Acous­tic Solid

Xtended-MPX Turntable

NOVO - - REVIEW - by Dou­glas Brown

We live in an age where the price of en­try to au­dio­phile sound can choke a good­sized bull-moose. As won­der­ful as $500K level 2-chan­nel sys­tems can sound, none of it gets my adrenalin flow­ing. Why…? ‘Cause I can’t af­ford it.

What does kick­start my heart is when es­tab­lished au­dio com­pa­nies with 6-fig­ure com­po­nents re­lease sen­si­bly priced gear where I can clearly see—and hear—that their cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy has trick­led down to more af­ford­able prod­ucts. When my ed­i­tor at NOVO asked if I’d like to review a mid-level Acous­tic Solid ‘ta­ble, I was more ex­cited than a lifer stuck in a pe­nal colony when the lat­est sealed is­sue of High So­ci­ety mag­a­zine is slid into his cell.

I first heard one of Acous­tic Solid’s $100K+ level TTs at the 2012 Mu­nich Au­dio show. The sound of that rig was as jaw-drop­ping as the price tag at­tached to it.

DE­SIGN & FEA­TURES

The sub­ject of this ar­ti­cle, the Xtended-MPX + Rega WTB-370 ton­earm costs $2,200 US; with­out the car­tridge. My review TT fea­tured a 40 mm thick MDF plinth that was fin­ished in a gor­geous wood ve­neer. The alu­minium plat­ter is 35mm thick. It’s ma­chined from a sin­gle bil­let and “string driven” by an out­board MC/M1 mi­cro-pro­ces­sor con­trolled syn­chro­nous mo­tor. The ‘ta­ble also in­cludes a nat­u­ral leather mat and a 5mm thick acrylic mat.

The WTB-370 ton­earm was an­odized black which, off­set against the X-MPX’s wood plinth color, looked stun­ning. Over­all, the TT ex­uded old world crafts­man­ship, cut­ting- edge en­gi­neer­ing, and a lux­ury aes­thetic that would look right at home in any posh 2-chan­nel sys­tem.

Af­ter try­ing an en­try-level Gold Note Vasari Red M/M car­tridge that was pro­vided to me with the ‘ta­ble and not lik­ing the sound, for per­spec­tive, I climbed higher up the lad­der and tested this ‘ta­ble with three other car­tridges. These in­cluded a Benz-Mi­cro Wood MO-0.9 M/C car­tridge; a Dy­navec­tor XV-1s M/C car­tridge; and a Su­miko Pear­wood Cel­e­bra­tion Mk#2 M/C car­tridge. To my ears, the Su­miko sounded the best. One thing was au­di­bly clear: the bet­ter the car­tridge, the bet­ter the sound.

An in­cor­rectly set-up ‘ta­ble will com­press the sound­stage, choke its dy­nam­ics, and smother res­o­lu­tion and de­tail. Acous­tic Solid pro­vided 20 pages of com­pre­hen­sive

in­struc­tions for set­ting-up the X-MPX. A scale to dial-in car­tridge track­ing force and a high-qual­ity spin­dle weight were both in­cluded in the box. To buy these two items sep­a­rately would add at least $800 to the price.

Over­all, ini­tial set-up took about 45 min­utes. Acous­tic Solid must be com­mended for their in­struc­tion guide. Even though I’ve set-up hun­dreds of TTs, I found their direc­tions ex­tremely help­ful. Af­ter burn­ing the ‘ta­ble in with the Vasari Red M/M cart for a week, all of my se­ri­ous lis­ten­ing tests were done us­ing the Su­miko Pear­wood Mk#2 M/C car­tridge.

The Xtended-MPX is a gor­geous TT. The looks of the ‘ta­ble mes­mer­ized me like a Fer­rari Mo­dena 360. I spent hours ex­am­in­ing its fit and fin­ish look­ing for man­u­fac­tur­ing flaws. I didn’t find any. Acous­tic Solid built this TT like it mat­tered: with care… and pride.

PER­FOR­MANCE

Plug the X-MPX + WTB-370 into a de­cent 2-chan­nel sys­tem and you’ll hear warm and or­ganic sound. This TT makes any mu­sic with en­ergy—Venom, Pa­tri­cia Bar­ber, Slayer, Melissa Etheridge, Motör­head, Bach, NIN, Celtic Frost, Sammy Kaye, Rach­mani­nov, Ramm­stein… what­ever—groove un­til the moo cows come home. Within its price range, this ‘ta­ble is a PRaT [Pace Rhythm and Tim­ing] cham­pion. Highs sounded pre­cise with­out be­ing etched or fa­tigu­ing. Mid-range in­stru­ments and vo­cals were warm with­out grain or edge. Up­per bass and mid-bass rhythms had tim­bral ac­cu­racy and an ad­dic­tive groove. Low fre­quency ex­ten­sion was de­cent. Not the best I’ve heard, but pal­pa­ble; and en­joy­able.

Short­com­ings…? While the X-MPX + WTB300 combo is a very mu­si­cal TT, it doesn’t have the de­tail re­trieval of higher-ech­e­lon vinyl rigs.

