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This syndicated article first appeared in the June 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine Stereo Mecmuasi of Turkey. You can also read this introduction on Prometheus Audio in its original Turkish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Hakan Cezayirli. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at the end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of Stereo Mecmuasi or Prometheus Audio. - Ed.

George Thomsen of Prometheus Audio: Master Craftsman and Turntable Designer
How old are we when we first start hearing music? Experts say that before we are born, we can hear things in the womb. Some mothers even play music to their unborn child in an effort to start building their character. If this is true, I would love to know what George Thomsen was listening to all those years ago when he was born in the ship-building town of Sunderland in the north east of England. I have never met anyone in this crazy world of hifi with a greater knowledge of recorded music on vinyl. Literally, you can fire any classical piece at George and he will tell you the best performance, label and recording number from his vast memory.

Although George is a professional record collector who can supply you with even the rarest record, the reason I had to find and interview him was for his remarkable craftsmanship as a turntable designer and builder. Just one look at any of the pictures will reveal to you the fantastic build quality that in these days of crazy pricing makes you appreciate that you really are getting something very special for your money.

How has George come to his design? We have to go right back to the beginning of his journey. When he was just 13 years old, he can remember hearing a recording of Chopin's Polonaise in A flat Major. For George that music seemed to light a fire in his young soul. When his friends asked him to come out and play on their bikes, he would always try to stay in and listen to the siren call of classical music.

At 16 he became an engineering apprentice and studied hard for many years all the basic engineering skills which in later life he would put to such good use. At 17 years old he can remember going to a performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto performed by the great Polish violinist Henryk Szeryng. Although over the years he has attended concerts performed on over a dozen Stradivarius violins, nothing compares to the performance he heard on that night.

Realizing that the record player his parents used was of average quality, he saved up and bought his first hifi system. It was based on a Pioneer PL12D with a Sure M75ED cartridge. Using an Amstrad tuner amplifier and a pair of Solovox speakers, he can remember it costing him about £250. In the early 1970s, this was a fortune for a young man on an apprentice's pay. A young audiophile was born.

At the time a Decca SXL 2000 record cost about £1.50 but in a few short years this price had increased to £3.50. This was not lost on George and now the young record collector was born. It was not long before an upgrade was needed and there soon appeared a Linn LP12. In fact George bought two of them and mounted them side by side so he could compare one to the other. Why? Well, it was at this point that he discovered that if you used shelves of different material, wood, glass, granite etc., they sounded different to each other. George's' enquiring mind wanted to find out which was the best material to use. By having two turntables next to each other enabled him to reliably conduct his experiments. So now the hifi engineer was born.

Not content with his transistor amplifier, he soon went back to the tried and tested technology of valves. Although he couldn't put his finger on it, he thought that valves seemed to capture more of the soul of the recording and this love affair never dwindled. Today he still uses a complete valve system. But back to our journey. George continued his experiments, removing the motor from a turntable and placing it on a separate wall shelf. His breakthrough was realizing that you had to separate everything from each other.

Having gone as far as he could go with other manufacturers' turntables, it became time now to build his own. The first belt-driven platter he created weighed over 17 kilograms. Not content with any other stand system he created his own based on stainless-steel spikes and toughened glass. The whole device stood on massive legs which can only be described as having the appearance of "The Pillars of Hercules" Again, where most people would be content with such an achievement, George did not rest.

He experimented with motors and their housing, different drive belts, isolating the arm from the plinth, isolating the turntable from the shelving system, isolating the motor system, motor power supplies... even the individual legs contain air pistons in an effort to reach the Holy Grail of isolation.

Although the journey for George has been a long one, just one look at the pictures will bear testament to his enduring quest to design and build the ultimate turntable and stand system. Well now, what does this engineering 'piece de resistance' actually sound like? I could say that I listened to many many records on that day; that I do not remember it getting dark outside; that I can vaguely remember apologizing during my wife's phone call wondering why I was 6 hours overdue; and her telling me that even our dog wouldn't eat my burnt dinner... but none of that mattered. For when I finished listening to George Thomsen's system, I realised I was closer to God.

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