The skeletal Bardo is Helmut Brinkmann’s entry turntable and a direct drive deck. The Bardo was preceeded by the Oasis and developed as a simplified, more affordable variant with an acrylic topped platter and no plinth. It has an outboard power supply and an integral tonearm base and armboard.
The Bardo has very high resolution, an extremely neutral and even handed sound and not really much of its own character to taint the signal. As a direct drive deck, pitch stability and coherency is a major strength as is the precision, speed and the instant way in which notes stop and start with no blur, smear or overhang. The sound is a solid, physical and taut and it’s projected into the room with a stable and locked in soundstage. Above all, music from the Bardo is dynamic and very alive and at this sort of price it punches way way above its weight.
The Oasis was Brinkmann’s first foray into magnetic direct drive. With a larger chassis and outer plinth resonances are handled quite diferently to the entry Bardo and the deck also benefits from a crystal glass topped platter amd the superior power supply from the Balance/LaGrange turntables. As a supercharged Bardo you generally get a little more of everything and the better power supply gives a more defined bass response and a much wider image. Unlike some direct drive decks, the Bardo and Oasis never sound aggressive or too foward and they do not suffer tonally with fabulous harmonics and timbre. Helmut has managed to imbue these DD designs with the ame character that people know and love the La Grange and Balance for.
These two decks (and the spider) ask the question “why spend any more” more pertinently than ever and here at Lotus we would advocate spending at least as much on the Phonostage + Step-up rather than automatically jumping further up the turntable range.
The Spyder is Brinkmann’s newest deck. Another skeletal design, the innovative Spyder can accomodate up to four 9″-12″ tonearms. It shares much commonality with the Balance and employs that deck’s advanced Sinus motor and the same zero-maintenance hydrostatic bearing found in all the turntables.
The sound is typical belt drive, majoring in exquisite harmonics and timbral/textural nuance and capable of extreme delicacy. What is perhaps unique at this pricepoint is the level of refinement and sophistication the deck exudes. Timing is first class and the Spyder has the same even, neutral and balanced philosophy to musical reproduction that all the Brinkmann family posess. Simply a beautiful sounding turntable.
The Balance is Brinkmann’s flagship. An 18kg platter, 35kg total weight, Brinkmann’s 4-phase Sinus motor with eletrically heated bearing oil and a chassis that comes in either single or dual Tonearm form. The delivery of this world class deck is majestic and grand with almost peerless bass performance, fantastic agility, an amazingly wide and airy soundstage and a level of fine detail and micro expression that only the world’s finest turntables can deliver. If you are looking for your final deck the the Balance commands your serious investigation. With two tonearms, the optional HRS isolation platform and roNt II Vacuum Tube power supply it represents the current frontier of Brinkmann’s mastery.
RoNt II Tube Power Supply £2,895
The unique RoNt II power supply is a highly compelling upgrade for all of the belt drive Brinkmann decks. With a rectifier and two pentodes it acts in theory as a filter between the mains and drive circuitry. Improvements are immediate and obvious; better clarity, a better sense of space and more texture and resolution to the lower registers.
10, 10.5 & 12″ Tonearms £2,195 / £3,795 / £3,995
The 10.5 was Helmut’s answer to the venerable Breuer tonearm whose supply was dwindling further and further toward out and out extinction. The Breuer arm is almost legendary in Hifi circles and a milestone in tonearm engineering and the 10.5 resembles it very closely with its double gimballed suspension, fixed headshell, small precision bearings, a split counterweight and an overall emphasis on simplicity.
Brinkmann went on from the 10.5 to create a 12″ version and a simpler, cheaper 10″ version that is a semi-unipivot design. We recommend the 12″ for the Balance and Spyder decks where possible. It’s sound is supremely well organised and coherent with fantastic resolution, capable of extreme delicacy and with an extremely wide and open soundstage. As a 12″ it is not too sleepy either and strikes a great sonic balance.