sikora’s history

sikora’s history

J.Sikora began producing and selling turntables in 2007.
Our turntables are produced one at a time. They are addressed to true music lovers and audiophiles who, like us, seek uncompromised analog sources.

We are concerned with designing and producing advanced analog turntables. Lovers of great music, enjoyed in our homes and reproduced with ultimate fidelity to the original recording.
The J.Sikora brand was built on this foundation—love of music—and the desire to share our own passion with like-minded others.

We offer 3 turntable models: Initial, Standard, and Reference. Each model is made of diverse materials of the very highest quality. Together with the finest-quality tonearms, cartridges,
and phonostages, our distinctive turntables enable perfect audio playback and the best possible realization of the musical potential hidden in every vinyl record.

We welcome you to a place where metallurgy, industrial design, and hands-on craftsmanship meet sonic purity and musicality. We welcome you to our world, the world of J.Sikora.

An Interview with Janusz Sikora

Based in Poland, Janusz Sikora is the founder and designer of J.Sikora. His knowledge and experience of metallurgy has informed his life’s passion: building splendid-looking turntables that reproduce every nuance – and capture the very essence – of the original recording.

HP: You were initially involved in the metallic industry in Poland. How did you come from that kind of engineering background to be involved in the manufacture of high-end turntables and tonearms?

Janusz Sikora: First of all, for more than 40 years now, I am an audiophile. This is my passion and the metallic trade was always simply a source of income to me. Experience and knowledge of materials in the field of non-ferrous metals allowed me to build my first turntables. Tonearms is a consistent next step in the development of J.Sikora’s brand.

 HP: Last time in Hifi Pig Quarterly, we published an article on the Polish DIY sector. Why do you think DIY is so big in Poland?

Janusz Sikora: This will, of course, be a pretty general diagnosis, but despite the thirty years since the fall of socialism, the differences in the prosperity of Polish and Western society, in general, are still significant. Poles have always been famous for their ability to cope alone in difficult, unfavorable conditions. In my opinion, the strong DIY sector is a great example of our national character which was somehow shaped by our history.

HP: Tell us about some of the first DIY projects you built.

Janusz Sikora: I used to play the guitar when I was young, and my father was building stage amplifiers. I do not need to add that it was impossible to buy such stuff just like that in the store in those days. It was obviously DIY, and most importantly those were tube amps of course. It is a source of my passion for tubes, which in the future became the basis for my own creation of my first tube amplifiers.

HP: After the fall of the “Iron Curtain,” life in Poland must have seemed very different, with lots of new possibilities and opportunities. How did this affect you and the metal business you were running?

Janusz Sikora: Of course, this was of great importance. Access to all kinds of machines, devices and the possibility of buying them created unlimited possibilities. Add to that increased internal demand for goods and services. These factors meant that most of the companies in Poland at that time made a quantum leap forward. The business we were running was a part of it, too.

HP: In 1994, you met up with a Ukrainian, Oleg Burdjak, and began building tube amplifiers based on Soviet tubes. Tell us about the designs and how they were received by the public.

Janusz Sikora: I met Oleg in one of the Lublin’s audio stores. He had a family in our city, and I remember that he had a Polish father and tried to get Polish citizenship. In Ukraine, Burdjak was a musician and a friend of Vladimir Sushurin, later known to all the audio world for Lamm Industries. A long time ago, two gentlemen cooperated in building electronics in Ukraine. Because of my fascination with tubes, we have made a closer acquaintance with Oleg, and we decided to produce tube amplifiers in Poland together. By the way, if it is about tubes, during this period, the solutions behind the Iron Curtain were very innovative compared to the rest of the world. And so, in 1995, we made our first balanced tube amplifier, based on 6C33C-B tubes. Of course, the high-quality chassis were not a problem for us, as I was still running the metal business. The brand Burdjak & Sikora entered the Polish market collecting very good reviews and making their appearance at the Warsaw Audio Video Show 1997 with a big bang by running the Focal Utopia on its premiere there. The future was very promising but our cooperation did not last too long. Without going into details, our paths diverged. This was the end of my adventure with the production of tube amplifiers, but definitely not the end of my adventure with audio. In fact, in retrospect, it was just the beginning.

HP: Where did the idea for building your own turntables come from?

