Apollo turntable combines an analog heart with digital brains
The owners of the Vinylicious record store in Singapore have been listening to customers complain about the shortcomings of turntables for a number of years and recently decided it was time these niggles were addressed. Their answer is the Zephyr Apollo, a belt-drive turntable with a linear tracking tonearm, touchscreen control, the ability to skip tracks and the chance to use a smartphone as a Bluetooth remote.
The Zephyr Apollo turntable features a proprietary tangential (or optical linear tracking) tonearm that moves in line with the grooves of the record, rather than being anchored at the side. This ensures that the stylus cuts clean through the grooves, where a radial system sees the stylus adopt an ever-increasing angular approach. Vinylicious says that this will result in "high quality music with minimal distortion."
Instead of physical buttons, the Apollo has a 5-inch touchscreen display system powered by a quad-core ARM processor, for playback and 33.3/45 rpm speed control, as well as allowing for track skipping and the selection of particular tracks, like you would with a CD. The company says that listeners can even create a playlist, whereby the optical tracking sensor will scan the whole record and display track numbers on the LCD display, allowing track selection.
This feature wouldn't be too useful on Black Stone Cherry's latest album, for example, given that there are (mostly) only three tracks per side. But if you only want to hear only two or three tracks from a record boasting eight or nine titles per side then it could allow for a more hands off listening experience. Or if you feel like mixing things up a little, the system also allows users to set playback order. And the company is also looking into controlling functionality using a companion mobile app.
Elsewhere, the belt-driven turntable includes auto cueing (which isn't a common feature these days), has RCA outputs to the rear and will come with an acrylic dust cover. Surprisingly for a "next generation" turntable though, the system doesn't include a USB port for ripping.
The Zephyr Apollo project is looking for production funding on Kickstarter, where pledges for a handcrafted system in maple or walnut finish start at SGD 2,850 (about US$2,100), which puts this firmly in the enthusiast rather than hobbyist price bracket. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in April 2019. The video below has more.