KRONOS Sparta 0.5

PW07.08.2018

Analog sources

Kronos Audio was - until recently - a one man one product venture. The accomplished Kronos Sparta turntable harvested more awards than any other ultra high end analog device, yet being prohibitively expensive it has not found its way into many homes. Sparta 0.5 should be "entry level" machine fo Kronos Audio. This is not to say it is cheap.

100% reference

Function and form

97%
Ease of use
95%
Sound
100%
Appearance

The “0.5” means that this model of Canadian Kronos has only one platter instead of dual counter-rotating platter of the full-fledged Sparta model.

The Sparta 0.5 comprises of two meticulously crafted frames – one holding the motor assembly (Swiss Maxon) and the other the platter subchassis that hangs on adjustable O-rings in the four corners of the turntable. The platter has a carbon fiber surface part and is driven by belt which provides the best vibration isolation according the manufacturer. There is not much to do, a user can change the speed and fine tune it with the help of stroboscope marks on the platter. And you may not need to set the anti-skating either as the Sparta 0.5 was equipped with the Kronos’ own Helena tonearm which was really remarkable. It is of a damped unipivot design that has a single point bearing with almost no friction though its wobbly feel requires a bit of adaptation. The tonearm is a structure of dual carbon fiber tubes and wood damping. It is possible to use any other 9”-12” tonearms of your choice as the chassis is equipped with different cut outs.

Other than that it is always possible to expand the Sparta 0.5 back into the flagship model with the help of an upgrade kit which costs the 50% of the turntable price.

Bass management

Weight
90
Slam
92
Articulation
92

Come On In My Kitchen (Cassandra Wilson - Blue Light 'Til Dawn, Blue Note) is a simple tune based on both a wonderfully played and wonderfully recorded double bass and Cassandra’s voice. The turntable managed to convey the deep ‘thummmp’ of the instrument’s body together with the deliciously defined ‘ strummm’ of the thick plucked string, creating a complete – and very lifelike - sonic picture of the bass. The bass of the Kronos is smooth and inviting, with tuneful detail and good speed. The turntable does not feel slow or overdamped and it bass is rhytmic and well defined.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
97
Air
92
Transparency
92

On Russians (Sting ‎– Fields Of Gold, A&M Records) the drums and cymbals in the background were quite buried under the complexity of the arrangements but were easily recognizable as individual instruments. The saxophone and percussion on Englishman In New York imaged with pristine precision, creating a deep and wide soundstage that was beautifully transparent. The LP exhibits immaculate and crystalline sound and the Kronos Sparta 0.5 does not disappoint in delivering it.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
93
Dynamics
91
Temporal resolution
95

It seemed to me that the sound of the Sparta 0.5 was constrained only by the limits of vinyl media. The dynamic was as good as the format allows – Yello’ s Flag (180g MOVLP535) was rhythmic and a sort of explosive through the Kronos. However, this is not the music the Kronos was built for.

I have nothing to say about the turntable’s tonality, it was just perfect to me. The turntable excels in sultry voices, luscious instrumental colours and alluring richness of timbres, no matter whether the latter are generated by wooden instruments or saturated Moog synthesizers.

Spatial resolution

Holography
94
Soundstage width
94
Soundstage depth
92

There is a grans sense of scale to the Sparta 0.5’s sound – no wonder that classical and chamber music pieces, and intimate jazz numbers, were mesmerizing. With the best recordings, the retrieval of hall ambience created the holographic illusion of instruments in real space. A solo piano was vibrant and lifelike, a string section deeply textured and enjoyable, the massed strings sounded like a group of instruments rather than just a group.

The Kronos Sparta 0.5 is one of the best turntables that I have auditioned. I only regret that my bank acccount is not thicker to allow it.

Price as reviewed:649 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Hifi2die4, Německo

Associated components

  • Sources: TW-Acustic Raven One with Graham Phantom tonearm and Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge, Ortofon MC Anna and Ortofon Black MM cartridges
  • Amplifiers: Spectral DMA-150, phono Gruensch Reference Phonostage MCS
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: MIT MA, MIT MA-X XLR, MIT V2.1 Oracle, Stealth Audio Hyperphono, Van den Hul The D-102 III Hybrid
  • Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Sasha W/P
  • Power conditioning: Furutech, Oyaide

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