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Technics SL-1200GR2 review: an iconic DJ deck design and sound for audiophiles
6:00 pm | February 11, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Tags: | Comments: Off

Technics SL-1200GR2: Two-minute review

The Technics SL-100GR2 is the latest version of a design that the brand has been refining and finessing for over five decades now. The SL-1200 is an unarguable design classic – and while this SL-100GR2 version nods more than somewhat towards its lineage, it features one or two enhancements that are intended to keep it at the forefront of consumer’s minds – or, at least, those consumers with a couple of grand to drop on a new turntable.

So as well as the features familiar to anyone who’s ever hung around the DJ booth on a night out, the SL-100GR2 has a reworked direct drive motor arrangement and a new power supply. Unlike some of the best turntables, what it doesn’t have, though, is a cartridge – so be sure to factor that in when you’re working out your budget…

Once you’ve selected, purchased and fitted your cartridge, you’ll be treated to a sound of rare positivity and composure. The SL-1200GR2 is a direct, solid and properly organised listen, with proper talent for integrating the frequency range, establishing a persuasive soundstage and generally making your records sound clean and composed. It’s not the last word in dynamic potency, it’s true – but that trait needs to be balanced against all the things the Technics does beautifully. 

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Price and release date

The Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Priced at $2190 / £1799 / AU$2999
  • Released in December 2023

The Technics SL-1200GR2 is on sale now. In the US, you’ll need to part with around $2199. For those in the UK, it sells for a maximum of £1799, while in Australia you’re looking at AU$2999 or something quite like it. That’s not the end of your spending, either – at the very least you’re going to need a cartridge…

And it’s not as if you’re short of choice if you’re fortunate enough to have this sort of money to spend on a record player. Two TechRadar.com favourites immediately spring to mind: the aptX Bluetooth-equipped Cambridge Audio Alva TT v2 and the exquisite Clearaudio Concept. They sit either side of the Technics in terms of price – but each comes with a very acceptable cartridge attached. 

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Features

The Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Hi-fi deck, DJ features
  • 230mm S-shaped tonearm 
  • Coreless motor 

Technics is adamant that the SL-1200GR2 is a hi-fi deck, rather than a piece of DJ equipment – users who need to be able to scratch, for instance, are directed towards the SL-1200mk7 instead. But get a look at the GR2 from above – it certainly seems to have one or two DJ credentials to me…

Just to the right of the 230mm S-shaped tonearm, for example, is a defeatable pitch control giving up to +/- 8 percent variation. At the front edge of the surface there’s a blue LED-lit stroboscope to indicate rotational accuracy, and a white LED target light for accurate cueing in the dark. 

And, of course, the big ‘stop/start’ button produces nigh-on immediate results – the SL-1200GR2 comes up to speed in an instant, which is the sort of feature a DJ relies on. Admittedly, the ability to play at 78rpm – by pressing the ‘33.3’ and ‘45’ rpm button simultaneously, isn’t all that DJ-centric, but you nevertheless take my point…

As with some previous versions, the SL-1200GR2 uses a coreless direct drive motor in an effort to eliminate the dreaded ‘cogging’ – the less-than-perfectly-consistent rotation that can be evident in some direct drive designs. For this model, though, Technics has augmented this with something it calls ‘delta sigma drive’ - this software package delivers a cleaner signal to the motor to help it turn more consistently, eliminating those minute variations that can cause cogging. 

There’s also a new multi-stage switching power supply, supposedly much quieter and less prone to electrical noise than a bog-standard analogue alternative. It works in conjunction with noise-cancellation circuitry first seen in the (horrifically expensive) SL-1000R turntable, and a low-voltage power supply, to keep the noise floor as low as is realistically possible. 

Features score: 5 / 5 

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Sound quality

The Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Positive, direct presentation 
  • Cleanly informative and full-bodied sound
  • Not the most dynamic listen around

The headline – and this will come as no kind of spoiler to anyone who’s heard a Technics turntable over the past few decades – is that the SL-1200GR2 is a direct and unequivocal listen. When it comes to giving a complete, unambiguous and easy-to-understand account of recording, it’s money very well spent indeed.

A listen to a heavyweight reissue of Trans Fatty Acid (K&D Session) by Lamb illustrates the fact in some style. From the top of the frequency range to the bottom, the Technics presents a unified, coherent sound – each area of the frequency range gets precisely the correct amount of weighting, and despite the nature of the recording there’s no overstating or underplaying of any area. Low frequencies are deep and punchy, naturally – but they’re also rigorously controlled, straight-edged at the leading edges of sounds, and carry plenty of information regarding tone and texture along with out-and-out muscularity. Momentum is good, and rhythmic expression is natural and convincing.

It’s a similar story at the top of the frequency range, where substance is just as well-represented as speed, and there’s plenty of tonal variation to give proper colour and balance to the sound. Treble sounds attack with crisp determination, but any latent edginess or hardness remains just that: latent. Even if you like to listen at nightclub volumes, the SL-1200GR2 stays composed and unabrasive.

In between, smoothly integrated into the information above and below it, the midrange communicates easily. There’s more than enough detail available to give the vocal - somewhat buried in the mix and electronically treated around its edges - the chance to express itself, and the SL-1200GR2’s soundstaging abilities mean there’s plenty of space in what is quite a busy mix for the midrange to shine. The stage is wide and deep, and organised to the point that there’s no blurring of boundaries between one element of the recording and the next. Without sounding remote or estranged, each individual strand is secure in its own pocket of space.

Where the Technics is found slightly wanting against the best of its nominal rivals is with dynamic expression. The small dynamic variations of tone and timbre that are apparent in instruments or voices are identified and contextualised, most certainly – but when it comes to the big dynamic shifts that come in a switch from ‘quiet contemplation’ to ‘big charge into the final chorus’  (such as in Pixies’ Tame, for example) the SL-1200GR2 doesn’t quite breathe deeply enough. It doesn’t track changes in intensity as rigorously as it might, and the changes it does identify it struggles to express quite as fully as other turntables can manage. Which means you won’t be in for any sudden surprises, but also that you might not get quite as visceral an account of a recording as you might be after.   

Sound quality: 4.5 / 5

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Design

Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • All-silver (or all-black)
  • Built to last
  • 11.5kg

You know what you’re getting here, don’t you? After all, this is a) a record player and b) a Technics SL-1200 record player – and while the original SL-1200 from 1972 looked a little different to this, by the launch of the SL-1200 mkII in 1979 the design was basically set in stone. Technics has tinkered around the edges of the design ever since, but fundamentally this looks like a turntable from over 40 years ago. I’m all for it.

So what you get is a 173 x 453 x 372mm (HxWxD) rectangle with a circle on it. The top of the chassis is made from cast aluminium, the bottom from a bulk moulding compound material - this combination is designed to minimise vibration and offer optimum damping, and it goes a long way to explaining the Technics’ 11.5kg weight. On top of this is a rubber-damped aluminium platter, and the whole thing is topped off by a hinged clear Perpsex dust-cover. Support comes in the shape of four adjustable silicone rubber feet that assist both with levelling the deck and rejection of external vibrations.

A small but effective design flourish for the GR2 is that the SL-1200 is now an all-silver design, while the corresponding SL-1210 is all-black. Previous models have been ‘mostly silver’ or ‘mostly black’, but this new, more rigorous approach to colour-coding the turntable’s accessories and peripherals makes for a cleaner, even more upmarket look.     

Design score: 5 / 5 

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Usability and setup

The Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Iffy tonearm lift
  • Not as tricky to set up as the manual might suggest
  • Choose a cartridge 

Not every instruction manual advises you to be ‘tentative’ when setting up your new piece of equipment – but Technics has seemingly decided that putting the frighteners on new SL-1200GR2 owners when they first unbox their turntable is the best way to ensure accidents don’t happen.

In truth, the SL-1200GR2 is no more difficult to set up than any other high-end record player and actually a sight easier than some. Once you’ve adjusted its feet to make sure it’s sitting perfectly level, it’s really only a question of adjusting tracking and anti-skate controls and you’re basically in business.

Or, at least, you are once you’ve selected a cartridge. Technics supplies a simple-to-fit bayonet headshell with the GR2, but not a cartridge – so you’ll have to decide on what will suit you best and what you can realistically afford. I’d suggest budgeting around $500 / £500 / AU$650 in order to do some justice to the Technics’ abilities – for the majority of this test, I use an Ortofon Quintet Bronze moving-coil cartridge that sells for anywhere between $450—600 / £450—600 / AU$600—850.

Once that’s done, the SL-1200GR2 is simplicity itself to use. With the exception of the rather vague and relatively flimsy-feeling tonearm lift mechanism, all the control function with the sort of chunky precision this range of turntables has become famous for.

 Usability and setup score: 4 / 5

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Value

Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Not competitively priced
  • Plenty of competition 

Yes, it’s a design classic. Yes, it’s built to withstand even medium-sized detonations. Yes, it has plenty to recommend it where the sound it makes is concerned. But it’s not without competition at this price point. Also the fact that you’re looking at another $500 / £500 / AU$650 or so for a cartridge to do its engineering some justice, means the Technics SL-1200GR2 isn’t exactly nailed-on value for money.

Should you buy the Technics SL-1200GR2?

Buy it if... 

Don't buy it if...

