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What Others Are Saying About Us

Note – we certainly value comments from the experienced ears of reviewers at shows (click here, or scroll down for show reviews), but perhaps even more important to us is the feedback we receive from our customers, because after all, we design these for you, and your comments represent long-term listening and satisfaction!

Recent Customer Comments

From Jazzdoc (Audiogon handle):

[note-1 : Jazzdoc was in town for the Rocky Mountain Audiofest, and while we didn’t exhibit this year, he visited our facility to check on the progress of the Eiger. Mark’s comments follow]

[note-2: Much of what occurs at the show goes on behind the scenes. Lynn Olson commented about Jazzdoc’s visit in his article for Positive-Feedback Online. (Scroll down or click this link for more]

“Thank you for hosting us in your lovely home last weekend. My thoughts:”

  1. The original conception of the platter, base and bearing have been re-validated. This part of the design ranks with the best available. The long term viability of the design is a wonderful testament to your initial engineering conception.
  2. The rim drive is a revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary) development. I have heard just about every contender for “best turntable in the world”. What I heard on Saturday night is the best vinyl I have ever heard…and second place isn’t that close.

“Based on what I heard Saturday evening, the new drive system fulfills the promise of Galibier and what compelled me (and many other customers) to purchase Galibier turntables. I feel you absolutely owe it to your loyal customers to complete the rim drive and make it available as an upgrade sooner rather than later.”

“As a loyal customer and public advocate of your products, I have waited for this level of upgrade and am looking forward to getting delivery of either a prototype or finished drive system soon. I expect you will want input and validation from current owners, please let me know when a test unit will be available. “

From AudioTomB (Audiogon handle):

from this thread on Audiogon (opens in new window):

“Thom is always striving to refine things. what a great guy.”

From MS:

“Loving the LPs these days! So many upgrades in such a short time, I feel like a kid in a candy store.”

“I’ve simply never heard so much music in every part of the frequency spectrum before. Jeffrey’s phono stage surely helps, but he can only reproduce what the table and arm allow to reach the phono stage.”

From RT:

“Thanks for your dedication to the hobby and my personal enjoyment.”

About Our Controller Upgrade in 2014

From RZ:

“I love the sound of the new controller. At first it sounded a bit “thin” or recessed in the midrange but I now attribute this to the extension of the highs. Much more depth for sure and better bass.”

From JH:

“I find the Serac/Woody/ZYX to be as good or better than anything I have heard at this price point, and several steps above it. I would venture to say that you got things right with this new motor arrangement. I find that the speed is spot on, and there is no belt slippage with the Mylar belt during start up or record dusting…. it just chugs along. I also appreciate the controls better, as the old ones were adequate, but more cumbersome to use than these. Very well done Thom, I think you got a motor system that you will not have to change for a long, long time.”

From DD:

“God, you lost a fortune getting this upgrade to me, but I do appreciate it. Revelation? Hell, I don’t know…..but it sounds great. Got a lot of records I need to play now, and listen to again. “

From JW:

“I installed the new motor in 15 minutes. I listened twice with it & found it was much quieter. I noticed it immediately. It could be my imagination but the background became blacker. The bass also changed. I don’t know how you engineered this for such a small amount of cabbage.”

From MZ (one of our customers in the beta testing program):

“They say confession is good for the soul; so forgive me father for I have sinned. For the past few months, I’ve been using a Sperling motor controller . This was a definite improvement over the ‘base’ Galibier controller but it doesn’t hold a candle to the beta [Galibier].”

“If the base Galibier is a ‘0’ and the beta Galibier a ’10’; the Sperling is a ‘3’. The sound of the Sperling is much closer to the base Galibier than the beta [Galibier].”

“When I went back to the Sperling, my system sounded broken. It took about 10′ [minutes] to put the beta Galibier back in ahhhh.”

“Will dive into the belt comparison over the next few days. I feel very comfortable that the beta controller allows the table to fulfill its enormous potential and believe that in the current form, it is competitive with any table irrespective of price. The improvement is significantly greater than the difference between the Stelvio I & II. Well done!”

