Top critical review
142 people found this helpful
decent table, but you might be able to do better.
on January 3, 2015
I've been listening to vinyl since I was 5 years old (34 years now). My first real turntable was a direct drive Marantz. I later graduated to a second-hand Rotel servo model with a midrange Audio Technica cartridge. For all of its faults, that table delivered music that was very enjoyable until the motor failed. I feel it is important to a review to understand the background of the reviewer, for the sake of perspective. As all of this stuff is mid-fi at best, I was extremely anxious to try something a little better.
Enter this project debut carbon. I am playing it through an Adcom GTP-400 and GFA535L power amp, with custom built speakers using Vifa and Morel components. With a good source, it's a pretty revealing system, although lacking some in bass punch.
Setup impressions: It's a pretty table, and perfectly functional. Installation and setup was super easy. The only problem I've had are the weight-on-a-line anti-skate, which is clumsy, and the cuing damper sometimes does not want to lower fully. The felt mat included is cheap and will need to be replaced.
First listening impressions (about 30 lps worth)... The table itself is very nice. The dc setup is very speed stable. The noise and rumble are all at very low levels... very impressive. It tracks wonderfully. BUT... and here we get to the reason it loses a star for me:
The Ortofon 2m red cartridge. It's not up to the same performance level of the table. At first I truly hated it with a passion, but in taking some more time to get it dialed in, it's charms have come out and the drawbacks somewhat lessened. On the positive side it has a very neutral tonal balance, but is somewhat lacking in the upper mid / lower treble. The attributes that I hate are a tendency toward distortion in the midrange around the vocal range which gives it a congested sound that is truly ugly at times. Inner groove distortion is worse than other cartridges I've owned. There is also a somewhat spitty quality to cymbals. I guess for being included it is passable, but I wouldn't consider purchasing it... ever.
The more I listen, the more I'm enjoying the table. Definitely worth the price, and with a different cartridge should meet my needs well.
EDIT: I recently installed an Audio Technica AT 120 in place of the Ortofon, and now I'm loving this table. Without the grunge ruining the experience, the wonderful qualities are coming through. The speed stability is great. It lends to a solid feel with bass lines and rhythm section (I've heard this called pace, rhythm, and timing, and now I really understand what that means). I am really satisfied with this setup, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quality vinyl experience without spending ridiculous money.
EDIT 2: Some bearing noise has developed. It is clearly audible as a pulse occurring once every turn, no matter the record. I question the quality of the bearing material. For this price, this should not be a problem. One star lost because of this.