Perhaps the Finest Bargain in the Entire World of Turntables: The Holbo Airbearing, Linear Tracking System
Now at True Audiophile
We have pursued this table like a rabid animal. We can't believe what has been done for the price. It's been reviewed - like crazy - and regularly preferred to airbearing tables 4 times its price. Above that price you're into very heathly $100,000.00
Just a stunning achievement from a manufacturer who isn't greedy and when asked, told us it was a gift to audiophiles all over the world. Normally we would call b.s. on a statement like that, except the reality is, its true.--- Mini Review by True Audiophile
"The Holbo Mk2 is an impressively engineered and presented integrated turntable/tonearm combo. It worked flawlessly during the months I had it set up and it never called attention to any shortcomings until it was compared to far more costly turntables. It ran at the correct speed (when properly set), produced quiet backgrounds, was fun to listen to and use and didn’t exhibit any noticeable, impossible to ignore sonic characteristics. It was at all times and with all genres, pleasing, and I hate to use the word, but sometimes it’s appropriate—“musical...I’m not particularly good at making lists off the top of my head. Each has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of sonic performance, set-up flexibility etc. but for those who want a tangential tracker that works hard, plays well and doesn’t break—at least this one didn’t and I used it a lot—the Holbo demands your attention. It also won’t break the bank. Once you’re at this price point you’re getting a generous slice of the licorice pizza pie but don’t let anyone tell you you’re getting it all, because you’re not! However, be assured that consuming the Holbo won’t give you indigestion!”.
"Bostjan Holc has obviously done his Engineering homework and has come up with a very very good record player. It produces a wonderfully clean and detailed sound with fabulous instrument delineation and tone. Add to this its staging capabilities and it's a very enticing package. I think the price is in the right ballpark and definitely well below the "high end silliness" zone. The questions I would raise are whether you will like it and whether you can accommodate it and are willing to take the time to get the best from it. If the answer is yes to the three of these then I would definitely recommend finding somewhere to hear it with an appropriate cartridge."
"The Holbo Airbearing turntable may look simple but it has actually been very thoughtfully designed with ultimate transparency and neutrality as well as ease of use in mind. The Holbo can sound clean or voluptuous, cool or warm, flat or room-filling and anywhere in between, depending on the cartridge, cable, phono preamp and the rest of the system. It is so very neutral and even-handed and possessing of such incredible refinement and resolution that it is worth pairing with the best cartridges out there.
The Holbo is not inherently euphonic or romantic and neither are the Aiwon and Palladian cartridges. But they absolutely do not inhibiteuphony. If it is on the record then it pours out of the system with no holds barred. Especially when fitted with the Acoustical Systems Palladian, it does not only reproduce all the technical facets of the recordings in all their splendor, it also conveys the musical message itself in a completely involving manner.
There is no beating around the bush: the Holbo air-bearing turntable offers a reference-level performance that will be hard to beat. The first contender that springs to mind is TechDAS and even this brand’s most affordable turntables are considerably more expensive than the Holbo, and they don’t come with a tonearm. Did I mention that the Holbo turntable complete with tangential arm costs only 6500 euros?"
"Perhaps I am recommending this for what some may consider the wrong reasons - value for money - but there is no denying that getting all this tech, and so well-executed, at this price is irresistible. It’s comparable to DS Audio giving you an optical cartridge at a 10th the price of its flagship. For anyone captivated by air-bearing decks and linear-tracking arms, the Holbo Airbearing combo is a gift."
"Don’t let this table’s modest and understated appearance deceive you. ALL of the parts are very nicely machined and it is obvious there is a very high level of fit and finish with tight tolerances throughout this unit. This is a quality component. There is no “erector set” appearance here.
I truly appreciate the engineering that solves problems in the simplest way and with high precision. Throughout the time I had the table, it performed flawlessly and was a pleasure to use."
"This is a product with a unique world of sound that analog fans should definitely experience. Especially for those who value the stereo image, it will be a great choice."
