MAGLEV turntables

WORLD"S 1st LEVITATING TURNTABLE from Slovenia
"The uplifting experience of music."

MINT Magazine, Germany - When the platter becomes balanced in the mid air all words become meaningless. The floating turn arouses a similar feeling of constant timelessness. ….. Thomas Georg Blank, journalist

MAG-LEV Audio story begins in the living room in the centre of Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. In that living room three designers were listening to records on their turntable and thinking about their next project. Magic happened and an idea was born, an idea about the record player of the future. The nostalgic love of music was embedded in the core of the turntable. But the turntable itself was a bold vision of the times to come. Meanwhile some engineers where sitting at a desk. They just finished the build of their second solar power plant and were also thinking of their next big project. They wanted to do something exciting, something where they will put to use, all of the knowledge they possess.  Both teams sat down one day to have a meeting and the rest is history.

PEOPLE BEHIND THE STORY
MAG-LEV Audio team got together through shared love for music, technology and design. The team is full of enthusiastic and experienced individuals coming from various fields such as design, engineering, production and logistics. The complexity of this project required lots of knowledge and hard work. Together we have brought our dream project to life and we are excited about what lies ahead. You may know Desnahemisfera design studio for their successful product on Kickstarter, Goat Story Goat Mug, whereas Topsol works with advanced solar technology, supplying the world with green energy.

DESIGN CONCEPT
At MAG-LEV Audio nothing is left to chance and the attention to the detail has always been the decision maker. The combination of the media from the past and technology from the future made it possible to create this outstanding piece of audio equipment in the present.

When thinking about the design of the turntable we took the minimalist approach since we had known that the levitation itself will be the main eye catcher.

When we were thinking about the colours and the materials that we will use we were searching for inspiration in the past decades when Hi-Fi equipment was on the rise.

The 70s and 80s were our main source, we wanted to embody that raw minimalist feeling when there is nothing else left to add or subtract. Doing that in combination with the futuristic drive system we were able to get that sleek retro-futuristic look. 

We used LED illumination to enhance the mesmerising effect of levitation even when the lights in the room are off. 

TECHNOLOGY - HOW IT WORKS
The Levitating Turntable is designed for people who appreciate high quality sound and innovative design. It comes with a pre-fitted tonearm and cartridge. This setup allows you to connect through phono in. Once you’re done, you just have to pick your favourite record, turn the turntable on, move the tonearm into position and lower the cueing lever. Then sit back, relax and enjoy.

All Products

Reviews

Videos

All Products

Turntables

ML 01 TT ML1 WO
SOLD
SPECIAL PRICE: NZ$ 2,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Original: NZ$ 4,500.00 (incl. GST)
Saving: NZ$ 1,505.00 (incl. GST)
MAG-LEV Audio is The First Levitating Turntable that brings the feeling of zero gravity into your living room.MAG-LEV Audio's ML1 Turntable visually enhances the experience of listening to...
EXTENDED REVIEW: In an industry which has only relatively recently come out of a conservative...
Turntables
ML 02 TT ML1 DC
NZ$ 200.00 ea (incl. GST)
Turntables

Reviews

the biggest kudos must go the design team and its clever all-round execution of the levitation system which, while in situ, worked flawlessly.
Edgar Kramer

CONCLUSION: While I’m unfamiliar with the Ortofon OM10 cartridge, I have confidence in the prowess of the excellent-for-the-money Pro-Ject 9cc arm which I’ve heard on several occasions. Similarly, while the concept of levitation is sound in terms of the resultant low vibrational and near-zero friction distortions, questions could be raised regarding the possible interactions between the ML1’s powerful magnet system and the cartridge’s own.
Having said that, the ML1 performed appropriately in terms of its sonic abilities with special mention of its bass punch and rhythm. And while I found its dynamic capabilities somewhat reticent, the midrange and treble were sweet, detailed and resolving enough to provide proper satisfaction in entry to mid-level stereo systems.
However, the biggest kudos must go the design team and its clever all-round execution of the levitation system which, while in situ, worked flawlessly. Hey my Yogi friend, did I tell you that levitation is way, way cool?

