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Patrick R

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  1. The AT LPW40 turntable is housed in retro stylings yet paired with forward thinking performance. Read on for the highs and the lows of this brand new record player. FEATURES Draped in stylish teak exterior with the look and feel like real wood veneer, this new Audio Technica turntable is off to a great and somewhat vintage start. In a move upward from its mostly 'convenience' orientated fellow models though, the '40' does not offer any auto style features. Its a fully manual turntable which is probably where the retro tale ends. Although it is belt driven as the vast majority of turntables in the '70s were. What is definitely modern though is having a built in switchable phono pre amp stage and an included brand new VM95E cartridge as recently listened to by Phil in his affordable Rega P1 upgrade article. Couple these features with the apparent carbon fibre tonearm, the slim profile of the timber clad plinth and the outboard wall wart power supply (so its a DC low voltage motor not 240 volt AC) and really the only retro feature is in fact the wood. To summarise: this record player offers a detachable headshell, a hinged lid, detachable signal leads, the built in amp stage mentioned above, 33 and a third and 45 rpm speeds, a cueing lever on the arm, a rubber mounted DC motor, adjustable tracking and anti skating force adjustments and rubber feet. The platter is made from aluminium and has an appropriate rubber platter mat that is best for dampening the ringy nature of the aluminium. Frankly everything you might be entitled to expect for $649 but don't always get (the Rega P1 has a fixed headshell, fixed anti skating adjustment and more rigid feet). The Rega is cheaper though. INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY I didn't take this unit apart as really there is nothing to take apart as per the Rega P8 review but overall its very nicely crafted for Chinese made turntable of this price. The platter is cast from aluminium as mentioned above so will run true forever, the centre bearing seemed of good quality as does the tonearm and its bearings. Not amazing but good enough. The detachable headshell fitting is a precision piece, the lid and hinges work nicely. The timber plinth, whether real or faux wood certainly looks admirable and overall I would say, considering the price, there is nothing at fault. I tested the speed of the unit and it was by the tiniest measure, slightly slow on 33 and a 1/3 and somewhat fast on 45. Close enough but no reference for speed accuracy. The earth terminal on the rear came loose when I was trying to attach the supplied signal lead. A bit disappointing but the performance was hum free so clearly it was still connected inside. DESIGN Well.. A good old belt drive manual turntable design keeping things simple with little to go wrong now or many years into the future. As I have alluded to its a little olde worlde looking with the teak finish on the plinth but due to its slim height I suspect it will fool few who are looking for a true 1970s style record player. If Audio Technica had made the plinth 3 times the height that it is in the LPW40 it would have satisfied many who want the retro look without the retro hassles of failing technology from the last millennium. From my perspective though I rather like the timber finish so maybe it will attract a few buyers away from Projects and Regas as I'm not sure they or any other brand offers a timber finish for under $1000. SETTING IT UP If packing a turntable into as many different pieces as possible was an Olympic sport, Audio Technica just won Gold. The signal lead unplugs, the headshell is separate, the power lead/wall wart is separate, the platter is off, the lid is off the hinges are in their own bag, the counter weight is separate etc. When compared to say the Rega Planar One which only requires the removal of one piece of cardboard, sliding on the counter weight to the fully home position and removing the stylus protector to play a record this is indeed the opposite way of going about packaging a turntable for shipment. This lack of assembly coupled with the confused instructions mentioned below means for the beginner this will be a project of similar proportions to a black belt afternoon of IKEA assembly. Despite this, I had it up and running in minutes though so my suggestion would be to buy the this Audio Technica turntable from a specialist HiFi shop and have them assemble it for you prior to departing their store. The real concern is that you just won't get the best from