"I listened to "Symphony No. 9 'From the New World'" conducted by Istvan Kertesz and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The image quality was impressive. One of the great advantages of this machine is the tracing of the stylus tip without tracking errors. It is quite attractive that you can get a clear sound to the innermost circumference of the analog board."
"In the time we spent with the Holbo Airbearing Turntable System, we really grew fond of it. It worked without a hiccup and even a pretty warped album played through without skips. Another awkward record has its hole off-center. A pivot arm swings gently when playing this. The Holbo arm performed a far smoother left-to-right move to demonstrate its superior lack of friction from an air bearing. In addition, when the arm is parked to the far right and the power is switched off, the arm stays put due to now introduced friction without the air cushion. As the manual recommends, when not playing, the arm should be covered by a soft cloth to prevent dust from accumulating on its stainless-steel tube."
The Holbo Airbearing Turntable System MK2 is a state-of-the-art, belt-driven turntable system with a unique tangential linear tracking air bearing tonearm. The system aims to simplify its components while isolating them from each other to control vibrational distortions and optimize sonic performance.
- Airbearing Technology: One of the most significant technical advantages of the Holbo turntable is its use of airbearing technology. This system levitates the platter and tonearm on a cushion of air, virtually eliminating friction and mechanical noise. The result is a dramatic reduction in vibrations and resonance, which in turn leads to improved clarity, detail, and overall sound quality.
- High-Precision Bearing System: The Holbo turntable features a high-precision bearing system designed to ensure smooth and stable rotation of the platter. The spindle and bearing are crafted from hardened stainless steel and are polished to a mirror finish for minimal friction. This precision-engineered bearing system ensures exceptionally low noise and vibrations, contributing to the turntable's outstanding sonic performance. Linear Tracking Tonearm: The Holbo turntable is equipped with a linear tracking airbearing tonearm, which ensures precise alignment of the stylus to the record groove at all times. This design eliminates the tracking errors and distortion commonly associated with traditional pivoted tonearms. The result is improved accuracy, reduced surface noise, and a more faithful reproduction of the recorded sound.
- Belt-Driven Platter: The Holbo turntable utilizes a belt-driven platter system, with a precision-machined aluminum alloy platter and an ultra-low noise, high-torque motor. This design ensures consistent and stable platter rotation, while isolating the motor's vibrations from the platter and tonearm. The result is reduced noise, improved speed stability, and enhanced musical detail.
- Advanced Vibration Isolation: The Holbo turntable features an advanced vibration isolation system that effectively isolates the turntable's critical components from external vibrations and resonance. This system includes a robust, low-resonance chassis, as well as custom-designed isolation feet that decouple the turntable from its supporting surface. The result is a turntable that remains impervious to external disturbances, delivering a clean and undistorted audio signal.
- Precision Speed Control: The Holbo turntable incorporates a high-precision speed control system, which ensures accurate and consistent platter rotation. This system utilizes a quartz oscillator and a digital microcontroller to maintain precise speed regulation, reducing fluctuations and ensuring optimal performance at both 33 1/3 and 45 RPM.
- Easy Setup and Adjustments: The Holbo turntable is designed with user-friendly setup and adjustments in mind. Its innovative airbearing system eliminates the need for complex tonearm adjustments, making it simple to achieve optimal performance. Additionally, the turntable features intuitive controls and adjustments, allowing users to easily fine-tune performance parameters such as tracking force, azimuth, and anti-skating.
- Plinth: The turntable features a simple 30mm MDF plinth with a matte black finish. It has three adjustable feet for leveling, with each footer featuring a coupling spike resting on a supplied aluminum puck.
- Platter: The CNC-machined 6082 aluminum airbearing platter weighs 5kg and is driven by a thick black rubber belt. The platter's bearing center pin is made of POM thermoplastic and hard steel. Motor: A Japan-made DC motor with electronic speed control powers the turntable. There are two buttons on top of the plinth to switch between 33 rpm and 45 rpm, with corresponding LED colors indicating the operating mode.
