TURNTA­BLES Elip­son Alpha 100 RIAA

FOR Plenty of de­tail; good bal­ance across fre­quency range AGAINST Less dy­namic and rhyth­mic than some ri­vals

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Elip­son’s Alpha 100 RIAA must have been de­signed in the France you see in films. Sleek, sexy, draped all in black – it would drink cof­fee with a cig­a­rette per­ma­nently be­tween its fingers, were it able.

Oh yes, it’s fair to say we’re pos­i­tively en­am­oured with the Alpha 100 RIAA’S un­der­stated cool. Its del­i­cately curved edges and min­i­mal­ist chas­sis, with un­der­sized plat­ter and oh-so tac­tile speed-shift switch, are pre­cisely what we’d like to see in our homes.

Nice to use

Sim­plic­ity is the or­der of the day. The Alpha's built-in phono stage leaves you need­ing only to con­nect it to your am­pli­fier with the supplied cable. The bias weight is al­ready set cor­rectly for its Orto­fon OM10 car­tridge, too.

Our early test sam­ple came with cable that had ground­ing connections, yet there’s no ground­ing plug on the turntable it­self. Elip­son tells us it will pack fu­ture batches with ca­bles that don’t have ground­ing prongs, but if you do get one like ours, don’t worry – the Alpha 100 RIAA doesn’t need ground­ing.

We’ve al­ready men­tioned the speed switch – the Alpha 100 RIAA will spin your 33⅓s and 45s – which (like a child armed with scis­sors and a plug socket), we can’t stop mess­ing around with, but across the board this turntable is nice to use.

There’s no lever to op­er­ate the ton­earm but, like the speed switch, gen­tly low­er­ing the nee­dle into the grooves of your record some­how makes you feel more en­gaged with the whole process. Mean­while, de­spite its straigh­for­ward aes­thetic, there’s noth­ing about the Alpha's build that says to us ‘cheap’.

Clean, open sound

Our first record is Fright­ened Rab­bit’s Paint­ing Of A Panic At­tack. We’re greeted with a clean and open sound from the be­gin­ning. There’s plenty of de­tail in Death

Dream, the al­bum's open­ing track, yet the pi­ano and syn­the­siz­ers, awash with re­verb, are still co­he­sive and able to cre­ate a bed for Scott Hutchi­son’s vo­cal. The in­stru­ments are tex­tured nicely with­out the pre­sen­ta­tion be­com­ing an­a­lyt­i­cal.

Ini­tially we are im­pressed by the del­i­cacy of the sound. It has a trans­parency some turntable man­u­fac­tur­ers es­chew in favour of beef­ing up the midrange to overem­pha­sise those typ­i­cally ana­logue char­ac­ter­is­tics. We also like the way the piece is al­lowed to tread lightly into the rest of the al­bum.

Rest as­sured there isn’t a lack of weight or punch, how­ever. When we pass the open­ing track, we feel the force of those em­phatic cho­ruses in Get Out. There is kick to the per­cus­sion and enough depth in the low end to avoid be­com­ing light­weight, while at the other end of the fre­quency band the tre­ble is suit­ably rich, with no ap­par­ent ceil­ing or harsh­ness.

We men­tioned there’s no beef­ing up of the Alpha 100 RIAA’S midrange but that is not to say it lacks body. The vo­cals have di­men­sion as well as life, and there is a warmth that car­ries the band’s sound.

Just a lit­tle lethar­gic

Our only doubts are con­firmed when we com­pare the Alpha with Au­dio Tech­nica’s AT‘LP5, rated at five stars re­cently. The AT‘LP5 is a lit­tle dearer (£350) but in­cludes a USB out­put as well as its built-in phono stage, so in essence this is Au­dio Tech­nica's main ri­val for the Alpha 100 RIAA.

As we reg­u­larly change tack with records from artists such as Char­lie Parker, John Mar­tyn and Lu­dovico Ein­audi, we sense just a lit­tle lethargy. We don’t want these per­for­mances to sound try­ingly ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic but some­times it feels as though we aren’t be­ing af­forded the mu­sic’s full en­ergy.

Al­most, but not quite

It was that sense of tim­ing and dy­nam­ics that set the AT‘LP5 apart when first we heard it, and which shows up the slight weak­ness in the Alpha 100 RIAA when we play the same records on it now. There’s a greater sense of rhythm, both due to the tight­ness of the tim­ing and the way Au­dio Tech­nica is able to bet­ter track the in­ten­sity of each note be­ing played.

It isn’t as if we no longer want to lis­ten to the Elip­son – it just doesn’t quite mea­sure up to the mar­ket lead­ers right across the board. That said, for its de­tailed and hon­est sound, sim­ple set-up and unar­guably so­phis­ti­cated aes­thetic, we think the Alpha 100 RIAA is well worth con­sid­er­ing as your new £250 turntable.

“De­spite its sim­ple aes­thetic there’s noth­ing about the Alpha that says to us ‘cheap’.”

Alpha is at­trac­tive, easy to use and a good per­former

Ton­earm's bias weight is pre­set for Orto­fon OM10 car­triridge

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