Technics SL-1200GR2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Technics SL-1200GR2

Technics SL-1200GR2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested with a Chord phonostage and a Naim amplifier
  • Hooked up to Bowers & Wilkins speakers
  • Fitted an Ortofon Quintet Bronze MC cartridge 
  • Using a lot of records for quite a long time 

Set up isn’t tricky – or, at least, no trickier than it ever is when a cartridge needs to be fitted. After that, the SL-1200GR2 played into a Chord Huei phonostage, which was attached to a Naim Uniti Star amplifier, which in turn was attached to a pair of 705 S3 loudspeakers by Bowers & Wilkins. 

After that, I must admit I found it no hardship whatsoever to dig out dozens of my favourite records and listen to them under the guise of ‘work’. After having done this for well over a week, I had to admit to myself that I had probably finished testing…  

  • First reviewed February 2024
Rega Planar PL1 review: the best affordable turntable you can get
1:00 pm | November 20, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: November 2022
• Launch price: $595 / £299 / AU$645

• Target price: $595 / £299 / AUS645

Update: February 2024. Although it's no longer Rega's latest progeny – that would be the flagship September 2023-launch Rega Naia the Planar PL1 is still the newest affordable deck from the revered UK firm. And most importantly, the 2021 proposition is still one of the best turntables on the market – because this is vinyl, not smartphone iterations. That said, for similar money today, you could get a more forward-thinking deck (see Victrola's record turntable with repeat function or the 2023 Victrola Stream Carbon which will work with your Sonos multi-room wireless setup) but for vinyl purists on a budget, the PL1 remains hard to beat. Take note though, its price rarely sees any discounts. If anything, its continued popularity is only sending the price one way, so if you find it retailing for even a fraction cheaper than the launch price, consider yourself extremely lucky… The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Rega Planar PL1: one-minute review

The Rega Planar PL1 is the latest version of an entry-level record player first introduced in 2005 – and this may be the best version yet, which is saying something. For very nearly 50 years now, Rega has been setting turntable standards – and at all price-points.

The Rega Planar PL1 is not a very luxurious item, no – paying out for this doesn't buy you something that looks deluxe. But everything about the Planar PL1 is fit for purpose, and where the real essentials are concerned, it’s worth every penny. The motor, bearings, tonearm and cartridge are all carefully designed and engineered, and the attention to detail here is apparent in the sound quality. 

In almost every way, the Rega explains what it is people love about the best turntables as a way to enjoy music and, by extension, why vinyl has dodged the coffin all these years. It presents music as a unified, integrated whole, as a tangible performance rather than as a collection of individual strands or events. It does great work making rhythms and tempos feel natural, it extracts an awful lot of fine detail without getting uptight about it, and it has the sort of dynamic heft that can make your hair stand on end.

Not every turntable brand considers this sort of money to be ‘entry level’, it’s true. But if you want to know why vinyl is still a preoccupation for so many music-lovers, and if you perhaps want to be lured into a lifetime of tonearm adjustment, cartridge upgrades and vinyl subscription services, well… you know what to do.  

Birds-eye-view of Rega Planar PL1

This 'entry-level' Planar may just be Rega's best version yet (Image credit: Simon Lucas)

Rega Planar PL1 review: price and release date

  • Released in 2021
  • $595 / £299 / AU$645

This version of Rega Planar PL1 was released in 2021 (it's taken a few different forms since the P1 launch in 20005). In the United Kingdom it costs £299 or thereabouts. In America it’s a rather more prohibitive $595 or so, while in Australia you’ll need to part with AU$645.

No matter the territory in which you’re shopping, there’s no denying this is quite a lot of money for what the manufacturer blithely calls an ‘entry level’ turntable. But then not every manufacturer has the hard-won reputation of Rega. 

Rega Planar PL1 review: Design

  • Matte white, black and walnut effect finishes
  • Well made and finished, with pre-fitted cartridge
  • Belt drive

‘Design’ is to overstate it somewhat, of course. Not much designing has gone on here – only the cheapest or the most expensive turntables try to do something other than follow the template that was set down three-quarters of a century ago. There’s a reason all turntables look like this, after all.

As an object, the Planar PL1 is perfectly fine. It’s properly made and quite nicely finished. But, as always with Rega, the bulk of your money is going on components and top-of-the-line engineering rather than on luxurious materials or other fripperies. 

The plinth is now available in three different finishes, and no matter which one you choose, it stands on three quite assertive feet that provide both stability and vibration-rejection. There’s also an ‘on/off/ switch under here.

On top, the latest version of Rega’s well-regarded RB110 tonearm is pre-fitted with an equally capable Rega Carbon moving magnet cartridge. The arm features new low-friction bearings, automatic bias adjustment and, just to prove Rega isn’t as hair-shirted as you might imagine, an integrated clip for keeping the arm secure when it’s not in use.

Close up of Rega Planar PL1 arm

The RB110 tonearm is pre-fitted with an equally capable Rega Carbon moving magnet cartridge. (Image credit: Simon Lucas)

Rega has fitted a synchronous motor with a reworked PCB and an aluminium pulley to drive the platter – technology that has trickled down from the company’s more expensive models. The platter itself is made from phenolic material, and is relatively high-mass, especially at the outside, in an effort to guarantee speed stability and assist the flywheel effect.

You might not expect much from the belt drive, but Rega has had just as much of a think about the rubber belt on this product as for the rest of the Planar PL1. The drive belt is moulded, cryogenically frozen, and then barrelled to ensure its cross-section is perfectly round. This is in an effort to provide accurate stability, too, and it apparently extends the lifespan of the belt by a margin at the same time.

Rega Planar PL1 drive belt

The drive belt is moulded, cryogenically frozen, and then barrelled to ensure its cross-section is perfectly round. (Image credit: Simon Lucas)

Rega Planar PL1 review: Sound quality

  • Open and convincing soundstage
  • Good dynamic heft
  • Impressive detail levels

What sort of records do you own? What sort of music do you like? Whatever it might be, the Rega Planar PL1 likes it too.

Really, it doesn’t matter the vinyl you play, the PL1 relishes it all. In this test we slipped on everything from Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends to Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus via Arrival by ABBA, all of which was easy to listen to – and that’s meant in the least pejorative, most positive sense.

The vinyl format hasn’t survived this long by accident. There are virtues to the way it presents music that make it the only way to listen, for some people at least, and the Rega Planar PL1 embodies all of them to a lesser or greater extent. 

The soundstage it describes, for example, is open, well-defined and easy to understand. It locks individual elements of a recording securely, and it allows each contributor to a recording all the breathing space they need in order to express themselves. Yet it manages to do this without letting anything sound remote, or estranged, or in any way dislocated. Recordings are delivered with a unity and a coherence that makes the word ‘performance’ entirely appropriate.

It’s equally confident where tonality is concerned. Bass sounds are robust, properly textured and loaded with detail. Yes, some other turntables (inevitably more expensive than this) can give the low end a little more speed and momentum, but the PL1 is no slouch in this regard. At the opposite end of the frequency range, treble sounds are similarly detailed and so similarly articulate. Again, there could conceivably be even more sparkle to the sound, but don’t imagine the Rega is in any way dull or blunt. And in the midrange, which is where the action is for singers and so on, the PL1 is just as eloquent, just as information-rich and just as direct as it is elsewhere.

Integration through the frequency range is smooth and convincing, and the Rega has the sort of low-end positivity that allows rhythms good expression. It’s helped by the dynamic headroom that’s on offer here – the distance from the quietest moments of a recording to the most raucous is considerable – as well as the harmonic variations the turntable can identify and describe. 

If we’re being picky (and we usually are),  the PL1 is a little too ready to indulge lush or luxuriant recordings. The Simon & Garfunkel album, for example, can sound a little less perky than is ideal – the Rega seems seduced by the warmth of its sound. But let’s not get carried away, this is a minor shortcoming, one we mention really for no other reason than it doesn’t suit us to be utterly uncritical.

Should you buy the Rega Planar PL1?

Buy it if…

Don't but it if…

First reviewed: November 2022

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 review
7:15 pm | June 16, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: June 2022
• Launch price: $1,999 / £1,699 / AU$3,699
• Target price: As above

Update: February 2024. In the turntable arena, a May 2022-issue product is a babe in arms – this isn't the smartphone space, where fresh iterations are expected (nay, demanded!) annually. News that the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 is still one of the best turntables around will come as little surprise to anyone who read our Cambridge Audio Alva TT review, upon which it is built. This particular turntable has an ace up its sleeve too: onboard hi-res 24bit/48kHz aptX HD Bluetooth transmission (not to be confused with the swathe of recent decks that have a Bluetooth speaker inbuilt, to receive music from your phone; the Lenco LS-410 is a good budget example) which means whatever's spinning on the platter can be sent to your wireless headphones and Bluetooth speakers around the house. Other decks can do similar (the Victrola Stream Carbon will even work with your Sonos system, if you want that) but very few turntables can do it in hi-res, or this well… and that's before we mention how good it is when listening the old-fashioned way, via its inbuilt switchable phono stage… The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable: One-minute review

The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 is the updated version of a turntable that caused a bit of a stir when it launched – here, at last, was a premium turntable that wanted to offer more convenience than is normal. Specifically, wireless streaming – and hi-res wireless streaming at that. Acclaim was immediate and more-or-less universal.

