Clearaudio Concept Signature
The Concept was Clearaudio's most successful turntable to date. We have now tested its successor in a higher configuration level (Photo: Clearaudio)

Clearaudio Concept Signature: Simply the best from Bavaria?

Clearaudio is not modest. The Franconians (The Franconian lands lie principally in Bavaria) even call the new Clearaudio Concept Signature the “most exciting complete turntable package of all time”. Big words that you can choke on. But we can understand the proudly swelling chest in our test.

With the Concept model series, Clearaudio has conjured up a super seller in its in-house catalog. No witchcraft – but at the right time, the strategists in Erlangen realized that many potential consumers out there wanted a ready-made turntable that played in the premium league. 2009 was the market premiere. How many Concepts have been sold since then? Hold on tight: 20,000 copies!

But there’s more. Now the Concept Signature is set to become the racehorse in the stable. After all, we have evolved. The genetic basis and the promise of its predecessor remain untouched at its core – Made in Germany, perfectly adjusted at the factory and ready to play at a high level.
Which is why we also wanted to lend a hand ourselves, because the Concept Signature also treads unusual trade routes. It is available from specialist retailers, but also from the Clearaudio website. The simple Concept as “Edition 24” is also still available for 1,750 euros. The Signature is higher – the game starts at 2500 euros, with MM system; the upgrade with simple MC Concept is 3165 euros. But this is Clearaudio: Of course, there are other tonearm/sound pickup combinations possible. Our test drive got the larger MC pickup called Signature – which brings the package to a price of just over 3,600 euros.

Clearaudio Concept Signature
Nomen est Omen: The “Signature” in the newcomer’s lettering is of course written in a bold way, as a contrast to the clear concept (Photo: H. Biermann)

Unpacking – the technology: an exciting attitude to life

Unpacking is really simple and takes less than ten minutes. No sweat, no tears – but a look at the assembly instructions is a must. In addition to the motor and the central axle, another pulley is also included. Strange, but quickly solved: This is the sensor for the correct number of revolutions – so be sure to wrap the belt around it, otherwise the plate will rotate at a crazy speed.

Clearaudio Concept Signature Pulley
Two pulleys? What are you doing? The motor is clearly located at the top, in the vibration-optimized mesh of O-rings. The wheel next to it is the analyzer for the correct number of revolutions – which recalibrates the Signature every time it is started. Also clearly visible: the insulation of the motor from the chassis using 6 decoupling elements (Photo: H. Biermann)

What else has Clearaudio changed compared to the first edition? Many things. A new control technology is exciting. For example, the Tacho Speed Control (TSC); the Signature calibrates itself. The TSC communicates with the main processor in real time. A slack belt is immediately noticeable, as is a change in temperature from the previous day. With every start, everything is reset to zero and recalibrated.

The only way to look into the interior structure is with an X-ray – or with a saw. Since we had no desire to destroy, we trust Clearaudio’s statements: As with the first design, this is a medium-density, pressed wood fiber, i.e. MDF. But combined with solid layers of wood and pressed under high pressure. The velvety, shimmering plastic used to cover all surfaces is a classy and elegant match.

Clearaudio Concept Signature 4 colors
The current standard colors of the Clearaudio Concept Signature (Photo: Clearaudio)

As aesthetes, as all Clearaudio employees see themselves, the Signature is optionally left in matching black on the sides and rounded edges, or framed in brushed aluminum, or in two wood tones – making four appearances, a quartet from which the customer must choose. And yes: of course the wooden bowls cost more, 250 euros, but that seems quite reasonable.

The motor is mounted in a spider web construction, suspended from six small tensioning rubbers, or more precisely: O-rings. The Clearaudio developers have transformed the knowledge gained from the development of the Reference Jubilee into a small form. The original model of the Concept featured a stable but technically un-erotic motor version with a core and three coils. The new model has a coreless design – i.e. a copper rounding with a central axis in a current-generating outer shell. A flat belt transmits the power to a sub-platter made of solid aluminum, whose spindle in turn is mounted in a sintered bronze bearing. The simple Concept had already scored points among the fans – an astonishing amount of precision engineering for this class.

Now show us what you can do! Just plug the power supply into the socket, insert the small round plug on the back of the Signature – and with sensitive hands, flip the hard but tiny power switch on the back. Don’t worry: this is usually only done during the first set-up, after that all controls follow the rules of the round rotary knob. This is located at the bottom left next to the turntable, which Clearaudio molds from high-tech plastic without mentioning the word POM itself.