EXTENDED REVIEW: In an industry which has only relatively recently come out of a conservative period in terms of product styling – Devialet, D’Agostino, first come to mind as among the first to break out – and also its technology evolution, along comes a new company, headquartered in an unlikely location and hitting the market with a sole product offering a unique take on the record spinning concept. The MAG-LEV ML1 is a turntable that literally breathes fresh air…

Magnetic Attraction
MAG-LEV hails from Slovenia, an uncommon place for audio manufacturing with analogue and loudspeaker specialists Kuzma and Ubiq Audio possibly being the sole compatriots, in terms of the wider industry consciousness and just off the top of my head. MAG-LEV’s first product is the ML1, a crowd funded exercise that has arisen to fruition in a big way. Certainly, the concept is a total departure from the current crop of ever-growing turntable manufacturers that have joined the ranks exponentially as vinyl playback achieved increasing popularity.

The concept is in principle, quite simple. Its execution, however, I’m sure presented a number of challenges the MAG-LEV engineers had to surmount in order to cater for the product’s safety, reliability and then, importantly, performance. Responsible for the overall design was a team of passionate music lovers with experience in a number of fields including engineering, industrial design, manufacturing/production and logistics.

So the ML1 is a basic turntable with a ‘Magnetic Coil Drive’ that caters for 33 RPM and 45 RPM. This is enclosed within a mainly ABS plastic plinth (body and top face are available in a number of finishes) that houses the tonearm mount, the magnet system, a circular lighting visual accent and a support system for the platter when it’s non-operational. In Australia, the ML1 is packaged with a simple but proven Pro-Ject 9cc 9-inch carbon fibre tonearm, a well-respected mid-entry-level Ortofon OM10 Moving Magnet (MM) cartridge and a nicely-made German Sommer 1m RCA cable with integrated ground wire. The rear of the turntable features twin gold plated RCA sockets and a ground post.

Being a simple design, the specifications provided by MAG-LEV are basic – no more is needed really. The ML1 is specified as having a Wow & Flutter of 0.17 percent, a reasonable Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) of -73dB while the 2.2kg platter is constructed from a composite of ABS plastics, carbon fibre and a mix of metals and magnets. These, of course, are the star attractions here. The platter’s magnet system – embedded within a ‘ridge’ – mates with a number of small, yet powerful magnets which are evenly arrayed around the bottom perimeter of the platter and the plinth area directly below. This, in simple terms, is the crux of the levitation system.

Initial setup is quite straightforward. Once you’ve placed the ML1 on a sturdy and level surface – this is of utmost importance, as I found out – the next step is to place the platter on to the turntable body. Then, while holding the platter firmly with two hands, you start lowering it towards the posts. This requires care as the magnet systems will pull and push to either side of the location position until you reach a point where a ridge on the platter’s underside (where the magnets are housed) registers with the support posts. The ML1 has to then be switched to its configuration mode where a short period of whirrs, buzzes and flashing control knob light signal a form of calibration process. Once the flashing stops, the setup process is done.

he ML1 comes packaged with both the tonearm and cartridge pre-mounted so all that is required is the attaching of the anti-skating weight and nylon thread and counterweight. MAG-LEV supplies the required Allen key to adjust the armboard’s height in relation to the platter which is done via two side-mounted inset bolts. Overall, the tonearm setup is simple enough and along the lines of what is needed on a traditional turntable system.

Of course, this last step requires the operation of the turntable. This is a rather wondrous thing when done for the first time. A large round main controller on the unit’s left hand side is used to operate the initial calibration, on/off and the platter’s speed. Switch this to 33 ⅓ RPM and watch as the platter support posts slowly (and quite noisily in terms of motor whirrs) descend into the plinth’s body while the platter begins its floating spin. The 33 ⅓ LED within the round controller flashes until the proper speed is finally reached. Then, in a buzz of a visual, you see the platter fully floating in space as it spins while being lit from below by a circular amber LED system. Yeah!

