Once Analog Turntable

Product Name: Once Analog Turntable
Product Type: Turntable
Price: $US6995 (no arm)
Reviewed By: Greg Borrowman
Magazine: Australian Hi-Fi: July/August 2008
Distributor: Once Analog
Who Sells What/Website: Once

Listening Sessions

http://www.avhub.com.au/images/stories/igsu/IgnitionSuite_Image(6004).jpg

Once Analog supplies a very well-crafted single- point alignment gauge that appears to be based on an alignment proposed by John Scott Strachan of Syrinx. I would recommend you instead use a dual-point alignment protractor. Of these, the Clearaudio, Feickert Analog, Pro-Ject, Mobile Fidelity GeoDisc and Turntable Basics protractors are the only ones I am aware of that are geometrically correct, in that they give minimum tracing error right across an LP and can reveal if a tonearm mounting hole has been incorrectly positioned, which is impossible with a single-point tool.

Once Analog also provides a strobe card, but this was very obviously designed primarily for use in the US (with its 60Hz mains frequency) because the 60Hz speed bars are large and clear at the outside of the card, whereas the 50Hz bars are on the inside, where they’re much smaller and much more difficult to see. Australians (and Poms!) with poor eyesight can download a very large 50Hz strobe card from Australian HI-FI Magazine’s website [www.wolseleymedia.com.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/docs/strobe.pdf]

The Once Analog came up to speed quickly, smoothly and silently, and the factory 33.33rpm speed setting was almost spot-on, requiring just the slightest ‘tweak’ to bring it up to exact speed (I depend on a CBS Test LP and a frequency counter rather than a strobe). I used a laser level to check the platter for vertical eccentricity and was pleased to find none at all—rotational ‘flat-ness’ is truly superb.

The first LP I span was one recorded by Ortofon, which I used to check that the tonearm/ cartridge resonant frequency was correct and well-damped (it was) so that I could be confident that I could correctly attribute particular sound qualities to the Once Analog itself. Playing the flip side of this LP, which has some spectacularly well-recorded samples of jazz, orchestral and vocal music (actual speaking voice), I was immediately taken by the sense of ‘space’ I was hearing through the speakers. It’s this sense of space that continues to elude both the CD format and even its superior derivatives, DVD-A and SACD. In addition to this sense of space, the delicacy and transparency of the high-frequencies were beyond reproach: I listened with an increasing sense of awe and wonder to the sound of a piccolo. It really was as if it were being played in the room.

After first switching up to 45rpm and again tweaking the Vari-Drive to the correct speed, I played a Denon Reference Master harpsichord recording with equally stunning effects. The crispness and detail of the harpsichord sound was truly impressive. My next disc, a well-preserved 1970 CBS pressing of Beethoven Sonatas (Moonlight, Appassionata, Pathétique) by Glenn Gould, seemed to be playing a little too fast, and a quick check revealed that tweaking the 45rpm speed had affected the 33.33 rpm setting, so I had to reset it again (though it had slipped only 10Hz, barely enough to show up on a strobe). The piano sound was brilliant—though, like most of Gould’s recordings, only from a pianist’s perspective, rather than from the audience’s! This LP also proved a good test for wow and flutter, thanks particularly to the slow tempo of the Appassionata, but I could hear neither, so the Once Analog is clearly also outstanding in this aspect of performance. [Newport Test Labs later measured wow and flutter at 0.15% DIN weighted and 0.17% RMS unweighted]. Further investigation into the speed setting revealed that adjusting it at 33.33rpm always affected the 45rpm setting—and vice versa— but so few people regularly do this that I’d treat it as a quirk rather than a fault.

Conclusion

Once Analog’s Mk II is a superbly made turntable that will give you a life-time’s listening pleasure. It will allow your chosen arm/cartridge combination to extract musical minutiae from your precious vinyl you never imagined existed.

Positive

  • Quality finish
  • Superb sound
  • Brilliant engineering

Negative

  • Speed settings
  • Strobe card
  • Optional cover

Once Analog Turntable

Brand: Once Analog
Model: MkII Category: Turntable
RRP: $US6,995 (no arm)
Warranty: Two Years
Distributor: Once Analog
T: (04) 1277 5074
E: onceonly@tpg.com.au
Meet Your Maker: Once Analog