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Brinkmann Audio

Brinkmann Audio

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Helmut Brinkmann stands steadfastly behind the German company which takes his name. Brinkmann Audio is perhaps most well known for its modest range of perfectly executed high mass, non-suspended turntables, using either belt drive or electromagnetic direct drive methodologies.

All Brinkmann Audio turntables use the company’s silent and maintenance-free hydrodynamic bearing; the shaft of which (with carefully controlled play) rotates in a temperature-controlled oil bath on a synthetic thrust plate, providing the only mechanical contact point between the platter and chassis.

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Common to all Brinkmann Audio turntables are platters made from a resonance-optimised aluminium alloy material, containing copper, magnesium and several other materials, with an embedded crystal glass top layer (except in the entry level version of the Bardo) designed to rapidly transfer vibrational energy from the tracing of record grooves in order to avoid unwanted colouration.

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Both the Bardo and Oasis models utilise a direct-drive mechanism which consists of a ring shaped permanent magnet contained in the platter’s bearing and four air-cored inductors within the turntable chassis. These inductors are adjusted and driven with utmost precision to different phase angles. Thus, the ensuing magnetic field interactions rotate the platter.

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The 10 kg platter creates a high flywheel-effect to smooth out any remaining motor/bearing speed fluctuations without resorting to servo-control mechanisms which are forever hunting for the correct speed by rapidly speeding up and slowing down. The heavy platter also ensures that only minimal motor torque is required to maintain the correct rotational speed for the lowest possible noise transfer and maximum pitch stability.

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The LaGrange and Balance models are massive belt driven designs which maximise this technology’s inherent strengths while minimising its very few shortcomings. The result is reference-calibre sonic performance, devoid of colouration, in a beautifully executed package which inspires immense pride of ownership and ensures years of trouble-free operation.

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An option for any of the Brinkmann Audio turntables is the RöNt II vacuum tube power supply. Why would anyone want to use vacuum tubes to power a turntable’s drive motor you ask? Helmut Brinkmann realised that the vacuum inside a rectifier tube not only isolates the plates from the cathodes, but it also isolates the power line from the drive circuitry. Because of this, the RöNt II works like a high class power line filter for the Brinkmann turntables. The purification of the mains noticeably improves the sound in terms of clarity, openness and spaciousness.

Brinkmann Audio also makes tonearms, moving coil phono cartridges and a range of amplification electronics using transistors and/or vacuum tubes where appropriate.

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The model 10.5 and 12.1 tonearms are double gimballed low-friction ball bearing types which draw inspiration from the legendary Swiss Breuer tonearm design. The model numbers reflect the effective length of each tonearm. The arm tubes are double-concentric, self-damping devices constructed from heavily ceramic anodized (about 100 μm), thin-walled aluminium. The result is fast, stiff, and light; the three essential qualities of any reference-grade tonearm.

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The recently introduced model 9.6 tonearm utilises many of the same construction methods and materials from the 10.5 and 12.1 tonearms but uses a clever variation on the uni-pivot principle. While a lower priced alternative to the longer Brinkmann tonearms it is anything but entry-level in terms of its sonic performance.

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Helmut Brinkmann has taken the legendary EMT cartridge design and, through careful experimentation and listening tests, optimised its performance via a series of heavy modifications. These include the use of a van den Hul stylus, an aluminum mount with a resonance-optimised contact patch (made of several layers of copper, titanium, beryllium, and other special materials), and special sound-optimized tiny screws. The result is the Brinkmann EMT Ti, a low output moving coil phono cartridge which is the natural partner for the Brinkmann tonearms. One can eliminate the guess-work by purchasing a complete turn-key, proven LP playback system.

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The new Brinkmann Pi low output moving coil phono cartridge uses a microridge stylus mounted on a boron cantilever coupled to a copper voice coil. In this design particular care is paid to minimising Eddy currents within the magnetic generator circuit. The machined aluminium body is designed to effectively control resonance and particular attention to detail is evident in the choice of all materials, including the aluminium and titanium mounting hardware.

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Brinkmann Audio identified a genuine need for an ultra-high precision tool for setting the alignment and overhang of phono cartridges and thus developed their own protractor which adheres to the IEC geometry (null points at 66.04 mm and 120.9 mm) and is based on the legendary, and long out of production, Dennesen Soundtractor. This device is CNC milled in a single session to a precision of greater than 0.01 mm.

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The Brinkmann Audio lineup also includes two linestage preamplifiers; the six input, solid state Calvin with its handheld remote control and optional plug-in MM/MC phono modules; and the top-of-the range Marconi with its fully balanced hybrid circuitry utilising both transistors and vacuum tubes, purist approach to volume control, mixture of both RCA and XLR inputs and outputs, and handheld remote control.

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Brinkmann Audio manufactures two dedicated phono preamplifiers. The single input, pure Class A, solid state Fein with its built-in attenuator and low output impedance is capable of directly driving a power amplifier’s input stage. The feature-rich Edison is a hybrid design utilising both bipolar transistors and vacuum tubes. It has three switchable inputs (3 x RCA + 2 x XLR) for either MM or MC phono cartridges, a choice of two equalisation curves (RIAA or IEC), an optional 1:1 input transformer, 12 resistive input loading values for each input, 16 steps for setting the gain applied to each input, a phase inversion switch, and a handheld remote control. As an option the Edison may be ordered with a mono switch in lieu of the phase inversion switch. This makes sense for those who also use Brinkmann’s Marconi linestage which already has a phase inversion switch or for those who have a colleciton of mono LPs which they wish to play with a stereo cartridge.

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What you won’t find inside the Brinkmann Audio Integrated Amplifier are coupling capacitors, ceramic resistors or an on/off switch. Instead you will find servo direct coupling, protection circuits, thick-film and SMD resistors with no, or low, ceramic content as well as a clever energy and music saving standby function. Throw in a headphone output with a dedicated amplifier, a buffered tape output, and a remote volume control and you have a very comprehensive yet elegantly simple solution for driving most loudspeakers.

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If you are looking for a purist approach to power amplification then Brinkmann Audio offers both monoblock and stereo options in a unique form-factor compact chassis. Is this the closest one can get to the ideal of “straight wire with gain”? We’ll let you be the judge of that.

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With extensive in-house machining capabilities the engineering tolerances in all Brinkmann Audio products are remarkably fine. Fit and finish is beyond reproach.

We invite you to study reviews of the Brinkmann Audio products by following the links below.

Stereophile Review of the Balance Turntable

Stereophile Review of the Bardo Turntable

The Audio Beat Review of the Bardo Turntable

Stereophile Review of the EMT Ti MC Cartridge

6moons Review of the Balance Turntable

Postive Feedback Review of the LaGrange Turntable