It’s important to also note that the free-air platter spinning only takes place when you’re actually about to play a record. At all other times, the platter simply rests on the support posts. Conveniently, the arm rest has built-in sensors which automatically stop the platter and, once again, raise the support beams. Similarly, should a power loss or blackout occur, the system has enough reserve energy to perform an emergency stopping of the platter and support beam raising exercise. Oh, and once your record is done playing, the ML1 automatically raises the tonearm and, after a time lapse, turns itself off.

The ML1’s finish quality is adequate, although overall it’s somewhat plasticky and does not reach the same standards as some of the big name opposition at a similar price point. However, these others are conventional in their design. As mentioned above, the ML1 is available in a number of colour options which also include gold or silver feet.

Now, as far as placement of the ML1, I have to stress the importance of a solid and level platform. I initially setup the ML1 on a small wooden table alongside the main rack and found that after the platter reached the speed I selected (33 ⅓ RPM), there was an unacceptable amount of vertical wobble which prohibited proper operation. Changing the ML1’s location onto a far better support resolved this issue (please note that a small amount of ‘wobble’ is normal and does not affect playback). Moral of the story? As per any turntable product, but even more so than most, the ML1 demands appropriate isolation and vibration control via a solid platform.

Floating Your Boat

As a ready to go package – once the arm is setup – all that’s needed is connecting the ML1 to a phono input, in this case the over-achieving REDGUM Audio RGPH2 phono stage. I used the cable supplied as that’s the way the majority of users will connect the ML1, however, I also tried one of my own cables in the $500 price range.

Once the visuals, the pyrotechnics and pomp and circumstance, of this unique turntable are familiar, you’ll start discerning sonic performance and you’ll notice it’s one marked by a sense of smoothness and easy listening. Throughout its time in situ and across all music genres and many, many LPs the ML1 never showed signs of forwardness or brightness. This made for a sound that was sympathetic and forgiving of modern brash recordings and poor digitally remastered vinyl pressings.

As pleasant as that may be, this translates as the ML1 being a tad reticent in terms of dynamics. All the music is there, but it won’t shout at you nor will it flip your wig in terms of power of expression. Conversely, the bass region is always tight and punchy with a good sense of pace… that rhythm thing. And perhaps this rhythm aspect, tied in with the ML1’s smoothness is somehow connected to the very quiet playback – it’s the lowness of the noise floor – that ‘black’ background usually associated with digital.

Detail retrieval is good as is separation during complex passages. The intricacies of saxophone, drums and piano on Dave Brubeck’s Take Five were maintained and presented with good tonality and even better delineation with a clear impression of each of the instruments and their placement within the soundstage.

Tangarine Dream’s Underwater Sunlight record was mellowed via the ML1. This DMM (Direct Metal Master) pressing can be a tad brash but features tremendous dynamic contrasts throughout. Atop the ML1 floating on air, the brashness and upper midrange etch was relieved somewhat, again, making the music more listenable even if the drama in terms of dynamics was arrested to some extent.

Ditto for The Doors’ Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine compilation, where one of my favourite tracks “The End” preserved its atmospherics and ‘feel’ even if the mania of the final explosion was slightly softened. Morrison’s vocals were nicely presented centre stage with his usual deep growl cutting through the atmos.

Conclusion

While I’m unfamiliar with the Ortofon OM10 cartridge, I have confidence in the prowess of the excellent-for-the-money Pro-Ject 9cc arm which I’ve heard on several occasions. Similarly, while the concept of levitation is sound in terms of the resultant low vibrational and near-zero friction distortions, questions could be raised regarding the possible interactions between the ML1’s powerful magnet system and the cartridge’s own.

Having said that, the ML1 performed appropriately in terms of its sonic abilities with special mention of its bass punch and rhythm. And while I found its dynamic capabilities somewhat reticent, the midrange and treble were sweet, detailed and resolving enough to provide proper satisfaction in entry to mid-level stereo systems.