your purchase unless its properly set up and frankly the hieroglyphic instructions will fail you. Once assembled, sit it down on a sturdy level platform as per any other turntable and then plug it in either to a phono input, if your amp has one, and if it does set the internal amp switch on the rear to 'phono'. If your amp is sans phono input use any other analogue input and switch the slide switch on the back to 'line. Enjoy the music! SOUND QUALITY After all the excitement and perhaps stress of assembly, the result is worth it as this turntable sounds very pleasing. I played quite a few familiar pieces and very much enjoyed the music. The bass quality is very surprising and for my money is slightly superior to the benchmark Rega P1. This is of course in part due to the VM95E cartridge being better in the bottom end to the Rega Carbon that comes gratis with the P1, which Phil revealed in an earlier article. It may also be due to the stiffer ali platter? I'm not sure but the bass is very pleasing indeed. The midrange and top end replicates largely my experiences with the much too often mentioned Rega cheapy. More to the point perhaps this Audio Technica trounces any turntable I have heard in this price range outside of Project and Regas offerings. This listening was facilitated using an external but inbuilt phono stage in a UK built amp we will be reviewing soon. Like I say, it sounded thoroughly enjoyable, exciting, musical, very neutral, imaging was ok and really I could not fault the performance for the bucks. But then I thought I would give the internal phono stage a twirl.... Oh dear! Rarely have I heard such an obvious difference between two phono amplification alternatives. The in built phono stage in the LPW40 is indeed very ordinary. Weak, slow and mono sounding bass with no improvement in the upper areas of the frequency spectrum. Lifeless, lacking in detail and generally unmusical. Avoid at all costs. It is strictly an interim solution till you buy a better amp with a phono input or obtain a serious outboard phono stage. Its a shame as those who use the internal stage are hearing perhaps only 50 – 75% of the potential quality of this rather good turntable. Speaking of upgrading or at least making the most of what you have, the use of the new VM95E cartridge allows very simple upgrading to another higher level of performance by just swapping the stylus. Read our P1 Rega upgrade article for some thoughts on the differences between these VM95 range options. In summary: if you use a quality external phono amp or a good quality stage inbuilt to your amplifier you will be very pleased with the full rich and well focused sound on offer. Not quite in Rega Planar two levels of sophistication but I think slightly better in some ways to the entry level Rega. The minor speed inaccuracies were not audible to me but they were quite small. As mentioned above do not use the inbuilt phono stage unless you really have to, it may actually make your ears cry. ACCESSORIES AND WARRANTY The instruction manual is lacking, at least the supplied quick start guide. There is a suggested URL where you presumably can download a full manual but I couldn't find one on the Audio Technica website but I did find the warranty term which is 12 months. There is no warranty card in the box or any mention of anything to do with a warranty in fact. All the accessories were well packed and complete. In fact the turntable is very well packed full stop but there are no instructions on how to repack it so you may need to do the degree course first if you are repacking it for a house move as clearly the Audio Technica staff do prior to working on the assembly line. The point is.. It's rather complicated. FINAL THOUGHTS I was a bit surprised with just how clean and tight the sound was from this simple and good looking turntable. A very musical performance as long as you avoid the internal phono amp. Fit and finish is very good and its a pleasure to operate. You do pay a little more than its perceived opposition, probably for the walnut (as Audio Technica describe it, I still think it looks like teak) styled plinth. Overall this LPW40 is a serious alternative to the veterans of the class and is well worth an audition. SCORE: 60.5/100 FEATURES: 10.5/15 INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY: 6.5/10 DESIGN: 6.5/10 SOUND QUALITY: 18/30 EASE OF SETUP: 5/10 MANUAL AND ACCESSORIES: 1.5/5 WARRANTY: 1.5/5 VALUE FOR MONEY: 8/10 EXCITEMENT FACTOR: 3/5 PROS: Sound quality is very competitive at the price A welcome change of appearance in this class. Overall its quite well made. Enjoyable to use and listen to. CONS: