April 11, 2021 § Leave a comment
Decoded by the No.5105 into the hybrid Hagerman, the vinyl version delivered timbral richness, particularly to the massed strings and Mutter’s violin, and textural sophistication that might have some screaming “coloration!” Not I! To me it sounds more real and definitely more pleasurable than the streamed digital, especially the piano’s presentation, both timbrally and in terms of transient attack. It helps that the Emil Berliner Studios did the mastering and that the Optimal pressing is outstanding. I could not hear any difference in dynamic range between the two versions. It’s possible though that the file was dynamically compressed for streaming but allowed to express itself fully in the grooves.
March 26, 2021 § Leave a comment
In terms of midband clarity, the UltraDeck+M scores a full house once again. Instruments are beautifully rendered and positioned perfectly within a capacious yet well-ordered soundstage. Even better, vocals have an exceptional sense of air, space and, above all, realism. Playing Let’s Eat Grandma’s Donnie Darko gives the UltraDeck+M a real chance to shine. Rosa Walton’s vocals are projected out into the room perfectly and the backing guitar work has just the right amount of edge to it. Add in a thundering synth bassline and the composure it maintains as the track draws to its crescendo is difficult to better at this – or any – price.
March 21, 2021 § Leave a comment
I’m not going to go into much detail here—just watch the videos—but here’s how the setup process works, in a nutshell. Unpack the box and put the plinth on a level surface. Locate the platter and the bearing shaft and gently press the latter into the center well of the former; twist it slightly to secure. Now lower the platter/shaft assembly so that the inverted bearing goes down over the spindle; make sure that the ball bearing is in place. Attach the two power cables (“in” from the wall wart and “out” to the motor unit). Place the motor about an inch away from the platter then loop the rubber belt around the motor pulley; hold the belt against the edge of the platter and rotate to thread the belt onto the platter.
March 10, 2021 § Leave a comment
At $399, Pro-Ject Audio Systems’ T1 Phono SB is an easy recommendation. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. It’s an excellent starter bundle—and, when you’re ready for an upgrade and funds permit, Pro-Ject offers many more turntables higher in its model hierarchy. Not only is it visually attractive, it performed amazingly well with a variety of music, and had me pulling out LP after LP, to hear how each would sound played on the T1 Phono SB. Not once was I disappointed. In fact, I was downright impressed.
February 28, 2021 § Leave a comment
Ultimately, what this record player demonstrated—clearly— is the all-important distinction between sound and music. While listening to it, I was aware of how different it sounded from my much more expensive Garrard 301. What do you give up with a budget turntable compared to a no-holds-barred one? Well, a bit of everything, really—it sounds less precise, less lifelike, less dramatic. But, importantly, while I was aware of the considerable sonic differences between the two turntables, I didn’t really miss the Garrard. That’s because the Pro-Ject was equally adept at playing music.
One of the records I’ve been listening to most is Lou Reed’s New York (1-25829). For me, its exasperated, end-of-the-world mood resonates with the present moment. I started listening to it constantly in the spring, when I was home alone and sick with COVID; something about the ferocity of Reed’s singing and lyrics—some of his best—felt cathartic and freeing. The spare instrumentation—two guitars, a six-string electric upright bass, and drums—allows the lyrics to come to the fore, and the 14 songs on New York unfold like a short story collection. After I lowered the tonearm onto the first track, “Romeo Had Juliet,” I sat down and listened to the entire 58-minute song cycle with my eyes closed, getting up only to flip the record.
February 27, 2021 § Leave a comment
For all the wrong reasons – looks, build quality, ease-of-use – I adore the No5105. Enough for the purists among you to castigate me, perhaps, but my admiration for it would only be meaningless if the sound didn’t match the form. This is a sublime device which does everything you’d want of a deck at its price, while delivering pride of ownership usually restricted to luxury pens and watches. I’m dazzled.
February 22, 2021 § Leave a comment
The turntable itself has some points of interest. At the rear, next to the set of RCA outputs, are flick-switches to adjust gain (low, medium or high), choose between MM and MC cartridge modes, and apply a Subsonic filter that aims to reduce any unwanted low-frequency noise. The final one determines whether your RCA output is passive (for when bypassing the integrated phono stage and connecting to an outboard one), variable (for using the connected integrated or pre-amplifier’s volume control) or active (for adjusting volume via the Concept Active’s on-unit dial).
Thankfully for those keen to listen to their vinyl through headphones, the 6.3mm headphone output doesn’t join the switches at the rear, instead taking up a place on the right-hand side panel. Its location does, however, mean that those who use the smart power supply will have to place it on the left-hand side of the deck, or some centimetres away from it altogether, so as not to physically block the socket.
Those rear-panel discreet switches and the right-edge socket aside, the Concept Active is an advert for modern minimalism, with its business-looking matte black plinth sitting on a choice of silver or black, or the more premium-priced light wood or dark wood chassis, with nicely rounded corners. For the benefit of symmetry, though, we wish the small roller volume wheel on the plinth’s front right-hand side matched the larger rotary speed dial on the opposite side.
February 18, 2021 § Leave a comment
The sonic signature of the 1200 was consistent at various locations, attached to several phono stages, cartridges, etc. Meaning, you’re investing in a specific sound pretty well immune to outside, deleterious influences. The 1200’s personality is such that an addiction to its sound will transcend any financial constraints or worries you have on initial system build. As such, no matter entry level equipment or the finest in high end ancillaries, the Technics will always give of its best, highlighting its own musical personalities. In that way, even at $4000, the SL-1200G is a well nigha perfect turntable for those audiophiles who want legacy, style and convenience (the Coreless Direct Drive Motor, the headshell, plug ‘n play, etc). Hook it up to a basic Rega phono stage with a good solid state amp, and you’ll be in vinyl heaven. Dynamic, stable with an especially glorious treble (more on that later).