the level the TechDas Air Force One is able to allow each
combination of tonearm to soar (up high or low). As I went through the
combinations, I can easily pick up the characteristics of each component in
it. Thus, I believe it is the quietness or lack of noise at the turntable
that have allowed such differences to be clearly audible and felt.
At a much (much) lower price point compared to the TechDas Air Force One,
the Kronos Pro Ltd has more similarities than dissimilarities. It will be
that turntable, as above, allowing the listener to experience the
differences of each tonearm and cartridge combination clearly.

Kronos will give out more
I remembered my first note of impression on the Kronos which stated that it
is louder with it than through the TechDas. Question: How could it be louder
since having the same tonearm, cartridge and the rest of the audio system?
I’d asked Louis and he shared to me that the counter rotation of the
platters at the Kronos Pro Ltd coupled with the other properties in the
design allowed the cartridge to be able to dig and extract more into the low
of each note. He believe that it is not louder in term of volume but each
note has been given a “fuller being” or completeness. I played a simple
vocal accompanied by a piano track from the album, “Fairy Tales” (Odin
LP03). Here, I find each piano key is more complete than any I have heard in
my audio system. To me, I have been handed the full key and note with all
its intended strength, energy and the full bandwidth from top to low. In
addition, there is a certain low to each key as if each key is given a ‘full
stop’ at the bottom. I have shared in previous review about piano key being
given a lower bandwidth as if each note is given a leg or is being anchored.
The Kronos Pro Ltd will give you the “feet” to that ‘leg’ of each key and
note in the presentation. To me, this is not additional bass line to a note
but an actual tail end of a note that most top end turntables missed.

“Any additional information that I can hear from a recording, I would treat
so as additional resolution. But any additional or exaggeration of any
particular frequency, I would treat it as coloration”.

Here, the humane and seductive voice of Ms. Toneff will further enlightened
us. Previously, I am already accustomed and treated to a fluid, natural, and
well detailed and textured voice, as if I am being fed directly from the
recording mike. The Kronos Pro Ltd will take the same combination a few
notches higher or more. I could have swear that I heard her sang with
greater depth and breath. She is drawing more breath and able to sing the
notes with higher energy. The transient of energy and dynamism in her voice
was so vivid, and palpable at the same time. It was a more emotional
presentation. In addition, each sentence sang clearly carried with it a tail
to an end. You are able to follow the last word’s exaggeration to an end.
The full stop at that sentence is clearly sang out. I think you notice the
repetition of the same point here that I wish to indicate a hint of the
magnitude of how impressed I am.
The detailing of the vocal continued with an audible echo-like to each word
sang. I believe that was the venue being recorded (I am not pointing at the
duplicity effect of the recording at the studio). It was the reverb of her
voice from the recording venue that was picked up by the mike. The other top
notch turntables are able to draw out this detail but not obvious enough for
me to draw up a conclusion as to its origin.
Next, I like to bring up Sarah McLachlan’s Mirrorball (45 rpm from Analogue
Productions APP 053-45). The track ‘Angel’ recorded live is my new found
favorite. I found her singing of this track to be particularly touching and
filled with emotion. Her voice kept me wanting for more. The sense of
emotions flowing through those lyrics kept me entangled, to say the very
least. The Kronos Pro Ltd has that capturing and rendering of the recorded
human voice that the other turntables in my arsenal, though great they are
in this same area, tend to slack a notch behind. The others will have that
human vocal has her prominency but may lack slightly that emotional pull. I
felt the emotional pull is at that energy level recorded that contained in
that voice. I even, felt the additional low frequency that was extracted for
that voice that gave a certain rawness to the voice. The other turntables
will give you the voice, artistries and emotion of the vocalist but I find
the Kronos Pro Ltd will give slightly more of that vocalist. It is as if you
can feel her life and essence in the performance. That is what I felt and
heard in the difference between analogue and digital. Similarly, I found to
be the same between vinyl and good reel to reel tape. This really set the
Kronos Pro Ltd apart from the rest.

“To me, the Kronos Pro Ltd has that similarity in character and energy with
the playback of 1/4″ reel to reel tapes”.

