As a dealer you work with good equipment day in day out. It’s actually easy to become a bit blasé about good sounding products and even many things we trial but reject from selling are still great performers with impressive characteristics, sonically or otherwise. Once in a while though, something comes along that makes even a seasoned highend dealer stop and scratch his head in amazement. The Dohmann Helix is such a product and it’s got me so excited that I wanted to get pen to paper the instant I took delivery of our demo unit earlier this year.

There’s a lot of good information out there on the internet about the Helix already, particularly on Youtube. The well known US Turntable aficionado Michael Fremer from Stereophile has championed the deck quite extensively with a very comprehensive review (and comparison to his own personal Continuum Caliburn) and a visit to the factory in Bulgaria. I will link all this information below but to give you a brief overview, the Helix was the result of a coming together of various industry experts spearheaded by Rumen Artarski from Audio Union who make the very fine range of Thrax Amplifiers. Mark Dohmann (previously of Continuum Labs and designer of the then state of the art Caliburn turntable and Cobra arm) was chosen to be the chief designer of the Helix. Amongst others, Allen Perkins of Spiral Groove was chosen to look after the deck’s bearing, Frank Schroder to create a new Tonearm design and Dr David Platus from MinusK to implement his technology as the core foundation of the design.

The Minus K

If you’ve never heard of a MinusK negative stiffness isolation platform then this 20 second youtube clip will very rapidly give you the gist. They were never intended to be used in Audio systems but in the more obsessive corners of highend hifi, end users have actually been very successfully using these devices under turntables and electronics for some time now. Only with the Helix though do we have the first ever turntable to implement a specially developed MinusK device into the core design and product. When I first set up my deck and touched the platter and watched it (and the tonearm) pistonically move down and up I was completely aghast at the quality, smoothness and overall sensation of it all. “Now THAT is how you engineer Turntable isolation” I thought to myself. I guess it’s a bit like the weighty volume knob on a Tidal preamplifier, something you have to experience in the flesh to fully appreciate.

So the principal technology behind the Helix 2 and a big reason for its lofty performance is that it’s inner chassis is affixed into a bespoke low frequency MinusK device specifically created for the turntable. This sophisticated type of isolation from the outside world (along with the platter shield) is key in preserving the accuracy and fidelity of the style/groove interface. Like all the world’s “super decks” we find that they will always have additional technologies above just a well designed bearing, chassis and motor/power supply. You need something extra to elevate the performance to the uppermost echelons, air suspension stands, vacuum hold downs, air bearings, magnetic induction drive, the list goes on. I must stress though that the Negative Stiffness mechanism from MinusK is not the only impressive technology behind the Helix; there are a multitude of other properties and designs which help make it the high performing turntable that it is and although I have listed these in full down below for you in the further reading section, we can mention some more in passing as we go over the decks’ setup for you.

Before we go any further allow me to point out that we could easily be talking about the Helix 1 here. The “1” was the initial design and then Mark Dohmann and his team went on to create the “2” at a lower cost and in a more compact chassis. The truth is though that given Audio Union’s curent introductory offer on the Helix 2 (you basically get the £3700 Schroder CB tonearm bundled in free of charge), for £15,000 less the performance of the Helix 2 is scarily close to the 1 and the saving could easily be spent on a better tonearm or phonostage, making your Helix 2 setup actually higher performing for the same outlay. You just have to ensure that you don’t want to run more than one tonearm.

Setting Up

Setting up the Helix 2 is a doddle. Everything arrives in an extremely heavy flight case and intially you just want to remove the entire chassis and uncrew it’s two tonearm assembly transit screws from underneath and then set it down on your chosen rack/platform and then remove it’s 4 upper transit screws located just inside the raised platter shield to release the MinusK. The 2 part bearing is machined from carbon free ‘maraging steel’, hardened in an inductive oven and ground to a tolerance of 5 microns. The bearing spindle of the platter sits on top of a ceramic ball so installation is just a matter of setting the platter down into the chassis mounted thrust pad. The best way to do this is to simply hold and lower the platter using the supplied Helix record clamp screwed into the spindle.

