The world’s first mag-lev audio turntable
The product of a Slovenian startup company, the MAG-LEV Audio ML1 is the first-ever magnetic levitation turntable. Its heavy 2.2 kg platter levitates and spins thanks to a powerful magnetic field. This technology allows for an intriguing retro-futuristic design and has the primary purpose of decoupling the platter from the chassis to remove it from any external vibration. Since air has an almost non-existent friction coefficient, the platter can spin freely without any interference.
The MAG-LEV Audio ML1 levitating turntable operates semi-automatically. Consequently, when the tonearm is positioned above the record, the retractable feet are lowered automatically, allowing the platter to float and begin its rotation. Once it hits cruising speed (approximately 10 to 5 seconds after the platter legs are lowered), the cartridge comes to rest in the record’s first groove, and playback starts. When the record is finished, the tonearm is automatically raised to avoid unnecessary wear to the stylus. When the turntable is off, the feet rise to support the platter, and the magnetic levitation is deactivated. The UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) provides a few minutes of autonomy in the event of a power outage in order to raise the platter feet and turn the turntable off without the platter falling.
Once the platter is in place, the counterweight may then be placed onto the tonearm and the tracking force can be set according to the recommendations of the cartridge manufacturer. The pre-installed Ortofon OM10 cartridge requires a tracking force between 1.25g and 1.75g. Then all there is to do is turn the anti-skating control to one of three positions, select the turntable’s rotation speed (33 or 45 RPM), and place the tonearm above the record. The large speed dial’s display flashes until the final rotation speed is reached. The tonearm then lowers itself onto the record and playback starts.
MAG-LEV Audio ML1 review: build quality
When it comes to building quality, the MAG-LEV Audio ML1 turntable boasts exemplary workmanship. There is a solid ABS chassis that contains the electromagnet system and sits on top of wide damping feet. The chassis also holds the Pro-Ject 9cc tonearm, crafted from a single carbon piece. It has a conical profile to eliminate vibrations and standing waves. The tonearm houses an Ortofon OM10 moving magnet (MM) cartridge featuring an elliptical stylus. Naturally, it is possible to install a higher-quality cartridge, so long as it is a standard 1/2” mount and weighs between 6 and 10 grams. For this review, we favored the Audio-Technica 540 ML cartridge.
The centerpiece of the MAG-LEV Audio ML1 turntable, the impressive 2.2kg magnetic platter, is made from a blend of 80% ABS and 20% fiberglass. The underside of the platter contains the turntable’s magnetic system composed of numerous magnets that are arranged evenly around the lower perimeter of the platter. These magnets generate a magnetic field that is opposed to that of the chassis in order to keep the platter in levitation. The top of the platter features anti-magnetic protection to avoid any interference with the cartridge.