According to Nielsen, US vinyl album sales have grown by 260 percent since 2009. So, if you want to get in with the hip 12-inch disc crowd but find that your home hi-fi system doesn't sport a turntable, some eye-catching help may be at hand. Gramovox, the Chicago-based firm behind the horny Bluetooth Gramophone from 2013, has designed a stylish new sound system that boasts audiophile-grade components and plays records vertically.
"Vinyl produces a rich, warm analog sound that’s soothing to the ears," said Gramovox co-founder and CEO Pavan Bapu. "It's also a piece of art. With the Floating Record we've created a unique way for people to display their records and effortlessly play them out of the box in minutes."
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Though not quite as unique an idea as the company's CEO might think, unlike ION's Vertical Vinyl we featured back in 2011, the Floating Record's tonearm stands up rather than hangs down, while the walnut or maple body housing the electronics, speakers and drive motor is horizontal.
The system's adjustable carbon-fiber tonearm is said to be "perfectly balanced radially around its main pivot," allowing it to stand vertical and play without groove-damaging skate or flop. A supplied clamp should ensure that vinyl placed on the stainless steel spindle stays put and the tonearm's spring-loaded, dynamically applied tracking force applies consistent force, even if that record is warped.
Gramovox says that listeners will not have to buy and install a cartridge, set the tracking force, or buy a phono preamp, hi-fi amp and speakers. though the options are there for those who do want to walk down those routes.
The Floating Record will come with an Audio Technica AT95E dual magnet diamond tip phono cartridge to get down into the grooves. Users can opt to listen to the tunes via the built-in 15 watt per channel Class-D power amp and Tymphany full range 2-inch stereo speakers with bass porting or hook the system up to external tower speakers via the integrated phono preamp and on out through the included line-level RCA connectors.
The system is belt-driven and makes use of a DC stepper motor for quiet operation and consistent speed. Users will need to get hands on if they want to change the drive speed though. The silicone belt will need to be rolled onto the appropriate 33.3 or 45 RPM spool that turns the CNC-machined high mass, low resonance acrylic platter.
Gramovox has launched a US$50,000 Kickstarter campaign to turn its great-looking working prototype into a production system. At the time of writing, early bird crowdfunding pledges for the walnut version have all been snapped up but maple systems are still available for $329 each. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December.
The pitch video below shows the Floating Record in action.