Kickstarter has become a bit of a hotbed for imaginative turntable designs with the recent Mag-Lev and Love campaigns. The Wheel by Miniot ($500 for backers, $850 retail) is a cleverly designed turntable from Holland that takes the novel approach of placing the tonearm, cartridge, and stylus underneath the record, inside the chassis. The campaign for this turntable has already surpassed its funding goal.
The Wheel is a unique, attractive, and decidedly minimalist 33 1/3 rpm turntable. Thanks to its custom linear tracking tonearm, it can be placed horizontally or vertically. Miniot made a name for itself crafting luxury phone and tablet covers out of wood and finely crafted wood figures into the design of the Wheel.
You can wall mount the Wheel, it works in horizontal and vertical alignments.
Miniot says it has “cnc mills, lathes, lasers, finishing, assembly and measuring systems,” basically, everything needed to develop a product like this. The company says that various prototypes have already proven the fidelity of the system.
The micro-machined laminated mahogany linear tonearm integrates an AudioTechnica AT95E cartridge that is not user replaceable. You can, however, replace the stylus. Miniot says the use of the AT95E allows it to “fine-tune each tonearm for damping, resonance and weight distribution.”
The Wheel by Miniot features a micro-machined mahogany linear tracking tonearm.
With that choice of cartridge—it’s competent but basically a commodity component—the Wheel is not going to appeal to the high-end analog aficionados that populate audio shows. Rather, it is an example of a record player that caters to the lifestyle audio crowd—the Kickstarter page for the Wheel even mentions Sonos by name.
The main selling point here is that by putting the entire playback mechanism inside the chassis, you get to enjoy the esthetic appeal of a spinning record while protecting the stylus plus tonearm from dust and potential damage. The player ships with a clear record that lets you see the internal mechanism at work. Bravely, the company even publishes specifications.
In keeping with the minimalist design, the player’s controls are housed in a center stick that serves as the record spindle. You can start and stop the record, adjust the volume, pause, and even skip tracks with the control—an infrared sensor on the toenarm allows the player to detect individual tracks.
Here’s a brief video showing how the Wheel works.
This record player includes a built-in preamp, so you can plug headphones directly into it and use line level outputs. Or, you can choose to use the phono output. This player is mercifully free of USB or Bluetooth connections; Miniot suggests using adapters for that functionality.
The Wheel promises 20 to 20,000 Hz frequency response, channel separation greater than 20 dB, +/- 0.2% RIAA accuracy from 100 Hz to 100 kHz, and 0.05% wow and flutter. The Kickstarter campaign was launched today, and it’s expected to ship in October 2017.