So Cambridge is back with a new, more expensive and mildly updated Alva TT: the V2. Its integrated phono stage is now switchable. It has a new tonearm and cartridge. The price has risen a little. But V2 retains the original’s bank-vault build quality, aptX HD hi-res wireless streaming smarts, and overall air of profound solidity that made it one of the best turntables around.

It also retains a lot of the original’s sonic emphases. The Alva TT V2 is a deft, smooth and insightful listen, a little short of dynamic headroom but very long indeed on detail retrieval, tonal balance and generously engaging sound. 

Yes, this sort of money can buy a more rigorous sonic attitude and more dynamic headroom at the same time. What it won’t buy is better build quality, greater midrange fidelity, anything like as much convenience, or the ability to listen directly on the best wireless headphones. So, even more so than is usual on these pages, you need to make a value judgement.

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable: Price and release date

  • $1,999 / £1,699 / AU$3,699
  • Release in May 2022

The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable was released in spring 2022, and it's officially priced at $1,999 / £1,699 / AU$3,699. Don't expect to find it with much of a discount, either.

That’s serious money for a record player – and it’s the sort of money that brings quite a few high-profile alternatives into view. Everyone from Clearaudio and Rega in Europe, Technics in Japan and VPI in the United States will happily sell you a turntable for this sort of money with high-end audio credentials – although they won’t be quite so extensively specified, admittedly. In fact, let's take a look at the features now.

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 on wooden surface

Naturally, you can use the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 with dust cover or without. (Image credit: Future)

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable: Design and features

  • 24bit/48kHz aptX HD wireless streaming
  • Integrated, switchable phono stage
  • Direct-drive operation

As far as true ‘design’ is concerned, nothing about the Cambridge Audio Alva TT v2 is going to surprise or startle you. This turntable is designed to look like a turntable, albeit a nicely constructed and finished one, and as such is never going to be an interior decorator’s favourite item.

That’s not to say it doesn’t look good, or a lot like the outgoing Alva TT, though. A hefty, smoothly finished chassis is topped by a tactile aluminium plinth with the ‘Cambridge’ logo punched into one corner and three buttons (‘power on/off’, ‘33.3’ and ‘45’) nicely recessed into another. The whole thing is covered by a hinged, smoked-plastic dust-cover.

On top of the plinth there’s an extremely hefty polyoxymethylene platter, and off to one side an entirely fresh design of tonearm. For this V2 model, the tonearm now features anti-skate as well as counter-weight adjustment and has a detachable headshell for ease of cartridge-replacement. It’s pre-fitted with a cartridge, of course – a high-output Cambridge Audio moving coil option with a replacement cost (according to the brand’s website) of £499.

On the inside, the Alva TT v2 uses a direct-drive mechanism to turn that chunky platter – but this is no DJ-centric turntable for hooking into a mixer. Cambridge Audio asserts the best way to guarantee rotational stability is to specify a medium-torque direct-drive motor in conjunction with a high-density platter. That’s what this turntable has, and while it takes a turn or two longer than you might be expecting to come up to speed, once it’s there it’s unshakeable.

On the rear of the chassis are a number of items of interest. There’s power input and a pair of stereo RCA analogue outputs for connection to an amplifier, which are both pretty much par for the course. 

There’s also a switch for the integrated phono stage – this circuitry is based closely on the well-received Alva Duo stand-alone phono stage Cambridge Audio introduced a while back and, unlike the original Alva TT, it’s optional. Turn it on and the V2 outputs at a line-level any amplifier can handle; turn it off and the signal will need to be boosted by pre-amp circuitry on board an amplifier or by an external phono stage. 

So if the owner’s system already includes sufficient amplification, it’s possible to compare the V2’s onboard amplification with that of the system into which it’s playing and make a decision based on perceived sound quality. This is an improvement on the original Alva TT, the ‘always on’ phono stage of which seemed a little unhelpful.

There’s also a switch to turn Bluetooth connectivity on or off, plus a button to initiate Bluetooth pairing. Unlike the majority of Bluetooth-equipped turntables, which are generally entry-level devices that prioritise convenience over all else, the Alva TT V2 is deadly serious about wireless streaming. So it’s specified to support the aptX HD Bluetooth codec, and can stream at an authentically high-resolution 24bit/48kHz. 

Which means that if you want a turntable that can sit where you want it to, rather than where it insists on being, and deliver the audio goods wirelessly, well… Cambridge Audio continues to be the only game in town.

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 tonearm

You get a very high-quality (and pricey) cartridge included in the box with the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2. (Image credit: Future)

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable: Audio performance

  • Articulate and impressive wireless performance
  • Very capable integrated phono stage
  • Lacks a little dynamism and positivity  

Unlike the majority of turntables, there are three ways of listening to the Alva TT V2: Hard-wired to an amplifier with phono amplification turned on; the same but with the phono stage turned off; and wirelessly via Bluetooth. 

And while there are pretty obvious differences in the way the Cambridge presents your vinyl, its fundamental attitude doesn’t alter no matter the way you decide to listen to it. In all circumstances, it’s a poised, perceptive and engaging listen – and as long as you (and your music) aren’t permanently in ‘party on!’ mode, it’s a satisfying listen.

That it sounds better when hard-wired than when streaming wirelessly shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. What is quite startling, though, is just how accomplished the Alva TT V2 sounds when streaming via Bluetooth. 

With a heavy reissue of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue spinning and the turntable streaming to a Naim Uniti Star streamer/amplifier while physically connected only to power, the Cambridge sounds full, detailed and quite eloquent. There is more than enough detail retained to make the nuances of the musicians’ techniques apparent, and sufficient control of the entire frequency range to make the recording sound authentically like a performance. Bass is deep and agile, the top end is acceptably crisp, and the midrange communicates in unambiguous fashion.

The soundstage is reasonably well organised and quite expansive, and there’s never any possibility of one element of the recording intruding into the space of another. Low-level dynamic insight is good too – a recording like this is alive with minor harmonic variations, and the Alva TT V2 is pretty alert to them. 

It’s not quite as successful where the broader dynamic peaks and troughs of a recording are concerned, though – it’s not as if the Cambridge sounds flat or operates at a single level, but the dynamic ebb and flow of a recording isn’t expressed as fully as it might be.

Our Naim doesn’t have any phono amplification, so the Cambridge is first hard-wired with its internal amplification switched on, and then via a Chord Huei stand-alone phono stage with the Alva TT V2’s amplification switched off. The differences in performance, it has to be said, are quite predictable.

Using its own on-board amplification, the Cambridge gains a degree of positivity compared to its wireless sound. It’s still a smooth and detailed listen, but low frequencies gain a little alacrity where attack and decay are concerned while the top end is a little more assertive too. It’s just a more businesslike way to listen, even though the overall TT V2 sonic signature is much the same. When hard-wired, it’s just slightly snappier.

The internal amplification is indeed comparable to the Alva Duo phono stage on which it’s closely based, which is unequivocally a good thing. Unsurprisingly, though, it’s no match for the pricier Chord Huei phono stage – and while the Chord is disproportionately expensive in the context of the rest of this system, it does allow the Cambridge to fully demonstrate both what it’s capable of and what its limitations are.

The shaping of low frequencies steps up again when listening this way. Rhythmic expression becomes more certain, transient detail retrieval improves and the unity, the togetherness of the individual elements of a recording seems more natural and instinctive than before. Even an over-specified phono stage can’t help the Alva TT V2’s slight lack of dynamic potency, though, nor coax greater directness from its overall performance.

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 connections

The Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2's connection labelling is upside down, for when you're leaning over the top, see? (Image credit: Future)

Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2 turntable: Should you buy it?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Also consider

First reviewed: June 2022

Lenco LS-410 review
1:37 pm | May 5, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: May 2022
• Launch price: $259 / £219 (about AU$360)

• Target price: $230 / £200 (approx. AU$300)

Update: February 2024. The Lenco LS-410 is still one of the best turntables on the market owing to its particular mix of usefulness and wallet-friendly appeal. The ace up its sleeve is a surprisingly beefy four-driver speaker array (it's actually under the platter, but you knew that), which will also accept music sent over Bluetooth, making it a viable option for anyone dipping into vinyl without losing their beloved music streaming services. Although it was released in March 2022, this is the world of analog audio and the physical music product, so technological advancements are… incremental. That said, in January 2024 a Victrola record turntable with a repeat function made its debut, while the 2023 Victrola Stream Carbon will also work with your Sonos wireless speaker setup, so there is competition when it comes to marrying old with new in record players these days. Our advice? It's still a good gateway vinyl spinner, as long as top notch audio quality isn't top of your list. The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Lenco LS-410: two-minute review

The Lenco LS-410 combines the retro joys of vinyl with up-to-the-minute wireless streaming technology, adds a loudspeaker array and plenty of amplification, and packages it all in a box that looks and feels nicer than it really has any right to at the price.

It’s painless to set up, can be connected to an external system and has an input for yet another source of music. And it has a dust-cover too. Really what more could you ask for from a record player?

It would be churlish to ask for more where Bluetooth sound is concerned. The Lenco sounds quite expansive, muscular and detailed when streaming wirelessly - it’s not the most practical $260 / £220 Bluetooth speaker around, but it’s far from the least enjoyable.

a closeup of the lenco ls-410 turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

But it all falls to pieces when playing vinyl. The tonearm and its associated controls feel insubstantial - and that’s the way the Lenco sounds when it’s playing records, too. And it’s further undermined by a slight, but undeniable, tendency to wander a little bit where rotational speed is concerned.

