NORTH AMERICAN PUBLIC DEBUT OF TECHDAS AIR FORCE ZERO AND WILSON AUDIO MASTER CHRONOSONIC/SUBSONIC

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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#1
I attended last night the invitation-only North American public debut of the TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable (about $400,000) and the Wilson Audio Master Chronosonic and Master Subsonic loudspeaker system (about $800,000).


image3.jpeg


Maier Shadi, the well-known and widely-respected proprietor of The Audio Salon, in Santa Monica, California, who hosted the event, was introduced by Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio. Maier did an amazing job of converting in only a couple of weeks a large storage room into a great-sounding high-end listening room. I noticed the liberal use of sound absorbers on the ceiling and on the upper sections of the walls, and a large number of SMT Varitunes and SMT diffusers covering the front wall and the side walls.


image4.jpeg


Michael Fremer brought his own records and took responsibility for spinning vinyl.


image5.jpeg


Nishikawa-san and Motofumi-san of TechDAS discussed the new Air Force Zero turntable, the culmination of Nishikawa-san’s life’s work designing and building turntables. Nishikawa-san explained that the Air Force Zero platter consists of five sub-platters totaling 120kg in weight. The Artesiana stand weighs 320kg. The floating bases total 100kg.


image8.jpeg


This is the metallurgy of the sub-platters from top to bottom:

1) tungsten or titanium top platter​
2) stainless steel platter​
3) gun metal platter​
4) stainless steel platter​
5) stainless steel bottom platter.​

Air is sucked through all five platters to achieve vacuum hold-down of records. There is no airspace anywhere in the five platters.

The motor, a 3 phase 12 pole vintage Pabst synchronous motor, itself has an air suspension. A motor drive controller determines the speed of rotation of the platter and the phase of the motor.

Nishikawa demonstrated how with the vacuum hold-down off if you tap a vinyl record on the platter, you hear the tapping through the speakers. With the vacuum on the same tapping of the record produces no noise whatsoever through the speakers.


IMG_0019 1.JPG


The Air Force Zero was outfitted with a SAT CF12 tonearm and a 12” Graham Phantom Elite with a titanium arm-wand. On the CF12 tonearm rode a “barely broken in Atlas SL” cartridge. A TechDAS cartridge was mounted on the Graham tonearm. There was no SME 3012R mounted on this Air Force Zero, as has been seen in some photos of the turntable.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,669
1,065
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#2
I noticed Transparent Audio cabling with network boxes emulating the swoopy shape of exotic cars, and Dan D’Agostino amplifiers and electronics, and, of course, two Wilson Audio Watch Controllers for the Master Subsonics.


image15.jpeg


Neil Gader and Paul Seydor, both reviewers for The Absolute Sound, also were in attendance.

Nishikawa selected the first several tracks we all heard, including one from Harry Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall. After that Michael Fremer did an amusing and patient job DJing.

Among other interesting things Michael played an A/B comparison of a jazz title, with one record remastered by Electric Recording Company of England, and another record remastered by Acoustic Sounds. For something very different Michael played an eight minute track of a female English rap singer accompanied by instrumentation by a classical orchestra.

Michael thought he was done with his DJing chores for the night when Paul Seydor asked him to play three vocals tracks from a Jacintha album, I think. Michael concluded the night with a satisfyingly loud “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones.

The Wilson Audio Chronosonics and Subsonics looked almost beautiful in a champagne silver color. As we typically see in Wilson Audio subwoofer installations, the Subsonics were pushed back into the extreme front left and front right corners.



image14.jpeg



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Overall the system was incredibly dynamic, and provided a sense of unlimited dynamic ceiling and capability. The system sounded "light on its feet" while at the same time capable of delivering thunderous power with a very high "jump factor."

As we all know it is difficult to conclude anything objectively and accurately about the overall sound of a system, and the contribution of the individual components thereto, in the best of circumstances, but when you are listening to unfamiliar music on an unfamiliar system in an unfamiliar room it is difficult to ascertain anything at all. With that broad disclaimer I nonetheless think I heard one full notch higher level of realism and easier suspension of disbelief than I have ever heard before. This system took me one step closer to the sound of musicians playing live in the room with you. The piercing bite of brass instruments, the sensation of lungs breathing air into instruments such as saxophone and trumpet, the richness and power of piano, as well as the gentle tinkling of piano keys, I think all sounded more real than I have ever heard them before.

