Döhmann joins Ten – the Absolute Sounds artisan audio collection

Absolute Sounds, high-end audio distributor, adds two ‘extraordinary’ turntables from the other side of the world to its carefully curated Ten collection.

At the end of 2020, Absolute Sounds launched a new distribution concept called Ten – a curated collection of sonic creations from around the world, personally selected by Ricardo Franassovici, Absolute Sounds’ founder and MD.

The first maker to join Ten was DeVore Fidelity, creator of specialised high-sensitivity loudspeakers fashioned in Brooklyn, New York. In the months that followed, amplifiers by Robert Koda of Japan and Trafomatic Audio of Serbia, phonostages by HSE of Switzerland, and reel-to-reel tape machines by Metaxis & Sins of the Netherlands were added to the collection. Spring 2023 sees a sixth maker join this exclusive club: Döhmann Audio of Australia, creator of turntables par excellence.

Döhmann Audio was formed in 2013 by Mark Döhmann, a man acknowledged in high-end circles as one of the finest turntable engineers of the modern era. His association with Absolute Sounds began with the Continuum Caliburn – a remarkable Döhmann-designed turntable which launched in 2005, cost six figures and redefined the frontiers of vinyl playback. Continuum eventually discontinued the Caliburn and replaced it with the Obsidian, which remains in Absolute Sounds’ distribution portfolio. But now, by inviting Döhmann Audio to join the Ten collection, Absolute Sounds is ensuring Mark Döhmann’s extraordinary turntable designs are available to vinyl connoisseurs in the UK once again.

Incorporating state-of-the-art technologies never previously applied to audio design, the distributor says Döhmann Audio creates heirloom-quality industrial works of art to provide music lovers with truly exceptional sound, so they may derive absolute maximum pleasure from their record collections.

Two choices

There are two Döhmann turntables – the Helix One, which is the no-holds-barred flagship, and the Helix Two, which incorporates key Döhmann Audio technologies into a smaller footprint. The Helix Two has one armboard (whereas the Helix One has two) and is, “engineered to deliver unprecedented performance in analogue playback for its physical size and price point.”

The Mk3 versions of the Helix One and Helix Two launched in Australia in the final quarter of 2022. Now, a few months later, they’re available to order in the UK – courtesy of a select group of specialist retailers entrusted by Ricardo Franassovici to sell pieces from the Ten collection.

The appliance of science

The Helix One Mk3 and Helix Two Mk3 share the same core technologies, which are unique to Döhmann Audio. Everything about their design is targeted at unprecedented resonance control, born from Mark Döhmann’s experience as an aerospace engineer. As he puts it, “Vinyl playback involves converting the vibrational energy experienced by a stylus as it moves through the grooves of a vinyl record into an electrical signal. The challenge is that there are other forms of vibrational energy (resonance) present in this environment that arise from various sources that are also picked up by the stylus. If you remove as much of that unwanted resonance as possible, you have a purer signal, less distortion… more music!”

By analysing research relating to other challenging environments and industries, the maker has introduced new techniques and technologies to the field of audio engineering. For example, electron microscopes in research labs cannot operate accurately if there is even the slightest vibration present, so how are they isolated? How do fighter jet manufacturers deal with vibrational energies when breaking the sound barrier? How do NASA engineers isolate and insulate sensitive equipment in satellites from damaging resonant energy? How does electronic equipment used in volatile environments such as mining shafts dissipate energy without interacting with the surroundings?

As a result of this research, Döhmann Audio has harnessed solutions used in aerospace, spectrometry, medical imaging and electron microscopy to achieve its sonic goals. At the heart of both turntables is a Minus K vibration isolation system utilising NSM (Negative-Stiffness Mechanism) technology. Minus K vibration isolators are used by the European Space Agency and NASA, for applications that include the James Webb Space Telescope – just one indication of the extreme level of mechanical engineering applied to these turntables in the pursuit of perfection.

The technical innovations and ‘world firsts’ in the designs of both Mk3 turntables are too numerous to list in full. They include a mechanical crossover network designed to dissipate mid and high frequency vibrations, ‘floating’ armboards made from a composite sandwich incorporating a ballistics-grade polymer developed for military armour, and RSA (Resonance Suppression Architecture) which involves the insertion of special materials into hollow chambers at critical locations within the turntable.

The platter for both models consists of a specific mix of elements, formed using a finite element loading technique to ensure the ideal distribution of mass throughout its body, and is driven by a high-torque motor custom-made in Switzerland to Döhmann Audio’s exact specifications. In the case of the Helix One Mk3, the motor control software, suspension stabiliser and power supply electronics, including specially designed high-frequency/RF absorption features, are contained within the separate ‘PowerBase’ beneath the main structure.

Both turntables are available in a black anodised-aluminium finish, or a nickel and titanium plated finish applied by a company that plates parts for military jets. The Helix One Mk3 is priced at £64,998 in black and £78,998 in titanium, and the Helix Two Mk3 costs £46,000 in black and £51,500 in titanium

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