Part of a new Musical Fidelity compact system, the Round Table is only the company’s second LP player model in as many decades. Can it break new ground in its price class?
It's quite common to see a prolific flow of new products from Musical Fidelity, but it’s probably a bit of a surprise to see the company entering the sub-£1000 turntable market. This
is a product area that’s dominated by two major players,Rega and Pro-Ject. But now Musical Fidelity has plunged in with the £599 Round Table.
Rega has ploughed its own furrow since 1973, and all its turntables and arms are still made, as well as designed, in the UK. Pro-Ject got started back in 1990, when its Austrian
founder Heinz Lichtenegger bought his first turntables from the formerly State-run turntable factory at Litovel in the Czech Republic .
Musical Fidelity launched its first turntable, the luxurious-looking M1. Made in the UK, it had a double-deck plinth in clear acrylic, the upper part forming a suspended subchassis that was supported on elaborate compliant feet. The impressive frosted acrylic platter was also in two 30mm-thick parts, sandwiching between them eight round spacer weights that increased the platter mass to around 5.7kg. A substantial motor fed by a large outboard power supply drove the platter through a peripheral belt.
The M1 retailed at £2999, including the newly-introduced SME M2 straight tonearm, which was then priced at around £580. But while the M1 made a very pretty cover picture when it was exclusively reviewed in HFN [Mar ’04], it seems that relatively few were actually sold. It would be more than a decade before MF offered another LP player.
Musical Fidelity’s first turntable, the M1, was made in 2003. It was engineered to a very high standard. It was well received in the press.
Musical Fidelity’s latest interesting product is the Round Table. This is a high quality competitively priced complete turntable solution. It has a high quality low resonance 9” pickup arm (magnetic anti-skating) with steel tipped bearings housed in zirconium with rubber damping, not dissimilar in principle to the Incabloc shock protection system on watches. The vertical bearings are ABEC7 ball bearings. It is fitted with an Audio Technica 95E cartridge.
Musical Fidelity has a long heritage of designing exceptional turntables and the Round Table is no exception: Produced to Musical Fidelity’s bespoke specification, the new turntable also includes a unique feature.
Much effort has be made to ensure that, for the first time, all of the decks components have been designed and placed to guarantee that the product is perfectly, statically balanced and that its centre of gravity is at the pivot point of the main bearing.
Other top spec components include: a polished high carbon tool steel bearing – for an exceptional long life and friction free performance – an extremely inert chassis and suspension system and a very high quality pick up arm, usually used on products several price categories higher.
The platter is made from finely machined high density MDF and has high mass and low resonance. The plinth is made from similar bulky low resonance material. The feet are also part of the isolation system.
The Roundtable offers a stable low resonance platform for vinyl disc playing.
The Roundtable is currently unavailable in the UK but you might find it on amazon.com