However, the biggest kudos must go the design team and its clever all-round execution of the levitation system which, while in situ, worked flawlessly. Hey my Yogi friend, did I tell you that levitation is way, way cool?
… Edgar Kramer

Associated Equipment
Speakers — Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2, Axis Loudspeakers VoiceBox S (nearfield monitor), Vermouth Audio Little Luccas Mk.II
Amplifier — Gryphon Audio Antileon EVO
Preamplifier — Supratek Cortese, Lightspeed Attenuator LDR passive
Sources — Digital: Yamaha CD-S2100 transport, Totaldac d1-core DAC, MacBook with BitPerfect software, AIFF files.
Analogue: Michell Engineering Orbe with Gert Pedersen Level 3 modifications and Origin Live Ultra upgraded motor,
Tans-Fi Terminator air bearing linear-tracking arm, Shelter Harmony cartridge, Supratek Cortese & REDGUM Audio
GPH2 phono stages
Processor — DEQX PreMate
Cables — sILENzIO loom, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl Mk.II loom
Audio Rack — SGR Audio Statement Model V
Miscellaneous — Les Davis Audio Viscoelastic CLD discs

But folks, the ML1 is not a toy, but a bona fide joy of an audio invention that I thought I would never see in my lifetime! Congratulations Klemen, and many thanks to your top notch technical team for an amazing turntable. Disruptor, indeed!
Robert H. Levi

SUMMARY: MAG-LEV Audio's ML1 Levitating Turntable has finally reached the market after several years of development with improvements galore and opportunities for some obvious tweaks, which you as the buyer can do yourself. If you go to the max and not wimp out with eBay stuff, that extra dough will bring you a scary improvement to what you may consider high-end. My ultra-reference setup of the EAT Forte S, 12 inch arm, and Grado Epoch Cartridge have only just one year ago shown me true LP playback silence and its enormous benefits. You will hear a big portion of that blackness and openness from the ML1 if your system is up to the task. If not, the ML1 is one hell of a light show and a crowd pleaser, even if it only plays your used 70s LPs. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: The MAG - LEV Audio ML1 Levitating Turntable is a disruptor! Are you surprised? I own one of six Paravicini magnetic drive turntables in America. It does not levitate, but it is quiet and astonishingly open and life-like. ML1 as delivered: Signal to noise ratio -73dB! Way better than your turntable? Why? It has no motor! It uses magnetic coil drive and that is as quiet as outer space. 

Wow and flutter...less than .17%. Weight is 9.8kg all in! Four sensors, two magnetic and two optical to maintain precise speed and stability. The ML1 is delivered beautifully packaged and pristine, with all tools and cables to perform like a breakthrough and super cool turntable should sound. As an audiophile of 55 years, I then turned it into GODZILLA!

Delivered with a carbon fiber super-adjustable Project 9cc Tonearm with anti-skate, you are in great shape compared to the test arm I saw on this table just two years ago. It adjusts in every tangent and is just the right mass for the ML1. It is delivered with the fun and flexible Ortofon OM10 MM Cartridge...very good for $80. Interconnects worth at least $25 are included with the $6 power cord. The position of the RCA connectors are perfectly exposed for easy swapping, as is the ground wire. The arm is one of the few low mass, high compliance arms made today; as a result, one is limited to MM or MI cartridges that are best suited for this tonearm. Don't despair:  There are more out there than you think, with Grado, Soundsmith, Ortofon, and Hana all in the mix! The tonearm is also fully integrated into several cool features in both play and stop mode on the Mag-Lev, so this is your only choice of tonearm right now.

With the OM10 Cartridge as Delivered

I was shocked by the beauty of tone and openness of this inexpensive rig...as delivered at about $2900. It tracked everything at 1.6 grams and never faltered. All of the features worked, and worked smoothly. The depth of the sound field was extraordinary, and the imaging was rock solid. (By this time I had already tossed the included interconnects, which you shouldn't bother with. More about this below.)

I was aware of a bit too much turntable wobble during levitational operation and, though it was inaudible, it made me nervous. The sight takes some getting used to! I also made the usual mistake of removing the LP while the turntable was cycling down. You will only do this once folks! No harm done, but the results were startling, and not fun.

By this time, I was beginning to notice a thinness to the sound of the OM10 cartridge, and a bit more haze than I thought should be there, so it was time to roll out the heavy guns!

