Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oracle Audio at AXPONA

The first sound that's impressed me at the AXPONA show is from none other than Oracle Audio, makers of such legendary turntables as the Alexandria and the Delphi (which they are still making in a Mark VI version). Oracle has always been known for beautiful open-architecture turntables that look more like steel sculptures than record players, so I was a bit surprised by the conservative look of their new "entry level" turntable named the Paris.

At first look, the Paris looks like one of those Music Halls, Pro-Jects or Regas that have basic plinths that are available in a wide variety of bright colors. Only that unusual beveled corner let's you know something different is afoot. The carbon-fiber tonearm, in fact, reminded me of the one on the more expensive Pro-Jects-and that's because it is a Pro-Ject! Oracle takes these arms and adds their Micro Vibration Stabiliser system, which consists of a slicone damping bath and a "precision plunger." Oracle includes its own new aluminum-bodied cartridge with the Paris.

While I wasn't quite wowed by the looks of the Paris, I was floored by its performance. In almost every conceivable way this sounds like a big-dollar 'table, with its crisp, precise transient attacks, decay and soundstage depth. In a system consisting or Oracle amplification and huge Induction Dynamic speakers, I was treated to one great musical piece after another.

I thought I heard the gentleman demonstrating the system say that the Paris will cost $5000. I'm pretty sure, considering the way that the Paris is packaged, that this includes arm and cartridge. In that case, the Oracle Paris is a screaming deal and deserves your attention. If you want an Oracle that looks more like the classic versions of the past, you can still buy a Delphi Mk. VI for around $13,000. By the way, the plinths of the Paris are available in black, white, grey and white, all glossy and smooth.

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