It’s a great pity, because in principle the Lenco LS-410 is a fine idea. We would have happily accepted a higher priced device if the engineering was more robust - that would make the LS-410 a genuine contender. Read on for our full Lenco LS-410 review.

the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lenco LS-410 review: Price and release date

  • Available now
  • $259 / £219 (about AU$360)

The Lenco LS-410 is on sale now for $259 / £219 - while there’s no official Australian price just yet, that works out at about AU$360.

There’s an awful lot of tech packed into the LS-410 for that modest price - if you’ve got access to an outlet, a smartphone and a vinyl record, you’ve a multi-source all-in-one system ready to go. But, of course, offering features and functionality is only half the battle… 

the lenco ls-410 record player control buttons

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lenco LS-410 review: Design and features

  • 33.3 and 45rpm for vinyl
  • Bluetooth 5 for wireless streaming 
  • 50 watts powering four speaker drivers 

The Lenco LS-410 is functional rather than luxurious where materials are concerned, but the combination of metal, plastic and wood is nicely constructed and properly finished. There’s really nothing to find fault with where build quality is concerned, certainly not as far as the cabinet goes.

Key specs

Dimensions: 192 x 425 x 360mm
Motor: Belt drive
Platter: Aluminum
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45rpm
Stylus: Audio-Technica moving magnet

Beneath the aluminum platter (which comes with a felt mat) there’s a fairly substantial box in which the record player keeps 50 watts of amplification, a four-strong speaker driver array (each firing out through the criss-cross metal grille at the front), a switchable phono stage and Bluetooth reception-related circuitry. It stands on four pliant feet that are designed to isolate the cabinet from vibration and ook a lot like the classic ‘half a squash ball’ isolation solution so beloved of hi-fi tweekers.

On top, there’s a sturdy plastic dust-cover. Lift it up and you’ve got access to the turntable itself. This is a belt-drive design, and there’s a straight tonearm pre-fitted with an Audio-Technica cartridge - all you need to do to set it up is fit and adjust the counter-weight. Beneath the tonearm, there’s a little control-panel: an on/off/input selection button, play/pause, a 33.3 or 45rpm speed control and a dial to regulate volume. 

the tonearm on the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As much as we like the way the cabinet is constructed and finished, we have to be a fair bit more qualified about some of the fixtures and fittings. The tonearm itself doesn’t feel all that substantial, the mechanical lift that raises or lowers it feels flimsier still, and the clip to keep it secure in its cradle feels flimsiest of all. 

The rubbery control buttons move around beneath your finger more than we’d like. The entire tonearm mechanism and drive motor are attached to a suspended plate that has a (perfectly acceptable) degree of movement in it, but there’s more movement in the tonearm assembly itself than is either expected or sensible. 

the connectivity options on the lenco ls-410 turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

At the back of the cabinet there’s an input for mains power, a switch to turn the integrated phono stage on or off, and stereo RCA outputs - the LS-410 is a self-contained system, but if you want to run it into a bigger system or more powerful amplifier, the option is there. There’s also a 3.5mm analogue input for auxiliary equipment.

As we said, your $259 / £219 buys plenty. Good luck finding many other self-contained vinyl/Bluetooth system with speakers at this sort of money.

the speaker grille on the lenco ls-410 turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lenco LS-410 review: audio performance

  • Spirited, enjoyable Bluetooth sound 
  • Vinyl sounds bland and uncertain by comparison
  • Rotational speed isn’t consistent 

 You’re not short of choice for wireless speakers at this price, but the Lenco LS-410 is among the better ones. Admittedly the fact that it’s outlet-powered and fitted with a turntable make it a lot less portable than most other Bluetooth speakers at this sort of money, but the fact remains: give the LS-410 a half-decent digital audio stream to deal with and it does very decent work.

Bluetooth 5 proves more than capable of getting a nice big hi-res TIDAL Masters file of Robert Wyatt’s Old Rottenhat on board, and once it’s there the Lenco gives a full account of it. It has impressive low frequency presence, but doesn’t let bass sounds get carried away or overstay their welcome. Instead they’re properly controlled, reasonably detailed and give the midrange plenty of space to do its thing. 

‘Its thing’ in this instance turns out to be a communicative and detailed delivery of the characterful vocals. The voice is nicely isolated but nevertheless integrated into the rest of the performance, and the LS-410 creates a big enough soundstage for a singer to stretch out a little. At the top end things are played pretty safe, with treble sounding just slightly blunt when compared to the rest of the frequency range - which, while not ideal, is preferable to overt hardness or harshness.

a closeup of the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

This isn’t the most dynamic sound you ever heard, for sure, but neither is it the most inhibited. And when it’s put into proper context, the LS-410 is a perfectly likable and periodically quite impressive Bluetooth speaker. 

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case when listening to vinyl. The solidity of its low-end presence is undermined when listening to a copy of Devo’s Are We Not Men? and is replaced by a less positive and less detailed version. The midrange is still quite spacious, but it sounds slightly phasey - and that’s the case at the top of the frequency range too. Much of the certainty the LS-410 exhibits as a Bluetooth speaker falls away, and the result is a sound that’s undemonstrative and rather pedestrian.

Most unhappily, though, is the relative lack of rotational stability the turntable exhibits. Even tiny discrepancies in what should be 33.3rpm are audible, and once you’ve heard them they’re impossible to un-hear. For whatever reason, the Lenco doesn’t maintain speed perfectly - and the sonic results are deeply off-putting. 

Lenco LS-410 review: should you buy it?

the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Lenco LS-410 review: Also consider

Not convinced by our Lenco Ls-410 review? Here are three more record players we think you should consider.

First reviewed: May 2022

Lenco LS-410 review
1:37 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: May 2022
• Launch price: $259 / £219 (about AU$360)

• Target price: $230 / £200 (approx. AU$300)

Update: February 2024. The Lenco LS-410 is still one of the best turntables on the market owing to its particular mix of usefulness and wallet-friendly appeal. The ace up its sleeve is a surprisingly beefy four-driver speaker array (it's actually under the platter, but you knew that), which will also accept music sent over Bluetooth, making it a viable option for anyone dipping into vinyl without losing their beloved music streaming services. Although it was released in March 2022, this is the world of analog audio and the physical music product, so technological advancements are… incremental. That said, in January 2024 a Victrola record turntable with a repeat function made its debut, while the 2023 Victrola Stream Carbon will also work with your Sonos wireless speaker setup, so there is competition when it comes to marrying old with new in record players these days. Our advice? It's still a good gateway vinyl spinner, as long as top notch audio quality isn't top of your list. The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Lenco LS-410: two-minute review

The Lenco LS-410 combines the retro joys of vinyl with up-to-the-minute wireless streaming technology, adds a loudspeaker array and plenty of amplification, and packages it all in a box that looks and feels nicer than it really has any right to at the price.

It’s painless to set up, can be connected to an external system and has an input for yet another source of music. And it has a dust-cover too. Really what more could you ask for from a record player?

It would be churlish to ask for more where Bluetooth sound is concerned. The Lenco sounds quite expansive, muscular and detailed when streaming wirelessly - it’s not the most practical $260 / £220 Bluetooth speaker around, but it’s far from the least enjoyable.

a closeup of the lenco ls-410 turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

But it all falls to pieces when playing vinyl. The tonearm and its associated controls feel insubstantial - and that’s the way the Lenco sounds when it’s playing records, too. And it’s further undermined by a slight, but undeniable, tendency to wander a little bit where rotational speed is concerned.

It’s a great pity, because in principle the Lenco LS-410 is a fine idea. We would have happily accepted a higher priced device if the engineering was more robust - that would make the LS-410 a genuine contender. Read on for our full Lenco LS-410 review.

the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lenco LS-410 review: Price and release date

  • Available now
  • $259 / £219 (about AU$360)

The Lenco LS-410 is on sale now for $259 / £219 - while there’s no official Australian price just yet, that works out at about AU$360.

There’s an awful lot of tech packed into the LS-410 for that modest price - if you’ve got access to an outlet, a smartphone and a vinyl record, you’ve a multi-source all-in-one system ready to go. But, of course, offering features and functionality is only half the battle… 

the lenco ls-410 record player control buttons

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lenco LS-410 review: Design and features

  • 33.3 and 45rpm for vinyl
  • Bluetooth 5 for wireless streaming 
  • 50 watts powering four speaker drivers 

The Lenco LS-410 is functional rather than luxurious where materials are concerned, but the combination of metal, plastic and wood is nicely constructed and properly finished. There’s really nothing to find fault with where build quality is concerned, certainly not as far as the cabinet goes.

Key specs

Dimensions: 192 x 425 x 360mm
Motor: Belt drive
Platter: Aluminum
Phono preamp: Yes
USB: No
Speeds: 33 ⅓, 45rpm
Stylus: Audio-Technica moving magnet

Beneath the aluminum platter (which comes with a felt mat) there’s a fairly substantial box in which the record player keeps 50 watts of amplification, a four-strong speaker driver array (each firing out through the criss-cross metal grille at the front), a switchable phono stage and Bluetooth reception-related circuitry. It stands on four pliant feet that are designed to isolate the cabinet from vibration and ook a lot like the classic ‘half a squash ball’ isolation solution so beloved of hi-fi tweekers.