“Adding the resistor doesn’t change the ‘sound’ but takes things to a different level of refinement and further lowers the noise floor.”

” With the resistor, you seem to have a finished product that is ready to roll out. IMO, the motor controller upgrade is a significantly greater leap than from version I to version II of the Stelvio and almost begs for a public product re-launch.”

[note – the resistor was a change to the regulation circuit which was incorporated into all production units.]

Show Reviews

Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2015

We weren’t at the show, but these events are also about meeting, greeting and hosting customers and industry friends traveling from out of town. Lynn Olson is one of those industry friends (although he is a neigbor). His impressions of the show were posted to the October issue of Positive-Feedback Online (link opens in new window). Some excerpts:

“I’m not an expert on turntables, but three of the out-of-town guests came right out and said the new turntable was the best they’d ever heard … at any price. I haven’t heard the crazy $80,000 “reference” turntables they were talking about, but I’ll say the EMT and (modified) Garrard 301’s have met their match. My desire to one day own a fully restored EMT has been extinguished. This thing is better, and it’s made right here in the USA. “

“One of Thom’s guests nearly walked out with the prototype; Thom and his guest split the difference, and settled on the first production model off the line. Coming fresh from the show, Thom’s system made quite a sensation. There was never any audible distortion or harshness; the tonal balance just-right; incredibly vivid-sounding, and never sounded “hi-fi” at all, no matter what record we played. It effortlessly did things that I didn’t hear anywhere at the show. “

“My quick impression of Thom’s prototype turntable is that it combines the propulsion and drive of the EMT and modified Garrard 301’s with the air, spaciousness, and clear bass line of a modern high-tech-platter turntable. And I’ve yet to hear digital really do justice to the sense of rhythm that a classic 50’s or 60’s LP has. Maybe it’s an artifact of LP playback, but I dunno … digital usually sounds a little flatter than the real thing. It was especially thrilling what the whole system did with $2 thrift-store finds. Clicks and pops, sure, along with a share of record wear, but it played more music than all of the RMAF put together, and kept doing so, record after record, all evening long. And it did the same thing the second evening, just as good, without breaking a sweat. “

Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2011

Best Vinyl Sound: Galibier Design Stelvio II turntable, from 6moons.com (opens in new window – scroll to the bottom of the page).

More comments from 6moons.com (opens in new window).

“Galibier Design, Kaplan, Serious Stereo, Daedalus Audio: Thom Mackris, ever the gentleman host, explained how this year he decided to use more of his own system’s equipment. Rather than the Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp and MP-60 amps of last year, Thom was using a Herron phono stage through a Serious Stereo custom passive attenuator into the Serious Stereo 2A3 amp. As last year the speakers were the Daedalus Audio Ulysses. Of course the featured component was Thom’s Stelvio II turntable with the Durand Talea II tonearm fitted with a Dynavector XV1s. While I think that the room gained some portrayal of nuance and texture with the 2A3 amps, I think there was also a tradeoff in the projection of the soundstage out in front of and outside the speakers. Still the case could be made for the Serious Stereo amps in terms of sheer naturalness and refinement. Despite their flea power I did not hear clipping or collapse on dynamic peaks.”

Scott Faller – Enjoy the Music (opens in new window):

“Well, here is something a bit different. This year Thom Mackris with his awe inspiring turntables partnered with Lou Hinkley of Daedalus Audio and Serious Stereo to provide tunes via an extremely low wattage pair of monoblocks.”

“By extremely low wattage, I mean [right at] one watt. I know Lou’s speakers reasonably well, though they are efficient, I would never consider driving them with a 1 watt SET. Know what? It worked fairly well, far better than I would have imagined.”

“The bottom line was it was resolute enough to show off Thom’s great sounding turntable. I’ll be interested to see what Thom comes up with next year for pairings.”

Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2010

Roger Gordon – Positive-Feedback Online (opens in new window – 4th paragraph from the top):

“Every time I entered the room, which was quite a few times, I really enjoyed what I heard regardless of the LP being played.”

“One of the last times I visited the room I was able to play my copy of the recently released 45rpm reissue of the soundtrack to Gladiator. We played all four sides straight through. The recording is superb and the way it was reproduced in that room was magical.”

