The Storm Mk2 is a big, bold, steely beast of a machine that’s likely to kick sand in the face of other decks. Paul Rigby meets a high-mass turntable that delivers with great authority
Storm Mk2 £5,650 & TA2000 tonearm £2,090
Unlikely, but if Darth Vader ever walked into a local high street shop and asked for a turntable, just before nipping into Boots to collect his asthma spray, then it would be this very model, the Acoustic Signature Dark Side… sorry, Storm! Storm Mk2 actually.
It weighs… a lot. A full 28kg, but it seems more. It’s also Teutonic. Even the brand itself says so; and it’s engineered with great accuracy, built to last and packed with steel. The sort of steel that draws warmth from miles around into its very core and then remains cold to the touch. If you played this thing in the middle of the Sahara, you’d still threaten frostbite by picking it up (along with a hernia). It’s forbidding and foreboding.
The bearing that spins the platter is constructed from Vandadium, Ferrite Teflon and Titanium. Are we surprised? Acoustic Signature calls this Tidorfolon and its an in-house creation.
As you gaze at the accompanying image, take a look at the platter. This in itself weighs more than most entire turntables at 11kg.
You’ll also see those little circles on the top. They’re more than decoration. They are known as Silencer modules and designed to dampen resonances while, underneath, the platter is coated with a damping material.
On the outside, sitting on its own and only attached to the turntable by the belt, is the motor, run by Acoustic Signature’s Beta-DIG regenerative power supply. “We believe that the motor system for
a turntable should have enough force and inertial energy to obtain proper platter speed but not influence it during rotation,” says the company.
Going Through the Gears
That’s important. Why? Well, take the Technics SL-1200. It has massive torque. It has a motor that drives the platter from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, but the platter is then swamped by excessive energy that finds its way into the cartridge and does sonic damage. Hence, Acoustic Signature’s motor does enough but no more. This is why you shouldn’t start this turntable in 45rpm mode. The motor can’t cope. You need to go through the gears: 33rpm… pause… wait some more… then 45rpm.
Putting this turntable together is straightforward enough, but not exactly a breeze. It’s a bit like servicing a large 4×4. Everything is big, heavy, meaty and tough. You need care and attention with that sort of bulk and weight. You need to take things slow and you need to focus.
This includes the platter on the plinth and the tonearm. I used a 12″ model supplied by the company, replete with a straight arm tube. Aiding the installation is a very nice jig that sits over the centre spindle and touches
a little hole at the top of the arm. Using this, you know where to install the arm on the plinth and you can quickly install any cartridge.
Speaking of which, I chose a Soundsmith Paua Mk2 (£3,599) for this review – a well-designed cartridge offering smooth mids and lots of complimentary focus and precision.
I began with Thirteen by Emmylou Harris and the country ballad, You’re Free to Go. What I heard here offered two initial impressions. Firstly, a low, low noise presentation which enabled me to add a few notches of gain to the hi-fi chain. That, in itself, enabled my system to dig deeper into the well of available detail.
Secondly, the control over that detail was complete. This is a reliable source, which locks onto information absolutely. And that sense of ‘lock’ is exactly the feeling you get. Each and every guitar string sounds as though it’s being picked, one by one.
Playing Queen’s Dead On Time, from the LP Jazz, the turntable showed its low-end abilities admirably with low end bass being an ever-present, adding further solidity to the soundstage, producing a massy thrust to bass and a weight to guitars, with percussion adding punch but also plenty of tonal variety.
The Storm Mk2 is a big, bold, strong, massy construction of a beast and it applies those elements to the music it plays. You get a controlled authority across the soundstage that is exact in every way, with an impressive focus that staggers.