Acoustic Sounds


F 400

By: Michael Fremer

April 28th, 2023



Rekkord Audio F 400 Automatic Turntable Does the Light Lifting

agreeable sonic performance, reasonably priced, extremely well made

"No serious vinyl fan wants an automatic turntable", or so they say. Whoever "they" are. Why is that? Back in "the day" whenever that was, many serious vinyl fans owned serious automatics from storied companies like Dual, Miracord, P-E and even Garrard, which for a while took an auto backseat to the superior German designs.

You could ignore the stacking feature and simply play one at a time knowing that in your zonked out condition, at the end of the side the arm would rise and magically return to its resting place and the platter would stop spinning. When you went to play the next side or the next record, perhaps even more zonked out, at the push of a button or the slide of a lever, the platter would begin to spin, the arm would magically rise, move over to the lead in groove and gently lower itself onto the record surface. The record would play without your zonked out self having to go near the delicate stylus. A 'table like a Dual 1219 would look, perform and sound pretty darn good, even if you could barely rise from your chair to use it.

But enough 1970's era autobiography. Automatics have long been in the rear view mirror of record playing history, but the indefatigable Heinz Lichtenegger decided a few years ago, that while declaring that Pro-Ject would never build an automatic, there was a market for them, so he bought the venerable company that has been manufacturing turntables for almost 100 years, located in Germany's Black Forest— now available, like vinyl itself, in various colors—at least in late Autumn (though most of that forest is non-deciduous).

Pro-Ject, Rekkord Audio, Musical Fidelity and at least another company are divisions of Audio Tuning, Lichtenegger's distribution company that also distributes a vast number of audio brands from around the world. I was there pretty much from the beginning in 1991 when Lichtenegger hatched the plan to start Pro-Ject. He'd seen a homely, inexpensive turntable for sale in a Czech petrol station, bought it, played it, was amazed by how good it sounded for so little money. Clearly someone with a good ear had designed it. He tracked down the Soviet-era factory that had also manufactured refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and the like, which was by 1990 pretty much empty, and in one lonely corner found the little old turntable maker. And the rest is, as they say, an amazing history. Should be a movie. I wish I'd had a video camera for that first visit.

Rekkord Audio, located in St. Georgen, Black Forest, has been building turntables for almost a century—all by hand—and like Pro-Ject every nut, bolt, platter, plinth, and ball bearing is produced in-house, or in the case of Pro-Ject, some of it just down the road.

Just not by coincidence, the town of St Georgen is where Dual turntables were originally made. If you scour the internet you'll find that the original Dual went bankrupt in 1982 and it then changed hands numerous times, was split into two companies, one of which is said to still produce the "better" Dual turntables in St. Georgen. So if true, does that mean St Georgen is home to two venerable, world-class turntable manufacturers? If so, and if the REKKORD factory is not the former Dual factory, exactly what turntables has it been making for the past one hundred years?

All of this confusion is likely purposeful and based upon legalities, but there's nothing stopping me from speculating that REKKORD turntables are built where Duals once were. Just look at this one under review and compare it to Duals from "back in the day". If I'm wrong, perhaps this will call out someone to clarify all of this!

The F 400

The six models in the Rekkord Audio line includes four automatic and two manual turntables. The F400 is the top the automatic line. It features a suspended, de-coupled chassis of the elastomer, not spring type, that includes the tonearm and damped aluminum platter and bearing mechanism. Drive is via a polished flat belt and D.C. motor that spins the subplatjer at 33 1/3, 45 and 78rpm. The MDF plinth can be had in matte and gloss black as well as in cherrywood or macassar veneer finishes.

The 8.3 inch cardanic bearing arm features manufactured in-house steel ball bearings and a detachable carbon fiber head shell. What Rekkord calls a "massless" tracking force system, consists of the bearing system design that puts the arm's center of gravity at the pivot with tracking force adjusted using a flat coil spring. Having the center of gravity at the pivot and neither below or above means accurate vertical tracking force regardless of how far above or close to the platter it's measured. The 'table comes with a sturdy dust cover and a pre-installed Ortofon 2M red as well as an overhang gauge so you can change cartridge should you wish to do so, though REKKORD does't disclose the geometry used. The F 400 costs $799.00.

Set Up And Use (Revised)

The instructions are wholly inadequate and must be upgraded. First, there's no advice about where to place the turntable or to make sure it's perfectly level. You may know that, but "newbies" might not.

The transport screws, which must be removed before using the turntable had been removed before it got hand delivered to me, and it caused some confusion here and with the rep who dropped it off, leading to the next paragraph, which is incorrect, but which I'm leaving in place to as not to freak out readers who might revisit the story and think maybe they hallucinated something.