- Tonearm: The tangential linear tracking airbearing tonearm has an effective length of 163mm (6.4 inches) and is constructed from an aluminum alloy and carbon. The tonearm features adjustments for VTA (Vertical Tracking Angle), azimuth, SRA (Stylus Rake Angle), and tracking force. A set screw system enables adjusting the tonearm wand/tube and headshell alignment. Air pump/DC motor/power supply system: The turntable utilizes a noiseless air pump system for the airbearing tonearm. Air is administered through transparent tubing, approximately two meters in length. The pump connects to a multi-pin PSU cable of similar length and has an IEC socket for connecting the power cable to an AC outlet. Rear Panel: The rear panel consists of a ground post, stereo RCA outputs, an air inlet for the air pump tubing, 33 rpm and 45 rpm screw controls for fine pitch adjustment, and a multi-pin input for the DC power supply.
- Accessories: The turntable comes with a protractor, strobe disc, and tools for setup and maintenance. A stainless steel puck for flattening the disc onto the platter is also provided.
Summary from Reviews:
The subjective review components of the Holbo Airbearing Turntable System MK2 highlight several key aspects related to its sound quality and performance when compared to other turntables. These aspects include soundstage, tonal balance, dynamics, detail, and musicality.
- Soundstage: Reviewers often praise the Holbo turntable for its expansive and well-defined soundstage. The turntable is capable of presenting a wide and deep soundstage with precise imaging, allowing listeners to pinpoint the location of individual instruments and vocals within the stereo field. This creates a more immersive and realistic listening experience compared to other turntables that might struggle with soundstage presentation.
- Tonal balance: The Holbo turntable is described as having a neutral tonal balance, meaning that it does not favor any particular frequency range over another. This neutrality allows the turntable to reproduce a wide range of musical genres with accuracy and naturalness. Reviewers often appreciate this tonal balance, as it helps to reveal the true character of the recordings without adding any coloration or emphasis.
- Dynamics: The Holbo turntable exhibits excellent dynamic capabilities, according to the reviewers. It can effortlessly reproduce the subtlest nuances and the most powerful crescendos in a musical piece, showcasing its ability to convey the full emotional range of a performance. This dynamic contrast is often considered superior to that of other turntables, which may lack the ability to deliver such a wide range of dynamics.
- Detail: The Holbo turntable is known for its ability to retrieve and present even the most intricate details in a recording. Reviewers mention that it can uncover subtle nuances and textures that might be obscured or lost with other turntables. This level of detail retrieval helps to create a more engaging and satisfying listening experience, allowing listeners to hear new elements in their favorite recordings.
- Musicality: Reviewers often comment on the turntable's musicality, referring to its ability to convey the emotion and expression of a performance. The Holbo turntable is said to possess a natural and engaging presentation that draws listeners into the music, making it an enjoyable and emotionally involving experience. This musicality is often attributed to the turntable's technical strengths, such as its airbearing design, precise bearing system, and carefully engineered components, which work together to create a turntable that excels in delivering a captivating musical experience.
Air bearing design Linear Power Supply (NEW) DC motor Belt-driven Aluminum platter 5 kg (11 lbs) Air bearing 2.16 kg (4.8 lbs) Dimensions (WxDxH): 430mm x 400mm x 150mm (17 x 15.7 x 5.9 inches) Total weight: 12 kg (27 lbs)
Linear tracking air-bearing tonearm– aluminum alloy/carbon Effective length 163 mm Effective vertical mass 7.5 g Total tonearm mass 31.6 g
Azimuth Leveling vta +/- 7 mm
high-quality silver/copper litz
110V-240V / 50hz-60hz 2 W
Power consumption: 10 W Noiseless Dimensions: 225mm x 147mm x 120mm (8.9 x 5.8 x 4.8) Weight: 1.8 kg (4 lbs)