This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

After less than 30 minutes, the Blackbird was assembled, tone arm mounted with cartridge, all settings checked and adjusted to a T where needed. True, Chris is a master at this but any dunce can do the same in an hour or so. Even if it takes you longer, it’s actually fun to play with the protractor and Adjust+ software.

All this was quite exciting but playing music is the real proof, thus the outputs of the phono stage were redirected at our integrated tube amp and the first album spun up. We knew that the bearing would take time to settle in but wouldn’t you be curious how things sounded? We kicked off with Neil Young and the Blue Notes’ This note’s for you, an album with lots of brass and Young’s signature guitar. As a first impression of what was to come, this was fabulous. The sound was direct, dynamic, precise and freely floated in the air. While we let the table do its rounds, we took the volume down and chatted some more with Chris before he had to leave. Though facing a long ride home, he’d make a little detour to our favorite supplier of vintage vinyl - Tune Up in Antwerp. Vinyl lovers are a committed breed indeed.

We had the Blackbird spin continuously for a few days before starting to listen seriously. Very first impressions aside, we felt the combination was playing very balanced. From the end of the chain to the source, our speakers are highly sensitive and incredibly fast. The WE 300B-based Audio Note Meishu with its mass of transformer iron is a steady and equally fast voltage source to which the Tri phono stage is ideally matched. For cables we ran ASI LiveLine interconnects and speaker cables with LessLoss DFPC Signature power cables run from a LessLoss Firewall. The Feickert Blackbird fit in beautifully. It was what it was but - lots of tubes and hornspeakers plus vinyl make a very particular kind of magic.

The same combination with one of our own turntables came close to what we had now and still has a long way to go. The ease and calm of the Blackbird were amazing. On a 1988 record like Robben Ford’s Talk to your daughter, the directness was startling. Compared to the same recording on CD played over the PS Audio PWT/PWD combination which for digital is one of the best we know, the analog rig trounced it completely. Where digital was nice and well balanced, the analog counterpart hit us in the proverbial. Even at more modest levels a rim shot from vinyl was so instantaneous as to make our eyes blink. We believe it’s here where the most profound difference between good digital and analog is: Directness. It seems that digital takes longer to rise and then doesn't rise as high. Analog is instantaneous and peaks higher*.


*) We found a graph at Merging Technologies that tells more than the proverbial thousand words. In this graph MT compares the impulse response of analogue playback to various forms of digital playback and shows that only full DSD can compare to analogue. It is this lightning-fast ‘unclipped’ impulse response that makes analogue sound much more ‘live’ than digital.

Another record where the Blackbird astonished was Rob Wasserman’s Duets. The track where Jennifer Warnes joins the bass player delivered so much energy with such a delta between the soft vocal parts and the ones where Mrs. Warnes leans in that we were finally face to face with the beast of true dynamics. On that record’s second side, the duet with Lou Reed playing his special Schecter guitar ripped through the air and transported us straight to New York.

With the Blackbird vinyl gains a very robust base. It seems highly immune to outside influences which fail to reach the needle and hence our ears. After Chris left he sent us the puck that should come with the Blackbird. It’s a simple Delrin screw-on clamp that matches the platter material. With the puck, the tautness of the low frequencies increased even more. Listening to Jaco Pastorius accompanying Joni Mitchell now inspired even greater awe. What we can say about the combination of  Blackbird, DFA 1o5 and Zu DL-103 is that it’s been the most enjoyable analog source we’ve auditioned thus far. From this we surmise that when a second arm is mounted with an MM cartridge for example, the enjoyment should double since now you can easily switch between cartridge flavors.

All that a great turntable should do is spin the record without adding a thing - no rumble, no wow or flutter, no environmental noises and above all, no coloration. On that scale, Chris Feickert seems to have succeeded with verve. He borrowed proven solutions from the classics beyond just looks and combined them with the best of today’s insights to create a simple, highly accurate, user-friendly and versatile turntable at a very competitive price.

Quality of packing: Excellent; double boxed with padding.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: 100%.
Condition of component received: Perfect.
Completeness of delivery: Puck was sent later.
Website comments: Extensive background information.
Human interactions: Humorous but professional and confident.
Suggestions: A dust cover would be nice.

Dr. Feickert Analogue website