Platter Matters: Three Turntables Page 5

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The Short Form

Price $1,890 (AS TESTED) / / 800-554-4517
Once optimized, this turntable will draw you into the music and let you experience your records like never before.
•Digs tons of information from the grooves •Well-balanced sonic performance •NYC loft-ready design
•Careful tweaking of arm/cartridge combo required to maximize performance •Needs solid floor or wall shelf for isolation
Key Features
•Fully adjustable aluminum unipivot arm •Optional Corus Black MM cartridge •Finish: acrylic, lacquered walnut or maple veneer •15.8 x 13.8 x 6 in; 15.5 lb
SETUP I found that the undamped Nima arm makes the Radius5 pretty sensitive to bouncy floors, so in many rooms a wall-mounted shelf will be a wise move. Also, unlike the Debut III, the Radius5 does not arrive with its cartridge pre-installed, and this task is left up to you (or your retailer) to complete. Compounding the difficulty, I found that (like many other unipivot arms) the Nima is especially fiddly, requiring careful adjustment of the eccentrically mounted counterweight to optimize both the tracking force and the azimuth. The good news in all of this is that the arm does come with clear and detailed instructions, along with all of the tools required to get the job done (including a stylus pressure gauge).

PERFORMANCE As with the Debut III, I gave the Radius5's cartridge some time on the Cardas Sweeper record to bed it in prior to listening. Then, once everything was optimized, I went back to replay some of the same reference records.

Rock-steady pitch has always been a Roksan hallmark, and the Radius5 didn't disappoint. One favorite LP for checking this quality is a solo piano recital by Youri Egorov recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1978. I've encountered turntables that would "wow" audibly because of the increased drag of the stylus when Egorov bangs out an fff chord, but with the Radius5 the piano always sounded perfectly in tune.

This is a quick- and light-sounding turntable, with plenty of what British audio junkies call PRaT - pace, rhythm, and timing. The sound is particularly well resolved through the critical midrange, with finely focused sonic images and a spacious, dimensional soundstage. Bass is nimble - although on a playback system with truly extended deep bass, you'll find that it can't quite match the ultimate power and slam of some more ambitious turntable designs.

BOTTOM LINE It does take some work to get the most from Roksan's Radius5. But at its best, this turntable's greatest strengths are in those performance characteristics that really count. It's lively and dynamic, and it allows you to concentrate on the music rather than the system.