Ultimate Turntable search...OMA K5 or ?

As the title says, I’m on the hunt for a statement turntable. Don’t really post on the forum so forgive me if this has been discussed already. I’ve been told that whatsbest might be another place to post about this but I’ve been a seller on this site for many years, so I figured it was a good place to start.

I’m a longtime Caliburn owner but it’s time for a change. I would like to ditch the belt drive and vacuum. I know Fremer loves the OMA K3, but the K5 has got my attention. After owning many different speakers, a friend of mine turned me on to OMA. I ended up buying a pair of OMA mini’s about ten years ago and then quickly moved up to the AC-1. I’ve had a wonderful experience dealing with Jonathan and the company and love their aesthetic. With the AC-1s, my main system has reached a level of musicality and presence I never thought possible. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that upgrading my front end is my next big move. So I’ve been doing a ton of research on turntables in this class.

Although I’ve owned OMA speakers for years, I haven’t heard any of their new table designs. Sadly, I have not been to any shows or showrooms since covid. I do plan on visiting OMA sometime in the next few months, but for now, I’m interested if anybody has real life experience with the K3/K5 and if you have listening notes or opinions to share? Also curious to hear thoughts on competive turntables in this class. I have heard many high end tables in person, but definitely not all. Thanks!


the most significant part of a turntable is the steady powerful drive and energy of the music that the turntable projects. that is the main separator of good, better and great.

cool looking turntables are a dime a dozen. exceptionally musical and transformative sounding turntables are rare. should be purchased with ears not eyes.

at the high level all the turntables are quiet. some of those sound boring.

which one touches your soul?


Dear Mike, I certainly would not wish to criticize the Esoteric, sight unheard or any other way. But I do beg to differ from what you wrote above, in response to my claim that the Esoteric "magnetic drive" system is naught but a direct drive where the rotor is in effect moved away from the stator:

You wrote, "no. not a direct drive. a direct drive turntable has the motor directly connected to the platter. an idler pushes. it pushes the inside of the platter, or the outside of the platter (rim drive idler). my Saskia, and the Garrard i use to own, both pushed the inside of the platter with an idler wheel. the Esoteric T1 pushes the bottom outside of the platter magnetically. a motor turns a wheel which magnetically causes the platter to turn with a magnetized bottom ring on the platter. in fact the platter and plinth have zero physical connection to the motor assembly. there is nothing direct about it in any way, shape or form."

Yes, I agree that the Esoteric is not purely a direct drive turntable in its simplest form. And I certainly do know the various forms that an idler drive can take, save for any experience with the Esoteric. But since the Esoteric drive system is not in contact with the platter, I would never think of it as an Idler Drive type at all. The Esoteric, so far as I can tell has most in common with Transrotor TMD, which is not new, and second most in common with direct drive, where also "the platter and plinth have zero physical connection to the motor assembly". This is true of any and all direct drive turntables. However, the typical direct drive places the complete drive system (stator and rotor) right below the platter which does open the possibility for EMI to affect the audio signal. The Esoteric drive system moves the source of EMI a bit further away from the platter, probably preventing any sort of EMI from interfering with the signal. Same for the Transrotor TTs with TMD. The trade-off for that immunity might be less rigid control of the platter, or more compliance in the drive system, compared to a DD. Of that, I do not know. I do know there is no free lunch. No criticism of the Esoteric is intended; I drooled over it when I saw it in Tokyo mostly for its beautiful construction and the typical Esoteric craftsmanship.

Thanks for all the responses. I’m now realizing that I should have given a bit more info about my turntable search in my original post because I really am focusing specifically on direct drive tables.I would love to steer the conversation back to the OMA K3/K5 tables or similar designs, if possible. For many years now, I have owned the best belt drive in the world (according to Fremer and many others). It’s a fantastic table but it has come to my attention that there is more I could be getting from my front end.

My main reason for upgrading is my interest in time accuracy. Thus, direct drive. Time domain is just better with direct drive. And it’s that lifelike transient response that I am after. In terms of value, I’m really interested in the K5 because it is roughly 30% the cost of K3 yet utilizing the same tech. I consider that to be a great value. To take the value thing even further, my AC-1 speakers have outshined all the similarly priced speakers I’ve owned in the past. And the enjoyment I get from them make me forget about how much I spent, which is something that is just not true with other high end speakers I have owned. Before I became an OMA owner, Jonathan would explain to me the benefits of high efficiency speakers and low wattage tube amplification and I was quite skeptical since I was very much on the other side of that approach for decades. But I was also never satisfied with my previous setups. My experience has shown that Jonathan was 100% correct. That is why the OMA tables have really gotten my attention.

In my research, I have spent some time watching the OMA videos, especially the ones with Krebs and Jonathan discussing the K3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z6byPM6LaE

And this interesting video where Jonathan talks about the new motor for Neumann cutting lathe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIVHCOPGdEE

I liked when I heard Krebs say that 50% of what you hear is on the record and 50% is on the table.That message resonates with me and I am convinced that belt drives just can’t do it. How is direct drive not the ultimate technology for playing back a record since all records have been cut on direct drive lathes? For me, eliminating the variable of speed variation is absolutely crucial in turntable playback.

When it comes to experience, Fremer got rid of his Caliburn and now owns a K3. He didnt buy the SAT (which I have crossed of my list since it is basically a modified SP-10 motor) or TechDas or even the Esoteric (which is magnetic and not direct drive). And since Fremer used to have the Caliburn in his system, I am quite interested in his preferences. But as I mentioned in my original post, I am very curious if anyone has real life experience with the K3/K5? Or any tables with similar tech?


The OMA is fine as long as you place it on a MinusK Isolation platform. I am a big fan of Schroder tonearms, but I prefer the LT. I personally use a CB.

All of these turntables are luxury items and are in no way necessary for the best sound. Ownership is egocentric. I think it is important to note that the best performance is available at seriously lower prices. Blinded, nobody could reliable identify any of these turntables in a line up of great tables between 10 and 60 thousand  dollars. 

IMHO you might as well go for the one you think is the coolest, the one you can brag about the most. That would be the Work of Art for me. I think the OMA is butte ugly and the Esoteric is not far behind. All are trying too desperately to justify their existence by coming up with silly ways of doing simple things.  To limit yourself to direct drive is self defeating. Suspensions and record clamping are far more significant. 


I spoke to Jonathan (last?) when his table was still in development. He spoke of using a cutting lathe as a model and I know Mr. Krebs had considerable influence. 

How can you meaningfully compare these, and with what variables? I suspect at some point, there are ergonomic considerations. I've followed a fairly masochistic route that brought considerable performance gains by increments, but none of this is plug and play, especially at this level. Arms, phono cartridge choices, phono stages and the overall "voicing" of the system all play a role in this. I'm not sure how you eliminate such variables, let alone get to make meaningful comparisons.

It's a process as much as a destination. I think you learn a lot by listening, but chances are, those will be in systems/rooms that are not "known" to you. How to sensibly approach this?