Clearaudio Concept Dark Wood Active Turntable Review

September 18, 2021 § Leave a comment

And don’t be misled by Concept Active’s compact visage. There’s a misconception in audio circles that normal-scale components somehow “play small” in comparison to their big, brawny, and yes, sometime pretentious siblings. The Concept Active laid that assumption to rest from the very first slamming groove of “Come Together” to the final operatic fade out of “Her Majesty.” 

From groove-one onward, I understood immediately why the Clearaudio distributor Musical Surroundings shipped the Concept Active with the low-output moving-coil option rather than the higher-output moving magnet. If the idea was to demonstrate how quiet and grunge-free a small discrete phono preamp could be (and how it might compare to a full-size stand-alone phonostage like my Pass Labs XP-17 or Parasound JC3+), then point taken. A dynamic, all-analog piano recording like Nojima Plays Liszt [Reference Recordings] exposes system nuances and system noises like few recordings I know. But this on-board phono rose to the occasion, expressing low-level detail and dynamic energy that knocked on the door of what the aforementioned “stand-alones” had to offer. Its character skewed slightly to a softer and rounder presentation, but overall it was superbly listenable and musically satisfying.

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