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Apollo turntable combines an analog heart with digital brains

Apollo turntable combines an a...
Analog sound, digital brains: The Zephyr Apollo turntable from Singapore's Vinylicious Music
Analog sound, digital brains: The Zephyr Apollo turntable from Singapore's Vinylicious Music
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The optical linear tracking system in the Zephyr Apollo follows the grooves
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The optical linear tracking system in the Zephyr Apollo follows the grooves
The elaborate linear tracking tonearm of the Zephyr Apollo turntable
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The elaborate linear tracking tonearm of the Zephyr Apollo turntable
The Zephyr Apollo turntable will come in maple or walnut finish
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The Zephyr Apollo turntable will come in maple or walnut finish
Analog sound, digital brains: The Zephyr Apollo turntable from Singapore's Vinylicious Music
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Analog sound, digital brains: The Zephyr Apollo turntable from Singapore's Vinylicious Music
The Zephyr Apollo replaces physical buttons with a 5-inch touchscreen display panel
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The Zephyr Apollo replaces physical buttons with a 5-inch touchscreen display panel
The Zephyr Apollo turntable is available in maple or walnut finish
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The Zephyr Apollo turntable is available in maple or walnut finish
The Zephyr Apollo's touchscreen display is used to control playback
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The Zephyr Apollo's touchscreen display is used to control playback
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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."

The Zephyr Apollo's touchscreen display is used to control playback
The Zephyr Apollo's touchscreen display is used to control playback

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.

The Zephyr Apollo turntable will come in maple or walnut finish
The Zephyr Apollo turntable will come in maple or walnut finish

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.

Source: Kickstarter

ZEPHYR APOLLO: The Next Generation Turntable (Canceled)

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5 comments
f8lee
The linear arm concept was around in the '80's, as I recall - but never took off in a big way. There were some awesome (and awesomely expensive!) turntables with this setup and others from the major manufacturers that simply were not built well enough to take advantage of the concept. Perhaps this time it will be possible to achieve the mechanical precision required.
bergamot69
Linear arms are the way forward, but other aspects of good vinyl playback are not mentioned- such as whether and how the motor is decoupled, and how the deck is suspended (or not). Even the headline technology- the linear tonearm- is pretty hard to engineer well- it needs to be powered to move along as the record is playing rather than being passively 'dragged' as per conventional tonearms. And no mention as to whether a stand-alone phono preamp is required (few amps these days have a built-in phono preamp- fewer still of a good enough quality). And it is probably safe to assume, given lack of details and price, that if a cartridge is included, it will probably be moving magnet (MM) rather than the superior moving coil (MC).
IvanWashington
pricey for what it is.
Signguy
In the eighties I had a B&O Beogram 8000 which is a linear tracking turntable which worked incredibly well & as mentioned it had fantastic isolation. It was $1000. then. They can still be found and are not that expensive; it's just hard to get parts. I loved mine (lost in the divorce).
Mik-Fielding
Nothing mentioned about the platter apart from being belt drive. This is one of the most important aspects of a turntable. The most important aspect of all is the sound quality and no vinyl lover is going to spend that kind of money on something that is less than top notch, no matter the convenience ...