Louis has shared to me that his turntable is used at HDTracks to evaluate
and compare between the reel to reel tapes with their vinyl counterpart.
Depending on the quality and generation of the reel to reel tape, it is not
always better than the vinyl counterpart. HDTracks have tried a number of
other turntables available to them and decided to have the Kronos Pro Ltd. I
believe there is a good reason for it. Comparatively, it is THE turntable
that is able to present that extra octave at the low that ultimately affect
the energy level, the rawness or directness of a presentation. When I
listened to 1/4″ reel to reel tape, I always expect additional level of
detail, energy, low bass and anymore that is in the recording. I can hear
the similarities with the Kronos Pro Ltd. Here, I emphasize ‘similarities’
as I have no reel to reel tape player in my arsenal to compare and that my
experience is limited to those at my friend’s set up and at show.
The extra low octave retrieved can be put to test through the Opus 3 Test
Record 1 Depth of Image (Opus 3 79-00). I realized that the soundstage
depth, width and to a certain extent, the height benefitted from the
retrieval of the extra low octave. Here, I can hear and experience the
soundstage at a very different level. It is as if the performers were given
more space to perform. Their respective size and musical instrument(s) did
not grow bigger but only the space or room has been enlarged. Thus, there
are more separation among the performers and also with their respective
choice of musical instruments. This also allow me to hear more into each
performance.
As I have shared above, notes have a certain completeness that I accredited
to the retrieval of additional low. Here, I can hear more into the musical
instruments played. It’s not just the performance but the actual material of
the musical instrument. Each musical instrument enjoy a certain ‘wholeness’
and each note played has its ‘completeness’ through this turntable. If this
phenomenon is merely the result of the retrieval of extra low then I would
sum up that the design properties of this turntable has hit the right note
that others have missed. It can be said, that through the Kronos Pro Ltd,
you can hear more into the whole performance. Ultimately, I felt closer to
the presentation.

Enter the Titans
To be frank, I thought I have heard it all through the other turntables in
my arsenal especially through the TechDas Air Force One and the Clearaudio
Statement. Both of them are considered “One of the Best (!)” turntables in
the market. I am sure there are those whom may not agree which is fine. I
own and heard them. To me, these turntables and others in this category of
turntable Titans strive to do one thing. That is to bring out every last
ounce of details buried in the grooves of the vinyl records that we love and
cherish. The question is how much detail is buried there. It seems to me
that there is always a new Titan emerges and claims to allow more details to
be heard. I realized that the so called more detail is not really more in
the sense of a new tone to the music, especially among these Titans. It is
more of the energy stored in the music that is in the grooves. The
Clearaudio Statement and Transrotor Artus are great examples in this regard.
A listen to them will immediately strike you as to the amount of energy
contained in any music. “We did not really know the recording well enough”
was my thought then. I sacrificed much to put my order for a Clearaudio
Statement. The TechDas Air Force One was not in the league of energy as
those Titans. I admit that the TechDas has its other titanic property which
is low noise floor that is transparent to the source from above the true
subsonic low to the extreme high. Don’t get me wrong, the TechDas is no
slouch in the attack department with low bass that is very articulated,
defined, control and fill with detail. In many audio system, especially with
mid size loudspeaker system, the TechDas will do impressively. Most
listeners will not miss or notice the loss of subsonic low.

Try to play big band or big orchestra such as Count Basie and his orchestra,
“Me and You” (Pablo 2310-891). The Clearaudio Statement is truly majestic
when it comes to presenting the foundation of a grand musical presentation.
I am not emphasizing the subsonic low bass alone but there are many other
elements in the recorded music that must be retrieved in order to bear such
fruit. I am thrilled and surprised that the Kronos Pro Ltd is definitely
doing its task right in order to bear similar fruit with such Titan, the
Clearaudio Statement. It definitely allow the retrieval of the subsonic low
as much as the Clearaudio Statement. There is still a difference between the
Kronos and the Clearaudio. If push to compare, I find and prefer the Kronos
in its presentation of the ‘wholeness’ of the musical instrument and the
‘completeness’ of the tone. I believe that the Kronos has a lower noise
floor than the Clearaudio that resulted the above thus shifted my preference
among the two turntables. My conviction for my finding is further reinforced
after I heard those musical instruments that are at the background to enjoy
the same ‘wholeness’ as those at the foreground and with the same
‘completeness’ of tone.