But ask your­self this: do you pre­fer pedan­tic de­tail re­cov­ery or a ‘ta­ble that makes you wanna spin your records, en­joy your favourite mu­sic, and swing your hips around the room while deliri­ously smil­ing like a preg­nant yak on stilts? If you fall into the later camp, you’ll love the sound of this TT. With the right M/C car­tridge, the Xtended-MPX will swing in­fec­tiously like Ben­nie Good­man on speed. The ‘King of Swing’ would sim­ply adore the sound of this vinyl rig. Recorded in 1978 at Rock­field Stu­dios in Wales, to­day Rush’s Hemi­spheres is con­sid­ered to be a prog-rock mas­ter­piece. With mind-numb­ingly com­plex mu­si­cal ar­range­ments, stag­ger­ingly tech­ni­cal gui­tar and per­cus­sion work, and an 18 minute long bom­bas­tic half-side con­cept al­bum, Hemi­spheres is an al­bum that changed the way mod­ern hard rock sounds. Lis­ten­ing to Hemi­spheres on an orig­i­nal 1978 press­ing, I sank deep into the lyrics and mu­si­cal groove which are so proudly recorded on ev­ery track. In par­tic­u­lar, the qui­eter parts of the 9:35 length in­stru­men­tal song ‘La Villa Stran­giato’ al­lowed me to hear

how mu­si­cal the X-MPX truly is. The tex­ture of Geddy Lee’s 4001 Rick­en­bacher bass sounded solid, ac­cu­rate, and ag­ile. His bass lines add a mag­nif­i­cent rhyth­mic foun­da­tion to all of the songs. I could clearly hear, and fol­low, in­di­vid­ual in­stru­ments within a wide and de­tailed stereo sound­stage. Even dur­ing com­plex and thun­der­ing pas­sages that would im­plode the imag­ing pro­duced by most en­try-level ‘ta­bles, the X-MPX cre­ated su­perb rhythm, im­pres­sive dy­nam­ics, and ex­em­plary PRaT. Writ­ten by Rus­sian com­poser Sergei Rach­mani­nov in 1906-07, his Sym­phony #2 in E-mi­nor Opus #27 is a master-stroke of mod­ern clas­si­cal mu­sic. I lis­tened to a 2016 record­ing played by Previn and the LSO. Brood­ing and doom-laden, this sym­phony has an emo­tion­ally dev­as­tat­ing feel that in­duces a quiet in­ter­nal fear and shiv­er­ing anx­i­ety like ris­ing flood­wa­ters. We’re doomed… and you can sense it com­ing. The sound cre­ated by the X-MPX gave me goose bumps; fright­ened goose bumps. Lis­ten­ing to Sym­phony #2 on the X-MPX, the com­plex orches­tra ar­range­ments sounded dy­namic, lay­ered, and ac­cu­rately re­con­structed. More than the sound, though, I could feel the emo­tional surges of fore­bod­ing doom which over-ride ev­ery sin­gle note of this haunt­ing score. For a turntable-- any turntable-- to so tan­gi­bly con­nect me with the doom-laden emo­tional vibe of Rach­mani­nov’s mu­sic was a re­mark­able achieve­ment.

Priced at $2,200 US, Acous­tic Solid’s Xtended-MPX + WTB-370 ton­earm is a re­sound­ingly mu­si­cal ‘ ta­ble. It’s also dropdead gor­geous. Pack­aged with a high qual­ity scale and spin­dle weight, this TT of­fers in­cred­i­ble ‘bang-for-the-buck’ value. The only mi­nor com­plaint I have is that it doesn’t come with a dust cover, al­though it can be eas­ily supplied for a slight up charge.

Mate this rig with a higher-end M/C car­tridge and you’ll get won­der­fully nat­u­ral and or­ganic sound. It re­minds me fondly of a Span­ish Fla­menco dancer who’s so into the mu­sic that she can barely con­tain her pas­sion and joy as she swings her hips around the stage.

Since the X-MPX ar­rived, I’ve been on a manic “vinyl binge” that’s had me los­ing sleep, buy­ing lots of new records, and hap­pily en­joy­ing mu­sic of all gen­res. Night af­ter night, my lis­ten­ing ses­sions have gone later and later. The de­sire to hear more and more of my favourite records has gripped me like a nar­cotic ad­dic­tion. I’ve been liv­ing in a state of “vinyl delir­ium” and I don’t want the delir­ium to end.

At its essence, a high-end turntable should cre­ate goose­bump in­duc­ing sound that makes an owner want to lis­ten to more mu­sic. The Xtended-MPX + WTB-370 TT combo does ex­actly that.

Acous­tic Solid

www.acous­tic-solid.com +49 (0) 71 27 / 3 27 18

Dis­trib­uted in Canada by Tri-cell En­ter­prises

www.tri­cel­len­ter­prises.com 1-800-263-8151 (905) 265-7870

Acous­tic Solid Xtended-MPX Turntable + WTB-370 Ton­earm

Price: $2,200 US

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