With its slight retro look you might think it would be auto return but it isn't Mediocre sound quality from built in phono stage. Complicated to assemble for newbies. Earth terminal came loose during set up. Speed a bit off (only just on 33 but somewhat fast on 45) Instructions are probably going to a be a mystery to the uninitiated. Only 1 year warranty. SPECIFICATIONS – (Courtesy of Audio Technica) Type - 2-speed, fully manual operation Motor - DC servo motor w/speed stability control Drive Method - Belt drive Speeds - 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM Turntable Platter - Die-cast aluminium Wow and Flutter - 0.15% (WTD) @ 3 kHz (JIS) Signal-to-Noise Ratio - >60dB Output Level - Pre-amp “PHONO”: 4 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec Pre-amp “LINE”: 200 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec Phono Pre-Amp Gain - 35 dB nominal, RIAA equalized Power Supply Requirements - 100-240V AC, 60 Hz Power Consumption - 1 W Dimensions - 420.0mm W x 340.0mm D x 116.9mm H Weight 4.7kg Accessories Included AT-VM95E phono cartridge; AT-HS4 headshell; dual RCA (male) to dual RCA (male) cable with ground wire; counterweight; rubber mat; dust cover; 45 RPM adapter Tonearm type - Balanced straight tonearm with detachable headshell Effective arm length - 223.6mm Overhang - 18.6mm Tracking error angle - <2 degrees Applicable cartridge weight - 12-17g Anti-skating range - 0-3g Imported by TAG Audio RRP: $649 THE TEST SYSTEM Included Spendor A6R, and KEF L50 loudspeakers. Exposure 2010S2D integrated amp with built in MM phono stage. NOTES ON OUR SCORING SYSTEM We do not give away high marks on a whim. Each section is scored separately and without regard to the cost of the equipment. Each product is scored solely relative to other units in the category, no matter their cost. In theory, a more expensive unit should usually outscore a cheaper one, but that's not always the case, and we'll never shy away from calling a spade a spade. Our reviews are conducted by lifelong HiFi enthusiasts who are just as passionate about new equipment as you are, and who are determined to provide you with the best information possible.
  2. The Rega P8 turntable is indeed a striking looking machine. I can tell you now, before we get down to the nitty gritty, it also sounds just as striking. Definitely a step forward. FEATURES Coming in at around $1500 above the model beneath it in Rega's range of simple, value for money turntables, you may expect a couple of extra features for your ever so precious dollar, but no... In fact you actually get slightly less. The P8 doesn't have any lid hinges or in fact, even a lid in the traditional sense. What it does have is a refined version of most of what the P3 and P6 offer. For instance the output cable is of a higher quality and is terminated with upmarket lockable RCA connectors. The drive system may employ the same motor as the lessor model (although the 8's is mounted differently) but the Planar 8 sports twin belts (of the black variety, but apparently improved). Sitting atop the solid alloy sub platter driven by this twin belt arrangement is a new triple layer glass platter which improves the flywheel effect (and therefore speed stability) by adding mass at the outer edges of the 12” platter and none in the middle. The design goal being maximum flywheel effect for minimal mass increase. The tonearm is also improved, being the RB880 with superior bearing quality to the one used on the P6. The bearing assembly/arm mount braces are improved and of course the plinth is extremely light and stiff. This reduction of mass in the part that holds the entire object together is perhaps key to the turntable's sound, but more on that later. The power supply, Regas latest “Neo” has some adjustability for speed as it does when offered with the P6. Check the 'Setting Up' section below for my thoughts and experience on that 'feature'. In summary the Planar 8 offers many improvements over its less expensive sibling except perhaps the lidless ability of your record collection to gather dust during playback which could be regarded as a step backwards. INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY I didn't take this unit apart as really there is nothing to take apart. In regard to build quality though it is quite formulaic. Finely crafted and very functional but frankly not very slick! Well, at least not in your usual chrome plated, blinged up, pimp my 12” fantasies kind of way. I do like the clarity of design but maybe its not for everyone. An analogy from the car world would be indeed that the P8 is an F1 chassis versus others in the same price