Basis Audio Snapshot

When A.J. Conti began work on the original Basis Audio turntable, the revolutionary Debut, his motivation was to achieve sonic perfection by eliminating sound. This may seem contradictory, but as an engineer and music lover Conti had come to understand that the perfect turntable – and Conti demanded perfection – was one with no sound of its own. “The sound I want and have wanted all these years is that of a master tape—a natural, effortless, organic, real music sound,” he later said. “It’s not a sound at all, it’s a lack of sound. As soon as a product has a sound it stands in the way of the musician’s real message.”

Basis Audio achieved this goal through exceptional technical skill, great imagination and perseverance. Conti, who died in 2016, was a mechanical engineer who had worked on advanced defense and aeronautical technology before turning his attention towards a more personal passion – music. Basis Audio was formed in 1983 and the Debut was launched in 1984. A beautiful example of precision engineering, it quickly caught the attention of the high-end audio community, who garlanded it with awards. The Debut was named one of the 50 most influential audio products of the past 50 years by Hi- Fi News, as well as accolades and awards by such publications as the Absolute Sound, the Stereophile and the Robb Report. Other turntables followed including the Work of Art, the Inspiration and the A. J. Conti Transcendence (named posthumously) as well as industry-defining tonearms such as the Vector and the SuperArm.

Basis Audio’s products take years of painstaking research and development to achieve total clarity, surpassing all contemporary standards in terms of precision, aesthetics and manufacturing quality. The Transcendence with SuperArm has been described by the editor-in-chief of the Absolute Sound magazine as “one of the greatest achievements of high-end audio, not just in turntables and tonearms, but across all product categories”. When the award-winning makers of the “World’s Greatest!…” TV show made a program about the world’s greatest turntable and tonearm manufacturer, they turned to Basis Audio, dazzled at the extraordinary lengths the designers and engineers would go to in the quest for complete perfection.

Basis Audio turntables and tonearms are passed like treasured heirlooms from one generation to the next, performing flawlessly after more than 40 years. They represent the epitome of performance, allowing the soul of any record to shine as originally intended by musicians, recording engineers and producers.

How is this achieved? A combination of ingenuity, obstinacy and obsession with engineering detail. Conti set the tone, breaking down every turntable into its constituent elements before seeking ways to optimize performance according to the fundamental principles of physics. When drive belt manufacturers were unable to meet Conti’s demands for complete consistency in thickness, he decided to design and make his own drive belts recognizing this was the only way to eliminate variations in sound. Hundreds of hours are spent researching the smallest components to identify their impact on the final product. Other manufacturers would overlook such details, but not Basis Audio.

The aesthetics also benefit from this attention to detail. Turntables look and feel as good as they sound. Conti adored beautiful machines like Ducati motorcycles but was equally inspired by nature, art and photography. All these influences would combine with his knowledge of mechanics and engineering to create the handsome turntables. These are striking designs, confident and reassuring in their own quality.

The holy grail of sonic perfection took Conti to the transparent sound of analogue master tapes, the ones used in the recording studio as the ultimate precedent for how any record should sound – as close to being in the same room as the musician as it’s possible to get. Determined to replicate and then share this experience through his turntables, Conti acquired rare first-generation dubs of the original master tapes and used them as his control when analyzing the accuracy and truthfulness of any new system, ultimately achieving a sound that was indistinguishable from these master tapes.

As well as this commitment to the integrity of sound, Basis Audio maintains Conti’s legacy by remaining true to the spirit in which he founded the company. This means that Basis Audio will never produce new models with superfluous changes for the sake of novelty, nor will the company mimic current trends when it could explore genuine innovation and artistry. Instead, Basis Audio will continue a philosophy of careful research and informed improvement, combining aesthetic beauty with engineering excellence to set the standards that ensure Basis Audio remains at the pinnacle of record playback.