All options open for the future

Irritation: I press the knob in question – and the plate starts turning at 33.3 revolutions. I push again – and we increase to 45 laps. But why did Clearaudio make this button rotatable, all I have to do is press it? The Franconians are ahead of their time. This is because the Concept Signature will probably also be available at the high-end trade fair in May as a fully active version with an internal preamp – and a volume control. In other words, the resurrection of the existing Concept active on the new Signature platform.

Clearaudio Concept Signature control wheel
Push me: The control knob can only determine between 33 and 45 revolutions. Clearaudio redirects fans of the shellac 78s to other turntables in the catalog. The blue LEDs will soon visualize the volume of the “active” model (Photo: H. Biermann)

We placed the old Concept active, which is still available, next to it just for fun. You can immediately recognize the further development in the finish, in the even more stringent design language – above all, the volume wheel on the right has been removed. Everything is combined in the new model’s push and turn steering wheel – cleverly reduced. However, we have to do without 78 revolutions. Which you can easily live with – shellac and high-end don’t harmonize, and a special pickup would be appropriate. But why is the new steering wheel highlighted in blue? Because in the future, with the Signature active, the output volume will also be visualized with individual bars.

In terms of pickups, Clearaudio offers several options in the Fix&Finish version. We reached higher onto the shelf with the MC Concept Signature (price: 1,400 euros). The Signature Moving Coil is basically a highly selected MC Concept that costs a whopping 450 euros less and is a real highlight in the Clearaudio catalog. But Clearaudio’s sales manager recommended the “Signature”, which actually offered even more grip and accuracy than the Nomal version (formerly called MC1).

Clearaudio Concept Signature MC
Clearaudio offers the Signature in the Knäckebrot base with MM system, but the base is worth the upgrade to the MC Concept Signature: with boron needle carrier and Micro-Line cut (Photo: H. Biermann)

As freely as I can decide on an individual pickup in the catalog, the tonearm is also on the decision list. With a tonearm specialist like Clearaudio, an upgrade might even be a good idea. But we left it at the “common” Verify for 1,000 euros. It has also proven itself in handling and significantly larger (or more expensive) tonearms quickly exceed the price range of an upper-class complete system.

Clearaudio Concept Signature tonearm bearing
Simple, straightforward – in the literal sense of the word. Clearaudio clearly addresses the Verify tonearm as the ideal playmate for the Signature and the MC system – and even speaks of the “most exciting complete turntable package of all time”. Full-bodied, courageous (Photo: H. Biermann)

In my opinion, an upgrade of the power supply unit would be worth considering. We had ordered the Professional Power in the round aluminum can for fun and games. Stabilized 12 volts, a filter in front of it, plus a real, thick power cable, price: 590 euros.

Clearaudio Concept Signature power supplies
Obviously, the standard switching power supply does its job – the Professional Power, on the other hand, combines the standards of Franconian engineering. The difference in sound? Comprehensible, the relation to the surcharge is right (Photo: H. Biermann)

Compared to the (somewhat unworthy) switching power supply from the Far East, there is immediately noticeable progress: The dynamic response increases, as does the precision. It is always amazing what the banal stabilization of the operating voltage can achieve. My tip: When buying the turntable, order the larger power supply unit at the same time, because these additional 590 euros are a good investment. Tip two: The power supply is also available in black anodized aluminum to match the drive…

Clearaudio Concept Signature connection
Do we need long fingers? The hard power button is located on the back, right next to the 12-volt input. In fact, however, all control details can be operated via the large rotary knob on the surface. Be careful with the “Calibrate” button: It is primarily reserved for Clearaudio professionals (Photo: H. Biermann)

The listening test: The dream of an entry-level drive fizzles out

But now we have clearly pushed the Signature over the 3000 euro mark. The Concept Edition 2024 is significantly lower at 1,750 euros. The label “entry-level package” is out of the question. But the sonic equivalent is amazingly high, so I would be surprised if a Signature owner is plagued by new buying impulses in the next five years. Clearaudio makes the most of the fascination of quality workmanship, design and vinyl feel.

Put up or shut up, Vinyl on the platter. Liam Gallagher and John Squire are going out on a limb with their new, nameless album. “The best record since Revolver by the Beatles”, Gallagher is said to have remarked. Just the old loudmouth. But he is, in part, right: it is new, fresh and exciting. Great melodies, even the first track “Raise Your Hands” feels like swinging London in the 1960s. The internet stream does not underpin the feeling of life, there is too much disinfectant between the bits. The vinyl record rocks. The Clearaudio Signature whips up the drums and places the guitars hard left and right in the stereo triangle. The mix also seems to have fallen out of time. But something is missing. The Signature plays a little too tidy. The snottiness of Gallagher seems too organized to me. The sound must be fraying here, like the old parka he drags through his life.