The 15kg platter system is triple or even quadruple layer, with the lower aluminium part housing the two belts mechanically isolated from the middle section. The upper layer is a fibrous rubber surface for the record interface, mated to a thermoplastic layer and then the middle alloy section is filled with lead shot. Once installed, the two belts of two differing materals (two different levels of hardness to counteract cogging) can be pulled through a rear facing hole in the platter shield and fitted around the chassis mounted motor spindle. The supplied armboard is affixed onto the inner chassis with 5 hex headed screws and then at this point, with the tonearm roughly installed, you can get the deck perfectly level by simply rotating each of the 4 feet.

With your tonearm installed and setup (the bundled Schroder Captive Bearing tonearm is also very easy in this respect) final levelling of the armboard can be performed. On the chassis surface there are 4 screws which can be adjusted in small quarter turns to help level all 4 corners of the armboard. This sounds more complicated than it looks but it’s merely a matter or ensuring that the armboard in its cut out is proud of the chassis by the same small distance all the way around. If the deck is perfectly flat then you can also use a small spirit level on the armboard as well to achieve the same result.

The very last thing to do on the Helix is to correctly level the MinusK. This must be done with a record and the record clamp fitted and of course your cartridge. The large surface mounted wheel at the back of the chassis can be turned to ‘centre’ or level the platter/tonearm height to the middle of its range of travel. You want it’s rest pose to be halfway between the upper and lower extents of the MinusK’s movement so that at rest, it is neither bottoming out nor hitting it’s upper bump stops as it were. In other words, it is free to move vertically either up or down. This is a very simple process and there is a neat green LED and gauge on the front panel to help you. Easier still for me was to just observe the MinusK innards through the front fascia window and adjust until the two main lower plates that you see are nicely horizontal.

Now your probably know that the preservation of the stylus/groove relationship, and it’s isolation from all extraneous influences is key in turntable design. Structural and airborne vibration, vibration from the bearing, noise from the motor either through the chassis or through the belt, platter wobble and even resonances from the stylus/groove interface itself. What of course is also paramount is speed stability, turning the platter around at exactly the same speed and whilst this sounds simple enough many factors will conspire against you: the inherent pulsating nature of electrical motor rotation, motor vibration, the cogging of a belt, stylus drag and bearing friction to name but a few.

So before we get onto listening we should probably just say a quick word on the Helix’s motor and power supply. The motor control system is a digital closed loop servo with greater than 16bit resolution. The motor actually spins several hundred times to achieve one revolution of the platter so over the course of 1 second, a huge amount of checks are made (>120,000) on the platter speed and these are fed back into a very fast micro processor in the servo control unit. As for motor cogging, the Helix coil design smooths the motor to negligible levels of vibration resulting in super low motor noise.

Once setup and ready for action, the Helix 2 exudes quality and looks like it really means business. What I love about this deck is that it’s an engineers piece with not one ounce of jewelery or bullshit to it. The construction and fit and finish is first rate and the heft and clean cut of the smart anodised metalwork goes a long way in foreshadowing exactly what kind of performance you are going to get from this beast. I like the illuminated Dohmann logo and the glowing speed selector switches work well too. My only critisicm is that the fascia window could have been a little bigger as it’s very nice to see the beautiful complex workings and leaf springs of the internal MinusK. Perhaps some subtle illumination inside would have worked well ? That said, if you pay the full amount for the original Helix 1 then you do indeed get a much bigger view of the innards.

For my first ever listening I ran the Helix with a Transfiguration Phoenix S moving coil followed by a Proteus. We have a Lyra Etna inbound as well which should be interesting when it arrives. The system was a Tidal Preos/Impulse with internal phono stage running into a set of Tidal Contriva. So an extremely open neutral system and one I know very well, perfect then for quickly understanding the nature of this new super deck.

Listening

The first thing that struck me about the Helix, from the first few notes, was the immediacy and purity with which the music leaps out of the grooves and is seemingly three dimensionally cast into the space in your listening room. Some of the very best decks seem to have this highly pleasurable ability, a sense of no delay or even actual process at play in terms of extracting the music off the walls and instantaneously projecting it into the room and from the get go it was clear that the this is one of them. Key to this impression was also the physicality and certainty of the music. Notes had shape and form and seemed to occupy real space with a believability that they actually exist.

