I still remember the first turntable I bought to listen to my growing collection of vinyl records that I had previously played on my parents’ sound system. The turntable was a Kenwood Trio 1033B and I thought it was the best thing since sliced ââbread. Back then, in 1978, it cost me over $ 100, which was a lot of money back then. Later, I dreamed of owning a Linn Sondek LP12 but in the early 1980s I was won over by the CD revolution. I switched to digital music by selling some of my vinyl records to buy myself a CD player and silver records to play on. This is something that I still regret today.
If you are looking to get into vinyl then the good news is that there are quite a few reasonably priced turntables on the market that will do the trick for playing those old albums you still have from your teenage years or even for. play records from flea markets and thrift stores. You may even meet some real gems like an original pressing of Blue Note from Kind of blue by Miles Davis.
I recently had the chance to review an entry level vinyl turntable made by Canadian Fluance which I think would be perfect for anyone who wants to get into vinyl but doesn’t want to pay a fortune for something. high-end like the new Platinum Solstice released by Naim earlier this month.
The Fluance RT81 Elite is a sleek turntable available in Piano Black, White Gloss or Natural Walnut finishes and is crafted from a solid block of MDF to minimize resonance. Due to the thin and strong MDF plinth, the turntable does not have a built-in power supply. Instead, Fluance provides a small DC wall adapter that can handle both 50/60 Hz AC power which is converted to 12 V DC so that there are no serious speed issues like turntables that rely on the mains electricity cycle to regulate the speed of the motor. A turntable with an AC motor for the 60 Hz power supply from North America would spin 17% slower if used with, for example, the 50 Hz power supply system from Europe. Using a DC motor perfectly avoids this problem so that the Fluance RT81 can be used anywhere.
Just like my old Trio turntable, the Fluance RT81T Elite features an aluminum S-tone tonearm and is fitted with steel bearings. In recent years, straight tonearms have become very popular, but an S-shaped tonearm works very well and is being put to good use by Technics on its iconic line of direct drive turntables. The set is completed with a tinted Perspex dust cover and large insulating feet that prevent the turntable from picking up vibrations. I remember one apartment I lived in had such a loose floor that my records would jump every time I walked past to the kitchen.
The tonearm is equipped with a removable shell that carries an Audio-Technica ATN95E moving magnet cartridge with an elliptical stylus. This is a very good starter cartridge and the elliptical diamond stylus fits the turntable and tracks very well. A Texas Instruments phono preamp is built into the turntable so that it can be plugged directly into a standard line level input on an amplifier. This is very convenient because nowadays many amplifiers are not equipped with a dedicated phono stage. However, if you have a phono stage on your amplifier, you can flip a switch on the back of the turntable to bypass the line level preamp circuitry entirely.
The tone arm has a counterweight to set the correct tracking weight for optimum performance of the Audio-Technica cartridge. The recommended weight on this model is 2.0g. An anti-slip adjustment is also provided to counter the centrifugal forces created during the rotation of the disc. The anti-slip device reduces uneven wear of the disc grooves and ensures that the volume of the two channels is properly balanced.
Other features of the RT81 include an auto-stop feature that stops the turntable once the record reaches its exit groove. This means there is no need to wake up a few hours later to the click-click sound of the disc still spinning, wearing out the stylus. The automatic shutdown feature can easily be turned off for those who prefer to do things manually.
The RT81 uses an aluminum deck with a non-slip rubber mat. The chainring is driven by a rubber belt which at this price is a better option than a cheap direct drive mechanism. The speed is reasonably constant and can be adjusted as needed. Unlike some budget belt driven turntables, the Fluance RT81 has a switch to change speeds between 331/3 and 45 rpm, which is much better than removing the slip mat and rocking the belt on a separate pulley.
Setting up the RT81 is easy and there is help right at your fingertips with the brochures included in the box. It shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to get up and running. Connection to the turntable is via the included RAC Phono cable, although it can be upgraded to a higher quality cable if desired. For anyone with an amplifier that doesn’t have a phono stage, just turn on the preamp and the output level will be boosted enough for any of the usual analog inputs from a tuner or tape recorder. There is also a grounding post to ensure that the turntable is properly grounded and will not produce a hum.
The built-in preamp sounds great to my ears and if you want something better then you would need to shell out more than the price of the turntable to hear an improvement which would be a bit pointless really as you can also upgrade. level the turntable.
