Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo

Turntable Test

Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo Review

In the eye of the hurricane, utmost peace and quiet are known to be found. With the Hurricane Neo from Acoustic Signature, we encountered a turntable whose bulletproof housing shrugs off any onslaught. The true refinement, however, lies in its bright solutions.

| Matthias Böde

You don‘t really want to say it, but the Covid pandemic with its forced lockdowns and time-outs also had a few good aspects for the hi-fi industry. This was the case for the team around Gunther Frohnhöfer, head of Acoustic Signature, to name one example. They used the pause to completely renew the considerable repertoire of turntables and tonearms the southern German specialist offers, with hardly anything remaining unchanged.

The company, which is located in the Swabian town of Süßen and thus in a kind of epicenter of German engineering, can master such challenges because they manufacture most of the required parts themselves – from the bulky aluminum chassis to the filigree tonearm axle – and focus on highest precision. The motto "Teutonic Engineering" is found on the front door of the industrious company, standing for solid "mass" and class at the same time.

Image Gallery 1

Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo
6 Bilder
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – PSU
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Drive open
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Drive closed
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Pickup
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Tonearm

The first representative of the new line, the entry-level Maximus Neo, was reviewd by us here. It competed equipped with the smallest tonearm plus the MCX-2 MC pickup and impressed not only with its flawless finish, but also with first-class sound quality.


All of this left us hungry for more, which is why the good 30 kilograms of the Hurricane Neo now rest on our shelf – a feast for the eyes in the shape of a turntable located somewhere between mechanical fascination and puristic pragmatism. And you can indeed see the weight: The turntable chassis, which is made of solid aluminum blocks and offers room for up to three tonearms, stands wide-legged on three mighty, gel-damped outrigger feet. These can be adjusted in height via their large metal frames, and each one has a small ball on the underside to ensure a defined contact with the base.

There is enough space to slide the also solidly built control panel halfway under the frame so that only the two buttons for on/off and the two speeds peek out. Of course, you can also place it somewhere else if you desire. The LAN cable that keeps the box in contact with the external power supply and control unit is long. The same goes for the cable that leads from the DMC-10 – as the microprocessor-controlled power station is named – to the turntable itself.

In this unit, an encapsulated switching power supply provides the juice for the high-precision, quartz-based and digitally generated sine waves for the two AC synchronous motors, which drive the subplatter from opposing points. On the one hand, tiny individual errors are leveled out and – possibly even more important – the one-sided pull on the platter axle and thus an imbalance in the lateral load is avoided. Both aspects serve to benefit the smoothness of the turntable.

"Silencers" at Work

A highlight of the DMC-10, however, is the "Automatic Vibration Control", or AVC for short. This automatically compensates for the slightest deviations in the structure of the coils and their plates. Due to the production process, these are never exactly at a 90-degree angle to each other, which is noticeable through slight vibrations in the operation and "ripples" in the DC voltage. The AVC system detects these about every five minutes and then effectively counteracts through minimal phase shifts. If the speed is not perfect, tiny buttons on the back allow for extremely sensitive corrections.

Let‘s look on the mechanical side of the vibration control: A "Constraint Layer Damping" (CLD) technology is found within the chassis in the form of a steadying silicone sheet placed between the two solid parts of the chassis. The "silencers" are of course also part of that, their upper ends visible in the almost ten-kilogram platter, which in turn is damped on its underside with a mat of carbon and leather..

These "silencers" are small brass cylinders that are press-fitted into the aluminum platter. Rubber rings keep the materials distanced from each other. While the platter vibrates audibly when stimulated without them, it is absolutely silent after they are inserted – except for a short "thump" –, as Frohnhöfer demonstrated on two otherwise identical platters. Eight of these cylinders are to be found in the Hurricane Neo.

Image Gallery 2

Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Tonearmcable
6 Bilder
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Template
 Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – bearing bushings
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Silencer
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Platter bearing
Acoustic Signature Hurricane Neo – Maximus Neo

For the tonearm, we chose the TA-2000 Neo in a nine-inch version from the diverse range the swabians have on offer. On its own, it costs around 3000 euros and thus stems from the highest league and also matches the turntable‘s appearance perfectly thanks to its solid bearing housing. Its stiff and hard tube is designed in "Dual Layer" technology with two layers placed inside each other. The low-friction, zero-backlash ball bearings are sourced from the specialist SKF, the internal cabling from Mogami – another first-class name.

