Acoustical Systems APOLYT Turntable – The Revelation

An alternative heading could be the Legend Returns. Years ago I had read alluring snippets about the first APOLYT, a rare monster turntable from the early 1990’s that eclipsed all else. Last week I finally heard its successor. Over the last few years I have gradually been wowed and won over by the performance of Acoustical Systems’ (“AS”) products. First for me came their brilliant alignment tools – I had spent decades in search of tools that would allow me to precisely align my cartridge. Then I found for sale on Audiogon the monster double chassis limited run Omnigon phono preamp which eclipsed all I had listened to before. Then came the excellent Axiom arm, and finally their all revealing Paladian cartridge. These products showed me that Dietrich Brakemeier of AS, designs and realizes his products from a profound understanding of physics and geometry, and a relentless pursuit of perfection, and that it was this foundation that resulted in the best sounding analog gear that I have heard and owned.

I was visiting Germany and Dietrich invited me to visit his demonstration and construction rooms 45 minutes outside Munich. The equipment in that room were the exact same that were reported on by @syntax in his thread of May 12 and demoed at the Munich Show: APOLYT turntable, Axiom arm, Palladian cartridge, Evocator phono stage, Vitus line stage, Vitus mono block power amps and Soundspace Systems Aidoni speakers (which I understand Dietrich was instrumental in designing). I spent hours listening with a variety of discs, some familiar and some not, and most being excellently recorded musical performances. I have been in this wonderful hobby for decades and never before have experienced anything approaching the shock and exhilaration of the performances produced by this system on excellently recorded discs. I have previously heard systems of this expense and above and sometimes have been appalled, especially given their cost, but have never preferred a system over my own. But this time was totally different. The APOLYT is to my experience like nothing I have heard before, and given the materials, components, technical understanding involved to produce its design, and the complexity and exactitude of manufacture, I genuinely doubt that I will hear anything like it again. There is no component, including others from AS, that I would say this about, nor would I have ever thought that I would ever say this about.

Let me quote from my review on Audiogon of the Jay’s Audio CDT-3 transport and Denafrips Terminator DAC: “Information has great significance for my listening experience. What does more accurate information actually mean to me? We euphemistically say that we “see” or “hear”. Do we? My sight is like a digital camera – I have sensors, my eyes transmit the stimuli they have picked up, to my brain which then tries to make sense of the stimuli using a database of previous experiences, and then comes to a conclusion and tells me what I am seeing. This was demonstrated to me by instances where I was not wearing my distance glasses. Once I was walking along a track in low morning light and I saw something on the ground at a reasonable distance such that I could not “see” exactly what that something was. It was darkish and long and lying on the track up ahead of me. This was a potentially hazardous situation so the brain started working quickly. From the raw incomplete data it had it concluded that it was either a snake or a dead tree branch. I observed that as I walked closer and closer the sensory-computing system was looping – the eye sensors were picking up more data and the brain was recomputing it and comparing it to its database and concluding “inconclusive” and the process happened again and again until finally it had enough data and concluded it was a dried tree branch blown onto the path by the wind. And I observed another aspect of this process “filling in the blanks”. I had lost my glasses and had to drive to a location. I wondered how I could do that and found that since I had driven that road so many times in the past, what I could not actually see the brain was part filling in from memory. But this was a strain, a lot of work. My ear system works similarly transmitting sound stimuli it has picked up to my brain to make sense of it from its database of experiences. So the more information my hi-fi information produces and the more accurate that information is, the more easily and quickly I “hear” the music and the more believable and enjoyable becomes my listening experience.

The APOLYT provides so so so much more information than any frontend that I have ever heard and this information is real and across the whole audio spectrum. Pick whatever you like: ambient detail, instrument definition, macro and micro dynamics, the modulation of voice, etc etc there is so much more information presented. To take one example, I have listened to Paul Simon’s Gracelands how many times since its release and it was as if presented anew with so much more detail and delineation of every instrument and voice – it shocked me – I just could not believe what I had just heard. It was like one of those rare situations in life where you experience something that is so far different from your recollection of what this thing should be that you feel uneasy. In all my long hi-fi life I have never heard such a disparity from what I had heard before. And the information is provided without a variety of distortions that plague mere mortal turntables.

The result of all this naturally and beautifully presented information was that with music that I knew and that was new to me, on a number of occasions I became so emotionally involved. Time after time I was completely immersed in the performance be it jazz, classical or pop. It was not that the performers were in the room but I was at the performance! This has been without question the most exciting, emotional and complete hi-fi experience of my life. I wish I was one of the lucky few that will be able to buy this turntable. It is seriously expensive but comparable with a number of top turntables, but when you see and hear the APOLYT you will know why. The materials and components that go into its design are way and beyond its competitors. It is also logistically very big as is the necessary hospital/dental compressor required for its air bearing and air suspension. Living in a small apartment with She Who Must Be Obeyed leaves me most likely not enough room (even as I write this I refuse to rule out its possibility given what I heard and the profound impression it made on me). I eagerly look forward to hearing it again with the full titanium version of the Axiom arm (the “standard” Axiom was being used for the demo) which I understand will only be offered to those lucky few who buy the APOLYT.

I would like to thank Dietrich of AS for his hospitality and professionalism in demonstrating the APOLYT to me.

In closing, this monster of perfection and performance, possessed me to go on a buying spree for a whole lot of vinyl resulting in some serious damage to my bank balance. I know of no better recommendation than that. As Dietrich said to me, it is for him primarily about the music and the records, and the equipment is but a means to an end. And it is this, together with his phenomenal ability as a designer and his perfectionist character, that have produced the AS products culminating in the wonder that is the APOLYT. I know it sounds over-the-top and unbelievable especially given the constant false hype that spews from many a hi-fi mag that we are now so used to, but I must thank Dietrich Brakemeier and AS for the hi-fi experience of my life, and the Internet and Audiogon without which I would never have found him and his outstanding equipment. Thank you for reading.

thanks bluewolf.     
I saw the table in person at the HK show two years ago and spoke to Dietrich for a half an hour. Unfortunately it was not playing music. 
  For those who have never seen the table, it is HUGE and everything seems to be industrial built quality.

... the Legend returns ...


"I was deaf but now I can hear"

ok, delete the 2. sentence, in modern audiophile toy store - where the flavor of the month counts - it will not exist. Today this weekly flavor is the knightly accolade to get the respect being an "experienced audiophile"...
When I listened to the first generation Apolyt (with FR Arm and Koetsu Onyx cartridge) some years ago with LSC-2500 I saw the rows of the orchestra in front of me. When the owner asked me after each track if I want to change ... i always said "no". I squeezed myself a few times because I knew, when I leave the owner and listen to other expensive tables, the denial of facts will come... but it was burned in my memory.
Now the knowledge of "what is responsible for what" in analog playback returned. See his new Phonstage, a game changer, too.
I go between this table and the American Sound AS-2000 as my dream table.

Were I able to afford it, I believe I’d go with the Apolyt. Though more people have heard the AS, and report that it is basically without a sound of it’s own. I would love to be able to read more reports on the sound of the Apolyt.

Thank you very much for your thoughts on this. I covet the crap  out of this turntable. :)