The RT81 pair’s large insulating feet with its solid MDF plinth and three-point insulation reject most vibrations and resonances. The aluminum deck looks light enough, but it feels well balanced, although it might not have enough mass to dampen all the wow and flutter. Rather, I think the DC motor might be responsible for this as it doesn’t have quite the same muscle as an AC powered model. With genres like jazz and rock, the sound is solid and surprisingly good for the money. To my ears, it’s a little less assured when playing delicate classical music, especially piano music with notes held for a long time by a sustain pedal, but this is not uncommon with turntables. less expensive. There’s a reason top-tier models come with super regulated power supplies that can guarantee rock-solid speeds.
What I like about the RT81 is that the cartridge can be easily upgraded and the phono stage can also be upgraded, if needed. For most people, the sound quality will be more than adequate, although a few audiophiles may chuckle and quibble; if you’re also forensic when listening, it’s more about the equipment than the music for you. For anyone who wants to get into vinyl and doesn’t want one of those cheap, horrid turntables that have more in common with a turn than a turntable, it’s worth paying the extra and ‘get something like the Fluance RT81, especially since vinyl records cost a lot of money these days and can easily be ruined playing them on a toy turntable.
Verdict: Canada’s Fluance RT81 Elite turntable is a great starter model for anyone who wants to explore the world of vinyl or fancy playing those old LPs tucked away in the attic. There is no USB interface for digitizing vinyl records, but if you plan to do so, it may be best to sign up for a streaming service. I like the Fluance RT81 because it is easy to install and the job was done thanks to the pre-mounted cartridge. The MDF plinth and large insulating feet are excellent for rejecting vibrations and adding solidity to the sound. Like I said, there are a few cut corners to get the turntable affordably, but I doubt you will find much better for this price. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable might be worth paying a little more for, but where to stop? For my money, the Fluance RT81 Elite is a great starter turntable that can be upgraded and offers great sound for the money.
Price and availability: Â£ 197.84 / $ 249.99 / â¬ 230.87
More information: www.fluance.com
- Base: MDF
- Finishes: Black / White / Walnut
- Dust cover: tinted
- Drive system: Belt drive
- Motor: CC
- Speed: 33 1/3 RPM, 45 RPM +/- 1.00% – Speed ââAdjustment Guide
- Wow and flicker: 0.2%
- Signal-to-noise ratio (weighted): 67 dB or more (A-weighted, 20 kHz LPF)
- Signal to noise ratio (unweighted): 60 dB or more (unweighted, 20 kHz LPF)
- Tray: Aluminum
- Tray diameter: 12 “, 30cm
- Tray Weight: 1.22 lbs (553 g)
- Tray height: 0.62 inches (16 mm)
- Automatic shutdown: Yes
- Platinum mat: Rubber
- Tonearm: Static Balanced, Type S
- Cartridge weight supported: 3.5-6.5g
- Counterweight: Yes – 3.53 oz (100 g) – Adjustable
- Anti-slip: Yes
- Pivot bearing: Yes
- Locating lever: Yes
- Tonearm Material: Aluminum
- Tonearm wire: Litz 36 AWG / 7 strand cable
- Effective tonearm mass: 28.2 grams
- Overhang: 19.2 mm
- Effective tonearm length: 224mm
- Helmet mount: H-4 bayonet mount
- Tonearm height: 17 mm
- Cartridge type: double moving magnet (MM)
- Cartridge Model: Audio Technica: AT95E
- Stylus: 0.4 Ã 0.7 mil elliptical bonded (diamond)
- Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
- Channel separation: 20dB at 1kHz
- Channel balance: 2.0dB or less at 1kHz
- Impedance / load capacity: 47k Ohms / 100pF
- Output voltage: 2.5 mV +/- 3 dB
- Cartridge weight: 5.7g (+/- 0.5g)
- Shell weight: 10.7g
- Connector: RCA (gold plated)
- Preamp: yes – phono / line switchable
- Phono output: 2.5mV +/- 3dB
- Phono Bypass: Yes, all electronics bypassed when using an external preamp
- Line output: 140mV (â17dBV)
- Earth terminal: Yes
- Power supply: 100V – 240V AC (50 / 60Hz)
- Output: 12 V / 500 mA
- Consumption: 1.5W
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 16.5 x 13.75 inch / 14.0 x 41.9 x 34.9cm (HxWxD)
- Weight: 14.1 lbs (6.4 kg)