If the first track I played was something spacious and acoustic with great soundstaging, my next selections endeavoured to sample the deck’s dynamic ability. I found that the Helix is a very dynamic performer with great speed and attack. The ultra low noise design means backgrounds are very black as you would expect but then bandwidth on offer is prodigiously high. As the demand for separate volumes and intensities within the overall mix increase, individual performers or instruments feel like they each have their very own amplifier. In this way the Helix never seems to reach a dynamic brick wall and playing some complex and difficult tracks from Midlake, for the first time ever I heard them decongested and still replete with space and air, every single strand still well delineated and uncompressed.

The Helix then is an exciting deck with great power. It has clean and precise dynamics of the very first order and delivers a sense of energy and presence to the room which transcends the listening experience way beyond the nagging notion that a piece of plastic is spinning around in the corner of your house. This is an adept illusion, totally unveiled or corrupted by any blur, softening of edges or noise, a strong sense that the real thing is taking place right there in front of you.

Part of this illusion of realism is image stability, a key property of a good turntable experience and also a very relaible indicator of a deck’s speed stability. The sense of focus, the tautness of the image lock, the feeling of the dimensionality of various notes, instruments and performers being completely riveted in space is first rate. Whilst belt drive decks will often be on the back heel when it comes to this ability I would say that the image stability of the Helix is as good as the best direct drive turntables I have heard and that is a tall achievement indeed. The size and spacing of the soundstaging I found first rate as well. The Helix gave an absolutely enormous rendition of some of my favourite records both left to right and front to back. Between and around various components of music I am sure that I heard degrees of space and depth that I have simply never heard before. The sheer scale and vitality on offer here is something I believe, that is comfortably ahead of what the very best digital sources can provide.

Three or four years ago here at Lotus we imported and sold a deck named the Beat, manufactured by a company called Kodo over in the USA. This was a direct drive table with a bearing and motor developed by Teres Audio and chassis design by Frank Schroder and Stillpoints. Sadly, for reasons mostly unrelated to its performance we had to remove it from our roster but this deck was a very good performer and also a giant killer at the asking price. The immediacy and image stability of the direct drive Beat was deeply impressive but I would say that the Helix is at least as good in this respect which is quite something for a belt drive unit. This is of little wonder though because when creating the belt drive Continuum Caliburn, Mark Dohmann worked out how to achieve arguably a new level of speed stability with that design.

The other really important contrast here though vis a vis the Kodo Beat, is that despite the fantastic dynamics, the absence of softness and the sheer speed of the deck, the Helix never once sounds aggressive or over-egged. Like the Caliburn it is beautifully natural and unforced in presentation and for this reason I am certain that it would accomodate the whole gamut of tonearms extremely well from air bearing to unipivot and gimbal. Notes are never hard or too sharp but just begin and decay in the most natural and faithful manner. One suspects that Audio Union’s extensive work with the motor control software has played it’s part here, being voiced painstankingly by ear to nail down just the right degree of torque from the motor.

Now to tonality. As you might expect, I found the deck very even from top to bottom with no recessive or expanded frequencies. Bass performance was first rate and hugely impressive for a suspended design and the midrange was beautifully open and expressive and very accurately textured. This is a very neutral deck with no added warmth but could not be described as cool and clinical as some performers are.

Standout Feature ?

Although the Helix’s dynamic ability, resolving power, quietness and imaging prowess is absolutely top draw, it’s important for me to convey to you that none of these abilities stick out like a trump card. No, the helix is way more mature and accomplished than that. In point of fact, the property of the deck which perhaps impresses even more than anything we have so far mentioned is this fabulous sense of flow and momentum that it exudes. Music is never laid back but then it’s never too forward or forceful. Rhythm and structure seem perfectly coherent and simple, and your favourite beats and tunes flow along so smoothly and melodiously. Although all the audiophile badges of honour are more than fully present here perhaps the over-riding feature of this turntable is just how beautifully balanced and well judged it is, and how incredibly pleasurable it is to listen to. This is a table that has enormous dynamic ability yet simultaneously feels so calm and at ease. Tracks, albums, whole listening sessions, days, weeks … they will surely melt into one and you will most definitely be buying heaps of new Vinyl and going through Moving Coils faster than you ever did before.