On top, there’s a sturdy plastic dust-cover. Lift it up and you’ve got access to the turntable itself. This is a belt-drive design, and there’s a straight tonearm pre-fitted with an Audio-Technica cartridge - all you need to do to set it up is fit and adjust the counter-weight. Beneath the tonearm, there’s a little control-panel: an on/off/input selection button, play/pause, a 33.3 or 45rpm speed control and a dial to regulate volume. 

the tonearm on the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As much as we like the way the cabinet is constructed and finished, we have to be a fair bit more qualified about some of the fixtures and fittings. The tonearm itself doesn’t feel all that substantial, the mechanical lift that raises or lowers it feels flimsier still, and the clip to keep it secure in its cradle feels flimsiest of all. 

The rubbery control buttons move around beneath your finger more than we’d like. The entire tonearm mechanism and drive motor are attached to a suspended plate that has a (perfectly acceptable) degree of movement in it, but there’s more movement in the tonearm assembly itself than is either expected or sensible. 

the connectivity options on the lenco ls-410 turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

At the back of the cabinet there’s an input for mains power, a switch to turn the integrated phono stage on or off, and stereo RCA outputs - the LS-410 is a self-contained system, but if you want to run it into a bigger system or more powerful amplifier, the option is there. There’s also a 3.5mm analogue input for auxiliary equipment.

As we said, your $259 / £219 buys plenty. Good luck finding many other self-contained vinyl/Bluetooth system with speakers at this sort of money.

the speaker grille on the lenco ls-410 turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Lenco LS-410 review: audio performance

  • Spirited, enjoyable Bluetooth sound 
  • Vinyl sounds bland and uncertain by comparison
  • Rotational speed isn’t consistent 

 You’re not short of choice for wireless speakers at this price, but the Lenco LS-410 is among the better ones. Admittedly the fact that it’s outlet-powered and fitted with a turntable make it a lot less portable than most other Bluetooth speakers at this sort of money, but the fact remains: give the LS-410 a half-decent digital audio stream to deal with and it does very decent work.

Bluetooth 5 proves more than capable of getting a nice big hi-res TIDAL Masters file of Robert Wyatt’s Old Rottenhat on board, and once it’s there the Lenco gives a full account of it. It has impressive low frequency presence, but doesn’t let bass sounds get carried away or overstay their welcome. Instead they’re properly controlled, reasonably detailed and give the midrange plenty of space to do its thing. 

‘Its thing’ in this instance turns out to be a communicative and detailed delivery of the characterful vocals. The voice is nicely isolated but nevertheless integrated into the rest of the performance, and the LS-410 creates a big enough soundstage for a singer to stretch out a little. At the top end things are played pretty safe, with treble sounding just slightly blunt when compared to the rest of the frequency range - which, while not ideal, is preferable to overt hardness or harshness.

a closeup of the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

This isn’t the most dynamic sound you ever heard, for sure, but neither is it the most inhibited. And when it’s put into proper context, the LS-410 is a perfectly likable and periodically quite impressive Bluetooth speaker. 

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case when listening to vinyl. The solidity of its low-end presence is undermined when listening to a copy of Devo’s Are We Not Men? and is replaced by a less positive and less detailed version. The midrange is still quite spacious, but it sounds slightly phasey - and that’s the case at the top of the frequency range too. Much of the certainty the LS-410 exhibits as a Bluetooth speaker falls away, and the result is a sound that’s undemonstrative and rather pedestrian.

Most unhappily, though, is the relative lack of rotational stability the turntable exhibits. Even tiny discrepancies in what should be 33.3rpm are audible, and once you’ve heard them they’re impossible to un-hear. For whatever reason, the Lenco doesn’t maintain speed perfectly - and the sonic results are deeply off-putting. 

Lenco LS-410 review: should you buy it?

the lenco ls-410 record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Lenco LS-410 review: Also consider

Not convinced by our Lenco Ls-410 review? Here are three more record players we think you should consider.

First reviewed: May 2022

Technics SL-1500C Turntable review
2:21 pm | June 23, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: September 2019
• Launch price: $999 / £899 / AU$2499
• Target price: $1,299 / £1,099 / AU$1,895

Update: February 2024. Despite its relative age (although anything released within the past 10 years hardly qualifies as 'old' for a turntable – this is heritage physical music) the Technics SL-1500C is still emphatically one of the best turntables on the market. And it's not even the iconic SL-1210! What it is, is a direct-drive turntable built to listen to music (rather than to DJ with) and in the years since its release it has become a benchmark for quality at the price – a price which has actually risen owing to the proposition's success and desirability. Features? It's got a switchable phono stage so it'll work with your amp plus nice hefty buttons, but ultimately this is a deck for the purist and vinyl archivist. For clarity, in January 2024 Victrola's record turntable with repeat function arrived, but the firm's 2023 Victrola Stream Carbon can also work with your Sonos multi-room wireless setup, so the category has seen some breakthrough vinyl-meets-wireless tech since the Technics landed. Do you need any of that, or is wired analog audio still the star in your house? That's up to you. The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Technics SL-1500C: one-minute review

The first time Technics died, it was a long and unnecessarily drawn-out affair. Parent company Panasonic inexplicably lost patience and faith with the brand around the turn of the century (despite it being one of the few true icons of consumer electronics) - starting its slow demise and leading to fewer and fewer Technics-branded products coming to market. 

By 2010 it was official: Technics was no more. Anyone who’d ever visited a nightclub or danced to a DJ set was a little bit heartbroken.

But, in 2015, Panasonic had a change of heart, and Technics was reborn. And while many enjoyed the reborn audio brand, things weren’t quite the same - the first fruits of the brand’s resurrection were both uncharacteristically expensive and a bit misguided.

...Until now. Meet the budget-friendly Technics SL-1500C that will only set you back £899 / $999 / AU$2499. It's still not the most affordable turntable on the market, but it's first the reborn Technics has so far delivered to really remind listeners of what they loved about the brand in the first place.

Technics SL-1500C Turntable review: design

To most people, the words ‘Technics turntable’ means Technics SL-1210 - but the Technics template was set down long before the company designed The World’s DJ Deck, and it would seem strange were they to mess with the formula now. So, naturally, they haven’t.

That’s not to say the SL-1500C is a facsimile of the SL-1200/SL-1210. It’s not built as a DJ deck, but rather as just a record player, so it doesn’t feature pitch control, target light, stroboscope or the other ‘hands-on’  bits ‘n’ bobs that make the SL-1210 look such a purposeful machine. 

But the SL-1500C has the same hefty aluminium top-plate, the same aluminium-with-complicated-composite chassis and the same overweight, utterly inert and resonance-rejecting aluminium platter. In fact, here the platter’s substantially rubberised to make it even more efficient.

And, of course, the SL-1500C is a direct-drive design. Technics has almost always preferred this technology for its record players (not just its DJ decks), and here it’s using a fearsomely over-engineered motor intended to resistance the restless ‘cogging’ effect that can afflict some direct-drive Technics-wannabee turntables. It’s engaged using the big ‘on/off’ dial and big ‘stop/start’ button familiar from the SL-1210.

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Technics SL-1500C Turntable review: Features

Technics has gone to significant lengths to make the SL-1500C as user-friendly and painless as possible. Niceties start with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge that’s pre-fitted to the detachable headshell - it’s simplicity itself to attach or detach it from the S-shaped tonearm.

It stands on four hefty (the word ‘hefty’ springs to mind a lot when trying to describe the SL-1500C) rubberised feet. They’re pliant and have quite a lot of articulation so, while - you should always put your record player on a sturdy shelf, where it can avoid vibrations - the SL-1500C isn’t as unsettled by less-than-perfect positioning as some price-comparable but less, yes, hefty rivals.

It’s also fitted with a switchable phono stage. Not every stereo amplifier has the necessary oomph to make a record player audible (though every mixer attached to an SL-1210 does), but because the SL-1500C is packing sufficient pre-amplification it’s compatible with any amplifier you care to mention.

There’s even a switchable auto-stop feature. When the needle reaches the run-out groove it can, if you so desire, return to its resting ‘off’ position. Such pandering to the user is not something you’d ever catch an SL-1210 indulging in.

Like Technics turntables of old, the SL-1500C has big ‘33.3’ and ‘45’ rpm speed-selection buttons - and, like Technics turntables of old, pressing them at the same time delivers 78rpm performance. Ideal for the true vinyl archivist. 

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Technics SL-1500C Turntable review: Performance

There’s really only one place to start with a Technics record player, and that’s with some thumping dance music. So it’s out with a ‘much-loved’ (for which read ‘slightly knackered’) copy of deadmau5’s single-sided Lack of a Better Name to find out if the SL-1500C is worthy of its illustrious brand name.

The short answer is ‘yes’. The slightly longer answer is ‘yes, all day long’.

Much of what is so prized in the vinyl format - the warmth, detail and texture of its sound, the rhythmic surefootedness, the sense of integration and unity of performance - is here in the SL-1500C, and in good measure. But that’s not what is so initially remarkable about the way this Technics goes about music-making.