“After the end of the fourth side a woman who had been sitting at the back of the room exclaimed ‘that was a religious experience’. I agree.”

I don’t think I have heard any other system convey the emotional content of music that well.”

Steve Marsh – 6moons.com (opens in new window):

“In the Galibier Design room, their Stelvio-II turntable ($27,500) was mated with Durand Talea tonearm, a Dynavector XV1-S cartridge, Atmasphere MP-1 preamp and M-60 amplifiers powering the Daedalus Ulysses loudspeakers (substituted for the listed Green Mountain Audio speakers which did not show up).

A Holly Cole LP was playing when we entered. I noted great bass and a dead quiet background. Bill pulled out his Pete Townsend record and we played Pinball Wizard. We both felt that this room did the best job on this record of any room. The energy and speed of Townsend’s guitar virtuosity was well reproduced and conveyed much of the excitement of this live performance. Other selections played were equally impressive.”

Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2006 – Show Coverage

John Atwood’s Clarisonus Blog (opens in new window):

“Vinyl is doing quite well – many rooms relying on LPs as their high-definition source. There were lots of big turntables around. Thom Mackris’s company, Galibier Audio, had a good set-up with his turntable, the Artemis Labs preamp, Lynn Olson’s latest version of his push-pull power amp, and the Azzolina speakers. The sound of Thom’s room varied over the course of the show as the speakers and equipment were tweaked, but at the peak, was quite good, if a bit lean. Here is Thom giving the spiel in his room:”

Roger Gordon – Positive Feedback Online (opens in new window):

“Located in one of the big corner rooms was a system composed of a Galibier Design Stelvio ($12,500) turntable with Triplanar arm and Dynavector XV-1s. The phono stage and preamp were one-off designs, amplification from Karna Push Pull 300B amps from nutshellhifi.com.”

“The speakers were Azzolina Audio Grand Sfera. Cables by Chimera Labs. I played my audiophile approved Sara K., then the Pete Townshend track. Since no one else had any other vinyl to play, I played the Nirvana cut.”

“All the other attendees present left the room, but several more people came into the room and sat down with big smiles on their faces.”

“After Nirvana I played The Eurythmics and Judas Priest to more smiles. So what did I hear from these five LPs. The Sara K. is a true audiophile recording – superbly recorded and pressed. What I heard was like her sitting and singing right there in the room with me. Very nice.”

“On the Pete Townshend track I heard every detail, every movement of his fingers. Quite a toe tapping performance. Kurt Cobain’s voice on the Nirvana cut was not quite as realistic as in the Walker room, but still very nice. The Eurythmics track is heavily mixed. On a high resolution system you can hear each separate track of the mix. I heard all of the tracks. Turbo Lover is actually fairly well recorded and pressed, but I played it just for fun. Judas Priest sure beats hearing Jazz at the Pawnshop for the thousandth time.”

“A very nice sounding room to which I returned several times.”

Stereophile Blog (opens in new window):

“Thom Mackris of turntable manufacturer Galibier Design (whose Stelvio costs $12,500) had me smiling when he played a hilarious track by Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. Although a little raucous on top, the system (Schröder Reference SQ tonearm, perversely entitled ZYX Universe cartridge, Artemis Labs PH-1 phono stage, preproduction Karna push-pull 300B 15W amp from Nutshell Hi Fidelity, and Gran Sfera Horns by Azzolina Audio) offered a compellingly huge, all-enveloping, elevated soundstage coupled to a beautiful midrange.”

“One room over from Galibier, and again sporting imposing Azzolina Audio speakers, Hagerman Audio was showing another all-analog system. With no time to tune the system due to emergency equipment repairs necessitated by shipping damage, the system offered wonderful size and considerable midrange beauty, nonetheless.”

Todd Warnke – Enjoy the Music (opens in new window)

“In a large suite Azzolina Audio was showing their $15,000 horn-loaded full-range Gran Sfera. Using the exquisite Galibier Stelvio turntable as a source, I was impressed by how delicate and detailed the sound was, and yet by the power as well. Superb stuff if you have the room (and budget) for it.”

Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2004 – Show Coverage

6moons.com (opens in new window) had this to say about our main room which we shared with Exemplar Audio:

“Thom Mackris of Galibier Design turntable fame shared this room in person and with his table and Jim Hagerman’s Hawaiian Trumpet phono stage can be seen tucked between the massive legs of the table’s support.

John and Thom had another one of those really good-sounding rooms that made it essentially impossible to pick any unequivocal “Best of” exhibits.”

October, 2003 Coverage of VSAC, 2003 in Silverdale, WA

David Robinson – Positive-Feedback Online (opens in new window)

Earlier customer comments

08/12/2005 – Bob Mahony on the Motor Controller and Anvil upgrade to his Simon Yorke turntable.

“Well I can attest to the fact that I am now hearing more air and expansive sound, using your motor pod. One gets the illusion of the tape guiding the platter very quietly as opposed to the York rubber belt “pulling” at the platter. With the Yorke belts, up close, you could always hear a friction sound of the rubber gripping the platter. With the Mylar belt, only silence.”

“The soundstage background also seems “blacker” and tends to disappear. Must be your motor not “exciting” the platter like the rubber belts did. I am no expert in the science of this, of course, but I can hear the (beneficial) difference.”

“I have only tried the Anvil so far without the O-ring, but I can tell you that the bass response with Anvil in place is quite astounding. Take it away and it becomes a bit sloppy again (although I never realized this before).”

[Note: We never know what to expect, or what to attribute improvements to when we apply either a motor controller or Anvil to another design. There is too much design synergy in order to predict this. While our Anvils have had a 75% success rate, our motor controller upgrades have been at 100% to date.]

We don’t quite know what to make about Bob’s comments about belt noise. Belt noise is perhaps the last thing we would have expected him to comment on. Our Mylar belts are not quite dead-silent – at least to our ears. In spite of this, they are the best drive material we’ve tried to date. Certainly we don’t know what all of the hoopla about silk thread and ribbon is all about. Everyone of our customers who has tried them (along with our own listening sessions here in Colorado) has commented on the blurred presentation.

03/25/2005 – Kevin Brooks of Brooks Audio (opens in new window) on his Stelvio.

“I have never listened to so many records non stop since I bought your table. Honestly I have probably listened to a total of 5 or 6 CD’s since you delivered the table to me. I have between 2500 and 3000 records, and all I do is pull out new ones to enjoy, they never sounded so good.”

“I’m using the SPU on the old 16 inch Ortofon RMG-309 arm, it is a little richer sounding top to bottom. Anyway it matches beautifully with the table. The Micro and Denon are also still mounted, [Micro Seiki Mx 282 tonearm / Denon DL 103R Cartridge] but it seems like I mainly listen to the Ortofon combination, but it is nice to have a table that I can mount both arms on at the same time!!”

Thanks so much,
Kevin

In November, 2005 he wrote us:

“It’s been a while since I talked to you. I have been enjoying the Supreme [note: the Supreme was rechristened to the Stelvio] table very very much to say the least! You know how some products really turn you on at first, and then it begins to wear off. Well it is just the opposite with your table, it never lets me down. I have never experienced this with a product before except with the Ale speakers. I absolutely love it!!”

[Note: We consider Kevin to be a particularly discerning customer. He previously owned a Platine Verdier for 3 years. The switch to the Stelvio (renamed from Supreme) was a revelation to him as he indicates above. Kevin distributes the extremely rare Ales compression driver based speaker systems. To say that his electronics and speakers are world-class is an understatment.]

08/02/2004 – Bill McCormack on his Gavia

[Bill waxes on about his Gavia which replaced trusty Linn LP12. Bill kept his Hadcock tonearm and the same cartridge when he made the switch.]

Bill recently wrote us an e-mail which said about as well as you can say it, what this is all about. I was so struck by it that (with his permission) I added it to our forum. Click here to read it (opens in new window).

“The Galibier has even convinced my missus, and believe me that is saying something! Anyway a brief précis of my experiences over the weekend.

My main amp (the AN 300B SET) is still giving some problems and was not in service, so I initially used the AN Kit4, which has upgraded coupling caps and cathode bypass caps, but is essentially a pretty cheap amp.