In Conclusion

In a way the Helix delivers a performance that belies it’s makeup. There is another review out there which touches upon this and I have to say that I fully concur. As a suspended design you almosty expect a small degree of softness and a slight defecit to speed, transient attack and focus. As a belt drive you expect imaging to be a notch behind the very best and a sound with perhaps a smidge of warmth and some sweetness and flavouring in the midrange. The Helix has you wrong though at every juncture. Here is a deck that has the  dynamics, speed and imaging of a direct drive but then the tunefulness, liquidity and beauty of a belt drive. I suspect there are some mega decks out there that may just edge it in one domain or another (the hewn from granite sensation of a Rockport Sirius’s stability and precision will probably never leave me) but the Helix does not do “Aces”, instead it strives to nail absolutely everything in a mature balanced fashion. Neither laid back nor aggressive, neither clinical nor indulgent, it is the final whole sound that is uppermost, the way it so cohesively and convincingly delivers music in such a pleasing and believable manner. It’s not an audiophile’s deck but rather a true musical device and although it’s possible (but not provable) that it’s the best deck i’ve ever heard, it is most certainly, hand on heart, the very best turntable I have ever set up, sold, or had in my home.

I also genuinely believe that the current pricing is a bit of a giveaway (in relative terms). I have heard decks that were over three times the price yet not nearly as compelling and at £25,000 with the Schroder tonearm it is just a small amount more or still quite a bit cheaper than many ‘mid-fi’ turntables which you honestly could not even place in the same sonic category. I would say that of course, I am selling the damm things ! But as ever the proof is in the pudding and any customer is welcome any time to come over for a listen to verify alll these things and more for themselves. I don’t doubt that you will be as spellbound as I was/am but then if it just so happens that the Helix is not quite your cup of tea, with the Brinkmann balance and Spiral Groove in session as well, we will be sure to have something which fits you like a glove.

Further Reading

The operation of the Helix 2 is simplified by two push buttons on the table surface for speed selection/on/off.Table Chassis:

Speed Control (Factory Calibrated):

  • 33 RPM
  • 45 RPM
  • 78 and other RPM’s are available by request.

Drive System:

  • Fully integrated High Torque motor
  • Dual belt platter drive designed to reduce static electricity and vibrations.

 

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

Helix Two – Table – Width 480mm x Depth 400mm x Height 200mm

Combined shipping weight is 70Kg in a custom road case.

Recommended installation requires a surface capable of supporting up to 60Kg (130 pounds).

Set-up assistance and complete service available worldwide through authorized dealer and representative network.

Features includeMSA – Micro Signal Architecture©
NSM – Negative Stiffness Mechanism Vibration Isolation
0.5 Hz (Fz) Vertical 1.5 Hz (Fz) Horizontal
MCT – Mechanical Crossover Technology
TMP – Tri-Modal Platter system
EDR – Edge Damping Ring
TDS – Tone arm Damping System
RTS – Resonance Tuned Suspension
DLC – Diamond Like Coating Amorphous Material Bearing Friction Modifier
HTAD – High Torque Adjustable Drive Speed Selections 33, 45 RPM (78 RPM by request)
Velocity Adjustment Lock – Speed is constantly calibrated over 130,000 times per second to deliver precise 33.33 or 45.15 rpm (factory default).

MICRO SIGNAL ARCHITECTURE (MSA)©Micro Signal Architecture© (MSA) is a cohesive design approach that uses the most advanced available techniques to remove physical and mechanical vibration and electrical noise.

Entering the world of microscopic endeavors there are barriers; for example, the actual method of measurement can deflect the measurement itself. Thought is needed for the measurement system to deliver the best result. For example, numerous research facilities around the globe have millions of dollars invested in microscope systems examining atomic scale objects to enhance our understanding of the physical world.

Images at the nanoscale are extremely sensitive to external vibration even under vacuum. Experiments utilizing sensitive equipment such as; Atomic Force Microscopes, Electron Microscopes and laser scanning systems, require the staff to stand still in the building and machinery to be disabled, when a sensitive image is captured by the microscope. Similar to Hollywood movies of submarine warfare!

In actuality, even foot steps several floors above can transmit through concrete structures and blur the images. This is not an elegant solution for such expensive research, only with the installation of advanced vibration suppression and isolation can the images be retrieved in fine enough detail to show new insights. So how analogous is this to audio?

For analog systems such as the audiophile turntable it is extremely relevant to the performance of the table. For vinyl playback, the enemy of any signal found in the mechanical groove by stylus tracing is also vibration and electrical interference!

