One of the world’s most advanced turntables comes to the UK, courtesy of Absolute Sounds. The high-end hi-fi distributor has made the latest Döhmann Audio Helix turntable the sixth member of its esteemed Ten collection.
Launched in 2020, the Ten series is a collection of high-quality creations from around the world, hand-picked by Absolute Sounds founder and MD, Ricardo Franassovici. The first entry was a pair of speakers from Brooklyn-based DeVore Fidelity, which has since been followed by amplifiers from Robert Koda (Japan) and Trafomatic Audio (Serbia), phono stages from HSE (Switzerland), and reel-to-reel tape machines from Metaxis & Sins (Netherlands). In the third year of the concept, there is now a Döhmann Audio turntable from Down Under.
Our Australian publication recently spoke to Mark Döhmann himself about his new Helix design, which can be considered one of the most accurate audio playback devices available today and has recently been adopted by Stanford University as an audio reference to record vintage recordings from the Smithsonian archive. Quite advertising to say the least.
There are actually two Helix turntables – the aptly named One and Two, both of which are now in their third generation. The original Helix One followed the original model in 2015, which itself followed the release of the Döhmann Continuum Caliburn turntable a decade earlier. The Continuum Caliburn was another legendary deck – a six-figure one, no less – and the Obsidian model it replaced is still in Absolute Sounds’ catalog. The Helix Two is the more affordable and smaller ‘domestic’ model and has one armrest compared to the flagship One’s two.
Döhmann’s experience as an aerospace engineer has led him to think outside the box and introduce new techniques and technologies into turntable design inspired by works in the fields of aerospace, spectrometry, medical imaging and electron microscopy . An example can be found in the Helix’s use of Minus K vibration isolators, which are used by the European Space Agency and NASA for applications such as – would you believe – the James Webb Space Telescope.
Indeed, most of Döhmann Audio’s efforts over the years have been and continue to be aimed at removing resonances. The Helix Mk3’s mechanical crossover network is designed to dissipate vibrations at the highest frequency, while the aforementioned ‘floating’ armboards are made from a composite sandwich with two more materials over the Mk2 version – including a polymer of ballistic quality developed for body armor ! Meanwhile, a new technology it calls “RSA (Resonance Suppression Architecture)” allows for the insertion of two materials into hollow chambers at critical locations within the turntable. These materials were specifically chosen for their ability to target certain frequency spectra.
The new plateau, while the same size as that of the Mk2 model, now has a higher and more evenly distributed mass, which can be achieved by using a heavier mix of elements and applying the finite element loading technique. For a smoother and more precise drive, the drive system has been completely redesigned: new software, new firmware, new pulley, new controller… everything. And a new power supply benefits from a circuit capable of improved noise reduction.
Launched in Australia late last year, the Mk3 versions of the Helix One and Helix Two are now available in the UK, either in a black anodised aluminum finish or a nickel plated and titanium plated finish applied by a company that makes sheet metal parts for military jets . You have no doubt prepared yourself for the pricing as you read. The Helix One Mk3 costs £64,998 (black) or £78,998 (titanium), while the cost of the Helix Two Mk3 is a little easier to swallow – £46,000 (black) and £51,500 (titanium).
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