Looking for the German FIDELITY Online? Just click here!
Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

Magnat MTT 990 50th Anniversary

The Gray Eminence Wants to Play

The Magnat MTT 990 50th Anniversary is a “ready to play” turntable composed of the best ingredients. The absence of fashionable bells and whistles makes its unobtrusive design timelessly elegant. The only question that remains is whether its sonic qualities are as convincing as its appearance.

Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

Magnat, a veteran of the German hi-fi scene, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Shandro Fischer, Managing Director of Product Development, initiated the limited 50th anniversary version of the tried and tested Magnat MTT 990 turntable. In collaboration with development engineer Martin Groß, whose particular focus was on the motor control, and designer Helmut Thiele, responsible for the “bodywork” and the optimization of the resonance behaviour, the result is – I can say this much in advance – an outstanding, well-designed package.

The main difference between the “50th Anniversary” and the standard MTT 990 is the attractive graphite gray finish and the high-quality pickup, an Audio-Technica VM520EB MM. Beyond that, there was no need to change the tried-and-tested turntable within the given framework. On closer inspection of the technology used, this seems quite plausible to me, but more on this later. The turntable is supplied with all the necessary accessories (even a cleverly designed cover is included) and can be put into operation within a few minutes, even by inexperienced vinyl beginners.

After placing the turntable on my rack, I immediately noticed the finely tuned proportions of the chassis. Although a 10-inch tonearm is installed, the MTT doesn’t look too bulky. The clearly arranged controls and the immaculately finished graphite gray metallic paint, from which the silk matt black coated tonearm contrasts, complete the elegant appearance.

Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

The functionality does not suffer from the visual aspects. The turntable is controlled via a rotary knob in the front left-hand corner of the turntable, i.e. at an appropriate distance from the sensitive cartridge. All connections are conveniently located at the rear of the solid MDF chassis.

Helmut Thiele’s signature can be seen in the clear design language and practical operability. He has optimized the resonance behaviour with extensive series of tests on specially developed equipment. According to the designer, the selection of the decoupling feet in particular – they are fitted with a combination of springs and elastomer inserts – was time-consuming. But the measures were obviously crowned with success: the turntable was completely unaffected by external influences during operation. The turntable made of precisely turned polyoxymethylene is set in motion by a direct drive with quartz-controlled speed control. The transformer of the power supply unit is suspended to oscillate and shielded with Mu metal. These measures help the record player to run absolutely smoothly. The speed is maintained perfectly, as my test with a stroboscope disk confirmed.

Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

The gimbal-mounted tonearm is reminiscent of the shape that has been used for decades, primarily in Japanese turntables. On closer inspection, however, you can recognize the J-shaped tonearm tube. Helmut Thiele explained to me in conversation that this design achieves greater rigidity compared to the usual S-shaped tonearms. The tonearm length of 10 inches – the advantage here is a lower tracking angle error – and the internal wiring from Mogami also deviate from the standard that is usual at this quality level. The statically balanced tonearm is compatible with almost all common cartridges thanks to its adjustment options. The tonearm height can be easily adjusted using a ring with recessed grips. The millimeter scale makes adjustments easy to reproduce, and the tonearm height is locked with a small lever. The headshell with bayonet connection is easy to fit and makes changing cartridges uncomplicated.

When setting up for the first time, you don’t need to worry about any of this. A check with the Schön template confirmed the perfect installation of the cartridge. All I had to do was screw on the counterweight and use the scale to set the tracking force of two grams. This was exactly right, and a check with an electronic scale confirmed the value. I also set the anti-skating force to two grams using the knurled screw, connected the supplied cables and the turntable was ready to go!

Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

The climate in the Rhineland was already tropical in early summer this year, so I put on 96° In The Shade by Third World to match. It sounded promising straight out of the box, and now that I was already in the Caribbean mood, the next stage of break-in was to take me to Jamaican dance halls. My collection of heavy dubstyle version excursions with Lee “Scratch” Perry aka The Upsetter, King Tubby, Prince Jammy and The Scientist then converted my system into a flawless “sound system”. The deep, muffled bass lines, whipping cymbal hits meandering into nirvana with echo effects and melancholy brass sections by Dirty Harry (no, not the one with the .44 Magnum) were convincingly pushed across the listening room. After this overdose of oppressive bass runs and cuttingly sharp offbeats, the pickup was largely worn out. I urgently needed a contrasting program.