Many audiophiles and music lovers lament the lack of isolation on turntables, from entry level to cost-no-object designs. Existing turntable suspension and isolation systems may not achieve the real world performance objectives they claim and listeners experience feedback, information blurring and over-weighted boomy bass response. Modern homes, are not designed for vibration control. In older homes with wooden floors these systems become unstable and do not stop footfall or feedback loops occurring (the classic tiptoe around the suspended turntable else your cartridge mistracks syndrome). This is predominantly due to the natural frequency of these suspension systems not being low enough (0.3hz-1.5hz).

The innovation in Helix 1 lies in the ingenious way the NSM isolation technology is integrated. The turntable and NSM device form a fully acoustic and mechanically balanced system. The result is a precisely designed “mechanical crossover” that harmonizes the forces at play between the incoming external acoustic and mechanical vibrations (the environment) and the self-generated internal vibrations caused by bearings, motor and chassis dynamics (the hardware).

By complex use of recent developments in software measurement technology for Chladni plate analysis and engineering “cymatics”, the team at Audio Union has developed a complex chassis system that effectively damps vibration utilizing a semi-active topology.

The Helix 1 showcases the use of semi-active vibration suppression in a pre-stress accumulation/release (PAR) design. This is a method to convert the strain energy of a vibrating system into kinetic energy, which is then released from the system by means of a dissipative device. This delivers superior isolation to the level demanded by the most sensitive electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes.

The design is semi-active; it does not require adding any substantial amount of energy, is highly efficient and cost effective compared to an active system. Active systems have a tendency to add noise to the operating environment, this is also undesirable. Our approach eliminates this unwanted noise that can disrupt the stylus to record interface.

Mechanical Crossovers

One of the major influences in the sound reproduction of vinyl play back is mechanical vibration. After all, turntables are mechanical devices. What if a “mechanical crossover” concept could be extended to create a smooth continuous pathway to channel vibrations away from critical areas on a turntable?

Historically mechanical crossovers have been well documented in loudspeaker design for decades. Experienced designers such as Dr Plamen Ivanov Valtchev in Europe have published numerous papers (AES, patents, etc.) on advanced mechanical speaker structures and designs.

Here is a summary of one successful implementation.
Coupling the cone of the speaker to a voice coil bobbin through a compliant section and directly attaching a small lightweight whizzer cone allows the compliant section to serve as a filter! The main cone is not vibrated at higher frequencies as whizzer cone responds to all frequencies, however due to its smaller size; it limits the output at higher frequencies, thereby implementing a “mechanical crossover function”.
From this method we learn the shape and weight of the components influence acoustic behaviour under vibration. Therefore, selection of materials and the suspension elements used determines the crossover frequency and effectiveness!

By extending the mechanical crossover concept to the Helix 1, physical zones can be defined on the infrastructure that focused vibrations away from key areas (platter, bearing, motor, tonearms, floor modes), establishing a smooth continuous pathway to channel vibrations away from critical areas on the turntable!

The Helix 1 has been designed to reject low frequency vibrations coming up from the floor by using the MinusK NSM isolation system and drive higher order vibrations generated through motor noise away from the bearing and platter via a complex coupling to the chassis. For these higher order vibrations local isolation, absorbing, redirecting and suppression technologies are employed including semi-active decoupling from motor vibration.

The Helix 1 is designed to operate flawlessly in non-ideal environments suffering from floor borne vibrations such as older houses with wooden floors, upper floors, attics and any external vibrations which are carried through buildings – even those made from concrete steel, and brick.

Measurement and Visualisation Techniques

By creating a visualisation technique to see these vibrations in real life, the team can see where the vibrations “collected” on a chassis under real life operating conditions.

Chladni Plate Analysis

Extensive use of Chladni plate analysis and the subsequent use of pre-stress in the chassis design allowed the positioning of “anti” vibration zones in critical areas (Motor, bearing and arms) vs trying to damp it with one solo material or less effective broadbrush approaches.

Our experimentation confirmed no “magic bullet” exist for resolving the challenges facing existing turntable designs. It is the precise blending of high-tech materials and topologies which has created the sonic breakthroughs in the Helix 1. Vibration analysis has advanced since the pioneering work of Robert Hooke in 1680 and Ernst Chladni in late 1700’s. Chladni’s Law F=C(m+2n)p can be used in complex eigenmode and wave analysis of turntable chassis. The Chladni method is used by artisans and scientists alike in the creation of musical instruments and engineering solutions.