Then it instructs you to remove the transport locks. It shows you what they look like, and in great detail, how to remove them. There were none to be found on the turntable. Later, a representative told me "there are none, just ignore the instructions." Well, what's a consumer to do? I'll tell you what: a few might be tempted to remove the screws holding down the elastomer suspension and that would be a disaster..

Then they tell you to plug it in and then how to set the tracking force. But if you do that, when you move the arm off its rest, the platter starts turning! Not a good idea, especially with the stylus guard removed! Best to first leave the unit unpowered, but why should I have to tell you that?

First you balance the arm so it just floats and then you use the built in gauge to se tracking force to 2M Red's 1.75 recommended force. However, checking that result with an accurate electronics gauge produced 1.3 grams. Sometimes it's more accurate to balance the arm so it just "kisses" the platter (mat removed). But even doing that produced 1.63. Closer but to set tracking force, I'd invest in one of those inexpensive electronic gauges you can find online.

Next, you set anti-skating. Here the instructions are clear and the results accurate using the WallySkater:

WallySkaterFirst, do not do what I have done here and use the Wallyskater while a dangerous mat sits atop the platter, unless you are a skilled Wallyskater user. Note the approximately 8 deviations on the ruler from the plumb bob to the string. That's a good result obtained with the anti-skate gauge set to 1.75, which verifies the accuracy of the mechanism. A few deviations higher would also be okay. Disabling the anti-skate gauge moved the arm freely so the plumb bob and string lined up together as it should. This is a nicely functioning bearing system especially for a $799 fully automatic turntable.

REKKORD F 400This close up shows in detail the quality construction and both tracking force and anti-skating adjustment.

Using the F 400 was totally pleasurable. The automatic down cue was gentle accurate, quiet and 100% reliable as was "lift up and return to base" at side end. Nothing clunky or anxiety producing about tit, nor did I hear any inner groove distortion produced by increased friction as the stylus reached the trip mechanism point below the platter. Measured tracking force remained consistent across the record surface.

Measured Performance

I used the Shaknspin measurement device to assess both speed accuracy and wow and flutter. While not aa scientific instrument its 9 degrees of freedom sensor measures speed 500 times per second. It measured rotational speed at 33.5 rpm, which is close to perfect. The W&F measurements were pretty good as well and came close to spec.


Other than MIA bottom octaves , likely not to be noticed on the kinds of systems likely to be used with this turntable and certainly preferable to bottom end bloat and boom, I think few listeners here would suspect they were listening to a $799 automatic turntable fitted with a $99 Ortofon Red MM cartridge.

Imaging was stable, the noise floor was commendably low and I thoroughly enjoyed spinning records on this turntable. I don't know what made me remove it from the shelf but I played a Chesky release from the mid 1990s called Hollywood Screen Classics (Chesky CR71) culled from the superb mid 70's RCA film score series produced by Charles Gerhardt and engineered by the great Kenneth Wilkinson at Walthamstow Town Hall, with Gerhardt conduction the National Philharmonic Orchestra—an assemblage of some of London's best players. Gerhardt was also responsible for many of the fantastic Readers Digest classical boxes know nothings laugh at but were also engineered by Wilkinson at the greatest London area venues.

Listening to this record through the 2M Red on this turntable was of course disappointing compared to how I know it can sound, but without reference to anything else, it was more than pleasurable using a Pro-Ject Phono Box DS3B, which also costs $799. The strings were more satiny than steely, the sustains weren't wavy and the overall presentation of this superbly recorded album was surprisingly fine, especially the soundstage spaciousness and stability. The set up's faults are of omission not commission.

Don't ask me why I played this one either:

Doris DayThis is a 1960 Columbia "6-Eye" Doris Day Demo/promo (DDS-1) (aimed at dentists?) that sounds spectacularly transparent, "in the studio" and stereophonic. It's got both "Pillow Talk" and "I Enjoy Being a Girl" plus a bunch of other terribly outdated songs of female submission but playing it proved one thing: despite the turntable's modest cost, I promise you, no digital version of this record and I don't care what you play it through, will sound this "you are in the studio" good!