IMG_0023.JPG




image12.jpeg
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,669
1,065
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#3
image2.jpeg




IMG_4293.jpg
 
Likes: GMKF

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#4
Very nice Ron

I’m curious as to the subs that were used. Are the ones we see in the pictures the ones which were designed for the chronosonic
 
May 30, 2010
15,505
714
113
Portugal
#5
Great writing Rob. Did you take any detailed picture of the Watch Controllers? I would love to know what were the settings being used!
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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#6
Yes, Steve, I believe those are the WAMM Master Subsonic subwoofers which match the speakers.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,669
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#7
Great writing Rob. Did you take any detailed picture of the Watch Controllers? I would love to know what were the settings being used!
No; the Watch Controllers were hiding in the back behind the turntable.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
551
279
63
Denmark
#8
Nice job Ron ! And not a tube in sight anywhere ;)
 

Tango

VIP/Donor
Mar 12, 2017
3,008
1,833
113
Bangkok
#9
Given this gobsmacking system, They should have played some pieces that we normally dont hear in audio shows like a good Brahms Violin Concerto and the audience would all have a hair raising moment. But maybe some clicks n pops do not illustrate well the AF0.

Kind regards,
Tang
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,669
1,065
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#10
Given this gobsmacking system, They should have played some pieces that we normally dont hear in audio shows like a good Brahms Violin Concerto and the audience would all have a hair raising moment. But maybe some clicks n pops do not illustrate well the AF0.

Kind regards,
Tang
Actually both Nishikawa and Michael played quite a bit of simple instrumental classical music and jazz music. I just don’t remember the titles.

Michael is a good DJ. He played some interesting, off-beat tracks.
 
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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,629
495
83
North Shore of Boston
#11
Excellent photos, description and brief summary of the sound, Ron. Lucky you to have been invited. Those diffusers are fascinating. I bet it is a demonstration that you will not soon forget.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
3,419
494
83
Switzerland
#13
I attended last night the invitation-only North American public debut of the TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable (about $400,000) and the Wilson Audio Master Chronosonic and Master Subsonic loudspeaker system (about $800,000).


View attachment 50330


Maier Shadi, the well-known and widely-respected proprietor of The Audio Salon, in Santa Monica, California, who hosted the event, was introduced by Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio. Maier did an amazing job of converting in only a couple of weeks a large storage room into a great-sounding high-end listening room. I noticed the liberal use of sound absorbers on the ceiling and on the upper sections of the walls, and a large number of SMT Varitunes and SMT diffusers covering the front wall and the side walls.


View attachment 50331


Michael Fremer brought his own records and took responsibility for spinning vinyl.


View attachment 50332


Nishikawa-san and Motofumi-san of TechDAS discussed the new Air Force Zero turntable, the culmination of Nishikawa-san’s life’s work designing and building turntables. Nishikawa-san explained that the Air Force Zero platter consists of five sub-platters totaling 120kg in weight. The Artesiana stand weighs 320kg. The floating bases total 100kg.


View attachment 50333


This is the metallurgy of the sub-platters from top to bottom:

1) tungsten or titanium top platter​
2) stainless steel platter​
3) gun metal platter​
4) stainless steel platter​
5) stainless steel bottom platter.​

Air is sucked through all five platters to achieve vacuum hold-down of records. There is no airspace anywhere in the five platters.

The motor, a 3 phase 12 pole vintage Pabst synchronous motor, itself has an air suspension. A motor drive controller determines the speed of rotation of the platter and the phase of the motor.

Nishikawa demonstrated how with the vacuum hold-down off if you tap a vinyl record on the platter, you hear the tapping through the speakers. With the vacuum on the same tapping of the record produces no noise whatsoever through the speakers.


View attachment 50334


The Air Force Zero was outfitted with a SAT CF12 tonearm and a 12” Graham Phantom Elite with a titanium arm-wand. On the CF12 tonearm rode a “barely broken in Atlas SL” cartridge. A TechDAS cartridge was mounted on the Graham tonearm. There was no SME 3012R mounted on this Air Force Zero, as has been seen in some photos of the turntable.
Hmm, all that design work and they couldn’t do better for a motor than a vintage Papst 12 pole synchronous AC motor? Might as well buy and old Micro Seiki and save a few hundred K!
 