range which look like a BMW or an SRT Jeep... As I mentioned above the function over form ideal appeals to me and aligns with my interest in maximum performance for minimum cost. I also like the simplicity for the expected long term reliability that basic but high quality mechanical engineering brings. This turntable is made in the UK as I think all open wheeler formula chassis are these days. Simple, light, stiff and fast is something the Brits seem to do very well indeed. SOUND QUALITY Onto the critical bit, how does all this Formula tech actually sound? Well, not like a high revving race engine. In fact it is particularly quiet. Not just the actual mechanical spinning of the platter at 33 and a third revolutions per minute but the background to the music just seemed a fraction quieter. The inert nature of the plinth may well be helping this. Tonally its impressively neutral I would say. It certainly isn't fat or slow in the bass but it also isn't shy in the bottom regions at all. Can I say its just right? Authoritive but agile. Bass notes are pitch perfect, weighty but start and stop just as I would expect and hope, in a way that lessor record players don't match. Perhaps the overriding personality of this turntable for me though is the stability of the stereo imaging, which is rock solid and accurately placed, combined with the cleanness of the mid and higher regions of the frequency spectrum. I guess the plinth is helping here again. My favoured affordable moving coil, the Audio Technica OC9III has never sounded sweeter or better balanced. There is a real lack of colour on offer here, the P8 sounds like the original master tape, an analog master tape of course. There were times when I forgot I was listening to a record. For nostalgia chasers who enjoy the weakness's of the format, they may not approve but I rather enjoyed listening to say John Klemmer on the album 'Touch' (an album that I don't think ever made it to CD although I note it is available on Tidal) and hearing it presented cleanly and clearly, without the dirtiness of his tenor sax that some poorer turntables deliver. Imaging quality on Dire Straits, “Dire Straights” was a surprise and the whispers of Rickie Lee Jones on her “Pirates” album more intelligible and sweeter than I remember. I very much enjoyed listening to this turntable and would suggest it is an open window to cartridge choice as I feel it's just an honest and neutral platform waiting for you to discover the real hidden quality that already exists in the grooves of your record collection. I could go on but really this may well be the best sub $10,000 turntable I've heard. Particularly if you demand an accurate picture of what's in the recording coupled with a musicality and pleasantness, avoiding sounding clinical which I felt its predecessor, the RP8 could do. As I said in the opening, this is a step forward for Rega. DESIGN Hey, what's not to love? but the skeletal appearance of this cutting edge design, which is the result of the key engineering decision, might not be for everyone. Its all about reducing mass and increasing rigidity. To quote Rega themselves “Mass absorbs energy – lost energy equals lost music”. Other than the above mentioned improvements in arm bearing quality, the two other areas Rega have bumped up in an attempt to capture your record collection's undivided attention is the plinth and the arm/bearing assembly braces. The plinth is is so light because it is made from two layers of high pressure laminate with a polyurethane foam core. This all weighs the grand total of almost nothing but is incredibly stiff. Its the kind of material employed in some areas of high performance race cars, space shuttles and the Boeing 787 etc. Combined with the improved braces tying the arm base and bearing assembly together, all this avoids any significant amount of energy being stored in the plinth, allowing more vibration of the cantilever in the cartridge and in turn more music. This is what we want right? Yes indeed. A cheaper mounting between the arm and the bearing for the platter, for example a plastic moulding is a guaranteed way for information to be lost through vibrating the plastic base rather than the pickup in the cartridge and thus, an inferior musical experience. An undeniable consequence of the laws of physics colliding with budget economic decisions. And of course space age aeronautical technology doesn't come cheap, hence bargain basement turntables will never offer the impressive transparency of a turntable of this calibre. Okay so it doesn't have a lid... Some say you should remove the lid from your turntable while playing it anyway, due