Janusz Sikora: It’s a kind of funny story behind it. Funny when I am talking about it now, but back then I was completely crashed. I remember one of my big dreams coming true once I got myself my first hi-end turntable. It was a product from a worldwide well-known brand. Till that moment I was a CD listener, and I was quite satisfied with my audio system.
Buying such high-quality turntable, I expected a significant sound quality progression compared to what I had to deal with so far. It turned out that was not the case, and I did not experience the revelation I was hoping for, and there was no sonic progress at all. It was not a cheap turntable, and like I said before I was truly crashed with this conclusion. Despite constant attempts to improve the sound quality and continuous work on my entire system, in order to get the hidden potential out of this turntable, it was impossible to make a miracle. I began to wonder if there was any potential at all in this particular device. Resigned, I decided to check it personally and take apart the device. Only then it dawned on me that maybe using such and not other materials this turntable simply cannot play better. Then it came to me that I was able to make a turntable myself, eliminating all the things that in my opinion are responsible for this one’s failure and replacing them with materials that I know well and which, in my opinion, are much more suited to it. I burnt the plywood elements in the fireplace and decided to use something different instead. Material that will never get old and will always be constant in the way it affects the sound. I decided to use metal. The rest is history. A history of hundreds of experiments with different types of metals and the way they affect the sound and each other in different compositions and proportions. When I finally finished my first turntable, audiophile friends were delighted with its performance and sound capabilities. The first orders from them appeared. Then other orders from their friends. And that’s how it actually began.

HP: You use primarily metals in the construction of your turntables, can you explain this philosophy to our readers?

Janusz Sikora: As I mentioned earlier, the first thing that affected my decision to use metals was that I knew a lot about them because of the industry in which I worked. The second thing is the consequence of the mentioned failed experiment with the first turntable I bought. The idea was to build a device from materials that will never grow old, do not grow dry, and their effect on the sound will never change and will be exactly the same as I intended it to be at the moment of designing the device and will stay like this forever.

HP: You mentioned that different kinds of metals and different combinations of metals and alloys has an effect on the sonic properties of a turntable, can you expand on this and explain your thoughts on why?

Janusz Sikora: Of course. For example let’s take a turntable clamp. The J.Sikora clamp weighs 2 kg and is made of brass and bronze, both nickel-plated so you will not spot the difference by eyes alone. If you use hard bronze for it you’ll light up the sound. If you will use too soft one you will suppress and extinguish high tones. So, everything is a matter of choosing the right materials, using their properties, combining them and creating a new composition. Until you are fully satisfied. In the case of our J.Sikora clamp, only the combination of the appropriate brass and bronze grades gave the expected final result. Of course, there is no simple recipe for the proportions and species of these materials. Everything is a matter of long-lasting, arduous experiments with sound. The story behind the rest of the metal and alloy elements of our turntables is the same as the one behind a clamp.

HP: When experimenting with different layers of metals, do you have an idea of what will be achieved sonically before you carry out the experiment?

Janusz Sikora: Yes, that is what we are talking about; we know what to expect. I know it because I have been in contact with these metals for 37 years, and I have an awareness of how each of them can affect the sound. But “can” is the key word in this case. Therefore, at J.Sikora, we never assume anything in advance, and experiments are a permanent part of our work and development.

HP: You have three different lines of turntables in your portfolio (Initial, Standard, and Reference), how do they differ in philosophy and execution?

Janusz Sikora: The main philosophy behind our ‘tables, is to make a combination of a different types of metals, layers which are losing the resonances from the bottom to the top one by one. Our highest model is a radical development of our philosophy. The use of suitable bronze alloys, brass, aluminum, cast iron and stainless steel makes it weigh 108 kg (238 pounds). Lack of compromise on any stage of this turntable’s building process makes the Reference a definite construction in every aspect. We achieved full control over rotation stability by using four DC motors and our special controller software with a quartz generator. The middle level is the Standard model. The customer receives an 80 kg turntable with two DC motors. The materials used for the production are aluminum and brass in this case. Compared to the Reference model, there is no bronze, cast iron, or stainless steel being used. On the other hand, there is the massive delrin and cast iron platter together with the bearing and the DC motor controller which remain unchanged.
The 28 kg Initial model is entirely made of aluminum, has one DC motor and a smaller platter made of Delrin®. This is the only model in which, due to the costs, we resigned from the loss of resonance through the metal layers. In this particular case, we used special cutouts in its base. I will add that their shapes are definitely not a coincidence. These are the result of many hours of sonic experiments, too. As you see in the case of our Initial line, we were also faithful to our philosophy. To stay at this price level, we have only chosen a different way to achieve our goal.

Summarizing: despite some differences, all our constructions are mass loaders, and the nature of their sound is a derivative of the use of metals and alloys as well as the use of the same high-quality bearings, motors and drivers in all three models.

Full interview: HiFi Pig Quarterly, Spring Edition 2019