Likes: KeithR

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,669
1,065
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#14
Obviously he thinks one cannot do better for a turntable motor than that particular motor. On this he agrees with our DavidK.

I get a big kick out of the fact that the AS-2000 uses the same motor as the Air Force Zero.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,669
1,065
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#16
Nishikawa used the Graham and Michael used the SAT.
 
Likes: TLi

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
1,345
453
83
Hong Kong
#17
I noticed Transparent Audio cabling with network boxes emulating the swoopy shape of exotic cars, and Dan D’Agostino amplifiers and electronics, and, of course, two Wilson Audio Watch Controllers for the Master Subsonics.




Neil Gader and Paul Seydor, both reviewers for The Absolute Sound, also were in attendance.

Nishikawa selected the first several tracks we all heard, including one from Harry Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall. After that Michael Fremer did an amusing and patient job DJing.

Among other interesting things Michael played an A/B comparison of a jazz title, with one record remastered by Electric Recording Company of England, and another record remastered by Acoustic Sounds. For something very different Michael played an eight minute track of a female English rap singer accompanied by instrumentation by a classical orchestra.

Michael thought he was done with his DJing chores for the night when Paul Seydor asked him to play three vocals tracks from a Jacintha album, I think. Michael concluded the night with a satisfyingly loud “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones.

The Wilson Audio Chronosonics and Subsonics looked almost beautiful in a champagne silver color. As we typically see in Wilson Audio subwoofer installations, the Subsonics were pushed back into the extreme front left and front right corners.





Overall the system was incredibly dynamic, and provided a sense of unlimited dynamic ceiling and capability. The system sounded "light on its feet" while at the same time capable of delivering thunderous power with a very high "jump factor."

As we all know it is difficult to conclude anything objectively and accurately about the overall sound of a system, and the contribution of the individual components thereto, in the best of circumstances, but when you are listening to unfamiliar music on an unfamiliar system in an unfamiliar room it is difficult to ascertain anything at all. With that broad disclaimer I nonetheless think I heard one full notch higher level of realism and easier suspension of disbelief than I have ever heard before. This system took me one step closer to the sound of musicians playing live in the room with you. The piercing bite of brass instruments, the sensation of lungs breathing air into instruments such as saxophone and trumpet, the richness and power of piano, as well as the gentle tinkling of piano keys, I think all sounded more real than I have ever heard them before.
Hello Ron,
Thanks for your detailed report.
Nice to learn that the WA Master Chrono+AF Zero demo was so succesful this time.

Last year when the WA HK dealer held a similar demo in a room in an conference center, the sound was mediocre.
Of course they didn't have the Air Force Zero then. :D
 
May 25, 2010
971
234
43
SF Bay Area
#18
Hi Ron, thanks for the report and great photos. Did you see the big black power cubes that Maier used to plug in the electronics behind the equipment? I think they were Symmetrical Power units by 512 Engineering/Timothy Marutani.

Larry
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
2,474
819
113
UK
#19
Hi Ron,

Thanks for the report. Sounds a fun evening.

I am very confused why it is possible to hear an audible thumping through speakers when tapping the platter without vacuum on vs vacuum on? I would have expected vacuum to have no bearing on such noise - any thoughts? I don’t hear any thumping at home with or without vacuum engaged when tapping platter.

Best.
 

TLi

Active Member
May 27, 2016
113
113
43
#20
Hi Ron,

Thanks for the report. Sounds a fun evening.

I am very confused why it is possible to hear an audible thumping through speakers when tapping the platter without vacuum on vs vacuum on? I would have expected vacuum to have no bearing on such noise - any thoughts? I don’t hear any thumping at home with or without vacuum engaged when tapping platter.

Best.
There are rubber gaskets on the outer and inner rims on the platter in Air Force series turntable. They form a seal to hold vacuum between the vinyl and platter. When the vacuum is off, the gaskets lift up the record a little bit. There is a small gap between the vinyl and platter mat. When you tap the record surface with the needle on the record, there is a thumping noise.

When the vacuum is on, the suction will press the record onto the platter mat, leaving no gap. The record now fuses with the platter. The platter being fairly heavy, light tap on the record will not cause any audible noise from the speaker.
 
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