Friday, May 11, 2012
Dean Peer's New Turntable
Once or twice in the last year, I've referred to the new Paris turntable from Oracle Audio as "looking like a Pro-Ject, but sounding like an Oracle." I certainly didn't intend it as a knock against Oracle--or even Pro-Ject, for that matter, since I've heard one or two of their designs that I really liked. It's just that Oracle has always been known for their stunning, open-architecture turntable designs such as the Delphi and the Alexandria. Audio reviewers often make comments such as "it's a stunning example of industrial sculpture" or "it sounds as good as it looks!"
The new Paris, however, looks a bit ordinary next to the other Oracle products. It has a fairly conventional plinth with a lacquered finish that does come in bold colors such as red and white and yellow--which reminds me of budget turntables from Pro-Ject, Music Hall and even Rega. From a distance, the only sign that the Paris is something special is its neatly sloped corner on the bottom right of the plinth. Get up close, however, and you'll notice the quality of the fit and finish, especially when you actually start playing music on the Paris and can feel all those textures as you cue the arm.
The second part of my comment, where I say that the Paris sounds like an Oracle, is definitely a compliment. When I first heard the Oracle at the AXPONA Show in Atlanta last year, I took back my comments about the looks once I heard the amazing sound. In a mostly Oracle-populated system, the Paris sounded like a very expensive turntable. I remember the deep bass being very impressive for what is basically a low-mass turntable design, and when I learned of the price of the entire Oracle Paris system ($3150 for the 'table, $950 for the arm, $1150 for the cartridge, $5000 complete when bought as one), it started looking like a true bargain.
So when I had a chance to get my hands on a Paris for further evaluation, I jumped at the chance. Colleen and I recently got a call from our friend Dean Peer, who recently received a black Oracle Paris for his home system. He wanted me tostop by and double-check the initial set-up of the 'table. I packed up my protractors, allen wrenches and stylus gauge and we headed out for an evening at Chez Peer.
After fine-tuning the Paris--it was fairly easy and straight-forward to align the cartridge and set the tracking force--we sat back and listened. It's truly interesting to listen to a home audio system with someone like Dean who spends a lot of time in recording studios seated in front of a huge mixing board. He instantly heard sonic changes after I made my adjustments, and thank goodness they were for the better. Dean works with a lot of digital software and a ruthlessly revealing pair of studio monitors, so it's rewarding to have him sit back and hear just how wonderful vinyl can sound. While he can be incredibly demanding when it comes to production quality, he totally gets the warm, humane sound of analog playback.
Colleen and I are planning to return in a couple of weeks with one of our Unison Research amps so that he can hear what we're up to in the world of audio. I'll follow-up once we get the Unison into the mix and I'm able to fine-tune the set-up even further by ear. I also borrowed a Sound Application powerline conditioner from Dean so I could evaluate it...this is probably the most expensive power conditioner I've used but after two days I'm hearing some very noticeable improvements that are taking my system to the next level as well.