Place: Modular Audio (Singapore) showroom
Date: 1st October 2011
Event: Bergmann Audio Launch in Singapore
Mr. Johnnie Bergmann, owner/designer of extreme technique air-bearing turntables and tonearms was in Modular Audio (Singapore) to launch the Bergmann Audio brand of high-end turntables. Bergmann Audio, a company from Denmark, has created huge buzz in the high-end turntable markets since its launch of the high-end Sindre model. Winner of numerous Turntable of The Year awards from both sides of the Atlantic, it generated a lot of interest in the vinylphiles communities since its introduction.
In the Beginning
Johnnie has always been fascinated by turntable since he was a kid. His love for music and experiencing good playback systems since young set the tone in his growing years. He paid special attention to “air” based design turntable (polypush vacuum suction) which he was most curious in. Years later, when he got his first pay cheque, he splurged his own savings together with his pay cheque to buy himself a Micro Seiki vacuum turntable. For most of us, a Technics DJ turntable as a first machine would have been a luxury but not Johnnie. He has firmly set his mind to it since the beginning.
With a mechanical engineering background, Johnnie revealed that the first Bergmann prototype turntable was conceived some 20 years ago. It was a cost-no-object project which much later finished to become the current flagship model (Sleipner). In the process of developing the prototype, Johnnie realized that his first model needs to meet a more commercial price point but yet incorporating all the techniques and design concepts/objectives that would make airbearing work, reliable and yet fuss free. The outcome was Sindre, Bergmann’s first turntable model born some 5 years ago. Sindre was very well received, proving his well-thought extreme airbearing design and technique has overcome many shortcoming and design issues e.g. noisy pump, leakage that bugged users and manufacturers since the 80s.
With the success of Sindre, Johnnie went back to his lab to finish the flagship Sleipner model. In the middle of this year, in the Munich Hi-End Show, he completed the Bergmann lineup with the starter Magne model. A scale-down version of Sindre but no less formidable in its price/performance. With these three models, Bergmann Audio has a world class turntable in each price category.
Why Airbearing and Linear Tracking?
Unlike traditional bearing which usually use a ceramic or steel ball to balance the platter, airbearing is frictionless because the entire platter is lifted by a thin film of air. The flagship model (Sleipner) went one step further to use air to centre the entire 9.2kg platter. The result – no mechanical contact – no bearing noise. One only has to experience what a Bergmann turntable sounds like to quickly notice the difference in background noise level in an airbearing design.
“Record was cut this way” was a simple but definitive answer to why linear tracking is favoured by Bergmann. Linear tracking presents zero tracking error once the cartridge alignment and its surrounding parameters are set accurately. An airbearing linear tracking tonearm further eliminates noise as the arm is completely floated on an airtube. The tonearm gradually slides across the record horizontally (90 degrees) from right to left as the stylus is led by the record grooves.
Reflecting where Johnnie came from (the Scandinavian), he named his turntables using the characters from Nordic mythology. With the most powerful character going to its flagship – Sleipner (pronounced S-leip-ner), the middle model Sindre (pronounced Sin-dre) and the super baby Magne (pronounced Mag-ner). In the current scene of high-end turntable builders where bigger, taller and extended layers exhibit sophistication and superiority, Johnnie chooses to do the opposite. He crafted his turntables to look understated but current, non-bombastic but stylishly modern. When not playing, it can be appreciated like a piece of finely crafted art – simple is beautiful.
Sound of Airbearing
Users of traditional turntable design of high-end models would notice the sense of ease, spaciousness, depth and precise instrument placement (imaging) is nothing less than extraordinary. Bearing noise is often not realized until one listens to a turntable without it.
What about the difference in sound going from the starter model to the highest model?
Johnnie explains that the overall sonic character (house sound) of his design stay the same throughout the turntable range. This likens moving up from one amplifier model of the same brand to the next. Scaling up, expect better authority, the strengths and goodness of the sound you come to know from the one lower model is correspondingly upsized.
Bergmann discloses that an optional Bergmann airbearing linear tracking tonearm is in the works which is designed to fit most conventional turntables. This is good news to vinylphiles wanting to upgrade their tonearm and/or enjoy an airbearing design that would track perfectly.