to reasons outlined in the aforementioned physics lecture. The P8 Rega saves you that concern. The RP8 stuck with a traditional lid arrangement but with the P8 Rega have stuck rigidly to their philosophy and dispensed with it. Well almost, as when the player is not in use you can protect it from dust with the supplied piece of neatly folded acrylic. The edges of this space shuttle material are on display, yes they are. I feel there must be a sound mechanical engineering reasons for this and again I don't mind it but Rega does warn you with a leaflet inserted in the box that care should be taken to avoid damaging this edge/foam. You will have to form your own opinion on whether this is a bit sloppy in the fit and finish department. My estimate is when you start listening to it you will soon forget about this possible shortcoming. SETTING IT UP In most cases the dealer who sells you this turntable will be skilled at setting this kind of player up. You shouldn't need to worry about much more than slipping the platter into position on the sub platter and plugging in a few connections. Siting it on a stable, level surface that doesn't have the loudspeakers also sitting on it (such as a long low style cabinet that flat panels TVs are often set up on) is important for performance but the same dealer should make you aware of that too. If you live a long way away from a decent HiFi store that might sell a record player of this pedigree then do not fear assembly as it is definitely a task anyone can handle. With the possible exception of fitting the cartridge. I see no reason why the dealer you do purchase it from couldn't fit the cartridge of choice before shipping it to you or you could order a version that Rega will have already bolted on one of their own (Exact, Ania or Apheta). As mentioned below the instructions are clear and concise but although cartridge fitting may not be an art, things can quickly go wrong (damage to cantilever or tip). Not to mention careful and correct alignment of the cartridge and appropriate arm balance. All very important to get the best sound quality from this machine. In the below mentioned instructions there is a section on speed adjustment on the new Neo Power Supply. It suggests playing with these tweaks only if necessary... I was very much enjoying the sweet sounds of this deck until I popped my stroboscope test disc on the platter and found it was running almost imperceptibly slow! Now the fun began. The instructions are certainly accurate in the way they describe manual adjustment of speed but I had all sorts of fun getting the speed just right. I eventually did and then I excitedly re listened to the turntable. My lack of perfect pitch meant I couldn't hear one bit of difference though. It was only very slightly out in the first place and the most important aspect of speed control related to sound quality is consistency and in that regard the P8 has negligible wow or flutter (long and short variations in speed). Those with perfect pitch way want to fiddle, I would suggest those that don't can leave well alone. The instructions mention perhaps using an app called RPM to help with speed adjustment. Rega don't guarantee accurate results though which is a good thing as I tried it and it read slow compared with my, I presume high quality strobe disc. Once again you may have a different experience but I wouldn't consider the RPM app to be a reference for the speed your turntable is playing at. There were only two negative things I discovered during set up. One was a slight mechanical noise from the motor which disappeared within probably an hour of use. 'Running in' perhaps? I'm not sure but it has gone now leaving a particularly silent transport in its wake. The other issue though, won't go away. that being the need to almost poke your finger through the front panel to get the 33/45 speed switch to latch on to 45. You'll know what I mean when you try it. End of the world? Not at all. Italian car makers of the 70s would call it 'character', I would call it in this millennia of CNC and CAD a mistake and a bit of an irritation. I guess the thing is that all of the performance related design and functionality of this very enjoyable vinyl spinner is done right. Who listens to 45's anyway? Lots of people who buy expensive remastered double album on 45 releases I suppose... Not the end of the world but a noticeable oversight. ACCESSORIES AND WARRANTY I enjoyed reading the manual (very attractive looking printed paper). It answers all the likely questions a new owner might have. It does a nice job of explaining the simple enough set up that's required and the