For The Record: The Most Elegant Contemporary Record Players


Break out the vinyl once more; Jeremy White selects the most elegant contemporary record playing systems

With the rise of high-quality Bluetooth speakers and comprehensive wireless music systems, such as Naim’s superb Mu-so kit, one could easily be forgiven for leaving your beloved vinyl to fester in the garage.

It’s perhaps no surprise, despite the superior sound quality of the format. Record players require ancillary equipment to work, take up considerable room and only play half an album before they require someone to step in and help it access the B side.

However, there are some clever solutions out there for those willing to rescue their record collection, solutions that are not only decidedly attractive but also simple to operate and of course offer that superior sound.

Take Musical Fidelity’s Merlin Multi Format Audio System, for example. Recognising that most of us can’t be bothered with the hassle of setting up the kit in the standard record-player system, the Merlin is a slimmed down solution. A stylish turntable is accompanied by a tiny digital amp sporting two 24bit, 192kHz DACs. Plus it also supports Bluetooth aptX streaming, so you can send your digital files on your phone or tablet to it wirelessly. The best of both worlds.

The £1,300 Merlin puts out a respectable 50W per channel, but you can add an optional sub-woofer if desired, and the single-driver speakers with their distinctive multi-stepped baffles on the front punch well above their weight. But for the ultimate in plug-and-play vinyl action, try a retro console system; everything you need is housed compactly within one cabinet. EachSymbol Modern Record Console is made to order in walnut, taking about 10 to 12 weeks to complete, and costing just shy of $20,000.

Under the lid is a custom hand-wired tube amplifier and turntable with carbon fiber tone arm and Sumiko Blue Point no.2 cartridge set into patinated steel plates. The two 6.5in full-range speakers deliver a warm sound, while tucked out of sight in the steel base is a second amplifier and 250W eight-inch subwoofer for serious low-end oomph. A built-in wireless router again means your smartphones and tablets will join in the fun quite happily.

Perhaps even better looking is the 1970s-inspired Wren HiFi M1 Console. Handcrafted in California from American Holly, Eucalyptus, Maple and Bocote, the $16,500 M1 is fitted with a modified and decoupled Pro-ject Debut Carbon DC turntable equipped a one-piece carbon fiber tone arm and Ortofon 2M Red MM cartridge. Add in eight-inch bass reflex speakers and an integrated 60W per channel amp with phono stage and you have a system that sounds as good as it looks.

So now there’s no excuse. Time to dust of those long neglected Pink Floyd LPs, but perhaps leave The Osmonds in the garage where they belong.

You can see the full list on the Telegraph Website



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