I hadn’t seen Mark Döhmann in several years, as I had taken a hiatus from CES and other ‘big’ shows – preferring to attend the smaller, regional shows that are now dominating the American Hi Fi landscape. But in this instance I happened to be in Munich for the 2015 High End show this past May, and I happened to spot him talking with a mutual friend in one of the arcade areas of the building. I think he was every bit as surprised as I to see me given my proclivity for avoiding big shows the last few years.
Mark, in case you don’t know, was the progenitor of the Continuum Caliburn turntable and the Cobra tonearm, and was their Director of Engineering from the inception of the company until the time he left. So to hear that he was behind another effort to release a world-class record player ignited my curiosity quite fiercely.
I wandered up to their showroom on the third day of the show and got a very brief chance to hear their demonstration – but truth be told, it is exceedingly difficult to listen in these show environments. The throng of humanity coursing through the halls and rooms bristles with chatter, rustling plastic bags (for all the show literature), and sundry other noisy habits. Mark greeted me and showed me the table – I’m sure you’ll agree it’s quite lovely – and jostled the El-Cheapo Ikea table upon which it sat to show off the Dr. David Platus/Minus-K-designed built in isolation. While the record played, the table suffered the equivalent outcome of a 4 Richter earthquake (so it seemed) and yet it played as if nothing were out of sorts – the Frank Schröder-designed CB tonearm, manufactured by Thrax, doing the transcription honors.
At $40,000.00, the Helix 1 isn’t going to be spinning Katy Perry records at the local Urban Outfitters any time soon, but in the crazy world of high-end supertables it’s not an outrageous price, oddly enough – especially considering that it comes with the Schröder tonearm as standard (The S.A.T. arm, which was also in evidence, will run you another $30k or so).
For the die-hard analog nutter who has to have “the best” – I suspect, given its provenance, that the Döhmann Helix 1 by Thrax should probably be on the short-list of things to seriously consider.