Many an otherwise-excellent record player overplays its hand where low frequency information is concerned. The temptation to overstate the luxurious warmth and substance of vinyl-derived bass seems almost impossible to resist - but the SL-1500C is made of sterner stuff. It absolutely snaps into low-end sounds - it doesn’t wallow, it doesn’t drone. Instead, it draws an unarguably straight edge at the start of bass notes and doesn’t let their decay hang around. The result is a sound that has all of the body and momentum vinyl-fanciers delight in, but none of the overhang. The SL-1500C is a snake-hipped listen where too many of its nominal rivals have the bass equivalent of muffin-top.

And above this gloriously well-controlled bottom end, the news continues to be good. One grinding gear-changing from deadmau5 to Ella Fitzgerald’s Dream a Little Dream of Me allows the Technics to showcase its keen eye for the detail and nuance of a vocalist’s delivery. Fitzgerald’s pure tone and impeccable phrasing is served up explicitly by the SL-1500C - her voice is utterly packed with character, and occupies centre-stage in the most natural manner imaginable.

(Image credit: Panasonic)

To complete the nap hand of frequency response expertise, the Technics has sufficient bite and attack at the top end to make the fiercer moments of Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden properly forceful, but there’s never any suggestion things could get splashy or in any way out of control. The same LP highlights the SL-1500C’s confident manner with both high-level ‘quiet/loud/quiet’ dynamics and the low-level harmonic dynamics of Mark Hollis’s piano- and organ-playing.

Sound-staging is impressive, with recordings given plenty of elbow-room for individual instruments to make their presence felt. There’s depth and height to the Technics’ stage, as well as width, but despite all this breathing-room there’s no lack of unity to the sound the SL-1500C delivers. And no matter whether you choose to listen to the cramped, claustrophobic beats of Burial’s Untrue or the wide-open elegance of Brian Eno’s Another Green World, the Technics remains completely authoritative.

Overall, there’s remarkably little to take issue with here. Some alternative turntables (from the likes of Rega and Pro-Ject) will extract even more detail, and manage rhythms and tempos with even more assurance. But they don’t have electronic speed change, or direct drive, or a phono stage, or the build quality to survive a medium-sized detonation.

And they don’t say ‘Technics’ anywhere on the top-plate, either.  

Technics SL-1500C Turntable review: Final verdict

It’s been a bit of turbulent start for the reimagined Technics brand, but with the SL-1500C it seems the company is beginning to find its line and length. This isn’t the most out-and-out accomplished turntable you can buy in purely sonic terms, but it’s not far off - and it’s more robustly made, better specified and has greater cachet than any price-comparable alternative. 

First reviewed: September 2019

Pro-ject Debut Carbon Evo review
1:00 pm | October 24, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: October 2020
• Launch price: $499 / £499 / AU$879
• Target price: As above

Update: February 2024. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is an update to one of the best turntables available (the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, which is itself based on the firm's original Debut, launched in 1999) and despite being a fair chunk of money more than its older 2017 sibling, this September 2020 looker is easily still worthy of a spot in our guide. It's devoid of preamp (so you're going to need one) and it's not the deck for your if you want Bluetooth connectivity (look to the Cambridge Audio Alva TT V2) or new-fangled Sonos connectivity (see the Victrola Stream Carbon) but what it does do exceptionally well is play your vinyl records, within a hi-fi system. And that is timeless – because vinyl is going nowhere. The day will likely come when a turntable arrives that can do this specific job marginally better for the same money. But Pro-Ject can rest assured that it still hasn't happened yet. The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo: Two-minute review

Pro-Ject introduced its first Debut turntable at the end of the last century, and it’s been refined, upgraded, and become increasingly expensive ever since. This Debut Carbon Evo is the most refined and upgraded model so far – and it’s also the most expensive.

In terms of specification, though, the Pro-Ject goes a long way towards justifying its price. The carbon fibre tonearm is supplied with a very capable Ortofon (or Sumika) cartridge. A new motor design, some damped and adjustable feet, and automatic speed change contribute no end to improved performance and improved ergonomics. And with a choice of nine finishes, including five very attractive new ‘satin’ options, there’s sure to be a Debut Carbon Evo to fit in with your interior decor choices.

Setting up is simple: attach the drive belt, put on the platter, and attach counter- and antiskate weights to that single-piece tonearm. Attach to your wider system with the high-quality phono leads that are included, plug into the mains, and you’re good to go.

record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

And it doesn’t matter the sort of music you like to listen to – the Debut Carbon Evo laps it up. In every circumstance it’s a detailed and revealing listen, able to focus on the minutiae even as it describes the complete picture completely convincingly. 

It has all the warmth and weight the vinyl format is famous for, but it’s not musclebound and it doesn’t get bogged down – instead it simply motors along in the most natural way imaginable. There’s a sort of instinctive correctness to the way the Pro-Ject makes music that goes a long way to explaining why vinyl has endured as a format all these many decades.

It’s not the last word in absolute precision, and there are other similarly priced turntables that offer a little more bite and aggression. But if you value a smooth, informative ride from a beautifully engineered and nice-looking record player, don’t spend any money until you’ve heard the Debut Carbon Evo. 

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo: Price and release date

  • Available now
  • $499 / £499 / AU$879

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo is on sale now, and priced at $499 / £449 / AU$879.  That makes it far less of an entry-level proposition than 1999’s original Debut – but then Pro-Ject has covered off the entry level with its Elemental and Primary models, while the Debut Carbon Evo is a much better specified device than the original Debut could dream of being.

At this price, the Pro-Ject goes up against some very capable and very well-regarded alternatives. The likes of Rega (with its Planar 2) and Thorens (and its TD190-2) are ready to turn your head – but Pro-Ject’s reputation is the equal of that of any competitor, and the company is always an option at this sort of money.

turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo: Design

  • Carbon fibre tonearm
  • Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
  • Choice of nine (!) finishes

Nobody in their right mind messes with the design of a turntable, do they? Ever since the record player did away with the need for a trumpet horn, they’ve all looked the same (apart from those self-consciously ‘wacky’ designs that are odd for the sake of it). A record player is a rectangle with a circle on it – and, if you’re feeling adventurous, a plastic dust-cover on the top.

And that’s how it is with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo. At a glance, it looks just like every other record player – certainly it looks enough like the original Debut Carbon from 2017 to make you wonder why the price has risen from the original’s $400 / £349 / AU$550. But like pretty much every record player, a lot of your money goes on the stuff you can’t see: the bearing, the motor, the damping and all the other necessities.    

The Debut Carbon Evo has – ahem – evolved from the original Debut Carbon in a number of places. The new model features the same height-adjustable damped feet fitted to Pro-Ject’s $899 / £749 / AU$1190 X1 turntable, and a new motor design with some hefty decoupling incorporated – the motor’s now barely in contact with the main body of the turntable. 

record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Its steel platter is now heavier, thanks to a thermoplastic ring on its inside edge – it’s a technique to reduce operation noise and was popularized by, among others, Technics. And there’s now a suggestion of convenience in the shape of a speed-change switch at the bottom of the plinth – previously you’d have to take off the platter and move the drive belt to change speeds, but now 33.3rpm can become 45rpm (or vice-versa) at a press. Of course, if you’re the hands-on type (and you own some properly elderly records) you can change the drive belt itself in order to play at 78rpm. Both belts are included in the package.

The one-piece tonearm is made of carbon fibre, and comes fitted with a very capable Ortofon 2M Red cartridge (except in America, where it features a Sumiko Ranier cartridge instead. Quite why the United States requires a different option is anyone’s guess). All that’s required is for the belt, platter counterweight and antiskating weight to be attached and the Debut Carbon Evo is ready to go.

Mind you, before you get to that point you’ll need to choose between the Pro-Ject’s numerous finishes. As well as the wood veneer and glossy white, red or black of the previous model, the Debut Carbon Evo is also available in five satin finishes: black, white, yellow, blue or green. 

Our review sample is in Fir Green, and very nice it looks too. The finish is flawlessly smooth, and as reassuring as the build quality.    

record player

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Audio performance

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo: Audio performance

  • Full-scale, nicely unified sound
  • Detailed and revealing
  • Warmth and weight to spare

Despite the only branding on the entire product being a discreet ‘Pro-Ject’ logo on the dust-cover, anyone who’s familiar with the Pro-Ject family sound will have no trouble picking out the Debut Carbon Evo as a bit more of the same. And that’s meant almost entirely positively.

The Debut Carbon Evo is a luxuriously full-bodied listen, but that’s not to say it’s in any way languid. It has plenty of the warmth and richness that’s so often held up as an unarguable vinyl virtue, but it doesn’t wallow or slur. It’s easy to listen to, but it’s not uninvolving.

And it’s nigh-on impossible to wrong-foot. From A Tribe Called Quest’s I Left My Wallet In El Segundo to Father John Misty’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, from Leonard Bernstein’s Gee, Officer Krupke to Nina Simone’s Pirate Jenny, the Pro-Ject sounds both right at home and thoroughly engaged. 

turntable

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Like any worthwhile turntable, it’s very adept and tying everything together. There’s a tangible sense of performance from the Evo, even when it’s playing cut’n’paste collages from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest. The unity of a recording, the way the midrange rides on the low-frequency underpinnings, and the way the treble balances securely on the top, allows every record to sound coherent and convincing. Even with the most processed, machine-derived recordings, this Pro-Ject glides along with the sort of casual authority of sound that can only come from a well-sorted record player.