A Titan’s task
The turntable Titans must be great as a source in both low and high volume
playback. I must quantify that high volume playback is not just a matter of
loudness. In actuality, in my book anyway, the high volume playback will
showcase many crucial areas that hold the entire music together and maintain
its essence and meaning. I love to pick up the Manger Production vinyl
album, “Musik wei von einem anderen Stern” (AMGR 2010) and have it play
loud, especially with the following tracks; ‘Walking on the Moon’ and ‘Jazz
Variants’. Many thought that playing loud and without any distortion or
breakdown is the true test of high fidelity. I did hope it was that easy. I
notice many system (even very expensive ones) that as they play loud, they
start to lose integrity and solidity to the imaging. Even the separation
between images or musicians in the recording start to close up. To me, the
soundstage is actually shrinking in proportion and ratio in relation to
actual separation between musicians in the recording. The imaging grows
larger or bloater as the volume goes higher. This occurs all too often. I
notice the top end sources do not perform so. Here, the Kronos Pro Ltd will
allow you to hear louder but maintain the images of the recorded musician in
place within the soundstage and in proportion. In addition, each image
maintain its own wholeness, palpability, solidity and density. All in all,
each image maintain its integrity thus realism in the soundstage of the
recording venue. I believe this quality is even more important for the
playback of a big band. Some will accredit this quality to the low noise
floor of the turntable which I have no argument here. But, I wish to add
that the Kronos Pro Ltd will give the presentation an even more solidity,
strength and energy to each performer’s performance and more realism to the
musical instrument played than the few top turntable Titans in my arsenal.

A true Titan!
I have the Kronos Pro Ltd turntable in my audio system for about two months
already. It has been playing almost on a daily basis in comparison with the
other turntables in my keep. I admit that this is one tough review to write.
It is difficult not in term of identifying the differences between them, but
an emotional one. Comparing the few turntable Titans in my ownership is like
comparing my children. I paid a great deal for each and every one of them. A
lot of time and energy were spent to tweak them to perform to my level of
expectation.
In term of performance, I find the Kronos Pro Ltd (with my combination of
tonearm and cartridge) is in the league of the very best turntable out in
the market, to say the least. But in actual comparison, I find it having a
few notches above the TechDas Air Force One and the Clearaudio Statement,
which are considered to be at the very top category of turntable design and
product. If one wish to argue he prefer one turntable’s character of
presentation over the other then there isn’t much I can argue. But it remain
the fact that the Kronos Pro Ltd is able to allow the retrieval of that
extra detail at subsonic low, and at a much lower noise floor than the other
turntables in my keep. In addition, it does ‘bass’ at a whole new improved
level that have a positive attribute to the actual presentation of the
“wholeness and completeness” of the musical presentation, at a soundstage
that represent the venue of recording. Currently, I have yet to hear a
better turntable than the Kronos Pro Ltd.
As for the price of admission to the Kronos Pro Ltd, I would say that it is
a “No Brainer” choice, irrespective of budget. I own some of its
competitors, namely the TechDas Air Force One and the Clearaudio Statement
which cost several times its cost but they do not give me any higher
performance value.
In conclusion, the Kronos Pro Ltd is correctly named after the supreme god
in Greek mythology. I think Louis knew the conclusion from the very
beginning.

Associated audio components in this review:
1) TriangleArt Apollo MC cartridge,
2) Koetsu Blue Lace cartridge,
3) Ortofon MC Anna cartridge,
4) My Sonic Lab Eminent BC cartridge,
5) ZYX Omega Gold cartridge,
6) Vertere Reference tonearm,
7) Miyajima Kansui cartridge,
8) SoundSmith Strain Gauge,
9) Graham Phantom 2 tonearm (9″),
10) Breuer tonearm,
11) Aquilar 10″ tonearm, Acoustical System, Germany
12) TechDas Air Force One turntable,
13) Kronos Pro Limited production turntable,
14) Linn Sondek turntable with Lingo powered,
15) Clearaudio Statement turntable & dedicated Statement linear arm,
16) FM Acoustics 223 Phono Master stage,
17) Vitus Masterpiece Phonostage MP-P201,
18) FM Acoustics 268C pre amp,
19) Vitus Masterpiece Pre amp MP-L201,
20) Vitus Masterpiece Mono Amplifier MP-M201,
21) Gryphon Pendragon Loudspeaker System,
22) Skogrand Beethoven Loudspeaker cables,
23) Skogrand Tchaikovsky Balance interconnects,
24) Vermouth Red Velvet XLRs,
25) Gobel Lacorde Statement XLR,
26) Gobel Lacorde Statement Power cord,
27) Shunyata King Cobra Power cords,
28) Shunyata V Ray 1 & 2 Power Distribution,
29) Frank Acoustics Power Bank Storage PB-15000Ws (6 units),
30) Nordost QX (2 units),
31) Tombo Audio platforms,
32) Stillpoints Rack and footers,
33) Harmonix 666 Million footers,
34) Harmonix 999 coaster,
35) BSG Technologies QOL “Signal Completion Stage”,
36) Telos Audio Ground Noise Reducer (2 units),
37) Entreq Ground system (Silver and Copper units),
38) Tripoint Troy Signature ground system