How can a country with as small a population as Canada incubate so many high-end turntable manufacturers? When I say, “so many,” I actually mean “three.” First off there’s Oracle, the granddaddy of Canadian record players. I recall seeing an Oracle ’table for the first time in the early 1980s—I was absolutely transfixed by its baroque, crystalline construction. Its successor is still in production as the Delphi MkVI. Oracle is at the Audiofest this year, but I’m not here to talk about them.
Then there’s Kronos, the manufacturer of huge, dimensionally dense turntables with a secondary platter that counter-rotates. I first encountered the Kronos Pro at Montreal Audiofest several years ago. With the insane quality of its machining and forward-thinking design, the Kronos Pro took my breath away. But I’m not here to talk about them.
Jason Thorpe (right) with Stable 33.33’s Sylvain Pichette
On my first pass through this year’s Audiofest, I caught up with Doug Schneider, my muse, whip, and gadfly for this weekend’s event, as he was sifting through Stable 33.33 T-shirts, looking for a large size, outside of Audiophile Experts’ room. At that moment, I twigged onto the name—Stable 33.33. I’d seen that name before while searching the web for ideas for my “For the Record” column on SoundStage! Ultra. My first exposure to Stable 33.33 was their mirror-polished record clamps. Then a few years back, the company demoed the multi-motored 33.1 turntable, which was actually a prototype. It showed exceptional promise, but it didn’t quite look ready for primetime.
This year, Stable 33.33 was presenting the production-ready Stable 33.2 Mk2 turntable, which retails for $13,900 (all prices in CAD) without tonearm or cartridge. I encountered this turntable in two rooms: the aforementioned Audiophile Experts room and the Planète Haute-Fidèlité room where I saw MartinLogan’s new Motion-series loudspeakers. Audiophile Experts and Planète Haute-Fidèlité are both Stable 33.33 dealers.
The ’table was fitted with a Black Beauty tonearm and Accuphase cartridge. It’s a very attractive package, one that radiates solidity and precise machining. Although it’s not exactly a new idea, the 33.2 Mk2 uses cylindrical weights embedded into the perimeter of the 47mm-thick acrylic platter. The 12 stainless-steel weights don’t dangle down quite as far as those employed in Michell’s Gyrodec, but they’re still visible, and add a nice feeling of dimensionality, a reminder that LP playback is all about movement and timing.
Suspension at three corners is courtesy of a polyurethane dome paired with a sprung suspension, which, in turn, is wrapped in natural fibers to provide damping. The motor is a 7.5W AC synchronous unit that’s mounted on its own chassis. The armboard is adjustable to accommodate tonearms ranging in length from 9″ to 12″.
Sylvain Pichette, the owner of Stable 33.33, is fiercely patriotic. Like all Stable 33.33 products, his small, clever, insanely cute Vinyl Hole Reamer (designed to precisely enlarge the spindle hole on records that have been drilled just a hair too tight) is made here in Canada. It sells for $57. Pichette is selling these things by the boatload, exporting them all over the world. He could probably increase output and reduce costs by porting the whole enterprise to China. But he won’t do that. “I make them myself,” he told me. “I work 110-hour weeks. My wife, the children, the dog—they all help.”
The same goes for the 33.2 Mk2 turntable. Pichette is a machinist by trade and builds the 33.2 Mk2—along with the company’s record clamps and other products—in his own machine shop, located in Gatineau, Quebec.
His patriotism is reflected in the product’s pricing. I mentioned to Pichette that the 33.2 Mk2 looks like a lot more turntable than its $13,900 price tag would suggest. “I sell the 33.2 Mk2 for the same price in other countries but in US dollars,” he replied, “so it’s a far better deal here in Canada. It makes sense for me to do this as exporting adds to my costs. But I also like to do this because I’m Canadian.”
This frost-bitten Canadian boy likes the cut of his jib. I’m hoping to get a 33.2 Mk2 in for review. Stay tuned.
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!