There’s heat in the low frequencies, certainly, but they’re not overcooked and it’s certainly not at the expense of detail or texture. There’s a similarly lavish amount of detail retrieved in the midrange – it reveals so much about the glee and malevolence Nina Simone imbues her performance with it’s almost hair-raising – and while the top end is rolled off just fractionally, it’s far from a blunt instrument.

The Pro-Ject handles tempos and rhythms with equal assurance. Oh, you’ll get a straighter edge and a more martial approach from a similarly priced Rega turntable, but the Evo counters (and strongly) with its unfussy nature and the almost ostentatious amount of detail it digs out.

It’s not lacking anything where dynamics, both great and small, are concerned either. The sparer and more low-key a recording, the more the Pro-Ject reveals about the harmonic details – and the more full-on and instrument-heavy a recording, the more the Pro-Ject enjoys giving every element full expression.  

Should I buy the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo?

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo: Should you buy it?

turntables

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

First reviewed: October 2020 

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT review
12:59 pm | May 1, 2019

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: May 2019
• Launch price: $149 / £179 / AU$299
• Target price: As above

Update: February 2024. If you're looking for one of the best turntables in the budget arena, you've found it. Yes, it's a few years old, but what of it? This is vinyl, and if it's new tech you seek, this spinner also offers Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX transmission – so you can send your LP music to your wireless headphones simply by putting them into pairing mode and pressing the button on the corner of the Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT's plinth, so deck finds them and hooks up! The newer Lenco LS-410 has a Bluetooth speaker in its base, but that's a different perk entirely, because it means it'll accept and play the Spotify playlists stored on your phone (in addition to the vinyl spinning above it), but you cannot send that which is playing to headphones or other wireless speakers in your home, wirelessly. The also-newer Victrola Stream Carbon will work with your Sonos system, if you've got one, but at this price it would be churlish to ask much more of this plucky little AT deck. In the sound-per-pound stakes, it scores highly indeed… The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Audio-Technica boasts a long legacy of creating consumer turntables, but its latest models are looking to the future with the inclusion of wireless Bluetooth connectivity for cable-free listening.

The AT-LP60XBT, which “combines high-quality record playback with the convenience of wireless operation” according to the company, is a great example of how turntables are being refreshed for the age of wireless audio. 

So, is the AT-LP60XBT as convenient to use as Audio-Technica says? We put the wallet-friendly automatic turntable to the test.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT review: Price and availability

The AT-LP60XBT is available to buy for $149 / £179 / AU$299, much cheaper than many of the best turntables, which tend to range in price between $200 and $1000.

It’s not the first time Audio-Technica has released such a budget-friendly deck; one of our favorite turntables is the AT-LP60, which originally retailed for $99 / £140 (around AU$140). 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT review: Design

Overall, the design of he AT-LP60XBT is both pleasing and functional with a matte black plinth and space-saving sleek build. 

It’s also incredibly light, coming in at just 2.6kg, thanks to its extensive use of thin plastic. The downside to that is while its neat dimensions and lightness could be an attractive feature for those who are short on space, the AT-LP60XBT does feel slightly fragile. 

That insubstantial feeling is also present in the dust cover, which is also made from clear plastic, and the turntable’s fragile-feeling tonearm; while testing the AT-LP60XBT we found ourselves worrying that it would break. 

That’s not to say that the AT-LP60XBT is badly designed – all its components work very well – but the materials used here aren't as luxurious as you'd find elsewhere. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT review: Features and performance

Setting up the AT-LP60XBT is fairly straightforward, but it does require some assembly before you can start spinning your records. 

Firstly, you’ll need to place the platter (the part that turns the record) onto the spindle (the bit that sticks through the hole in the middle of your vinyl). Once you’ve done this, you can attach the belt to the motor pulley, and place the felt mat onto the platter. 

Audio-Technica recommends that you then “rotate the platter 10 times” using your hands to reset the auto mechanism, get rid of any twists in the belt and make sure the belt “rides smoothly along the drive rim on the underside of the platter”.

You do get an instruction manual in the box, with helpful illustrations to guide you through this process, but if you’re unsure, you can also check out our guide on how to set up a turntable

Once you’ve assembled the turntable, you can plug in the AC adapter, and you’re ready to go – pressing the start button will spin the platter and lift and lower the tonearm automatically, which is handy for beginners who are worried about breaking the delicate stylus or their precious records. You can maneuver the tonearm manually as well, if you wish.

It can be used with a wired connection to your speakers or headphones, or wirelessly via Bluetooth. With a built-in phono equalizer function, Audio-Technica says that you can use the AT-LP60XBT without a “phono amplifier or connectable equipment with a built-in phono amplifier”. You can also use it with your own external phono amplifier if you prefer.

We tested the AT-LP60XBT using wireless headphones connected via Bluetooth, and we found the pairing process to be totally seamless – you just need to put your Bluetooth headphones or speakers into pairing mode, and then hold down the Bluetooth button on the bottom left corner of the turntable’s plinth. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

When it's in pairing mode, an LED light will rapidly flash blue and red, before settling on blue to indicate a successful connection. 

We didn’t experience any connection dropouts while using this feature, and we loved the fact that we could combine the grainy analogue warmth of a vinyl with the modern convenience of wireless headphones. 

While the calling card of the AT-LP60XBT is its support for wireless playback, you can of course connect your speaker setup with a wired connection, which audiophiles may prefer for a higher level of audio quality. 

Saying that, as the turntable supports Bluetooth 5.0 aptX connectivity, the sound quality is still pretty impressive over a wireless connection. 

To test the AT-LP60XBT, we played Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie and Lowell album – and it flowed beautifully, with interweaving guitar arpeggios sweetly accenting Stevens’ harmonized vocal melodies. 

The soundstage is generally very warm, which isn’t unusual for vinyl; however, if you prefer your music to have a little more attack in the treble frequencies, you may find yourself craving a bit more crispness – it’s all a matter of taste. 

Audio-Technica is known for producing high quality cartridges, and the one used on this turntable is no exception; the ATN3600L conical stylus fits perfectly into the grooves of the record and reveals details in songs you may have never noticed before – in short, it makes your music an absolute joy to listen to. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT review: Final verdict

With a budget-friendly price, easy assembly, and the convenience of wireless playback, the AT-LP60XBT could make a fantastic first turntable for any fledgling vinyl enthusiast. 

While the plinth does feel somewhat insubstantial, and the sound might not be detailed enough for some, it's brilliant price more than makes up for that – and the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity makes the AT-LP6XBT feel like very good value for money. 

Hardcore audiophiles may prefer the sound and look of Hi-Fi turntables like the $1700 / £1500 (around AU$2750)  Cambridge Audio Alva TT, but if you’re looking for something super simple and not too pricey, the AT-LP60XBT might be your best bet. 

First reviewed: May 2019

Fluance RT81 turntable review
10:52 pm | January 30, 2018

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: February 2018
• Launch price: $249.99 / £249 / AU$310

• Target price: $250 / £250 / AU$310

Update: February 2024. The Fluance RT81 arrived in May 2016, alongside a slightly cheaper (by $49, owing to the cabinet material and pre-mounted stylus choice) RT80, but it's the marginally pricier RT81 that's stood the test of time. This is vinyl, so anything under 10 years old is still a young buck, but it's worth noting that in summer of 2023 the Canadian company updated the RT81 with a similarly affordable Fluance RT81+ model, which also comes with the built-in preamp and in a stunning walnut finish. We've not yet had the pleasure of testing the tweaked aluminium platter and newer Audio-Technica stylus, (watch this space on that) but for now, know that the original RT81 is still a very relevant starter turntable – and one of the best turntables around. Any deals since its sibling arrived? No. In fact, apart from an all-white model released in 2019 to celebrate Fluance's 20th birthday (which came bundled with a set of speakers and was a corker of a deal at the time), this deck just keeps running off shelves at full price. But that's no bad thing, because frankly it's always been a steal… The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Fluance RT81 turntable: One-minute review

Getting your first turntable can be stressful, especially since there are so many options on the market. You can get a cheap record player that sounds just average and doesn’t have any adjustability but you risk damaging your expensive record collection in the long run. Or, conversely, you could opt for an entry-level audiophile turntable but doing so may mean missing out on convenient features like auto start/stop. 

In between the ultra-low end and entry-level audiophile turntables sits the Fluance RT81. This turntable manages to blend easy setup, sound quality, headroom to grow and features. And now that you can get the Fluance RT81for $250 (£250, about AU$310), it makes the perfect first turntable for most people. 

Fluance RT81 turntable: Design

The design of the Fluance RT81 is classic and understated. The plinth is made of MDF but is finished in a high-gloss walnut finish that gleams. The use of walnut gives the RT81 a retro look and feel while still being modern. 

The turntable is belt driven but you don’t have to reposition it every time you need to change speeds like with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. Instead, there’s a metal knob that you can flick to either 33 ⅓ or 45 RPM. That’s a great feature that makes playing records more convenient. 

Adding to the convenience is the RT81’s automatic start and stop feature. With the turntable on, simply moving the tonearm from its resting position will start the platter. Return it to the resting position after a record is done playing and the platter stops. This is great for changing records without having to turn the turntable off. The Fluance RT81 will also automatically stop the platter once it detects the end of a record, though the tonearm doesn’t return itself to resting position like the Denon DP-300F

Speaking of the tonearm, it’s made entirely of plastic and its bearings aren’t silky smooth as higher-end turntables. This means the Fluance RT81 is only average when it comes to tracking. The tonearm lets users adjust the tracking force and anti-skate, but there’s no way to adjust vertical tracking angle like with the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB.

