With a list of about fifteen different turntable recommendations, I began widdling it down based on features and brand reputation. I weighed cost along with ease of use, input from trusted vinyl gear fanatics, and online reviews from both end-users and tech industry insiders. My choices came down to five models: U-Turn Orbit Special ($450), Pro-Ject Carbon Debut ($400), Fluance RT83 ($350), Fluance RT85 ($500), and the Audio Technica AT-LP120 ($250).
I first heard about the Fluance from a trusted member of a facebook vinyl group who told me that while he hadn't tried one out, he heard a lot of good things about the Fluance RT81 turntable that recently came out. After looking into the RT81 and watching some video reviews on YouTube, reading some reviews online, and heading over to their website (www.fluanceaudio.com), I was very interested. Especially at the price point of $250 the RT81 had. Upon further evaluation, I decided that if I was going to go with Fluance, I would go big or go home and eyed the RT83 and RT85 as the best options for me. More on that in a bit.
What I really liked about the Audio Technica AT-LP120 was the pitch control feature. I have the
|Having a speed switch was a major|
factor in choosing to go with
That left the Pro-Ject, U-Turn and Fluance options to explore. All three had great reviews and lots of recommendations from end-users, but in the end, I felt the ease of use with the Pro-Ject and U-Turn wasn't there. The fact that I had to move the belt to switch between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM just seemed silly. Minor, yes, but when you are looking to spend between $350 and $500 you want the things that are important to you.
So after weeks of reading, talking, reading more, watching, and contemplating I had decided on the Fluance as the turntable I was going to buy. All this time I had been setting aside money in order to pay for the turntable so it wouldn't be a massive hit to my wallet when I finally did get the opportunity to purchase my new turntable. The only things that remained were which model and when the model I wanted would be in stock. One was out of my control, but Fluance made it easy by allowing me to sign up for notifications of when new stock was available on the models I was interested in.
|The acrylic platter is heavy and gorgeous|
The second factor was the cartridge. The RT83 and RT84 came with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. The 2M Red is a hugely popular cartridge among audiophiles and vinyl communities. I had heard many good things about it, and it was the more common cartridge to use in the price range I was in. The RT85 comes with the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge which is a step up from the 2M Red. The 2M Red is a bonded cartridge in which the diamond stylus is bonded to a piece of material and then the cantilever. The 2M Blue is a nude cartridge where the diamond stylus is bonded directly to
|I felt $50 was worth it to upgrade to |
the 2M Blue
|Safe and sound packed tightly in the box|
I was immediately impressed with how everything was tightly packed and with the packaging itself. The table was nice and secure, the accessories were secured with tape to the styrofoam that wrapped the turntable, and the dust cover was perfectly placed on top. Inside the packaging with the manual and catalog were a pair of white gloves to be used when assembling and installing the turntable. This was a nice add by Fluance because the finish is so gorgeous it would be a crime to muck it up with fingerprints from the get-go.
After removing all of the parts and accessories I began putting the turntable together per the instructions provided. The process was super simple and quick. I had the turntable put together in less than 15 minutes. What I really appreciated was Fluances decision to go with a removable headshell for the cartridge. This allows for easy upgrading in the future without the pain of connecting and disconnecting thin wires (something I have a bad experience with). Once assembled I needed to set the counterweight and align the cartridge. Once I had the tonearm balanced, I set the counterweight to the recommended 1.8 grams. When I checked the weight with my virtual tracking force scale I found the counterweight to be off by about .3 grams, so I adjusted the counterweight so my scale read 1.8 grams and then set the anti-skate option to 1.8. Now it was time to plug the unit into my stereo system.
|Spike-style legs allow for less contact|
between the surface and turntable
Fluance went with a curved tonearm, which I like aesthetically more than a straight tonearm. Some think that a curved tonearm means that the sound has to travel further to get to the amp, but that is minimal to me as I like the look of the curved tonearm better. Fluance also included a tinted dust cover which adds a lot to the overall look of the turntable. It gives it a classy feel over the typical clear dust covers. You can tell they put a lot of thought into the design of these units. All in all, the Fluance RT85 is a stunner to look at.
|I chose this album as the first spin on the RT85|
|The servo-motor is separated from |
the plinth for better speed accuracy
As I write this blog, I have been spinning on the turntable for two full weeks. I have been slowly playing some of my favorite albums on the Fluance and continue to be amazed at how good they sound on the RT85. If there was anything I could complain about, it's that the anti-skate has issues with albums that have a small runoff area. It's minor though and probably something I can fix by adjusting the dial on the anti-skate, but I just haven't taken the time to investigate it yet. In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Fluance RT85. Not only is it an amazing deal for the money at $499 (the acrylic platter would cost $100, and the Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge would run $250 by themselves), but the turntable looks and sounds absolutely amazing. I am so happy with my purchase that I would love to get an RT81 for my office in the future because of how impressed I am with the RT85. If you are in the market for a new turntable, you just can't beat the value and quality of the Fluance Reference line of turntables. Head over to their website and check out the four different models to find out which one works best for you.
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