The Texmex country punk rockers Los Lobos refreshed me with completely different, but equally summery vibes with their best-known and amazingly well-recorded album How Will The Wolf Survive? The stable and well-sorted sound that was already apparent during the break-in phase was impressive. The MTT 990 reproduced the lively sound of the Southern Californian band with the necessary drive and punch. My guess is that the direct drive with Martin Groß’s improved control system played a big part in this.

Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

As I had sold my first edition in a fit of youthful recklessness, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was now spinning on the platter with a reissue of Electric Ladyland. The distorted, wah-wah-soaked sound of the Fender Stratocaster sawed authentically through the listening room (and probably far too loudly through the whole building). Nevertheless, this elemental force did not spill over into an exhausting mess. On the contrary, the differentiated presentation of the diverse sounds and effects helped to musically understand the complex structures. Simply great.

Classical and jazz recordings sounded just as captivating and inspiring, especially due to the realistic timbres and deep spatiality. Now that the test subject has completed its test course with flying colors, I could have already arrived at my conclusion. If …, well, if I hadn’t had that lingering suspicion that the MTT 990 was destined for even greater things!

magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-01 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-03 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-07 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-05 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-04 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-11 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-10 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-09 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-08 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-06 magnat-mtt990-50th-anniversary-02

After briefly explaining my idea, Isabel Schlemermeyer from the marketing department kindly sent me a second headshell. I fitted this with my Excalibur Platinum, put on the first disk … and at first had to process what I was hearing. I did expect an improvement in performance, but the extent of it overwhelmed me. To go into detail would go beyond the scope of this article, but I would like to summarize it as follows: Take all audiophile qualities and push that way up! The perfectly recorded and exemplarily produced disc Live At Museo Piaggio by Tuscan duo Musica Nuda (Fonè) laid bare almost all sonic aspects (even if the musical value is probably only of importance to fans).

You might find it disproportionate to screw a cartridge onto the MTT 990 that costs about as much as the complete turntable. However, it shows the potential of this turntable, which allows for a great, cost-effective entry into the world of vinyl and offers the option of upgrading as your needs grow. Thanks to its customization options, a wide range of experiments with record mats, cables etc. are also possible, creating a rewarding playground. In short: it climbs surprisingly high up the high-end ladder.

Magnet MTT990 50th Anniversary

Accompanying Equipment

Turntable: TW Acustic Raven GT2 | Tonearm: Raven 10.5″ | Cartridge: Clearaudio Concerto V2, Excalibur Platinum | Amplifier: Lab 12 Melto2, Electrocompaniet EC 4. 8, Electrocompaniet EC AW250R | Speakers: Audio Physic Spark on Solidsteel SS-5 | Power supply, cables: IsoTek Aquarius, AudioQuest Yukon, Zavfino Gold Rush, 2 x Kimber 8TC BiWire, WBT | Accessories: Audio Physic VCF V Magnetic plus, Lehmannaudio Stage 1 and more …

Turntable Magnat MTT 990 50th Anniversary

Concept: Plug’n’Play turntable with quartz-controlled direct drive | Speeds: 33, 45 and 78 rpm | Synchronization fluctuations (@33 rpm): < 0.08 % | S/N ratio (dBA): > 72 dB | S/N ratio: > 65 dB | Tonearm: 10”, J-shape with SME system carrier, for cartridges with a weight of 3 to 10 g, recommended stylus compliance: medium to hard, setting range tracking force: 0 to 40 mN/0 to 4.0 g | Stylus: frequency range 20 Hz to 23 kHz; channel separation (1 kHz) 27 dB; stylus cut: circular, non-nude; recommended load impedance 47 kΩ; output power: (1 kHz, 5 cm/s) 4.0 mV | Color: “Anniversary Graphite-Grey” | Dimensions (W/H/D): 45/16/37 cm (with cover, closed) | Warranty period: 2 years | Price: around 1500 €

Magnat Audio-Produkte GmbH

Lise-Meitner-Straße 9
50259 Pulheim
Phone +49 2234 8070


The stated retail price of the reviewed device is valid as of the time of the review and is subject to change.