Godzilla Arrives

That cables that come with the Mag-Lev are generic stocking stuffers, and just get in the way of what this turntable can do. So I did the right thing:  Goodbye provided cables, and hello WyWire Silver Phono Cables! That doubled the definition right there! Goodbye standard appropriate phono section and hello E.A.R. 324 Phono Preamp, with many terrific adjustments for MM and MI carts. Goodbye generic power cord, and hello to the new UITaudio Power Cord with computer filtering for perfect AC control and lowest distortion. Finally, goodbye OM10 and hello Ortofon topper MM 2M Black. Note: 1.6 grams for the tracking force is more balanced and dynamic with higher definition than the Ortofon suggested 1.5 grams on the 2M Black, an easy fix. (The 9cc Arm would not function properly with any of my MC cartridges that I have here…and believe me, I tried…so forget about it.)

The ML1 setup instructions talk about preparing the surface of your rack for a level ML1 installation. In America we level the table to the surface! But the ML1 does not have adjustable feet, so out came my trusty deck of cards, and I leveled the ML1 to perfection with a spirit level placed on the felt mat extended into the play position. This is the ticket! The table ceased wobbling, the woofers stopped moving, and all was rock solid and more open by far. 

The ML1 Audiophile Turntable Emerges

With a touch lower VTA than the OM10, it was time for serious listening with the 2M Black. Espana, Direct to Disk, exploded in all its glory on my system! The vocals floated in space. Imaging is breathtaking. Depth of field is endless. Timbres are spot on realistic. 

I did not tell you about a feature of the Mag-Lev that I really like. One puts the stylus over the outer groove of the LP and lowers the lift. This starts the table, but does not lower the arm until exactly 33 or 45 is achieved. Then the arm lowers and the music begins. Meanwhile, you are seated and ready to listen...no racing back to your seat. The arm also rises at the end of the LP, but does not return to start.

My ultimate reference LP these days is the new Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society's limited edition 25th Anniversary Greensleeves LP from IMPEX. The Society Edition of course is in RED. You will experience dynamics like a master tape was playing. No ticks, no pops, no nothing, just intense clarity is revealed with the ML1. And that imaging, take away the noise and reveal a truly black background, and the music pops into place. Amazing!

I read a number of ML1 reviews in EU and Australian publications. None of them tried any tweaking, and just went for stock play with ordinary ancillaries. Their conclusions were often laughable. I want to hear what is possible, not what $25 interconnects sound like. My phono stage is $6500, and I have no idea what its sonic signature may be. I am reporting on the ML1 as a unique new idea which may or may not have legs. I cannot judge it if there is poor connectivity, amplification, or setup flaws hampering the performance. 

I also know companies around the world are looking at upgrades for the ML1 and the engineers at Maglevaudio.com are also working late hours to improve performance. 

Me, I vote on a more flexible tonearm like the Helius Omega integrated in the mix. Adjustable feet for the ML1 would be handy; a braking system to slow the platter more quickly; a remote control for further convenience; and a superior felt mat—all would be excellent improvements to the current model.

Summary

MAG-LEV Audio's ML1 Levitating Turntable has finally reached the market after several years of development with improvements galore and opportunities for some obvious tweaks, which you as the buyer can do yourself. If you go to the max and not wimp out with eBay stuff, that extra dough will bring you a scary improvement to what you may consider high-end. My ultra-reference setup of the EAT Forte S, 12 inch arm, and Grado Epoch Cartridge have only just one year ago shown me true LP playback silence and its enormous benefits. You will hear a big portion of that blackness and openness from the ML1 if your system is up to the task. If not, the ML1 is one hell of a light show and a crowd pleaser, even if it only plays your used 70s LPs. 

But folks, the ML1 is not a toy, but a bona fide joy of an audio invention that I thought I would never see in my lifetime! Congratulations Klemen, and many thanks to your top notch technical team for an amazing turntable.
Disruptor, indeed!

Videos

The Uplifting Experience of Music.

MAG-LEV video to demonstrate how to use our Turntable.