warranty terms. The warranty being particularly generous in that it is a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. How long is a lifetime? Well if it was an insect not long but a turntables life is surely closer to 20 years? As warranty goes this is a very good one, especially considering its being offered by a company thats been around since the 70s. FINAL THOUGHTS There is little not to love here. It's such an easy choice for those who have tasted the Rega range before to buy this as a long term solution to record playing happiness. For those who own turntables outside of the Rega fold you may find the appearance and finish a bit too functional. My suggestion is to have a listen as that's what this design is all about (well actually that's what all Regas are all about in my opinion). A particularly honest and beguiling sound is on offer and at a price that is entirely reasonable considering the real quality engineering included in the design. Very high marks from me. SCORE: 76.5/100 FEATURES: 8/15 INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY: 8/10 DESIGN: 8/10 SOUND QUALITY: 25/30 EASE OF SETUP: 8/10 MANUAL AND ACCESSORIES: 3/5 WARRANTY: 5/5 VALUE FOR MONEY: 7.5/10 EXCITEMENT FACTOR: 4/5 PROS: Sound quality is a step forward for Rega and very competitive and possibly even reference level sound quality at the price Stylish cutting edge look. Obvious high quality engineering and the likelihood of great longevity Above average warranty Ease of set up and quite good value for money. CONS: Speed and power switch difficult to operate for those with blunt fat fingers. No traditional style lid. SPECIFICATIONS Dimensions : Turntable (with dustcover fitted) Width 420mm Depth 315mm Height 125mm Weight 4.2Kg Dimensions : Neo PSU Width 180mm Depth 155m Height 50mm Weight 0.6Kg RRP: $3499 Further information - Rega Website The Australian Distributor of Rega Products - Synergy Audio THE TEST SYSTEM Included Spendor A6R, and KEF L50 loudspeakers. Naim XS2 integrated amp with Rega Fono MC pre amp. Audio Technica OC9III cartridge. NOTES ON OUR SCORING SYSTEM We do not give away high marks on a whim. Each section is scored separately and without regard to the cost of the equipment. Each product is scored solely relative to other units in the category, no matter their cost. In theory, a more expensive unit should usually outscore a cheaper one, but that's not always the case, and we'll never shy away from calling a spade a spade. Our reviews are conducted by lifelong HiFi enthusiasts who are just as passionate about new equipment as you are, and who are determined to provide you with the best information possible.
  3. In recent history I cannot recall an affordable loudspeaker range generating so much hype online. The Elacs (the 5.2 the subject of this review and the 6.2, it's bigger brother) have been covered both in low end consumer circles through to the most chin stroking of high end corners of the internet. So. Is the hype justified? Is it due to the heavy marketing, the influence of the well known designer, Mr Andrew Jones or is it simply due to the the amazing sound quality on offer at an affordable price point. Lets find out! FEATURES - According to Elac's press on their website, these entry level transducers offer amazing sound at the price. A 5 1/4” mid bass drive unit employing an Aramid fibre cone, a cloth dome tweeter, a flared port and a box built from CARB2 medium density fibreboard. As HiFi products go, this isn't breaking any rules. It also has a modern grille made with plastic moulding & cloth material stretched over and attached to the front baffle by pins on the frame housed by rubber lined holes in the front of the loudspeaker. The enclosure is not only made from MDF that fits with California Air Resources Board standards but is also covered by some impressive looking vinyl. The binding posts are a 5 way design and look suitably modern. INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY - I attempted to open and inspect the mid bass unit but erred on the side of caution, thinking that task requires a professional touch.. Instead I had a peek inside through the terminal cup aperture in the rear baffle and saw largely what I expected but at a standard slightly above what we have seen in other speakers selling at a similar price. The crossover looks tidy and well thought out employing reasonable quality components, the bass unit is a pressed steel frame with a particularly large looking magnet assembly. There is an internal brace running through the centre of the cabinet effectively dampening resonances between the two largest side panels of MDF by joining them