In simpler terms, “the bearing is the center of the “universe” where “planets” (Motors and Arms) sit on an orbital plane (the chassis/plinth). Vibrate the plane (chassis/plinth) by internal or external means and you get vibration patterns and nodes which become visible to the naked eye using Chladni plate analysis.

By placing the bearing and motor and arms into “optimal zones” where vibration was well damped or controlled we provided the best possible place on the chassis for the susb-system to sit with the lowest possible vibration. Helix 1 chassis research created several eureka moments!

Some resources can be viewed here:
History of Chladni’s Law
Chladni Plate
Music + Math: Chladni Plates

Motion Control

Helix 1 design is a significant enhancement on state of the art and its motion control defines what will become part of a new breed of “super turntables”.

HTAD – High Torque Adjustable Drive. This is where torque curves and “ballistics” can be adjusted by “musicians and artisans” to “voice” the table for ultimate performance and musicality. This software driven perspective unveils a unique capability for system designers to work with every aspect of a drives performance and open new vistas into music performance.

The precision motor industry is changing rapidly to embracing a software driven architecture. Helix 1 technology is taken from latest developments in sub micron servo drive systems for precision optics and adapted by our engineering team to deliver superior motion control to the Helix 1.

The Helix 1 motor control system is a digital closed loop servo with greater than 16bit resolution. Absolute positioning reading occurs over 120,000 discrete positions of the rotor per revolution. The motor spins several hundred times to achieve one revolution of the platter thus increasing the system resolution by an order of magnitude over a direct drive topology.

In laymans terms; this means at 33/45 rpm platter speeds we have an incredibly high number of checks on the speed stability per second. This information is fed to a super fast microprocessor in the servo control and our custom written software then defines the stiffness and the ballistics of the system and responsiveness of the servo loop. Different ballistics (inertia/force ratios) can be programmed to yield different sonic signatures and sound dynamics. Using a laptop interface we can tune sonics of the drive and control a comprehensive set of variables.

The table can act like a high torque Direct drive or like an underpowered low torque design depending on servo programming. Torque force can be adjusted to suit sonic palettes and the frequency of the drive shifted to areas that are better handled by the mechanical design and vibration control.

Cogging is prevented by a proprietary coil design that smooths the motor to vanishing low levels of vibration. Our motor design team has delivered extremely low motor noise on the Helix 1. We have not found any comparable system able to attain similar results.

The speed is factory set for 33 and 45 and does not need adjustment in normal operation. However if a user wishes to adjust the reference speed a software application via a smartphone/tablet/computer allows adjustment. It is also able to be securely connected to our service technicians for diagnostics and firmware / software upgrades.

Advanced settings are provided to factory trained technicians via stored named reference files for clients custom installations.

Plinth

The 120mm (four-inch) plinth is made from precision CNC aircraft grade aluminum and structural alloys and weighs close to 50 kg (100Lbs) when assembled. Connected by a series of interlocking plates which are fitted closely to the MinusK suspension system and allow for the mounting of the sub-systems such as motor, bearing, tonearm combinations. A laminated glass plate is used to add ballast and lower the center-of-mass. This glass plate provides visual access to the MinusK suspension for performance monitoring.

Platter

The 15Kg (30Lb) platter is made of triple layer of an engineered thermoplastic (made for Audio Union by a European supplier of polymers), and non-ferrous alloy machined to close tolerances. Each high-mass platter is balanced and shaped for lead-in groove and record label.

Special features include an EDR – Edge Damping Ring which damps the platter and LP edge and a damping mat to interface to the LP.

Spindle/Spindle Housing

High reliability and ultra low-noise operation were specified as part of the architecture. Audio Union engineer Stanislav Stoyanov developed a new low height, high stability custom bearing design for the Helix 1 using MARAGING STEEL to provide the desired capabilities, precision and low thermal and flex modulus. A single, ceramic ball, located at the bottom of the spindle is used for trouble-free operation on a quiet thrustpad. The high tech lubrication system is sourced from the aeronautical engineering field to ensure low noise operation.

Record Clamp

The record clamp is designed for ease of operation and secures the LP effectively on the platter surface and flattens even severe warps in poor quality LP’s. The clamp is a multi-piece design which has a reduced damage profile in the event a user accidentally drops the clamp onto an LP during operation. This was designed for “real-world” use (late night LP sessions and low lighting where operator fatigue sometimes occurs).

