Obsidian + Viper
發燒音響 (Audiophile) Jan 2018
|膽機世界 (The Tube World Monthly) Jan 2018|
發燒音響 (Audiophile) Sep 2017
Obsidian is the latest result of Continuum Audio Labs’ decade-plus of research into turntable design. Following the launch of the Caliburn turntable in 2005, we have explored new areas of materials science, experimented with new mechanical ideas, developed new industrial designs, and recruited new experts to our team—all in the effort to bring the incomparable musicality of the Caliburn to a new generation of listeners, in an all-new design: Obsidian.
In ways, creating Obsidian was much like engineering an elite sports car. The knowledge our team gained in more than a decade of reference turntable design work could be considered its chassis. Obsidian’s innovative new DC motor, designed specifically for this turntable, is obviously analogous to the engine. As in auto design, metallurgy was critical—particularly in Obsidian’s extensive use of tungsten, an extremely high mass, inherently damped metal that our recent research shows is ideal for use in turntables. Of course, every great sports car deserves an innovative design, which in Obsidian takes the form of new elements such as a decoupled arm mount and a plinth-less base.
As do the world’s finest autos, Obsidian combines the work of many specialists into a perfectly coherent creation that delivers extraordinary performance. In fact, the creation of Obsidian demanded that we expand our “dream team” of top engineers and designers, bringing in new members with expertise in materials, physics and mechanics.
Obsidian’s visual aesthetics are as arresting as its sound. The plinth-less design places the tonearm and motor on separate, mechanically isolated mounts, so that any vibrations are thoroughly damped and/or channelled away from critical components. The simpler design eliminates many potential sources of resonance while creating an entirely new look that is revolutionary, yet driven by function.
Minimal Mass, Maximum Rigidity
To many enthusiasts and experts, the Viper tonearm supplied with Obsidian might look impossibly massive. Once they lift it, they will immediately realize that not only is the Viper much lighter than it looks, it’s also much more rigid than other tonearms.
Why such a large tonearm? Because every percentage of increase in the width or height of a tonearm increases stiffness by nearly 8 percent. Clearly, the larger we could make it, the better. To keep the weight the same, we used material roughly as thick as (but much tougher than) an eggshell. To minimize resonances, we instructed our finite-element analysis (FEA) software to do the impossible: to achieve infinite stiffness with the lowest possible mass, and thus eliminate the resonances that can be detected only through sophisticated software tools … or through the ears of experienced listeners. The result is the contoured shape you see here.
The Viper tonearm can be removed and changed easily, and additional tonearms can be acquired to facilitate quick swaps between different cartridges, and from mono to stereo.
The tonearm bearing—a sapphire vee jewel paired with a hardened stainless steel pivot—assures smooth, free, unimpeded movement and ideal tracking on any record. The swash plate rides on damped miniature bearings manufactured to ABEC 9 standards, the tightest tolerance (0.0012 mm) and highest quality available. A 30mm tungsten central tower provides a massive, stable support for the feathery light arm.
The entire tonearm mechanism is designed for effortless, accurate adjustability. A threaded ring on the support tower provides VTA adjustment. Azimuth adjustment is precise and repeatable. A precision set screw at the rear of the arm allows ultra-fine-tuning of VTF in 0.001g increments. On its own, the tonearm can support most cartridges, and a washer system allows it to maintain optimum effective mass with an even wider range of cartridges.