together with a short length of MDF. There is a piece of polyester wool style absorbent material installed into the enclosure as well. Although I have some minor concerns about the life span of the exterior vinyl wrap finish (I would rate it as adequate) but I have a feeling that money saved here might have been spent in other areas that directly effect sound quality. Overall there is nothing disappointing inside and perhaps a little better than others I have seen in this price range, especially the impressive scale of the motor assembly hanging of the mid bass drive units frame. DESIGN - The Elacs are indeed quite a smart looking pair. They offer the kind of high level industrial design a small manufacturer with limited resources simply cannot offer. They also clearly need to be manufactured in China to offer this relatively high level of fit, finish and cool at this low price point. The drivers and port are flush fitted into the front baffle and have a real mark of quality. The port and tweeter are also let into the apparent frame, really just a plastic trim piece, of the mid bass unit. Overall impressions are quite high. A touch on the plastic side of things but expertly executed. SOUND QUALITY - Now to the fun stuff, because this speaker is indeed fun to listen to. There is a lot to like about the way the loudspeaker presents music. Tonally it is reasonably neutral with, if anything at all, things being just very slightly on the bright side but maybe its just the lack of a lot of low bass as some other cabinets in this size seem to produce. Either way its far from 'bright' so I just sat back and enjoyed the music. Some easy stuff first from Maria Muldaur and her Louisiana Love Call album. The final track sounds very impressive on the Elacs indeed. The clean piano and her clean voice sounded, well.. clean. When she reaches for a higher note, a louder note, the quality remains. Its a simple track though, so I flicked across to the crazy Sympathy for the Devil by Rickie Lee Jones off her recent 'The Devil You Know' album. I say crazy because she sounds like you have never heard her before. There is the normal dry, slightly woody nature to her voice but it is heavily inflected with what the devil may well sound like on this track. The Elacs still hung together really well here too but with just the occasional overcrowding in the upper mid on some notes. At this stage they have not really given away their thoroughly affordable roots other than perhaps the slightly cardboard sounding tone of the whole performance. I won't over state that though as its fairly subtle. The Rickie Lee track is still a very simple piece of music and as demanding as her vocal style is on a HiFi system, my next choice of artist is even more so... Van Morrison. The Healing Game album, the track being 'This Weight'. So we have now found the limits of the Elac 5.2... Unfortunately Van the Man's husky Irish voice has asked too much of the mid range of this otherwise very competent transducer. I went on to enjoy a reasonably weighted but well lit mid and top sound on many other tracks. Tracks that were in the vast majority of cases performed beautifully, in a bold and accurate way and at times I genuinely found myself lost listening to the music, not judging the unit's performance. They get a big tick for distracting me from what is effectively work. To sum up there is a lot to like here. They really do offer the vast majority of the sound quality you can expect from a much more costly loudspeaker but these differences are the things you will ultimately lust after and will have you trading these Elacs in on a significantly more expensive product. In the meantime while you save up, I doubt there is a speaker in the price range that actually performs noticeably better. These may well be the best all rounders at $549pr. EASE OF SETUP - I sat them on a pair of quality 600mm high speaker stands on which they sounded excellent. I couldn't test them on top of a low line cabinet, each side of a TV, like many may, but assuming the cabinet is sturdy and rattle free that location should function adequately. You could expect a little bass reinforcement versus what I heard here under test conditions which might be a good thing. The slightly lean balance I experienced may neutralise completely when installed on a cabinet closer to a wall. Clever guy that Andrew Jones, thinking through where most likely his design will be used and allowing for it. MANUAL AND ACCESSORIES - Not much to discuss here as there are no accessories but the manual is paper and quite informative. Suggesting the speakers be located reasonably close to a wall