You wish – the Goldmund Reference II turntable

A $US250,000 turntable might be something your friendly neighbourhood millionaire might want for his dedicated listening room, but even if he (it’s always a he) can afford the Reference II, chances are he’ll never own one. US-based luxury audio company Goldmund will manufacture only five a year for five years, and the quota for 2007 has already been filled.

This is one exclusive piece of audio kit, then, and lovely to behold as well: Swiss-made, the metal work is from the same company that supplies parts for Patek Philippe and Rolex watches, so the finish is superb. And talk about solid. The turntable is mounted on its own 250 kilo table, into which touch controls for it and the straight-line 7 kg T8 tone arm are embedded, and the five layer platter — three metacrylate and two brass — the turntable sits upon weighs a further 20 kilos. Not surprisingly, each turntable is installed and calibrated by a Goldmund team.

And then there’s the technical stuff: “mecasyl-lubricated zero-play ultra-precise ball bearings”, “hyperbolic tracking correction”, “progressive analogue optical detector”, “liquid nitrogen-rectified belt” and “calibrated micro-metric Azimut adjustment”. In short, it’s everything the demented audiophile or millionaire might want. Although it’s not the first of its kind.

Goldmund Reference II turntableThe original Goldmund Reference debuted 25 years ago and the 300 produced were, and still are, expensive collectibles. With second-hand examples of these limited edition models advertised on audiophile-type Internet sites for around $US50,000 (with the tone arm costing a further $US18,000) the new Reference looks set to be an equally canny investment for analog enthusiasts.

For either vinyl spinner, however, you’ll need a phono preamp, power amplifier, speakers and suitably high-grade cabling. Goldmund has you covered on all counts, from its ‘entry level’ SR series components and Epilogue 1 speakers (A$55,500-plus per pair), up to the Telos 200 (A$15,500) amplifier and a pair of Full Epilogue speakers. The latter comprise four individual cube-shaped speakers, each made of solid aluminium and braced in a steel and aluminium tower. A pair of these costs more than half a million dollars. The company has even developed a home cinema system that delivers 144 discrete channels of surround.

Considering it’s almost impossible to audition this gear – it’s too expensive for the handful of elite dealers worldwide to stock a comprehensive range – just who, if anyone, buys this stuff?

“Prime ministers, captains of industry, research people, presidents of companies, doctors; anyone who loves anything that is a unique piece,” says Michel Reverchon, founder and president of Goldmund.

“When we started in 1978, there was nothing good for the ‘top-top’ customer,” he told GadgetGuy on a recent visit to Australia. “The first sale is difficult, but the second comes automatically. We do no marketing; these customers have a network,” he says. “There is a category of person in the world that want something so exclusive and that is obviously so much better than everything else that they will pay the price to have it. No problem.”

Australia is home to such a category people, with local distributor, Kedcorp, having already supplied and installed a two-channel Goldmund music system for a Sydney customer, and taken an order for another. Both are valued at around a million dollars each.