The arm can be mounted on SME or Rega bases, is adjustable in any direction and is also available as a twelve-inch version. Its anti-skating value is set via a flexible rod and the headshell can be moved freely. Thanks to the included template, adjusting the arm and cartridge system poses no problems. Setting the tracking force, however, requires a tonearm scale. Afterwards, the scaleless counterweight is fixed immovably with grub screws.

While we usually have to recommend quickly replacing the phono cables included with turntables, the Hurricane Neo represents a commendable exception. Its cable is an Audioquest "Wildcat" that also meets higher demands, as cross-checks with some compararable models quickly proved.

Even the MC pickup we tested in conjunction with it comes from the Acoustic Signature collection. Except for its filigree metal housing, the MCX-3, which costs just under 1350 euros, is obviously not manufactured by the company itself. It is built according to Frohnhöfer‘s wishes by the distinguished Danish manufacturer Ortofon and is based on their "Quintet" line. The MCX-3 offers a multi-faceted "Fine Line" diamond that is supposed to capture maximum information from the groove.

The Calm in the Storm

Assembling the Hurricane Neo turned out to be inspiringly delightful. Not only did all components impress with their flawless surfaces and manufacturing quality – everything also fit together perfectly. Anyone who has a bit of knowledge on the subject will greatly enjoy it. Of course, the Acoustic Signature is not intended as a three-dimensional puzzle for analog enthusiasts – although it is certainly suited for that – but to present records impressively. No doubt: The Hurricane Neo takes every heart, well, by storm.

But only when the music gets turbulent. The massive turntable itself impresses with composure and serenity. It neither shows any nervousness, nor does it let itself be stimulated to do so by rapid rhythms on his platter or by heavy structure-borne noise, i.e. loud speakers in the immediate vicinity.

A benchmark for high class and finesse is the amount of space, airiness and sparkling flair present in the sound image; these are essential for a natural musical experience and are missing if the turntable swallows up the necessary fine details. You don‘t need to worry about the Acoustic Signature in this regard: Not only Diana Krall‘s "Live In Paris" album, bursting with esprit, was presented with a wide spatial spectrum and exemplary staggering in every direction, with plenty of air between the different actors – as well as an organized overview of the complex events which only the best devices can convey. The impression of dignified sovereignty was established immediately. Even during the dazzling orchestral passages of Chadwick‘s "Jubilee" suite, the Hurricane Neo was the calm in the storm and solid as a rock.

Lovers of large orchestral works with sweeping melodic arcs, sonorous coloration and a load of low-frequency energy will especially appreciate the slightly softened diction the MCX-3 carries in the upper frequencies. Additionally, it also sets hardly any limits to the spatial development of the performance. Thanks to its first-class resolving skills, it never seems obstructed, actually just right for distinctly present pop records. In the fulminant bass of James Taylor‘s crisp "Her Town Too", it however seemed a few nuances too full and round. Overall, this in-house MC thus remains slightly below the highest level offered by the turntable and tonearm.

In order to check what is possible and reasonable, we mounted other MC cartridges from our test collection onto the TA-2000. Some of these admittedly cost twice as much as the charming MCX-3 – but their price compared to the other components seemed to us all the more reasonable. And there you have it: With these, the bar was raised even higher in terms of finesse and "relentlessness" in the definition of which the drive and arm are capable of. Thus equipped, the now uncompromising Hurricane Neo even became a candidate for the very highest reference honors.

Anyone who experiences how richly shaded the German can fan out dark clouds of sound from the lowest frequency depths understands the importance of this quality for the liveliness and nobility of the overall performance. When these gather into a menacing storm of sound, it is not a threat to the Hurricane Neo, in which material effort meets cleverness; but a welcome challenge. Because it shows itself to be well-prepared in every respect.


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