Motor

A precision single spindle high-torque motor featuring zero cogging is used. The motor can supply up to 100 watts of power for the most demanding control needs. By careful software controlled ballistics the belt system is gently started and bought to rest to avoid premature wear. Speeds are factory set and rock solid.

Belt

Dual high damping o-ring belts are provided for stable drive transmission.

Arm Board Assemblies

The Helix 1 supplies two armboards (for dual arms) that are removable and can be predrilled for most commercially available arms or left blank for future use. The armboards are able to be fitted or removed externally with arms mounted. No need to dismantle and recalibrate. The chassis has a damped tubular cross-section underneath which precisely locates the armboards relative to the bearing and platter. This provides a very rigid system with minimal flex and movement.

Tonearms

The Helix 1 is able to function with your choice of arm. We recommend the Schröder CB Arm which has been custom designed to work seamlessly with the Helix 1 and delivers exceptional performance.

SET UP

The Helix 1 turntable can be mounted on normal non-audio grade furniture (as the suspension system will work independently) and fit in with any architecture and decore.

Any platform the turntable sits needs to support 70Kg (140 pounds) and is at least 620mm wide and 500 mm deep.

Helix 1 includes an owner’s manual that includes step-by-step directions for set up although we recommend working with your authorised dealer.

The table is very easy to set up, use and play.

System Components

Turntable

All controls for normal 33 or 45 operation are located on the turntable top panel.

Control Box

A separate “control box” motion control servo drive is located in separate 3RU standard rack size housing which can be placed conveniently nearby or out of sight.

The unit comes pre-calibrated to precise speed for 33 and 45 from factory. The drive system monitors the speed constantly over 130,000 times per revolution to deliver direct drive like accuracy without speed drift. Speed adjustment is accessed via simple USB interface on the Control box and can be done remotely or onsite using a simple GUI connected to the USB direct or via secure Wifi.

Version shown here is anodized silver/black halftone edition. Unit is available in all black and all silver anodized configurations.

Mark Döhmann – Systems ArchitectMark is recognized for continuously developing analog systems having been a staunch advocate of the core technology since the early 1980’s. He has a well-respected track record in innovation and design of advanced turntables and tonearms of the highest caliber since 1982. He generates original ideas and understands the influence these innovations have on the sonic result.

In 2012 Mark experienced firsthand the use of Chladni plate analysis in the creation of bespoke stringed instruments by a world-renowned luthier. Mark was impressed by the luthier’s mastery of his art and recognized the potential for the same techniques to be used in deriving the sonic attributes of a turntable. This “eureka” moment opened a whole new panorama of creativity and new tools for turntable design.

Mark originated the tight integration of NSM technology into the Helix 1 design with Dr David Platus from MinusK. The engineering team constructs each mechanism from exacting specifications needed for the Mechanical Crossover to function as designed. The end result is a customized NSM system capable of consistent laboratory grade integration of the technology into every table we manufacture.

Rumen Artarski – Executive Director of Engineering and Marketing

Rumen aka “Cesar”, the Director of Engineering, has well established international credentials in the audio and video industry. His journey started with an Electrical Engineering degree from University of Denmark before working in UK (London) in several high end recording studios as an engineer and studio designer. As a successful entrepreneur in many industries; including clients in aerospace, defense, and big budget film and television it was only natural for Rumen to return his focus to his true passion for music.

Rumen is the key integrator and facilitator of the engineering team used for the integration and application of the “mechanical crossover” and Micro Signal Architecture© directives. His collaborative efforts successfully incorporated the subassemblies, motion control systems and drive technologies; all possible noise sources that exceeded the MSA specification. His patience, knowledge, effective communication skills and commitment to our customers is the key factor in the successful development of the Helix 1.

Frank Schröder – Analog Designer

Frank is one of the most respected analog designers of his generation and one of the industry’s true gentlemen. His immense knowledge of audio history of the audio art provides insight into the genesis of ideas and who they should be rightly attributed to. He has designed several impressive analog systems in his own right and his tonearms are among the most sought after in the market. He holds patents for his technologies and is a regular visitor to Audio Union’s main European manufacturing hub.

The CB tonearm is generating industry discussions as being one of the finest tracking arms ever made. The bearing system offers lower friction numbers lower than even the venerated Technics EPA-100. Sonically, the CB it is a musical masterpiece.