Everything I played just stunned me – one way or another. Of special interest were two charity shop bargains, (1) Caballe doing Lucrezia Borgia on EMI (I think), and (2) a recording of Janacek’s Sinfonieta. I had played both of these (after cleaning of course) and was definitely underwhelmed. [hearing it through his LP12]

The opera was not by one of my favourite composers and in fact is not one of his (Donnizetti) most proclaimed works, so I was prepared to be disappointed.

The Janacek was a real bummer though, this is one of my all time favourites and when played with the Linn just left me thinking “Well perhaps its not such a great piece after all” – but I know it is. [after hearing it through the Galibier]

Right, so first off what did the Galibier sound like with female singing?

First on was an Elisabeth Scharzkopf recording of R. Strauss “Four Last Songs”, this sounded great on the Linn and even better on the Galibier – no surprises here.

Now being lazy and the only piece of Italian opera actually in the listening room being the Lucreazia Borgia I mentioned above, I decided to give it a spin. Well, from something that made no impression at all the first time I listened to it, we are all of a sudden in spine tingling areas – it was truly awesome. Next on was the Janacek, now I knew why I love this piece so much, it was absolutely towering!

The interesting thing about the Janacek is that the first version I bought and that I really have enjoyed in the past, is by Simon Rattle (with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra but now with the Berlin Philharmonic I think and not really my favourite conductor) and not only that it is also on CD!

Now going back to what Art [Dudley – from his Stereophile review in October, 2004)] said to you about dynamics. I reckon my CD player has greater dynamics than my old Linn (everything else is worse) and the Sinfonieta without dynamics in the replay system just ain’t gonna work. With this work on the Galibier you get the best of both worlds – dynamics and the high frequency response that only vinyl gives you.

The more I listen then the more I am rediscovering things, for example, I was playing some Leonard Cohen and was completely bowled over by “Sisters of Mercy” and you can hear stuff in it that I had never heard before.

But to call this holographic or anything like this is wrong. I have heard such systems and quite often they sound sterile and unnatural – this now sounds so natural, I have never been closer to the live sound than I am now.

I have just bought my last record deck!”

[the following is from a subsequent e-mail …]

“I am still amazed at your deck, I am hearing things in a different light. One of my favourite bands of the mid/late 60s was Canned Heat, I loved the Bear and the Sunflower and I recently cleaned my copy of “Boogie With Canned Heat”. Now, this is a mono recording that has been battered around, you know duff equipment, taking LPs to parties (this was common in the 60s!!!) etc. Compared to a CD “Best Of Canned Heat” I have, the tracks common to both were so much better on vinyl – not a little bit!

Who said that rock don’t work on Vinyl and SETs?

You can tell I am working through my collection because every e-mail from me mentions different conductor/orchestra combinations or rock bands!”

[Note: even if you’re not an opera fan, listen to a talented, well recorded soprano. This is one of the cruelest tests you can put a vinyl playback system through. With a good tracking arm and cartridge, a Galibier turntable may just convert you into being an opera lover.

06/19/2004 – Dave Vorhis on his Gavia

“My new Gavia is everything I had hoped it would be. I knew it would look great—I could tell that from the photos—but the sound quality has exceeded even my high expectations. There is subtle detailing and little shifts in dynamics that I simply never heard on my VPI 19 Mk. III or Thorens TD-124. I was concerned that I might lose some of the Thorens’ rhythmic involvement, the PRAT factor, but your table has that in spades!

I also had some doubts about buying a table without first seeing it or hearing it. However, your consultations by phone and email made the process easy and convenient, and they gave me the confidence to place the order. The table arrived safe and sound in three double-boxed cartons. Setup was easy. I was listening to Miles Davis two hours after opening the first box.

Thanks Thom!”

[Note: to date, we’ve gone head to head against numerous “modern” turntables. Dave’s reaction when comparing his Gavia with the humble PVC platter against one of the well regarded classics of yesteryear is particularly gratifying to us. When your appeal spans widely divergent tastes, you know that you’re approaching the musical truth.]