Cover Gallagher Squire
This really is one of the best albums of the year 2024: Liam Gallagher to John Squire (Cover: Amazon)

But it could be that I’m falling for a psychological effect here. That happens to me quickly: something that sounds so clean and straightforward has no heart. Wrong! So “I’m so Bored” again, this time really loud. The riff is reminiscent of “Paperback Writer”, same tempo, same response, but somehow more turned up, plus the sound engineers overdrive Liam Gallagher’s voice. Now even the good guy from Erlangen is becoming a gambler. The silver platter has disappeared, the Signature can also handle smoke, beer and dirty cellar sound. But he does not allow himself to be driven out of the tendency to analyze; this is high-end at a contemporary level and the logical continuation of the family tradition.

Norah Jones
Norah Jones “Visions” is also on the market as a color version (Photo: A. Günther)

Does colored vinyl sound different? “Visions” by Norah Jones is available in bright orange. Obviously a sign that the lady has shed the sadness of her previous album. In “On My Way” the birds chirp, the piano throbs in sync with the bass. It’s great how the Signature captures the fine pulsation and never lets it out of focus. This structuring is another trademark.

Clearaudio Concept Signature vs Concept
When the phono stage is activated, the Concept active (above) controls the volume via a rotary wheel on the hard right. The Signature will also be activated soon – but the control will be on the left. We used the active Concept for a listening comparison (Photo: H. Biermann)

We still had the now old Concept active on the shelf, which of course has a slightly different approach with its built-in phono stage (but switched off in this test), but is very similar in principle. The similarity was even greater because we only had an MC Concept Signature at our disposal and for the comparison we clamped the MC Concept Signature under the arm of the Concept active.

That was a bit of an effort, but it allowed us to hear the differences between the turntables and the various tonearms in the best possible way. And in this comparison, the new Concept always had the upper hand: because it had more to offer in terms of fine dynamics, worked with significantly more precision and reproduced the music with more “air” overall. The Concept active, which actually sounds really good and has been part of the LowBeats comparison inventory for several years, sounded somewhat vague and significantly less accurate compared to the new Signature. This is where it becomes clear that Clearaudio has made real progress with its renewed Concept drive.


Of course, inflation also has a say in why the new Concept is priced so significantly higher than its predecessor. However, Clearaudio has absorbed a lot of knowledge from the higher series. On the one hand, this is the cost of in-house research, but the Signature has also improved in terms of finish and choice of materials.

In terms of sound – at least with the MC Concept Signature at the tip of the tonearm – it is not satisfied with cozy analog velvet. This record player wants to pass on as much information as possible. It’s not for the softies, but for those who are looking for analysis, want to know everything, want to be carried away by the music. Its mix of coarse plus fine dynamics is world class.

Concept Signature
Test result: 4.4
Sound Quality
Build Quality


The rating always refers to the respective price category.
Exemplary neutrality, ultra-precise imaging
Intelligent analysis of the rotational speed, smooth running
The high art of processing
Easy handling

Spardorferstr. 150
91054 Erlangen

Price (manufacturer’s recommendation)
Clearaudio Concept Signature black + white: from 2,500 euros
Clearaudio Concept Signature wood version: from 2.750 Euro
Clearaudio MC Concept Signature: 1,400 euros
Clearaudio Professional Power 12 Volt: 590 Euro

More from Clearaudio:

Test Clearaudio Balance Reference Phono
Test Clearaudio Reference Jubilee: Super drive with Boomerang chassis
Test turntable Clearaudio Concept Active + active speaker Elac Navis ARB-51
Test phono stage Clearaudio Basic V2

Technical data

Clearaudio Concept signature
Concept:Turntable with belt drive
Tone arm:Clearaudio Verify
Pickup:Clearaudio MC Concept Signature
Final values MC:10 kΩ, 5kΩ, 1000 Ω, 500 Ω, 100 Ω, 50 Ω
Speeds:33.3 and 45 rpm
Special features:intelligent speed control (TSC)
Dimensions (W x H x D):42.0 × 12.0 × 35.0 cm
Weight (phono/mains adapter):
7.5 kilos (without power supply unit)
All technical data

Autor: Andreas Günther

Avatar photo
Der begeisterte Operngänger und Vinyl-Hörer ist so etwas wie die Allzweckwaffe von LowBeats. Er widmet sich allen Gerätearten, recherchiert aber fast noch lieber im Bereich hochwertiger Musikaufnahmen.