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Funk Firm Saffire III Turntable
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Funk Firm Saffire III Turntable

  (1 Review)
£3,868.33 Exc. VAT |  


Funk Firm Saffire III Turntable

Funk's flagship Turntable

Pink Triangle's Anniversary heralded a milestone in turntable development. 20 years on, its legendary performance has people regularly fighting over it on Ebay, willing to pay double its original retail price, thereby underlining a real demand for a replacement.

Funk's answer is Saffire ...HiFi World has just given it a 5 Globe review.

Starting with a very kind and unexpected editorial, David Price continues, complimenting and describing it as " fleet of foot, supple and subtle

And from Adam Smith who carried out the review: "An organic sense of purity is Saffire's trademark.It really shows vinyl at its best."

No gut thumping, leaden behemoth of a performer. We wouldn't have asked for a better descriptive recommendation.

Saffire  is precision sculpted from solid acrylic and meticulously finished by hand. Inert and stable this provides an ideal platform to hold arm and record in precise relationship.

For the metal parts, chrome, so often used, would be hard on the eye. Instead, the softness of nickel is visually more luxurious and sympathetic.

Funk's new ultra-stiff FXR II arm transmits more energy than any other arm we know. The only way to handle this is and prevent reflections back to the cartridge, which would be heard, is to dissipate it at the turntable interface.

Saffire III's elegant arm-plate hides a complex construction: Carbon fibre with a constrained damping layer of specific compliance harmlessly loses energy as heat.

The Platter

Enterprise-esque, Saffire's new platter perfectly complements the plinth's smooth lines. This shape, unique to Funk, has never been used in the history of turntables.


Extrapolating from Saffire III's lines and finish, Solus is a refinement of the system first seen in Anniversary.

The output operates as a single ended, class A stage - again unique to Funk in turntable drive.
Sophistication extends to monitoring of both current and voltage feedback. The principle of operation automatically provides for a high level of mains isolation.

Large, weighty, tactile, Solus' control knob has a smooth, easy feel.

Flick a switch at the rear. Lights fire up from within Saffire. Refracting about the flowing curves, they create the jewel of the turntable world. Quartz is the standard colour but other colours are available to special order.


The Power Source and Belt Drive: On the face of it, Direct Drive might seem the ideal when turning a platter, outperforming all other systems. Further investigation, however, yields a surprising alternative conclusion: that the humble Belt drive holds advantages over Direct Drive!

The faster rotor speed of a belt driven motor generates more error pulses for the servo to act on. With more pulses, any correction necessary can be applied more delicately and hence less invasively.

With just a single pulley, all other decks yank the platter round and audibly smear delicate signals. Funk’s 3-pulley Vector Drive system is arguably one of the best ways to rotate a platter via a belt and blurs the boundary between DD and belt drive.  Saffire III is thus Direct Drive in all but name and certainly enjoys the best advantages of both belt and DD. No one else can lay similar claim.

The Bearing

Anniversary’s bearing design not only returned absolute state of the art rumble measurement, it has stood the test of time. Refined for Saffire III, it was the natural choice. Precision ground surgical stainless steel holds the sapphire thrust plate.

This supports a very hard, very small precision ball which atop the bearing housing. The bearing housing itself has to maintain no less than five centres of concentricity. A complex design worthy of its role here.


For Saffire III, a new thixotropic lubricant has been developed. Its very low coefficient of friction stays in place upside down permitting longer intervals between maintenance.

The Record Support & Care

A solid balanced acrylic main platter provides the inertial load for the motor. Achromat, inset and bonded provides the best in impedance matching termination for your records.

Achromat's surface is smooth and easy to clean. With no foreign matter getting into your precious grooves, either to cause damage or intrude into your listening pleasure, your music is sweeter and your records last longer.

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Funk Firm Saffire Turntable
Saturday, 13 December 2014  | 

Funk Firm Saffire Turntable with FXR Arm

Having glimpsed this turntable a few years ago, and being enchanted by its looks (I loved the pink LED lights), I saved up my pennies and ordered one in September 2014. It was delivered six weeks later. The guys from Analogue Seduction brought it round one evening, and proceeded to fit my existing FXR arm and Cadenza Blue cartridge. The Saffire is not, I believe, the easiest turntable to put together, but after an hour or so it was sitting on my wall-mount and ready to feed my Icon Audio phono preamplifier, KR VA 880 hybrid valve amplifier and AudioPhysic tempo 25 speakers. Glowing softly in the subdued light of my music room, it looked wonderful, and I was immediately captivated by the clear, natural and vibrant presentation of the music.
The Saffire is unusual, if not unique, in having two 'slave' pulleys to support the belt so that the platter is not pulled in any direction. I would surmise that this gives the platter a 'direct drive-like' stability, as the bass line in recordings bounce along with foot-tapping energy. The Perspex platter is comparatively light, though non-resonant, and the accuracy of timbre of brass, woodwind and string instruments on records, particularly older analogue recordings can take your (OK, my) breath away.
All this makes listening to black vinyl, whether 'classical' or 'pop', an involving and indeed addictive activity which will stimulate you to go through your record collection
There are some caveats:
(1) do not, on any account, twist the feet, thinking that this will level the turntable, as this will break the rather fragile connections to the LEDs, which would be a pity.
(2) there is no instruction manual, just a couple of pieces of printed paper on set-up. A proper manual would add to 'pride of ownership' and could have prevented a stupid person (like me) from breaking the LEDs in feet (see 1).
(3) I am not sure if the vibrant character of the turntable is not in part due to its poor acoustic isolation. Mine is on wall mount with a light base on the de rigueur spikes, but even so a light tap on the mount with music playing results in a 'thud' through the speakers.
The estimable boss and presiding genius of the Funk Firm, Arthur Khoubressarian, is well aware of 1-3. Arthur was noncommittal about a booklet, but he does have different, metal, feet and an all Perspex base and cover in development. The latter, he assures me, will soon be available and much reduce acoustic feedback. In the meantime I fitted sorbothane Vibrapods under the feet with pleasing results.
Bottom line: this is a beautifully made piece of kit whose looks are matched by its performance. The Funk firm should sell them by the bucketful! There is, perhaps, one final caveat: the Saffire will stimulate you to go through your record collection and even (in my case) search through charity shops (and eBay) for those old recordings of George Szell or even that 'Wings' (sorry!) album you got rid of years ago, mistakenly thinking that the digital transfer would satisfy you. You have been warned!

Roger Simmonds 13/12/2014

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