so maybe my guess above is a correct. PACKAGING - Not very recyclable but the cardboard is very sturdy and with that amount of styrene foam I doubt the loudspeakers could ever be damaged in transit. Both speakers are packed in the one carton. WARRANTY - An almost unbeatable 10 year warranty on manufacturing faults, including parts and labour, is offered on all Elac speakers Australia wide. VALUE FOR MONEY -This is one area the Elac debut 2.0 entry levels models clearly excel at. 9 out of 10 for value (nothing or no one is perfect!) EXCITEMENT FACTOR - A somewhat subjective area of scoring but I thoroughly enjoyed music played through these guys. Long term listening sessions might be a bit taxing due to the slightly 'in your face' balance and generally dynamic way about them but this is what generates the excitement factor when the track being played meshed with their area of expertise. SUM UP - Hey they can't be the best loudspeaker in the world at this price but I can understand where some of the overhyped levels of praise on the internet come from. At first blush they are sensationally neutral and musical given the budget Andrew Jones had to work with. They may well be as mentioned above the best thing out there at the price but they do not replace $2000 speakers as some have implied. If they do for you then you have been listening to the wrong $2000 loudspeakers. At the price or even in the sub $1000 market I would have them on your short list and don't be surprised if you prefer them to many closer to the thousand dollar mark. Very highly recommended! SCORE: 62/100 FEATURES: 3/5 INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY: 5/10 DESIGN: 6.5/10 SOUND QUALITY: 16/30 EASE OF SETUP: 8/10 MANUAL AND ACCESSORIES: 2/5 PACKAGING QUALITY: 2.5/5 WARRANTY: 4/5 VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10 EXCITEMENT FACTOR: 6/10 SPECIFICATIONS Enclosure Type : 2- Way Bass Reflex Frequency Response: 46Hz – 35000Hz Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms Sensitivity: 86db @2.83v/1m Crossover Frequency: 2200Hz Max Power Input: 120 Watts Tweeter: 1″ Cloth Dome Woofer: 5-1/4″ Aramid Fiber Cabinet: CARB2 Rated MDF Cabinet Finish: Black Ash Vinyl Port: Dual Flared Binding Posts: 5 – Way Metal Dimensions (WxHxD) : 180mm x 341mm x 234mm TEST SYSTEM - Naim Atom (being reviewed soon), older Yamaha CD Player, Yamaha R-N303D receiver, (previously reviewed and still kicking around) sand filled tall speaker stands and some older QED speaker cable. I enjoyed the Elacs on the Atom but it was also a great match with the less expensive Yamaha. Tidal was used for most of the listening except a few CDs just to make sure (I still think CDs sound marginally warmer than Tidal...) NOTES ON OUR SCORING SYSTEM We do not give away high marks on a whim. Each section is scored separately and without regard to the cost of the equipment. Each product is scored solely relative to other units in the category, no matter their cost. In theory, a more expensive unit should usually outscore a cheaper one, but that's not always the case, and we'll never shy away from calling a spade a spade. Our reviews are conducted by lifelong HiFi enthusiasts who are just as passionate about new equipment as you are, and who are determined to provide you with the best information possible.
  4. The 6000 series for Audiolab has been such an incredible success that they are releasing their next evolution in digital music streaming, the 6000N Play. The all-new Wireless Audio Streaming Player is loaded with features, including DTS Play-Fi, lossless audio streaming (24-bit/96kHz), ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC, six seperate presets and multi-room capability. It is expected to arrive in May this year. Pricing is expected to be around $999.00
  5. Sporting a certain amount of retro visual appeal the AT-LPW40WN is a fully manual, belt-drive turntable designed to give you optimal high-fidelity audio reproduction from vinyl. According to the famous maker of phono cartridges, microphones and headphones it features an anti-resonance MDF plinth with walnut veneer, a straight carbon-fiber tonearm with adjustable tracking force, an AT-HS4 headshell with an AT-VM95E Dual Moving Magnet phono cartridge, and a built-in selectable phono preamp. Priced at $649 it seems to offer a lot. Lookout Rega and Project! The new range of VM95 series cartridges from AT also look interesting offering one presumes upgraded performance at the change of a stylus. More news on these when it is at hand. For further info - https://audio-technica.com.au/products/at-lpw40wn/
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