His contributions to the Helix project include advanced magnetic pre-loading systems and the ingenious arm bearing design. The Helix 1 is evidence of Audio Union’s ability to collaborate effectively to attain our lofty goal, restoration of “High Fidelity”.

Lee Gray – Industrial Designer

Lee is one of the rising stars in the Audio engineering community having penned several award winning industrial designs. The look of the Helix 1 table is a testament to his abilities, aesthetics and integration skills. He is part of the Audio-Union consulting team.

Allen Perkins – Bearing Design

The bearing system in a turntable is a critical part of the interface between the chassis and the platter. Great bearing designs are recognized for their ultra quiet operation, lack of precession and superb stability. Allen Perkins is one of the gentlemen of the industry and accepted globally as an innovator and builder of quality turntables in his own right. The bearing technology used in his SG1 turntable received critical acclaim for its ultra low noise operation. This key attribute was one reason Mark reached out to Allen to assist him on the original prototypes of the Helix One turntable. This early collaboration with Allen led to further bearing development in Europe to match the production needs of the Helix system. The Helix One bearing system maintains precession at vanishingly low levels and delivers ultra low running noise to meet the MSA specification. Fully manufactured in Europe with CMM and Quality Assurance systems ensuring all parts hold the precision tolerances required to match the unique platter system of the Helix One.

Bo Christensen– Industrial Designer

Bo is one of the most acclaimed creative designers in the Audio industry having penned several award winning iconic designs with Primare and Bow Technologies as well as other commercial brands. Bo was part of the genesis of the Audio Union team and provides his considerable master skills to guide the aesthetic values.

Stanislav Stoyanov – Mechanical Engineering

Stanislav is a graduate of the European and Russian Aeronautical engineering schools and holds qualifications in advanced engineering disciplines, science and advanced metallurgy. He heads up the mechanical engineering team at Rumen’s facility and oversees the many millions of dollars of CNC and surface finishing technology. He continues to work on commercial aeronautical projects for Lufthansa Technik. This means the Audio Union products are able to access the best systems for quality manufacture and repeatability. Full CMM and Quality Assurance systems ensure parts are built to best practice.

Dr. Plamen Ivanov Valtchev – Engineering Consultant

Plamen is a senior technology contributor to Audio Union and the Helix project. He is an expert in the use of advanced software visualization, FEA modelling and acoustics. In a jointly owned facility with Rumen Artarski our CEO, Audio Union has access to the most advanced test and measurement equipment. Plamen developed new software driven tools for the Chladni plate analysis methodology and also worked on the physical test models.

Dr David Platus – Vibration specialist and Founder of MinusK

David is one of the most respected designers in the field of vibration isolation and holds numerous patents in the field. A close association with Dr Platus led to the design of a new custom low frequency isolation system for the Helix 1 table. This technology is a world first for a turntable project.


Thomas Kleinbeck – Mechanical Engineering

Tom is one of the guiding forces behind the EnKlein Systems company and hails from Kansas City MO. He is a senior mechanical engineer and advanced fabrication specialist. He holds numerous patents for engineering innovations and aeronautical technology. Everyday people travel safely whilst relying on some of Tom’s inventions. Tom was highly trained by the US government in technology during his tenure in the armed services and this broad experience means the Helix 1 is built to most exacting standards and achieves high reliability. Tom works closely with Mark to ensure the conceptual world is translated into reality. He provides engineering services to the European team at Audio Union and coverage to our Support team in USA and Asia/PAC.

David Kleinbeck – Director Audio Union International

David is the founding member of EnKlein Systems and also hails from Kansas City MO. David is one of the world’s leading RF/EMI/Transmission engineering consultants. He holds a BSECE, Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering from University of Missouri-Columbia. David has worked for several US Government agencies in various technical capacities before joining the commercial sector with Fluor Daniel, Nortel Networks, Sprint and most recently K&M Systems as VP Research and Development. He holds several patents and is regularly consulted by global telecommunications companies for technology initiatives.

David provided the electronic and RF shielding topology for the Helix 1 to ensure the Micro Signal Architecture© extended across the electrical and RF spectrum.

David also heads up Audio Union International the USA based Head Office and provides technical, business and corporate governance to the business to allow our USA customers access to quality business support and services.