Sota is one of those great turntable brands that is just rich with history. Their start in life wasn’t just to offer an “everyday” turntable but straight into the high end turntable realm. In fact, they were the only high end turntable manufacturer in the US when they came to the scene. And today, they are still one of the most admired turntable brands out there. The Sapphire is one of the longest running models found in any turntable brand and is still in their current lineup as a MK.VI now. The turntable you see here however, is not the regular Sapphire. This is the Star Sapphire which is the premium version of the regular Sapphire. It may cost a bit more but it also includes all these niceties that the regular Sapphire does not have – its cosmetically nicer looking where the top panel has a matching finish with the plinth, has a vacuum record-clamping system and a heavier, sturdier dust cover. While two of the three niceties are cosmetic, the vacuum clamping system is the more functional enhancement of the standard Sapphire. There have been a few “solutions” to keeping the record flat/stable on the platter like a heavier record clamp or a periphery ring clamp but the vacuum clamping system is a “bottom up” approach where a pump basically sucks the air under the record to bring the record down on to the platter. The heavier ring clamp and the periphery ring clamp are “passive” top down solutions where they press down the record on to the platter. These other alternative solutions can cost as little as $30 to $1,100 for the periphery ring clamp. The separated pump and transformer unit has a long umbilical cord and vacuum tubing which allows it to be placed a distance away. So you may need to factor that in when placing the setup on your rack. The level of suction can be adjusted via a control knob on the turntable.
The list of goodies do not stop here for the Star Sapphire.The Star Sapphire also has on board, pitch controls for 33 and 45 rpm where you can make more precise adjustments to the speed at which the record is spinning. Much like VPI’s ADS or the Turntable Power Line Conditioner )which we have for sale in a separate listing) but this time, it is built into the turntable. This particular turntable is also fitted with the highly raved about SME IV tonearm which on its own, can fetch upwards of $1,000 and more. So for under $1,800 now, you get the full package that costs less than its individual parts. The current cartridge fitted on it, is a Grado MM which works beautifully but its not actualizing the turntable’s full potential. As with all used cartridges, we cannot ascertain its total hours of use so we always recommend having a replacement handy should the time come where it needs to be changed. But for now, vinyl listening is a bliss. The beautiful naturalness of analog is encapsulated in this bargain priced “$1,800” package.
Cosmetically, the turntable looks great. Minor scuff marks from use but nothing major. There are four screw holes on the rear panel but not sure what was that for. One devoted owner from new. We do not have the original box but will securely pack this for safe shipping. Local pickup from our store preferred.