The platter is made of aluminum and topped with a rubberized mat, which is prone to attracting static, which is annoying. It’s not a deal breaker though, as you can pick up a Zero Stat anti-static gun to get rid of static from time to time. 

Around the back of the turntable you’ll find RCA outputs along with a grounding post. There’s also a power port for the tiny wall-wart power supply included. There are also a couple of switches; one toggles on the start/stop feature and the other toggles the built-in phono preamp. This means you don’t need to buy a preamp to start playing records, but you have the option to add nicer sounding phono preamp down the line. 

Fluance RT81 turntable: Performance

In terms of sound quality, the Fluance RT81 is quite good. There’s a nice amount of detail and the plastic tonearm does a reasonably good job of tracking records. The included Audio Technica AT95E won’t blow audiophiles away but it’s a great beginner cartridge that has a replaceable needle that is very affordable. Since the RT81 takes standard headshells, you can swap cartridges easily if you want to experiment, which is a nice touch. 

The built-in phono preamp actually sounds quite good, and you’ll have to spend the cost of the turntable for a phono preamp that sounds better. We tried hooking the RT81 up to our Musical Fidelity V-LPS and the sound quality was close with a slight edge to the V-LPS for its better soundstage, dynamic range and slightly lower noise-floor. 

We were impressed by the Fluance RT81’s good isolation from footfalls and other vibrations. Although the turntable platter is relatively light, the RT81 does a good job of cancelling out external vibrations from speakers, which is nice if you have your turntable and speakers on the same platform. 

While most people will find the sound of the Fluance RT81 to be quite good, audiophiles will nitpick about the detail retrieval, dynamic range and slightly inconsistent speed. What we mean is that the Fluance sounds like it's hunting and pecking to keep a perfect speed, which is especially noticeable in classical music where a single note is sustained for extended periods.

Fluance RT81 turntable: Verdict

All that said, the Fluance RT81 is an incredible value and is the perfect record player for vinyl newbies. It sounds good, looks great, and has convenient features that’ll keep you playing records instead of fiddling with settings. For more advanced listeners, the RT81 is still a great choice as it gives users the ability to upgrade to a better cartridge and phono preamp in the future. 

In terms of competition, the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB has more features like USB recording but is more complicated to set up and doesn’t include auto start/stop. The Denon DP-300F is a great alternative to the Fluance and is even more convenient with push button start/stop, but the RT81 sounds better. 

If you’re an audiophile looking for something that’ll scale up with high-end gear down the line, there's always the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon ... but you’ll have to shell out $400 (£349, AU$550). If you just want a turntable that just works, looks good, and can be upgraded later, the Fluance RT81 is the turntable for you.

First reviewed: February 2018

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable review
9:47 pm | October 26, 2017

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: October 2017
• Launch price: $1,500 / £1,400 / AU$3,000

• Target price: $1,799 / £1,799 / AU$3,090

Update: February 2024. Of all the turntables launched in 2015, not only is the Marantz TT-15S1 top of the heap, it's also aged like a fine wine against the competition – and as you'll see, its price is only on the increase because of that. What you need to know is this: the TT-15S1 is still one of the best turntables on the market and in the world of spinning plates, it is still a relative youngster. From its thick acrylic platter to the detailed setup instructions, if you can afford it, it's emphatically still money well spent. You won't get the Lenco LS-410's Bluetooth speakers squirrelled away in the base, but this is higher-end hi-fi. Here, separates is the way to go. The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable: one-minute review

The recipe for the best turntable seems simple. You need a rigid chassis that dampens vibration, a motor that keeps good time and a needle that can track record groves well. While the basic formula is the same for all turntables, the devil is in the detail. 

While most record collectors will be satisfied with the excellent sounding Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB or the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, there are better turntables for those who truly value audio fidelity. 

One such turntable is the Marantz TT-15S1. Yes, it’s over three times the price of the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, costing $1,500 (£1,400, AU$3,000) but it sounds monumentally better to the trained ear. While the Pro-Ject was merely good at retrieving detail, the Marantz wows by digging into the grooves and extracting detail you never noticed before. It’s also a work of art.

It seems almost absurd to call the Marantz TT-15S1 a bargain, but that’s exactly what it is. Here’s why.

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable: Design and features

The Marantz TT-15S1 is stunning to look at. Its plinth is made out of a single piece of frosted acrylic with three beefy feet to dampen vibration from speakers and footsteps. This acrylic plinth has two cutouts for the tonearm and the motor. 

Speaking of, the tonearm itself is a work of art and comes out of the box wired and ready to go. You simply have to drop it in the hole, line it up and tighten a single set screw. If you’re using the included turntable mat, you’ll need to use the felt spacer included to space the tonearm up so that the vertical tracking angle is appropriate. 

The motor itself is completely detached from the plinth to control vibration. It seems odd at first but it actually works very well. The motor simply sits by itself and is connected to the frosted acrylic platter via a clear rubber belt. 

Speed changes are done manually by putting the belt on the appropriate pulley (33 ⅓ RPM on the smaller pulley at the bottom and 45 RPM on the bigger, upper pulley). This isn’t a big deal as the belt change takes a few seconds. However, there’s no ability to play 78 RPM records, which is a shame.

The platter, similarly, is thick and heavy, and sits on a suspended spindle. 

Combine all of these elements together and the Marantz TT-15S1 has an incredibly dark background when playing records: There’s no hum from the motor, no audible vibration from the platter or plinth. All you hear is what’s on the record and nothing else. 

Marantz includes a simple felt slipmat in the box and a Souther Clever Clamp in the box to help stabilize records. You have the option of using the included flt mat or putting records directly on the acrylic platter. We recommend using the included mat as it sounds much better. The Souther Clever Clamp may work for stabilizing terribly warped records but it doesn’t make much of a sonic difference on normal records. 

While the included slipmat and clamp are perfectly acceptable, upgrades like a proper record weight and mat like the Herbie’s Audio Lab Way Excellent II make the Marantz sound even better. 

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable: Setup

Setting up a new player is nerve racking as it requires assembly, however setup here is actually quite simple as Marantz includes a very well written set of instructions with pictures to guide you through the process. 

The included Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge was designed to work with the Marantz’s tonearm and simply needs to be seated as far forward as possible.  

You’ll likely need to tweak the turntable a bit after set up to make sure you’ve really dialed in the geometry so be patient. It’s a shame Marantz doesn’t throw in a basic cartridge alignment tool in the box, but you can pick one up for cheap. 

Thankfully, since the Clearaudio cartridge was chosen for this turntable, it sounds great out of the box when dialed to Marantz’s instructions.

One thing to note is that he vertical tracking force isn’t easily determined by simply balancing the tonearm and adjusting the weight to the appropriate setting. We highly recommend picking up a vertical tracking force gauge like the Shure SFG-2 to properly set the weight.  

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable: Performance

For the amount of money the Marantz TT-15S1 costs, it had better sound excellent. Thankfully, it does. 

The first time we dropped the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood on a record, our jaws dropped as the turntable provided such dark backgrounds and dynamic range that we spent the first night rediscovering our record collection. 

All the work that Marantz and Clearaudio (the TT-15S1 is built by Clearaudio to Marantz’s specifications) put into damping and isolation paid off. The TT-15S1 provides silent backgrounds, which lets the music stand out more. Violin strings reverberate with authority and there’s an excellent sense of space.

It’s this sense of space that separates the Marantz from entry-level hi-fi turntables like the Proj-ect Debut Carbon. The cheaper turntables just can’t match the sense of space or the inky dark background of higher end turntables like the Marantz. 

The Marantz TT-15S1 paired with the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood provides an exceptionally neutral presentation. This means bass lovers will be disappointed by the lack of bass emphasis of this turntable. Bass is deep and textured but lacks the impact that some listeners may desire. If your audio system is a bit on the warm side, the TT-15S1 would be a complement to bring it back to neutral. However, if your system is already bright, the TT-15S1 may exacerbate the highs. 

Mids are excellent and female vocals like Norah Jones and Sia sound incredible with tons of texture and timbre. To many, the neutral presentation of the Marantz may sound a bit boring and at times too detailed. The TT-15S1 is unforgiving in the way it digs details. If a record was poorly mastered, you’re going to hear it. But for properly mastered records, the TT-15S1 is hypnotic.

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable: Final verdict

The Marantz TT-15S1 costs a lot of money but considering its design and audio fidelity, it’s a steal. To put it in perspective, the included Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge costs $1,000 when purchased separately. 

The turntable is not perfect, however. Setup requires a few additional tools to really dial in and it’s annoying that no dust cover is included. The included slipmat and record clamp are merely OK but the turntable deserves better. We also want to caution treble-sensitive listeners and bass lovers to look elsewhere as the TT-15S1 is uncompromisingly neutral.

But all of these cons are simply minor annoyances. Taken as a whole, the Marantz offers budding audiophiles the chance to chase higher fidelity without having to buy a turntable that costs as much as a car. 

For audiophiles who are ready to graduate from entry-level hi-fi turntables, the Marantz TT-15S1 should be on your short list. 

First reviewed: October 2017 

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