Romy, I get your point that it seems like the best and most likely application of your evaluation ideas would be exactly the “high-end” designers and manufacturers we are met to disparage. And this should be particularly true in the case of the Continuum, where, apparently, plenty of time, money and expertise are combined, supposedly just for the purpose of constructing a viable world-beater of a turntable. While I admit that the arm/’table combination is probably the most difficult part of the hi-fi chain to get right, the Continuum endeavor has all the “right stuff”, in rote terms, as near as I can tell. There should be nothing stopping these people from doing exactly as you suggest, trying the “best” of the competition and fining their data through listening trials to arrive at a turntable that does its job as well as can be. It is frustrating indeed that any ostensibly-well-organized endeavor such as this would route itself instead through the constricted anus of “The Marketplace” to deliver yet another genuine gold plated turd.
For all I know this TT is excellent; but there are a number of telltale signs that it is just another “big” TT that in terms of performance lands squarely amongst its overwrought, high-priced brethren. I admit that I am predisposed to suspect the worst since I have never heard especially good sound emanating from one of these behemoths – at least not for long, and so I have never seriously pursued one even though I have thought in terms of solving some of the problems these big TTs purport to address.
For one thing, I agree with mass for TTs - to a point - when, according to my observations, it becomes unnecessary or even undesirable, for simple, practical reasons, not least because spinning an 80 lb platter requires less-than-stellar-sounding motive force. And likewise with the air bearings, which so far have done better on paper than in the field. In all cases, apply Ockham’s Razor to any fat in the design.
Also, I have to say I am no less suspicious of that tonearm, which appears poised and ready to strike from its pivot like the serpent from which it derives its name. All that mass rearing up over the stylus looks like trouble to me.
Call it an educated guess at best, but the Continuum *looks* to me like a triumph of industrial design, manufacturing method and marketing over purpose-driven evolution.
A costly product such as this definitely needs a “Launch” to “succeed”, so it is no accident that such products always come in through the Grandiloquent Front Door to fanfare and enshrinement by invested parties posing as critics.
God help me, but with that much riding on the financial success of the venture I might well do the same.