But what happens if you pair the turntable with a phono preamp costing around $2000? I have been remiss in reviewing the $2099 Lehmann Decade phono preamp, a two box design that features a power supply the size of the signal processing chassis. It's not at all likely that anyone buying the F 400 is going to pair it with a $2099 phono preamp but it was worth the try because it proved three things: first that the increase in resolution, detail and nuance did not reveal any nasties coming from the turntable, second that the 2M Red mounted on this arm was capable of greater nuance and transient resolution and suppleness that made the sonic presentation far better and less "cardboardy" and third that the less than fully extended bottom end is a function of either the cartridge or the turntable. I suspect it's both but so what? No one's likely going to pair this turntable with a pair of full range loudspeakers. The Doris Day replay though the Decade was ridiculously good, demonstrating all of the above qualities. And that's all I'm going to write and that's all that needs to be written about this well-made automatic turntable, other than that there are other, less costly automatics in the REKKORD lineup and if you have an older relative who likes their records but has trouble with manual turntable fiddlyness or you know people with certain physical challenges, one of these can be life changer.


Regardless of what this factory was doing during the second half of the 20th century, it's now making a series of fine, reasonably priced fully automatic turntables that better many of the inexpensive manuals coming out of China for around the same price. It's probably only able to do this because it didn't have to gear up to do it, it's been doing it for decades, plus while I can't be sure of this, knowing the competitive Heinz Lichtenengger, he's probably willing to shave margins just to stick it the Asian competition!

F 400 Features

  • 33 1/3/45/78 RPM DC motor

  • Fully automatic start/stop

  • Massless tracking force which optimizes the center of gravity directly at the bearing center

  • Floating sub-chassis: the entire automatic system as well as the tonearm and the damped aluminum platter are built on a floating sub-chassis platform which is decoupled from the rest of the chassis.

  • Damped aluminium platter

  • 8.3” ultra-low-mass (ULM) aluminum tonearm with steel-tip ball bearings produced in-house

  • New tonearm geometry

  • New improved cardan bearing

  • New carbon fiber headshell

  • Vibration damped wood chassis

  • Factory-mounted with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge

  • Belt drive with polished flat belt

  • Plinth made out of resonance-dampening MDF

  • 4 different finishes available: Matte Black, Gloss Black, and Cherry or Macassar Wood featuring real wood veneers

Included with the turntable:

Dust cover, anti-static felt mat, fixed phono cable, pre-mounted cartridge



Belt-driven (flat belt)

Speed RPM

33 & 45 & 78

Wow & Flutter

0.06% (DIN) / 0.035% (WRMS)


48 dB


72 dB


Ortofon 2M Red (MM, factory-mounted)

Frequency response

20 Hz - 22 kHz


Matte Black, Gloss Black, Cherry or Macassar Wood


Fixed phono RCA + ground cable


6.3 kg (~14 lbs)

Dimensions (WxHxD)

430 x 130 x 365 mm

Power supply

12v DC, 150 mA






Cardan bearing


REKKORD E(asy)motion Wire tonearm cabling


Viscosity-damped tonearm lift


Manufacturer Information


Imported to America by:

Vana LTD


  • 2023-04-29 12:26:41 AM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    The tonearm does look very similar to my old Dual. Of course, that table had some speed issues because the platter was spun by a hamster on a little round track.

  • 2023-04-29 01:40:17 AM

    Michael Kaye wrote:

    you know, the live version on the Sticky Fingers Deluxe Edition is pretty great too on second thought....different but really clear.

  • 2023-04-30 01:27:32 PM

    elmore244 wrote:

    Thank you for this review. I went to their website and was impressed by the information there along with your review. I am ordering a cherry wood covered F400 automatic for our living room so my wife can use it. She loves listening to vinyl but is intimidated by the set up in my listening room. Now she can spin her favorite LPs with ease. Now to look for speakers, amp, pre-amp and phono amp!

  • 2023-05-03 07:05:06 AM

    David O'Banion wrote:

    Yes, it is Definitely based on DUAL designs, and that is a good thing. 7742 St Georgen, Schwarzwald should be a destination for pilgrims.

  • 2023-06-05 07:57:25 PM

    Thom Moon wrote:

    As a long-term (60 year) Dual fan, I've done some serious research on this topic and am fairly certain I have the basics right, just, perhaps, not the dates. The REKKORD plant is that of Alfred Fehrenbacher in St. Georgen which made Dual turntables between 1982 and about 1998, after the original Dual went into administration. They also built turntables for Thorens. In the early 2010's, the Dual trademark again came under German control and the new Dual went to court to keep Fehrenbacher from using the "Dual" name. The court battle went on for some time until Fehrenbacher lost or settled. Fehrenbacher was able to continue using some of the Dual designs (as is evident in the REKKORD turntables, the Andover Audio SpinDeck Max and Pro-Ject Automat A1). A couple years back, Audio Tuning bought an interest in Fehrenbacher in order to start the REKKORD line. And that should help with questions.