The $6,500 record player that changed Questlove’s life

By Nate Freeman
The release of the MT5 Precision Turntable, from legendary stereo designer McIntosh, has got vinyl lovers pretty much losing their minds. There hasn’t been this much buzz surrounding the release of the outmoded and decidedly retro music device since, well, maybe ever. When designer John Varvatos and musical polymath Questlove rent out the legendary Electric Lady Studios to debut a turntable, you know it’s not your average record player.
Last week, The Roots’s drummer joined the fashion kingpin — who famously (or infamously?) turned punk venue CBGB into one of his boutiques — to listen to some choice deep cuts at Jimi Hendrix’s old studio, where The Clash, D’Angelo, and The Strokes all recorded classic albums. The two had picked a few tracks that they thought would best show off the MT5, which will set you back a hefty $6,500. After listening to Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Questlove was stunned.


“I’ve lived with this song for forty plus years and I’m only hearing it now,” he said, according to Complex.
It’s commonly regarded — almost as fact — that classic albums sound better on vinyl than, say, on your iPhone, or via headphones. But what separates the MT5 Precision Turntable from the record player taking up space in your parents’s garage? For starters, there’s the standard high-quality McIntosh speaker setup, ensuring that the sound has depth and backbone, regardless of the what player device the music is coming from. It combines that with an exquisitely assembled turntable, constructed with only superior parts: a slick coil cartridge to move perfectly in sync with magnetic inputs, a silent belt drive to spin records with no hiss, and absolute precision and a custom tone arm lined with antiskate material. It’s all set upon a glowing platter that lights the room like a lava lamp.
McIntosh must be hoping that the MT5 can ride the big pro-vinyl wave — sales in 2012 were the highest in 15 years — and be the go-to option for quality over quantity. Who cares if your Spotify premium account has every song ever made, if you can’t hear every drum hit and guitar track that our rock gods created? It’s hard to argue with a perfect-sounding version of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

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